Buhari, Thatcher, And The Tale Of Two Tough Personalities, By Olalekan Adigun

In early 1979, the British Labour Government lost a motion of vote of no confidence at the House of Commons forcing it to call an election. The election saw the Margaret Thatcher-led Conservative Party securing a parliamentary majority and effectively making Mrs. Thatcher Europe’s first ever elected head of government.

This is against the backdrop of the Conservatives Party’s four previous electoral disasters. Four years later, in Nigeria, the political landscape began to change. The Shagari government began to wallow in the web of corruption and indiscipline. Series of political and economic crises led to a military coup to usher in the 41-year old Major-General Muhammadu Buhari-led regime. Buhari again, 31 years later, it will be that will defeat an incumbent president and a fiercely-contested election in the first time in the country’s electoral history.

These two personalities – Thatcher and Buhari admired and loved by the supporters, but hated passionately by their critics – are manifest examples of toughness, mental aptitude, and discipline all essential attributes of leadership.

Both personalities came into each other’s part of toughness in 1984. The Buhari Administration had launched an ambitious effort to recover all ill-gotten wealth from politicians and other public officials, no matter how highly placed. This drive cuts across persons or strata irrespective of tribe, religion or political affiliations through trials at special investigative tribunals.

The Administration’s spirited anti-corruption campaigns went far beyond the experiences of Nigerians when a detachment of the Nigeria secret service went to London (where ex-Minister of Transport under Shagari was then living before the coup) to literally “abduct” Dikko back home to face trial. This mission was largely unsuccessful but the intent was well noted and admired. After what became known as the “Dikko Affair”, Thatcher and Buhari administrations responded using diplomatic and political measures in a “Who blinks first?” manner.

Some of Buhari’s critics have recently gone to town with the news that Buhari, unlike some of his fellow retired service men, does not own a large-scale business. While it is true that many retired generals and customs bosses in Nigeria may have business concerns largely gotten from privatized former public corporations, Buhari operates a small farm in his modest home in Daura, Katsina state. There is nothing unusual about this. President Jimmy Carter (1976-1980) even after previously serving as Georgia state Governor, lives in his modest farm in rural Georgia with no known large-scale business concern. Even with the exemption of Donald Trump, not many American presidents are known to have large-scale business concerns either before or after public service.

Thatcher on her part spent most of her childhood in Grantham with her father, Mr. Alfred Roberts, who owned two small grocery shops. Apart from helping to manage these shops during her holidays, she had no known large-scale business concern either before or after she became prime minister. Yet, if Carter and Thatcher were the embodiment of excellent leadership traits through strict adherence to their political callings by shunning baser instincts of primitive accumulation of wealth at the public’s expense, it is therefore baseless to equate having or not having large-scale businesses (often corruptly acquired) as a requirement for political leadership. Like Carter, like Thatcher, like Buhari!

When Thatcher was elected in 1979, one of her first main challenges was how to deal with the “wets”. The “wets” were traditional “owners” or “landlords” whose opinions in the party and British government at the time cannot be taken lightly. They controlled and dominated the Conservative Party and government till Thatcher decided to confront them. Her response to their charge was to purge them and their supporters from the party and her government in what many feared may spell doom for her in the next election. In the next elections (1983 and 1987) she not only beat the wets to their game, but she also crushed the Labour Party. Like Thatcher, Like Buhari.

Unlike Thatcher, Buhari does not have the “wets”, but a more formidable group of retired generals and oil tycoons, to deal with. This group pride itself as the traditional kingmakers who install and remove Presidents at will. Like Thatcher, Buhari has instituted strict measures, including signing the Executive Order 6 which placed a ban on foreign travels for corrupt politicians with court cases. He also purged them from his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), and his government to the dismay of many. Like they said Thatcher will lose the 1983 election, so they are saying Buhari will lose the election in 2019.

In my opinion, a lot of people are simply overestimating this so-called “kingmakers” and their powers against Buhari because the retired General is a though politician and he is by no means an easy meat for anyone even when he was in the opposition!

Another striking similarity between both politicians is the extent of their critics’ hatred for them. Everyone has critics and detractors but, both Buhari and Thatcher’s detractors went steps higher than mere distractions or criticisms. In 1984, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) launched an audacious assassination attempt on Thatcher during a Conservative Party conference at Brighton Hotel. Though she survived the onslaught, she went tougher on the assailants by requesting those arrested in connection with the assassination plot be treated as “criminals” rather than the traditional status of “political prisoners”.

In the same vein, Buhari has equally survived numerous assassination attempts from his unforgiving detractors. The boldest of these was in 2014 when the retired general had a close shave with death from a bomb blast in Kaduna state. His reported poisoning in 2017 when some of his well-known critics pronounced him “dead” while still receiving treatment in London attest to the fact that, even in death, their detractors will never forgive them. The “jubilation” of the news of Thatcher’s death in some quarters in 2013 demonstrates this!

Just like both have strong and unrepentant critics, so are their supporters. Both Buhari and Thatcher’s supporters have demonstrated their undying love, loyalty, and devotion to their, united in the face of fierce criticisms from their detractors. The truth is their supporters’ devotion to them has largely been shaped their critics’ constant, often unfair and irrational, bashings.

While Thatcher’s supporters have gone on to develop a philosophy now known as Thatcherism and their adherents known as Thatcherists; Buharists, as his supporters are sometimes called, on the other hand, are still in the process of developing Buharism. Just like no British prime minister before Thatcher has had any ideology in their names; few Nigerians can remember any sitting President having an ideology after his name!

While it is true that no two individuals can be the same in terms of temperaments and orientations, the similarities between two greats leaders at different worlds – Britain and Nigeria – are just too tempting to ignore. Both may have met, as leaders, under very disappointing conditions like the case of Dikko affair, drawing similarities in the different “though” personalities can provide an interesting study for researchers in comparative politics interested in leadership traits in developing and developed states; democratic and democratizing states; and the politics of the global north and south. One thing is clear, Thatcher and Buhari, irrespective of what their critics may think, provide an excellent example of though personalities!

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is the author of the fast-selling book WITNESSING THE CHANGE. He can be reached on +2348136502040, +2347081901080 or email: adgorwell@gmail.com. He tweets from @adgorwell.  

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At Oxford University, Prof Osinbajo’s Impeccable Record Continues,? By Bernard Okri?

Prof Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s Vice President showed why he is renowned for oratory prowess and why he stands far ahead of his peers as he delivered his lecture off hand.

For those who have had the privilege of listening to him before or sitting across him at a table it was another pleasant opportunity to be dazzled again but for those who were listening to him for the first time, they were left spell bound.

Staring firmly at the former Lagos Attorney General of Lagos, they wondered where all the facts, figures and statements he reeled off were coming from. They were perplexed by his ability to narrate the Buhari’s administration successes without a prepared speech or even a piece of paper in hand.

Beyond that, he sold Africa, he sold Nigeria, and indeed he sold the black race before going on to inaugurate the Oxford Board of African Studies. It was a delight and a huge moment of pride for all Africans at the gathering.

Prof Osinbajo was one of their own and he was making them proud. Discussing Osinbajo, some said they’ve not seen a person so charming and gifted like him in Africa since Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan. He stood in a class of his own.

During the lecture, Prof. Osinbajo highlighted ongoing investments, efforts and plans of the Nigerian government and the progress it has made in improving the country’s Human Capital Development indices and investment climate, as well as the widespread impact of the National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIP).

Despite the enormous challenges of Human Capital Development in Africa, the Vice President further called on African governments to unlock the “opportunities to significantly move the needle in the journey to vastly improved standards of existence for our people.”

Talking job creation and job sustainability, Prof Osinbajo explained that 349,000 new bank accounts have been open, while almost half a million small businesses in Nigeria have accessed the loan under the MarketMoni scheme – a short tenor interest-free credit of between N50,000 and N300,000 for small businesses under the auspices of their cooperative societies as a risk management device.

He also explained that by the end of 2018, two million petty traders nationwide would have benefitted from the TraderMoni, which provides them zero collateral and interest-free N10,000 loans.

Prof. Osinbajo also noted that out of the targeted one million, so far, almost 300,000 households have benefited from the N-SIP’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme, in which the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country are given N5,000 monthly.

He said the administration’s Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) was an important tool for financially empowering small businesses, artisans, market women, petty traders, and table top traders.

If the impact he made on the room was in doubt, the opportunity for photo ops pretty much sealed it. Like kids who were star struck, the audience flocked towards Prof Osinbajo to take pictures, it was a moment to savour then and in the future,and no one was willing to pass up on it.

Prof. Osinbajo who also inaugurated the International Advisory Board of Oxford University Area Studies Centre, under the School of Global and Area Studies, was received by Nigerian-born, first Black African Rhodes Professor at St Antony’s College, Oxford, Professor Wale Adebanwi.

The other members of the inaugurated board are eminent leaders from across the world, including several African countries like Nigeria and South Africa.

?Bernard Okri is a founding member of the Global Economic Policy Initiative?

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“The Spirit Of Error” In Nigerian Politics, By Reuben Abati

About this period, four years ago to be precise I had gone to visit a notable politician and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party. Politics was very much in the air then as is the case now, and my host was neck-deep in it all. He was a major grassroots politician and a man of experience who brought into party politics so much enthusiasm and elan. I observed him at very close quarters and it was right to conclude that he was one of President Goodluck Jonathan’s unwavering supporters. Publicly, he gave the impression that he had held down his state, and even a substantial part of his region for both the party and the President.

He reportedly ran a strong grassroots political structure which included traditional rulers, students, market women, religious leaders and the ordinary people who on election day were expected to vote en masse for the ruling party and put the then emergent and assertive All Progressives Congress and its leaders to shame.

During election season, there are persons like that in every political party. They are the people on the field. They take reports to Abuja, give feedback to the party at the national level and shuttle between their states and Abuja.  They attend every major campaign. They say the right things. They pump up party leaders with adrenaline. When they do a calculation of the party’s chances and how happy the electorate are with the leadership, you would feel like celebrating even before the polls. The really talented ones among them are for the want of a better term, charmers or perhaps illusionists.  This particular politician, who shall remain nameless, is experienced and talented.

We got talking.  He asked me: “Reuben, what do you think of the PDP’s chances in the 2015 elections?” I told him everything looked good and that the Party will retain its majority status in power. I reeled off the achievements of the Jonathan administration. The APC Challenge? I dismissed the APC as a party of propagandists. “Those people? They will win in a few states, no doubt but they can’t take the Presidency…” When you are around politicians and you listen to them everyday, you are very likely to believe them and even begin to sound like them. Loyalty is also important, but this was not just about loyalty. I felt the President’s good performance deserved to be rewarded by the Nigerian people.

“I don’t see us winning”, my host responded. I was shocked. I almost fell off my seat. I wasn’t too sure that I heard him well. I asked what he meant by that. The party primaries had been concluded. Turn-out at campaigns was beginning to build up. The state Governors were all upbeat, or so it seemed. The traffic of politicians to-ing and fro-ing the Villa was so much there were hold-ups at the gate.

“We are going to lose”, my host repeated.

“How?”

“I will tell you”, he said.  “I have been in politics for years, and I have learnt to study the art very well. I can tell you that five months before any election, you can easily tell if your party is going to win or not. It is not even a matter of analysis. As a politician, you will know – from what the people say, from listening carefully to your followers, from watching the body language of the international community, and by just generally looking beyond the façade. I don’t see us winning.”

“But the ruling party looks good to me or am I missing something?”

“Yes, you are,” he affirmed.

He then proceeded to offer a state by state analysis of the party, painting a picture of grievances over party primaries, the imposition of candidates by the party’s National Working Committee, a growing pattern of deceit, the ethnic and religious division between the North and the South, and how the PDP had lost many of its faithful members. He went on:

“I don’t deceive myself. Many of those Governors you see who are promising heaven and earth, you will see that when the time comes, they will not deliver. There are many aggrieved persons staying back in the party who will not lift a finger to help the party. The people who have been badly treated during the primaries, and they have been ignored, nobody is listening to them, they will claim to be working for the party, they may even collect money but from what I see, it is only if a miracle happens.”

“This is serious”, I said. “But sir, why don’t you take this up at the highest levels, since you are convinced that the enemies are within”.

“I won’t call them enemies. I think it is something even more serious. When people join political parties in Nigeria, they expect to gain something in return. They want to be rewarded. They may follow a leader but you have to settle them.  I think the party and the government have been overtaken by the spirit of error.”

“Spirit of error?”

“Yes, spirit of error. I have been around long enough to know when a political party begins to fail and when it begins to lose the people, and even its own members. That is where we are, everybody is just making mistakes.”

A few weeks later, I saw the same man, back-slapping at party campaigns, hailing the President and other party leaders. I was confused. Obviously, I thought the spirit of error had disappeared and there was renewed hope for the party. I called the man aside out of curiousity: “Sir, what happened? Is there hope now?”

“I am a politician,” he said. “Every politician is an optimist. It is not over until it is over.” I didn’t get a chance to ask him again about the spirit of error.  But his prediction turned out to be prophetic.

I believe that history is about to repeat itself in Nigerian politics. The ruling party, the All Progressives Congress is exactly where the Peoples Democratic Party was in 2014/2015. APC leaders are making exactly the same mistakes. The PDP which appears to have learnt some lessons, is suddenly a re-energized party and with the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as its standard bearer and Peter Obi as running mate, the same Nigerian people who thought the PDP was bad are now turning around to say the PDP should be forgiven.  All sleeping cells of the PDP across the country are suddenly awake. The umbrella is up again, the rope that tied the broom together is loosened.

The success of the PDP in the last few months does not necessarily owe itself to any ingenuous strategy on the part of the leaders of the party, however, but more to the many unforced errors, and own goals, by the ruling party and its government. The government at the centre has lost the plot. When these days, its foot-soldiers and spokespersons argue that members of the PDP are corrupt, the quick response by even the worst critics of the opposition party, PDP, is that they can’t see any difference between the APC and the PDP. Some even insist that the PDP is better. In three years, the APC has frittered away its goodwill. The same international agencies and platforms that used to promote the administration have turned their back on it.

Internally, the party has been overtaken by all kinds of little Hitlers who have no qualms imposing their will on others and trampling upon the letters of democracy.  This much was put on embarrassing display during the recent Gubernatorial elections in Osun, and the party’s primaries across the country, but notably in Lagos, Osun, Rivers, Delta, Imo, Zamfara, Ogun, Oyo and so on. In 2014, five Governors walked away from the PDP. In 2018, many leaders of the APC have also taken a walk. The PDP told its disaffected members – “good riddance.” The APC is also singing the same song in 2018.

In 2014/15, the APC’s selling point was President Muhammadu Buhari. He was promoted as a nationalist, man of integrity and a reformed democrat. He promised to fight corruption and the people hailed him. They were tired of the PDP. They wanted change. Many believed in him as the messiah who will turn Nigeria around. Close to four years later, President Buhari is now at that point where most Nigerian leaders find themselves, covered by that standard, unscientific excuse: “the good man who is surrounded by bad people, bad advisers and bad politicians.”

The economy under his watch is slow and unproductive. In three months the country’s debt profile has jumped from N22. 4 triilion to $73.21  billion and the country wants to borrow more. His administration usually blames the previous administration. Many Nigerians no longer consider that a good strategy. They are similarly skeptical about the war against corruption.

This last point is well illustrated by the recent announcement of a plan to effectuate Executive Order No 6, under which the government proposes to place a travel ban on some yet unnamed and undisclosed Nigerians. Under the Order, the government seeks to stop persons indicted for corruption from travelling abroad, and to attach their properties.

The argument by government spokespersons that they are relying on a judgement by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja Federal High Court has been exposed for what it is: a lie, a ruse, an attempt to misinterpret the court, knowing that the judge is not likely to engage in a market-place explanation of its own ruling. That was the same thing they did at the 2018 NBA Conference, when they said the rule of law could be violated and that the Supreme Court had given them the right to do so in the Asari Dokubo case. This is not good for the state of our law.

The Court was clear: the Attorney General of the Federation can apply Executive Order No 6, only through the instrumentality of a Court Order. By by-passing the Court, the Executive arm seeks to be the judge, the jury and the executioner in its own case. It usurps the roles of the judiciary and the legislature, and serves notice of a return to dictatorship. The Order as proposed has been correctly described as a reincarnation of the notorious Decree 2 of 1984 and a violation of Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution.

the newspapers published a list of 50 names but the Executive has since announced that it has not published any list, but the people concerned know themselves. How? The combined effect of this opaqueness is that the government has imposed a regime of fear on the people. A secret watch list which can be applied at will is an act of intimidation against the Nigerian people. It is reckless and unwise, because political intimidation is the worst, most brazen form of rigging! In an election season, it is scary.

As a strategy, it makes no sense. At a time when the President and his party need the people’s votes, an open subversion of the rule of law is not a good method of votes solicitation. Whoever chose this time to take Nigeria back to 1984, has only strengthened the resolve of those who are already whispering that a second term for President Buhari would translate into misery for Nigerians. Executive Order No. 6, rather than further advance the anti-corruption war, has merely promoted fear and intimidation as instruments of governance. This is one more major error by the Buhari government.

I may see the need to visit that senior politician again to give me the benefit of what old men see sitting down, which younger men may not see even when they are standing.

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Party Primaries And Maters Arising Ahead Of 2019 Elections, By Idris Mohammed

Recently, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and People Democratic Party (PDP) along with other political parties conducted their primary elections as required by the electoral law and constitution of Nigeria which provides that political parties can conduct primary election or adopt consensus candidate that will compete.

The essence of primary election is to give party members/delegates the opportunity to have their say in the process, test the popularity of the aspirants and to present a candidate to the citizens.

Meanwhile, political parties in the just concluded primary elections adopted one of either direct or indirect method of selecting a candidate. The APC for example used the direct method were registered card-carrying members of the party elect candidates to fly the flag of the party at various positions during elections.

All registered members are expected to be allowed to vote in the primary election to elect the party’s representative in the general elections. The indirect primaries which was adopted by the PDP empowers group of voters called delegates to elect party representatives at various levels of elections. While both methods have its advantages and disadvantages, both parties largely abused the guidelines of the process even as both methods were combined in certain quarters to suit certain interest.

Despite the 10-page rules and regulation produced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to guide the conduct of primary elections in Nigeria, politicians and their political parties are always in the game of manipulating or violating guidelines. Observation reports from YIAGA Africa shows that majority of delegates were less interested in the quality and competency of their candidates, as the process became highly monetized. As a matter of fact, it was reported that delegates openly revealed that they are more interested in knowing the amount to be received than the quality of aspirants. Unfortunately, this trend of monetization of votes cuts across a handful of political parties.

At the moment, there are political upheavals in some states as a result of irregularities in the party primaries. Zamfara for example is a typical example where perceived has led to the ongoing impasse between the APC and INEC. Also, in Kano and Imo state, where the godfathers alleged appointed their son in-laws to be the candidates as Kaduna state continue to endure the tussle between the governor and the senator, with the first lady Aisha Buhari complaining of impunity in Adamawa, while Delta and Oyo states amongst others continue to swim in murky political waters. Automatic tickets and poor internal democracy amongst issues relating to exclusion of youth and women may also be the reason behind the political crisis in majority of the states.

It is shocking that money continue to play major role in the eyes of the delegates than the integrity and quality of the candidate. Media reports alleged that money in foreign currencies was shared in the venue of PDP primary election as the primaries may have been determined by the highest bidder. This will send wrong signal to the forth-coming general elections in 2019.

To make it worse, our political atmosphere is not favourable to young people especially women with the high cost of nomination forms demanded by political parties. This meant most of the young people were seen in the venues of the primaries as either party delegates, mobilisers or ad-hoc staff but not the aspirants. This leaves youth under the umbrella of unpopular political platforms, even though some people are of the opinion that popular candidates can contest in any party platforms but Nigerians are more interested in the party than the candidates.

Delegates should take issue-based politics rather than money in electing the candidates as this will produce competitive and competent leaders with vision and principles that will steer this country out of the present situation to the more promising and progressive atmosphere. It is now left for the Nigerians to vote wisely and vote the candidates with integrity that will take this country to the promised land.

Idris Mohammed is a Zonal Program Officer with YIAGA Africa wrote from Abuja

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How Obasanjo Further Indicted Atiku Despite Endorsing Him For 2019 Presidency, By Abubakar Usman

On Wednesday the 10th of October, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar paid a historic – albeit not unexpected – visit to his erstwhile boss and former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. During the visit, the later endorsed the former and in his press conference address even called him the president to be.

For the discerning, former President Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku did not come to many as a surprise. For Obasanjo, what is important in an endorsement is the future of his selfish corrupt interests; not the integrity, capacity, or sincerity of the endorsed.

Buhari was Obasanjo’s arch enemy in 2011 when he vigorously campaigned for former President Jonathan. He was to later dump his support for Jonathan and switched to Buhari in 2015 when Jonathan obviously did not give him what he wanted.

In a consistent pattern, today, he has switched support from Buhari to another. This time, to one man he has consistently derided and swore never to support because, in his words, God will never forgive him if he did so.

Obasanjo’s turncoat support for Atiku’s obsessive ambition to be President, irrespective of whatever reasons he gave may not be as a result of the conviction that Atiku is now the opposite version of what he once called him: corrupt, untrustworthy, a disaster, and many other uncomplimentary characters. His reason was simply for the fact that he lacked a candidate that would best protect his future interests in the control of Nigeria. If he had succeeded in putting together his Coalition for Nigeria Movement or a different candidate other than Atiku had emerged from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primaries, Atiku would still have remained the worst thing to Obasanjo.

Prior to now, Obasanjo had told everyone that cared to listen that his former Vice President is anything but good. He said he is corrupt, never to be trusted and sacrifices every other thing for his personal and selfish interests. He summed up this in his autobiography titled “My Watch,” where he described Atiku as thus:

“From the day I nominated Atiku to be my vice, he set his mind not for any good, benefit or service of the country, but on furiously planning to upstage, supplant or remove me at all cost and to take my place… “What I did not know, which came out glaringly later, was his parental background which was somewhat shadowy, his propensity to corruption, his tendency to disloyalty, his inability to say and stick to the truth all the time,a propensity for poor judgment, his belief and reliance on marabouts , his lack of transparency, his trust in money to buy his way out on all issues and his readiness to sacrifice morality, integrity, propriety truth and national interest for self and selfish interest”

The former President held on so much to his views of the former Vice President that he said that God will not forgive him if he supports Atiku for president. But Atiku’s visit to Abeokuta on Wednesday changed everything. Obasanjo went back to his vomit, but wittingly, he picked his words very carefully such that he exonerated himself from any wrong positioning and instead further indicted Atiku and left him with the burden of having to explain to Nigerians what they may soon be demanding answers to. Let us take a look at Obasanjo’s comment and the questions arising from them.

“In the presence of these distinguished leaders of goodwill today, let me say it openly that we have reviewed what went wrong on the side of Atiku. And in all honesty, my former Vice-President has re-discovered and re-positioned himself.  As I have repeatedly said, it is not so much what you did against me that was the issue but what you did against the Party, the Government and the country.”

“From what transpired in the last couple of hours or so, you have shown remorse; you have asked for forgiveness and you have indicated that you have learnt some good lessons and you will mend fences and make amends as necessary and as desirable.

“Whenever or wherever you might have offended me, as a Christian who asks for God’s forgiveness of my sins and inadequacies on daily basis, I forgive and I sincerely advise you to learn from the past and do what is right and it will be well with you. Obviously, you have mended fences with the Party and fully reconciled with the Party.”

“There are still areas, nationally and internationally, where you have to mend fences and make amends.  You will know how to handle what is already out and what may yet be put out by the opposition.  But, I am convinced that if you continue with the attitude that brought you here with these distinguished leaders of goodwill, with remorse and contrite heart, the rest of the coast within and outside the country can be cleared.  And if there is anything I can do and you want me to do in that respect, I will do.

The questions arising from these comments by Obasanjo which himself or Atiku must provide answers to are thus:

What went wrong on the side of Atiku and what exactly has he done that proves he has “re-discovered and re-positioned” so much that he is getting Obasanjo’s endorsement to run for president?

What were the wrongs Atiku committed against the country that are so much compare to the ones he committed against Obasanjo as a person?

If Atiku wronged the country as Obasanjo said, why did he go to beg him for forgiveness and not Nigerians?

What were the good lessons Atiku learnt that resulted to him begging for forgiveness and what does the mending of fences and making of amends entail?

What are the coasts nationally and internationally in which Atiku must mend fences that Obasanjo wants to help him clear?

Until disclosures to these questions are made, it is safe to say that Obasanjo’s endorsement of Atiku in the full glare of some clerics and notable Nigerians is display of the gathering of rapacious hawks determined to feast on the commonwealth of Nigeria.

Abubakar Usman writes from Abuja. He tweets @MrAbuSidiq

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Behold, They Shall Surely Gather Together, But … Nathaniel Adoji

On 11 October some Nigerian politicians and clergymen gathered at the residence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo to decide and seal the future of Nigeria and Nigerians.

As if the votes of the people didn’t matter, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar was declared as the President-to-be by his once feuding boss, Obasanjo. Indeed, Obasanjo was playing ‘god’ and he carried himself like one who had all Permanent Voters Cards in Nigeria.

But that was not even the talking point, what stunned most Nigerians and observers was Obasanjo’s decision to confirm a curse upon himself. The former military Head of State once said that if he supports Atiku, then God should not forgive him, perhaps God who honours his word more than his name will decide his fate that’s a story for another day.

But the Bible is clear, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.” Proverbs 23 vs 7.

This speaks volume about the new-found partnership between Obasanjo and Atiku, but if that is regarded the way of politicians, then what do we say of men of God who have openly allowed themselves to be swayed.

This Bible verse best describes their actions. Psalm 1 verse 1 says: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”

The Bible also states in Psalm 26 vs 4-6 says: “I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go with dissemblers. I have hated the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with the wicked. I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O Lord.”

But it appears that Bishop David Oyedepo, general overseer of Winners Chapel and Reverend Mathew Kukah of the Catholic Church are reading from a different Bible.

The former was grinning from ear to ear as he stood in between Atiku Abubakar (a man judged by men in the United States for his corrupt activities) and Obasanjo (who converted Operation Feed the Nation assets for personal use) as he walked, sat and stood with them in Abeokuta.

For the latter, it was him who took Atiku and Obasanjo hands along with that of Sheikh Ahmed Gumi to seal the new coalition of leaders regrouping to re-loot our commonwealth.

As supposed men of God, where was 2 Corinthians 6 vs 14 in their minds? The Bible says: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

If that is not enough to convince you, what about Romans 12 vs 2? “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

For those who are not easily convinced by their actions, here’s what Jesus had to say in the book of Mathew 23. “Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.

5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. 6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. 7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’

11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

One thing is certain, the word of God will not return to him void except it has accomplished that which God pleases. And since God honours his words more than his name, then the word Isaiah should be taken very seriously.

By Nathaniel C. Adoji

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Buhari’s Farm: Where Atiku Missed The Point, By Maiwada Dammallam

When I read the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, making fun of President Mohammadu Buhari’s modest farm in Daura, I thought PDP/Atiku would be sensible to use the few months ahead explaining why any sensible Nigerian would abandon the safety of President Buhari’s leadership to experiment with Atiku Abubakar as the modern day Christoper Columbus who will discover Nigeria’s El-Dorado.

Not that I’m blaming Atiku for daily rolling in the mud just to stain President Buhari after all, you can only take a pig out of the gutter but you can’t take the gutter out of a pig. I’m only interested in the absurdity of Atiku’s campaign theme which is wholly centered on the person of President Buhari while ignoring the importance of explaining to Nigerians how he intend to address the problems he kept preaching to Nigerians that President Buhari has failed to address.

It was quite petty reading his remarks about Buhari’s farm. I will contribute few words to explain why Atiku couldn’t comprehend the rate of growth of President Buhari’s farm.

President Buhari farming business is a legitimate business, the only business civil servant are allowed to engage in. The rate of growth of his farm/cattle is commensurate with the economic reality of Nigeria and in conformity with what’s obtainable in the North west. Buhari refused to used numerous opportunities that came his way to turn his farm into the big business Atiku had in mind when he attempt to assess the success of Buhari the farmer.

If President Buhari was a corrupt, unscrupulous, conscienceless and unpatriotic Nigerian, Atiku’s farm in Adamawa which he claimed is the biggest, would be a little portion in Buhari’s farm after he financed its growth with proceeds from his offices as Minister of Petroleum, Governor of N’East, Head of State and Chairman of the most successful intervention Programme in this part of the world, the PTF.

Had Buhari wanted, his Daura farm would have been an international brand with tentacles covering all parts of the globe long before Atiku discover the magic lamp that transmogrify a civil servant into a billionaire businessman that could afford to buy the conscience of a once described biggest political party in Africa, the PDP.

But then, probably there wouldn’t be a Kaduna or Port Harcourt refinery for Nigerians to see and acknowledge his uprightness. There would only be a Buhari playing big league in agriculture, rubbing shoulders with the John Marlones, Brad Kelly and the Emmerson family at the expense of shortchanged Nigerians. That he’s being mocked by local giants for his modesty by Atiku only confirmed our disrespect for honor and integrity.

Buhari may not have a farm with a fancy name that resonate across Nigeria but he’s generously compensated with a name that not only resonate across the globe but cause jitters among so called “successful businessmen” of Atiku’s class and background. I’m sure President Buhari could easily give details of his investment without mixing gari and sand. I’m yet to get a coherent history of Atiku’s so called business acumen. In one story Atiku claimed he started his business with a housing loan with which he built a house on a land allocated him by his state.

In another story he claimed he obtained a loan, bought vehicles and started a transport business. He left many unanswered questions without which making sense of his claims is humanly impossible. We may have to wait until Atiku settled on one of the two stories before we forensically audit his businesses to determine the rate of growth that made him the billionaire international businessman he is.

Before then, let’s just say it’s highly probable that his business empire is an extension of the public offices he held and this stands until somebody provides detailed explanation of Atiku’s sources of funding his conglomerate.

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2019 Polls: ‘Atikulating’ the Atiku Option, By Nkannebe Raymond

When it became clear that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would emerge the candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the just concluded National Convention of the party, as I watched from the comfort of my apartment yesterday (Sunday) morning, I was overtaken by emotions. Late Saturday night, as I followed the exercise on screen, I had told a group of friends whom I had a conversation with (on the chances of each of the twelve aspirants), that this was Atiku’s last shot at the presidency considering the odds his declining age would pose to any further aspirations come 2023 in the event he loses the ticket this time. And more so, as it would be hard to think that the cracks that occurred both in the APC and the PDP in the race to 2019, would repeat itself in a manner such as would come with a basket of opportunity for the man.

And so when it was eventually announced that he has emerged the candidate of the PDP after an electoral process that would make a Yakubu Mohammed rethink his appropriateness for the office he occupies, after garnering a whopping 1532 votes with his closest rival scratching a distant 693 votes, I took pity on a man whose political road in the words of that great Educationist, Tai Solarin, has been rough.

At the same time, I was happy for him for having stepped up to  the threshold of history this time, as in all his five  attempts at clinching the number 1 political office in the Country which began in 1991, never has he stood in a position that saw him more close to its actualization as now.

All previous attempts have not quite seen him become a candidate under a platform with the structure to give life to what critics might call vaulting ambitions. When he emerged the candidate of the defunct Action Congress (AC) in 2007 after a bare knuckled political warfare with his erstwhile boss, he  came a distant third at the general election, garnering supposedly only 7% of the votes in an election that stands out today as the worst in the nation’s chequered history. 2011 was ‘a no-go-area’ of sorts given the peculiar nature of the political environment at the time, while 2014 saw him lose out at the primaries to the incumbent president.

And so when he took that historical walk from where he sat at the VIP section of the Adokiye  Amiesimaka  Stadium in Port Harcourt ?venue of the convention, up to the podium to deliver his acceptance speech for what he acknowledges as a privilege to serve, I was literally overtaken by goose bumps brought about by a solemn retrospection into the  tortuous political journey of a man whose success story is the prototypical tale of unflinching determination and doggedness towards the actualisation of a noble cause.

And I like to think that the emotional weight of all these, must have operated in no small measure to force the tears down his plum cheeks while he picked the party’s presidential ticket months ago? tears which must have been informed by his innermost acknowledgment of the fact that this was his last chance at the presidency that so fits his carriage and body frame after repeated trials that must have come with huge financial, emotional and psychological costs at each occasion. In many ways, his journey to the current position he occupies, mirrors the circumstances that also dogged incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari’s aspirations to the presidency, which eventually found manifestation three years ago.

Atiku’s ambitions all along must have suffered from the damage wrought on his person by former President Olusegun Obasanjo who for reasons best known to him, has sworn not to forgive his former deputy for “sins” that have not been effectively communicated to Nigerians. While the Ota farmer’s influence across the Nigerian political firmament remained intact, they operated to frustrate the emergence of an Atiku Presidency. And on many occasions, the former president had come out to say that “while he lives, Atiku would not be President”. This ‘damage’ as it appeared, soon became a sing-song and many Nigerians in their typical uncritical manner bought whatever was said of him by the ‘Chief Watcher of the Federation’ of the presidential library infamy.

Across Nigeria, people who knew little or nothing of the antecedents of the man?particularly as relates to the foundations of his wealth which dates back to many years before his becoming a vice-president, were given to react dismissively of him, on grounds amongst others that he “is corrupt”. On several occasions I have been buffeted by critics who are never tired of describing the man as a Robin hood of sorts. You’d think that they would be generous enough to give flesh to these very outlandish allegations, but all you’ll get are recitations of conspiracy theories that would make a script for a blockbuster motion picture.

For many of these traducers visibly suffering from acute “pull-him-down-syndrome”, they were only relaying or repeating what they heard that was said of the man. Indeed, the story of Atiku’s ugly perception amongst many Nigerians as aided by the media, lends credence to the gobbelian propagandist philosophy that when you consistently repeat falsehood it somehow graduates into truth. But the fact remains that these allegations are mere hogwash, and calculated attempt to tarnish the man’s hard earned reputation.

With his emergence yesterday as the PDP’s candidate, there seem to have been a resurgent of this well lubricated propaganda that tars the waziri Adamawa with the brush of corruption. A ‘corruptness’, if I might use that word, that has not been substantiated by any court of competent jurisdiction many years after he left public service.

The rave of the moment however, is the petty insinuation making the rounds that Atiku cannot be issued with an American Visa, having been banned from entry into that country on allegations bordering on corruption as though a visit to the United States were a condition precedent to qualify to the exalted office of the Nigerian president?a campaign launched and funded by a section of the political Mafioso that rue the emergence of an Atiku Presidency.

But the tables are looking set to be turned with the popular mandate he received yesterday. For all the outright falsehood that have been peddled against the person of Atiku Abubakar, the good news as far as one could gather, is that many Nigerians are beginning to see through the ruse having witnessed the oversized ‘integrity’ of president Muhammadu Buhari and his ‘lifeless’ superintendence.

Many persons are beginning to ask critical questions of these blatant allegations that resemble those of a Christine Blassey Ford against, a very fine Judge in the United States, which cries to the heavens for substantiation. More enlightened Nigerians are no longer willing to lend themselves to be used as a fodder to propagate sheer falsehood against a man who have built businesses across the length and breadth of this country, and have created wealth more than any other politician of his ranking.  Nigerians are now more disposed to pointing naysayers to the numerous accomplishments of the man in the business world that speak eloquently of his often scrutinised wealth.

But even more importantly, all through social media, commentators have not ceased calling attention to the fact that the 2019 election is not a referendum on the integrity or otherwise of Atiku Abubakar. They have reiterated that it remains a referendum on Buhari’s performance in the core areas of Economy, Corruption and Security, in the last three and a half years he has been in the saddle.

The sentiment out there is that Nigeria must not be led by a saint for it to make progress. On the contrary, Nigerians seem to be asking for a competent hand and a quality-head who understands the Nigerian problem and most importantly can engineer solutions out of them. And the consensus out there is that incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, cannot deliver on that score, lacking in the main, the intellectual capacity and innovation of mind to rejig the extant comatose ship of state.

Having acknowledged that at the core of the progress of modern nation states is the function of how they revolutionize their economy to position it for profits in an international market that has become too competitive,  the public sentiment seem to be that having built from the scratch very successful businesses that today  provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs to many Nigerians, an Atiku Presidency, can only draw from these sterling credentials to turn around the deplorable state of the Nigerian economy that saw the country ignominiously become the world’s poverty capital as per the Brookings Institution reports released some four months ago. This, more than anything else remains the selling point of the Atiku option.

With what has been described as a one sided war against corruption;  increasing insecurity in the North East, Northwest and middle belt regions of the country, that the current administration has failed to deliver on the minimum standards it set for itself at inception is no longer open to debate. While it cannot be seriously canvassed that Nigerians are now safer than they used to be, the overbanked crusade against corruption remain for the most part a sensational warfare targeted at opposition party members?this much, finds context in the testimonies of international economic institutions, ala HSBC and The Economist Report.  Little wonder why the atmosphere from the North to the East and down to the South today, is: “give us anything but Buhari”? a similar situation that played out in 2015 to the political milage of the current administration.

As though committed to making true his declaration in the early days of his government that constituencies that gave him 97 per cent votes in the 2015 elections would be more accommodated as against those which gave a paltry 5 per cent votes, the instant administration has unwittingly ran a government that makes nonsense of inclusivity and the constitutionally sanctioned Federal Character principle; thus overruling himself on his famous “I belong to everybody, I belong to nobody” declaration.

If there is one area where Nigerians have achieved consensus on the Buhari presidency, it is indeed in his tribalist, nay nepotistic tendencies that have operated to qualify only northern Muslims for choice positions in his government. The ugly consequence of this, is the division today in the polity across ethnic and religious lines; a division exacerbated by a president’s proclivity to see the Country only through the prism of the grasslands of the savannah.

But the point in all this is that an Atiku presidency would contrast this condemnable political behaviour in many ways. Whereas a devout Muslim from the Fulani stock, Atiku Abubakar without any intent to be hyperbolic, could pass for the most detribalised of Nigerians. A veritable instance of this came to full throttle 25 years ago when he shelved his presidential ambitions by stepping down for M.K.O Abiola, a Southerner, against a fellow Northerner, Babagana Kingibe in the June 12, 1993 election. His extensive public service years that saw him crisscross  different parts of the Country, with a large chunk of that in the oil rich Rivers State; and his successful business background must have operated to bring about his libertarian persona that looks for the best in people without  ethnic or sectarian prejudice.

Indeed to be able to bring about a transformative leadership with the ability to unite Nigerians around a pan-Nigerian vision for global competitiveness among the committee of well managed states, the Nigerian leader must not only be detribalised, but seen to be detribalised so as to be able to galvanize the peoples of Nigeria around a common cause with vistas of improvement in their overall wellbeing. With a close circle of associates, family ties and extensive business dealings, Atiku indeed typifies a united Nigeria that is at home with all, and all is at home with. And this can be seen in his consistently demonstrated commitment to the unity and cohesion of Nigeria at important times in its history.

With an unapologetic belief in restructuring as a key panacea to our arrested development, Nigerians are assured of a president who will be ready to take the bulls by the horn in order to set the nation on the path of sustainable growth and development. To be sure,  restructuring, as far as the present realities of Nigeria goes, is a project that can no longer be dismissed with a wave of the hand or made obscure by the writ of governmental quangos, a vice president, inclusive.

If indeed Nigerians desire a fiscal restructuring of the Country, then an Atiku presidency, would surely give life to those desires as he has not wavered from reiterating the need for a restructured Nigeria. And his proposals around this, is not in the least vague. Restructuring would simply be achieved by tinkering with the Constitution in some respect to depopulate the exclusive legislative list, and return some items on the concurrent list to the states, he argues. And this, he has said, is achievable in six months.

At a function at the University of Nigeria Nsukka few months ago, he threw more light on this campaign thus: Restructuring would mean devolving more powers to the federating units with the accompanying resources. It means greater control by the federating units of the resources in their areas. It would mean, by implication, the reduction of the powers and roles of the federal government so that it would concentrate only on those matters that could best be handled by the centre and fiscal policies, immigration, customs and excise, aviation as well as setting and enforcing national standards on such matters as education, health and safety….I believe that the benefits accruing from these first steps will help us move towards changes that require amendments to our constitution”. One cannot agree more.

Beyond all these, Atiku comes across as a quintessential manager of men and resources. As a successful business man whose enterprise run more on capacity than contact, he is unarguably equipped with the requisite skills and knowledge of practical economic management to lead Nigeria’s economic renaissance.

As a business owner with operations in sensitive areas of the economy, he obviously understands the need of creating an enabling economic environment that would attract investors, and catalyse economic growth. As a major player in critical sectors of the economy with a distinction for massive job creation, it is without a doubt that Atiku is better positioned to be entrusted with a nation in economic doldrums as against a professional politician whose only claim to economic success is in animal husbandry in the remote corners of Daura, Katsina state that couldn’t buy a presidential nomination form.

With his vast economic experiences and contacts both within and without, Atiku can leverage on all of these positives in developing economic blueprints that would create jobs, expand the economy and pull out millions of Nigerians from a biting and excruciating poverty. And finally, as the success of his numerous businesses cannot be divorced from the quality of heads and hands managing them, it is beyond debate that Atiku has an eye for the best of professionals.

And  by the same token, Nigerians can rest assured that his presidency would bring together the finest of brains who would help in driving the Getting Nigeria Working Again, policy thrust of his campaign.

The Choice before Nigerians as 2019 approaches therefore is not much: it is one between a president that has shown repeatedly not to be armed with the basic tools and intellectual component of leading a nation in the 21st century, and a man who has consistently proven to be innovative, technologically inclined and consistently elevating the discourse around the Nigerian question on occasions as against calling for dogs and baboons to be enmeshed in war. It is a choice between a leap away from the current state of economic quagmire, to one with vistas of economic prosperity for all and sundry; for it could be argued that if Atiku could do it with his numerous businesses, he is more likely to do so with Nigeria; in the same way a Donald Trump who rode to power in the United States on the wings of his successful business background in 2016, is today turning around the economic fortunes of the country. Nigerians therefore, must resist the temptation to obfuscate the real issues in the days to come by hired hands of the incumbent administration with the dissipation of energy over a phantom trip to the United States or an unsubstantiated criminal indictment.

For all the hoopla that would be made of these in the days to come, Nigerians must not forget that the fact remains that “Atiku’s incontestable nationalist credentials and business acumen stands him in good stead to unite Nigerians of all ethnic nationalities around a purposeful pan-Nigerian economic agenda that will transform the Country from its current status of a political wasteland to that of economic opportunities and successful competitive modern economy which can grow its wealth base by securing an increased share of global resources through improved external trade and overseas investment” as one fine commentator put it.

If our choices by 2019 are calibrated along these lines, then the Atiku option would be an easy one.

Raymond Nkannebe?a legal practitioner and public affairs analyst writes from Lagos and can be reached through raymondnkannebe@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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Analysis Of The Massive Financial Corruption At The PDP Primary Convention, By Sirajo Gassol

There are at least 4,000 delegates participating in PDP’s presidential primary election. Saraki is paying each delegate $1,000 (N350,000), that is potentially $4Million (N1.4 Billion) for delegates alone, his opening bid as at yesterday. Atiku opened his own bid at $5,000 (N1,750,000) per delegate, or $20,000,000 (N7 Billion) for all the delegates. Nyesom Wike was paying $10,000 per delegate, or $40,000,000 (N14,000,000,000) for delegates alone. These figures were part of the early bids as at yesterday. Nobody knows how much they finally paid, but some inside sources said it’s been up to $15,000 (N5,250,000) per delegate.

There are at least 12 aspirants contesting in this election, and by the time they’re done hundreds of billions of naira must have changed hands. Only that they’re not spending it in naira, they’re spending it in dollars. When we told you that the recession that happened due to the hoarding of dollars and depletion of our foreign reserves and excess crude account was caused by the PDP you denied…

So where did they get the dollars they’re spending now from? How many of them have any private business that generates so much wealth? Or are they simply spending money belonging to poor people? What exactly are they buying that they have to spend so much? Is it only vote they’re buying or our future with it? Are these the same bunch of hypocrites who like to release press statements condemning vote buying when election does not go their way but who are shamelessly buying votes right under our noses? Can we honestly expect anything good from this same characters who said they have repented and that we should forgive them their sins but who have not shown any sign of repentance at all? How exactly will they “change the change” if they have not even changed their own corrupt ways?

The signs are always there, right before our very own eyes. Everything to show that the one who promises El Dorado is nothing but a fraud, but we almost always chose to ignore them because of our own prejudice and personal interests. How exactly is a Saraki, a Tambuwal, a Kwankwoso, an Atiku who is being sponsored by money stolen from poor people better than a Buhari who was voted in by the ordinary masses of Nigeria without a single dime changing hands? I trust some of you would like to remind me that when Buhari first came into power that he was sponsored by stolen money too, but you’re saying that that Buhari should give way for someone better… So how exactly is the one you’re supporting today better? Would you not rather stick with the “devil” you know than the wolves in sheep clothing that we all know are even far worse?

If you think Buhari is bad then wait for Kwankwoso, wait for Atiku, wait for Saraki and wait for Tambuwal. These are people who have no pity for the poor. At least Buhari pities the poor, which is why he pays them NPOWER, gives their children free feeding in school, gives them conditional cash transfers, invests heavily in food production through his agric revolution, gives bailouts to state governments to pay salaries, and refused to devalue the naira…

So, if you see all that and say Buhari is bad then wait for a people who have no respect for poor people. Saraki is today the Senate President, what has he done to restructure the country which is a constitutional matter? What has he done to improve the welfare of poor people? Tambuwal is today the governor of Sokoto State, should he not first transform Sokoto State before coming to ask for a bigger responsibility? When he was speaker of the House of Reps, what did he do about the restructuring he’s deceiving us with today? That one called Atiku was the most powerful Vice President in Nigerian history, yet only used his powers to enrich himself and his cronies at the expense of the poor masses.

Listen to them talk today, none of them says anything about corruption… Is that because corruption is dead in Nigeria or because they simply do not have the moral ground to speak against it? None of them tells us what they’re going to do to strengthen institutions like the police, judiciary, INEC etc… None of them has any clearcut plan on the economy, security, restructuring, power supply, job creation, education, healthcare, restructuring. The only thing they say is “Buhari has failed, we’re going to do better because he who failed woefully before have repented”, even though there is no evidence to that.

I just pity the gullible wailers who don’t know their left from their right, this is why these people are playing them like football.

Sirajo Sabo Gassol.
7th October 2018.

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UNGA: Buhari Does It Again On The Global Stage, By Ayobami Akanji

More than ever before in human history, we share a common destiny. We can master it only if we face it together. And that, my friends, is why we have the United Nations – Kofi Annan

On December 29, 1941 the text of the declaration of the United Nations (UN) was constructed at the White House by President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), Prime Minister, Winston Churchill and Harry Hopkins, FDA’s chief diplomatic adviser. The term UN was officially used for the first time when 26 governments signed that declaration.

The United Nations comprises of 6 principal organs, the General Assembly, the Security Council, Economic and Social Council, International Court of Justice, Trusteeship Council, and the Secretariat. Our focus will be on the ground leveling speech the Nigerian leader gave at the United Nations General Assembly on its 73rd edition, his arguments for the expansion of its Security Council to accommodate more diversity.

However, that Nigeria’s battered international image has been reconstructed and laundered with the technique of a profound leadership and a detergent constituted by sincerity, honesty, diligence and hard work isn’t in doubt. This can be witnessed from the influx of world leaders trooping in by the minutes, as the world’s most populous black nation trudges back to the highest echelon of African and Global topnotch diplomacy.

President Buhari’s, participation and speech at the UNGA was a poignant pointer to what straight lines can be gotten when a sharp-edged leader is employed by the populace. Short but concise couldn’t be more apt an aphorism.  During the past year, the world saw some positive results and encouraging signs from the bilateral and multilateral efforts of the international community to address conflicts, crises and threats to world peace. Mr. President particularly commended the efforts of the leaders of the United States, North Korea, and South Korea, to realise the shared goal of a nuclear free Korean Peninsula.

The world’s largest diplomatic gathering is the right podium to push and posit as Africa’s premier country of diplomacy. President Buhari, ticked everything right. With the accuracy of a driver, he assembled Nigeria’s delegation there and harped on Nigeria’s commitment to international peace and security, applauded the success recorded in several parts of the globe, among which is the resolved Ethiopia and Eritrea conundrum.

As the Chairman of ECOWAS, he spoke on illegal migration, proliferation of small arms and how the bloc is finding a lasting solution.

The world today is tilting towards the precipice. This thought was echoed by the UN Secretary General when he said “Today, the world is increasingly chaotic, democratic principles are under siege”. Evidence can be seen in what is happening in Syria and the worsening human crisis in Yemen, and challenges being faced in the North East of Nigeria.

Apart from pledging Nigeria’s commitment to peace and security, President Buhari also acknowledged efforts made by the UN, Geneva process and Sochi initiatives, a la carte, to mitigate and control the spiraling evils from this theatre of shattered humanity and domain of ballistic convivial destruction. There is no need for the world to be at each other’s neck.

Tension was greatly deflated when President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Il Jong met in Singapore to douse problems and charge a course of new beginnings. President Buhari acknowledged their commitment to peace, disarmament and denuclearization. Being a victim of how the rule of law can be, like a knob in the hands of those familiar with its soft side, turned to the highest decibels and danced to, he talked on the needs for the world in general to show more respect for the rule of law. Not only respect but a diligent commitment to accepting the dictates of the law and that the law is supreme, whether or not it favours.

Mr President has always been known to have a strong sympathy for the worsening state of the Lake Chad Basin. That it was a major source of livelihood to more than 45 million people is enough to tickle the heart of any human. But today, the effects of Climate change has forced the lake to continuously shrink by about 90%, presenting and increasing risk of a humanitarian crisis. President Buhari analysed that the loss of their means of livelihood has led to migration to places where food and other life’s essentials won’t be hard to get. He called for diligence in recharging the Lake Chad Basin.

Consequently, it has been established that the instability currently experienced, either insurgency in the Sahel or the farmers herdsmen clashes can be attributed to the Chad Basin, reason Mr. President commended the Governments of Germany, Norway, US, Sweden, UK, and France for their help in addressing this issue by raising over $1 billion in funding to help implement the stability drive.

Whereas, the anti-corruption champion of the African continent couldn’t as little as forget to talk on corruption, the focal leg of his tripod campaign promises back home – he recapitulated it on a  global stage. He canvassed for more international help for the fight against this mamba of ferocious and near-apocalyptic destruction-esque. Not stopping there, he also talked on illicit flow of funds by reminding leaders of the Thabo Mbeki report which estimated that $80 billion illicit financial flows out of Africa annually, and 40% of these funds is from Nigeria; commitment is needed in investigating and prosecuting anyone found guilty in this heist.

Similarly, President Buhari campaigned for the expansion of the U.N Security Council to allow for more members on this organ so as to reflect the world’s regional diversity. Nigeria has for over two decades been spearheading the expansion of the Security Council to enable it become more equitable, the President harped on a U.N. Security Council which needs the representation of the majority of members to be achieved with a unity of purpose as 70% of the UNSC resolutions focuses on Africa – now is the time to have African leadership at this high level of decision making organ. Turkey, like Nigeria, has also been raising advocacy for this reform, the campaign “the world is bigger than five’’ – a reference to the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council has been championed by the Turkish government.

On health related issues, Mr President attended a high level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis, as Nigeria ranked seventh in the world and second in Africa on the list of tuberculosis-burden countries; tuberculosis kills more than 4,000 people annually. The current administration has been investing hugely in the health sector, especially community and primary healthcare, the government recently approved N6.07 trillion for a five-year National Health Strategic Plan, the government also pledged one percent of its Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for basic healthcare provision.

Nigeria signed an MoU for a grant of $125k to promote Nigeria’s rock art. It was signed by the Trust For African Rock Art (TARA), National Commission for Monuments and Museums (NCMM), University of Calabar and Ahmadu Bello University.

There is a fulfilment that comes with doing the right thing and putting your best efforts. This fulfilment comes from the truism that hard work brings good results. This explains why Nigerians are on board this train led by the President. We’ve not gotten there yet. No, we’re not jetlagged, we have the endurance to take us till 2023.

Akanji is a political strategist, and writes from Abuja

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Finally, Nigeria Evades The Egmont Group Hammer, By Ayobami Akanji

Corruption is worse than prostitution. The latter might endanger the morals of an individual, the former invariably endangers the morals of the entire country – Karl Kraus

The Egmont Group, is a network of 157 countries or Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) across the world. The Group serves as a hub where members exchange financial intelligence which aids them in fighting money-laundering and terrorism financing.

It is poignant to add that FIUs are uniquely positioned to cooperate and support national and international efforts in tracing clandestine movement of funds, as they are trusted gateways for sharing financial information domestically and internationally, in compliance with global Anti Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) standards.

It was a big news when the story broke of Nigeria’s Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) being disconnected by the EGMONT Working Group on July 5, 2017 at its plenary of Heads of FIUs in Macau. Nigeria was  disconnected after the FIU identified two issues which Nigeria must address before September 2018 plenary to ensure the suspension is lifted or risk outright expulsion.

However, the concerns bordered on the expectation of the group for a review of the relevant provisions of the EFCC Act which, currently, is the law that created the NFIU, to guarantee the “protection of confidentiality, specifically as regards the status of Suspicious Transfer Reports information derived from international exchanges”  and not an outright passage of a new law.

Furthermore, if the expulsion was  allowed to happen – it would have practically destabilized Nigeria’s financial industry. Nigeria would be blacklisted in international finance; Visa, MasterCard amongst others, issued by Nigerian financial institutions will be rejected, correspondent banking will erode, risk profile of the country will plummet, our ability to attract critical capital that will boost the economy will be reduced and over all, the confidence in Nigeria’s financial industry will plummet.

Correspondingly, to show the administration’s seriousness in changing the tide swiftly, and given the importance of the intelligence gotten from the EGMONT Group, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, set up an ad-hoc committee to realign the NFIU with the sole aim of ensuring Nigeria’s membership is restored, which finally led to lifting of the suspension of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) during its 25th plenary in Sydney, Australia.  The NFIU has an independent legal framework which was confirmed by the Egmont Group fact-finding mission who paid an unscheduled visit to the NFIU office in Abuja. An excited staff of the NFIU said this of the visitation “They inspected all our facilities and they were impressed. So, at the meeting on Wednesday in Sydney, the report was tabled before the plenary and the suspension was lifted.”

The NFIU will now  act as the central body in Nigeria responsible for requesting, receiving, analysing and disseminating financial and other information to all law enforcement and security agencies and other relevant authorities.

Conversely, this move, signing of the bill by President Buhari  will boost and help Nigeria’s fight against corruption. It will  improve confidentiality in the handling of financial informations. The NFIU is now an independent and operationally autonomous body, institutionally domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and will now consolidate effectively the recently signed Executive Order 6, aimed at strengthening the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Moreover, the current administration has placed the fight against corruption on the top burner as the country signed on to various strategic international institutions to help curb the adverse effects of grand corruption on Nigerians such as; the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an MOU with the Global Forum for Asset Recovery (GFAR) aside homegrown solutions like the Treasury Single Account (TSA), Efficiency Unit (E Unit), Whistleblower policy while President Buhari has used every international fora to advocate the return of stolen assets back to Nigeria.

Akanji is a political strategist, and writes from Abuja

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Why President Buhari Must Rise To The Occasion And Save APC From Collapse, By Salihu Hassan

This is a trying and tough time for the ruling party and time is running against it. The president must be decisive and show leadership. Oshiomole and Tinubu are hell bent on destroying the APC and if something urgent is not done that is the end of the party.

The party has taken the path to self-destruct. Oshiomole is out there disqualifying eligible aspirant who have made all the requirements and guidelines laid down by the party. How can you deceived people into spending their monies to purchase forms and campaign just to disqualify them at the last minute in order to pave way for unpopular incumbent who cannot win election for the party. In my senatorial district of Adamawa south for instance, eight aspirants including a ranking senator and former spokesman of the senate, Senator Silas Zwingina, were all disqualified to give way for the incumbent, Senator Ahmad Moallahyidi, who is not popular enough to win a reelection. It is the same story in Adamawa north.

Someone like Senator Shehu Sani who spent the last three years insulting and castigating the party, the president and his state governor to the excitement of the opposition is now rewarded with automatic ticket. This is a clear case of rewarding disloyalty and sabotage. This is injustice and the chairman should know that where there is no justice there cannot be peace. Running a political party is not same with running Labour unions. You cannot just wake up and disqualify eligible aspirant who have spent their resources and precious time to campaign.

The case of Kaduna central is pathetic were five aspirant were seated at the venue of the election just to read online that all of them have been disqualified from the contest except Senator Shehu Sani. We are in a democracy and the party should not give a preferential treatment to any aspirant. All eligible aspirants should be given equal opportunities to test their popularity. If the party succeeded in imposing the incumbent without giving the other contestant a chance for a fair contest, that will only lead to protest vote against the party. There is confusion everywhere in the party. Many states are yet to conduct their gubernatorial primaries.

The president must do the needful and reverse this act of injustice. This is a clear case of cheating and corruption because the party deliberately collected money from this aspirant and then disqualified them without any justification. This means it doesn’t pay to be loyal party men and women. It is gross violation of human right and against the principle of justice and fair play. The APC ought to be a revolutionary party and model for democracy but sadly Oshiomole is becoming dictatorial.

What the party did is against the principle of natural justice and tenets of democracy. I am highly disappointed this is coming from a man who is human right fighter and former labour leader who should know better and be in the best position to do justice to the weak and powerful members of the party. This is same man that was rig out in an election and had to go to court to get justice. Unfortunately he is doing worse now that he is in a position of authority.

How can the party give automatic tickets to the MPs who have been sabotaging government through budget padding and then make the incumbent governors vulnerable by subjecting them to direct primaries. Oshiomole should thread with caution because the governors are the financers of the party. Oshiomole is only implementing Tinubu’s minority policies against the wish of majority members of the party all because of his 2023 presidential ambition. This is not how to run a political party. By denying people their civic right of contesting, the party cannot claim to be democratic and it is indirectly pushing them out of the party. These disqualified aspirants are left with no choice than to defects to other parties that can do justice to them and also give them the opportunity to realize their ambition.

Politics is a game of number and one vote can make you to win or lose an election as seen in the recent concluded Osun election. Today the APC is yet to conduct gubernatorial elections in Ogun, Zamfara, Imo, Lagos, Taraba, Adamawa, Enugu and Abia thanks to Tinubu’s insistence on direct primaries. Direct elections are not good for a fledgling democracy like ours. It’s only suitable for developed democracies where there is credible membership register. It is easier for an incumbent to rig a direct election because he has structure in all wards with local government chairmen and councilors loyal to him.

We don’t have the capacity of conducting such elections considering the number of security personnel you need in all wards to monitor the election plus the logistics challenges. Even INEC don’t have the material and human resources to monitor the exercise across all the electoral wards. Today people are being killed just because of direct primary elections.

In my local government of Numan for example, we have 10 wards but only 3 are inside the main town, all the remaining 7 are in villages outside the town. The party should know that only justice, internal democracy and fair play can guarantee peace and subsequently translate to victory at the general election.

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