Ten Years After Lamidi Adedibu, By Reuben Abati

It has been ten years since the self-styled “strong man of Ibadan politics”, Chief Lamidi Ariyibi Akanji Adedibu, died. He died on June 11, 2008. I do not recall seeing many tributes or advertisements in the newspapers or other media commemorating his life and legacy. There was no public lecture or any important statements from those who were his protégés. That this is so is a useful lesson to today’s political Godfathers and henchmen in Nigerian politics who behave as if history has already assigned to them an immortal space on its pages.

Lamidi Adedibu was a colossal presence in the politics of Ibadan, and Oyo state for more than 50 years. Ibadan has a tradition of colourful politicians who wielded enormous influence: Adegoke Adelabu, the brilliant orator and intellectually gifted personality who authored “Africa in Ebullition”, and whose use of the phrase “peculiar mess” got transliterated by his illiterate audience as “penkelemesi”; Chief Mojeed Mobolanle Agbaje, the first Ibadan man to become a lawyer, and son of Alhaji Salami Agbaje of Ayeye, Ibadan who was the richest man in Ibadan in his time and the first to ride a car (1915) and build a house with cement; Chief Meredith Adisa Akinloye, an alumnus of the London School of Economics (LSE), founder of the Ibadan People’s Party (IPP), Chairman of Ibadan City Council and in the Second Republic, Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN); and Alhaji Busari Adelakun, the “Eruobodo” (“the river fears no one”) of  Ibadan politics.  There is hardly any other Ibadan indigene apart from these gentlemen who has been more influential in shaping the tone and shape of Ibadan politics and by extension, the politics of Oyo state. Local Ibadan politics is a combination of thuggery, populism, inconsistency, clientelism and intellectual opportunism, with service to the people thrown in as a lower measure.

Lamidi Adedibu lacked the intellectual gifts of Adelabu, Agbaje, and Akinloye, or the oratory of  Adelabu – he was much closer to Busari Adelakun, who was his mentor.  In an instructive book titled “What I saw in the Politics of Ibadanland”,  Adedibu has already given his own eye-witness account from his beginning days with the Ibadan People’s Party and the Action Group, later the  the National Party of Nigeria during the Second Republic, but he truly came into his own as the main Godfather of Ibadan politics with the ascendancy of the People’s Democratic Party in 1999 and especially in 2003 when he was recruited by President Olusegun Obasanjo for his second term bid.  He filled the vacuum created by the exit of Alhaji Busari Adelakun, and in that aspect, he established himself as a master of the game using violence, mass appeal, and philanthropy to determine political outcomes. During the Second Republic, Alhaji Busari Adelakun was credited with having helped Chief Bola Ige of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) to become Governor.

The main task of that branch of Ibadan politics represented by Adelakun and his followers, was to help deliver the votes, by any means possible. Adelakun would go from one polling booth to the other, and ensure that his clients won the vote.  He was later rewarded with the position of a Commissioner (first Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and later, Health) in the Bola Ige government. Both men would soon fall out, and Busari Adelakun resigned in anger. He famously swore that nobody could ever occupy a position that he, Adelakun, left in anger. It then happened that his immediate successor in the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy died in the hands of his own sibling. He was beheaded. Adelakun’s successor in the Ministry of Health also suffered stroke. He on account of this became a mythical figure. He would later defect to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) with the threat that he would get Bola Ige removed as Governor. He supported Chief Victor Omololu Olunloyo who eventually became Governor. His word came to pass. But the Olunloyo government was short-lived. General Buhari struck in December 1983 and Adelakun and other NPN chieftains were herded into detention. He took ill in jail and died subsequently.

It was Lamidi Adedibu who sustained this tradition of prominent Ibadan politicians playing the role of the Godfather, and masters of the politics of clientelism. Unlike Adelakun, he didn’t have to follow the able-bodied boys, masquerading as members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), who snatched ballot boxes in those days and stuffed them.  He had the entire city under his control in a manner nobody else before him did. Every major thug in the town reported to him, and he used them against the opponents, but he also at the same time took very good care of the ordinary people who delivered the votes to ensure victory for his clients and friends. Lamidi Adedibu, with the failure of the Alliance for Democracy in the 2003 election in Oyo state, became effectively the most influential politician in Ibadan politics, Oyo state politics, and one of the leading lights of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He held court and juggled the balls from his extensive home in Molete, Ibadan. That was where he held court. He was Ashipa Olubadan but he had his own palace – where he decided the political fortunes of politicians who came to him for help, or persons seeking political appointments. It was not for nothing that he was known as “Alaafin of Molete”.

His home was a palace unto itself. He was also the exponent of  “Amala politics” – what is now known as the politics of stomach infrastructure.  Every day, Adedibu kept his home open for the ordinary people of Ibadan. Whoever was hungry knew that if they went to Adedibu’s home, they would get a good plate of piping hot amala and a drink to wash it down. Ordinary people who could not pay school fees or hospital bills or rent went to him in his palace to ask for help. He supported them willingly.  He was not a herdsman but he had a mini-ranch in his home, at any time, there were more than a dozen cows waiting to be slaughtered to feed the people, goats also, and rams and pigeons. Everyday in the Adedibu home was like a festival. He reportedly kept more than 100 vehicles, to be mobilized at short notice to pursue any political cause. The whole of Ibadan city came to regard Adedibu as the real government: he ran a government of his own.  It wasn’t long before he became a national figure of real importance.

Prominent politicians visited him at home, and as they did, they brought bags of money, which in any case, Adedibu shared to the electorate. The politicians who took him as their Godfather expected him to help them deliver the votes on election day and the people who went to his house to eat and collect money waited on him to tell them how they should vote in every election. He would soon become so influential that the then Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Ali described him at a point, as the  “garrison commander of Ibadan politics.”

President Olusegun Obasanjo also visited him at home once, welcomed by a cavalcade of drums and pageantry, and he ended up describing him as the “father of the PDP”. Even politicians from other parts of the country who may not have needed him in their own constituencies, patronized him all the same.  In his own immediate political constituency, his boys did as they wished. They unleashed violence on political opponents while the state authorities looked the other way. Adedibu was above the law.  He was the ultimate Godfather.  He once quipped: “…Let me tell you, constitution or law, that is for you men. God has his own law.” There was no one like that before him, and there has been no other like that after him.  He projected himself as a Robin Hood, but he didn’t really like the poor, he used them for his own relevance.

In 2003, he had reportedly helped to install Senator Rasheed Adewolu Ladoja as Governor of Oyo State. He himself said so. That is what people like him do – they would help to install a client in a position of political authority. They would then afterwards collect rent in form of cash and appointive positions and exercise influence over public policy.  Adedibu and Ladoja soon fell out. Adedibu told the public that he had a prior agreement with Ladoja that he must pay to him, every month, 50% of the state’s security vote, which was at the time about N30 million. Ladoja reneged, insisting that the security vote was meant for security. The Godfather became angry – he retorted that he was the main security of the state and did Ladoja realize that money was spent to get him into office? He swore to get Ladoja removed. And indeed he did. Eighteen out of the 32 members of the state House of Assembly, acting on Adedibu’s instructions, met and impeached Ladoja. His Deputy who was also an Adedibu protégé was immediately installed as Governor. After taking the oath of office, one of Christopher Adebayo Alao-Akala’s first assignments was to go straight to Adedibu’s home to pay homage. He went down on all fours to say “thank you.” Ladoja would later be reinstated by court order 11 months later, but the Godfather had made his point.

The kind of influence that the likes of Lamidi Adedibu wielded is a metaphor for the character and level of Nigerian politics.  Godfathers still exist in today’s politics and the new Godfathers are just as messianic and as arrogant as their predecessors were. Violence also remains an instrument of persuasion and enforcement, even if since Adedibu’s exit, the level of violence in Ibadan politics has progressively reduced, across the country, many politicians routinely patronize thugs and enforcers. “Amala politics” still exists in form of  “stomach infrastructure” – even when some politicians do not turn their homes into a public kitchen and abattoir, they patronize the people by bribing them with motorcycles or boreholes.

In Benue state, Governor Samuel Ortom distributed wheel barrows with the inscription: “Gov. Ortom for you”.  In another state, a serving APC Senator donated an electric pole to a community as constituency project and took photographs, in Kano state, Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje bought noodles, eggs, and beverages to empower tea hawkers. Now that we are in an election season, some other politicians will distribute cooked food, bags of rice or photograph themselves eating at amala joints or buying roasted corn by the roadside.

Our politicians have learnt to exploit the people’s poverty.  Political Godfathers capitalize on this and turn it into a strategy. When the people are rescued from the poverty trap, they would be less susceptible to the greed and exploitation of politicians. Institutions also have to be built and strengthened to check the menace of Godfathers and their boys who decide electoral choices on the people’s behalf and by so doing, frustrate democratic expression.

As a human being, Adedibu was obviously a strong grassroots mobiliser. He was also a strong religious and community leader – he built 18 mosques – but his legacy of stomach infrastructure and political manipulation cannot endure in the long run.  One week after his burial, his political acolytes returned hoping that his family will sustain the feast. They were turned back. The pots and pans used for cooking had been packed aside. Over 90 mattresses used by the army of boys that thronged the “palace” had been packed together in a heap to be disposed off.  The amala-seeking crowd went over to the home of Alhaji Azeez Arisekola-Alao, an Ibadan politician and entrepreneur, hoping he would provide “amala”.

Arisekola was a prominent philanthropist but he wasn’t running a public kitchen in his home. One of Adedibu’s sons, ended up in politics and became a Senator, but he did not follow in his father’s footsteps. Another son reportedly described the late politician as a “dishonest politician.”

Today, the Molete palace is desolate. The in-house ranch has disappeared. The Nigerian electorate, should be reminded that when a politician offers them food in exchange for their votes, that food will soon digest and end up in the toilet, and you’d need to eat again. When the politician dies, or leaves politics or no longer needs you, you’d still have to eat.  It is better always to vote wisely and focus on the need to build and strengthen public institutions for the people’s benefit.

2018 Budget: The Enemy Within, By Amaechi Agbo

On Wednesday, June 20, 2018 President Mohammadu Buhari signed into law, the 2018 appropriation Bill after the National Assembly had passed it on the 16th of May, 2018
As is the custom previously, the two leaders of the legislative arm of the government would always be around to witness the President’s assent into the Bill thereby making it an Act. Unfortunately, for the first time since the inception of this administration on May 29, 2015, neither of the leaders of the two chambers of the National Assembly – the Senate President and the Speaker, House of Representatives – were in attendance when the Executive arm, led by the president, assented to the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
For the first time in the signing of the Appropriation Bill in to law for the past three budgetary years, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Yakubu Dogara were conspicuously absent and the indication, going by the President’s revelation at the signing of the 2018 appropriation act, was obvious. Like the adage says: when a fowl pollutes the air, the land pursues it.
Since the coming into government this administration, the 8th National Assembly has acted as an enemy within in Nigeria’s drive to a greater, prosperous and corrupt-free nation.
One wonders, how could the National Assembly which are the eyes, ears and mouth of Nigerians deliberately, callously pad the 2018 budget, removing key items and supplanting ones they feel are favourable to them even when such projects included in the 2018 budget have not been properly defined?
Even if one was to concede that the inclusion or removal of some projects in or from the appropriation was justified, what is the justification for the over six months delay in the passage of the Appropriation Bill after it was transmitted to the legislature in November last year?
The executive, through Mr President, on November 7, 2017 submitted the 2018 Budget proposals to the National Assembly – with a view to aligning our national budget with the January-December Fiscal year standard – hoping that the usual legislative review process would be quick, so as to move Nigeria towards a predictable economic continued growth.
Unfortunately, just like past two years delay in the passage of budget estimates by the lawmakers, this year’s appropriation suffered greater delay, having lasted from November 7, to May, 2018.
There is nothing inherently wrong in the National Assembly making permitted adjustments in the Appropriation Bill but when such deductions are targeted against key critical items that have direct impact on the common Nigerians, then there is need for worry.
Just as it happened in 2016 budget, the President described the 2018 budget, in view of the distortions made by the lawmakers, as unimplementable as some of the new projects were either not fully conceptualised or are within the jurisdiction of local or state governments.
The N9.12 trillion budget passed by the National Assembly contained an increase of N508 billion over and above the N8.612 trillion originally presented by President Buhari. The oil benchmark price was also increased from the US$45 submitted to US$51.
During the process of the passage of the Bill, the National Assembly worryingly altered it significantly, making cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration, and introducing 6,403 projects of their own, amounting to 578 billion Naira.
Some of the alterations carried out by the legislators include:
Slashing allocation to Maritime University, Delta State, from N5b to N3.4 billion.
Slashing allocation to Enugu Airport Terminal Building from N2 billion to a patry N500m. Enugu Airport is the ONLY international airport in the South East region of the country and with the meagry amount approved, completion of work in the airport in relative time, remains a mirage.
Budgetary allocation for the completion of FCT, Abuja major arterial roads and the mass transit rail project, were cut by a total of 7.5 billion Naira. This is a project for the Nigerian people. How many of the lawmakers use rail?
The provisions for health and upgrade of some tertiary health institutions, and storage of vaccines through the cold chain supply system, provision of anti-retroviral drugs for persons on treatment, establishment of chemotherapy centres and procurement of dialysis consumables were cut by an aggregate amount of 7.45 billion Naira by the lawmakers. How many of the lawmakers use our hospitals when the have ordinary headache?
The allocation for security in the 104 Unity Schools across the country were cut by 3 billion Naira. Apart from the fact that such allocation will beef up security in the schools, it would add impactfuly on the standard of learning and teaching in the schools but because these lawmakers have their children and wards all schooling abroad, they expose our children to danger and backwardness with their selfishness.
The lawmakers further deducted the sum of N8.7 billion from the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme.
Even if the above deductions and distortions were justifiable, how would the inglorious National Assembly members defend their ungodly act to reduce the Pension Redemption Fund and Public Service Wage Adjustment by a total of 5 billion Naira, thereby sentencing our labour heroes and heroines to lives of misery after glorious years of dedicated service to our beloved fatherland.
Apart from the above, over seventy (70) new road projects were padded into the budget of the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, whose implementation a near impossibility.
 Another distortion in the budget which belies the greed that has become the current lawmakers trademark, is the increment of National Assembly’s budgetary allocation by 14.5 billion Naira, from 125 billion Naira to 139.5 billion Naira without any discussion with the Executive.
A former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega, last month described the lawmakers as bribe takers.
Jega, who headed one the most prominent agencies in the country and being a professor in the university, could not have spoken out of sentiments against the lawmakers.
He fingered chairmen of the various committees of the National Assembly, (of course, almost all members of the legislature is a chairman of one committee or the other) as being notorious for bribe taking antics.
With this damning revelation coming from a man known for his uncompromising integrity, the National Assembly could not be described less.
When a group who are duely elected to be the eyes, ears and mouth of the commoners and on whose common pot of wealth they grow large each day decided to callously, unpatriotically and lugubriously work against the people whose interest they represent, protect and promote, then they are nothing but the enemies within. And an enemy within, is a dangerous individual that must be avoided and done away with.
The National Assembly is Nigerian masses enemy within.

Yobe East Is For Gaidam Anytime, By Yusuf Mohammed

In his characteristically unreflecting and often boastful mien, Bukar Abba Ibrahim, the senator representing Yobe East in the senate for now, was reported in the media as saying that ‘no vacancy exists’ for Governor Gaidam in the senate in 2019.

The statement is eerily reminiscent of his infamous ‘senator for life’ comment, which he made early in the year on the floor of the senate. “Let me say categorically Mr. (Senate) President that I am going to stay in this senate until death…Everyone tells me that I am a senator for life”, he was reported as saying at the time.

Then and now, Bukar Abba’s unfortunate sense of entitlement has continued to becloud his sense of judgment and his basic understanding of what it means to represent a people.

His posturing that there is no vacancy for Gaidam in the senate in 2019 is also a statement of foreclosure, of claiming that the democratic space doesn’t exist for anyone in Yobe East other than him, and of assuming (wrongly of course) that he is the best thing that has ever happened to that part of the state. This is narcissism at its most unfortunate.

But is Bukar Abba is totally wrong.

First, I think he lives in the past. After two terms as governor with virtually nothing to show for the billions that flowed to Yobe State under his watch, the ground has truly shifted beneath his feet. People in Yobe East and throughout the state are not enamoured of him anymore. There are no legacies in education, healthcare, agriculture, etc. in his eight years of stewardship as governor to support his claim to be the ‘father of Yobe politics’.

In Bukar Abba’s nearly two terms in the senate, as well, there is clearly nothing that the senator has done for Yobe East to endow even the wispiest validity to his claim.

Second, as someone who claims to be the ‘Garkuwan Shari’a’ (guardian of Islamic law) in the Northeast, being one of the governors of his time who had introduced Shari’a law as state policy, Bukar Abba appears worried that his prospects are truly slipping away in the wake of the recent well-known issues in which he was embroiled.

The claim to remain a senator ‘for life’ or that there is no vacancy in the senate for anyone in Yobe East other than him is therefore a futile exercise in self-assurance; a cognitive feel-good lulling him away from the stark reality to which he is pointed – that his tenure in the senate is truly in its twilight.

He may continue to believe differently, but the facts show that Bukar Abba Ibrahim will not just not be a senator for life, this could be his very last tenure in the red chamber.

There are many reasons why this could be the end of the road for him. First, people in Yobe East are worried that Buka Abba’s tenure in the senate is uneventful. While some legislators from his zone, such as House of Representatives member Goni Bukar Lawan, are executing constituency projects and regularly empowering their people, he has yet to undertake any demonstrably useful constituency project in over eight years.

Second, many people in the zone are also genuinely worried that Bukar Abba Ibrahim is not nearly the quintessence of moral leadership and moral example that they expect of their representatives. The recent scandal in which he was enmeshed may only have affected him as a person. But as a representative of the people, it is a colossal moral baggage of scandalous proportions.

It is also noteworthy that the electorate across Nigeria is now wiser to the world. During Bukar Abba’s tenure as governor, for example, it was fashionable for some leaders to hold swagger sticks and project a sense of hubris to the electorate. It was okay to not expect too much from leaders and for the leaders not to do as much as expected. But this is not the case right now.

Right now, people are likelier to demand more accountability from their leaders. They are more prone to ask questions and hold their leaders to their word. People are no longer wowed or scared by those swagger sticks; they do not care what a politician’s personal net worth is. What people are primarily concerned about now is whether a leader epitomizes the services and values they expect of him.

There is another factor to which reference must be made in explaining why this could be the last stint for Bukar Abba Ibrahim in the senate. It is the stature of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam among the people of Yobe State in general and the people of Yobe East in particular.

Despite years of Boko Haram insurgency in the State, Governor Gaidam continues to give a good account of himself by managing public resources in ways that continue to have real impact in the lives of the people. He has done more during his tenure than Bukar Abba’s and all previous administrations in the state combined. He has drilled more boreholes, rehabilitated, expanded, and equipped more hospitals than all his predecessors and he has done more to make teaching and learning better in Yobe’s schools.

Since Governor Gaidam came to power, too, the Yobe State Government has not defaulted in the payment of its workers’ salaries. The National Union of Pensioners, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and the National Association of Yobe State Students (NUYOSS) have all conferred awards on him for doing more to meet their expectations.

It was Gaidam’s widely acknowledged political profile and the way he is leading the state that possibly informed Bukar Abba’s admission in an interview last year that if Gaidam wanted to run for the senate in 2019, he will never contest against him. “2019 is far away from now”, he told a newspaper on April 25th, 2016, “but I can assure you that if the present governor wants to have the senatorial seat in 2019, it is all his. I have had enough. I have made my contributions. I have made my point…If he wants it I will hand over to him”, he said. Compare this statement with the senate-for-life and the no-vacancy claims that he has now made. Contradictory, right? That’s Bukar Abba Ibrahim for you.

Well, Governor Gaidam has not said he will run for the senate yet. But, as Bukar Abba himself has admitted, Yobe East “is all his” when he decides to run. His record of service to the people will stand for him anytime. In the end, the people of Yobe East, who have had enough of Bukar Abba’s shenanigans, will no longer be fooled by someone who has always taken them for granted. With the information available to them about the imperatives of moral and qualitative leadership in this day and age, they will surely make informed choices.

Mohammed wrote this piece from Damaturu, Yobe State.

 

Birnin Gwari Has Lost More Than 500 Hundred People And 100 Billion To Armed Banditry, By Isah Muhammad

Since 1999, when cases of armed robbery began to disturb the people of Birnin Gwari, the socio-economic activities of the people in Birnin Gwari began to be threatened. Governments in the past and the present have tried insufficiently to curb the problem, at some time, they have succeeded and the problem continued to reemerge in clandestine ways.

One is not wrong to say that that there is no success in the fight as at this moment. This is because the cases of insecurity in Birnin Gwari appear to defy all measures being taken by the government, though we are still optimistic and remain hopeful.

From 2010 to date when armed robbery became a daily affair along the two notorious Highways linking Birnin Gwari to Katsina, Zamfara, Niger and Kebbi states, Birnin Gwari has terribly suffered substantial losses in terms of agricultural and socio-economic. The losses incurred on Birnin Gwari are so devastating that the lives of the people are in shambles. People are living in excruciating moments as the insecurity has plunged and muddled their lives in pigsty.

Since 1999, armed robbery along Kaduna-Birnin Gwari highway and Birnin Gwari-Funtua highway has been wearisome. It has ravaged the agricultural sector of lots of farmers; it has crippled the commercial commitment of many business people due to irksome fear of armed robbers and of recent, kidnappers.

SPATE OF KILLINGS: Several people were killed by the armed bandits along the Birnin Gwari-Funtua and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna Highways. In series of broad light armed robbery, the Birnin Gwari armed robbers have on several occasions opened fire on commuters, killing a number of people while incapacitating several others. I can recall with nostalgia how these armed robbers killed one vibrant youth who was a Lecturer with the Kaduna state university then, Malam Abba Shehu. They also killed gruesomely one vibrant youth who obtained his Masters Degree from ABU Zaria called Ibrahim Musa. Birnin Gwari has recorded cases of killings by the armed robbers since 90s.

Our General Hospital became the center for woes on daily basis. The siren of FRSC officials signals a horrendous case of armed robbery on evacuation. We have suffered greatly on those Highways and we are still counting, mourning every day. No one knows who is going to be killed next by the merciless armed robbers. They have made a number of children become forceful orphans and a number of women were made widows. Kaduna to Birnin Gwari and Birnin Gwari to Funtua Highways are not only dangerous security wise but dangerous in terms of their dilapidated conditions. Not even the Governor himself dares to follow those highways unarmed.

Not even me, or you. Traveling from all nooks and crannies of the country, one does not remember that something may go wrong until they reach Birnin Gwari axis. You will come all the way from Lagos, or from Enugu or from Sokoto or even from Maiduguri, you are peaceful inside your mind, you have no thoughts of being attacked by anything, you have no fear that your life is in danger until when passing through the Highways that connect Birnin Gwari with some states. This is very ugly.

In recent heinous attacks on villages under Birnin Gwari, the armed bandits have killed not less than two hundred people. For instance, on 6th May 2018, some group of armed bandits clamp down on a village called Gwaska in Birnin Gwari, opened fire and shot sporadically on the innocent people. They killed at least 80 people and burnt down the entire village. The survivors more than 1000 were forced to take redemption in a nearby village called Doka. It was indeed a hell in Birnin Gwari.

A week prior to the Gwaska massacre, the same armed bandits have already launched an assault on local miners, opening fire on them killing about 28 people and burning several others. On 16th May 2018, the armed bandits opened fire on some villages under Kakangi, another village in Birnin Gwari where they killed at least 10 people. We all can recall how these armed bandits layed an ambush on our gallant Soldiers few months ago in a Birnin Gwari village called Doka killing 11 gallant soldiers deployed at Birnin Gwari to curb the menace, we are yet to recover from that shock, and we may not recover from the shock of that dastardly act by the armed bandits. We pray that the gentle souls of those soldiers rest in perpetual peace. Again, there was another attack on Layin Mai Gwari some months ago where the whole village was sacked by the armed bandits, killing over 20 people. A visit to that village today will no doubt leave one in tears. A lot of lives were lost, and we are still suffering from that menace.

The armed bandits are merciless as they spare no one and they kill everyone they target arbitrarily, irrespective of age or gender.

BANKING OPERATIONS CRIPPLED: The closure of banks in Birnin Gwari was one of the immediate repercussions of armed banditry in Birnin Gwari which followed a violent attack on the banks on 31st January 2013 by armed bandits as a result of which the buildings of the banks were destroyed. The affected banks were Firstbank and Ecobank. These banks suspended their banking operations since 2013, four years precisely.

The community banks were source of great convenience for the entire people of Birnin Gwari as they encourage savings and have empowered small scale businesses significantly. Before the establishment of those branches of banks, people in Birnin Gwari used to travel all the way to Kaduna, some 120 kilometres, for banking operations, and savings were not taken to heart in those days.

Those branches of banks were indeed the heartbeat of Birnin Gwari. They helped tremendously in facilitating loans for the farmers and business firms to boost entrepreneurship. Birnin Gwari developed greatly into becoming a modern business hub before those banks were forced to stop operations.

When those banks were operating optimally, banking operations were made more personal to the people of Birnin Gwari. Customers were treated with high sense of professionalism and they trouped en masse to those banks to patronize their operations. Most of the customers of those banks in Birnin Gwari reside within Birnin Gwari; as such they have earnestly provided funds for various community services. Birnin Gwari was better felt with those banks present.

The presence of those banks was a source for jobs for various Birnin Gwari people. They have built a formidable relationship with the people of Birnin Gwari especially the working class among them. Their salaries follow through those banks.

Unfortunately, Birnin Gwari is still suffering from the closure of those banks. People have to travel far distance in order to make banking transactions, as a result of which they get attacked and killed or kidnapped for heavy ransoms by armed bandits.

Birnin Gwari has lost not less than 100 billion naira from 2013 to date as a result of the closure of these banks.  This is because small scale business that access their seed monies through those banks have to shut down and those businesses have to be abandoned. I know about 100 youths that were forced by the impending circumstances to abandon their local businesses as a result of the closure of the banks.

FARMING ACTIVITIES HAMPERED: It has been in the news that Birnin Gwari local government area in Kaduna state has been disturbed by cases of Armed Robbery, Kidnappings and Cattle Rustlings. Farming which is the long-practiced profession of heritage in Birnin Gwari has been crippled, fishing which was originally hampered by the death of Bagoma Dam was significantly affected as well, gold mining in nearby villages was considerably squashed to quagmire, the socio-economic facets of Birnin Gwari; the food basket of not only Kaduna state but the entire country was put at epileptic state. People on daily basis are being stricken by death, palpitations, perspiration and hypertension. It has almost become a norm broad light robbery, raping, abductions, killings and all sorts of pains.

A very disturbing development that happened last year was scorching the farm produce of farmers by the armed bandits. There were reports that a number of farms were set ablaze burning all they have produced over night by these armed bandits. This is a strategy they followed in order to cast hunger on people so that people may out of desperation and frustration join their heinous criminal way.  We are still palpable that same may occur this harvest year.

Almost all farmers along Birnin Gwari-Funtua highway have been placed on red alert by the bandits that they should not cultivate this farming season or else risk their lives and property. Farmers, very prominent farmers, have to succumb to this warning by the armed bandits as they have not cleared their farms as I am writing this piece. They have chosen not to cultivate so as to save their lives and their loved ones from the pangs of these armed bandits.

This is not only dangerous scenario for Birnin Gwari, but the entire Northwest of Nigeria. Birnin Gwari is one of the major producers of grains in Nigeria, farming is our pride and it is the biggest business we do here. Not only in Nigeria, a substantial number of people from nearby countries like Niger, Chad and Cameroon troupe to Birnin Gwari to buy hundreds of tons of grains every Thursday. This has stopped because the market is not safe, the business is no longer safe, only a handful of people who chose to confront the issue head on are sacrificing their lives for that business. This portends danger ahead. Hunger may strike our people.

Those people coming from nearby countries and from across many states in Nigeria to buy our grains have stopped. Many of them were abducted, some were killed. The major grains market of Birnin Gwari is severely crippled today. We lose billions of naira on weekly basis. A number of people who rely on grain business called “Sakai” in Hausa language have to abandon that profitable business due to fear of being killed or abducted by the merciless armed bandits.

A lot of families were broken by this development. A lot of them were put apart; several others were made desperate and have been forced to lose their faith. Everyone is in grief. No one lives with two eyes closed at night. The old jungle days of Nagwamatse have resurfaced. People are crying helplessly, and authorities are very stagnant in their efforts to bulwark and beat off these atrocities.

SPATE OF ABDUCTIONS: Since 2017, around this time, when Hon Salisu Isah, member Kaduna State House of Assembly was abducted by the armed bandits to date, we have witnessed not less than 100 cases of abductions. Abductions for ransom happen in villages, the armed bandits would kidnap unsuspecting farmers in their farms and demand for heavy ransoms which have to paid by selling their farm produce. They intercept commuters along Birnin Gwari Kaduna Highway and Birnin Gwari Funtua Highway to abduct all passengers. They demand for heavy cash ransoms, with sumptuous meal of choice and some N30,000 recharge card. In those reported cases of abductions that escalated since 2017, we have confirmed that not less than 500 people were abducted during the period of 2015-2018.

Just last month, precisely on 14th May 2018 over 100 passengers were abducted along Birnin Gwari Kaduna highway. Some of them are still under captivity. On 17 May 2018, after killing a number of innocent people in Kakangi ward, they abducted several persons. Similarly, 42 people were kidnapped on 23rd   May 2018 along Birnin Gwari-Kaduna Highway; some are still being held hostages. Recently, over 30 people were abducted including a nursing mother and a newly wedded bride who is confirmed to be critically ill as the time I am writing this piece. None of them was released as negotiations on the ransoms are still ongoing.

The abductors demand for heavy ransoms from their captives or kill them if they fail to provide the amount within stipulated time. My investigation shows that the people that are abducted are usually demanded to pay heavy ransoms, the least of which is N500, 000 (Five Hundred Thousand najra). They collect as high as N10, 1000000 (Ten Million Naira) from their victims.

There are still people in captivity, they are moved from one camp to another, investigation revealed. The hostages are kept in open space without any cover or protection against the scorching sun or rainfall. There are dangerous reptiles in those thick bushes were abductees are kept. Most of the abductees are critically ill, some of them are molested by the armed bandits.

Those who are lucky pay their ransoms after selling all possessions desperately and have their relatives released after days. Those who could not provide the demanded amount by the bandits are usually kept and threatened until when negotiations are over. Many of the abductees are too poor to generate even N10 000, but the bandits demand the minimum of Five Hundred Thousand naira.

Investigation reveals that they insist on their demands if their victim is female like the most recent one they did. The last one that included two women is very excruciating and devastating. I had cried on hearing that there are small children alongside their mother, one is still being breastfed. The other woman who got married recently is critically ill. The bandits have to call the husband last Sunday during a heavy rainfall and made him hear the cry of his child, so as to prompt their payment. The husband could not raise the amount and the government was not ready to help even though it has the money.

The life of a small child is at stake. The life of a nursing mother is at stake. The life of all abductees is at stake and our governments must do everything within its jurisdiction to secure their lives now.  This should have been an International issue with headlines on CNN, BBC etc but the APC government is selective and kept deaf ears to the agonies of those who were abducted and lost their freedom. Since they are not Chibok or Dapchi women, then it is just as if no abduction has taken place. This makes me feel pained.  For how long will this lethargy end?

People are suffering from abject poverty. Many people today cannot afford to eat three times a day.  A lot of families are struggling to survive. How do you expect such people to provide any ransom? The abduction has continued unabated and even those philanthropists who help to generate the ransom when the problem began, have been exhausted, they can no longer provide such help, plunging the lives of the abductees in danger.

Already, about N10billion Naira were expended by various families of the abductees to secure the release of their wards. Government did not care to help on this since the abductees are not from Northeast or more precisely are not from Chibok or Dapchi. Remember that the victims of the abduction are not only from Birnin Gwari, they are from all over Nigeria.

It is against this backdrop that I call of the peace-loving and very kind President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency set up a panel to negotiate swiftly with the armed bandits and pay all the ransoms so as to secure an immediate release of all Nigerians abducted over three months who are still under captivity.

I also implore the President to grant immediately Birnin Gwari as one of the beneficiaries of the Presidential Intervention on ravaged States by armed banditry or herdsmen conflicts. Our people need immediate cushinary measures to immediately come up from the wreckage of armed bandits. Birnin Gwari should be visited immediately by Vice President Osinbajo and he should during the visit announce to us that we will benefit from that money set aside to rebuild those North Central States damaged by the conflicts there.

By the same token, I call on the Kaduna State government under Malam Nasir El Rufai to as a matter of urgency embark on negotiations with the armed bandits so as to pay the ransoms on behalf of the abductees. This is to ensure that no abductees are killed or molested by the merciless armed bandits. The abductees do not have money to pay as ransoms because most of them are the sacked teachers and those who depend on the sacked teachers for survival. It is therefore very important if the Kaduna State governor can swing into immediate action to secure an immediate release of the abductees so that they can reunite with their families and celebrate the forthcoming festive period of Muslims. It is my pertinent call on the government to also pay off those who suffered the fate of abduction before and have to sell off their lands and other possessions to get their families and friends released from the pangs of the merciless armed bandits. This can mitigate the agonies they are currently experiencing. I believe that the government can do this.

Finally, I must commend the gallantry of the Soldiers deployed to Birnin Gwari following the directives of General Buratai to establish a Battalion of Army at Birnin Gwari with a view to squashing armed banditry in the area. The army has so far opened Birnin Gwari Funtua highway and commuters follow that highway safely. They have also secured some hostages abducted by the armed bandits. However, the presence of these Soldiers is as of now, only felt along Birnin Gwari Funtua Highway, and not on Birnin Gwari Kaduna Highway and in villages. We hope that they will soon extend their operations in these places so as to ensure optimal success.

We also commend the efforts of the Kaduna state government for whatever efforts its doing to forestall the crime in Birnin Gwari area and the state entirely. We hope they will sit up and double up in their effort. We also urge the government never see us as its enemies for voicing out our worries. We love this government so dearly and that’s essentially why we chose to tell the government the bitter truth on its weaknesses and nonchalance towards solving our insecurity.  On this, I wish to commend Senator Shehu Sani for his recent effort at providing Patrol vans fro the Vigilante group in Birnin Gwari. We also appreciate the efforts of Hon Hassan Adamu Shekarau and all other well-meaning politicians who are making insufficient efforts to address the insecurity in Birnin Gwari.

It is no longer a story that Birnin Gwari is currently battling the insecurity issues that threaten our existence, and all our politicians and the entire world are aware about it. We acknowledge the efforts of all our politicians, including those in the opposition, in curtailing the incessant cases of armed robbery, abduction and other heinous crimes around our area and we hope and pray that they will do more, even as we are set to keep on telling them the bitter truth as it reveals to us, so that together we can salvage our country, our state, our local government area and our humanity.

Isah Muhammad is a lecturer at Usmanu Danfodiyo University Sokoto and can be reached on 08033464831.

Crucial Takeaways From President Buhari’s Visit To Morocco, By Garba Shehu

It is a fact that the federal government’s programme of Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) of former agitators in the Niger Delta region of the country, as part of the Amnesty Programme, brought calmness to the country at its commencement. It however subsequently floundered and wobbled due to irregularities, until the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari put it back on track. Now there is peace once again.

If the disarmament and rehabilitation of 30,000 ex-agitators could do so much for the nation, how far would 18,000 skilled and unskilled new jobs go towards cementing that peace?

While analysts take their time to assimilate and give us the answer to how much good the foregoing would bring, President Buhari, who visited the Kingdom of Morocco between June 10 and 11, 2018, has signed memoranda of understanding and agreements that will lead to the new jobs mentioned and many other such benefits. This, of course, reaffirms the Buhari administration’s commitment to make a very big difference by linking foreign policy directly to Nigeria’s economic interests.

The jobs in view are calculated to come from the commitment to the Regional Gas Pipeline, which will connect Nigeria’s gas resources, those of some West African countries and Morocco, thereby fostering integration and development of countries in the West African region.

These jobs will also come from the establishment of a Basic Chemicals Platform, specifically to develop a significant ammonia production plant by the Kingdom of Morocco in the Niger Delta.

Yet another important takeaway is the decision by the two countries to strengthen cooperation in the efforts to combat religious radicalisation and violent extremism in Africa and beyond.

To achieve this, the two leaders underscored their commitment to moderation, tolerance and peaceful coexistence, as taught by Islam. They expressed deep concerns about violent extremism, terrorism and the persistence of security threats in Africa.

As part of the technical agreement reached in this regard, Morocco will open its facilities for the training of about 150 Nigerians in moderate, modernised and non-extremist methods of Islamic leadership.

On the basis of their exemplary cooperation, the two heads of state agreed to develop partnership in the field of agriculture, particularly through the signing of a Cooperation Agreement on vocational training and technical supervision. This will involve about 80 Nigerians in varied fields of agriculture and the setting up of 20 farmers’ schools.

Broken down to specifics, the agreement promised that Morocco will support university education, with scholarships to eight agricultural engineers per year.

The areas of specific training are:

· Two students in rural engineering;
· Two students in the animal production;
· Two students in horticulture; and
· Two veterinary doctors.

Morocco will equally support agricultural training through the granting of scholarships that would lead to the award of diplomas to five specialised technicians per year (the baccalaureate plus two years) and five technicians per year (the baccalaureate plus two years) in the fields of irrigation agriculture, breeding, management of agricultural companies and marketing of agricultural inputs.

The Kingdom of Morocco will also provide support for continuing education for:

· 20 engineers as part of a short-term training (one-week study trips);
· Five veterinary doctors (one-week study trips);
· 20 technicians (one-week study trips);
· 15 engineers on irrigation techniques, water management and hydro-agricultural infra (one 15-day session);
· 30 engineers on modern breeding techniques (two sessions of 10 days);
· 10 Veterinary doctors on animal health (two sessions of 10 days); and
· 15 engineers on horticultural production techniques (one session…).

In the same breath, the Kingdom of Morocco will support and provide technical assistance in setting up 20 farmer-field schools (FFS) for the training of Nigerian farmers.


The agreement concerning this sector is for a period of three years and may be renewed for a further period.

For Morocco, which has lately been making strong efforts to improve relations with neighbouring states and the rest of the continent since its return to the African Union, it is important that our two states have agreed to consult and coordinate on regional and international issues of mutual interest and concern, and to coordinate the positions of the two countries in regional and international organisations, including the African Union.

His Majesty King Mohammed VI congratulated President Buhari for his leadership in the regional initiative against terrorism in the Lake Chad region and commended his efforts in the fight against corruption and his role as the African Union anti-corruption champion.

Morocco has many economic strengths, including the world’s largest phosphate reserves and a diverse agricultural sector. On the basis of an agreement between the Moroccan state firm, OCP, and the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN), Nigeria has been receiving the needed phosphate for the local blending of fertiliser in the country. So far, 14 of the country’s moribund fertiliser plants have resumed production.

Activities have been generated in the value chain in terms of transportation, labour engagements at the plants, including loading and offloading, with more than 250,000 jobs created directly and indirectly.

The Presidential Fertiliser Initiative plans to make one million metric tons of fertilisers available, amounting to 20 million bags to farmers this year.

Garba Shehu is senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity.

Osinbajo’s Uncommon Leadership Style, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

It is an indisputable fact that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo shares some fundamental values with President Muhammadu Buhari in terms of integrity and vision to rejuvenate Nigeria into a prosperous country. This is amply demonstrated in his approach to the revival of moribund national institutions and establishment of new ones. 

Realising that economy remains the engine room of development for any country, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has continued to make deliberate efforts aimed at providing the enabling environment for the various states and Nigeria’s economy in general to once again witness a boost. 

For example, the creation of MSME Clinics under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan is meant to provide spot-on solutions to the challenges of the Medium and Small scale Enterprises in Nigeria. To realise this objective, the clinics partner with key government institutions like Bank of Industry, Corporate Affairs Commission, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Nigeria Export Import Bank and Bank of Agriculture.

Some of the benefits accruable from the MSMEs Clinics are speedy access to finance, business registration at 50% in some cases, product registration and certification within a record time. Already the federal government has launched the pilot scheme of the One Stop Shop Solutions for MSMEs in five states while more states will still benefit.

So far the vice president has visited sixteen states of the federation for the MSMEs Clinics.

His inclination to think out of the box as the leader of the federal government’s economic team has in many ways boosted the country’s economy and attracted the inflow of foreign direct investments. Presently Nigeria is the preferred destination for foreign investors while the stock exchange and Nigeria’s foreign reserve are on the upward swing. Professor Osinbajo is also applying ingenuous solutions to the myriad of problems in the country.

A typical example is the federal government’s initiative in setting up National Social Investment Programme NSIP Innovation Technology Hubs across the country. The focus is to use these hubs to fix problems that are peculiar to each of the six geo-political zones of the country and to ensure their sustainability the federal government is partnering with the private sector. The Innovation Hubs are tailored to meet the peculiar needs of each geo-political zone. For example, the North East Innovation Hub will support innovative solutions to the humanitarian challenges in the North East part of the country, and this will be in partnership with the private sector and the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC).

The South South Innovation Hub is meant to find workable solutions to the challenges in Tourism, Education, The Environment and Oil & Gas, while the South East and North Central Innovation Hub is tailored towards solving problems associate with commerce, finance, governance and agriculture. Similarly, the federal government is partnering with Ventures Platform Foundation to realise the objectives. This unique problem-solving model will be replicated in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria

There is no doubt that his unrelenting support to various state governments, federal ministries, agencies and parastatals has served as a catalyst for the turnaround we are currently witnessing in the various sectors of the economy. Firstly, on assumption of office, Professor Yemi Osinbajo with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari rolled out various policy measures aimed at alleviating the plight of the most vulnerable groups in our midst. 

To cater for the needs of poor school children, a school feeding programme was introduced across the thirty six states of the federation, whereby every primary school child was entitled to one meal a day. Similarly the N-Power programme of the Buhari/Osinbajo administration has become institutionalised and a global model for empowering jobless youths. 

It is also worth remembering that based on the collective vision of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Nigerians realised that Nigeria can actually be a rice exporting country. Today that vision has been realised as we are now self-sufficient in rice production. This achievement is unprecedented and was unimaginable until the duo came to the saddle. 

Professor Yemi Osinbajo can be said to have brought innovation into the way Nigeria’s economy is being managed as his innovative ideas have seen businesses being revived, industrial clusters being set up, technology hubs being established and markets being electrified with solar power across the country. 

These systematic and deliberate efforts by the federal government have helped to create jobs for the country’s teeming youth population and released the creative energies of the Nigerian people. There is no doubt that with the commitment the federal government has brought to bear on rejuvenating the economy that a solid foundation is being laid for the rapid industrialisation of the country.

 It is also gratifying that serious attention is being paid to the economy as it forms one of the three major planks of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cardinal objectives in government.  Security and war against graft are equally receiving adequate attention.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo has been tireless and focussed at ensuring that Nigerians reap the dividends of democracy as encapsulated in the ‘’change agenda’’  of the administration, and so far his efforts are reverberating across the country and yielding expected results. 

As a man of vision imbued with rare leadership qualities he is not given or predisposed to inanities and trivialities, rather he always concentrates on dealing with developmental issues that can impact positively on all Nigerians.

 From Kano to Edo, Lagos to Enugu, Calabar to Benue, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has become the man of the moment as he continually enjoys the goodwill and support of President Muhammadu Buhari in their collective vision and desire to make life more meaningful for Nigerians.

Perhaps it needs to be restated for the umpteenth time that with the various programmes and policies being put in place by the Buhari/Osinbajo administration such as the revival of the railways, agricultural revolution, and fight against corruption, poverty eradication, youth empowerment and support to businesses, Nigeria is on an irreversible path to growth, progress and development. This is possible and can only be achieved with the unalloyed support of the people.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi JP

An Abuja Based Journalist and Politician

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

 

Reuniting APC: Why Oshiomhole, Mai Mala Buni Should Lead The Party, By Salihu Adaviruku

Election season in Nigeria is often marked by a complete focus of attention and development of narratives on the activities of political characters, with their political parties treated as an inconsequential appendage. While this may be attributed to a number of reasons, it is largely a manifestation of the lack of understanding or acknowledgement of the influence of political parties on candidates and government.

Political parties perform a crucial role as they, amongst many other duties, develop the guiding document which serves as the premise upon which candidates build their policies and government direction, should they secure victory. It is therefore of utmost importance that the leadership of political parties be competent, for proper handling of party affairs; dynamic to allow for innovative ideas and introduction of positive reforms; and fair to all as an exemplary practice of democracy to both direct members of the party and citizens of the country.

It is against this background that the ambitions of Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole and Mai Mala Buni as the Chairman and National Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress, respectively, must be viewed as a development of great importance and an opportunity to consolidate on the gains of the party and introduce reforms which would have a progressive ripple effect on the leadership of the country.

To start with the basic role of a political party, which is the presentation of candidates and securing of election victory, Adams Oshiomhole has a demonstrated ability to earn votes across divide and retain same through excellent leadership and management of human and other resources. His entry into Edo state politics at the time when all the machineries of the state, to the detriment of the people, were hijacked by the PDP saw him unite the entire people of Edo state and they, convinced that he represents desired change, stood with him as he handed a resounding defeat to the PDP, both at the polls and in court. He not only repeated this feat with a better margin, but also successfully installed a successor who is presently continuing his developmental works in the state.

Furthermore, Oshimhole’s years as the leader of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) gave him profound insight into the true yearnings of the people and equipped him with deft negotiation skill with which he manoeuvred obstacles and reached agreements profitable to all. No surprise he remains, till date, Nigeria’s most effective labour leader. All of these, especially his ability to unite people under a single banner, irrespective of differences, for the actualization of a common goal, make him the ideal leader the All Progressives Congress need at the moment – especially when the fragile state of certain relationships in the party is considered.

His endorsement by the President and other party leaders across the six geo-political zones of the country is an illustration of this fact. “He is one of us, that is why we have to come and identify with him here” said Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun state when asked of his support for Adams Oshiomhole, and his counterpart from Kano state, Governor Umar Ganduje, echoed same sentiment before declaring that “all the votes from Kano State will go to the former governor of Edo State”.

The same can be said of Mai Mala Buni whose dedication to the party, over the years, has earned him plaudits from President Muhammadu Buhari. He has come to represent a stabilising factor within the party, ensuring that relationships, though strained as a result of competing interests, are kept for the progress and continued good of the party. His reputation as a great organizer and manager of men is common knowledge amongst those familiar with inside workings of the party.

A testament of his exemplary service as National Secretary of the party is the endorsement of his continuation by all Governors, Ministers and stakeholders from the North-East and other geo-political zones of the country. Many have identified his diplomacy and tact in handling party issues, especially in the face of conflict arising from differing interests, as one of the key reasons the party remains sturdy. This makes it glaring that with him as National Secretary and Adams Oshiomhole as the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, the party and its members are guaranteed an inclusive and harmonious future.

Adams Oshiomhole and Mai Mala Buni are presenting the All Progressives Congress with a chance to reinvent itself, repair fractured relationships and expand voters base through key alliances made possible by effective persuasion and articulation of people-friendly policies. This is a chance the party cannot afford to lose; and this is why on the 23rd of June, at the National Convention, delegates must ensure they file behind Adams Oshiomhole and Mai Mala Buni for the good of the party.

Salihu, an APC member, writes from Okehi in Kogi state.

Osun 2018, Politics Of Zoning, And The APC’s Big Gamble, By Olalekan Adigun

Keen observers of Osun politics are never caught by surprise about its unending drama especially during election seasons. Things got to the climax during the preparations for the 2003 elections which saw some of the darkest and lowest periods in Osun political history.

This period saw unimaginable forms of barbarism, savagery, and disorder manifest in the shape of broad daylight election rigging, political thuggery and violence, and series of assassinations (and disappearance) of well-known political figures including the yet-to-be-resolved murder of Chief Bola Ige, Cicero of Esa-Oke, former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF).

As though these were not enough, 2007 elections in the state refused to win turn pessimists to optimists as all known attempts in the books were deployed to steal the people’s mandate by the powers that be. Nothing was spared to achieve this objective. Fortunately, in 2010, the tables turned when the Court of Appeal, sitting in Ibadan, against all odds, delivered a landmark judgment in favour of Engineer Rauf Aregbesola, the rightful winner of the 2007 gubernatorial election.

Needless to say that Rauf Aregbesola will later win the 2014 governorship election to become the first governor in the state to be re-elected in a free and fair election since its creation in 1991. The rest, as they say, is history!

This background is necessary, first, for those who may not be too familiar with developments in Osun since 2003. And, second, for those who may be familiar, it serves as a reminder about the immediate dark (and bloody) past on her path to the present.

With Governor Aregbesola’s successful completion of tenure later in 2018, understandably, the competition among other contestants for the exalted seat is gradually heating up.

The political landscape of the state shows that two leading parties- All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- have fairly equal strengths and weaknesses. For analytical purposes, we may add the Social Democratic Party (SDP) who will fancy its chances with the party’s latest acquisition of Senator Iyiola Omisore, a former deputy governor of the state.

While the two APC boasts of the current governor Rauf Aregbesola and a retinue of influential figures in the state, the PDP on its part lays claim to the governorship seat with its profile as the former ruling party in the state.  Also, of the three Senatorial seats in the state, APC has two as against PDP’s one which it got in the recent landslide victory (winning 9 out of 10 LGAs) in the Osun West Senatorial by-election. On the surface, things may look rosy for the ruling party, but things are in fact, murky especially for lovers of the party if it fails once again to respond to the challenge from Osun West.

The recent by-elections in Osun West show that there have been questions APC strategists are not answering. And this is very strange!

This writer is not a big fan of “zoning” in electoral democracies. But, as a keen observer of Nigerian politics (which is strongly based on primordial sentiments), this author thinks there are good reasons why the APC must zone its ticket to Osun West.

First, let us do some political reality checks. The 2014 governorship election results show that the APC candidate won elections in 22 out of the 30 local government areas of the state scored a total of 394,684 to defeat PDP’s Omisore (as he then was) who got 292747 votes from 8 LGAs mainly from Osun East and two from Osun Central. The difference between the two candidates is 101,937 votes.

From this, let us remove the votes from the 10 LGAs in Osun West and give them to Omisore. With Omisore winning (assumedly) 18 LGAs against Aregbesola’s 12, this will produce one of two situations most political strategists will prefer to avoid: first, a possible re-run, if the votes from Osun Central (especially Osogbo) will still be strong enough to charge APC on in the election.

The outcome of such situation would have been largely unpredictable. Second, with 18 LGAs against 12 and with PDP armed with the power of “Federal might”, the party may just kiss the governorship goodbye like it happened in Ekiti.  And with the 2015 elections in sight, the morale of the party’s supporters would have been seriously dampened!

Let us also take a look at the merits of the argument of the people of Osun West for the governorship. Late Senator Isiaka Adeleke was elected during the Third Republic under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) as the first executive governor of the state for a period that unfortunately ended after 13 months.

In the Fourth Republic, Osun has had a total of three Governors: Chief Bisi Akande (1999-2003), Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola (2003-2010) and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola (incumbent). Of all these, both Akande and Oyinlola from Osun central while Aregbesola is from Osun East. Other zones have spent 19 years against Osun West’s 1 year! Isn’t it just logical and natural for the Governorship to return to Osun West after over 25 years of waiting, yearning, and agitating? Who best should lead this charge if not the APC? Who benefits more from returning the exalted seat to Osun West than APC? If not now, then when?

If Osun West will get it soon, how SOON is soon? For how long should people from Osun West wait and endure? How are we so sure their patients aren’t running out?

Let us look at another possible scenario. If the PDP fields a candidate like Senator Nurudeen Adeleke (who recently signified his intention to join the gubernatorial race), who is from the influential Adeleke dynasty in Ede and APC fields a candidate from another zone, even if APC can brag about bulk votes from Iwo, that will still be a big gamble it does not want to take going by figures from the latest Senatorial by-election and the damage may be incalculable.

Even though Iwo has been the traditional fortress of progressives in the Osun West, recent experiences should have taught the APC leaders the bitter lessons of assuming too much that “Iwo will always respond”. To avert a messy situation in the forthcoming election, APC leaders should field a strong candidate from Osun West. If they are to take my line of arguments and field a good politician from the zone, such may serve two strategic functions: first, it will placate the seeming eternal yearnings of Osun West people on their chance to produce the governor; second, it will neutralise the threats parties like the PDP might pose thereby reducing complications that might arise from other unpredictable areas like Ife which might prove really damaging to the APC’s chances.

APC leaders will be engaging in a big gamble should they fall for the temptation(s) to choose their flagbearer from Osun West. Too much is at stake in the forthcoming gubernatorial election in the state. Some of us are old enough to know the consequences of returning to our immediate dark past.

One good reason to return to this past will be APC’s choice of flagbearer outside Osun West. This will be a massive gamble with terrible implications!

Olalekan Waheed ADIGUN is a political analyst and 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. He blogs at http://olalekanadigun.com/

 

Stabilizing The Economy Through MSMSE Clinics, By Amaechi Agbo

“In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one’s own place and economy.
In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers…
Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else’s legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make. What would be the point, for example, if a majority of our people decided to be self-employed?”
Above excerpts from Wendell Berry’s, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays, sums up how a society would be when government policies and programmes were not well-tailored or targeted at the people.
For all that government does, no matter its name or configuration, the people are at the centre. It is based on this that every government that wants to win and retain the support of the masses or its citizenry, must go a long way in fashioning and churning out policies and programmes particularly economically, not only to empower the people but also to engage them and prosper them for greater contributions to the national economy.
In keeping with its three cardinal election campaign promises, one of which is economic stability, the federal government led by President Muhammadu Buhari in January, 2017 launched the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Clinics.
In many ways the administration has attempted to ensure that  it betters the lives of its citizenry through establishment of the right economic policies and empowering institutions geared towards overseeing the economic welfare of the people. Because a healthy populace, is a healthy and stable economy.
Upon assumption of office in 2015, the administration has been working round the clock to ensure that Nigerians – over 70% of them living below one dollar per day – live better lives, engage in businesses of their choices and contribute, in greater propensity, to the growth of the economy. Economically empowered citizens contribute towards building a vibrant and robust capital development of the nation.
To fast track this, the federal government launched its Economic and Recovery Growth Plans, ERGP in 2016. Embedded in the policy is the Micro, Small Medium Enterprises, (MSMEs) Clinics launched in 2017.
The programme, apart from ensuring increased production of goods in the manufacturing sector, agriculture as well as provision of substitution to hitherto imported goods, is also designed to bring about significant and sustainable Gross Domestic Product, (GDP) growth, spur employment generation and increase in local productivity, thereby reducing import bills on food and essential products that can be produced locally.
MSMEs Clinic also realigns the role of government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) as facilitators of business as well as bring about increase in foreign exchange earnings through export.
By so doing, the clinic addresses all the plethora of challenges affecting the growth and productivity of MSMEs in Nigeria.
The principal objectives of the MSMEs Clinic programme are to create a platform for stake-holders and businesses to discuss issues affecting set-up and operations of small, low-income businesses in the country; create a platform where government and other stakeholders can share and provide information of all the policies, programmes and initiatives currently existing in the country for encouraging MSMEs.
At different times and cities, the MSMEs Clinic has been launched in some States with Aba in Abia state, Nigeria’s largest commercial hub kicking off the establishment of the scheme across the states on January 26, 2017.
This was followed by the establishment of that of Onitsha, the commercial nerve of the South East in Anambra state.
Other states that the scheme has been established include Cross River, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, Kwara, Kano, Katsina, Anambra, Sokoto, Nasarawa, Ondo, Osun, FCT, and Kogi.
Like in the FCT, Onitsha launching had 4, 000 beneficiaries in attendance while Kano recorded 12, 000 participants.
Although official documenation on the actual figure of MSMEs in Nigeria remains a subject of debate, it is estimated that Nigeria currently has a total of 39 million micro, small and medium enterprise businesses.
In the same way a hospital clinic is established with doctors deployed to diagnose, cure and provide professional medical advice to patients, in the light the MSMEs Clinics operate.
MSMEs Clinic agencies such as Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Bank Of Industry, BOI; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, etc, who offer specialized incentives to the small business owners meet with the businessmen and women with the intention to identify and discuss business hindrances or obstacles militating against their growth, offer professional advice and provide solutions to the challenges.
The federal government has intensified its outreach in championing the establishment of the MSMEs Clinic in the states across the federation with the latest being that of Edo State which was carried out on Thursday, June 14, 2018.
In launching the MSMEs Clinic in the Federal Capital Territory, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo, explained the importance of the clinic to over 4, 000 beneficiaries who turned up for the event.
According to the Vice President, “MSME Clinics serve as a one stop shop to address challenges faced by small business owners in the country
“Working very closely with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, we came up with the idea of MSMEs Clinics as an important building block not as a silver bullet, but as an important block in finding a solution.
“The term Clinics was chosen deliberately to reflect three things all borrowed from the health sector. The first is that individual MSMEs face problems that can hopefully be addressed through direct access to relevant officials.
“The second is that direct consultations with very senior experts will find solution.
“The third is that a reasonably large number of people can be attended to without any need for expensive and time consuming travel to agencies offices,” he stated.
Relevant agencies being mobilized to ensure the initiative achieve the objectives include: Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), Nigerian Export Promotion Council(NEPC), Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDAN).
Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Export-Import Bank and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
Others include, Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigeria Customs Service, Ministry of Trade and Investment, among many others.
It could not be forgotten that Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had launched the MSME Development Fund with a share capital of N220 billion, in order to support the MSMEs programme
In launching the MSME Clinic in Onitsha, Anambra State, in April last year, the VP explained the reasons for the scheme and its importance to the growth of the nation’s economy as well as roles that certain agencies will play to make the scheme a success.
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“As individual units, MSMEs may be small, but together they account for up to 50 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and over 80 percent of the labour force. It therefore follows that they are of decisive importance in the national economy.
“MSMEs have tended to be neglected in this country over the years. This is partly as a result of competing priorities and a tendency to discount their contribution to the national economy.
“The MSME Clinics were conceived in this context and they are designed to bring the regulatory agencies whose work affects the business experience of MSMEs nearer to them. This will enable MSMEs to bring their business-related problems to regulatory agencies for solution outside the formal and sometimes intimidating offices of these agencies.
“Of course, having all the agencies in one location at the same time saves MSMEs the travel time and cost of going to different agencies.
“MSME Clinics have also enabled regulatory agencies to gain a better understanding of the difficulties that MSMEs face and caused them to take steps to remedy the situation where required. For instance, several agencies have reduced the cost and timelines for service delivery to MSMEs. Since the launch of this programme last year, it has been easier for small businesses to access funds, because the Bank of Industry (BoI), Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) and NEXIM Bank have used it to expose their products and increase their loans to MSMEs.
“NAFDAC has made it easier to do business, by reducing the cost and waiting time for product registration for small businesses. What used to take 8 months now takes 3 months.
“On its part, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) now registers businesses within 48 hours and also carries out registration during the Clinics at reduced prices.”
“The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have both slashed their charges on various products and services, just to support small and medium enterprises.
“To foster continuity after the Clinics, at least five State governments have set up ‘One-Stop Shops’ that bring all the relevant agencies together in one place, so as to enable small businesses access their services on an on-going basis with relative ease,” he said.
The states that have established MSMEs Clinic One-Stop Shop include Plateau, Kwara, Katsina, FCT, among others.
World Bank in its report on the MSMEs’ roles in fast tracking the development of economies of 3rd World nations noted that:“MSMEs are, collectively, the largest employers in many low-income countries, yet their viability can be threatened by a lack of access to such risk-management tools as savings, insurance and credit. Their growth is often stifled by restricted access to credit (loan), equity and payments services.”
Access to financial services can therefore boost job creation, raise income, reduce vulnerability and increase investments in human capital.
MSMEs account for a significant share of employment and GDP around the world, but, when they have limited access to finance, the economy suffers a series of negative consequences: Economic and social opportunities are restricted or lost entirely, enterprise creation and growth are restrained, households and enterprises are more vulnerable to threats, and payments are costlier and less safe.
A World Bank Enterprise Survey found that the smaller firms are less likely to have access to capital – a factor that constrains their ability to grow and become more productive. They are also more likely to rely on informal sources of capital – a factor that is often negatively associated with growth and firm performance.
 Access to finance is disproportionately difficult for smaller firms in the least developed countries (LDCs), with 41 percent of SMEs in LDCs reporting access to finance as a major constraint to their growth and development, by comparison to 30 percent in middle-income countries (MICs) and only 15 percent in high-income countries (HICs).
These are the problems the MSME Clinics are tackling in Nigeria.
The renewed focus on MSMEs sector is significant because they constitute the bedrock of economic development in most countries, with four out of five new jobs being created by the sector in emerging markets such as Nigeria’s.
?To underscore the importance the Federal Government attaches to the MSMEs Clinic, the Vice President, during the establishment of the MSMEs Clinic in Jos, Plelateau State, gave this caveat “Every time that a public servant is an obstacle to anyone seeking approvals or licenses, he or she attacks the Nigerian economy and its future. Our individual and collective vision or objective as civil or public servants must be advancing the social and economic prosperity.”
Amaechi Agbo is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja.

Super Eagles And Marcus The Pig At The World Cup, By Reuben Abati

There has been nothing in recent memory like the build up to Nigeria’s first match at the on-going 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament in Russia. Football is Nigeria’s greatest unifier: when it is football, our compatriots drop all ethnic, religious and ideological differences and profess the missing faith and ideology of one Nigeria.

They have expressed similar solidarity over whose jollof is sweeter in the competition between Ghanaian jollof, Senegalese jollof and Nigerian jollof  – the way Nigerians defend our national cuisine, you would think we are a nation of gourmets, but nothing compares to the magic of football and its connection with nationalism. When it comes to football, Nigeria is the home of passion, zeal and boundary-less excitement. This is intriguing so to speak in the same nation where politics is combustible and a comment about another person’s faith or religion, or ethnicity or a mere disagreement between a Hausa-Fulani and a Yoruba at Mile 12 market, or between a pastoralist and a farmer in the Middle Belt could result in bloodbath, even at a football-viewing centre. The only explanation we have for this is that Nigeria is a complex country, full of paradoxes, and clearly, only Nigerians understand their country.

Nonetheless, the disappointing performance of the Super Eagles in their first match at the on-going 2018 World Cup tournament has nothing to do with paradox or complexity, it was a display of sheer absent-mindedness.  In the build-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Nigeria was the darling of the entire world. The news was that we had the best set of jerseys and kits in the world. Despite the shoulder-rubbing aspiration of Egypt, Croatia and one other country like that, the Nigerian jerseys designed by Nike became the aso ebi of the World Cup – a nice combination of colour, mood, shade and tint. The jerseys sold out a few minutes after being made available on the Nike website. Before you knew it, everybody that is somebody or simply pro-Nigerian started wearing the jersey, across the world. If the World Cup were to be won by the beauty of the garment, Nigerians would have seized the trophy even before the tournament began.

There was even a quarrel over the attires: there must be like four different types, but the one eventually designed by a local tailor made as much wave as the Nike ones and one guy went on twitter to protest that there was a Nigerian conspiracy against the Warri guy who designed the local aso ebi. At that point, the ethnic element came in, but Nigerians didn’t dwell on that. They quickly recognized @gt_stitches and asked the Super Eagles to show the world what they have.

Beautiful Nollywood girls and professional local slay queens pushed their frontal and back-end assets in our faces proclaiming Up-Nigeria. Some even exposed nice, succulent, tempting flesh, to reassure the Super Eagles that the women of Nigeria were behind them. Some celebrities joined the craze, including a few pot-bellied, and white-hair-in-the-nose actors wearing the Super Eagles jersey. The international media spotted the story – BBC, CNN, Al-Jazeera etc and adopted the Super Eagles as the best-dressed team in the World Cup and we all went wa-ah–oh. They even interviewed Russians watching our Nigerian football fans, dancing round the streets of Russia, singing, jolloficating, and energetically pounding the streets. “The Nigerians just won’t stop singing and dancing”!

The excitement was so much that even the President of Brazil endorsed Nigeria as a key team at the World Cup. The Irish, not having a team at the World Cup, ignored England and said they were supporting Nigeria. It was clear to me, doing a structuralist and semiotic reading of this that Nigeria is a country in desperate need of good news. I didn’t attempt a Marxist reading-   the Russians themselves having killed Karl Marx after his death. The World Cup is not about the struggle of the masses, or equity or justice.  It is war, even if at the end of the day the gifted are separated from the waka-pass and a dictatorship of the former is established.  Every qualifying team joins the war to defend its country, its brand, national ego and corporate brand. Very sad. Very bad. So frustrating, therefore: The Super Eagles messed us up on Saturday, June 16.

Many Nigerians were disappointed with their performance. It was Nigeria’s 6th World Cup appearance. The boys may have worn the most fashionable clothes, but they failed to realize that the World Cup is not a Dolce and Gabana show where Wizkid and Naomi Campell can exchange boy and woman banters or that the garment does not make the Monk.  Every World Cup match is a macho game, a game of thrones, with too much at stake – personal brands, national brands, and the ego and emotions of nations.  Our team lacked energy, drive and creativity. Alex Iwobi, the leading light from the qualifiers was anonymous on the left wing. Victor Moses was the man every Nigerian thought would make some difference. The fella was busy showboating all over the pitch on Saturday, falling up and down like a yoyo, kicking the ball like a headless chicken. Ighalo was left isolated with no secondary support.

Troost-Ekong certainly does not know that the World Cup field is not a night-club. He should be told to stop holding and embracing the opponent in the penalty yard. A football match is not a ballet where people cling to each other and do the pirouette. Mikel Obi should try and help his country. Cristiano Ronaldo had a big tax evasion matter on his head, but he still stood up for his country. Diego Costa: he proved himself for Spain. Lionel Messi may have lost the penalty: I blame the coach – never ask Messi to take the penalty, he would mess it up- but he worked hard for Argentina.

With an own goal and a silly penalty give-away in the match against Croatia, we have all now become a nation of football coaches.  Young Nigerians who claim to understand football, even if their only claim to that is the Aba-made Super Eagles jersey they bought in Lagos Traffic, or at Yaba bend-down market, are now telling Gernot Rohr what combination he must adopt in subsequent matches. Many amateur coaches have recommended the 4-4-2 combination but I think Nigeria probably stands a chance of doing better in this World Cup if all the arm-chair coaches on social media can be blocked and all the fine girls with corruption-laden body parts can be banned from sending Direct Messages to the Super Eagles.

Also, the boys must not visit Mikel Obi’s in-laws until the end of the tournament. They must stay away from Russian hospitality and Vodka. Nigeria as a country needs to concentrate on the task at hand. Switzerland was able to hold Brazil down to a 1-1 draw because they focused on the job. The same was the case in the Portugal-Spain match. Marcus, the pig had predicted that Spain would beat Portugal. But that didn’t happen. In the dying minutes, Ronaldo made it a hat-rick and cancelled Diego Costa’s brace. We need people like that in the Super Eagles.  Portugal obviously did not rely on the pig.

It is indeed a crying shame that Nigerians are relying on fashion and animals for their World Cup 2018 fortune. Just before our first match against Croatia on Saturday, we were told that the Football Association Chairman in Russia had issued a statement forbidding Super Eagles fans from bringing live chickens to the stadiums. Apparently the Super Eagles Fans’ Club Association had asked for permission to bring live chickens to the match venues- chickens are said to be symbols of the Fans’ association. I don’t know whether or not the Russians were being polite, but they said No.  I have tried to put myself in their shoes.

Having heard all those stories about snakes that steal millions of money in Nigeria, who in his right senses in the world today, will allow Nigerians to bring a live chicken to a competitive football match? What if any of the chickens, the sprightly, springy ones broke loose, jumped onto the field of play and caused some havoc in the course of a peregrination across the stadium?  There is also the additional threat of bird flu, being spread inadvertently through contact or air-borne pollination. But may be it was not even the chickens that posed the greatest danger, it was probably Marcus the pig- the prophesying-animal that reportedly told the whole world that the Super Eagles would make it to the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup.

Nigerians generally, including the Super Eagles are very superstitious. But we all need to be told that the World Cup is not about chickens and pigs. Some Nigerians were so dependent on the pig’s prediction that when they were disappointed at the end, they slaughtered and barbecued Marcus – representations of it – literally, and figuratively, on social media for its treachery. May they be reminded that the same pig probably predicted that Spain will beat Portugal in their first encounter. But Portugal had Ronaldo who proved to be brighter than the pig and in the dying minutes, he changed the game.

And that takes us to where we are going: the Super Eagles must stop relying on predictions, or pigs or chickens and play football. The on-going World Cup tournament is already springing surprises and living up to the hype. Mexico trashed Germany the defending Champions. Switzerland held Brazil with their individually and collectively talented squad to a draw. Portugal and Spain played as if they were at war. Iceland, a first-time participant at the World Cup, put up a great showing, 1-1, against Argentina, a team mentioned as one of the favourites to win the tournament.  This particular match recorded specular saves by the Iceland goalkeeper, including a Lionel Messi penalty kick. Magical moments like this indicate determination and the desire to win. Hannes Halldorsson, Iceland’s goalkeeper, is a film-maker away from football- he would never have guessed he would produce a film-like performance at the World Cup and also be named Man of the Match.

On Friday, June 22, the Super Eagles will again be on the field – against Iceland. If there is ever a must-win match to keep a nation’s hope alive, that must be it. The Super Eagles must not play like pigs or chickens. We expect them to play like champions.  Just before the World Cup began, Javier Mascherano, an Argentine player commented on how the great thing about Nigeria is that we are a disorganized team, and that our disorganization disorganizes other teams. Masherano was proven right in our match against Croatia. That is disheartening.

As a country that has football ingrained into its identity, we expect a lot more even if, to be honest, there is an obvious lack of high-end talent representing the national team. Many of our own who can make a difference are, sadly and unfortunately, representing other national teams at this World Cup. Manuel Obafemi Akanji, born to a Nigerian father, has just helped Switzerland to secure a draw against Brazil. Dele Alli, another Nigerian is in the English national team. So I ask: are we expecting too much from the Super Eagles?

Are we putting too much pressure on them to perform?  I don’t think so.  Romelu Lukaku, a star of the Belgian team and Manchester United, is from a family that had no access to Cable TV.  His family was poor. He is now making a second-time appearance in the World Cup finals. He has scored 2 goals in this World Cup to help secure a 3-0 victory for Belgium over Panama. Gabriel Jesus of Brazil used to paint streets; today he is one of the leading stars for Brazil at the World Cup. What Nigerians want from the Super Eagles at this World Cup is good performance, a display of ability and seriousness, and a successful defence of the Nigerian brand.

Developing football? Whatever happens at the end of the day in Russia, we have to learn to develop Nigeria’s football sector and the entire sports sector – the management, the leadership recruitment, the diversification and strategic intensification –  to demonstrate to the world that we are a serious-minded nation. Super Eagles – a severely depressed nation in search of good news waits on you.

Femi Fani-Kayode A Turncoat With Destructive Tendencies, By Nathaniel Adoji??

The man Femi Fani-Kayode is twisted. He has a twisted mind and he writes and says things that are twisted. He is incoherent, inconsistent and very unstable like an internet connection. He has accused Presidents, ministers and politicians only to turncoat and defend them with more vigour and enthusiasm.

It’s the same for switching political parties and turning on the fingers that once fed him and even helped him when he was down. The issue of substance abuse has popped up a couple of times, with many concerned that he sometimes says things when he’s on ‘overdrive’

In 2015, then opposition spokesman, Lai Mohammed, said Fani-Kayode – then Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Organisation spokesman – may be abusing substance owing to the series of “incoherent” allegations he has levelled against the party.

FanÍ-Kayode had alleged that Yemi Osinbajo, then APC vice-presidential candidate, is a stooge of Bola Tinubu and would eventually pave the way for him to become vice-president.

“No, we have never and will never wish anyone any ill-health. However, we are seriously concerned that Fani-Kayode may have unhinged, perhaps as a result of a relapse into an unhealthy lifestyle of substance abuse. Our concern stems from the series of incoherent statements, outlandish claims and inconsistent behaviours exhibited by Fani-Kayode in recent times, which call into question his state of mental health,” the APC said at the time.

“We wish Mr. Fani-Kayode well and call on him to tell Nigerians that he remains clean, despite the massive pressure of work, and that he will not do anything that will see him needing a prolonged reformation in a foreign land,” the APC added.

Three years down the line and the ‘stooge’ suggestion by Fani-Kayode remains an illusion, a phantom. Osinbajo is still Vice President and will most certainly remain in his position.

But there’s more from the Mario Balotelli of Nigeria’s politics. In 2013, he said this of former President Goodluck Jonathan, who he later served.

Fani-Kayode popularly referred to as FFK said President Jonathan was too weak to win the war against Islamic sect, Boko Haram. “As long as Jonathan is in power, Boko Haram will be there because he is not man enough to tackle the problem’’. Until a president who is man enough is in charge, Boko Haram problem will continue to be there,” he said on 5 Thursday 2013, in Osogbo, capital of Osun state.

Similarly, on 6 February 2014, FFK said “Jonathan has failed in all sectors, including the economy and security, and if he should be allowed to continue in office, this country is heading for serious disaster and it will be calamitous.

On February 5 2014, again FFK said “Yorubas have been marginalized by Jonathan’s administration and thus, should not vote him in 2015”. He went further to say that “Any attempt to allow President Jonathan stay in office beyond 2015 would mean doom for the Yoruba nation. Jonathan is bleeding Nigeria to death, It is time for change.

But it did not take long before he began singing his praise. Once he was appointed spokesperson of Jonathan’s campaign, Fani-Kayode began praising Jonathan and he immediately took on his opposition Buhari.

Earlier, this year, he said this about Jonathan, “A man of honor and peace and one that has brought so much joy and hope to millions. You have proved to the world that African leaders can be competent, kind, gentle, humane and selfless. You have everything to be proud of and much still lies ahead for you in the affairs of our nation. You are the light amidst the darkness: a man that was prepared to let go of power whilst others crave for it, abuse it and are obsessed with it.”

Like Jonathan, he served under another former President, Olusegun Obasanjo as minister of aviation. And even Obasanjo was not spared of his vituperation. “But the truth is that Obasanjo caused the problem we have today. The joy of it is that the same Obasanjo who anointed an incompetent leader (Jonathan) for Nigeria is now cleaning up the mess,” he said referring to Obasanjo’s castigation of Jonathan’s government.

But there are others. He has attacked Igbos, the PDP. On 8 August 2013, he turned on the Igbos. “The Igbo and their Biafra fought Nigeria and killed Nigerians for three hard years in that brutal civil war in which over one million courageous, loyal and faithful sons and daughters of the Federal Republic lost their lives at the war front trying to stop Biafra from seceding from the federation, from taking our land and from taking the minority groups of the Mid-Western Region and Eastern Region and our newly-discovered oil with them’’

Not done with Igbos, FFK in an effort to disparage the most revered Igbo man living or dead, made a public rendition of how he frolicked with the wife of late Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, Eze Igbo Gburugburu. Today because he is in President Jonathan’s government some Igbos have embraced him as their friend not minding how this man diminished the Igbo race by diminishing their legend. Igbos who supports FFK are ignorant and they don’t even understand what is means to have your legend diminished.

Five years down the line, he is the number one advocate for Biafra. “What has Nnamdi Kanu or indeed the Igbo people done to warrant this primitive show of barbarism and force? We are on the brink of a total breakdown of law and order and a prolonged and bloody armed conflict.

I urge restraint on all sides and I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw the army from the east and leave Nnamdi Kanu alone.Terrorising your own people with soldiers is not the act of a courageous man but rather the act of a tyrant, a coward and a bully. We call on the international community to bear witness to what is unfolding in eastern Nigeria,” he wrote in an op-ed on 16 September 2017.

Days ago, he became an advocate of President Muhammadu Buhari who he has vehemently insulted at every opportunity that has presented itself. He did not only advocate for Buhari, he also defended him. But minutes later, he was insulting him again. That stunned me because this was a new low for Fani-Kayode.

I commend @MBuhari for announcing June 12th as our new Democracy Day. This is long overdue and I am pleasantly surprised.I also commend him for honoring Chief MKO Abiola, the winner of the June 12th 1993 presidential election, with the posthumus award of GCON.This is great news!” he wrote on 7 June 2018 on Twitter.

The award of GCFR to MKO Abiola by @MBuhari and the declaration of June 12th as Democracy Day is a classic case of a cunning, self-seeking, self-serving and evil man doing the RIGHT thing for the WRONG reasons. If you really want to win our hearts beg for forgiveness and resign!

Shortly after he was defending the President again. “Ocherome Nnana called the Yoruba “sophisticated morons”for accepting what @MBuhari did relating to MKO Abiola and June 12. This is unacceptable and he is wrong. He did NOT speak for @vanguardngrnews and he did NOTspeak for the Igbo.He only spoke for his sorry self.God forgive him,” he tweeted.

Like the opening song from the classic, Sound of Music, “How do you solve a problem like FFK”? I think the Bible has just the verse for him, James 1 vs 8, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways”.

Apt, absolutely apt

?.By Nathaniel C. Adoji?

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#Russia2018: Why Nigeria Could Win The World Cup, By Akinremi Ayo

Our darling super eagles will start their world cup campaign against their Croatia counterpart on Saturday 16th of June.
Looking at the crop of players the Super Eagles will be parading, it is easier to say that we really have a wonderful team of individual players. But the major constraint is them playing as a team.
Nigeria played 5 Friendlies. We won 1 , drew 1 and lost 3. This stat is not too good for a team that is playing at the world cup but at the same time, friendlies doesn’t really determine your world cup fate. But the bottom line is that our super eagles team doesn’t have a playing pattern.
Let’s take for instance, our last game against Czech Republic. The Czech Republicans came with a game plan. The were playing long balls and making some sharp crosses. They knew the Super Eagles are weak in defending crosses. Their game plan really worked for them at least they won the match.
Talking about game plans, super eagles team is disorganized. You see players of the same team colliding against each other while trying to clear an area ball. Could it be that Genort Rohr is trying to play safe by not not really exposing is tactics to his opponents?
According to Javier Mascherano, He said, “And Nigeria are quite well known to us, we’ve always met in the last World Cups. They’re tough, not just because of their physical power, but because their disorganisation has the effect of disorganising you as a rival. And that’s when teams like ours suffer the most – in disorder.” I find this really interesting as it could be an advantage to us. That means other teams would be wary of our disorganization and it might be difficult for them to really study us.
Don’t forget that Super Eagles always perform anytime we Nigerians right them off. Do you still remember what happened at 2013 AFCON? who knew super eagles will win it? Who knew Nigeria will even qualify for World cup?
Winning the world cup is realistic but Las Las we sha go fit enter semi-final if we no win world cup

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