The President Nigeria Badly Needs, By Simon Kolawole

Nigerians were created for elections. We live for elections. We breathe elections. As one election is rounding off, we are already discussing the next one. In fact, before one election holds, we start doing permutations on the one after it. We are preparing for the 2019 presidential election, but already discussing 2023. Elections offer us the biggest excitement, like a kid and his candy. Who should we vote for? Whose turn is it? What are the cold calculations? It is not completely a bad idea to be in love with elections — that is a major pillar of democracy. The citizens are able to exercise their power of choice. To be excited about elections is in fact lovely.

However, for us Nigerians, elections are not seen as a means to an end; elections are an end in themselves. That is the impression I get all the time. The excitement should be about how elections can help us choose leaders that can take Nigeria out of the inglorious club of backward nations. The excitement should be about visions, about goals, about capacity. How can the ordinary people enjoy quality healthcare, sound education, constant power, excellent roads, clean water and assured security? How can food and shelter become affordable for the majority of our people? How can poor Nigerians begin to live like proper human beings?

I have taken time to study Nigerian leaders, both elected and unelected, from pre-Independence era till date. I studied not just presidents and heads of state but also premiers, ministers, governors, commissioners, heads of agencies, council chairpersons and councillors. I saw patterns. I saw characteristics. I saw high points. I saw low points. And I drew a number of conclusions. I will be discussing some of these conclusions in a series of articles. My aim today is fairly clear — I want to douse the perennial ecstasy about elections. We need to pay more attention to the purpose than the act. We are obsessed more with form than substance. We love rhyme more than reason.

Obviously, elections in themselves do not make a good or bad leader. You can vote for whoever you like — it is what the leader has in his head that will make the difference to the fortune of the country. Election-time rhetoric and sentiments serve a purpose, I won’t deny that, but they play very little role in the success or failure of a leader. So as we do analyses and permutations on who will win north-central and south-south in 2019, and where the running mate should come from, can we spare a moment to ask ourselves this question: where did previous permutations land us? Has Nigeria been getting better with every new permutation and excitement?

This is my digression today. The leaders Nigeria needs, the leaders we badly need, the ones we really, really need, are those who have a good mental picture of what the society should look like. That is the starting point. I have said this a zillion times: development does not happen by accident. We won’t stop importing petroleum products by accident. Our hospitals will not become centres of excellence by co-incidence. Our highways will not become smooth and safe through a miracle. The countries we admire today are a product of vision — that mental picture of what you want to be. Human beings sat down, drew up plans, implemented the plans and began to see results.

If, therefore, Mr. Lakasegbe wants to be president (or governor) with the single mind of making the society a better place, everything he does will be towards bringing this picture to reality. To what do I liken this? Let’s say you want to build a house. You have a mental picture of a five-bedroom storey building with a swimming pool and a garden, all rooms en suite and all that. You engage an architect and tell him what you want. He gives you a design. The quantity surveyor prepares the budget. You draw up milestones. You begin to engage the hands that will translate the design to a physical structure. Everything you do will be how to bring the house down from your head to the ground.

For Mr. Lakasegbe, ethnicity or religion wouldn’t matter so much to him in putting together his team to deliver his vision of Nigeria. Who voted for him and who didn’t vote for him wouldn’t be an item on his mind. The single mind would be like: I want Nigeria to be at a minimum of 30% level of South Korea in my first term and 60% if I get a second term. He will know that to be like South Korea, there are fundamental and foundational things that must be in good shape in critical sectors. He will automatically know that certain things are non-negotiable — education, healthcare, security, rule of law and physical infrastructure, such as roads and power.

In picking his core team, he will go for those who can make the dream come true, not people he owes favours. In building your house, you can afford to do favours in hiring labourers, but you cannot do favours in engaging engineers and builders. That is your core team. Good enough, there is no state, ethnic group or religion in Nigeria that does not have competent and qualified people, so Lakasegbe can still achieve balancing without sacrificing merit. Every decision, every policy will be geared towards realising the vision — not moving away from it. Even when he wants to adjust his plans to accommodate new realities, the single mind remains to achieve this vision.

Anyone in the team who is not helping the vision will be shown the exit door. Remember, the mental picture will get distorted if his helpers are not on the same page with him. Pruning and weeding is a continuous, natural process. Remember, too, that he must assess his goals and milestones to be sure the vision is on course. He will not steal or waste resources — or look the other way — because he surely knows every kobo is vital to the realisation of the vision. The determination to deliver on the vision, in spite of challenges and hindrance, will continue to be the biggest motivation. You don’t stop building a house because some “omo onile” are disturbing you.

This vision will be marketed as a national vision, as everybody’s vision, not his sole property. Selling the vision, planting the vision and sustaining the vision include having all hands on deck. Many leaders fail when they make themselves the Alpha and Omega of the vision. At that point, they fail to groom successors — they see themselves as the only one who can do it and tend to want to perpetuate themselves in power. Lakasegbe’s vision should be such that if he will do only one term, whoever succeeds him can carry on. A country like the UK has changed prime ministers several times in 11 years, yet the system is unshakable. That’s how to build a proper system!

In the history of Nigeria, we have not lacked visionary leaders. And that is a ray of hope. However, there has always been a major failing somewhere. Some got consumed by personal ambition, arrogance or greed. Some did not know how to play politics pragmatically in order to take hold of power at higher levels and be in a position to help change the country. Some were so self-centred they wanted to be all-in-all and therefore failed to groom a pool of successors — or help their mentees gain political power. At the end, Nigeria loses. We plan, we implement haphazardly, we fail. We take one step forward and two backward.

I am sorry to disappoint you if what you were expecting was an analysis of presidential candidates and my recommendation for 2019. I am aware that there are hot debates over President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, etc. I have passed that stage. I am no longer excited by all the permutations we do every four years. I am a young man but I can claim to have seen it all. My personal resolve, after experiencing so many disappointments, is that I will, in my little corner, continue to constructively engage with whoever holds power. They must use it in the interest of Nigeria’s progress.

I throw this challenge at the civil society: a lot of non-partisan work needs to be done in-between elections to hold the elected to account. We currently don’t do this well. We fall asleep after each election, waiting for the next one. The pressure to deliver is not really there for our leaders. Maybe we make an assumption that they know what to do and are deliberately failing. Well, if they don’t know, we have to put them on the right track. If they fail, we will all suffer the consequences. We usually say if a leader performs poorly, voters should get rid of him in the next election. Good point, but we also assume that a new leader will do better. I am no longer that optimistic.

I have resolved to encourage those in power to have a vision and a plan — if they never had any — and to pursue this with a single mind, though tribes and tongues may differ. Visioning is no magic. It is about using your brain, or borrowing other people’s brains. I insist that permutations at election times are secondary to development. I hope that in my lifetime, I will witness a Nigerian election in which our dominant ecstasy will be about visions and not emotions. I have resigned from the committee of those celebrating false dawns and getting excited over new rhetoric and new rhyme and new permutations. Once beaten, twice beaten, thrice beaten — I’m done.



The Yoruba will say “if your dress harbours lice, your nails will continue to be stained with blood”. The ethno-religious killings in northern Nigeria have their roots in a history of intractable mutual hate and suspicion. Recently, though, things have been getting out of hand, usually between the herders, who are mainly Fulani Muslim, and farmers or local populace in mostly Christian areas. It is a case of aggression and reprisal — laced with accusations and counteraccusations of genocide. More is expected of President Buhari in tackling the gruesome bloodbath. I can see anger and disappointment everywhere over the less-than-decisive measures. Puzzling.


As usual, the one thing that drew big reaction from the New Year speech of President Buhari was his stand on restructuring. But he said something bigger that would put food on our table: Nigeria will become self-sufficient in rice this year. In simple English, we will stop importing rice. This should come with value addition, jobs and conservation of our currency reserves. Nigeria was one of the biggest importers of rice, meaning we were busy creating jobs in Thailand and Vietnam who did not even have embassies in Nigeria. Buhari must, however, remember to give credit to Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan who planted and watered the rice policy. Fairness.


A tweet by Senator Ben Murray Bruce on the new Kaduna–Abuja train service has caused a storm. He said it was “entirely” the handiwork of President Jonathan. Governor Nasir el-Rufai countered, saying President Obasanjo initiated it. Both men are somewhat correct. Obasanjo conceived it (along with the Kano-Lagos rail). Yar’Adau stopped the project because initial payments were made from the excess crude account without appropriation or engineering design. Jonathan then did most of the work. President Buhari is completing it. Jonathan certainly deserves big credit. But I think we should be more worried that it took 12 years to deliver on a 200-kilometre rail. Shame.


Nigeria is the only country in the world where someone is arrested and handcuffed over an allegation of libel. A blogger was arrested on New Year’s Eve by the police over a publication considered libellous to the inspector-general. As a trained journalist, I know the implications of libel and I am worried by the amount of libel we publish everyday in Nigeria (I dare say no media outlet is exempt). But to the best of my knowledge, libel is a civil matter in civilised societies. It is only in banana republics that the criminal libel law is applied to the personal affairs of a public official. Nigeria is becoming a disgrace. This madness must stop. Immediately.

Fulani Herdsmen/Farmers Clash Predates Buhari Administration, By Iyorwuese Hagher

There is a war raging in Nigeria between the Fulani and Tiv ethnic groups. It is a classical multifaceted war; stimulated, driven and fuelled by environmental, political and cultural stressors. While the conflict between the sedentary farmers in Nigeria and the Fulani nomadic cattle herders is decades old, the present escalation into a full-blown war between the Fulani and Tiv “cousins” is a recent phenomenon. It is unprecedented, ominous and deserving attention as harbinger of the bad times insidiously creeping on all of us.

The Goodluck Jonathan administration has done very little to address the issues that underlie the conflict and nothing to stop the war. In fact, the President is embattled on all sides by ineffectual policies to stem corruption, poor infrastructure, and the war against the extremist Boko Haram group. The administration is helpless even as the war has become the signature marker of the rising tide of conflicts and anarchy in Nigeria. Clearly, the centre can barely hold.

Nigeria was recently designated the world’s 7th most terrorized state. This designation came from the combined terrorist effect of the Niger Delta insurgency, and the radical group, Boko Haram. These two groups grabbed global attention with their dramatic urban kidnappings, and strategic bombings. Not so the Fulani-Tiv war, a rural war but nonetheless strategic as Nigeria’s internal hemorrhage, signaling the painful throes of a central government wallowing in corruption, ignorance and incompetence. The Tiv and Fulani are critical to Nigeria’s food security. A war between these two will undermine the nation’s food security, if it lingers much longer. Worse still, since the Muslims seem to be tacitly taking sides with the Fulani, as was the case in the Plateau state, this may be the incendiary point where the Christians in the south may come to support the Tiv farmers and Nigeria could go up in flames.

Clausewitz defines war as “an act of violence to compel our opponents to fulfill our will.” In the last two years, the Fulani- Tiv skirmishes manifested as a full-scale war, and can as well be likened to the 33 other armed conflicts taking place globally, in the last two years. The combatants are armed with sophisticated assault weapons, and are determined to wreck maximum havoc. The killing of men, women, and children and the destruction of farm crops and animals are a regular feature of this war.

Recent happenings in Nigeria have unfortunately given the impression that top ranking Fulani elite have already taken sides with the Fulani herdsmen, in the agenda to partition Tiv farmlands into Fulani cattle grazing reserves and resources are being garnered to actualize this agenda through the acquiescence of the Jonathan administration. A national grazing bill is being introduced at the National Assembly to give legality to this conspiracy of land dispossession, and usurpation.

The fact must be pointed out that the nomadic Fulani are conflicted in much of West Africa. In Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Ghana, Niger as in Nigeria, the story of clashes between Fulani herdsmen and crop farmers abound. In all cases it starts with a Fulani herdsman or herdsmen driving their cattle into crops farms to graze. The farmers in order to protect their crops, farms and livelihood, attack the Fulani or attempt to chase them away. The Fulani retaliate by opening fire or violently defending their cows by killing or maiming the farmers. The conflict escalates as the Fulani migrate from that scene to yet another.

In Ghana and Nigeria, the clashes between the Fulani and crop farmers have intensified as desertification, deforestation, and climate changes continue unchecked by successive governments. In Ghana the Fulani are fighting in Agogo, Kanongo, Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Western Ghana, Volta and Eastern regions.

In Nigeria, the Fulani have continued to clash with sedentary farming communities in Plateau, Ogun, Oyo, Sokoto, Nassarawa, Benue, Rivers, Bauchi, Yobe, Enugu, Cross-Rivers states and the Federal Capital Territory. The war being fought with the Tiv is fought in Tiv territories of Benue and Nassarawa state, where the Tiv have lived in the last three centuries, farming; rice, yams, cassava, beniseed, soya beans, and keeping their own cattle the Muturu cows. The Benue state and Tivland is Nigeria’s bread basket.

The war Zone

After months of tip-toeing around the subject, the Nigerian media reported that from the 8-10th February 2011, armed Fulani herdsmen numbering between 200-500 sacked three districts in Gwer Local government, unleashing an orgy of violence and killing for two days that left scores dead and rendered 20,000 people homeless. The damage to property according to the media was over a hundred million naira(about $750,000.) Other versions claimed that the Fulani and mercenaries had more sophisticated assault weapons than the police. The Nation Newspaper reported that the operation was “similar to the invasion of Borno state by members of Boko Haram.”

On March 5, 2012, scores of Fulani invaders, crossed river Benue into Benue State. Armed with AK47, Mark 4 and other assault weapons, the Fulani invaders sacked the Tiv farming community, marching through a distance of thirty kilometers from Tse Abatse Mbamegh to Tse Joo. They killed all men, women and children in their path. They also destroyed farmland, economic trees, and burnt down several houses, food barns and killed domestic animals. These communities have had neither previous quarrel nor conflict with the Fulani.

The Fulani attack of Tiv farmers on their ancestral lands has continued sporadically in the past, since 2010, but from 2011, assumed the dimension of a full-scale war of aggression against the Tiv in Benue, Nassarawa and Taraba states. Several hundreds of non-combatant men, women and children have been killed and maimed; over five thousand people are reported to be refugees in their country Nigeria. The firepower of the Fulani has defied even the Nigerian Army, which recorded fatalities when they attempted to engage the invaders. The two governors of the two states have attempted to resolve the conflict without success. In intensity, this war has ben more deadly, and left more casualties, and spread over a larger territory than the Israeli-Palestinian war, in the last one year.

The following communities in Benue state have come under the Fulani firepower. Nyiev, Tse Anda,Yandev,Dooga, Kpata,Lokobi,Mbagwen,Tse Zaki,TseKper,Chile,Tse Kpoku,Tse Kpar, Sengev, Gbuku and Tse Yaji.

In Nassarawa state; Andori,Rukubi, Akpanaja, Agyema, Idaku, Gidan Rai, Ankome, Agimaka, Ekije development area, Migili, Eggon, Agatu and Doma.

An Ominous war

This war is ominous, evil, and condemnable, because all things being equal, the Tiv and Fulani should never fight. At least not go to war, and for this long. They are blood cousins. According to Tiv Chronicles, the Tiv, (a Proto-Bantu ethnic group) came in contact with the Fulani around the 16 th or 17th Century as they migrated into Nigeria. The Tiv established farms and kept their own cattle( muturu) that were restricted around the Tiv homes. The Fulani on the other hand were nomadic herdsmen. They had a symbiotic relationship, as the Tiv produced food for the Fulanis while the Fulani served as standing army to defend the Tiv against invading tribes. Over time they intermarried and considered themselves inseparable.

Tiv Chronicles tell how the Tiv and Fulani parted ways over the Tiv complaints that the larger populated Fulani were marrying all Tiv daughters, leaving the Tiv with fewer daughters to propagate their own identity and group. They agreed to part as friends and cousins. The Tiv called the Fulani Upul, and the Fulani called the Tiv “Munchi” the nickname they gave the Tiv after an incident involving a Fulani household.

The Fulani men had gone south with their cattle during the dry season to pasture. After several months they returned home to find the women they had left behind under Tiv supervision pregnant. When the Fulani met his Tiv cousins they admitted that they indeed were responsible.’Munchi’ they admitted. Since that time, the nickname Munchi has been the favorite joking nickname that the Fulani gave to the Tiv. In agreeing to part as friends, the Tiv and Fulani elders made a treaty to live in peace as cousins.

This treaty has been observed on both sides with great care. It is encoded in Tiv and Fulani social rituals. During one of the darkest moments of Tiv history, in 2001,when the Tiv were being slaughtered in Taraba, Plateau and Nassarawa states, and in the end the Obasanjo Government ordered a punitive invasion of Tivland known popularly as the Zaki-Biam massacre, the Fulani were implicated.

The crisis started on 23rd June 2001. Mr. Iortim Umande, an unarmed Tiv farmer, found Fulani cattle eating up his crops. When he tried to drive the cattle out of his farm, the Fulani took out his sword and killed him. The resultant reprisals and recriminations led to alliances of bloodletting against the Tiv.

As a researcher into the Tiv performance arts, I was surprised that same year, to see the Tiv Kwagh-hir performing artists interpret the scene by depicting the Fulani herdsmen with sympathy instead of anger or derision. On the Fulani side, in the past, a social psycho-drama was performed on the eve of the tenth day of Muharam (ashura) and the rest of the month, when the Tiv and Fulani, as cousins, called each other slaves and exchanged gifts among themselves.

It is remarkable that the ancestors of Tiv and Fulani established conflict-resolving mechanisms that the present generations seem unable to revive. Those were the days of staves, bows, arrows and short swords. Today, the Fulani come in platoons, armed with AK 47, and mark 4 assaults rifles and festooned with charms. This is no longer the conflict between herdsmen and crop farmers.

It is a war to acquire territory by a total war. But much more is at stake. We are witnessing the spread of the cancerous democratic deficit, when a country’s income and prosperity is more than its level of governance. We are witnessing a tinder situation.

The Political and cultural fault lines of the war

In the early 19th century a Fulani revolution took place in Nigeria. This revolution made the Fulani a ruling class in Nigeria, while the Tiv remained republican and egalitarian. A Fulani Islamic scholar, Shehu Othman Danfodio, instigated a moral revolution in Northern Nigeria, which was ruled by powerful Hausa Emirs.

He overthrew them one by one and waged a powerful jihad against the non-Islamic tribes of northern Nigeria. Historians believed that his main intensions were to “dip the Koran in the Atlantic ocean” This did not happen, at least on the eastern flank, either because the Tiv repelled the attack, or the Fulani Jihadists had honoured their age old pact to leave Tiv land alone, as their non-Islamic cousins.

In Tiv records, one Damkor, who was decisively beaten, waged the Jihad against the Tiv. In 1911, the Tiv were introduced to Christianity, and they embraced it and western education with vigour. Northern Nigeria then became predominantly Muslim and under the rule of Fulani who had defeated the Hausa Emirs and taken over leadership. The success of this revolution was based on the promise to purify Islam from moral depravity and abuse of office by the Hausa Emirate system.

The Fulani displayed an outstanding ability in manipulating power. For almost a century before Nigeria became a British colony, they ruled the Hausas. But they suffered a cultural setback. To exercise power, they married Hausa women. These Hausa women taught the children Hausa language, and up to today the Fulani are struggling to revive their language without success.

The Fulani and Hausas became assimilated to the point that today they are collectively referred to as Hausa -Fulani- a formidable power block in Nigeria, which share the Islamic religion and speak the Hausa language. The great grandson of Shehu Othman Dan Fodio, Ahmadu Bello, became the de-facto leader of Nigeria when his party, the NPC, took over leadership of the nation in 1960 at independence, from British rule.

Sir Ahmadu Bello and several northern leaders were killed in the Igbo-led military coup of 1966. Had the Tiv allowed Fulani to marry all their daughters, or became assimilated with Fulani language or abandoned theirs; perhaps the story of Northern Nigeria would be different today. The Tiv and Fulani share a lone Tiv word Shija that the Fulani pronounce Shin-ja, which means ‘lets go’ in both cultures. They parted ways to preserve their cultures, and identity. Yet their paths have crossed over and over again in the Nigerian project.

The Tiv have been the glue between the north and south, and have played significant roles in Nigeria to fight for national unity and for the rights of the minorities in all national discourses.

During the first republic the rest of the North supported the NPC, the party led by the the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the great grandson of the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate. Only Tivland, in the whole of the north, refused to vote the NPC, and instead voted for the UMBC, which was in alliance with the AG, a party led by the Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. They remained in this alliance till the demise of the first republic.

The Tiv played a prominent role during the return of the country to civil rule in the 2nd republic. J.S. Tarka a highly influential Tiv politician, helped to establish the National Party of Nigeria. Here the Tiv/Fulani solidarity made J.S. Tarka to join forces with Fulani who had lost out in the power equation. He drew in the minorities of the North and South, and helped to install another Fulani, Alhaji Shehu Shagari from Sokoto.

The National Movement and the National Party of Nigeria were both launched in Benue State. Since then, Benue state has become the “Ohio” of Nigerian politics. Since 1979,whoever wins Benue state wins the national elections. The Tiv apparently have been the political barometer of the country. The Tiv and Fulani have often worked together politically in spite of their religious differences. They proved in the past that Nigeria could become a viable democracy when the leaders embrace diversity. Nigeria will need to embrace diversity or perish. This is why the present war between these two is particularly worrisome.

During a recent Tiv –Fulani peace conference in June 2012 at the Government House Makurdi, I had the privilege of hearing the present Sultan of Sokoto, His Majesty, Alhaji Saad Abubakar (the supreme leader of the Fulani in Nigeria ) outline the essential cultural attributes of the Fulani herdsmen and the Fulani. He said that the Fulani are trans-border, peace-loving people, who are attached to their cattle. The Fulani can kill in order to defend their cattle from danger and are easily provoked. They are courageous fighters, who do not easily forgive adversaries. Most Fulanis are Muslims.

The Tiv character and culture, on the other hand, is based on values of freedom and rights of the individual, as well as deep attachment to farm production as the source of resources to exercise this freedom, and independence. The Tiv, are republican, and peaceful people, but when attacked are quick to band together to respond decisively. The Tiv avoid conflicts and can go to remarkable lengths to ward off conflicts.

The Tiv believe in justice and believe that all men and women are equal. Anthropologists in fact consider the Tiv as the last egalitarian society on earth. They are the single largest ethnic group of non-Muslims in northern Nigeria.

To be Continued…

Prof. Iyorwuese Hagher Ph.D, is Executive Director, African Leadership Institute, Dayton, Ohio”

Compromising And Neglecting Security Intelligence: Threat To National Security, By Terfa Naswem

Every net has holes. But Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen attacks have shown gaping ones in Nigerian intelligence agencies. Can they be fixed?

Intelligence process includes requirements, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and production, dissemination and consumption, and feedback. The details of this process are made secret by the various intelligence agencies for their effective operations to smoke out terrorists and those that are potential threats.

The State Security Service (SSS), military intelligence among other intelligence agencies in Nigeria have intelligence network system which information about a particular entity is collected through the use of more than one, inter-related source. They gather intelligence to build up a detailed knowledge of threats to Nigeria both from within and internationally, and the assessment and investigation process helps to make decision about how they should respond.

They have all it takes to infiltrate Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and any organization that pose a threat to Nigeria’s security, unity and progress. But corruption, tribalism, ethnicity among others which lead to negligence; these agencies have been seriously compromised with irrefutable intelligence swept under the rug.

The State Security Service (SSS), self-styled as the Department of State Services (DSS), is the primary domestic intelligence agency of Nigeria and is primarily responsible for intelligence gathering within the country and for the protection of Nigerians and foreigners in Nigeria and work in collaboration with other domestic and international intelligence and security agencies including Interpol among others.

Their primarily responsibility is also to detect plots and stop them before the attackers hit their targets not to wait until the attacks strike before looking for ways to curb it or prevent future attacks. They also have extraordinary task of anticipating various damaging events and creating various counter measures to prevent such anticipated events from hitting the ground when terrorists and others are working on such anticipated events to carry out their attacks.

I understand very perfectly how intelligence operation works. There is no threat in Nigeria that DSS, military intelligence among others cannot prevent or bring to an end. The late Head of State of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha said, “If insurgency last in any country for more than 24 hours, it means the government has a hand in it”. I think he was not far from the truth. The fight to end Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen attacks by these agencies has been compromised, and something is seriously wrong somewhere.

Pooling information is logistically difficult; given that the Nigerian intelligence community consists of different autonomous agencies which have further compounded the situation by other factors.

In January 2000 a group of al-Qaeda operatives met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to plot the attack on the U.S.S Cole. Malaysian authorities caught the meeting on a surveillance videotape and turned it over to the CIA. In the summer of 2001 the agency identified one of the attendees as al-Midhar, a Saudi who intelligence officials thought had entered the U.S. shortly after the meeting and left six months later. The CIA put his name on a watch list and handed it over to the Immigration and Naturalization Service-but by then al-Midhar had slipped back into the U.S. Within the next few days, the CIA briefed the FBI on al-Midhar.

FBI officials say they initiated a frantic manhunt for al-Midhar but never found him. On Sept.11, 2001, authorities believe, he flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Al-Midhar bought his Sept. 11 airline ticket under his own name, but American Airlines officials say no government authorities informed them he was on a terrorism watch list.

The Nigerian intelligence agencies have been criticized for failing to infiltrate Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen who all display acts of terror. Experts say Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are working to find ways to inflict more irreparable damage on Nigerians which the agencies are still not doing all it can to protect Nigerians.

That Al-Midhar could elude three Federal agencies, all of which knew his identity and the danger he posed shows what happens when intelligence agencies are compromised and intelligence swept under the rug. This is the same situation going on in Nigeria now among intelligence agencies. And many Nigerians have lost faith in our intelligence agencies in protecting them not as a result of their ineptitude but their compromise and negligence.

The leadership of Miyetti Allah Kauta Hore issued a threat to attack Benue State (which these agencies were aware) and still successfully carried out such attacks. Even without issuing threats, the DSS, military intelligence among others have the capability to detect such plot. The leaders of this association and most of their members have shown terrorism tendencies. What stops the DSS, military intelligence among others to swing into action? This is where conspiracy, compromise and negligence play central roles.

Nigerian intelligence officials remain “blind” to this deficiency but the proper focus of intelligence agencies should be “the pursuit of the secret” in defence of Nigerians. As long as Nigerian intelligence continues to peer in compromise and negligence, they may be unwilling to discover what Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and other violent-prone organizations and individuals are hatching right in our backyard.

2019: How Buhari Will Win, By Abdulmajid Lawan

As the stage for the thrilling 2019 Presidential election is set, many Nigerians are anxious to get a glimpse on how the elections will look like. Unlike 2015 when change battles continuity, 2019 is most likely going to be maintaining a change Vs changing the change.

It is a fact today that the APC lead government hasn’t delivered enough of the change it promised, excuses and shoddy antigraft war has greatly obscured their performance. Though some of the excuses are valid, it is most expected for an active government to focus more on adding value to its citizen than dissipating most of it energy in fighting ex-culprits in expense of today’s culprits.

More so, the ruling party has in the last two years been overwhelmed by self acclaimed political drive in the realm of power drunkenness thus could not deliver effectively. While this is happening, the opposition Party on the other hand appeared to have lost credibility and strength to form a formidable and strong opposition to over power the ruling APC, the absence of party ideology and the desperate quest for comfort zone by its members has brought the party to it knees hence allowed APC to enjoy popularity even with poor performance.

How long can this popularity thrive and what other players could support the incumbent in that direction ?

With God they said everything is possible. President Muhammadu Buhari spent about 160 days in London receiving medical treatment, a development that scared the morale of many Nigerians on whether the president could complete his tenure or not.

No one seems to talk about his reelection bid during the trying times not even the diehard optimists. As God will have it, President Buhari returned stronger and more energetic than before. An indication that God has answered the prayers of many Nigerians for their President. Health is no longer an issue as the President’s new look showed he is fit and capable to contest an election. God has giving him good health with an uncommon thrilling popularity that no politician has ever gotten till today in Nigerian politics.

He placed him above all presidential candidates as evidenced by an online poll conducted by sahara reporters on its twitter page. The poll was conducted on the 28 of November, 2017 between Atiku and PMB. 49% of the respondents said they would vote for PMB over Atiku, who is been been rumored to be the potential presidential candidate for the PDP in 2019.

The one time largest party in the African continent that had ruled Nigeria for 16 straight years could not regain all its lost political strength till this moment. The absence of internal democracy and poor funding has grounded the PDP immediately after been swept by APC in 2015, the party’s former chairman Makarfi revealed the poor financial status of the party during the opening remarks at the elective convention of party, he said the party has less than N2m in its account and has been living from hand to mouth.

Apart from insufficiency of funds, another disturbing trend in the PDP is the turbulent decamping of its members into the ruling party. Recently, some PDP House Reps members in Ondo, Imo and Oyo join APC,  a former Senator in Oyo State also joins APC, the worst post-convention disaster occurred when a new PDP faction emerged few days ago with a secretariat in Asokoro, The angry members said that the new chairman was imposed with impunity.

Many Nigerians are not happy with some of the economic policies of the Buhari lead administration, nevertheless, one could confidently say better days are possible ahead. Evidenced to this fact is the recent report released by the National Bureau of Statistics NBC stating that the Consumer Prince Index CPI shows the 10th consecutive drop in inflation since January 2017.

This comes few weeks after NBS confirmed Nigeria has exited its worst economic recession in more than two decades. Nigeria’s external reserve hit its four-year high of $38.2bn said the CBN governor. In the same vein, the Nigeria Custom Service has announced the revenue collection of about N1trn in 2017 as against N770bn target set for the year.

In a rare development, the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation NNPC has earlier this week confirmed that it can now account for every barrel of crude oil it sell as 98% of its transactions involving supply, marketing and sale of Nigerian crude oil globally are now automated. Rice important from Thailand dropped from 644,1313 metric tonnes to about 21,000 metric tonnes between September 2015 and September 2017. More so, JAMB under Prof Oloyede remitted the sum of N7.8bn to FG from 2016 UTME, this is far from what it ussd to be remitted to the FG treasury before the coming of this administration.

Unemployment is one of the biggest challenge to our development as a nation, To address rising unemployment in the country, Nigeria is expected to create 4.5 million jobs annually, according to a report by the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme, (NSRP).

While Nigeria suffer from dwindling resources, the PMB’s lead government has created in two years over 200,000 jobs for unemployed graduates through the N-Power scheme which is the biggest employment scheme in the Nigerian history.

Over 12,000 cooks were employed across the 36 states and Abuja under the FG school feeding program. The FG has also engaged 57,000 people through the Government Enterprise & Empowerment Programme GEEP and empowered 26,000 ordinary Nigerians through Conditional Cash Transfer CCT. PMB has also fulfill his earlier promise to recruit 10,000 police into the Force, they include Engineers, Scientists, Technicians, and Community health officers. The impact of these employments on the economy and well been of this country cannot be denied.


Boko Haram has been the biggest security threat in Nigeria since 2009, Many territories were lost, thousands were killed, schools and houses burnt as many big cities were deserted as a result of Boko Haram activities.

The Boko Haram fracas continue to thrive until when President Muhammadu Buhari came with a different approach to tackle it. He directed the military command center to relocate to Maiduguri immediately, he appointed new service chiefs with a clear mandate that consequently gave impetus to the military operation in North East.

A research conducted by Jolins Hopkins University revealed that Boko Haram has killed 244 people in the second quarter of 2016, the lowest quarterly figure for five years. As at today, many cities have been librated and thousands of IDP’s have returned to their comfort zones. Though the need to address some humanitarian challenges in the North East cannot be overemphasized, government should be applauded for liberating communities from the hands of these terrorist and ask them to do more.

There has been no success recorded under PMB’s government that is unconnected with the role played by his everly loyal Vice, his pattern of decision making was understood when the President was away for medical leave.

The country hardly noticed the absence of the President obviously due to the up and doing drive of the competent Law professor. His political skills and unreserved energy most be recognize when accessing the performance of this government all the time, noting the political strength of the South West and their support for the ruling progressive party can add up to the likely success of the incumbent come 2019.

Abdulmajid Lawan is a Freelance journalist based in Jos, Plateau State.

#SenateProbesFuelScarcity: 5 Things We Learned From The Senate’s 5-Hour Investigative Public Hearing On #FuelScarcity, By Deji Ogunleye

On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum, Chaired by Senator Kabiru Marafa, held a 5-hour public hearing to determine the cause of the fuel scarcity in the country that began in December.

The investigative hearing was convened, after a directive by the President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, to the Committee members, to cut short their ongoing recess, embark on oversight visits to petrol stations across the nation, and meet with the Minister of Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru, and other stakeholders in the sector. In case you missed anything, these are some of the major highlights from the public hearing:

The Need for Nigeria to Fix its Refineries: The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, stated at the Public Hearing that the primary solution to mitigate against future fuel scarcities is for Nigeria to fix its refineries. The Minister stated that working refineries would help to resolve the demand shortages and prevent Nigerians from experiencing further hardship during the festive period.

‘Rumours’ on Social Media Led to Hoarding and Panic-Buying, Which Led to and Eventual Scarcity: The GMD of NNPC, Mr. Maikanti Baru, stated that speculation and fake news in the media greatly contributed to the hoarding of fuel by distributors and panic-buying by the public, which eventually led to the scarcity that the nation experienced. The GMD said: “News in the media, especially social media was one of the reasons why some marketers were hoarding the products. We tackled that by re-assuring Nigerians that there is enough of the product.”

The Need for the Private Sector to Get More Involved in Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry: Thomas Olawore, the Executive Secretary of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), stated that there was a need for members of the private sector to be given increased roles to play in Nigeria’s petroleum industry. Mr. Olawore also emphasized that the practice of government agencies shutting down defaulting petroleum retail outlets was counter-productive. Olawore underscored the importance of the Petroleum Industry Bill, which is currently making its way through the National Assembly. “The end result should be deregulation,” he said, “So that in the long run the private sector can come in and build more refineries.”

The Need for Nigeria’s Security Agencies to Pay More Attention to the Smuggling Our of Petroleum Products: Chairman of the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Mr. Kassim Bataiya, stated that the diversion of petroleum products happened as a collaboration of forces. He highlighted the fact that all the security agencies in the country needed to go back to the drawing board to look at how smuggling of petroleum products could be prevented — as it also contributed to the scarcity experienced at the filling stations. “If the customs can prevent the smuggling of bags of rice into the country, they should be able to prevent the smuggling of petroleum products out of the country,” Mr. Bataiya said.

The Fact That N800 Billion is Being Owned To Oil Marketers: Mr. Dapo Abiodun, the Chairman of DAPPMA, the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, stated that in order to have an effective petroleum industry, the marketers of petroleum products could not be taken out of the equation. He stated that the marketers needed to assume their rightful role of importing 70%, while NNPC focused on importing only 30%. He also revealed that the federal government currently owes N800 billion due to delayed subsidy payments which have accrued significant interest.

How CODE Is Mobilizing Rural Communities For Social Accountability And Grassroots Development In Nigeria, By Nwachukwu Agwu

Compared to other forms by which people decide and determine their political fortunes, democracy enjoys a greater approval and wider acceptance across the globe. Proponents of democracy as a preferred system of government boast about the potency of the system to strike the cord that energizes the citizenry towards conscious and active participation in matters relating to self-preservation and government as a people.

Democracy gives voice to every member of the society without discrimination of any sort. A strong citizen’s voice is a sine qua non for responsiveness on the part of any government on the delivery of public goods and services.

There is a direct link between democracy and rapid grassroots development the world over. Taking cognizance that greater percentage of Nigerians live in the rural areas; governance in any true democracy should be strongest at the grassroots. In Nigeria, the reverse is simply the case – grassroots governance is rather weak and almost insignificant. Evidence to this claim is the comatose state of local government administration across the 774 headquarters in the country.

Descent development has eluded rural communities in Nigeria, to no exception. Rural dwellers are often the most neglected or abandoned; the least served in terms of dividends of democracy; the least represented in social amenities and infrastructural provision; and also the least consulted in terms of policy decisions except during electioneering or partisan campaigns and thereafter, only to be forgotten after elections are won.

Alienation of rural communities at the grassroots has become more of a norm than an exception by successive governments in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa. This is sad, disturbing and unacceptable. Be that as it may, the rate of development a nation attains is determined by the quality of life and development of people at the grassroots.

Development of rural communities must begin with the active participation of rural dwellers at the grassroots. Democracy is never complete unless there is active involvement and participation of the people at the rural areas. Similarly, development is never complete unless the people are consciously carried along and involved fully in the governance process.

From 1999 till date, Nigeria has enjoyed uninterrupted civil democratic rule after years of dictatorial military regimes. This has been characterized by a new era of regular elections as well as return of civil liberties – to a reasonable extent and a corresponding explosion of civil society organisations. In this regard, a major landmark accruing from Nigeria’s democratic experience is the signing into law of the Freedom of Information Act by the government of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

One organisation that stands tall in the community of civil societies is Connected Development [CODE]. CODE, over the years, has leveraged on the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) to negotiate and mediate citizen engagement efforts across marginalized rural communities in Nigeria to demand accountability and transparency from their elected representatives and politicians for responsiveness on the provision of public goods and services especially on three thematic areas: health, education and environment.

These thematic areas have implications for the actualization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs are a set of 17 “Global Goals” with 169 targets among them. Spearheaded by the United Nations through a deliberative process involving its 193 Member States, as well as global civil society, the goals are contained in paragraph 54 of United Nations Resolution of 25 September 2015. Our campaign on health is addressing Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being, while that of education is focused on Goal 4: Quality Education. Also, our advocacies and campaigns on environment is captured on Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation of the SDGs.

Since 2012, CODE has traversed the six (6) geopolitical zones of the federation mobilizing citizens for active participation for the business of good governance by tracking capital public appropriations or expenditures and amplifying citizens’ voices and experiences as they clamour for transparency and accountability against secrecy, obscurity and opacity in public expenditures.

CODE’s initiative, ‘Follow The Money’ (FTM), is a pan-African fastest growing movement dedicated to building a large community of active citizens – youths, women, adults, rural dwellers, marginalized or closed groups, persons with special needs, policy makers and indeed everybody; to promote open governance, transparency and accountability. The buzz about this movement is also about decapitating corruption and misuse of public funds meant for rural areas, not excluding urban areas at the same time.

Corruption is an insidious plague that has a wide range of corrosive effects on societies. It undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish. This evil phenomenon is found in all countries but it is in the developing world that its effects are most destructive.

Corruption hurts rural communities (grassroots) disproportionately when compared to urban areas by diverting funds intended for rural development, infrastructural provision and efficient functioning of the organs of government. This undermines Government’s ability to provide basic services, thereby, feeding inequality and injustice and discouraging foreign aid and investment. Corruption is a key element in economic underperformance and a major obstacle to poverty alleviation, development and national prosperity.

This is why CODE and her Follow The Money could not have found relevance at other time in our history than now. Like President Buhari always posit: “we either kill corruption or corruption will kill us”.

Impressively, in the past five (5) years, FTM has led interventions on the implementation of capital projects in our thematic areas of interest (health, education and environment) in over 40 rural communities in sixteen (16) states across the federation. Verifiable records at her secretariat reveal that about 115, 822 lives have been torched and empowered in their outreaches.

This record is unsurpassed and unbeaten in the history of civil society organizations in Nigeria and arguably the entire sub-Saharan Africa. Worthy of note is CODE’s sustainability and strategy document where she plans to cover 105 communities in 36 States and the FCT touching about two (2) Million lives in the process. “For now, we cannot forecast challenges or threats capable of undermining our goals. We have a dedicated workforce of young people who are deploying technology to achieving their targets and deliverables. I tell you, our projections are modest. We can even surpass them” said the Chief Executive, Hamzat Lawal.

CODE, using the instrumentality of Follow The Money is leading the fastest growing community of citizens who are committed to holding their leaders and public servants accountable on good governance. The standing vision of the organisation is a world where everyone, even in the remote parts of the world, can hold their government accountable. Join this community of active citizens at By so doing, we accept responsibility of our leadership crisis and deficit. Joining the movement is one of the pathways to the Nigeria of our dream.


Nwachukwu is a rural development scholar. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria.

Twitter: @NwachukwuAni


The Nigerian Politician And The Scam Called ‘Youth Empowerment,’ By Isa Mubarak

Nigerian politicians were able to come up with a new definition for the word “empowerment”. “Youth empowerment” to Nigerian politicians simply means distributing keke and wheel Barrow among the youths. Not what we know as a process where young people are encouraged to take charge of their lives. Wasting taxpayers money on Tshirts and bags of rice with their faces boldly printed on them.
Our lawmakers receives almost 600million as constituency allowance for the four years in office to commence constituency projects that will better the lives of the poor masses amidst all other allowances he collects. These politicians put off their main responsibility of attracting industries and investments to their constituencies for the creation of employment to rather distribute rice, tricycles, motorcycles, sewing machines, clippers, wheelbarrows, scissors and generator among other things in the name of “Youth Empowerment”.
The scam Nigerian politicians call ” Youth Empowerment” is even more shallow than we thought because it seems every politician often do this “empowerments” for their loyalists, sycophants, bootlickers and praise singers. Even in this so called “empowerment,” you need the necessary “connection” to get your own share. An empowerment that is oblivious of the blinds, the disabled, the orphans, the less privileges, the widows, the aged, unemployed graduates is nothing but a big scam.
I urge Nigerian politicians and CSOs to stop desecrating the word “empowerment”. Every little thing, “we empowered 10,000 youths” and you find out it is just a ploy to get people and take photos to show the world that they are supposedly working.
He buys like 20 wheel barrows, 20 sewing machines, 100 scissors, 4 grinding machines, 10 tricycles, 50 bags of rice, 15 motorcycles and maybe 2 brand new cars. Mind you, there are levels and procedures as to how this tools are shared. The cars and motorcycles are not for the ordinary youths, these are mostly for honorables, community leaders, chiefs, party loyalists, thugs who by the way doesn’t really need them.
The politicians stealing our collective inheritance, giving us a fraction of it in return for an endless life of hardship, ill health & untimely deaths is not EMPOWERMENT. He keeps this money for some times and in the bid to come for second or third time, he use it to buy votes from the same people.
Let’s say for instance, there is an industry or investment in a particular community, the people of the community will benefit hence it will provide jobs and other avenues of revenue generation for them. The investment will equally attract other businesses that will act as means of revenue generation for the people.
Instead of always sharing wheelbarrows and motorcycles, sometimes they should grant soft loans for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and as we know, one of the biggest problems confronting SMEs in Nigeria is paucity of funds for growth and expansion. This will go a very long way in curbing unemployment among youths.
The sad reality is, after all this crooked and dubious dealings, we still accord this politicians lofty heights, offer them best seats in churches, mosques and in social gatherings. We campaign, sing praises for them after traumatizing and denying us of any meaningful and social achievements.
So, until I see visible genuine changes happen in Nigeria, e.g. fixing of power and unemployment, genuine youth empowerment (and not just an avenue for bad leaders to siphon funds); no administration is worth being praised. There have been a lot of misplacing of priorities.
By: Isa Eneye Mubarak
Tweets @IsaMubii

The Comedy Of Masquerades By Brother Faleke, By Kingsley Fanwo

Yesterday, I received a call from a friend who resides in Lagos. After the New Year banters, my friend was clearing his throat, so mischievously that I instantly knew he was up to something sinister.
“But Kingsley, how come your masquerades in Kogi are so expensive”, he asked with a green voice of suspicion. I knew what he was up to, but I wouldn’t be beaten to it.
“Who told you Kogi masquerades are expensive my friend? My late grandfather was a leading “Aworo” (masquerades custodian), so I know a bit of the mystery of masquerades. In Kogi, masquerades are not expensive”, I told him.
My friend slipped into a laughter of garrulity. He wouldn’t take any of my explanations. What was important to my Lagosian friend. His representative in the House of Representatives, James, sorry, Chief James Abiodun Faleke had told the world that the Governor of Kogi State, his leader in the All Progressives Congress, donated posh cars and handsome millions to masquerades!
I was shocked. Even if Chief Faleke is a Lagosian, he was born and brought up in Kogi State. His community, Ekinrin Adde parades some of masquerades that boast of cultural artistry and finesse. I was forced to harmlessly ask my friend if Eeyo drives posh cars on the streets of Lagos.
I chose to keep quiet since the news broke out in one of the media used by the ilks of Faleke to vent their frustrations with developments in Kogi State. I wanted to gauge the vox populi on the issue. While some are already tipping Faleke to emerge as the Comedian of 2018, others have expressed worries about the dangerous dangling of inflammatory statements to throw Kogi into a deep confusion.
Some of Faleke’s criticisms are only agreeable to states of anomie. His penchant for falsehood is alarming while his flippancy propensity is unpardonable. He is comfortable with lies as long as it satisfies his political treachery.
The Kogi story will always be laden with the desperation of falsehood merchants who are more interested in misinformation and character assassination.
When bank alerts rocked Kogi before Christmas, I was expecting a congratulatory message from the “Desperate Advocate of the Masses”. None came. They were looking for the next item on the calumny shelves.
2018 is not a year of blame trade. The administration of Alh. Yahaya Bello is poised to rebound our state and consolidate his gains of the last two years. We have serious business to do here. Kogi is our baby, we won’t allow any knife on it.
Quick facts before I go: Brother Faleke, masquerades are extra-terrestrial beings. They do not drive cars.
Two, the Governor went to celebrate an important festival with his people . He loves his people. He has always been with his people. He is a proud Anebira who would not trade his place of birth on the alter of political desperation.
Three, you contested for the position of a Deputy Governor. Were you dreaming of becoming Governor in 2015? Ahead of the late Abubakar Audu? How did you plan to achieve that? Brief the world. God is watching us all.
Four, at Kabba and Isanlu, Kogi West people showed they are strongly with GYB. At Anyigba, Kogi East displayed their love for the Governor. At Okene, the Kogi Central people made an unmistakable political statement. Therefore, we are not surprised at the bitterness of the enemies. The people are already closing the gates to diaspora politicians. Come home and let us do it here.
You went to the villa to report the Governor that he was de-marketing the party in the state. But in the past few weeks, thousands came out to declare support for the Governor. Your frustration is understood but please stop sinking further. We love you. You are our brother.
In the same spirit of comedy to complete this friendly fire, I urge our Road Safety Corps to ensure masquerades hold their licenses before driving!
I wish all my brothers a prosperous New Year.

Kingsley Fanwo
DG Media and Publicity to the Governor of Kogi State

The Nigerian Senate: All Performance, Zero Propaganda, By Olu Onemola

Like an old car parked in the garage, nobody cares about propaganda politics anymore. It’s tires are now flat. It’s methods are now known and its inaccuracies are now easily decipherable with the quickest click of your smartphone. This is why throughout 2017, the Nigerian Senate, under the leadership of Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, carefully worked to meet the demands of Nigeria’s ‘New Governance Order’ — an order that is defined by delivery and performance over orchestrated publicity, and effectiveness over obvious hype.

Despite the many attacks, and in spite of the countless distractions that were thrown at the 8th Senate from external forces, the focus of the Senators, their persistence on people-centered legislation, and their collective commitment to always put Nigeria and Nigerians first, allowed the Upper Chamber of Nigeria’s federal legislature to achieve various notable feats in 2017.

This is why, when people ask: “So, what should we expect from the 8th Senate in 2018?” you should tell them: “Look back at the Senate’s performance in the past, it will give you an idea of its future.”

Looking Back at 2017, we all remember that the year started off with the budget. Talks about #OpenNASS accompanied the conversation about the 2017 appropriations bill — and commentators across the social-media-sphere all had a thing or two to say about the alleged secrecy behind the National Assembly’s annual spending.

Some predicted that 2017 would be ‘no different’, while others laughed at the idea of the legislators agreeing to open up their books for the first time since 1999. This status quo narrative permeated through Facebook and Twitter, all the way to ‘those-annoying-broadcast-messages-that-your-parents-send-you-on-Whatsapp’— and the consensus in the court of public opinion was clear: #OpenNASS would never happen!

While the naysayers preached ‘Never!’, and the self-proclaimed political pundits speculated and  hypothesized, people on the inside knew that the Senate President was a man of his word. He had promised to release the budget — and he would deliver. Though it was difficult at first, however, through constant consultation with his colleagues in both the Senate and the House, and the political will of the entire National Assembly leadership, on Thursday, May 11th, 2017 — in a move that shocked observers — the National Assembly released the breakdown of its annual budget to the world. This budget is now on the National Assembly website. You can check it out yourself.

Fast forward to two weeks later — if Drake was Nigerian, his ‘Back to Back’ chorus would have been the Senate’s soundtrack. Following the release of its budget details, in quick succession, the Senate passed the historic Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (#PIGB). This piece of legislation that had tripped up the 6th and 7th National Assemblies, scaled the 8th Senate within 24 months.

Right now, many people still do not know that the PIGB passed by the Senate in 2017 is aimed at unbundling the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for better performance, creating a sustainable framework for the effective governance of Nigeria’s petroleum industry, and putting an end to the issues that cause fuel scarcity across the country.

The Senate did not stop there. It went on an anti-corruption sprint. It passed the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Between Nigeria and Other Foreign Countries Bill. In July, it passed the Whistleblower Protection Bill to protect people that inform the authorities about corruption. And, it also passed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit Bill (NFIU) Bill at the end of July — in order to get Nigeria re-admitted back into the EGMONT Group after its suspension. This move was aimed at giving our nation the previous access that it once had to the network, resources and expertise of 154 other financial intelligence units around the world in our war against corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.

Similarly, the Senate responded to Nigeria’s 2016 economic recession by fast-tracking the passage of the Secured Transactions in Movable Assets Bill and the Credit Bureau Services Bill in 2017. Both bills, which were signed into law by the then-Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, in May 2017, were aimed at providing Nigerians across the country with easier access to credit.

The impact of both ‘Access to Credit’ Bills passed by the Senate, and the National Assembly as a whole, were brought to the fore when in September 2017, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria announced that due to the access to credit legislation — which began in the Senate, 20,684 movable assets valued at N392 billion had already been registered on the National Collateral Register (NCR). Similarly, in October 2017, the World Bank rated Nigeria among the top 10 most improved economies in its 2016/2017 Doing Business Report. All of this was due to the fact that the Senate had focused on creating more opportunities for MSMEs in Nigeria through well-crafted legislation.

Of course, we cannot forget the Senate’s 2017 comprehensive amendment to the electoral act of 2010, which ensures the full biometric accreditation of voters with Smart Card Readers; the instant transmission of accreditation data and results from polling units to the collation centers; and giving INEC unfettered powers to conduct elections by electronic voting.

We also cannot forget the Review of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. This exercise, brought about the approval of notable pieces of legislation like the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, which reduces the qualifying age for election into the House of Representatives from 30 years to 25 years; the age qualification for contesting for a State House of Assembly office from 30 years to 25 years; and the age qualification for contesting the office of President from 40 years to 35 years.

The #NotTooYoungToRun Bill and the other constitutional amendments passed by both Houses of the National Assembly, are currently making their way through the State House of Assemblies, and are likely to become the focus of a lot of political discourse this year.

To close out 2017, the Senate received a few final and significant notches on its legislative belt, when President Muhammadu Buhari signed six Bills into law on December 30th, 2017. Notable amongst them were the amendments to the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Act, which now mandates the gas producing and processing companies to contribute to the development of the Niger Delta region. Additionally, with the signing into law of the Compulsory Treatment and Care for Victims of Gunshots Act by President Buhari, all Nigerians with gunshot wound will now be able to receive immediate medical treatment — instead of having to file police reports. This Bill that started in the House of Representative, but was fast-tracked by the Senate through concurrence in the later half of 2017 will definitely save many lives.

There are countless other Bills passed by the Saraki-led Senate in 2017 that have not been mentioned in this piece. However, as we look back at the year that has just passed, to give you a snapshot of where it currently stands, the 8th Senate has already passed 140 Bills in 30 months. This is more than the 5th Senate that passed 129 Bills in 4 years, the 6th Senate that passed only 72 Bills in 4 years, and the 7th Senate that passed 128 Bills in the same timeframe. This Senate has also cleared over 120 public petitions in 2 years and 7 months. You can do the maths.

In this regard, when people ask you this year: “What should we expect from the 8th Senate in 2018?” You can tell them: more people-centered legislation that will impact various aspects of our national existence; more thorough oversight on government spending to ensure transparency and accountability in the utilization of our national resources; and more focus on getting Nigeria’s economy back on track by creating more opportunities for everyone.

“All performance. No propaganda.” Make this the motto.

I rest my case.

— Olu W. Onemola is the Head of the New Media Department in the Office of the Senate President. He tweets at @OnemolaOlu —

Technology And Civic Engagement: The Way Forward, by Ahmed Inuwa

Technology today is at the core of modern-day activism, with civil society organizations like Connected Development (CODE), BudgIT, Enough Is Enough, TransparencIT, FollowTaxes  and others utilizing social media, data analysis tools, and infographics tools available to simplify the message, increase reach and also make advocacy data driven. Their efforts exemplify the importance of technology and data to active citizenry. Many civil society organizations are learning to build up their skills to ensure advocacy on issues are backed by facts and are data-driven.

Nigeria is active in technology space with almost 93 million internet users, Facebook alone has almost 15 million users in Nigeria and over 250 million tweets came from Nigerians as of 2015, this coupled with the work Andela, Ventures Park, Google, Colab, and Facebook are all doing tirelessly to build capacity of youths on programming, digital skills and also to create a self-sustaining technology ecosystem in Nigeria.

This has started yielding results as many technological innovations designed in an attempt to improve transparency and accountability, renewable energy, housing, financial and transportation issues have surfaced., BudgIT, Payant, Taxify, Flutterwave are noteworthy examples.

Governance should be every citizen’s business whether you are in government or not. Active citizenry is not limited to constant criticism of the government but taking part in decision making at local level. It is important citizens are in the know as to the plans of the government to enable them demand accountability in service delivery. Technology provides arrays of platforms especially for social media that citizens can leverage to perform their civic duties effectively, noteworthy examples of this are the #OPenNass, #BBOG, #JudiciaryactonJibrinKiruBebeji and also the recent #ReformSARS twitter campaign. which all aided in activating citizens and pressured government into taking positive action.

The government, as we have come to know, is reluctant in performing its duties. Most times they have to be pressured by citizens and civil society groups to deliver on their promises. To sustain that pressure, citizens/civil society groups rely on technology to do so. But more importantly, there is a need for collaboration between citizen groups and civil society to come up with ideas, strategies, and roadmaps to better engage the governance structure effectively.

Recently, I came across a mapping of innovation hubs in Nigeria (turns out we have one in all geopolitical zone with some zones having more than one) and I am of the view that citizen groups and civil society organizations can tap into this resources to their benefit. You can read more here, here and here. It is of immense importance for citizens groups and civil society organizations to develop a better partnership for the sake of activating citizens, amplifying the impact of their work and better hold the government accountable.

Correspondingly, a proper synergy between media, civil society, and innovation hubs will go a long way in making sure both civil society and media are equipped with necessary technological tools to ensure sustainability in their engagement.

Just like, BudgIT one of the biggest civic tech platforms in Africa started from an innovation hub (CcHub) in Lagos, perhaps the next big 30 civic tech platforms that will help improve transparency, accountability and communication between government and citizens are only a few partnerships away.



Ahmed Inuwa

Twitter – @sir_deeda.




Two And Half Years Later, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello…Building An Impactful And Impeccable Legacy For Niger State, By Mu’awiyyah Muye

One of my favorite quotes of all time is by Vince Lombardi who was an American football player and coach, Lombardi affirmed that “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”.

Even the greatest leaders and legends such as Nelson Mandela, Mohammed Ali, Albert Einstein, William Shakespeare, Chinua Achebe, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama, Tafawa Balewa, Obafemi Awolowo, Maya Angelou, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Micheal Jordan, Micheal Jackson, Tiger Woods, the William sisters, Bob Marley, Fela, Tupac, to mention but few, are never considered to be faultless. Those people and their likes were considered some of the greatest in their respective fields but they were never perfect because perfection is an attribute of Allah alone.

In the current political dispensation, we have leaders, few among a great many who are really dedicated to their jobs and tasks, leaders who will never sleep until they see the tasks ahead of them being taken care of, Leaders like President Muhamadu Buhari, Nasir elrufai, Umar Ganduje, Akinwunmi Ambode, Atiku Bagudu, Hadi Sirika, Babatundd Raji Fashola, Audu Ogbeh, Rauf Aregbesola and Our own Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello. With leaders such as the likes of these dedicated gentlemen, there has been a restoration of hope in public Governance and service delivery.

In 2015 when Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello assumed office as the 5th elected Executive Governor of the State, there was a great expectation from him by Nigerlites due to the failure of the previous administrations, but the chips were down from the many years Of mismanagement and neglect. Nigerlites were hungry for development and were yearning for a leader that will assume the mantle of leadership solely for the love of the state and restore her glory to its full potential.

Before then, Governor Sani-Bello who had, after a stellar career in the private sector, as a successful businessman, thought of bringing his rich experience over the years to the public sector to help in the building of Niger state, he had a brief stint in the administration of Muazu Babangida Aliyu as the commissioner of commerce and investment, along the line, he resigned from his positions then because of irregularities and the fact that the then administration took a turn different from what he signed on for, a feat that is unheard of in Nigeria.

At a time when millions were jostling to get appointed to positions of power to take their own share of the National cake, Governor Sani-Bello was heading out just because he wasn’t satisfied with governance direction of the then government. Something that is only prevalent in leaders who have the love of their people, state, and the country at heart.

A few days ago, at an event, Governor Sani-Bello Said something that caught my attention, he said and I quote “To my Chief Of Staff, Secretary to the State Government, and Head Of Service, I get angry at you sometimes, not because I don’t like you or you are not doing enough but because I want you to do more”.

If you ever come across anybody that has worked or has been close to Governor Sani-Bello, they always say the same thing about him, he is someone that demands the best from you, he is focused and passionate about developing Niger state and most of all, he is a prudent manager of resources, true to his Inclination as a trained economist.

During the build-up to 2015 election, Nigerlites yearned for a breath of fresh air, someone from a different class of thinking, someone with different ideas, someone with a rich background in the private sector, Governor Sani-bello endeared himself to the populace with his charisma and likable persona. 

He toured all the nooks and crannies of Niger State to tell them about his plans for the state. He became the only option Nigerlites were left with due to his antecedents. At the polls, he took his opponents to the cleaners and emerged the Governor of Niger State.

After assuming office, Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello hit the ground running despite the insecurity and monetary constraints in the country, Nigeria immediately slid into recession due to the gross abuse of power and the embezzlement of our commonwealth by the past administrations.

Governor Sani-Bello immediately embarked on the restoration agenda of the state in areas like Education given his belief that sound education is the foundation of every society; Agriculture because of our dwindling revenue due to the fall in the prices of oil, hence the need to diversify and go back to the farm and create jobs for the growing population of youth unemployment; infrastructural development; and youth and women empowerment were also strong parts of the policies he set out to embark on from the word go and a host of others.

In Education sector, Governor Sani-Bello made Education one of the focal points of his administration, the sector has witnessed tremendous changes since the inception of his government. In his “Whole School Development Approach”, Governor Sani-Bello has renovated and restructured six secondary schools across the three senatorial districts of the state.

In the area of Agriculture, In line with the APC’s manifesto, Governor Sani-Bello has signed a memorandum of understanding with both local and international investors. These include PJS Agro Farms to irrigate about 7,500 hectares of land at Swashi for Rice cultivation, Umza Farms International with 10,000 hectares for rice production, signed a $450 million agreement with Dangote Group for 50,000 hectares proposed for Rice and Sugarcane production. Others are Coza Investments with 9,000 hectares acquired for Rice and Poultry production,  Anadariya Nig. Ltd with 5,000 hectares at 2 locations in New Bussa for Ionage Sugar, 50,000 hectares at Swashi in Borgu LGA for sugarcane production and processing, Agrocraft Nigeria Ltd. The government of Governor Sani-Bello is also giving due attention to the development of Shea butter tree sector with the engagement of a Consultant to develop the sector on its value chain.

In the Health sector, In an effort to ensure availability of qualitative Healthcare for the people, Governor Sani-Bello led administration has committed to the provision of a fully functional health facility in each of the 274 political wards of the state. This also includes a complete overhaul of the general hospitals in Minna, Suleja, Bida, and Kantagora in addition to upgrading IBB Specialist Hospital to provide tertiary Healthcare services in the State. 

In Infrastructural development, his administration in keeping with its understanding of the place of infrastructure as a critical driver of development has embarked on the construction and rehabilitation of township roads in all the major towns of the state.  The state government also embarked on the maintenance/rehabilitation of some Federal roads including Minna-Suleja road and a host of others across the state, all in the bid to ease passage of people and facilitate a trade for Nigerlites and Nigerians who visit or go through Niger State.

The Niger State Fire Service, hitherto moribund due to neglect by previous administrations, is not spared by the Governor Sani-Bello’s administration. The service is witnessing a facelift. This is in addition to the construction of new fire service stations at Mokwa, Lapai, Bida, Minna, Kontagora, and Agaie; the recruitment of 150 firemen and provision of additional firefighting trucks to curtail fire outbreaks in the State.

On women and youth empowerment, the Governor armed with the insight that any meaningful development devoid of youth and women inclusion, is one bound to fail. To this end, critical decisions were taken towards the empowerment of our youths and women groups who make up the bulk of the population. As a result, over 3000 Youths have been trained on various youth empowerment programmes including ICT, Green House Agricultural Technology, Youth-Skills Acquisition Programme (CYSAP), Rice Milling and Poultry Production.

In sports development, the state competed in various Championships and won laurels for the State in Football, Hockey, Volleyball, Basketball, Squash, and Weightlifting. Our state darling team, the Niger Tornadoes came 2nd in the AITEO Cup Championship thereby qualifying to represent Nigeria in the 2018 WAFU Championship.  The renovation of the Bako Kontagora Memorial Stadium, as well as other adjoining sports facilities, will likely continue in the new year. It is the time we bring our darling Tornadoes home.

Governor Sani-Bello was able to achieve these feats and more with the overwhelming support of Nigerlites despite our dwindling revenue, diversification in line with APC Manifesto and his resolve to increase our IGR. Next big task is for our state to become self-reliant reduce reliance on federation allocation; something Mr. Governor has doggedly pursued since assuming office.

Nigeria officially got out of the recession a few months ago, and with the presentation of the 2018 budget of N128,010,602,977.00 tagged “People’s Budget” By Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello to the Niger State House of Assembly, 2018 is looking to be a bright and hopeful year; of boom and Greatness for Niger State and Nigerlites.

Muawiyah Yusuf Muye is the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State on Digital/New Media

The Menace Of Human Trafficking: Our Values And Collective Shame, By Lauretta Onochie

“Chief Newton Jibunoh is widely known as the explorer who crossed the world’s largest desert twice.  He undertook his first Sahara crossing as a youthful adventurer and his second journey as an environmental crusader. He chose the rare and daring challenge of a solo expenditure of driving across the Sahara Desert in 1996. This became a life-changing experience and the inspiration for his now internationally-remarkable achievements in expedition and Green Earth campaign.
In 1999, Jibunoh decided on his second Sahara expedition; this time travelling in the reverse direction from Nigeria to Europe. The motivation behind this second desert expedition was to bring to the world’s attention the plight of the millions of people in Africa affected by the fast-encroaching Sahara Desert. After his second Sahara expedition, he founded FADE, an acronym for Fight Against Desert Encroachment – an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) accredited to the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development.” – Punchng.
Bringing the issue of human trafficking home, Chief Newton Jibunor is our own. He is from Akwukwu. He is an Anioma man. And he has spent the last 30 years, advocating against human trafficking and modern day slavery.
But the world is dealing with a very powerful cartel, similar to the drug cartel.
According to Chief Jibunor in an interview on Channelstv, it is an investment in millions of dollars to traffickers in an evil industry that is worth billions of dollars. There’s hardly anywhere you can’t find them. They are in North Africa, they are in Europe, America and they have centres here in Nigeria – Benin, Aba, Asaba, Agbor, Abavo, Onitsha, Lagos.
In Nigeria, Towns in the north, bordering Niger and Mali are used by traffickers as collation centres before exiting Nigeria. Native doctors are involved. So are some unscrupulous Police Officers. But Edo state is their headquarters.
According to our Chief Jibunor, this has been going on for over thirty years.  Hundreds of thousands of our young men and yes, women have been lost in the desert and the Mediterranean sea over the last 30 years.

When it started at that time, it was about N250, 000,  30years ago. Now, I can tell you, it is from one million Naira to 3 million naira that each of these people pay to the cartel for documentation, to cross Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. And when documentations are obtained through the back doors, our young people get in trouble with the laws of the countries they pass through and  when they run into trouble, they are thrown into these detention camps then, the cartels abandon them. After all, they have been paid their fees.

Crossing the Mediterranean Sea takes 12 hours by boat. If your papers are not correct, you stand the risk of being thrown into the sea. Here is an eye witness account by Chief Jibunor:

“it was during my second expedition.   I had all my papers and documentation intact and people had known about me and what I was doing because CNN reported it. I had my car in the hole of the boat to move it across the Mediterranean.   I also paid for a cabin because it was going to be an overnight crossing and it was going to take about 12 hours. Unfortunately and unknown to me, I was going to share the cabin with somebody who was smoking continuously and, at some point, I couldn’t take it anymore; so I had to go to the deck of the boat where there were a lot of migrants – 90% of them were Nigerians because I could hear their discussions in our languages. I listened to their conversations.

Then about half way through the Mediterranean, a security agent walked up to me and asked to see my documentation.   He went through the papers and said, “Please go back to your cabin because the boat was going to be raided” and that if that happens, they were going to push everybody on the deck into the Mediterranean. Did you say ‘push’? Yes, push! Why? The reason is that any boat carrying illegal migrants would be seized and the boat owners do not want that.   Rather than have their boats seized by the Libyan or Moroccan authorities, they would get rid of the illegal migrants, so I went back to my cabin.
But just before we docked at Alicante, Spain, I went to the hole to prepare my vehicle and, alas, all those migrants were gone.  So, I asked the security guy what happened to all the people. He said just before security agents came, they pushed everybody into the sea. That’s how it happens. I told this story before; I’ve given lectures; I’ve written about these things in a book.”

There are many reasons why our young people go on this risky, dangerous and sometimes, deadly adventure. Subsequent governments have failed to provide job opportunities for our young school leavers and graduates. Many roam the streets for more than 10 years, unable to support themselves, let alone, support their parents to pay back the loans they took to support their children’s education.

The few jobs available, would go to those who know somebody in government, industry, the Military or a first class traditional ruler. A culture of nepotism. Yet we are christians.

There is discrimination of ALL sorts in our culture. Rich men discriminate against other men. Young women discriminate against poor men. Men discriminate against women. We all discriminate against children. Old people and people with learning difficulties and disabilities suffer the most and wost kinds of discrimination. So these people who pay and run off to Europe and who never will make it back alive, are part of the Nigerian population that are suffering discrimination and marginalization. No help from government. No help from privileged people in their areas.

The situation is worse in our area where most of our young people watch their mates from specific families, swim in looted government funds while they go to bed hungry.

They also want to make it in line with “I WILL MAKE IT IN JESUS’S NAME” AMEN? Making it is now all about building a house and buying a four wheel drive, things that decay with use, according to the bible. Yet, we all are headed for heaven. That’s a talk for another day…

Go to the house I grew up in. It was one of the finest houses when I was growing up. Today it’s an antiquated structure no one will be willing to take it for free. So what’s the obsession to with things that decay with use over years?

Another reason for many of them is pure undiluted GREED. Today and under this government, young people are becoming millionaires by keying into the Anchor Borrowers Scheme with a loan of just a little over 800,000 naira. My point is, If a family can raise between 1- 3million naira by selling family lands and heirlooms, there is surely a lot they can do in today’s Nigeria with such humongous amounts!

 But pressure from parents and their desperation to keep up with their neighbour’s high life, is also responsible for this. It was not that way when we were growing up. We were taught to be content with whatever little we worked hard for.

Again, someone from their area, or even town, would have access to billions of Naira, come home as a hero, and throw lavish feast for the elders without recourse to how to create a better and more viable community. Many of us here wore the Mauve Uniform of this great institution manufactured in Onicha Olona here by Olona Textile mills, through the benevolence of Late Mr. Sunday Egbo. He also brought about Copane  farms Limited in Olona, which provided abundance of food, chicken, pork, etc for The Anioma area and beyond. His example is what our elites must emulate. It’s not enough to use nepotism to find jobs for a few people in Lagos, ABUJA, Enugu etc. We must invest in our community to stem the trend of urban migration and illegal migration that leads to loss of precious lives.

Our wealthy elites must again, begin to cultivate community spirit. They must begin again to invest in our communities. Lorry loads of  bamboo, cassava, yams, palm produce etc. leave our area daily. We have streams that flow out of rocks that need little or no purification before bottling. Fruits grow lavishly in our area.

The Social Media is not all about sharing fake and false news. PLEASE help to share on Social Media, especially on WhatsApp, programmes of government that will benefit our people including but not limited to Anchor Borrowers Scheme, Market money,  N-Power, small and medium industry empowerment  schemes of the Bank of Industry, as well as the Social Investment Programmes for the poor and the vulnerable among us. Unless we know, we cannot apply and unless we apply we cannot benefit.

Since January of this year, 2017, the Buhari led Administration has airlifted home, thousands of Nigerians stranded in Libya and elsewhere. Many snatched from jaws of death and modern day slavery. Many more remain unaccounted for and others, unable to best the shame of returning empty handed, elect to remain in captive.
We must again begin to live within our means. Times are hard but dying in the desert or the sea, is harder on our families. The common saying in areas affected is, “We sold our land 3 years ago and sent our child overseas. He has forgotten us. He or she has married a white person and has forgotten us.”
The bitter truth is that their child may have perished either in the Sahara Desert or the Mediterranean Sea, shortly after performing the last ritual of swearing an oath at the Native Doctor’s shrine and bidding them goodbye.
(One minute silence in honour of those who fell prey to the greed of human traffickers) May their souls rest in peace. Amen.
Thank you for your patience in listening to me.
Lauretta Onochie

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