Dear FCT Minister, this Centre no Longer Holds! By Gimba Kakanda

I was dissuaded from writing to you, from alerting you to things you are likely too busy to see. The main reason given for this was that writing to you is futile and, in some cases, there was the added collateral argument that you do not exist. My stubbornness is informed by my having seen your photographs hanging on the walls of several offices in this Abuja, enough to object to the mischief of They who shall remain nameless. I know it’s not easy serving as escort to a jet-setting President, accompanying him to the airport whenever he travels and receiving him there on his return. When I brought this up, They dismissed even that tasking role as a proof of your existence and love for us. They refused to see that you’re Agent Double O Seven, protecting the President with whom we are still in love. In fact, and forgive me for saying it, They said you’re a ghost worker. I have no interpretation of this other than your perception – by them, that is – of you as ceremonial administrator.

I gather that the FCT Budget for the 2016 fiscal year has just been signed by the President. This has moved me to point out some of our problems you don’t seem to have acknowledged. I want you to see the things we see the way they are, this city’s gradual fall unto ruin under your watch. Over the years, we dealt with the horrors of the city’s urban slums, how such monstrous poverty managed to find an incubator in this city of limitless wealth and billionaire policymakers. Outside the city were even more dehumanising evidences of poverty fed fat by years of elitising public policies. Aside from Abuja Municipal, which was fixed to serve as paradise of our criminally rich politicians, the other five Area Councils – Abaji, Gwagwalada, Kuje, Bwari and Kwali – have been an eyesore.

As a man of piety, to which those who know you have testified, the de-elitisation of public policies and reforms is expected from you. Even though your background as former head of an organisation tasked with managing religious activities, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, was cited in your early days to question your capacity, I am indifferent to such an allegation. But it’s devastating now to see you not only seem to lack plans for the five neglected Area Councils but further seem incapable of keeping Abuja Municipal in shape. You have to prove us wrong, Sir.

The metaphor of the decay of this capital of Nigeria, once proclaimed “the fastest-growing city in Africa” by a drunkard I’m yet to identify, came to me around 5 PM, on August 26. The epiphany happened in Maitama, arguably Abuja’s most beautiful district. In the course of the day’s rain, Nile Street attempted to become the river it was named after. The street was flooded from up to the Nile delta at Alvan Ikoku Street. And the message I got was a loud cry for intervention, for simply a working drainage system. I assure you it’s worse elsewhere. It should frighten you that rain causes flooding, damage and safety risks even in Maitama.

You may want to go for a lone tour of FCT. You don’t have to fear for paparazzi or kidnappers, since you’re really not known outside your office. Do this at once and see what this city looks like when it rains. Do so at night too, and see the dysfunctional streetlamps. My cousin assures me that half of the streetlights between Berger and Kubwa do not work. Go out for a walk in the afternoon and note that there are no signposts to alert your citizens to the death traps that are the missing manhole covers along our streets. Sewage runs across the street regularly in Garki and Utako. Sir, there’s far more to city management than taking over the role of Mr. President’s Head of Protocol.

Yet, you’re a lucky man. You seem to be under no pressure to deliver because your office isn’t elective, and is thus protected from the outrage of a disappointed electorate. But no matter what, there should be a channel for communicating your development plans and how you seek to take us by surprise by outperforming even your worse predecessors. You’re appointed to serve the people, and isn’t it weird there are no explanations for these perpetual risks of flood, health hazards from open sewers and traffic mess as a result of malfunctioning streetlamps and stray herdsmen who, some have said, mistake the city for Federal Cattle Territory?

A friend once observed that it’s the “dormant” chairmen of FCT Area Councils that made your own inactivity too obvious, and I’m wondering why there seems to be no communication of the reasons  our five other Area Councils look like big villages of a country emerging from a decade-long recession. These people are economically downtrodden, denied basic social amenities, and forsaken. I was once a part of an NGO that navigated places with no motorable roads, no healthcare centres and poorly equipped schools, in this Abuja. The pupils couldn’t even afford books and uniforms. Isn’t it disgraceful that small NGOs build boreholes and schools for communities just a thirty minute drive from your office?

If you’re ever allowed to join the President’s jet to one of his trips overseas, how would you respond to questions around the state of the nation’s capital by potential investors? Because it will be sheer fraud to deny, in Washington DC or London, that Abuja is neither dysfunctional nor even convenient for investment or habitation. An existence threatened by flood, traffic lawlessness, power outage, sanitation systems not maintained, disorganised and unreliable intra-city transportation, amongst others, is too much baggage for any serious investor seeking to migrate to Nigeria’s supposedly most organised modern city.

Malam Mohammed Bello, Abuja residents don’t have to wake up and find themselves floating in water before you intervene. While you’re deciding what to do with the budget, respond to these collapsing features of the city. At least, embark on fixing the drainage system, restore the missing manhole covers, have streetlamps fixed at strategic places, stop the shit from getting on the streets and make the placing of signposts a priority of your administration. Be creative, court private partners. These things don’t cost a fortune. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

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Dear President Buhari, Nigerian Lives Also Matter, By Inibehe Effiong

I wholeheartedly endorse the inauguration of a Special Military Task force by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday July 13, 2016 in Zamfara State to tackle the menace of cattle rustling which has made life and business hellish for herdsmen in the state.

According to a report in the Daily Trust Newspaper of Sunday July 10, 2016: “A similar operation is already ongoing along the Birnin Gwari axis of Kaduna State, which is also a den of murderous armed bandits that terrorise communities in Kaduna, Niger, Kebbi, Katsina and Zamfara states.”

The decision by the federal government to deploy hundreds of troops to combat armed bandits that have been terrorising members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and stealing their cattles became expedient following repeated calls by cattle breeders and residents of the affected communities on president Buhari to come to their aid. There is no doubt about fact that the mass stealing of cattles has a negative effect on the economy of Nigeria with the attendant increase in the cost of meats.

The President acted decisively and responsibly.

However, I find it rather curious and upsetting that a democratically elected president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can take such drastic action just to safeguard the lives of cows (a non human creature) while paying lip service to the continued annihilation of innocent farmers, community members and citizens by herdsmen, religious extremists, criminals and terrorists, for whatever reason, across the country.

This is sickening to say the least.

Since the birth of this dispensation, innocent citizens have been gruesomely murdered by non state actors and extra-judicially exterminated by security agencies with impunity. Save for its appreciable successes in the fight against Boko Haram in the North Eastern part of the country, the Buhari-led federal government has failed to live to up its primary purpose and most sacred responsibility of protecting and securing the lives and properties of Nigerians as stipulated in Section 14 (2) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

The scandalous silence and shameful inaction of the president seems to have emboldened these murderous predators and implicitly legitimized their nefarious and atrocious actions against hapless citizens. How else can one explain the incessant killings that are going on in the country? From Benue, Enugu, Kano and other parts of the country, the story has been killing upon killing; sorrow upon sorrow and destruction upon destruction.

Currently, the land is literarily littered with the blood, tears and agonies of innocent citizens whose existence have been terminated or degraded by murderous and rampaging groups of people and individuals who have suddenly found unprecedented but debase courage and tenacity to kill at will; unchallenged and without consequences or proportionate reaction from the federal government and and its agencies.

In order to properly situate my views, few worrisome examples will suffice.

The case of Mrs Eunice Elisha

Barely one month after the murder of Mrs Bridget in Kano by a senseless mob for alleged “blasphemy”, a forty-­two-­year-­old mother of seven and an assistant pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Mrs Eunice Elisha, was in the early hours of Saturday July 9, 2016 murdered by assailants, while preaching around Gbazango-­West area of Kubwa in the Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The killing of Mrs Eunice has continued to provoke outrage across the country.

Despite the alleged religious undertone associated with the murder which can potentially inflame the nation, President Buhari has not uttered a word in condemnation of the killing or in consolation with the family of the slain preacher – more than one week after the incident. Apart from the private visitation of the wife of the Vice President to the family of the deceased, the government has not exuded any semblance of concern in the matter. With due respect, the wife of the Vice President does not have any constitutional mandate to act in defence of the citizens of Nigeria. The fact that she (Mrs Osinbajo) belongs to the same Christian denomination with the deceased makes her visit largely inconsequential in the circumstance. This is because the perception is that she only paid the deceased family a visit because of her membership of the Redeemed Christian Church.

Heaven would not have fallen if President Buhari had responded swiftly to the incident by directly calling the husband of the deceased to express his condolences; publicly condemned it and issued a clear directive to the police to fish out the killers and bring them to justice.

That is what leaders in saner climes do in such cases. I shall buttress this in the course of this essay.

It should be noted that by virtue of Section 299 of the Constitution, the executive powers of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja (where the murder took place) are vested in the president in the same manner the executive powers of the states in the federation are vested in governors. The President in the circumstance is not just the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but the “Chief Security Officer” of the FCT. However, the President is at liberty to delegate his duties as the administrator of the FCT to the Minister of the FCT.

This is a case where an innocent woman who is not only a citizen of Nigeria, but a resident of the Abuja, a territory over which the President is constitutionally mandated to administer, was viciously murdered without appropriate reaction from the President. Thus, Buhari’s silence and inaction is not only a profanity of his oath of office but also a tragic dereliction of his constitutional responsibilities as both as the administrator of the FCT and as the president of Nigeria. If Buhari can treat the murder of a resident of the FCT with kid gloves, is it the continuous killing(s) of Nigerians in other parts of the country that will elicit his response?

We need to pray for Nigeria and President Buhari.

The killing of Shi’ites in Zaria

Till date, the avoidable killings of about 347 Shi’ites in Zaria, Kaduna State on December 12- 14, 2015 following the clash between soldiers and members of the Islamic Movement in Nige­ria (IMN) headed by Sheik Ibra­heem Zakzaky, has not received appropriate response from the Commander-in-Chief. The federal government has refused to properly investigate the killings. No disciplinary actions has been taken against the lawless soldiers who took laws into their hands by murdering hundreds of Nigerians in unjustifiable circumstances.

I was one of those who condemned the Islamic Movement for blocking public highway and stalling the movement of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen.Tukur Buratai. I have consistently expressed my disapproval for religious extremism and bigotry of any form. However, we cannot sacrifice the sanctity of human life in the guise of exterminating religious extremists. Nobody should be deprived of his or her life except in legally permissible circumstances.

The Nigerian Army has not justified the killing of the Shi’ites in Zaria on December 12- 14, 2015. While the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria is still being detained without trial for about eight months, soldiers who committed the massacre are walking freely. This is unacceptable and President Buhari should be told so in clear language.

Endsless killings by Herdsmen

Herdsmen in Nigeria are presently operating like a state within a state. They kill, maim and destroy at will without provocation or at the slightest provocation. The recent massacre of innocent citizens in Benue State as reported by Channels Television on July 10, 2016 and corroborated by international news channel, Al Jazeera, in its report on Sunday July 17, 2016 deserves attention.

The report by Channels TV is reproduced in part below:

“Survivors and victims of herdsmen attacks in Logo and Ukum council areas in Benue State have been recounting how 81 persons were killed in the last two weeks. The traditional ruler of Logo, Chief Jimmy Meeme, who spoke to Channels Television on the invasion of rural communities said 70 persons were killed in six out of the 10 council wards in his domain. He blamed the sustained attacks on his people by the herdsmen on territorial occupation campaign. Eyewitnesses also claim that Turan, Mbagber, Yonov and Tombo communities in Logo were attacked on the same day while Varser in Ukum Local Government came under siege, leaving 53 persons dead…”

I agree that the lunacy and atrocities of the Nomadic (Fulani) herdsmen did not start on May 29, 2015 when Buhari came to power.

What is apparent is the fact that the herdsmen now kill and destroy not only with atavistic impunity, but with an unquestioned aura of legitimacy. The general perception today is that the herdsmen are emboldened because one of their kinsman, who is reportedly a Patron of the Miyetti Cattle Breeders Association, is now the president of Nigeria. This according to public opinion, has weakened the capacity of the Nigerian state and its institutions to deal appropriately with murderous herdsmen, thereby clothing them with immunity from the law.

This perception may be wrong. But Buhari has so far failed to disprove it. No democratic government will treat strong negative public perception with levity the way this government is doing with the issue of the herdsmen. Rather than bolster public trust in his administration by dealing decisively with herdsmen that are killing the citizens, Buhari has resorted to appeasement of the herdsmen by promoting and budgeting public funds for the establishment of grazing reserves across the country and the constitution of a Special Military Task Force to safeguard herdsmen and their cattles from cattle rustlers. The government is now investing hundreds of millions of naira in the private business of some Nigerians. Despite that public opinion, modernity and civilization favours ranches, Buhari is insisting on acquiring lands for grazing reserves for herdsmen.

Two logical inferences that can be drawn from the President’s actions are as follows: First, Buhari values the lives and properties (cattles) of the herdsmen more than those of the victims of the herdsmen’s endsless attacks. Second, the President is demonstrating to everyone that Nigerians are not and cannot be treated equally.

Killing of pro-Biafra Protesters

There have been numerous allegations and established cases of extra-judicial murders of pro-Biafra supporters in the South Eastern part of the country. If the federal government is pretending about the obvious application of disproportionate and unjustifiable force by security agencies in their interventions against the separatist movement, there is one report that begs for urgent and independent probe.

On June 13, 2016, online newspaper, Premium Times, published a shocking report of alleged massacre of pro-Biafra supporters who took part in events marking this year’s “Heroes Day” held on May 30 every year to celebrate fallen heroes of Igbo Ethnic nationality by troops from the Onitsha Army Barracks in Anambra State. The chilling report based largely on an account given by an operative of the State Security Service (a whistle blower who took part in the operation that started on the night of May 29) narrates how the Cantonment Commander, Issah M. Abdullahi, a colonel, ordered the Joint Task Force (JTF) to clear the venue and roads of all “miscreants.”

“With this firm directive, the JTF, dominated by soldiers and led by Major C.O. Ibrahim of the Nigerian Military Police, stormed the streets and the event venue.” “The whistleblower said that while other members of the JTF were minimizing the use of force, soldiers recklessly opened fire at crowds, shooting at close range, and “wasting people indiscriminately.”
Passersby and people in their homes and shops were not spared of stray bullets, the SSS operative said.

“He said it got to a point where injured pro-Biafra supporters, seeing the countless bodies of their colleagues on the ground, opened their arms wide, advanced towards the soldiers screaming that they too should be killed. Three military trucks were used to cart away heaps of dead bodies. According to the whistleblower, there are two cemeteries inside the Onitsha Army Barracks. Though reserved for fallen soldiers, victims of the massacre were buried in the cemetery close to Yahweh Church, inside the barracks..”

Amnesty International has condemned this alleged massacre of unarmed civilians. As usual, the Nigerian Army denied simplicity. The federal government has closed its eyes to this troubling report. President Buhari has not taken action on the matter.

Just as I am opposed to the criminal activities of the Niger Delta Avengers, I do not support the pro-Biafra agitation. As an ardent believer in the Nigerian project, it worries me that our nation is being deeply polarised along ethnic, regional and religious lines by the day. However, there are democratically and universally established methodologies and ways of resolving such crisis. Likewise, there are established rules of engagements that governs military interventions. President Buhari should cause an independent investigation to be carried out to unravel the truth of this alleged massacre. That will go a long way in putting to shame those who wrongly describe Nigeria as “a Zoo”.

The Ikorodu killings

On Thursday June 23, 2016 no fewer than 50 persons were allegedly feared killed when militants invaded border town communities between Ogun and Lagos. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the areas affected are Elepete and Igbo-Olomu, a border community in Ikorodu North Local Government Area. According to the Nation Newspaper report of Friday July 15, 2016 the rampaging militants again stormed Igbolomu in Ikorodu on Thursday July 14, 2016, a Lagos suburb, kidnapping and killing residents. “It was gathered that the latest attack on Ikorodu allegedly began on Wednesday, with the hoodlums shooting everything on sight.”

The security agencies have failed to stop the militants from killing residents of the area. The President of the country in his characteristic reticence has not made a public statement about the Ikorodu killings.

Some persons have argued that the President should not be expected to publicly respond to every killing in the country. My reply is that those who canvass this view are making a mockery of democracy and the sanctity of human life. If the killing of one Nigerian is not enough to warrant presidential reaction, how about the unabated mass killing of innocent citizens in different parts of the country? Why has Buhari not reacted and acted approximately?

What is the worth of a Nigerian life in the eyes of the President?

How do leaders in saner climes respond when their citizens are murdered in circumstances that provokes national mourning?

On Thursday July 7, 2016 five Dallas police officers in the United States of America were killed in an ambush by an angry shooter following the killing of two African Americans by the police. The following day on Friday July 8, speaking from Warsaw, Poland after the first of a series of meetings with European Union and NATO allies, Obama said he had offered his condolences to the Dallas mayor overnight. Obama also cut short his four day trip in Europe and returned to Washington because of the incident.

On Wednesday July 13, Mr Obama left his comfort in the White House and flew on Air Force One to Dallas with his wife, former president George W Bush, senator Ted Cruz and other bipartisan leaders to attend a memorial service for the slain officers. While on Air Force One, Obama personally called the families of the two murdered African Americans over the phone to express his condolences. Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in his speech a day after the shooting indicated that federal investigators will equally intervene in the case.

What has President Buhari done over the recent massacre of 81 Nigerians by Fulani herdsmen in Benue State? How about the Nigeria Police Force? The Police in their characteristic and ever denying way said that ONLY 22 people were killed and that some suspects have been arrested. 22 lives is described as “only” in the 21st century Nigeria.

What a national tragedy!

The police will always vow to “get to the root of the matter”, but we all know that they rarely get to the surface. Most times, all that we hear are reports of arrests. The rest is history

Section 130 (2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) makes Buhari the Head of State, the Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Buhari needs to rise above every conceivable primordial interests, political partisanship and ethnic or religious bias and arrest the escalating culture of criminals killing innocent citizens at will in the country.

President Buhari cannot continue to keep and indulge the citizens in a guessing expedition on his true motives and policy direction. It is time for the President’s state of mind to be unveiled. The vagueness and imprecision of his much touted “body language” has to end now. Nigerians are tired of these mindless massacres.

Those who feel that they now have a licence to kill others because we are in a Buhari’s presidency must be made to understand that of a truth, this is a government of change. Buhari should understand that change is useless if the most fundamental human right as enshrined in Section 33 of the Nigerian Constitution – the right to life, is not guaranteed and protected by the state.

President Buhari who is fantastically good in sending condolence messages to other nations in their times of national grief should come to terms with the fact that Nigerian lives also matter.

Enough is enough.

Inibehe Effiong is a Legal Practitioner and Convener of the Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (COHRD) and can be reached at: inibehe.effiong@gmail.com

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Dear Buhari, Don’t Be Deceived By Sycophants, Nigerians Are Suffering, Lamenting! By Ogundana Michael Rotimi

Your Excellency Sir, after much procrastination and patience, I feel writing you this short piece is long overdue.

Meanwhile, before some of your Media Aides and perhaps some sycophants who are not avoidable close to you tag me a wailing wailer- may I quickly tell you, that I was and still a firm believer of your change mantra and have no doubt in your passion to seeing this country succeed.

However, I am prompted to write you this openly to call your attention to an erroneous belief already being paraded by one of your media aides- Mr Femi Adesina that only those in the minority are complaining and that Nigerians are not suffering- perhaps, a reflection of the perception of what is being paraded at the presidency.

Mr Femi Adesina featured on a phone-in programme on Raypower 100.5Fm in Abuja on Friday, July 8, 2016, he said, and I quote: “I maintain that the people who are complaining are in the minority. I can tell you that the support base of this government is still enormous. Yes, we know some people are complaining but, they are still in the minority”. Meanwhile, before then, in his last interview with Punch Newspaper in May 2016, he said- “It is mendacious to say that in the last one year, what Nigerians have been experiencing is suffering. It is not true”.

Mr President, let me tell you categorically, without fear of losing or gaining anything- Nigerians are suffering, the situation is stretching towards the elastic limit. I hope something drastic and spontaneous is done about it before it gets to the breaking point.

The economy is in a daring stage of collapse- according to Trading Economics; consumer prices in Nigeria jumped 15.6 percent year-on-year in May 2016, following a 13.7 percent rise in the previous month. It was the highest reading in more than six years, as the cost of food, housing, utilities and transport surged mostly due to 67 percent increase in gasoline prices.  There’s also an increment in electricity tariff even when the power is not available for use.

The naira is in a bad shape; businesses are crashing, and livelihoods are becoming severe. Sir, before you entirely blame these predicaments on the failure of the past administration and the dwindling global price of crude oil, you would agree with me that some economic policies and decisions that have been taken under your watch in the past one year also contributed to these.

Mr President, in all of these, most states are unable to pay their workers` salaries and are owing them for months. The people cannot be going through all these, yet your media aide think they are not suffering. Or are these people not Nigerians, do they not have blood flowing through them? I wonder how and where Femi Adesina generated his stats from, but from all indications- he goofed.

If all these are happening and a media aide of yours is saying the people are not suffering, and only those in the minority are complaining, then I think his patriotism is questionable.

While I understand that media aides would do everything and say anything to keep their jobs, I expect that there should be a limit and sense of humanity to everything they do.

Media aides are not just meant to speak for you but are also supposed to give you accurate feedback that will help shape your decisions and policies and not one that will give you on a false perception of the reality on the ground and eventually place you on the wrong track.

While some people still firmly believe in you and your change mantra, others feel you are becoming insensitive to the pains of the people and begin to lose touch with the reality on the ground- perhaps as a result of reports you receive from some of your media aides that are doing everything to keep their jobs.

But sir, don’t be deceived, don’t be carried away by false noise disguised as praises, Nigerians are not in a good shape economically and regarding security. As a matter of fact, Nigerians have begun to ask- if this is the change or there’s another one to come.

Perhaps, there are things you are not getting right and are needed to be revisited and redressed- think about this! Whatsoever you need to do to cushion this pain on the people; you have to do it and do it fast.

The longer the solutions tarry, the more disappointing your government becomes and the more the people lose hope in you and your administration.

Once again, this is not the voice of a wailing wailer, but one passionately concerned to see this country succeeds.

Dear Sir, whenever you need feedback that reflects the reality of the masses, reports from your media aides or any other persons that benefit directly from your administration are the most unrealistic one you can trust. These sets of people have sycophancy tied to their hearts.

Critics, not sycophants will do us more favour and lead us away from dead ends to achieving the change we desperately desire as a nation.

I belong to the school of thought at the hem of which is Harry S. Truman- the 33rd President of the United States, who said: “I want people around me who will tell me the truth, who will tell me the truth as they see it. You cannot operate and manage effectively if you have people around you who put you on a pedestal and tell you everything you do is right because that in practice can’t be possible”.

I consider it of outermost urgency to draw your attention to this; else you are paraded with reports from sycophants who are privileged to getting feedback directly to you. Nigerians and not just the minority are complaining- they are lamenting!

Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!

Yours sincerely,

 

Ogundana Michael Rotimi is a Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny.

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Dear President Buhari, Nigeria’s Unity Is Negotiable! By Chido Onumah

Since the public presentation of the book We Are All Biafrans and the intervention of a former vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, who chaired the event and delivered a speech titled “Restructuring for Nigeria’s national unity” – a speech I recommend to everyone interested in the unity and survival of Nigeria – the issue of restructuring Nigeria and negotiating its unity has once again taken the centre stage of national discourse.

No less a person than President Muhammadu Buhari has had to weigh in on the debate. During his Eid el-Fitr message to Nigerians on Wednesday, July 6, 2016, he was reported to have said: “I assure them (in reference to the Niger Delta ‘militants’) that when we were very junior officers, we were told by our leaders, by the Head of State, Gen. Gowon, that to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done…we never thought of oil. What we were after is one Nigeria. Please, pass the message to the militants that one Nigeria is not negotiable. And I pray they better accept it. The constitution is very clear…I assure them there would be justice.”

Before President Buhari’s admonition, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, had noted during a parley with The Punch on Tuesday, June 28, 2016: “I am on the side of those who say we must do everything to avoid disintegration. That language I understand. I don’t understand (ex-President Olusegun) Obasanjo’s language. I don’t understand (President Muhammadu) Buhari’s language and all their predecessors, saying the sovereignty of this nation is non-negotiable. It’s bloody well negotiable and we had better negotiate it. We better negotiate it, not even at meetings, not at conferences, but every day in our conduct towards one another.”

The opinions of these two prominent Nigerians reflect the two divergent opinions on the issue of restructuring Nigeria or negotiating her unity. I had planned this article – that was before President Buhari’s remarks – as a cautionary note to the Left, progressives and genuine patriots in Nigeria. I believe they are the only ones predisposed and sincerely open to solving the current crisis. Regrettably, this is one issue that has divided the Left, progressives and patriots in Nigeria. This division has defined the kind of response – ranging from obfuscation and doublespeak to outright denial and combativeness – that has made it impossible to have a coherent national narrative and action plan. Since those who ought to speak out and act have maintained criminal silence and indifference, they have yielded the space to conservative analysts of every hue, hypocrites, blackmailers, anarchists, and fifth columnists.

So what are the issues in contention? There seems to be a general agreement, even among those who brought us to this near-tragic end, that Nigeria is not working for Nigerians. However, and this is where the divergence of opinions sets in, Nigeria is not working not because it is not workable, but because it has been rigged to fail. Take the issue of the civil war (1967-70) which President Buhari alluded to. That war was fought in part because of natural resources (oil specifically). That was the driving force of the so-called federal offensive and to some extent it also defined the geo-politics of what would become the secessionist Republic of Biafra. After 30 months of fighting and millions of lives lost, there was a “negotiated” settlement. A truce was declared with the catchphrase “No victor; No vanquished.”

Unfortunately, 46 years after the end of that internecine war, low-intensity conflicts by state and non-state actors are raging across the country, from Boko Haram in the North-east, Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and Arewa People’s Congress (APC) in the North-west, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other groups in the South-east, the Niger Delta Avengers and Bakassi Strike Force (BSF) in the South-south to the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the South-west and potential avengers in the North-central. What this tells us is that that war didn’t really end and hasn’t ended. What then do we do to fix Nigeria? The simple answer would be to return to the negotiation table.

To be clear, Nigeria has always been negotiated. The problem has been that the “victors” or those who control power at each round of negotiation have unilaterally defined the structure and politics of the country going forward. Again, I return to the issue of oil. Before independence in 1960, this was the “sharing” formula for crude oil revenues: Oil producing states (region) retained 67.4% of revenues, the federal government got 20%, non-oil states (regions) got 12.6%. After the civil in 1970, the regime of Gen Yakubu Gowon through Decree No. 13 “negotiated” a new formula: Oil producing states retained 45% of revenues, the federal government got 55% while non-oil states got 0%. In 1975, the regime of Gen Murtala Muhammed in another round of negotiation through Decree 6, came up with this formula: Oil producing states would retain 20% of revenues, the federal government got 80% and non-oil states got 0%. In 1976, Gen Obasanjo, then military dictator, in his omniscience, gave oil producing states 0% of revenues while the federal government got 100% and the non-oil states got 0%.

President Shehu Shagari who came to power in 1979 brought a bizarre twist to the “sharing” formula. He retained the Obasanjo formula of 0% allocation to oil producing states and 100% to the federal government to be shared in this order: 50% shared equally among states, 40% shared based on population and 10% based on land mass. By 2000, during the reincarnation of Gen. Obasanjo as civilian president, a new revenue sharing formula was negotiated which gave oil producing states 13%.

As Prof. Yakubu Aboki Ochefu notes in the introduction to the book Nigeria is Negotiable, “Beginning from the Berlin West Africa Conference of 1884-85, the ‘negotiated’ existence of what eventually became Nigeria in 1914 (unfortunately, negotiated without the input of those who would eventually become Nigerians) has always been a part of its historical experience. Under British colonial rule, the economic and administrative structures of the country were continuously rejigged until independence in 1960.

“Between the official versions of the decolonisation history that gives a prominent role to our nationalist heroes for winning independence from the British, to others who believe in the ‘conspiracy theory’ of decolonisation, the process of how the region with the least democratic credentials ended up as the driver of a new democratic enterprise epitomizes aspects of the negotiated experience. As a country on its ‘third missionary’ journey to a truly democratic nation, the fundamental questions of nation building that began over 100 years ago have not been fully and or properly answered. We must collectively negotiate to ensure that we retain the map (of Nigeria) but change the way we exist under that map.”

On April 22, 1990, a group of young Nigerian army officers – mainly from a section of the country (the same army President Buhari told us last week fought to keep Nigeria one) – attempted to overthrow the military regime of Gen Ibrahim Babangida. While that abortive coup lasted, the rebellious soldiers excised five states of the federation – Sokoto, Borno, Katsina, Kano and Bauchi. That coup and the excision order were popular and well-received in many parts of the country. Clearly, if that coup had succeeded, the aftermath would have been another civil war. Gen. Babangida responded to that mutiny by dividing Nigeria into 30 states from 21 (just as Yakubu Gowon divided Nigeria into 12 states from four regions in 1967 to weaken the Biafra secession).

Having told ourselves a few historical home truths, let us quickly avail ourselves of one more opportunity to reclaim Nigeria. When people call for restructuring Nigeria, they make the call for a reason. And it should not be dismissed peremptorily. The rulers of the country use every opportunity to speak about the unity of Nigeria and hardly do anything to build or enhance that unity.

I don’t think the issue really is about the unity of Nigeria. Undoubtedly, many Nigerians want to live in a united Nigeria. It is important, therefore, that we do not conflate the issues. The call for restructuring Nigeria has nothing to do with the “dissolution” of Nigeria. You can believe that “Nigeria is non-negotiable” and still support the call for restructuring the country. That call is basically about building an inclusive and equitable nation; one in which your worth and position are determined not by where you come from or your religion; a nation founded on a popular constitution validated by “we the people”.

On a final note, let me emphasize that restructuring Nigeria has become a “categorical imperative” for the country. It is either we restructure or perish! Restructuring Nigeria is not an elitist concept (even if it is sometimes used by sections of the ruling elite to negotiate power) neither is it about splitting Nigeria. We can restructure (or negotiate) Nigeria without changing the internal map of the country; it is more about resource control rather than resource allocation; more about devolution of power and, therefore, responsibilities. It is about enhancing citizenship rights and the existential confidence in the country.

Of course, restructuring Nigeria is not a silver bullet or cure-all for our problems. But we can’t take on our problems as a nation without a generally acceptable and workable structure. In a sentence, we MUST “re-federalize”.

Onumah’s latest book is We Are All Biafrans. He can be reached through conumah@hotmail.com; Follow him on Twitter: @conumah

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Dear President Buhari, Welcome Back From China, By Chima Christian

President Buhari, some venerate and others vilify your person, but there is this seeming unanimous reference to you as baba. Of course, people need not to be linguists to know that “baba” is a Yoruba word that loosely translates into “father” (or “daddy” in our more localised parlance). You joined the rather long list of past leaders that were accorded this prestigious title that demands a lot of fatherliness from even retired soldiers, obviously to remind you that the battered child named Nigeria urgently needs the firm but lovely strokes of a father. I suspect a lot of people basked, in their childhood days, the euphoria that greets the return of a mother from the market or that of a father from a trip (especially an obodo oyibo trip). Maybe this partly explains the mix of euphoria and scepticism in the land that greeted your return from the working visit to China.

Like hungry children eagerly awaiting their father’s return, we sat in front of our various information outlets to hear the good news of your return. Some rejoiced, others simply didn’t find enough reason to do same. Out came Garba Shehu, your articulate Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, announcing the content of the goody bag you brought for us, all the way from China. Sealed infrastructure deals to the tune of over $6 Billion. That’s fantastic! The deals listed were such that would positively impact key sectors of the economy including power, solid minerals, agriculture, housing and rail transportation.

Baba, we have seen similar agreements in times past, we just hope that these ones would not exist only on paper like others. Seeing the agreed $1 billion that will be invested in the development of a greenfield expressway for Abuja-Ibadan-Lagos reminds us of a deal with this same China to build three greenfield refineries in Lagos, Kogi and Bayelsa that was signed six years ago. The sealed deal never came to fruition, when you go to those fields today, you will agree with Simon Kolawole that those fields are still green. Of course baba, you need not dub this particular deal bluefield, brownfield or even whitefield to suggest to us that things have changed, it’s just that that greenfield there evokes some memories, and they are not good ones. “History will not be repeated”, “things have changed”, “it is no longer business as usual” your people will tell us as they quickly draw out comparisons between sixteen years and eleven months. We hope so.

China. Oh Peoples’ Republic of China. Baba, thank goodness you know them to be very frugal business people who will do anything to reap maximum benefits from any deal they go into. You vividly understand the risks the deals you struck with China exposed us to; from of our markets being flooded with substandard “Chineese” products to our labour market being flooded with their expatriates. If it is this China you know, except if they have “changed”, they will attempt to export all the manpower needed for these projects. You are well aware of their infamous attribute of subjecting their employees to terrible working conditions. Wait a minute! Thank God you finished that report on China’s currency manipulation for economic purposes before you agreed a currency swap deal with them. Baba, you knew that the best thing to do is not to entirely avoid the Chinese and their gifts. You did not even attempt to “change” them because you knew it will be futile, you simply created backdoor clauses to those deals to slap them back into shape should they attempt to misbehave and devised strategies to technically defeat them should they go overboard. We appreciate that.

Sai baba, despite your blunt refusal of loan offers, you came back with a lot of goodies including the currency swap deal the Central Bank of Nigeria agreed in principle to enter into with People’s Bank of China. This deal, when effected will see China provide Nigeria a certain amount of Yuan for a definite period, at an agreed interest and exchange rates. The Central Bank will then formally allocate it to Commercial Banks and informally to Yuan vendors (black market) who will in turn make similar provisions to businessmen who can then clear their balance of trade with China in Yuan. Baba before you returned with this good news, the usual thing is that Nigerian businessmen who intend to transact with China will have to scramble for the US Dollar, meet their trade obligations with the dollar, and China then converts these Dollars to their local currency. In doing this, conversion, handling and other ancillary costs are incurred and there is no telling who bears these costs. When the swap deal gets implemented, we can directly convert our Naira to Yuan and eliminate the activity of the middleman – Dollar. Our trade volume with China is currently at about $14 billion per annum. This move will reduce the demand on the Dollar by 14 billion and ease off the pressure on Naira. Nice one!

Moreover, this deal has the potential of making Nigeria China’s clearing house for the whole of West Africa. Considering China’s trade volume with the region, this deal is sure a plus to our staggering economy. But all is not well yet baba especially when we look at your Government’s foreign exchange policy. Your Government under this same policy will attempt to “prioritise” Yuan the same way it does with dollar. This implies that she will decide who she will give her hard–earned Yuan to and who they will not give it to, apparently in an attempt to ensure that we don’t buy “toothpicks” with the money.

Baba, your import substitution policy is very apt and it should subsist, but the tool you have continued to use to sustain this policy is not the best. World over, the preeminent tool Governments use to regulate importation is taxation. Baba, you may have a need to be reminded that import duties (and waivers) are used to either discourage or encourage importation. In certain cases, commodities are literally taxed to death in order to inhibit or tactically prohibit their importation but, you approach this with a slightly different mentality. Given, it is easier to control importation by placing restrictions on access to foreign exchange than the usage of tax administration which requires a great deal of tactfulness but you have used this lazy man’s approach and we have seen what it got us into. This again reminds us that quick fixes have grave consequences. Baba, we know that you are in a haste to change Nigeria but quick fixes will change us in a manner that you yourself will find detestable.

Maybe you have not thought of it this way but what your Government is doing with foreign exchange is simply subsidizing it. Baba, your Government knows the real value of the Naira and the rate at which it is supposed to exchange with other currencies but she deliberately ignores in defiance, the obvious and subsidize it for a few. There is no need here to educate you on the biting effects this has on our economy but before you apportion the blame to the last sixteen years let me remind you that you can do things differently now than you did nine months ago. If you do things differently, you will definitely get a different result.  Doing the same thing and expecting a different result was aptly defined. Please, allow the naira to exchange at its real value (or something close to that) as you continue to work tirelessly to bring back its lost glory.

Baba if you allow your hard earned Yuan to be handled the way the dollar is presently handled, then you have on your own volition mismanaged that goody bag from China and messed up your own frantic efforts to change our situation. Maybe I should be bold to tell you that the best way to change Nigeria is to change yourself. There are now several definitions of the change you propagate but we know the one you intend to bring about. Like Omojuwa rightly told you, intentions alone cannot fry plantain. We need to see this change and we need to see it now! Baba, welcome back from China, even as we know that you are already packing your bags for the next trip apparently to bring in more goodies. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Chima Christian.

Chima is a civil rights activist, public policy analyst and a good governance advocate. He writes in from Nnewi, Anambra State. He can be contacted on Twitter via @ChimaCChristian.

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Dear Femi Adesina; Take Heed Lest You Fall By Ogundana Michael Rotimi

Dear Mr. Femi Adesina; I bring to you this passage from the Holy Bible: Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls- 1 Corinthians 10:12”. That is my message for you today. Meanwhile, I will try as much as I can, to keep it brief but concise, lest you call me a wailing wailer.

Sir, may I remind you that your appointment into your present position came on the 31st May 2015, you resumed officially into office on the 9th June, 2105 and on the 1st July, 2015, barely a month after your resumption into the President Buhari`s led administration as the special adviser on media & publicity to the president, you coined the phrase- “wailing wailers”.

Sir, if you remember vividly, that tweet and the phrase- wailing wailers, was not without condemnations from all well meaning Nigerians including myself who feel every Nigerian include those that wanted the last administration to retain power for another 4 years deserves the right to challenge, criticize and condemn any action or inaction of the present administration.

Government owes it to the people to explain politely to them whatsoever calls for an explanation. It is called transparency and accountability- I know that isn`t difficult for anybody grown enough to be a special assistant to the president to comprehend.

We may actually live in a society where politicians are only seen to be humble and assessable during the electioneering period and immediately after the elections are over, they return to their real self and become invisible. Eating up every word they’ve said and denying every promise they have made. But even at that, it doesn`t still justify why their spokesperson like you, should go the line of insulting those that voted their boss in power.

Few weeks ago on a live television show- Sunday Politics with Mr. Seun Okinbaloye, you called out Nigerians to go hold vandals responsible for the blackout that has befallen the country for a while now. In your words: “If some Nigerians are crying over power outage, they should hold those people who vandalized the installations responsible”. Sir, that statement was ridiculous and insensitive, least expected from a spokesperson to the “President of Change”.

As if that was not enough, just last week on “The Osasu Show”, you again descended on Nigerians for asking you why the President has not visited Agatu after the massacre. In your response, you likened Nigerians to children whose lollipops have been taken away. In your words: “Now, how will a new administration…and maybe whenever the president says something, you just start hearing noise, wah, wah, wah, wah, like a child whose lollipop has been taken away”.

Sir, with all sincerity, you sounded much more responsible and thoughtful before your appointment. How you suddenly became vulgar and choose to go the way of your predecessor- The Attack Lion, baffles me. I doubt if the president knew about your vulgarity before appointing you. And if he did, then I fault him for having you come on his team in the first place.

At this rate you`re going, there is no better way to define “the arrogance of power” but by the actions you have displayed since your resumption as spokesperson to the president. Your vulgarity is fast becoming unbearable, embarrassing and worrisome.

Democracy gives room for the people to ask and for the leaders to answer politely. I do not shy away from the fact that some questions may seem insensitive and purposely directed to malign you or your boss. But then, there is always a way to respond to a foolish and insensitive question without one sounding controversial and insensitive. This is the quality expected of you as a spokesperson to the president.

Lola Shoneye gave a clue on how you could have answered the question on the Agatu visit without you necessarily insulting any group of people. Check this out: “The president was greatly saddened by the conflict in Agatu. As C-in-C, he is unwavering in his commitment to rid Nigeria of the violence that’s causing hardship and disruption for so many. Naturally, president Buhari wishes he could visit and commiserate with the affected communities whenever these tragedies occur, but engagements and meetings, many of which are economy or security –related, mean he sometimes has to be represented by senior governent officials”. I know you can do this and even do much more better than this.

The tragedy of history is that man hardly learns from it. But in your own case, learn from it! Do not go the way of your predecessor- who chooses to be called the “Attack Lion” and then ending up doing more harm than good to his boss. Learn from his trajectory!

Do think about this Sir and do not see it as an act of unnecessary wailing.

It is my wish that you succeed in your present position and endeavors. It is my wish that the president Buhari`s led administration succeeds too. And it is my uttermost wish that Nigeria works for all. However, you must not fail to recognize that it is the right of the people to continuously question the government while it is the duty of the government to humbly provide suitable and responsible answers to their question as it deems fit.

This is not a voice of a wailing wailer; it is a passionate caution call for you to take heed lest you fall.

Yours sincerely,

Ogundana Michael Rotimi is a Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny.

 

 

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates

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Dear President, The Last Time I Checked, You Are Still The Minster Of Petroleum, By Ogundana Michael Rotimi

Your Excellency Sir, I write you this piece not as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but as the minister of petroleum resources appointed by yourself on the 11th of November, 2015.

You seem to have forgotten that you are the minister of petroleum resources and may have completely relinquished your responsibilities to the minister of state of petroleum resources- Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who to me, to a reasonable extent has been up and doing.

You seem to have neglected the fact that you are directly answerable to Nigerians as the Minister of petroleum resources, and owe it to Nigerians to make the product readily available and affordable.

As a reminder of what you already know- the fuel scarcity has fully gripped major cities in the country and contributing negatively to an economy that is still struggling to pick its stand.

Pathetic as it may, your ministry has failed Nigerians over its inability to end the lingering fuel scarcity, as this unabated scarcity of the product has contributed to the high cost of goods and service.

The Honourable Minister of petroleum Sir, you are on your way in setting the record of the longest reign of fuel scarcity in the history of the republic under your watch. As since you have been sworn in, it has been from one scarcity to another.

Although, one cannot be-little or underestimate the efforts of the junior minister of petroleum resources who also happens to be the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)- Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, in revamping the sector. But Sir, your unnecessary and unwarranted silence and carefree attitude before every short statement is issued on the lingering scarcity is worrisome. It suggests that you may have forgotten or may have become unconscious of the fact that you head the ministry that is currently failing Nigerians to make available and affordable the product that is key to the economy and of importance to the day to day activities of the people.

The unending scarcity that has in-turn led to an increase in pump price of the product calls for your urgent attention in the sector and a swift reaction in finding a lasting solution to this menace. It is sickening and shameful that Nigerians would have to wait on long queues for hours that could have been channelled in doing other productive things just to a get a few litre of fuel.

Your ministry cannot continually fail to provide the basic need of the people and unnecessarily make Nigerians go through pains for a product we have in its raw form and expect the people to be pleased with it. All that you have said and perhaps done about the scarcity is still very much infinitesimal as compared to the pains Nigerians go through on a daily basis to get this product for their respective use.

You may have actually chosen not to react to the issue as the president, but you owe it to Nigerians as the minister of petroleum resources. Nigerians owe you responsible for failing them in this regard.

Sir, if holding both position as minster of petroleum resources and president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria seem too cumbersome for you, let go of one and concentrate on the one you think you can deliver better. Your excuses so far for the scarcity would not put food on the masses` table and will not save the soul of those that have lost their lives as a result of this scarcity. Get the job done sir if you can. If you can`t, FIRE yourself and get a replacement for yourself as soon as possible and don’t just be there as a figurehead.

Those calling for the minister of state- Dr. Ibe Kachikwu resignation are muddling things up. They should be calling for your resignation not his.

There is a reason why you choose to appoint yourself as the minister of petroleum resources. But it’s a pity the reason is not being felt by Nigerians. Your self-appointment as a minister in that sector has made little or no impact on the lives of the people.

Perhaps the minister of state is choked up. Maybe the work is too much for him. Maybe he is not getting the overall assistance he needs from you as his direct boss because of your busy schedule. Maybe he needs to share his portfolio with someone. A full minister appointed to do the job will no doubts dedicate more time for the job than you do now. Think about this!

Nigerians have suffered so much and so long in the name of fuel scarcity and the pains are becoming very much unbearable. Every passing second that the scarcity lingers on is a slap on your portfolio and a shame on our nation which nature has blessed with the product in its raw form.

This is not an act of unnecessary wailing; it is a passionate wake up call to you and your ministry.

Arrest the situation now and put it to rest once and for all.

 

Yours sincerely,

Ogundana Michael Rotimi is a Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny.

 

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates

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Dear @DOlusegun, What Were You Thinking When You Honoured A “Show Off Date” With @adeyanjudeji?

By @MickeySunny

Dear Segun,

I need not have written you this letter, but am compelled to because your several tweets after last Friday night debacle, show that you feel you were right about what you did.

You were here last year- 2015, when Governor Fashola`s name was smeared with all sorts of allegation on corruption, mismanagement and breach of office while as executive governor of Lagos State. Those that started it, did it with the intention to rubbish him and bring him down. Intelligent and mature as the former governor of Lagos state is, kept mute for a long while and refused to comment on the allegations. When he finally decided to respond to them, he replied them with his own version of George Bernard Shaw`s quote: “when you wrestle with a pig, the pig gets happy and you get dirty.”

George Bernard Shaw: “Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

I have not met you one on one, neither have I met Deji Adeyanju. But following your conversation on twitter, you earned my respect until last Friday night when you honoured a show off date- (wouldn`t like to call it a fight date) that was intended to be chaotic with Deji.

Perhaps, like many have argued, the perception people create for themselves on social media, on so many occasions is usually different from their real person. Who knows, you may have wrongly earned my respect and that of a few people that knew you through the social media.

I won’t waste my time going to the genesis of the struggle, but the truth is you shouldn`t have showed up for the show off date fixed by Deji at sofa lounge, Abuja. Showing up was never a sign of manhood or “big-manism” never was it an act of fearlessness or maturity. It was a sign of stupidity! You saying that you showed up because you can never be intimidated was a really silly excuse.

According to you, you tweeted: “I have no reason to hide from anyone. People like Deji thrive on violence and enjoy people being afraid of them but not me.” You see, it is not about people being afraid of Deji; it is about people being wise and mature. Of what good does he benefit a man, showing up for a show off date with a man he accused of thriving on violence? You claim Deji is a violent man but you honoured a Friday night Show Off date with him, what are you?

You know he thrives on violence, yet he challenged you to a fight date and you showed up. Segun what were you thinking that made you showed up? What did you think you were doing- forming James Bond, Commando, or Bruce Lee?

As advanced as the world is, strong men and powerful people no longer settle scores in the boxing ring or in the wresting ring. They do that in the court of law.

You also tweeted: “I went to the lounge with no intention to fight anyone or constitute nuisance. Decided to go to clear Deji’s doubts that I do not fear him.” I do not know how on earth you intended to achieve that after claiming same person thrives on violence!

You see Segun, you really need to keep the excuses about why you kept a date with same man you claim you know thrive on violence-  Like I said earlier, I don’t want to call it a fight date because it irritates.

Accept the truth, you acted immaturely, embarrassed yourself and ridiculed the political party that we hold in high esteem. In the first place, you shouldn`t have allowed it degenerate to such level of him calling you out for a show of shame. Self Restraints- in the words of @jag_bros.

You know what Segun, we all make mistakes, sometimes knowingly and at times unknowingly. You have made this, be sober, apologise to yourself, apologize to your friends and those that hold you in high esteem, do not also forget your political party too which you represent. Some parties have nothing to lose in an incident like that because they lack reputation but your party does.

I really do hope you read and see this letter in the spirit of friendship in which I write it to you and not otherwise.

Fact is, it may pain you to admit it, but great men know when they are wrong and do the needful as required even if it is difficult to do- apologise.

In many ways, I think you are a great man.

But on this, you’re badly wrong.

Best regards,

Ogundana Michael Rotimi.

A Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny.

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Dear President Buhari, Speak to Us, By Abdullahi Abubakar

I am forced to write you this letter not because of anything but I feel that Femi Adesina & Garba Shehu are not telling you the truth about grievances and plights of ordinary Nigerians.

There are issues that critically need to be addressed;

Fuel Scarcity
Exchange rate &
Insecurity.

In the whole of Kaduna North with an average population of one million, only Forte Oil is selling fuel. I toured round the bypass where we usually get fuel at N140 to N150/liter but all in futility. I understand your populist ideology to removing fuel subsidies – that ordinary Nigerians who voted you into power would suffer. But Sir, that argument does not have a base in the current economic reality.

First and foremost, I feel the substantive Minister of Petroleum you assigned to yourself is undeserving. This is not because you lack the ability or the constitutional right, but I see the burden of leadership of a country of 170m people is already a big task to handle. I usually liken your appointment as the substantive Minister of Petroleum to that of the Managing Director of a Bank doubling as Branch Manager.

It is a virtue of true leadership to assign roles.

I read Prof Charles Soludo’s article on the state of our economy where he advised the Minister of Finance to let the open market decide the exchange rate and not have a fix rates, but it seems that message fell on dead ears. This is hurting.

Just last week, I got a message from my Bank that come January 2016, I can no longer use my debit card for International transactions. As you may be aware, CBN has stopped the funding of BDC and Banks no longer fund Personal & Business Travel Allowances. What this means is that, the 41 items banned for official forex trading cannot source for funds anywhere to effect this line of business. Also, our students abroad can no longer get funding from parents back at home. Till date, no hard currency deposit is allowed into domiciliary accounts. Nigerians are left with no choice, not even a single one to carry out their legitimate transactions.

On insecurity, I’d like to commend you on the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency. One other thing, as a leader, I feel you owe the Shiites a condolence on the last Saturday’s attack. Despite the religious differences, as the Chief of the Armed Forces, you are supposed to address the nation on the death of over 200 Nigerians. Nigerian life should be valued. Important to note also, our armed forces are not sufficiently equipped to fight 3 deadly wars at par; Boko Haram, IPOB and now the Shiites Movement – you should manage the crisis and not let it escalate to another level.

In every democratic regime, silence is not an option. In these changing times especially, Nigeria cannot afford to have a silent achiever.

Dear Mr. President, speak to Nigerians. We are hungry to hear you address us on the Economy, the looming fuel crisis and the fight against terrorism.

Electing you, Mr President, is still a better choice to Former President Goodluck Jonathan, under whose leadership, Nigeria recorded the Oil boom but left us with depleted treasury. It is under Fmr President Jonathan that Nigeria lost an average of N1 billion monthly to the cabals as alleged by the Fmr CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.

But Mr President, we should not continue to wallow in the lethargy of past mistakes. Nigerians need strategies to drive us to the promise land.

May God give you the wisdom to turn around the tides as this is our last chance and failure is not also an option.

Abdullahi Abubakar

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Rape: Letter To My Dear Friend, By Whyte Habeeb Ibidapo

DEAR FRIEND

It is with great enthusiasm and soberness that I write this letter which is of uttermost importance to me, you and every other fellow that gets to read this.  I must first appreciate the fact that you took the courage to share your dreams of a better Nigerian society with me barely less than eighteen hours of meeting. It shows how eager you want to create the change our society deserves. Sharing a dream with a dreamer is not a bad idea at all. It is a right step to the right destination where success resides. A listening ear a times can be considered as a custodian of wisdom. Thank God you never made attempt to set sail using someone’s star. The navigation may seem north and wrong because we are voyaging different ships and on different oceans. I have learnt from you and I guess I want to share your fate.

Friend, you made me understand your misfortunes and I must say that I have spotted blessings from the story behind it. You are a lady of substance, your life have a worth even when you think it does not. The fears you keep never at any point betrayed the truth in your tongue. Fortune is already at your favour’s spot. The sky is going to weep to your victory sooner or later. I always like to look on the optimistic side of life, but I am realistic enough to know that life is a complex matter. Part of its complex nature is the hatred you filled your heart with. I know the hatred is as a product of bad acts done to your person. Such acts were aimed at depriving you of your dignity as a woman of substance. However, I want you to know that hate is heavy; I doubt if you would ever let it go. I do not think hating what hates us is good. For hate is the burden to exhaust the stare in you.

Friend, you made me understand the fate of your dark hours. You keep emphasizing that I do not know how you feel to be robbed off your dignity. The tears keep rolling down your cheeks as you keep murmuring the word ‘toilet’, ‘toilet’, toilet. You made it worse when you said he gave you a chapter in the bible to read after all he did to you. You mentioned Isaiah 51 or thereabout. You made me know that you cannot even explain how you lost your virginity but all you remember is the toilet issue and the main man that you see most of the time. It keeps paining you that he is now a pastor of God. He now wins souls. You made me know that you can never forgive him and that you feel like killing him. Even the lesson teacher that betrays the confidence your mum repose on him by making you stay with him after school hours is also a thing you cannot spare. The lesson teacher is a man you cannot see again but you still see your uncle who is now a pastor. You live and wake up with your mum who knows nothing about your misfortune. You were betrayed by fate the day you intend telling her of your mysteries because you met her in the pool of her own tears. At that very day, she was in tears over the welfarism of you and your brother. Rather than adding to her problem that night, you offered helping hand by telling her that you are ready to start hawking so as to help meet the family’s financial condition. Your everyday thoughts were destroying you. You tried not to think but the silence was a killer too. You suddenly became the flower that gives its fragrance to even the hand that crushes it.

Friend, it is not easy to have gone through hell like you have done. It is more or less like a paleontologist coming face to face with a dinosaur. No doubt, an odd combination of fear and exhilaration must have settled over you. To be a victim of rape or sexual harassment is so inhumane and degrading. To be a victim of separated family is also worse. To be raised by a mother that can do everything for the sustenance of her children but not knowing what happens to them after her daily exit is sad. Your reputation for secrecy is now exceeded only by that of your deadliness. An oasis where hope is gone and tongue glued to its root.

I know you are learning how to be okay without the world and I can’t wait for the day when you would get to look at the world and feel absolute nothing. Not even the bunch of hatred in your heart. I can wait for the day when you would stand tall before the world and say your story. I only had the privilege of knowing because you considered me as a change agent. You charged me to also address issues like yours when campaigning or making advocacy on sexual harassment and sexual related offences. You want people like your uncle to face the wrath of the law. Even as you stare through the fog with a look somewhere between stupefaction and anger, you still want the best for the vulnerable persons. Your heart is good my dear friend.

My friend, as you have decided to start an agency that would see to the development of kids and youths that are facing similar problem like yours, I pledge to support with all I have and I know every right thinking mind out there would do same. Before then, I would want you to forgive all those that have trespassed upon your dignity. I would want you to be hopeful as you have been till now. I only wish everyone could get talking like you have done. A warm tear of sincere repentance earns the mercy of the Almighty and wipes off our sins no matter how big or how many they are. Just know you would get through it. Life isn’t so much about what is happening but your reaction to what is happening.

N.B: To every person that gets to read this, it is a real story. Issues of sexual harassment and Rape have caused a whole lot to the development of some many female folks around. My own friend aspires to be great and willing to have a big platform to tell her story and educate others. If you have a worthy platform, don’t hesitate to contact me and let us help her achieve her aim.

 

(WHYTE HABEEB IBIDAPO is a Lawyer, United Nations Award winner, Africa International Arbitration Award winner, Coca cola/ The Nation Campuslife Award Winner, Promasidor Runner-up for the Best Future Writer in Nigeria, i-Hustle Campaign Initiative Ambassador and Editor Egba Youth Awards Foundation.

Email: whyte287@gmail.com

@whytehabeeb

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Dear Aisha Abubakar: Now That You Are A Minister By Usama Dandare

Greetings Madam Minister

It is with a deep sense of utmost respect that i write to congratulate you on this milestone achievement after crossing huddles of envy and vested interest to become a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against the wishes of the thieving elites. I salute your doggedness, self control and your ability to remain calm even in the most challenging moments. Let me also congratulate you for breaking the jinx to become the first female minister to come from Sokoto State. You have indeed made history that will be remembered forever.

Madam, as you may pretend not to know, the statewide interest that greeted your nomination as well as the very support most of us rendered to you during your ministerial screening and confirmation was uniquely not born out of the confidence we have in you neither your track records nor your experience, but rather, against the political forces opposing your appointment.

The people’s interest is far from your background, academic, competency, or professional credentials. The simple truth is that the entirety of the people of masses that massively rallied behind you have an interest wholly premised against those political forces whom were hell bent on stopping your ministerial appointment and anything short of this is hypocritical.

I and others alike heard little or no information about you but looking at your resume, you possessed nearly all the potentials, the skills, professionalism, experience and the ultimate chance to go down in the annals of history as the best performing minister in this era of change. The path to make this history requires creating an enabling environment for the progress of the people and always protect their interest irrespective of any differences.

Similarly, in order to win the trust and confidence of the masses, you must provide a favorable environment for accountability, motivation, honesty, justice, and more importantly checks and balances which perhaps formed the basics of any serious democracy. Now that you are a minister, exercise your duties from a position of wisdom and uttermost sincerity.

Madam minister, there are some few mundane challenges which a minister should tackle head-on before balancing in office, otherwise, his leadership will never find the real balance to move things in the right direction. These are serious challenges that we are all concerned about, on which we will gauge your performance at the end of the day:

The first challenge awaiting your immediate action is fighting corruption, a menace which has undoubtedly brought the entire nation to chapter 11. As you are very much aware, corruption is simultaneously holding Nigeria to ransom and fighting it has proven to be a very tough challenge. Therefore fighting it straightaway with all the tools at your disposal is of paramount importance if you are to succeed, and there should be no preferential treatment when it comes to sanctioning perpetrators.

The second task you may need to give due diligence is overcoming this vexatious attitude of ‘favoritism’ which has rotten the flesh and blood of several Nigerians over the years. Only second to corruption, favoritism is fast and silently killing Nigeria without attracting much attention; this was brought about by our insistence on using the wrong people for the wrong jobs because of our escalating insularity, it has almost became like a norm for government officials to view from the prism of tribes, region, religion or states when appointing subordinate staffs. Thus wrecking havoc on the Nigerian states without given due consideration.

Thirdly is workers welfare. No administration can survive longer which does not accept as fundamental the rights of its very own workers. Hence, the need to adequately motivate its staffs is of paramount value, for the success of any policy depends on the conceptual skill of those who are to impose the policy not those who made it. To achieve this, you need to create an atmosphere of approval and security in which your subordinates will feel free to express themselves without fear of censure or ridicule, by encouraging them to participate in the planning and carrying out of those things which directly affect them. You must also be sufficiently sensitive to their needs and motivations, for you to judge the possible reactions to, and outcomes of, various responsibilities they may undertake. The rights of workers to good housing, good medical facilities and basic needs of life must be protected and respected.

Finally, it is often said that experience is the best teacher and this applies to you in some fashion, because you’ve been serving the nation long before now, albeit, in a different capacity. While it is said that experience is the best teacher, it is also believed that a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Therefore you should learn from history, learn to associate yourself with dedicated and patriotic hands only, not those who will pretend to be Jesus Christ (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon Him) in looks while in the actual sense they are Satan in mind. Always learn to look back when taking any decision or formulating any policy, perhaps it is widely agreed that the failure to look back while looking forward was what rubbishes the progress of almost all the ministers in the immediate past government of President Jonathan.

Hopefully in the next few months, Nigerians and indeed the people of Sokoto State as a whole will determine whether or not you deserved their trust and confidence.

Now that you are a minister, be God fearing, dedicative, law abiding and always exercise your duties with nothing but absolute truthfulness.

Now that you are a minister, strive hard to succeed where others failed and prove the naysayers wrong.

May He the Almighty everlasting living God sanctify you against all the evil forces, may He also give you the wisdom and the ability to do the right thing.

Usama A. Dandare, a social commentator and an advocate of peace writes from Sokoto.

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Dear Zahra Buhari, Help The Youths Deliver This Message To Your Father, By Ephraim Adiele

Before the 2015 general election, the truth is that the Nigerian youth had a passive view on things regarding Nigerian politics and governance, which is evident by the sheer lack of involvement in young persons in the political scene.

But as the elections drew near, both leading political parties – the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) – who were in a titanic battle of outwitting each other brought their dirty linen to the current-day social media. It is my belief that to the best of their knowledge, it was all part of the politicking process; they just needed to sway the people to their sides. But unknown to them they were making the youths more aware of stuff that had been hitherto “hidden.”

Soon enough, the elections came and went and the eyes of the youths had opened. They became very interested in what was going on in the corridors of power. In a bid to out-do each other, both sides of the political divide had embarked on mudslinging campaigns, with the APC hinging their propaganda on the basis of high-level corruption alleged to have been rampant in the Goodluck Jonathan administration. They also lampooned Jonathan over his inability to curb the threat of Boko Haram insurgency. On the other hand, the PDP went about reminding Nigerians of the years of Muhammadu Buhari’s days as military dictator, of the alleged corruption of those like Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi and others, who made his election possible.

This, in my opinion was the wrong way to introduce politics to the current day Nigerian youth. In order for the leaders of tomorrow (haha, yeah right) to get a healthy idea of what politics should be like, a policy-based campaign would have done a whole world of good to the next generation of leaders (haha, yeah right).

Anyway, the election has produced winners and losers. It’s time for the real business of governance and President Buhari needs to step up to the plate and begin to deliver on the APC campaign promises as it seems to me he does not know the magnitude of expectations Nigerians have for him and his government.

Since I strongly doubt that the president operates his social media accounts by himself, I want to use this medium to inform Zahra Buhari, his most popular daughter what the average youth of this country expects from her father.

THE ANTI-CORRUPTION WAR

After the election, when Buhari and the APC were harping about the corruption in Jonathan’s government, the then president-elect made certain utterances which he has definitely negated on several occasions. One of such utterances came when he said that his anti-corruption crusade would be focused primarily on those who siphon public funds AFTER May 29, when he must have assumed office,but we have since noticed that he has gone against this and is embarking on what may be termed witch-hunting of perceived political foes which is evident from the number of PDP persons and others in the Jonathan government who have been hounded since the aforementioned date.

People like former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; the former Chief Security Officer to Jonathan, Gordon Obuah; former PDP governors from Jigawa, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom just to mention a few. On the other hand, those in the APC camp who have been serially accused of corruption like Amaechi, Tinubu, Kwakwanso, El-Rufai and a ship-load of others who ought to face the same music are being rewarded with government appointments.

In any case, let it be known that I am not affiliated to any political party and might never be until idealism is entrenched in the country’s political terrain.

That said, Zahra should tell her father that the average Nigerian youth cares less about how much has been stolen in the past. We don’t want to know. We want Buhari to begin the business of governance in earnest. It has been more than 4 months since he assumed office and we are yet to see any policy statement or intent from the new government. The supposed corrupt officials are being tried at more cost when we are looking at ways to cut government expenditure. These litigations would take forever before a verdict is ever reached (if ever verdicts would be reached). Zahra should tell Buhari that we want to see him working, not pretending to work. There’s no need hounding some former governors while others are being made ministers. It makes no sense. It is a mockery of his inauguration statement: I BELONG TO NOBODY. Clearly the President and shown that he belongs to somebody.

Even within the APC, the only person who has been “probed” is the Senate President, Bukola Saraki,
who is being tried over allegations that are about 12 years old! And this came after he dared the party and emerged as Senate President. Am I missing something or did Buhari not say only stuff that happened after May 29. This is called selective justice, which is a far cry from the expectation of the average Nigerian youth, who is beginning to view the whole anti-corruption parade as a charade which is aimed at those who are not in the President/APC good books.

Zahra, please tell Buhari to leave corrupt people to enjoy their loot if he is not willing to probe his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo, his military successor, Ibrahim Babangida and others who have been widely blamed for the country’s predicament.

GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS

When he was campaigning to be President, Buhari promised the youths a lot of things, including involvement in governance. I, for one did not believe a word of this no matter how many times it was repeated.

On December 24, 2014, I was invited to Oriental Hotel where Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the then Vice-presidential hopeful was to speak to a select audience of influential youth leaders. When quizzed on if the youths would have a part to play in their government if they win the election, the lawyer replied “of course.” He went on to brag that a large number of his staff were young people, adding that as a former university lecturer, he is in tune with what the youths can bring to the table as regards governance .

Months down the line and the President’s ministerial list has emerged with the youngest person being a 48-year old. The ever active social media sought to know why no youth was considered in the selection to which Osinbajo replied that the youths need to sit up as no worthy youth was found capable of filling any portfolio.

Bloody Christ, there are an estimated 68 million youths in the country and no one was found worthy? How nice! But we should not forget that the youths gave the APC a bulk of the votes during the election. Let it be known that a very large number of social media activists were employed by the APC to help with their campaign propaganda; I do not want to mention names. It should not be forgotten that these people, and not the old men that are not so far from their graves that made the APC campaign successful. It should also be noted that none of these individuals has even been considered for a Special Adviser role.

This, in my unsolicited opinion is an insult to the youths of this country.

Again I will like Zahra to remind Buhari that the youths have their eyes and ears on the ground and are watching what he is up to. She should tell him that the earlier he begins to see us as the leaders of tomorrow (haha, yeah right) the better for him as the social media, as it is today is capable of pushing forward a strong narrative against his non-involvement of young intellectuals to help his government.

Like I said before, I did not believe more than 90% of the campaign promises I heard, including ALL promises made to the youths. My apprehension was confirmed when the Buhari instituted his transition committee, where there was nobody below 45 years old. I asked my friends: When will young people know what transition committees are about and how they are run? 2019? 2023? Two thousand and never?

Hell! Augu Ogbeh, even Lai Mohammed is going to be a minister and there are no worthy youths to be made minister. That is a joke I will forever laugh at.

Zahra should tell Buhari that the youths would like to have a feel of how the government is being run. We demand at least 40% participation. That is how things are done. Canada’s new Prime Minister is 43 years old. Barrack Obama was 44 when he became President of USA.

Please Zahra, tell him we are the leaders of tomorrow (haha, yeah right) and can start learning today (haha, yeah right)

EMPLOYMENT

When I met Osinbajo, he handed me a copy of the APC manifesto, and I took out time to study it word for word.

In a part of the manifesto, the APC promised that it would “Within the first year, employ 740,000 (20,000 per state + FCT) young graduates in immediate employment and empowerment scheme.” Zahra, please tell your father that he has just over 6 months to manufacture 740,000 jobs. The youths which make up the working class have nothing to do. To be honest, this is the reason why nefarious activities seem to be the only option for the youth. Many people my age have tried and tried to get legitimate jobs to no avail. Little wonder they pursue a “career” in internet fraud, which gives them the required funds to pay back their parents and help support the family and perhaps start a family of their own.

Asides fraud, the entertainment sector has been the other solace of the young Nigerian, for years without end, the youths of the country have sought out ways to fend for themselves in this sector without help from the government (not until Goodluck Jonathan helped out with the multibillion naira intervention fund for Nollywood). These two (crime and entertainment) are the two largest “employers” of youths, and it needs to change (for crime) and improve (for entertainment).

Zahra, your father may not know these things, but I have a feeling he listens to you. So please, talk to the man.

INFRASTRUCTURE AND SOCIAL AMENITIES

To be honest, the average Nigerian youth does not even care if Buhari gives those jobs. They don’t even believe in the concept of creating jobs especially as they have been promised and failed several times in the past.

So what does the youth want from Buhari? Social welfare!

We want qualitative education. I, for one have seen countless number of my friends leave the shores of this country in order to acquire an education. And when they are done studying, they never want to return to the country. Why? They have seen a working society and do not see the need to return to one that is far from working.

Buhari and the APC promised to target up to 20% of the annual budget for education. Zahra, remind him because the youths are watching and waiting, not for him to perform, but for him to fail. Tell him to
prove us wrong.

Asides this, your father also promised a lot of other things in the APC manifesto, but I would like to remind him of the following, as they will go a long way to reduce the everyday hustle of the less priviledged youth:

– Create an additional middle class of at least 4 million new home owners by 2019

– Ban medical trips for government officials

– In different phases over 4 years, APC will make monthly direct cash transfer of N5, 000 to the 25 million poorest citizens, if they immunize children and enroll them in school.

– Embark on a National Infrastructural Development Programme as a Public Private Partnership that will (a) ensure 5,000 km of Superhighway including service trunks and (b) building of up to 6,800 km of modern railway completed by 2019. (this last part about railways needs to be made a top priority in the transportation sector as it will greatly reduce the hellish traffic usually faced by commuters, especially in Lagos, where the youth population can never be over exaggerated).

Zahra, your father has been abroad a number if times, he knows what the rail system can do.

SECURITY

Dear Zahra, I know your father is a retired military general. And I remember that he and the APC condemned Jonathan for failing to curtail Boko Haram. He promised to rout the insurgents in 2 months. We knew it was just campaign gist, but hey! Its 5 months and the terrorists are becoming more brazen and frequent in their attacks. I love travelling and would have extended my nationwide tour to the North, but as you can see, it’s not looking like a wise idea.

Zahra, your dad wants to “sit” on the petroleum ministry. He has sat on the petroleum industry on more than one occasion: first as Obasanjo’s Federal Commissioner (minister) for Petroleum in 1976 and as head of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) under the late Sani Abacha.

My dear, we the youths do not understand the rationale behind him sitting on a sector he has headed before. If he failed to sanitize it then, why should we believe that he will sanitize it now? Why doesn’t he want to sit on the defence ministry, given his military background and the level of insurgency currently being suffered by the country?

Zahra, please tell Buhari that the youths expect him to take this Boko Haram matter more seriously. He needs to be aware of this. We believe he is not as serious about the fight against insurgency as he is about the fight against alleged corrupt political enemies. Talk to the man, our patience has started growing… very thin.

DIVERSIFYING THE ECONOMY

I will not spend much time talking about this subject. The youths have little or no stake in the petroleum sector, which drives most of the country’s economy. During the campaign period, Osinbajo was at an interactive session which had some entertainers in attendance. There was Olamide, 9ice, some actors and actresses and from their discussion, it was evident that old people like him and Buhari knew nothing about the problems the youths face in the entertainment sector. That is because they have their eyes on only the petroleum and maybe the banking/fiscal sectors.

Zahra, I know you are social media savvy and must know what is up in the entertainment sector. Asides that, the country is manufacturing close to no product. This is poor regarding we have a population of close to 200 million people. No functioning tourism sector. These things are means of diversifying the economy and create jobs for millions of youths.

Abeg I no wan shout, Zahra, please tell your father to sit up.

In case he doesn’t know, the youths do not give a hoot about APC or PDP. We just want a working Nigeria. If he cannot give us that, we are willing and able to run a “parallel government” for only young people, since they have forgotten that we are the leaders of tomorrow. (haha, yeah right).

Ephraim Adiele is the Associate Editor of The Trent Online. He can be reached by email HERE and on Facebook.

 

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