National Restructuring and the Ambivalence of a Nation by Raymond Nkannebe

You will agree with us that since the early 80s, nothing has formed the subject of our national debates and engagements more than the chequered (mis) fortune of the word ‘Restructuring’. It has been accepted more than once as a friend; rejected as an enemy, and finally smuggled through the back door as an accomplice, in any national gathering. It is almost a song in our national struggle and often chorused now and again in governmental circles.

In the last two decades at least, one of the central issues of political debate in Nigeria has been the persistent call for a National Conference; a quotient of restructuring. The calls have always represented a strong desire to correct the ills that have befallen the Nigerian state and renegotiate the conditions, structure and rules that should guide the country. These calls represent an admission that the legitimacy and continuous existence of the state is in question.

The primary objective of any state is to provide security of the citizens and to guarantee a framework for the enforcement of laws. The ability of certain states to meet this mandate sometimes decline and a situation arises in which basic functions to wit: exercising sovereignty over a given territory, providing political identity and operating critical institutions of state can no longer be provided hence leading to political crisis that invariably snowball into anarchy.

More recently , the Boko Haram insurgency which remain a Gordian knot for the government, the ethnic crisis in the middle-belt, the Fulani-herdsmen crisis and militancy in the Niger-Delta have all gone to sustain the question of restructuring and send a message across that ours is a nation in dire straits begging for honest and holistic reforms.

But it is the ambivalence however, that has greeted efforts at restructuring in the past that leave much to be desired. It has become a case of knowing the root cause of a problem but lacking the requisite political will and gumption to set the solution in motion, or where it is put in motion, lacking the conviction to implement the recommendations. Perhaps nothing more can evidence this assertion than the series of talk shops which have been organised in the past by successive governments, both military and civilian but whose recommendations continue to gather dust in the archives despite the huge sums spent in convening them.

Most certainly, it is the ambivalence, represented by the discordant tunes among the diverse ethnic nationalities which make up the divide whenever restructuring is the colloquy, that is the albatross and the clog in the wheel. Most often, it is the morbid fear of the consequences that may ensue in the process that drives this ambivalence and fuels the suspicions. The North always do not want to hear it mentioned for some reasons bordering on Economic consequences while the south are always willing to go the pith and hog of it. While the North have always participated in these talk shops, they never hide their sentiments on the limits of the negotiations. And so often come to the dialogue with a narrow bargaining range. As for the minorities, their opinions seldom make it to the front burner and most often a hybrid of the sentiments of the big-three.

But this is where the regions are getting it wrong. Most often, restructuring is understood in the context of balkanisation— the extremes of any restructuring process usually resorted to, when dialogues can no longer travel. They do not situate it along the lines of reformation that’ll re-assign roles and do away with the unnecessary baggage which experience has shown do not perfectly fit into our system.

And so since when Aalhaji Atiku Abubakar resurrected the ghost of restructuring few months ago, a lot of ruckus has been heard in the polity over the much vexed issue. While speaking at the late Gen.Usman Katsina Memorial Conference, with the theme: “The Challenges of National Integration and Survival of Democracy in Nigeria”, the former vice president said,” I suggest we resolve today to support calls for the restructuring of the Nigeria federation in order to strengthen its unity and stabilise its democracy. I believe that restructuring will eventually happen whether we like it or not. The question is whether it’ll happen around a conference table in a direction influenced by us and whether we’ll be an equal partner in the process or will it happen in a more unpredictable arena and in a manner over which we have little influence”.

Last week, Alhaji Waziri Tambuwal , governor of Sokoto state, appear to have stirred the hornet’s nest with comments attributed to him bothering on restructuring wherein he foreclosed the  negotiation of the unity of the country and made calls for fiscal restructuring by advocating for the allocation of more funds to the federating units in the spirit of true federalism. In reaction, Ondo state governor, Olusegun Mimiko , obviously not impressed with the former Speaker’s comments, took him on terms for setting the bounds of restructuring. Elsewhere, the Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere through its publicity secretary, Yinka Odumakin has reacted in vehement opposition to the governor’s modalities for restructuring.

In a statement, the group said, “…it is therefore perfidious for anyone to tell us at this stage that the constituent units of Nigeria should be in their chains inside a suffocating cage with a little more meat added to the slave ration they currently enjoy. The federal government whose land is only the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which contributes nothing to the federation account outside a few grass that roaming cows feed on can no longer sit on top of the destiny of the federating units. We are at a loss as to what unity that the present order has produced that Tambuwal is selling us is non-negotiable. Is it the farmer whose crop is being eaten up by the herdsmen’s cow that is dancing at unity? What unity is there between those being slaughtered for their beliefs and the killers? How united are those being denied of access to their God-given resources and those raping them..?” As we write, nothing has been heard of the Pan-Igbo socio-political organization, Ohaneze Ndigbo. All of these discordant tunes informed by vested interests go to accentuate and bring to fore, the ambivalence and suspicion with which the subject of national restructuring has been received in the polity, to understate the point.

But if we must call a spade a spade, it is only the wilfully ignorant that would oppose calls for overhauling our entire system. We have slept on the job of routine maintenance and rejigging of the engine of state and the consequences have become a monster. What manner of restructuring do we speak of here? That has always been the tricky pony. Permit us to digress a little into corporate law practice to put the options of restructuring in proper perspective. At law, there are two broad categories of restructuring depending on the type of company and the extent of its corporate doldrums. Whereas the Internal options for restructuring like Arrangement and Compromise, Arrangement on Sale and Management Buy Out may not lead to a company losing its form and corporate name, the External options for restructuring to wit: Merger, Acquisition and Take Over may lead to the company balkanised or acquired by another bigger entity, thereby losing its corporate name and identity in the process. At best, it becomes a subsidiary.

From the picture painted above, an Internal Restructuring option is more apposite, less cumbersome to achieve with promises of a win-win situation for the different nations within Nigeria. A proper midwife of an internal restructure would guarantee a placation of the forces that invariably make external restructuring inevitable which in this equation amounts to a secession, or the different tribes taking to their tents like the Israelites under king Reheboam. So what are some of these internal forces within the system occasioning a centrifugal pull, and needing reforms? Those are what beg a no-holds-barred re-consideration without any fear and needing legislative footing to gain traction for them.

Our educational system is in dire straits churning out a generation of unemployable graduates and by extension occasioning educational tourism to more developed countries. Our federalism is jacobian, making sense only in form but not substance. It is almost a unitary system in the garb of federalism. What about our legislature? Must we have a bicameral house, and if yes, are the fortunes of the nation still sufficient to liquidate both? How friendly and accommodating is our business climate? Are there parameters set for wealth creation and distribution? Is the system as currently constituted skewed in favour of the “wallstreet” at the expense of the “Mainstret”? Do we have an active middleclass, and if no, how do we build an efficient middleclass since they are the drivers of any economy.

Is there a blueprint for job creation and employment that runs as a system? And our population has it become staggering against our resources? Should we toy with the idea of putting legislation on birth control? And here comes the elephant in the kitchen: resource control. Do we allow the states to refine their resources and pay back royalty to the centre? Is there an urgent need to increase the percentage on derivation for communities housing critical mineral resources in order to douse intermittent insurrections? What about the local governments and the unending hullabaloo over their independence from the states? Is it still amenable to logic that they should receive their revenues from the states and not directly into their own coffers? And this brings us to the vexed issue over state creation. Is there any justice in the south-east geo-political zone having only five states unlike other geopolitical zones having six?

How do we solve the intractable Fulani herdsmen and sedentary Farmers crisis? Does the solution lie in the legislation on grazing fields across the state or an introduction of compulsory cattle ranching by cattle merchants? What about our land tenure system? How much does it allow for land ownership and grants for rotational cultivation to enable food sufficiency? The current Land Use Act is a military document. The baby of a despotic regime; is it still a veritable legislation of our land tenure 38 years after it became a law?  Our public service; the engine room of any nation is comatose and bureaucratic —clogging the wealth of the nation and only succeeds in recruiting unmotivated staff who feather their nest. Does it not need a holistic revamp?

The foregoing (among other notorious national dilemmas), are the vintage albatross around our neck. And it is either we take the bulls by the horn with them, or we may never get it right. The good news is that much of what have been highlighted, form part of the over 600 recommendations of the most successful national conference in our history, organised by the last administration. The irony however is how it has not been muted by this government; not even in one of President Muhammadu Bbuhari’s Freudian slips. The very poster of ambivalence.

We submit that a holistic consideration of these issues and proper implementation of the consensus lie the solution to our national quagmire; we can only do otherwise to the detriment of both man and country. There is no need of any anxiety, fear or ambivalence over it. Continuous living in denial‘ll only foist a gloomy future on us.

In the final analysis, at the root of national growth and development is social justice, equity and good conscience. The great Sheikh Usman Dan Fodio once said, “A kingdom can endure with unbelief, but it cannot endure with injustice”. Therefore, government must entrench the ideals of justice in every aspect of its functions.  There must be near equality in the representation of the nations within Nigeria in the public offices of the nation in the spirit of the Federal Character principle. And in doing that, merit must not be compromised. A situation where appointments and project siting are lopsided in favour of the part of the country the president comes from cannot augur well for national cohesion in a pluralistic setting like ours. Even that too, needs restructuring.

Enough of the vacillation. We have had enough of the dilly dallying. The next generation is already here and we cannot bequeath our structure as currently constituted to them. This ambivalence must stop. A stitch in time saves nine. Onu’kwube!

AND TWO OTHER THINGS

Ooni of  Ife’s Sallah Gesture

A rare sight unfolded before our eyes the other day during the just concluded Eid Al Kabir celebration. It was a picture widely circulated in both the social and main street media of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi at an Eid prayer ground in Osun state with other Muslim faithful despite being a Christian. It was a rare sight; one that is a lesson in unity the divergence in dogma notwithstanding. The timing was also spot on; coming at a time the nation appear to be polarised along religious and ethnic lines. We commend the gesture of the young and indefatigable monarch and pray that his reign be long in the stool of his forefathers. Commendable!

Intellectual Theft within the Presidency

The “Change Begins with Me” campaign launched a fortnight ago by President Muhammadu Buhari may pass as the most unpopular campaign ever sold to Nigerians in the odd years of our independence. Still convalescing from the vehement and unveiled opposition by Nigerians, the campaign suffered another setback penultimate Friday when news filtered in that what Mr. President read in the 9th of the 16 paragraph address delivered on the 8th of September, 2016 was lifted ippisima verba  from President, Barrack Obama’s victory speech delivered on the 4th of November, 2008. The presidency swiftly reacted to the development; issuing a statement that it was the handiwork of an “overzealous staff” within the presidency who may have been relieved of his services as we write. This must be another huge image crisis for an administration losing its popularity among Nigerians faster than the speed of thought. It is one gaffe too many. A faux pas of alarming proportions which no amount of damage control may take away the odoriferous stench it has unleashed in the polity. Not even all the perfumes of Arabia.Pitiable!

 

The writer, Nkannebe Raymond is a Kano based legal practitioner and a public affairs commentator. Comments and reactions to 08068271477 (Text Message only)

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FirstNation Airways Denies Report Of Folding Up, Says Normal Operation Resumes September 15

FirstNation Airways has denied report that it is on the verge of folding up.

The airlines Head, Corporate Affairs, Mr Rasheed Yusuff stated this in a statement, stressing that it had only taken aircraft for maintenance which is not the same as winding up.

The airline suspended operations barely 24 hours after Aero Contractor suspended its operation over the state of the economy which it said was affecting it.

Yusuff promised its traveling passengers that the airline would return to normal scheduled flight operations by Sept. 15.

According to him, “FirstNation is not on the verge of folding up. In reality, since the airline launched services in 2011, the airline has built a strong followership and has been rated consistently as market leader on safety and schedule integrity.

“This reputation was reinforced by FirstNation’s achievement of International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certification, which is the airline industry global benchmark for world class safety standard in record time of 12 months.”

The statement further stressed that the award of IOSA certification, within 12 months of application by FirstNation remains unrivalled in West and Central Africa.

It noted that this international attestation of FirstNation’s safety and operational standard, was contrary to the false and damaging impression that the media attempted to paint in the publications of Sept. 1.

The statement emphasised that the planned maintenance was orderly arranged with advance notification to passengers.

It stressed that service would be reinstated on or before September 15, 2016.

It said, “We are working to grow the fleet as well. All our aircraft have recently undergone C-Check and returned contrary to the blatant lies contained in the said publication.

“We currently have no aircraft undergoing C-Check anywhere in the world. Our first fleet of A320 were orderly returned to the Lessor and we maintained good relationship with the Lessor.”

The IATA Operational Safety Audit programme is an internationally recognised and accepted evaluation system designed to assess the operational management and control systems of an airline.

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The Crisis Within A Nation That Is In Conflict Of Competition With Itself By Jimi Bickersteth

The gap between the”no crisis,” between a Senate, bitten by the anti corruption bug as they get rough-and-tumble,creating a boiling cauldron, daring the Executive;spoiling for confrontation, and unbecoming in its use of uncouth language, as it  cast aspersions on the person of a minister and by inference, the people and their president.The Yorubas will say “Kí ló kù ,léhìin yíó bà ìyáà e”,-once vanity is raised one should expect the gauntlet to be raised.

Aso rock from the look of things,  appears to smother things,could be a mind game or politics, but going by what our egbon and my boss ,the Hon minister of information said, about”no crisis”,not only draws a wide grin but also multiple thumbs down. The spark, one of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood otherwise, there will be no love lost no love found. But with the zero-tolerance of Aso rock, that is not allowing any inch of space for any flaws at all,the stage appears set for a conflict of resolution.

The nation’s been plodding on through life with blinkers on.The truth and the fact is that the nation is competing against a battalion of buffed-up hunks at its legislative chambers looking good enough to turn the nation upside down;and watching these ‘poor guys’ with their scrawny and punchy figures and oddly distributed body compete for a nation and its president, is clearly out of their league, depth and grasp.

Yet, they expect the Cassius Clay taunts to engender sympathy in the people,most of whom at the risk of sounding rather brut-al are sweating like they’re out there in a Turkish prison. The nation has lined up behind its president. Nigerians want to hawk on the floor at this ‘good’ way to distract Mr president. The mirror is good but too many people have a warped view.

The NASS is overstating its abilities and overselling itself, but should note that Nigerians are experienced and perceptive people, they’re getting bored already and will spot the boasting.  ‘Why can’t the nation see us?” our poor heroes seem to be saying. To which I might respond,’Why can’t you skip amendments for a freaking change. ‘ All of these average Jones become masters of self-delusion :simply because they are reverred honourables,they consider themselves worthy of our affections. In a way,they’re perfect representatives of the Nigerian people and could contribute to society, without threats, threat so condescending and emasculating. You think riding the executive hard is actually more polite than be polite.

Every one of us wants to be considered above average. But we’re not. We are a generation most of whom have escaped the hardships of the military, where they have beat our egos to submission. We are out growing the permissiveness, and the nation is saying to the lawmakers spoiling for immunity clause, that it is one thing to break rules and extant laws because you don’t know any better. Quite another to scoff at regulations of which you are fully aware. Know that you know them, and feel free to break them. If it works, it works. Stylish and smart men never get hung up on a bunch of rules,go defend this thistle.

In between the steaming relationship between the Senate and Aso rock, is a nation who was with them at their lowest and still with them when they were both looking not very lovable, and for this teeming mass of people,it is appearing as if it is better to leave the relationship broken than either side of the divide hurting itself to fix it, and especially now that the fire has gone out of the Senate ,because of the compromise of integrity.

If the nation must rise from the ashes of yesterday’s maladministration,and a nation that could be likened to a bird with iridescent feathers, displaying a spectrum of colours that shimmer and change due to interference and scattering as the participants and stakeholders and observers changes, there must as of necessity be a tug of war, not of  armed struggle or attrition, but one of an alliance forged in the crucible of war and on the table of democracy, ojú bòrò ò gbomo lówó
Èkùró-figuratively,no faint heart wins a fair lady.

The president’s health challenges,{never mind, he has wilfully challenged any of us to a bout of wrestling, and he sounds like he’ll win the contest,} in this season of “Change” has portrayed what the system have made of our institutions, and one hopes that the past state governors, now senators and some in the president’s cabinet, are watching the decay they have bequeathed on the nation, in the failure, neglect and negligence in developing our hospitals and medicare practices and in fact all facets of our national life, psyche and character in revolutionary ways that should have shaped the course of health sciences, corporeal needs and health care delivery right down to the next generation.

Whether the president’s ailments necessitates that extensive treatment or was it borne out of sheer force of habit and simply a gold standard, as we ship our leaders  abroad and turned them to medical tourists, to receive “quality” medical care, often at a fraction of the price they would have to pay at home and what their conditions of service stipulates is a matter of conjecture and commentary for another day.

But back to the present. When the people voted”Change,”the big call is for PMB to turn all the past, with its sad hours,weakness, stupidity and shallowness of thought, its wasted opportunities as light in confidence and hope upon the future. To turn it all in fuller truth and light, light literally and figuratively, so as to make each trifle of this present a new past;it will be joy to look back to;each trifle a grander, nobler and more perfect preparation for the future.
The president should uncommons the house, even as he assumes more air of authority, {notice the difference between that and dictatorship, }if he wants to get anything done. It’s far better, if he takes the initiative,be circumspect and take full responsibility for his outlook. This will put him in control and will empower him to do something,even as he continues to work to display humility, insight, patience, it’s worth it. As he inspires the people and make them passionate about fulfilling dreams.

Although so far so good PMB is reacting to the numerous crisis with characteristic sang-froid, that has enabled him simmer and calm the heat in the polity, and complementary therapies to the damage control ,conflict and crisis management maturity of the information minister,even as he for all its worth confirms that there is no crisis. The present and the future we can make from it, is ours, the past has gone back,with all its messages, all its records to the people who loaned you this golden moments.

PMB should note that happiness is the greatest paradox in nature, it can grow in any soil, live under any conditions, it defies environment. Happiness may coexist with poverty, suffering and sorrow, and consists not  of having but of being,not of possessing, but of enjoying. Of the people enjoying the fruits of their labour and eating of the good,the goodness and food of the land.

But what we have today because of the state of hopeless helplessness, is contented spirit masquerading as a greatly overrated virtue. It is a kind of diluted despair;it is the feeling with which the nation continues to accept substitute,without striving for the realities of the great circuses all around us;making trained individuals swallow vinegar and try to smack lips as if it were wine. A mental and moral chloroform that deaden the activities of the individuals to rise to higher planes of life and growth-a death knell to the people’s peace,progress and wellbeing.

The Nigeria nation confronted with the daemons of statehood and the dilemma of federalism, should no more be contented with anything less than the best efforts of its leaders can possibly secure for it. The nation could only be contented with each step of progress under PMB merely as a station, discontented with it as a destination. The nation should merely be contented with what he has,but never with what we are .

The ability to change is critical to success, however, change really does worry people, as things tend to go bad before they get better. There was a survey of 1999 people where their greatest fear was not death{that came about 5th on the list}, but change. Change is the most frightening word in the English language for most people. The key is for government to through an agency or directorate of change with the mandate to redirect the fear of change into a new adventure,

The tension gripping all of our ‘polithievecians,’ ‘legislatheives’ and ‘executhieves’ on account of the change regimen is understandable,in this power must change hand era. They are bound to loose their hold on power. There is the power of change-change brings power with it . Change is the lesson of our age, and we have to learn to anticipate change either as leaders or the led or from the position of disadvantage or advantage and move with it.

Although certain core values certainly do not change;gravity says what goes up must come down. However, the wind is constantly moving and changing without which Man cannot live. The same with the sea, with its tides and currents, so the birds, animals and fish all adapt to suit. The creative intelligence has designed the phenomenon change as the only thing that is permanent in nature, it was not PMB or APC.

But the NASS and PMB do not need to change the world to improve our lives, wasted efforts that would be. If only they will improve on living conditions, good health care system, good housing scheme, qualitative education producing employable graduates and entrepreneurs. Improve agricultural policies that would lead to increase and improved yields in food production,the people would be better off and so would the nation.

The people have heard and seen enough and suffered from the surfeit of classical ‘May Your Roads Be Rough,’that they desire leaders who are sufficiently motivated themselves to be able to turn problems into possibilities. This tough times can teach us to grow,to learn and to overcome overwhelming odds and to get back on the path to progress.

On this score, it has become imperative to recover all the loots and filthy lucre at home, be it in soakaway, abandoned landed property or and abroad. There is no victory at bargain prices,leaders are just to learn that apart from being firm,  strong and thorough,they need to further deepen their appreciation of their responsiveness to enhance their performance.

The nation and PMB in particular should not be disillusioned nor despair, with all the goings on . Timbers that are firm do not warp, literally in yoruba ,”Ako igi ò gbodò soje” ,twist or pull apart under pressure,the strength of timber lies in a tightly woven grain. The frigid winds of those perpetrators of illegality and faux pas and looters and padding, may at times whip up choppy waves and distraction.;it is the duty of the government to garner people into the mode that the road to success is always under construction, even as they demolished the augean stable of graft, fleece and corruption.

It would enable the people to change from a life and feeling of misguided action they have been subjected to as violent storms release their fury on sailors traversing the sea to one of purpose and hope. This being the case, intelligence, honesty and transparency should continue to be the leaders oars and centrepiece of their purview, as they attempt to minimise the sad countenance, tension and oppression of most vulnerable. A nation can only be blessed only if its leaders treat the lowly and the poor with kindness and consideration;ever wondered how the USA, UK, France and Germany lately Japan and Korea and China remains blessed even with their colossal investment in capital expenditures and monumental debts. #
Jimi Bickersteth
Jimi Bickersteth is a super blogger and writer.
He can be reached on Twitter
@bickerstethjimi
@alabaemanuel

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(Friday Sermon) Let’s Join Hands Together To Salvage Our Nation By Imam Murtada Gusau

All Praises are due to Allah, We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we seek His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of ourselves and from our evil deeds. Whomever Allah guides there is none who can misguide him, and whomever Allah misguides there is none who can guide him.  I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone without any partners, and I testify that Muhammad (SAW) is Allah’s slave and Messenger.

“O you who have believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and do not die except in a state of Islam (i.e. as Muslims), with complete submission to Allah.” (Ali Imran, 3:102)

“O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve) and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through whom you demand your mutual rights, and do not cut off the relations of the wombs (Kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever and All-Watcher over you.” (An-Nisaa, 4:1)

“O you who have believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and always speak the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed achieved a great achievement (saved from the Hell Fire and enter Paradise).” (Ahzaab, 33:70-71)

As to what proceeds: Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW). The worst of affairs are the newly invented affairs in the religion and every newly invented affair in the religion is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the Hell Fire. As to what proceed:

Servants of Allah!

Our beloved Master Muhammad (Pbuh) said: “The example of the person abiding by Allah’s order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example of those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the other in the lower. When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water and that troubled the others). So they said, Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving those who are above us from troubling them. So, if the people in the upper part left the others do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe.”

My respected people!

This is a great prophetic teaching, which contains a concrete example and comparison inciting no disagreement amongst sensible people. It highlights the most beautiful meanings and lessons. In it, the Prophet compares the society with the sailing vessel, which everyone should protect amidst the realm of life so that individuals can live happily, in peace, prosperity, love, unity, progress and respect. People are invited therefore, to work together to achieve mutual interests and ward off various evils.

This sums up principles of solidarity and mutual counseling and strengthens the responsibility of keeping the community safe and stable. Because the ship is one, if it survives so will those on board. If it is hurt, those on board will be hurt too. So everyone is responsible for its safety and has a role to ensure its advancement and welfare. For example, the older should care for the younger, while the younger should treat the elder nicely. Allah the Almighty says:

“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another.” (Attawba: 71)

That is, their hearts are united in mutual affection, love and compassion.

Our beloved Prophet (Pbuh) also said:

“The similitude of believers in regard to mutual loves, affection, and fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.”

It was said that people are like one body; as they help each other, it emerges to be independent, but if they let each other down, it falls apart.

Brothers and Sisters!

This Hadith also highlights the sensibly disciplined freedom, which does not harm the individual, the society and the nation as a whole. In fact, as we can see, the Prophet (Pbuh) condemned those who were in the lower part of the vessel as they had intended to pierce a hole to make an easy way up. Had they done this, they could have hurt not only themselves, but also others. That is why he (Pbuh) warned us strongly to avoid similar acts when he said:

“If anyone harms (others), Allah will harm him, and if anyone shows hostility to others, Allah will show hostility to him.”

This means whoever harms someone unjustly whether taking to his property, person or integrity; Allah will likewise treat him and cause him distress. Indeed the best people are those who are good to others and the dearest to Allah are those who are most beneficial to each other.

Please know that Allah the Exalted is He denounce people who cause harm to their society and country as He says:

They destroyed their houses by their (own) hands.” (Al Hashr: 2)

This Aya (Qur’anic verse) refers to the heinous act of individuals damaging their own homes, and their own country. For this reason, they are vilified by Allah because they breach trust and seek the destruction of achievements. He the Most High says in this regard:

And do not be like she who untwisted her spun thread after it was strong.” (An nahl: 92)

This is a Divine lesson to show the ill-doing of persons who break the covenant and destroy what they, themselves, have accomplished. Thus they are like the one who spins her thread, and then she unties it into scattered pieces, of no use to her. It is worthwhile mentioning here that the whole society is a trust shared by all and, as such, it ought to be protected.

Benefits in the Hadith also include avoiding evil and overcoming causes of strife before they happen. This can be achieved by educating the ignorant, advising the heedless, teaching the youth and sanctioning the imprudent. Such principles are adopted by the wise people, who believe in prevention being better than the cure.

On this matter, the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) said:

“Some people open the door to good and close the door to evil, and some people open the door to evil and close the door to good. Congratulations to those in whose hands Allah places the keys to good, and woe to those in whose hands Allah places the keys to evil.”

Dear Servants of Allah!

Muslims are asked to observe their Lord in their speech and all of their behaviours. They must say but truth and do but good, because they are responsible for their acts. The Almighty says:

“And do good that you may succeed.” (Al Haj: 77)

Bearing this in mind, we supplicate to Allah to protect Nigeria from all evils and perpetuate its Union. May Allah help us to follow the right path and help us also to obey You, Your Messenger Muhammad (Pbuh) and those You have decreed on us to obey Your orders:

“O you who have believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charge with authority among you.” (An nisaa: 59)

O Servants of Allah!

Please be aware that you are asked to obey Him, the Almighty, as it ought to be by observing Him in private and in public and know that Nigeria is a large ship that has set an example of best achievements and giving, a solid edifice and a unified nation under its wise leadership. As we all see, many ships around us endure hard times, ours, by Allah’s grace, has remained infallible. Therefore, never should we allow an enemy, a criminal, a corrupt, an envious or a wrong Government’s policies to hurt our fortified vessel as they have failed to do that from outside. So let us be also its guards from inside.

The happier is the one who learns from others’ experiences, acknowledges the merit of Allah’s blessing on him, remains grateful to Him, to his homeland and leaders and be considerate to his society. Thus he is on the path of the Prophets and Messengers. The Prophet Suleiman (Solomon) was quoted in Qur’an as saying:

“My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to do righteousness of which You approve. And admit me by Your mercy into (the ranks of) Your righteous servants.” (An naml: 19)

My fellow Nigerians!

Let’s come together and salvage the country. Let’s learn how to co-exist peacefully with each other. Let’s learn how to tolerate and mutually respect each other. We don’t have country other than Nigeria. We don’t have anywhere to go apart from Nigeria. Let’s respect it so that we have everlasting peace, unity and progress. Let’s stop attacking our nation. Let’s talk, let’s dialogue and let’s not destroy the good image and the good reputation of our dear country. Let’s not destroy the achievements of our respected forefathers.

O Muslims, bear in mind that you are asked to offer prayer and greetings upon our most noble Prophet (Pbuh) for Allah say:

“Indeed, Allah and His angels send blessings upon the Prophet. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.” (Al Ahzab: 56)

On the same matter, the Prophet (Pbuh) said:

“For everyone who invokes a blessing on me will receive ten blessings from Allah.”

He also said:

“Nothing turns back the Decree except supplication.”

May the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon our beloved Master Muhammad (Pbuh), his family and all his Companions. May Allah grant us always His blessings and make us amongst His servants who protect their nation and are keen to strive for its safety and advancement. May Allah also make us keys to good deeds and barriers against evils, O Allah, the Most Exalted.

O Allah, we implore You at this instant not to let a sin unforgiving, a distress unrelieved, an illness unhealed or a handicapped without relief, a dead without mercy or a debt unsettled. Our Lord gives us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the fire.

May Allah be pleased with the Rightly Guided Caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali, and all of the Companions.

O Allah, may we ask You to help us with what gets us closer to Paradise and furthers us from hell. O Allah we seek Your grace to admit us, our parents, whoever has done a favour to us and all Muslims to Your Paradise.

O Allah, forgives all of the Muslims, men and women, living and dead, and makes blessings follow us and them. May Allah have mercy on our leaders, grant success and continued good health to them, and provide strength and assistance to them. O Lord, forgive and show mercy to our parents, relatives and whoever has done a favour to us.

May Allah have mercy upon our righteous martyrs and raises their status in the highest ranks of Paradise to reside amongst those upon whom Allah has bestowed favour, of the Prophets and the steadfast affirmers of truth, O the Almighty, O the most forgiver.

O Allah, we pray to You to grant your forgiveness to the one who built this Mosque and to his parents as well as to anyone who contribute to the progress and development of this Mosque, and anybody who is also contributing to the progress and development of Islam anywhere he may be. O Allah, we also supplicate to You to forgive whoever built a Mosque where your name is remembered.

O Allah, make this our gathering one of compassion, and our dispersion after it one that is infallible. O Allah, do not let anyone amongst us deprived, desperate or unhappy.

We pray to Allah, the Most Gracious, to preserve and protect Nigeria, Nigerians and Islam in general from all temptations, both apparent and hidden, and continue blessing Nigeria and all Muslim countries with safety and security.

“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” (An nahl: 90)

O Servants of Allah!

Remember Allah and He will remember you. Be grateful for His benevolence, He will increase His blessing to you. Allah, the Most High, says:

“And establish prayer. Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.” (Al Ankabuut: 45)

 

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Ramadan 12, 1437 AH (June 17, 2016), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Central Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosque, Okene Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: +234 803 828 9761.

 

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“Workers Are The Lifeblood Of Every Nation” – @SpeakerDogara

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has assured Nigerian workers of the commitment of the House to workers’ welfare. In a statement issued by his spokesman, Mr. Turaki Hassan, Dogara, maintained that improvement in the condition of workers is critical to the change agenda of the present administration.

“The International Workers’ Day was borne out of the struggle for improved workers’ rights and better working conditions”, he said.

Speaking further, the Speaker drew attention to the ongoing review of obsolete and outdated laws by the House, many of which he said “would, when amended, make life easier for people who engage in productive activities across the country.”

“Workers are the lifeblood of every nation and a well trained and motivated workforce is vital to our goal of a vibrant, strong, productive and efficient economy. A modern, knowledgeable  and effective workforce is at the heart of the legislative agenda of the 8th House of Representatives “

“Today, we honour those silent heroes who brave tough conditions to deliver their best; from our teachers to our doctors to our civil servants, to our farmers, to our self employed youths and women, who eke out a living  despite harsh economic conditions. For their sake, we shall do all in our power and employ the necessary legislative tools to make a difference in their lives.”

Dogara also spoke about unemployment, saying that: “Unemployment remains one of greatest threats to both our security and progress. It is said that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. We hope that the 2016 Budget will be faithfully implemented to kickstart the process of national renewal, and we will ensure that quality job creation is at the centre of any government contracts and international agreements. We must invest in the training and retraining of our workers to be the best and to have the necessary tools to compete anywhere in the world.”

The Speaker congratulated the Nigerian Labour Congress and other Labour Unions and labour leaders for their sacrifices, maturity, partnership and understanding they have exhibited in the conduct of Labour relations in Nigeria and wished them happy labour day celebrations.

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Easter Message To The Nation From President Muhammadu Buhari

Fellow Nigerians,

I rejoice with you all, especially our Christian brothers and sisters, as we celebrate Easter.

For Christians all over the world, this celebration is in commemoration of the supreme sacrifice which Jesus Christ made for the salvation of mankind.

The Gospels also tell us that during his earthly ministry, Jesus Christ repeatedly urged his disciples and followers to “love one another as I have loved you”.

As we celebrate Easter this year, I sincerely believe that it will serve our dear nation very well if we all imbibe this essential message of Jesus Christ and truly learn to love our countrymen and women as we love ourselves.

Indeed, we will surely make faster progress towards the achievement of the peaceful, united, strong, progressive and prosperous country we all desire if, as a nation, we eschew all divisive, parochial, ethnic and religious sentiments and rivalries, and begin to live more harmoniously with our compatriots, as Jesus Christ and the founders of the world’s other great religions enjoined mankind.

Our unfortunate notoriety in recent years as a country where the blood of men, women and children are wantonly and callously shed in frequent orgies of criminal, political, ethnic and religious violence has become very embarrassing and utterly unacceptable.

My administration is determined to achieve greater peace and security across our nation by ending the avoidable conflicts and crises that hinder our national progress.

I ask for greater support from all Nigerians in this regard. We must put a stop to politically motivated killings. Our communities must be made safe again for all inhabitants to live together in peace and harmony.

Our armed forces, police and other security agencies are being progressively reformed, repositioned and empowered to win the war against terrorism and make mass killings, abductions and other criminal atrocities things of the past in our beloved country.

Let us all also play our parts as patriotic citizens and do all that we can to ensure that we make Nigeria a safer, more peaceful and happier place for its people and others.

Faith, belief and the fulfilment of expectations are also key themes of the Easter celebration. I urge you all therefore, to continue to have faith in the future greatness of our country and to believe that the CHANGE my administration promised will surely come to fruition.

That CHANGE, which we all yearn for, will certainly occur more rapidly if we all place the love of our country above selfish personal and group interests.

The National Assembly has just passed the 2016 budget. I assure all Nigerians that we will do our utmost best to ensure that the budget, the first since my election as President, is efficiently and successfully implemented towards achieving our objective of faster economic growth and development.

I thank the vast majority of Nigerians for their patience and understanding in the first ten months of this administration.

As we go forward, I assure you all that we are working very hard to overcome the challenges we encountered on assumption of office.

We are moving on with an unshaken resolve and determination to deliver on the mandate you gave us on March 28, last year.

I wish you all very happy Easter celebrations.

 

Muhammadu Buhari

March 26, 2016

 

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Nation Building, National Identity: What Nigeria Needs To Do? By Shomoye Abiodun

Research towards nation building shows that nation building theory was primarily used to describe the processes of national integration and consolidation that led up to the establishment of the modern nation-state-as distinct from various form of traditional states, such as feudal and dynastic states, church states, empires, etc. “Nation-building” is an architectural metaphor which, strictly speaking, implies the existence of consciously acting agents such as architects, engineers, carpenters, and the like. However, as used by political scientists, the term covers not only conscious strategies initiated by state leaders but also unplanned societal change. The concept of “nation-building” became for political science what “industrialization” was to social economy: an indispensable tool for detecting, describing and analyzing the macro historical and sociological dynamics that have produced the modern state.

The traditional, pre-modern state was made up of isolated communities characterized by an unsophiscated focus on local concern to the exclusion of wider context at the “bottom” of society and a distant, and aloof, state structure at “the top,” largely content with collecting taxes and keeping order. The acts and mode of tax collection was a department under any monarch within the jurisdiction, most times the taxes are in farm input form and not necessarily in cash. Through nation building these two spheres were brought into more intimate contact with each other. Members of the local communities were drawn upwards into the larger society through education and political participation, Nigeria’s case can be traced back to the amalgamation process, the successful amalgamation saw the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa bundled together to make a single but much bigger nation. The state authorities, in turn, expanded their demands and obligations towards the members of society by offering a wide array of services and integrative social networks. The subjects of the monarch were gradually and imperceptibly turned into citizens of the nation state, they were stylishly debased of their powers and functions, rendered to an “unproductive” house arrest, and they were integrated into the government’s payroll. Substate cultures and loyalties either vanished or lost their political importance, superseded by loyalties toward the larger entity, the state.

Nation building in Nigeria’s context can be categorized into four phases, these phases are sequential, Nigeria has already surmounted the first three phases, though they are still subject of further assessment.

The first phase resulted in economic and cultural unification at elite level. The second phase brought over larger sectors of the masses into the system through conscription into the army, enrollment in compulsory schools, etc. The developing mass media created channels for direct contact between the central elites and periphery populations and generated widespread feelings of identity with the political system at large. In the third phase, the subject masses were brought into active participation in the workings of the territorial political system, nothing best explain this other than the 2015 general election.

In the last stage the administrative apparatus of the state ought to be expanded. Public welfare services should be established and nation-wide policies for the equalization of economic conditions should be designed.

A nation aiming to achieve the last phase of nation building needs to tackle some conventional limitations. As a nation, Nigeria can be said to be a typical example of a country with endowed atmosphere for the survival of hatred, corruption, nepotism among the citizenry. Though, all these retrogressive factors are subjected to gradual depletion from the society, if an only if the elites of the society are ready to embrace the evolutional move. The reverse is the case in our own clime, rather than ending hatred, the politically influential people have seen hatred as a tool to achieve their selfish interests.

The need for national identity in the process of nation building cannot be under estimated. What is then national Identity? National identity describes those common denominators and bonds of unity that bring a number of people together. It is fallacious to expect a lasting unified nation if national flag or the national image is merely a description of a selected region within a nation, who won be an ineffectual minority “in Nigeria’s pidgin parlance?

The need for national identity becomes important and an unavoidable penchant in view of the heterogenous nature of the country, having over 200 different ethnic groups that shares little or no cultural values. The love for local identity has in fact surpassed the needed love for national identity. Without any form of over emphasizing, there is a horrible conflict of superiority between local identity and national identity. The facts that local identity is currently winning the conflict has resulted into survival of unhealthy ethnic rivalry, inter and intra-communal feuds, religious antagonism, little inter-ethnic marriage and other terrible order of the day.

How then do we solve the recalcitrant challenge at our forehead before the avoidable becomes unavoidable? 

In order to promote and preserve national identity, certain fundamental issues have to be addressed objectively and with fairness. These includes the inane majority/minority ethnic group, national reconcillation and devolution of power within the three tier system of government and the total overhauling of the Nation Youth Service Corp Scheme whose glory has been over exhausted. Why keep revenue allocation formula if you want to cultivate national identity and make it super to local identity? The appalling and discriminatory revenue allocation formula should be smashed away from existence.

The important role education will also play in making achievement of national identity a reality cannot be undermined. It is indisputable that sentiment is generated and inculcated easily in the informal environment. Functional formal education which teaches history of people, civic education, constitution and the objectives and aspiration of Nigeria as a country should form an integral part of the academic curriculum.

By and large, evolving national identity and preserving same is not a rocket science and by no means a difficult task. It is a task that involves the leaders and followers alike in an atmosphere of healthy political competition and promising economy premised on sound ideological and philosophical frameworks. Eliminating “quota”, “national spread”, “catchment area”, “state of origin”, “LGA of origin” and so on should be done without any argument against it. I hope these factors could be seen worthy of consideration anytime soon by appropriate authorities, God bless Nigeria.

Shomoye Abiodun

Twitter: @MrShomoye

 

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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Ese Oruru, Yinusa Dahiru And The Tragedy Of A Divided Nation? By Ogundana Michael Rotimi

We may not have been together if not for the 1914 amalgamation. But since the artificial wedding took place over a century ago, it is quite surprising how and why we remain divided in the face of various integration plans and programs to keep us united.

Few weeks ago when the Ese Oruru saga broke out, it again showed to the world how divided a nation amalgamated over a hundred years ago is. The Ese Oruru saga, prove once again that we have only been struggling to live in harmony with one another and always looking for the slightest opportunity to go against each other.

Worse as our division is, we are not only divided along regional or ethnical line, but we are so divided along numerous lines and that only calls for concerns for a nation dreaming of development and prosperity. One wonders how we have managed to stay together as a nation in the midst of these divisions all these years.

The Ese Oruru saga was a crime committed by one man, but instead for the culprits to be condemned and cautioned, the criticism and blame came on his region, his religion and his people. A fallacy that was borne out of bigotry and hate.

While a few people directly condemned the criminal act committed by one Mr. Yinusa Dahiru, who is alleged to have abducted Ese, forcefully converted her to Islam, possibly hypnotized her and assaulted her sexually, a huge number of people took advantage of Mr. Yinusa`s action and descended mercilessly on his region and religion. Hence, the northern region came under attack alongside the Islamic religion.

It is my belief that no religion supports violence. People are violent but hide under the guise of one form of religion, region or the others to justify their criminality. But a nation divided along these lines will not consider it that way. It will rather take advantage of the act and attack the whole region or religion involved.

A country that is so desirous of making any form of progress in this tough and competiveness world cannot stay divided and expect any form of progress. The point is; a divided nation will continue to grasp for development and prosperity in the face of abundant opportunities.

We cannot as a nation hope to achieve the founding dreams and aspirations of our founding fathers while we stay divided. Not possible! If we must achieve greatness, we can only achieve it together.

Change comes with numerous responsibility- one of which is to be united. No divided nation has attained that which they wish and dream of.
Either child marriage, abduction, baby factories, rituals, vandalism and the likes, a crime is a crime- we must stay united to condemn it outrightly without tagging any region or religion.

There is no justification for doing the wrong thing and perpetrating evil. Evil is evil. It has no other name but evil. People choose to do evil and sort for justification for it. Those who do evil should be seen as evil and not their religion or region.

Men will always want to justify is criminality, but it does not make evil less evil. Don`t conform to that! If evil is perpetrated by someone in the North/South/Middle-Belt by Christian/Muslim/Pagan, condemn it. Evil has no religion or region!

You can not condemn the whole north or a particular religion because of Ese saga and other related crimes. Likewise can you not condemn the whole south or a particular religion for baby factories, vandalism, and other related evils.
When you condemn a crime, do not do it with an intention to sway a religion/region- that also is evil. Just condemn it outrightly!

If one from or not from your religion or region derives pleasure in crime, condemn it. Not his/her religion or region. If we unanimously condemn evil irrespective of who is involved and not tag it, in no time far from now, we would have a saner society. But if those in the North/South/Middle-Belt, Christian/Muslim/Pagan keep defending the evil perpetrated by one of their own, we would continue to live in a society where evil works and reigns. At the end, when evil reigns, the people suffer!

Division will take us nowhere. Saner countries in the world do find a common ground that keeps them united in spite of their difference. Nigeria can do the same.

Divided we are vulnerable but united we are unstoppable!

God Bless Nigeria.

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

Editor: Opinions expressed on this article are th?ose of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Abusidiqu.com or its associates.

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Shame Of A Nation: Celebrating Agege Bread Over 5.0 CGP Academic Record: The Olajumoke And Dada Story, By Fejiro Oliver

“Some people insist that ‘mediocre’ is better than ‘best.’ They delight in clipping wings because they themselves can’t fly. They despise brains because they have none.”-  Robert A. Heinlein

Until the news of Ese Oruru ‘abduction’ came into the cyberspace, the nation especially the Facebooking and Tweeting activist children were falling over themselves on who can make the most motivational post and tweet concerning Olajumoke Orisaguna, the Agege Bread seller turned celebrity overnight, courtesy of her photobombing a photo session by celebrated photographer and songstress, TY Bello.

Olajumoke story typifies the fairy tale story of sudden grass to grace, an amazing Cinderella fiction that was happening before our very eyes. No matter how critics tried to dismiss it as a planned work by TY Bello, many of us refused to believe them. We called them envious children of Lucifer who see nothing good in sudden success of people. To us, they wanted to spoil the fun of our posts and pour sand into Olajumoke garri.

Just type ‘Agege’ on the search engine and the name of Olajumoke spring up. That is how popular she has become. As we speak, many brands including a bank that will not even employ her while she was in the street has made her their brand, with many others following suit. Success is truly a friend of everyone.

Few weeks later, a more brilliant news hit the social media, but no one really cared. The news was such that a record that may never be matched in a century was made and the only word Nigerians could mutter was “congrats”, and they moved on. Yes, Ayodele Dada, a student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) did not only emerge as the best graduating student of the school but came out with 5.0 cumulative grade, a record never set in the history of Nigerian tertiary institution.

Rather than celebrate this national genius and talent, we have become ethnic with it calling on the governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose to come to his aid, since he hails from there. What manner of people are we? Did Dada tell us that he is in need of aid or help? We are the one in need of help and aid. We are the one that needs Dada and not him needing us. We are the one that needs his raw intelligence to help us move forward as a country, not him begging us to come to his aid.

Are we truly a cursed nation that celebrates mediocrity above merit and hard work? For heaven sake, Olajumoke never worked hard to get brands falling over her. Olajumoke never did anything that is worth honor. Olajumoke never gave us motivation to strive harder, even though most of us have tried to create motivations out of her, an act I am also guilty of. She cannot pass as a role model for anyone, yet Stanbic IBTC bank begged her to be their face. What an irony of misplaced priority.

Let no one say or insinuate that I am hating Olajumoke here, for I don’t. Anyone in doubt should visit Fejiro Oliver Facebook timeline and see where I invented reasons why Olajumoke should be celebrated and encouraged. This is beyond emotional sentiments, but retracing our values as a nation and a people.

We do not even need to campaign before Dada is given his place of pride in the nation, for what we could not do, he has done it. Wait, he didn’t achieve it in splendor but worked his way towards it by doing menial jobs and selling to see himself through school. Now that is what is called Excellence, not some lucky chap who was fortunate by photobombing and turned a model. Dada is our national symbol that even in the midst of pains and anguish we face, we have people who preserve and are resilience in whatever they do. Dada is our national conscience that despite that bad education we are face with; there is hope and light at the end of the tunnel, if only we ignore everything facing us and focus on the task at hand.

Agreed that MTN has done something, but that is a lazy and non idealistic way of celebrating such academic excellence. What is a personalize phone number, latest Samsung Phone and airtime for 2016, that Dada cannot afford. As I write, he is about to be evicted from his house, and if tomorrow he decides to travel abroad where his brain will be appreciated, we will have to pay million to invite him just to be a consultants. We will be the one crying brain drain when we do not celebrate our very best.

The young man should be celebrated not just by brands but the nation. This is where serious products who truly know what excellence means should invest in and not into bread and butter. I expected  big multinational companies to begin to bid and fall over themselves just to grab the young chap, and come out with creative adverts like “…BECAUSE WE CARE ABOUT YOU, WE PICK THE BEST”, “ONLY THE BEST IS GOOD FOR YOU…”, “…THE TOP OR NOTHING” etc. I can bet that in less than a week of any company doing such, they will see the result never seen in one year. I can stake my Secret Reporters News brand name that in less than a month of getting Dada into their company and making him the face of their products, they would recoup all the millions and more spent in getting him on board.

But who will do this? They will rather go for a reality show where girls go naked, have wild sex with some unknown guys from another country. They will prefer to go for those who will sing for few years and fade away, jettisoning academic brilliance that will be passed from generation to generation. How shortsighted are we as a nation.

If this was a sane country where normal people live, we do not need a prompting, hashtags or write ups to celebrate Dada. In a country where they think of the future, Dada will not be the one telling us that five firms are after him; rather firms will be the ones holding press briefings on how they have snatched away the genius from other bidders. Wise politicians who know what they are doing ought to have seen this as a venture to encourage education, citing Dada as a reference point and even make him their brand for academic scholarship.

For us in Secret Reporters News, we have agreed to make Dada our face. Whoever has his contact should contact us, so we can do the needful. Celebrating Dada is beyond Ekiti State. He is the hope of the future and to celebrate him we must. Let the challenge begin.

These little things matter…

Fejiro Oliver is Editor In Chief of Secret Reporters News, Investigative Journalist, Media Consultant and Rights Activist can be reached on +2348022050733 (SMS ONLY) or secretsreporters@gmail.com. Engage him on twitter on @fejirooliver86.

 

 

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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The Youth Group for the Nation: A Brief History of the APYF By Alwan Hassan

Fresh-off the boat from the 2011 General Elections, it all started as a joke. A young political novice by the name of Ismaeel Ahmed, joined forces with two young men in Kano to start an organisation whose sole aim was to re-orient Northern Youths politically — in preparation for the 2015 elections. This organisation was called Rindinan Changi, and its key members were Ismaeel Ahmed – the eloquent and charismatic Barrister, Salihu Tanko Yakassai – a spirited man of the pen, and Nasir Adhama – the energetic organiser who would later become President Buhari’s Special Adviser on Youth and Students.

As I said, they were fresh off the boat from the Congress for Progress Change’s (CPC) electoral defeat of 2011, yet, these young men started planning ahead against 2015 in order to ensure that we – as Nigerians – got it right the next time.

In this regard, in 2012, Ismaeel Ahmed, paid a visit to Buhari to tell him about their newly-constituted pressure group. However, having seen that a national spread was necessary to wrestle power from the centre, Buhari advised the young man to make their group a “Youth Group for the Nation” – informing them that there would soon be a political merger.

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On hearing this, Barrister Ahmed set out to Abuja to begin the work of recruiting and convincing young people that were disgruntled with the inept political and governance status quo. In Abuja, he gathered a group of young men – some of whom he knew, some of whom he was introduced to – and they sat in a room for hours debating what the merger would mean for Nigeria, wondering what role they would be given to play as young people in the merger, and discussing what the objectives of this “Youth Group for the Nation” would be.

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The Ten young men in the room on that day were: Ismaeel Ahmed, Abubakar A. Jibrin. Aj – the cerebral economic analyst; Barrister Oscar Obi – who would later become the Senate President’s Special Assistant on Youth; Mohammed Edota – who was deliberate and meticulous in all things; Barrister Aliyu – the boisterous lawyer; Auwal Musa, Abu Sadiq, our first media guy and our best among our bloggers, Aminu Datti, Aminu Baba Ahmed who introduced Ismaeel to me, and myself, Alwan Hassan.

At the end of the meeting, in a tiny office in a oft-overlooked garden in Garki 2, Abuja, the young men in the room agreed that the sole prerogative of the “Youth Group for the Nation” would be to “Take Part to Take Charge.” They also agreed on one more thing, to name the group: The All Progressive Youth Forum, otherwise known as ‘APYF.’

At this point, with many months to spare before February 2015 – when Nigerians were scheduled to go to the polls – and with a team to coordinate the efforts of the APYF back in Abuja, Barrister Ismaeel went wild. ‘Wild’ in and of itself might be an understatement when put in the proper context, but I will try to paint a picture. You see, the All Progressives Congress (APC), was registered in February 2013 after much wrangling amongst the constituting actors – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the CPC, and the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). However, by January 2013, the APYF already had 6 Zonal Coordinators, 20 State Coordinators and over 500 members.

By April 2013, when the APC was still in the process of finding its rhythm, the APYF already had 25 State Coordinators and thousands of members cut across the various parties that came together to form the APC.

The election season started sometime in late 2013, when political powerhouses from other parties started reading the talisman’s on the walls and decided to pitch their tents with the APC. At this time, individuals like Rinsola Abiola – who would later go on to serve as the Special Assistant on New Media to the Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara – became the National Public Relations Officer of the Forum. Others like Ife Adebayor and Mohammed Brimah – now Special Assistants to the Vice-President – worked on coordinating the activities of the forum in the South West, while Salihu Tanko Yakassai became the North west Zonal cordinator, and a member of the National Working Committee of the Forum.

Others like Olu Onemola, the content developer of the forum also came on board. Olu would go on to succeed Rinsola Abiola as the National PRO of the Forum, and be appointed as a Senior Legislative Aide to the Senate President after the National Assembly inauguration. Bashir Ahmed, who was recently appointed as the Personal Assistant to President Buhari, Fatima Kakuri, the Special Assistant on Gender to the Senate President and Barrister Myani Bukar, the Special Assistant on Legal Matters to the Vice-President bolstered the ranks of the forum, and augmented the efforts to give the youth a platform to air their views, debate their perspectives, and work towards a common goal at the National level.

Fully understanding that inserting pressure at the centre was insufficient to actualise positive Change, at the state level, as the National Field Director, myself and Barrister Ismaeel, who was now the Chairman of the Forum, worked on empowering our State Chapters to not only contribute to the national objectives of the party, but to re-orient young participants in the electoral process to vote with their hearts and not based on the pocket-change they were given by political actors prior to the balloting process.

At this point, the rest is history. What started out as a mandate given to one young man by the then-General Muhammadu Buhari, has evolved into a progressive pressure group with hundreds of thousands of members in basically every local government area of the Federation, Commissioners in countless states, and active policy and decision-makers in key Ministries, the Presidency, and the National Assembly.

Although we have come a long way – taking part in the political process, in order to take charge of it someday – we still have an even longer way to go. Ask any of us and we will all tell you the same thing: “We are just getting started.”

-Alwan Hassan is the National Field Director of the APYF. 

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Broke Parties: A Step Closer To The Nation Of Our Dreams, By Umar Hassan

The PDP no longer boasts a fearsome financial war chest and the APC is broke.The APC chairman himself remarked on the current financial state of his party last week.If you dream of a Nigeria where only the most worthy would occupy political offices, then you would understand why this is good news.
Money has deprived us of a lot of credible leaders.A lot of them bamboozled at various stages of seeking electoral office much to our detriment.Perhaps we wouldn’t even have a President Buhari today if he hadn’t gone ahead to form the CPC after the then Governor of Kano state,Ibrahim Shekarau hijacked the ANPP leadership thanks to the billions at his disposal.
I still believe our political parties lack political ideologies and the difference between them is always that one always happens to have what the others want.The disgusting self-righteousness and convenient blame-placing barely conceal the sheer desperation and frustration driving their actions.It is never about patriotism, it is always a battle for power between sets of people who never see good in each other.
I may not agree with President Buhari on some issues but I cannot deny that a lot of things have changed.No one expects office holders to make massive donations to their parties from government coffers these days irrespective of the deplorable state of the nation’s finances.
The PDP, with all the money its members have amassed over the years, are no longer as financially vibrant as they used to be.Everyone is scared of drawing attention to themselves.This (un)fortunate situation moves us steps closer to the Nigeria of our dreams, as ironic as that may sound.
A Nigeria where incumbents would not be guaranteed victory in primary elections because they have used taxpayers money to buy off the party exco and delegates.A Nigeria where the best candidates would not lose elections to rice-waving desperados enjoying the full backing of the custodians of our national treasury.A lot of people might choose to blame the poor, hungry nigerian for his contributory role in this sad predicament and without absolving him of any blame, I would blame the system first.
We are a nation impoverished by thieving political leaders which in effect, have blinded the average man to the fact that the more desperate a candidate seems, the more likely he is in it for his own selfish gains.A nigerian willing to spend his money to get a chance to serve his people wouldn’t stretch his finances much.Only one who thinks of it as an investment would. I must credit the Buhari administration for restoring sanity to our political sphere.That is if it was ever there in the first place.Elected officials now have ‘peanuts’ to dole out to their parties and the moneybags reaping from a government only donate to its leader’s campaign.To be frank, they only turn up during elections and they don’t finance the party or indulge in unsymbiotic arrangements.Parties are now constrained to making do with legitimate financial backings.
With an INEC that has earned the trust of nigerians by proving the efficiency of its innovations, the dwindling chances of politicians splashing their ill-gotten loot on their gangs and cajoling a hungry electorate is a welcome development.It takes us closer to the nation of our dreams.

Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.

Twitter:@alaye26
Email:uhasaan077@gmail.com

 

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A Nation In Search Of Deliverance By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, if you are a Christian you must definitely be familiar with the concept of deliverance. Just in case you are a non-Christian and you don’t know what it is to be delivered, then let me explain it the best way I can. A man or woman who requires deliverance is presumed to suffer some spiritual attacks or demonic afflictions. The problems are such that can’t be tackled and resolved through conventional means. In traditional societies, the families, and sometimes friends, of the afflicted often run to a Babalawo who has oracular powers of the third eye and is able to see, diagnose and exorcise the demons worrying the victim of spiritual oppression.

There are Pastors, especially of the Pentecostal denomination who have the capacity to expel or banish the demons and ghosts assaulting the afflicted and restore normalcy to the supplicant. Some people get delivered while some cases are too protracted and defy every power of prayer and restoration. This seems to have been the likely situation with Nigeria. Our case is so desperate that most of us have virtually given up any belief or hope that normal remedies and palliatives can work so that we are now in search of miracles and possible deliverance.

Let’s now try to determine our biggest affliction for which we need urgent deliverance. We shall analyse the impediments we are likely to encounter. We shall proffer solutions without which nothing tangible would ever happen. Here we go.

Ask the smallest Nigerian what our biggest problem is and you’re likely to get a response like CORRUPTION. The word sounds too simple to say and understand but not very easy to decipher under rigorous scrutiny. Let’s employ the simplistic approach. The common denominator of corruption which the man on the street will accept is STEALING. However, the more esoteric will say that corruption is ‘abuse of office’ and stealing is a mere incidence of that abuse.

We can move forward with our lesson in Semantics concentrating on the common man’s definition. What is stealing? A straight-forward answer should and could go this way: “It is an art or science, or both, of pilfering what belongs to someone or group of people!” Won’t you shout Eureka, like Archimedes, to that brilliant definition and revelation? But it doesn’t end there. Our matter is much worse. We actually steal our own property, even if it is our common wealth. This is the crux of the matter.

Why would any sane person steal what belongs to him, you may wish to ask. But until you look well, you may not see or find the answer. Stealing is as old as mankind. The book of Exodus 20:15 is very emphatic in its injunction: “Thou shall not steal…” Theft is treated with disdain and considered Haraam in Islam, totally forbidden and punishable under Sharia Law by cutting off the hands of the thief. Why then do we still steal and commit such monumental sin that every religion frowns at?

My first instinct tells me that we are mostly infidels who pretend to love our faith and serve our God. May be that is also not very correct. So let’s try another approach. Can’t we say the needs of man override all considerations? I see and hear how many Nigerians comment, condemn and pontificate over what has been aptly tagged Dasukigate. It presupposes that only those in government can steal and misappropriate resources while studiously ignoring the private sector. Truth is as the Bible rightly put it “let he without sin cast the first stone.” As long as we limit our attitude to seeing only those in government as rogues, our deliverance would be far-fetched.

My thesis is hinged on these facts. Stealing often starts from human needs and deprivations before it germinates and grows and matures into full-grown greed. Stealing is very attractive to both the rich and poor in our country. Even if you wanted to live like a saint, certain conditions and conditionality often conspire against you. Let me pick one of the commonest of human needs, Shelter. You are a worker earning meagre or major income. You need to rent a house wherever it may be located. Your landlord says you should pay two or three years rent in advance. The most benevolent landlord asks for one year at the beginning of your tenancy. Three or four things are likely to happen to you. One is ask your employer for a loan you are not likely to be granted because business is very slow or the man is just incorrigibly tough. The second is to become beggarly asking everyone fortunate or unfortunate to cross your path for help. The third is to compromise yourself by indulging in all manner of sexual exploitation including female (and nowadays even male) prostitution. The fourth is to descend into the abyss by seeking bribes, kickbacks or financial gratification in every possible misadventure. This is the foundation of the desperation and temptation that leads to large-scale stealing, the likes of which now seems to be a common occurrence in the polity. It is gratifying that the last Fashola administration in Lagos State tried to reduce the burden in this area by legislating that only one year’s rent should be demanded by landlords but the truth is that even this is too high. For most people a year’s rent is sometimes even more than their annual salary.

If you manage to scale that hurdle and somehow manage to pay your rent without compromising your principles, something else comes to challenge your manhood in our kind of society. Members of your family, committee of friends and village elders would soon send a powerful delegation in your direction if they consider that you are affluent but you have not built a house in your village where you don’t live and may never stay and another beautiful home in the city you are domiciled. It does not matter if you’ve been charitable with your income by helping your nieces and nephews, friends and associates to get education or even build their own homes. No one cares how you find the money for this project. It is simply a matter of prestige, not incidentally for you, but paradoxically for them! This is the second level leading to stealing in Nigeria.

The pressure becomes so scorching that you begin to feel the blisters all over you. Your brain starts to work overtime and your whole being goes into overdrive. What can you do? You must find money to buy your land in an area that supposedly befits your status. Meanwhile your regular income is not commensurate to your assumed stature in society, but by this time nobody cares and you yourself are now so far gone that you don’t care too. You must devise means and find ways to steal. It starts slowly and steadily until it becomes a rollercoaster. You need to do your foundation, buy your cement quickly, import your finishing, and so on. It is a rat race. You are running at blinding pace until you forget God and begin to worship the god of money. Can anyone blame you for your slide into the pits of corruption when you can’t readily walk into a bank, fulfil all righteousness and hope to get a decent mortgage?

A brand new home means you need to change your good old reliable banger of a car. As a matter of fact, you must get at least one for Madam if you want peace in the house. I almost forgot that you need one for school runs, one for market trips and another as escort for your personal safety. Your kids must think of going to schools abroad because the ones at home are no longer what they used to be. Everywhere you turn, you need big money. Your church or mosque is undergoing renovation. Your friend’s daughter is getting married. Your schoolmate’s dad has just died. Your cousin has been sent out for unpaid school fees. Your nephew is about to be ejected by his landlord. You have your own pending bills and no one to talk to because they won’t believe you’re only patch-patching your personal life like a vulcaniser. Can you blame any artful dodger for altering the books and running amok with any money in sight?

Let’s call a spade a SPADE, our culture encourages stealing. We must study and imbibe the measures that discouraged and reduced corruption in other climes. Until we do this nothing will change. The present anti-corruption war will evaporate like the ones before it unless we put certain structures in place. I do not know of any developed nation without some form of credit system. You can’t insist on people paying cash for every transaction and expect cash not to vanish regularly and intermittently. Indeed, a viable and credible credit system is a veritable tool for wealth creation of the sort that would take Nigeria to the level that it deserves to be. Our banks and other financial institutions need to change their attitude in this regard. No credit system can thrive where interest rates are as exhorbitant as they currently are in Nigeria. There is no impetus and incentive to repay any credit because there is simply no way to pay back at the rate that is being sought. The Central Bank has a significant role to play in this regard.

The atrocious funds available to politicians also make corruption attractive and intractable. Over inflated contracts have been our banes in Nigeria. Sadly, it has reared its ugly head even in President Buhari’s controversial budget. The figures we are about to waste on pampering our leaders are unjustifiably foolish for a nation in dire straits. Whilst the President is preaching austerity and belt tightening some bureaucrats seem hell bent on treating governance as business as usual. The money channelled into wasteful, profligate and outlandish items and projects should have been pumped into the productive sector thus creating the much needed employment and job opportunities for our army of unemployed youths.

Politics is still the fastest means of getting rich in Nigeria. The Buhari government should make it less attractive but it would only happen if and when the Federal Government tightens its own belt. Instead of making provision for white elephant projects and ostentatious living Government should embark on aggressive industrialisation and invest heavily in agriculture, food production, preservation, processing and distribution. The Governors would have nothing new to learn when the Federal Government itself fails to operate austerity measures. Right now the binge continues. All talk of a fight against corruption thus becomes meaningless and a charade, if care is not taken.

Another area that makes for stealing and corruption to thrive is what the President has described as the rot in the Judiciary. I will however only go far as to say that all is not well with the Judiciary. The Judiciary is the last hope of the masses. It is the last bastion of the fight against corruption and the bulwark upon which democracy is founded. Yet in Nigeria it is bleeding dangerously. The conditions of service of our Judges need to be looked into and the entire system overhauled. A poor judge would always fall for big or even cheap temptation. In other countries Judges are the highest paid individuals because it is recognised that they are needed to sanitise the society and everything must therefore be done to make them comfortable and thus relatively incorruptible. Similarly, a miserable police force would go the same way. An underfunded EFCC, ICPC, Special Fraud Unit, CID, SSS, or whatever nomenclature we give them would collapse under the weight of corruption. All these agencies combined lack the capacity and capability to investigate the horrendous cases at hand. At the rate we are going, most of the cases would stall as always and we may be back to square one unless we change a lot of things around from the way they are presently configured.

Perhaps however the biggest sign that deliverance may never come our way is the fact that Government itself is guilty of stealing from the people. How else can you explain a government that fails to pay its workers at the end of each month not to mention one that does not pay for months on end and still expects dedication, forthrightness and loyalty from its civil servants? To compound matters you have the case of a government which fails to pay pensions on time, or sometimes even at all, to public servants who have rendered loyal and stellar services to their Fatherland. What do you expect those pensioners to tell their children about government service and integrity? The younger generation is ultimately afraid of becoming impoverished like their parents when old age comes knocking invariably. There are many more examples and I have merely chosen two from the extreme ends of the scale but the sum total is that unless the Government itself stops short-changing the people the loyalty it seeks and craves will only be a mirage. Government must first start this corruption crusade from within by embarking on policies which demonstrate that it understands that loyalty is reciprocal and is not a one-way street. Until then not even deliverance or exorcism can save us!

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