Federal Character Principle: Giving Nigerians False Hope Since 1996, By Abayomi G. Omotayo

Of the rulers that have ruled Nigeria since 1960, the north has the highest percentage yet that region of the country has the highest illiteracy level. It can also be argued that it is the least developed socio-economically and infrastructure wise.

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo who is from the south-west ruled this country for a total of eleven years both as a military ruler and a civilian president, yet he didn’t complete the repair (is it rehabilitation, upgrade or expansion? I have lost count of the various terminologies used by different government) of the Lagos-Ibadan express way neither is Lagos-Abeokuta express through Sango-Ota a pretty sight. He lives at the hilltop mansion in Abeokuta. The Apapa-Osodi road, the only road connecting the nation’s premier and busiest port to other parts of Nigeria did not also tangibly benefit from these eleven years. Today, that road is a shame, a national embarrassment besieged with mostly irresponsible truck drivers whose stubbornness and disposition to parking instruction is glaringly indicative of the selective hypocrisy and lameness of the federal government in enforcing laws. I know this because if former governor Fashola of Lagos state could clear the dreaded, ‘no-go’ Osodi stresslessly then the supposed federal authority that cannot put sanity on that road is but a sham.

Former president Musa Yar’Adua is from the North yet he effectively handled the ‘Niger-Delta problem’ of militancy through the amnesty program.

Mallam Nasir El-Rufai was not the ‘son of the soil’ when he became the minister for Federal Capital Territory yet his strides ensured that the original master plan of FCT was not derailed.

The dream team that won the 1996 Olympics gold in Atlanta consists more of players from the south yet Nigeria got the glory and not just the individual players. Bonfere Jo assembled the best based on skills. He did not attempt to ethnically balance the team.

The much noise and argument albeit mostly unnecessary and substance-lacking about the appointments made so far by President Muhammadu Buhari is a pointer to the fact that most Nigerians still believe that having someone from their side of the divide (that divide is usually based on ethnicity but sometimes on social or political class) guarantees a better life. Although I think the selfish undertone is the believe that this gives one a better chance to share in the national cake. Unfortunately, the ‘baba’ from Daura is here now and he will most likely take away the proverbial national cake and replace it with national responsibility.

If the preceding examples do not disabuse our minds that ethnicity rather than meritocracy should be the basis of political appointments, then it is safe to say that we are a people hopelessly myopic and perpetually blinded by ethnically motivated sentiments what have for long stunted our development as a nation.

What Nigeria needs most right now is not some grandstanding argument about federal character but to start building strong and corruption-immune institutions with clearly defined operational framework. When this is done, it will ensure that regardless of where an elected official or a political appointee is from, he is confined and constrained to work within the operational framework thrust upon him by the strong institution of public service that has been built. For example, if I were the head of immigration or customs, no matter how much I like to emancipate the people from my beloved Iwo in Osun state, it will be impossible to fill the immigration or customs with my kinsmen because the transparent recruitment process which will be an offshoot of a strong institution will vigorously prevent me from arbitrarily employing my Iwo ‘peeps’.

For those not yet convinced about my argument, consider this; is the local government councilor not from among his own people? How many borehole has he sunk? Is the local government chairman not from his own people as well? How many blocks of classrooms or grade C roads has he constructed? The federal lawmakers and senators, are they not representing their people? how much have they impacted their constituencies? These categories are the closest to the people who also interestingly come directly from ‘their own’ people yet their impact is hardly ever felt. It is thus surprising that Nigerians still believe that ethnically balanced appointments are important in moving the nation forward. This is the reason why I took the liberty to donate for free a tagline to the Federal Character Commission.

Still not convinced that meritocracy is the way forward for Nigeria? Then India to the rescue, a mind transplant is urgently needed by this reader.

Abayomi G. Omotayo

Twitter: @abaryummyceo


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Nigerians ’ll Soon Feel Changes – Buhari …Says His Govt Not After Anyone

President Muhammadu Buhari this morning raised the hope of Nigerians that they will soon be feeling the full effect of the changes being introduced by the government.

In his broadcast to mark the country’s 55th independence anniversary, he said: “All the early signs are that within months the whole country would begin to feel a change for the better”.

He also spoke on the reforms being carried out in different sectors of the country, adding that his government is not after anyone.

Borrowing from his inaugural speech on May 29, Buhari said, “I bear no ill will against anyone on past events. Nobody should fear anything from me.

“We are not after anyone. People should only fear the consequences of their actions. I hereby invite everyone, whatever his or her political view, to join me in working for the nation.”

The President said: “Fellow Nigerians, there have been a lot of anxiety and impatience over the apparent delay in announcement of ministers. There is no cause to be anxious.

“Our government set out to do things methodically and properly. We received the handing over notes from the outgoing government only four days before taking over.

“Consequently, the Joda Transition Committee submitted its report on the reorganisation of Federal Government structure after studying the handover notes.

“It would have been haphazard to announce ministers when the government had not finalised the number of ministries to optimally carry the burden of governance.”

President Buhari said the first set of names have been forwarded to the Senate for confirmation. Others will follow soon, he added.

“Anyway, the wait is over. The first set of names for ministerial nominees for confirmation has been sent to the senate. Subsequent lists will be forwarded in due course.

“Impatience is not a virtue. Order is more vital than speed. Careful and deliberate decisions after consultations get far better results. And better results for our country is what the APC (All Progressives Congress) government for change is all about,” he said.

On the Independence Day celebrations, the president said October 1 is a day for joy because it marks the day, 55 years ago, that the country liberated itself from the shackles of colonialism and began its long march to nationhood and to greatness.

President Buhari said besides being the ninth most populated country on the planet, Nigeria is blessed with ?arable land, water, forests, oil and gas, coastline and solid minerals.

The country, he said, has all the attributes of a great nation but has not achieved greatness because the one commodity it has been unable to exploit to the fullest is unity of purpose.

This, he said, would have enabled Nigeria to achieve not only more orderly political evolution and integration but also continuity and economic progress.

“Countries far less endowed have made greater economic progress by greater coherence and unity of purpose.

“Nonetheless, that we have remained together is an achievement we should all appreciate and try to consolidate. We have witnessed this year a sea change in our democratic development.

“The fact that an opposition party replaced an entrenched government in a free and fair election is indicative of the deeper roots of our democratic system.

“Whatever one’s views are, Nigerians must thank former President Jonathan for not digging-in in the face of defeat and thereby saving the country untold consequences,” Buhari said.

The president said he was not out to witch-hunt anyone, adding that only the guilty should be afraid.

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83 Senators Vote Of Confidence On Saraki Versus Nigerians Vote Of No Confidence, By Alhassan Haruna

It is very clear that, a wall has been erected between good and evil, between pure and adultrated, between the have and the have not, between truth and falsehood, between the Nigerian senate and the Nigerian people. Certainly a wall has been erected.

This wall in the very near future will defined the type of democracy we operates or the demoncrazy we worship, whether the electorates are the beggars and senators the kings, whether if, the Nigerian people are still slaves under the very government of change we all hoped and dreamt of.

We all have laboured the pregnancy of PDP inefficiency and lack of political will and yet some selected Nigerian senators have choosen to fight the will of the Nigerian people, they choose to build a wall between us, so as to eliminate our happiness and pride, a pride that inculcate in us that change is in place, that business is not “as usual” anymore ,

I cant imaging how an individual will force himself over 180 million Nigerians, and still without any iota of any shame some 83 senators, the people representatives, choosed to side with the senate president and avoid Nigerians to rought in hell. They acted as if they rule over us than we ruling over them. They choosed Bukola saraki the senate president over the Nigerian people, for sure a wall has been erected and we liked it that way.

Now it is our turn to tell the 83 hanky-fankies to do our will, to follow our instructions as the electorates who elect them to represent us at the senate chamber in the first place.

From all indication they are out to ensure the supremacy of their selfish interest but not Nigerians interest, because, the Nigerians interest is Bukola saraki should go and nothing more, and many are up on the gig to ensure that.

What moral ground will the senate president have, especially when one ponder on some of his confessions, that he had to hide in a car boot for hours in order to become the senate president. God have mercy, my question is, is this not a criminal act ? and please before we forget, IGP Arase sir, where is the forgery report? wetin dey ground?

Many commentators have argued that the 83 senators are out to join forces, that they are now men of their own, afterall the election come in the next four years.

But we tell them that never like before will we allow them to rule over us, now we have the key, we shall recall all of them. No, never, we cannot wait for four years, it is now or never.

According to media reports, Senator Bala Na-Allah, the senator that led the escort job is on his way out, this is because already morethan 30,000 thousand signatures have been generated at his constituency, he is now on the higgy-hagger mood, and the electorates have bowed to recall him.

This is why i would use this opportunity to call on all Nigerians to recall any of their representative who refuses to tow the line. There is nothing hard in recalling any of your senator or house rep member who mess out of control.

According to Dr. Idris Ahmed of CUPS, to recall a senator will involve the following;

By virtue of section 69 of the
constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), there is a provision that: A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives may be
recalled as such a member if-
(A) There is presented to the
Chairman of the Independent
National Electoral Commission a
petition in that behalf signed by more than one-half of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency alleging their loss of confidence in that member, and (B) The petition is thereafter, in a
referendum conducted by the
Independent National Electoral
Commission within ninety days of the date of receipt of the petition, approved by a simple majority of the votes of the persons registered to vote in that member’s constituency.

From the forgoing provision, it is clear that the following are deducible;
Firstly, the electorates “voters” must come up with a petition alleging loss of confidence in a member. It should be noted that what may constitute “loss of confidence” is not defined in
the constitution, neither on any
statute. This means that there is no need to accuse a member of any wrongdoing other than he is culpable of a misconduct, before the electorate can say they have lost confidence in him. Going by the constitution, it is clear that the electorate of respective constituency may just wake up one day and start the process of calling back their member of House of Representatives if to them they have lost confidence in him, perhaps due to his inability to prove his competency in discharging his duties or if found complicit in any shameless conducts.
Secondly, the said petition must be signed by more than one-half of the registered voters in that constituency which demands the recall of its member. For example, if a member of
constituency has 1000 voters, then not less than 501 registered voters must sign the petition. In other words, anything below 501, like 500 or below will not make the petition stand the test of law.
Thirdly, the petition must be
submitted to the chairman of INEC.
Finally, after the submission, INEC
must do the following;
1. It must verify the authenticity of signature of voters who signed the petition from onset.
2. It must conduct a referendum
within 90 days of the receipt of the petition in order to get it approved by a simple majority of the voters of registered persons in the constituency
in question. For example, if 500 out of 1000 registered voters turn out for the referendum, a simple majority of 251 votes and upward will suffice to recall
the member in question. Another example is that let us say 600 voters out of 1000 turn out, then 301 votes and upward suffice. In fact, it is the turn out number that will determine
what should make up a simple majority.

We Nigerians cannot wait any longer, lets show some good example, just like the way they started with senator Bala Na-Allah, lets reorganize our sense of reasoning, we must help the government of change to give us the desired Nigeria that we have been hoping for, there is no more time for watching, this is a time to act and this is a time to say No,  and only that can be the change agents that may change our lives and those of future Nigerians yet unborn.

Comrade,Alhassan Haruna Dambatta.


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Boko Haram May Have Fooled Nigerians With Its Sallah Day Video

Few days ago, the Boko Haram insurgents group released a video of its members observing prayers in commemoration of the Eid-El-Kabir celebration.

The video released by the sect is apparently to counter statements by the Nigerian army that the Islamist insurgent fighters were on a steady retreat, with Nigerian troops seizing a sizeable territory hitherto occupied and controlled by members of the terrorist sect.

Recall that the army has consistently revealed how it has decimated the group and weakened its power to carry out coordinated attacks.

While the group may have succeeded in creating an impression with the video that it is still strong and kicking, a twitter user who goes by the name Janguza has exposed what may be a deceit by the sect.

He identified some irregularities in the new video released by Boko Haram, which clearly looks deceitful.

Boko Haram 1

Boko Haram 2

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How Nigerians Use Social Media, Tolu Ogunlesi

Perhaps, we should start with definitions, for those not really familiar with this “social media” of a thing. Facebook is like the rowdy village square, to which everyone manages to bring their family albums. Twitter feels somewhat like a social club in the big city, thriving on a certain level of sophistication and exclusivity. It’s not as instinctive, for many, as Facebook; you need to “get” it to get into it. Instagram is that glossy magazine (remember Ovation?) we buy, not only to glimpse the lives of the rich and famous, but also – because it’s the age of social media after all – to edit and publish images of “rich and famous” incarnations of our typically ordinary lives.

WhatsApp (pronounced “Wussup” by Nigerians) and BlackBerry Messenger need no introduction. 2Go may be unfamiliar to many of you, but is by some estimates the most widely used platform in Nigeria; especially among the 15 to 24 age group. The edge it has it that it is without elitism; it works on non-smartphones, which may explain its relative popularity.

One significant trend on social media here is the practice of impersonation. If you’re a prominent Nigerian – businessman, politician, religious leader, celebrity – it’s safe to assume that there’s at least one social media profile in existence that purports to be you. Someone once showed me, on his phone, an image of a series of tweets from a profile purporting to be Mr. Obasanjo. He genuinely believed those views – and they were pretty controversial – came from the former President. I had to pull up the Twitter handle on my own page and show him that the profile was in fact a “parody” account, and labelled as such.

In many cases, it’s very difficult to tell what’s genuine or not. For example, there’s a Wole Soyinka Twitter account that regularly gets shared, even though the Nobel laureate has repeatedly said he is not a social media user. There are countless Facebook profiles impersonating Customs officers and offering cars for sale at discounted prices; you don’t need an expert to tell you they’re scammers.

The Central Bank once had to put out a newspaper advert complaining about the hundreds of fraudulent handles existing in its name. Nollywood stars have also been frequent targets; with impersonators using their names and profiles to demand for money and sexual favours from an unsuspecting public. We’re after all the country that made Internet fraud a global phenomenon. Sooner or later we will need to find a way to get our laws and law enforcement agents to move one step ahead of the Internet and social media, instead of the 10 steps behind that is the default mode at the moment.

Another important trend has to do with the ability of social media to lubricate the engines of personal and commercial promotion. For artisans and small business owners it is a life-saver, allowing them to advertise cheaply and efficiently. The cook, the baker, the tailor, the plumber, the carpenter, the fabric seller – BBM and WhatsApp and Facebook and Instagram have become efficient little virtual offices that support everything from advertising to product innovation to delivery and feedback.

Beyond business, Nigerians are finding fascinating uses for social media on a personal promotional level. We are natural show-offs – you only need to listen to many church testimonies to realise that they are less about gratitude to God than about ‘performing’ a new-found status or position. And that part of us has translated very well to social media, so that on Facebook, and Instagram especially, we now all own our own testimony pulpits, from which we can trumpet our exploits to the world.

Social media indulge our bombastic tendencies to the fullest. You also have to remember that this is a country in which, for most of our history, what one might call truly mass media was in the hands of the government (think television and radio, until the liberalisation that began in the mid-1990s), and what was passed for private or independent wasn’t really ‘mass’ in its distribution (the newspapers, newsmagazines). It is into that context that social media have landed, offering us something truly liberating: mass media in which we’re not only consumers but also producers and distributors as well.

Another example of how social media allows us to adapt our traditions: Every one of us knows at least one person living well beyond their stated means – the civil servant whose garage would make a car dealer envious; the “businessman” or “contractor” who cannot point to any substantial project, but changes his Range Rover every year; the university student whose allowance cannot justify the slideshow of designer bags and holidays abroad. Go on Instagram and Facebook, and you will find us still celebrating questionable wealth with the same fervour as always. There’s nothing new about this part of us as Nigerians; as things were before the age of social media, so will they continue to be, in the worlds we inhabit in our shiny mobile devices.

One thing I should also highlight is the phenomenon of “second-hand” usage of social media. This is the act of participating in a social medium without actually being present on it. It’s been made possible by what is known as “screen-munching”, which refers to taking a picture of the screen of your mobile phone. With the ability to “screen-munch” or “screen-shot” – a second-hand social media market has emerged.

As long as you’re on BBM or WhatsApp – which I believe are the two most popular personal messaging tools in Nigeria – you can partake in a steady stream of munched shots from Twitter or Facebook or anywhere else on the Internet. That’s the context of the narrative above about the parody Obasanjo tweets. The man who shared them with me is not a Twitter user, but he was aware of those tweets because someone sent him a static, munched version that was even more misleading in its appearance than the live Twitter feed

In closing, my view is that social media are neutral, passive participants in the drama of human existence. We come to them as we are, and use them in ways unintended by those who created them. It’s a bit like what often happens in the pharmaceutical industry, where a drug ends up being useful for things other than originally planned or intended. (Viagra for example started out life, in the research phase, as a drug for hypertension and symptoms of heart disease; it was during clinical trials that the researchers realised it was actually more useful doing other things).

And this is how social media will continue to play out in Nigeria. If there’s anything we’re wired or conditioned to do as a people – ethical or otherwise – we will definitely find a way to press social media into the service of that behaviour. The problem, if any, will be us, not social media.

Meanwhile there are still a lot of skeptics, and nose-squeezers; staying away because of their concerns about the unsavoury aspects of social media use: the invasion of privacy, the penchant for verbal and psychological terrorism, the potential for fraud. I need to point out that while I totally understand that point of view, and while I agree that you don’t have to be a participant in social media, you must realise that you at least have to try to understand how it works – or doesn’t, and how it might affect you, for good or for ill. In the 21st century, social media illiteracy will be as debilitating as conventional illiteracy was in the 20th century.

  • Follow me on Twitter: @toluogunlesi
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56 Nigerians Confirmed Dead In Saudi Hajj Stampede, Many Still Missing; MURIC Explains How It Happened

As Saudi Arabia authorities are still trying to ascertain the identities of those affected in last Thursday hajj stampede which resulted t the death of over 700 pilgrims, 56 Nigerians have so far been confirmed dead.

This was disclosed last night at a news conference in Makkah  by the Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON), Abdullahi Mukhtar

According to him, 77 others were injured, while many still missing.

The NAHCON chief said most of the victims and the injured came from the North.

Some of the affected states are Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, Taraba, Zamfara, Ogun

Mukhtar said: “42 pilgrims under the State Pilgrims Welfare Boards have been confirmed dead alongside two officials from NAHCON. Also, 12 pilgrims who came in through tour operators  died in the stampede too.

“I think 61 state pilgrims welfare boards and 16 from tour operators (Private Hajj Operators) got injured in the stampede. We will update you as the information comes.”

On the missing pilgrims, he said:”We cannot give you the full figure until the ongoing head count is concluded.”

Meanwhile, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, the Director of Muslim Rights Concern, an Islamic has recounted how the incident occurred.

Akintola said: “As eyewitnesses of the gory stampede incident, we testify that it was caused by security breakdown on the part of the Saudi authorities. We left Muzdalifah for Mina around 6am on that fateful day. We branched in the NAHCON camp to drop our personal effects and headed straight to Jamrat which was less than three kilometres away.   To our surprise, the road was blocked by Egyptian pilgrims who had cast their own stones and were returning to their camp. Instead of taking the route designated for returning pilgrims, they stubbornly took the route meant for those who were going.

“The road became narrow and movement became difficult. The atmosphere became charged and even breathing and visibility were affected. The few policemen around desperately threw water at us to save us from collapsing. It became glaring to us at that moment that a monumental stampede was just around the corner

“The Saudi authorities therefore lied when they tried to put the blame squarely on African pilgrims. The stampede would not have occurred at all if Saudi security agents had disallowed pilgrims returning from the Jamrat from taking the same route on their way back.

“The practice over the years has always been to take a detour but this was not enforced last Thursday. The fact that the road to the same Jamrat became very free and safe yesterday and this (Saturday) morning when Saudi security agents strictly enforced the rules by disallowing returning pilgrims to use the same route as those going proves that our hypothesis is correct.

“This is criminal negligence and the Saudi authorities must be held accountable. We urge the Nigerian government to support NAHCON’s stand on this. Nigeria must demand compensation from the Saudis for families of the bereaved.

“We should also task the Saudis to involve the world Muslim Ummah in the planning and implementation of the annual Hajj exercise in view of the emerging scenario of complacency on the part of the Saudi authorities.”

MURIC hailed NAHCON for insisting that Nigeria should be part of any investigation of the tragedy.

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Hajj Tragedy: Eight Nigerians Feared Dead, Former PDP Chair Adamu Mu’azu, Others Escape Death

Latest information from Saudi Arabia on Thursday’s hajj tragedy shows that as many as eight Nigerians may have died in the incident.

This is even as report have it that the former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party and other prominent Nigerians narrowly escaped death during the stampede.

Initial reports suggested that two Nigerians –Hajiya Bilikisu Yusuf,a prominent journalist, and Professor Tijanni El-Miskin , Chairman of the Borno State Pilgrims Welfare Board – were among the 719 killed while pilgrims were stoning the devil as part of the Hajj rituals.

Among the Nigerians just confirmed to have lost their lives in the incident are the wife and child of a university teacher,Professor Taqwa.

Taqwa himself was said to be safe last night .

Also reported dead is Dr.Hafsat Shittu,a pharmacist from Kano.

The death toll now stands at 725 with 863 injured.

A breakdown of the victims yesterday was as follows: Algeria(3 killed, 6 injured), Bangladesh( 4 dead); China (1 death); Egypt( 8killed, 20 injured); Turkey( 4 dead), Netherlands (1death); India( 4 dead, 2 injured); Indonesia(3 dead, 1 injured); Iran (131 dead, 60 injured); Morocco(87 dead); Nigeria( 8 dead, 6 injured) Oman( 5 injured) ; Pakistan(7 dead) and Sudan (1 dead, 2 injured); Unknown(558 dead, 761injured).

It was learnt that the identities of the unknown persons killed or injured were bring ascertained last night.

A top official of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria(NAHCON) said Nigeria’s death toll could be more than what was originally thought.

Also, the Head of Media for NAHCON, Alh. Uba Maina, who spoke from Mecca, said: “Apart from three prominent Nigerians so far identified, we cannot say the exact figure of our pilgrims that died or got injured in the stampede.

“Many Nigerian pilgrims are still missing, they have not returned to their camps. NAHCON has however directed all the states to take headcount of all their pilgrims. We are reconciling figures. When this is finally down, we will be able to say categorically those affected.”

Asked if the death toll of Nigerian pilgrims could be more, Maina said: “Until we conclude the census, we will not want to cause panic.”

Meanwhile, it hs been authoritatively confirmed that Several prominent Nigerians including the immediate past National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),Mallam Adamu Mu’Azu,former Special Advise on National Assembly,Alhaji Kashim Imam and former National Chairman of the defunct CPC,Senator Rufai Hanga, narrowly escaped death in the Thursday tragedy in Mecca,The Nation can now report.

Multiple eyewitnesses at the scene said Mu’Azu,Imam and Hanga had joined millions of other pilgrims in stoning the devil when the stampede started.

Other prominent Nigerians close to the scene were the PDP Youth Leader Abdullahi Maibarisa, Deputy Comptroller General (Operations) of the Nigerian Immigration Service Mr.Muhammad Babandede, and a former member of the House of Representatives.

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A Spending Guide For Wealthy Nigerians, By Tolu Ogunlesi

The point of today’s article is to offer advice to our “one-per cent” population how to spend their money. Somewhat presumptuous, admittedly. Please bear with me. All I’m doing is arrogating to myself the sort of audacity embodied in the title of one of my favourite magazines, “How To Spend It”, a part of the Financial Times family.

According to the Africa Wealth Report 2015, Nigeria has 15,400 dollar millionaires; that is, people with at least a million dollars in assets. More than half of that number is in Lagos, making the city number two, after Johannesburg.

Now, I’m not sure how these numbers are calculated, especially in a clime like ours where secrecy is the overriding principle in wealth management. What I know is that that culture of secrecy suggests we’re grossly underestimating the number of millionaires and billionaires in this country. Anecdotal evidence indeed suggests that: for every one person that the Forbes list pinpoints, we all know a handful of people who belong to it but are not named. A good number of them don’t want to be named, in any case.

Now, not all of this money is legitimately earned. In fact, maybe, not even most of it. But the matter of the provenance of the wealth is for another discussion, another day. The point of this article is not to question the wealth, but to find progressive uses for it.

In an article on this column on April 7, 2014, I quoted the development economist, Paul Collier, explaining, in an article published around 2008, why Nigeria and Indonesia had such different development outcomes even though they shared a very similar history of military dictatorships and kleptomania. Collier’s words: “In a country like Indonesia, corrupt money was invested in the economy. In Nigeria, even honestly acquired money was sent out of it.” His estimate was that by 1999, the year we returned to democratic rule, more than $100bn had been stashed abroad, in the catacombs and alleyways of the banking systems in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Collier’s words are now almost a decade old, and I think that things have changed slightly since then. Nigerian money is now much more likely to sit at home than chase a visa to travel abroad. Whether legitimately or illicitly acquired, there’s now a lot more incentive for Nigerian money to stay in Nigeria. That has to be good news.

And this is where I come in, in this piece, throwing up ideas about what our rich people can do — philanthropically speaking — with some of their money. It is not enough to be known only for throwing the biggest parties, or seeing who can keep the largest amount of unoccupied real estate, in a country where there’s so much opportunity to use money to do ambitious good.

Crowd-funding is a great principle, no doubt, and sorely needed; our modest naira piling up to do useful stuff. But there’s definitely also a place for the transformational effects of ambitious giving by society’s wealthiest lot; the sort of effects that crowd-funding will find difficult to achieve. Think of James Smithson’s estate providing the wealth that founded the humongous cultural institution that is the Smithsonian, almost a quarter of a millennium ago. And, in today’s age, of Bill Gates devoting a large portion of his wealth taking on Goliath diseases like malaria and polio. It will take some time for crowd-funding to get to that level, I think.

So here are four philanthropic initiatives I’d like our dollar millionaires and billionaires to seriously consider:

Co-working spaces

These are essentially office spaces available for persons — mainly freelancers and independent workers and entrepreneurs — to share. The edge they give is that the principle of sharing allows costs to come down, and intensifies the possibilities for impactful collaboration. The Co-Creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos is one such space, bringing together lots of young people working in and with technology, giving them access to relatively inexpensive working spaces, and infrastructure: electricity, Internet.

Lagos needs wealthy people who will provide or fund or underwrite many such spaces around the city. This is a city with one of the worst housing problems in the world, not merely because of prohibitive prices, but also because it is perhaps the only important global city in which rents are paid two years – one if you’re lucky – in advance. In that kind of setting, how does a young person just starting out in business cope?

The spaces I envision need to be in and around the city’s most central business districts – Yaba, Surulere, Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lagos Island. They should target young people who are starting, or already running, their own businesses. They would have to demonstrate that they deserve access to that space. These spaces also don’t have to be free, the key thing is that they are affordable. Ikoyi and Victoria Island are full of empty apartments, locked up by their owners for reasons unknown to the rest of us. Every time I see those buildings, I think of the sort of ideas and businesses that could be sprouting within them, if only…


I know of only four museums in Lagos: The National Museum in Onikan, the Railway Museum in Yaba, the Awolowo Museum in Ibeju-Lekki, and the Fela Museum in Ikeja. For a city this big, and this storied, that’s not good enough. London has, by one estimate, 200; New York has, between 80 and 110. There is very little in Lagos to remind us of where the city is coming from, what it has gone through. It’s as though we’re allergic to monuments and memorials, and everything that seeks to remind us of anything in our past. The state government deserves kudos for its efforts – as far as I know it was the Fashola government that gave us the Awolowo and Fela museums. And Freedom Park as well, which marks the site of a colonial prison that once housed some of our best-known nationalists.

I believe we need wealthy Nigerians falling over themselves to fund museum projects. In the spirit of enlightened self-interest – which this column appears to be obsessed with it – it’s a no-brainer. What easier way to immortalise yourself, dear rich Nigerian, than to have an attention-grabbing (Insert Your Name) Museum of Nigerian Art/Music/Innovation/etc.


It must be acknowledged that wealthy Nigerians have left their mark on sports promotion in the country. I’m thinking of the efforts of MKO Abiola, that earned him the ‘Pillar of African Sports’ moniker. Orji Uzor Kalu has since tried to step into those shoes. Ifeanyi Ubah has bought a football club and is building a stadium for them. In the absence of government seriousness, our rich people have done a great deal. But more is needed.

A few days ago, I found myself thinking about family entertainment options in a city like Lagos, full of people who like to think of themselves as worldly. Where does a family go, at the weekend, or on a public holiday, to entertain itself? The answers I came up with: Owambes, cinema, mall-shopping. Nothing relating to sports comes up in the picture. And yet we appear to be a sports-loving people, going crazy over foreign football and tennis and boxing and golf. So, why can’t we start to create avenues to domesticate some of these passions? Why can’t we flock, at weekends, to tennis and boxing and swimming matches in our major cities? And why can’t we have more rich people paying to build and maintain these facilities, and train new generations of stars? We’re a country that desperately needs to reclaim our Indoor Sports Halls, wherever they might be, from the grip of churches and party planners.

Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) Education and Development

I’m not sure the concept of STEM education exists in this country; I haven’t seen any evidence of any philanthropy – or policymaking – around it. It’s not that Nigerians are not technologically inventive, it’s that there’s no support system around that inventiveness, to hone it from crudeness into sophistication. This is where private individuals ought to come in, funding researchers and research institutes, sponsoring competitions (similar to what the NLNG is doing in Science), endowing university chairs, creating platforms that support mentoring and role-modelling. It’s fascinating that some of the most exciting stuff happening in space technology in America is being funded by private visionaries like Elon Musk, who have not yet figured out how they will make the money back, but realise that every society that takes progress seriously requires healthy doses of ambitious private interventions like theirs.

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5 Questions Nigerians Should Ask Regarding Saraki’s Trial By Shade Afolabi

False accusations are of particular interest to sceptics and the media houses because scepticism has often been at the forefront of lending voice to the wrongly accused. In climes like ours, it is important as  concerned citizens to take a critical look at the allegations made by the Code of Conduct Bureau against the Senate President Bukola Saraki, and the increasingly refined methods adopted by those in support of seeking facts. I hereby  state the reasons why the charges against Dr. Bukola Saraki by the Code of Conduct Bureau/Tribunal (CCB/CCT) are on a baseless ground:

1. Going by the available evidence, Bukola Saraki, has clearly declared his assets since 2003, when he ran for governor of Kwara State. With countless assets declared, and no other inconsistency found, Nigerians must ask: “Why did the CCB suddenly find this particular asset declaration from 2003 worthy of note?” Given that the declaration in question was for a different office than the office that he (Saraki), is currently occupying.

2. To set the record straight, if at all there were suspicions of inconsistencies regarding Saraki’s assets since 2003 as alleged, how come it has taken the CCB 12 years to voice out its discontent? Given that verification of assets are done immediately after declarations are submitted to the bureau, and the fact that Saraki has also submitted asset declaration in 2007, 2011, and recently again in 2015, is there an ulterior motive to all this CCB/CCT media circus?

3. Another pertinent question to ask is: On whose authority was the Bureau’s prosecution charge sheet made? While being mindful of the fact that the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act clearly state that any prosecution must be authorized by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), with no AGF in place, what gives a Deputy Director the power to institute/sign-off on such a proceeding?

4. No doubt, the petition circulating the media is indeed a petition of many contrasts. It is interesting that the Senate President has expressed his readiness to honour the tribunal so that justice can be served. However, with the EFCC having a case over the judge that is trying the case at the CCT, and the Senate investigating the EFCC, isn’t it possible that the EFCC is trying to employ strong-arm tactics against Saraki? Additionally, “Can a judge whose hands are dirty, try an accused person justly?”

5. It is glaring the charges against Bukola Saraki are politically motivated. Nigerians should finally join me in asking: “Why the Tribunal chose to disregard the order of the Federal High Court and the motion to suspend hearing till Monday, when it is clear that the jurisdictional claims of the CCB to hear the case are still being called into question?”

I am compelled to believe that the CCB is either being pressured by external influences to smear Saraki’s name, or its name was used entirely by another anti-graft body to achieve a sinister move. Again, this case might not be unconnected with the 8th Senate’s invitation extended to the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) – Mr Lamorde on charges  of misappropriating funds said to be belonging to the anti-graft commission

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A Young Nigerian’s Thoughts About Saraki’s Trial Dami Lanre

Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon can no longer save the falconer, the centre can no longer hold. – W.B Yeats.

The madness that affected the immediate-past president of Nigeria that turned him into a virtual tyrant seems to have been vaccinated with his loss at the polls. However, our new president, the ‘converted democrat’ seems to not have gotten the memo that instructed him to take the ‘anti-tyrant’ vaccine.

Many of the reasons why the last administration was hated included an aggressive abuse of the rule of law. It will take Nigerians some time to forget how the PDP under Jonathan used all the agencies at her disposal to intimidate members of the opposition party ranging from withdrawal of security details, barricading from entering or leaving government buildings and airports, scattering of peaceful gatherings of the opposition for whatever reasons and many more.

Because of this, I have a few questions for our President, and my fellow Nigerians:

  1. I want to ask the right thinking Nigerians reading this to please tell me what our President is doing while the rule of law is being abused and he is keeping mute?
  2. We saw how the President was vocally vibrant on campaign grounds so why has he suddenly lost his voice?
  3.  Will the President watch while some few miscreants hijack the mantle of ruler-ship of this country and act like gods? Who is he afraid of?
  4. Mr President should remember that we shall hold him accountable if this country burns due to his silence and inaction on boiling issues centred on the misuse of rule of law targeted at the senate president of Nigeria.
  5. Shouldn’t Nigerians be worried that the president is just sitting back and watching while the number 3 citizen is being abused and blatantly being undermined by unscrupulous elements in both the ruling party, and the executive branch?
  6. It took PDP almost 16 years before they had a President who doesn’t know his left from his right but i want to believe President Buhari won’t be like that.

The controversy surrounding the senate President Saraki asset declaration of 12 years ago is a shame and mockery of the highest degree. It has always been shades of different allegations since Saraki became the senate president and pitifully, our president has been mute all along or could he be the sponsor of all the numerous ill propaganda that has been targeted at the Senate President? It has sad that the rumour that the President sways in the direction of the tiny ‘self-interested’ voices that seem to be poisoning his mind towards Saraki.

Saraki’s score card in 100 days as Nigeria senate President showed serious activities, openness and transparency that Nigerians have never enjoyed so i ask why would Buhari keenly wish to oust Saraki knowing fully well that the independence of NASS can only be guaranteed and guarded by people with Saraki’s kind of foresight and leadership?

Without any feeling of guilt in my mind, I wish to tell the president to press on and oust Saraki but he should not forget that once your true allies have been defeated, that when the wolves around you begin to show their teeth.

The president has many wolves around him. Some of them are even at his front, or as the Yoruba’s would say: “Asiwaju

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Nigerians, Road Accidents And The Blood Of Jesus, By Philip Obin

I sincerely think that as Nigerians, we need to embrace science and technology, study it and understand it as much as we studied and understand religion and faith. It will do us a great deal!

I am devoted Christian, but the way we allow religion and faith kill us in this part of the world is amazing! You board a dead vehicle from a dead motor park, with almost dead drivers, and instead of trying to check and ask questions such as if the driver is qualified, licensed, fit, not under alcoholic influence or if the vehicle is good, sound and has good tires, we’ll rather prefer to donate monies to fake preachers who come on board to tell you how people die on road accidents because they didn’t give or donate monies to them in the name of giving!

They preach and tell you how to cover the almost dead driver,  dead vehicle,  dead tires and  dead steering with the blood of Jesus, and we’ll shout a loud ‘Amen’ to it?

Why do we derive joy in looking for witches and wizards ho are after us, when we fail to do the most primary things we ought to do to guaranty our safety? For how long can the blood of Jesus continue to allow bad vehicles convey us from Abuja to Lagos all the way? Why don’t we rather pray for miracles that will catapult us from one location to another, if that is so easy?

I will prefer we have technical experts volunteering to visit motor parks, instead of men of God, and sensitive passengers on how to spot inexperienced, unlicensed or drunk drivers, what to check out for before boarding any commercial vehicle; and also work closely with drivers and owners of commercial vehicles, to advice technically on the states and conditions of their vehicles before such vehicles are allowed to hit the roads. The bad side with this option is that Nigerians aren’t good in voluntary assignments that do not pay and Nigerian road users won’t be willing to give tips to such volunteers; they’ll prefer to give to men of God who threaten them with hell fire and dangers of not giving to them.

This is why I prefer to fly when on long trips, because the road transport industry and system in Nigeria is suicide mission, and has little or no functional regulatory body and so anyone can bring any vehicle and anyone as driver to any motor park, load Nigerians like ice fish only to go and waste them on the road. Admittedly, our airways aren’t as safe as it should be, however, the industry is run by highly specialized professionals who have so much at stake in the event of any accident, and the govts are more interested in the sector because it directly affects them.

Created in February 1988, the Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, which functions generally relates to making the highway safe for motorists and other road users, has failed Nigeria and Nigerians, and its purpose almost defeated, as they concentrate on extorting road users, instead of ensuring their safety.

Other duties of the FRSC includes: Recommending works and devices designed to eliminate or minimize accidents on the highways and advising the Federal and State Governments including the Federal Capital Territory Administration and relevant governmental agencies on the localities where such works and devices are required, and Educating motorists and members of the public on the importance of discipline on the highway. In particular the Commission is charged with the responsibilities for: Preventing or minimizing accidents on the highway; Clearing obstructions on any part of the highways; Educating drivers, motorists  and other members of the public generally.

A similar body, the Vehicle Inspection Office Driver and Vehicle Licensing Administration, VIO-DVLA which primary aim is to standardize the drivers’ license certification process and to maintain a database of certified drivers and vehicles in each State of the Federation for the enforcement of road traffic laws in Nigeria, has also not lived up to expectations, owing to same effects of corruption

As the rate of road accidents increase in Nigeria on daily basis, it becomes urgent that the new govt looks into existing regulatory bodies or create new ones and mandate them to work closely with road transport companies and delegate officials to work at motor parks of the road transport companies, in order to even ascertain the conditions of vehicle before they leave their parks, since accidents can occur before the vehicles reach checking points in most cases.

I will write better on this soonest, but for now, I appeal we separate religion/faith from reality (science and technology) because if we have good/sound vehicles, good and fit drivers + brand new or good tires, then the rate of our road accidents will reduce by a large percent, then a large amount of the blood of Jesus would be saved for better things in the future!

Before the part 2 of this post, kindly find some scientific tips on how to reduce road accidents ‘naturally’ below:

Steps To Prevent Road Accidents
We all know speed is a major factor in many accidents. However, not all accidents are caused by speed and not all accidents are preventable. Yet there are steps you can take to help prevent accidents. Many accidents can be prevented and in those that are not preventable, the damage could be lessened. Here are some tips to help you prevent traffic accidents.

Drive according to road conditions. Drive slower when the weather is bad. Road surfaces deteriorate in rain. The ability to stop quickly greatly reduces when the roads are not dry.

Keep your vehicle in good mechanical order. Replace worn tires and brakes as needed. Keep windshield washer fluid full and change out windshield wipers on a regular basis.

Wear your seatbelt. Not only do seatbelts keep you safe in an accident, it will help you avoid accidents as well. Seatbelts will hold you in place during an aggressive maneuver. If you make an abrupt maneuver, you may find yourself thrown to the passenger side of the vehicle. Remember to make your passengers buckle up, too.

Avoid other vehicles. Back off and don’t tailgate or allow others to tailgate you. Try to avoid driving next to another vehicle in case it has to swerve to avoid an animal or debris that may be in the road.
Watch out at intersections as many accidents happen here.

Always slow down and look both ways at intersections. Don’t assume the other vehicles will stop just because the light is red. There is always someone trying to get through the intersection during a yellow light.

Stay away from 18-wheelers. These large tractor trailer rigs require extra space when making wide right turns.Therefore, avoid the right side of one, especially if you think the driver will turn right. Don’t drive behind an 18-wheeler on the highway. A blown tire can cause an accident.

Turn your head to check for traffic before changing lanes. Do not rely on your mirrors when making a lane change. All vehicles have “blind spots” in which your mirrors cannot see. Do not ride in the blind spots of other vehicles.

Look extra carefully in parking lots or parking areas. Many fender-benders happen in these areas. Follow the rules set up in parking areas. These rules are for the safety of all drivers.

Slow down. Obey the speed limit even if every other car is surpassing it. Remember that police officers often stay hidden from view while looking for speeders. If you’re caught driving too fast, they won’t hesitate to give you a ticket.

Let others pass you. Defensive driving means letting others go ahead-not defending your position in traffic. Avoid the urge to be a vigilante (“Oh yeah? Let me show you what it’s like to be cut off like that!”) Accept the fact that someone is always going to think they’re in more of a hurry than you. These are the drivers you want to move far away from, not to ‘teach them a lesson.

Try to avoid driving in bad weather. Always keep your windshield wipers going in the rain. Defrost your windshield to keep it from fogging up. Turn on your headlights to help others to see you–this is also the law in some states. If possible, try to avoid driving in the rain at all, especially if your car is not very sound. If you must go out in the rain, drive extra slow, use the brakes and gas pedal gently, and maintain an increased stopping distance.

Never get into a car with a drunk driver. It is always best to have a “designated driver”. Never drive after you have had alcoholic beverages. Even one beer can alter your ability to drive safely.

Wear a seatbelt. This is a must. By law in many countries, all cars must have a safety restraint. Buckling up only takes a second and can save your life in an accident. Children should always be in a booster seat or car seat until they are tall enough and heavy enough to sit by themselves. This generally includes children age eight and under. Never put a child in a car or booster seat in the front passenger seat or other seat with airbags. Children should generally be 12 and older when sitting in the front passenger seat.

Keep your car and its accessories in good condition. Keep the tires properly inflated, the brakes adjusted, and the windshields and windows clean. Replace windshield wiper blades when they begin to streak, and all make sure all the lights are working properly.

Use your signals properly. Always use your signal, even if you think no one is there. When changing lanes on the freeway, don’t signal as an afterthought or during the lane change. Signal at least a couple of seconds in advance so others know what you’re going to do before you do it. (Ever notice how most of the skid marks along the highway are just before an exit ramp? – this is where you have to be the most careful.)

Don’t tailgate. No matter how slowly traffic is moving, keep at least two seconds of following distance between you and the car ahead. Any less and you won’t be able to stop in time if the driver ahead slams on the brakes.

Keep your eyes moving. Don’t get in the habit of staring at the back of the car ahead of you. Periodically shift your eyes to the side-view mirrors, the rear-view mirror, and ahead to where you’ll be in 10-15 seconds. Doing this, you can spot a potentially dangerous situation before it happens.

By Philip Obin, Founder/CEO of 9icefaces.com  and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilipObin or email at ceo@potechng.com

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House Of Reps Speaker Dogara Asks Nigerians To Forgive Boko Haram

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has called on Nigerian Christian community, particularly those in North East states to forgive members of the Boko Haram Islamist sect.

He stressed that the country could only make meaningful development when Nigerians begin to forgive one another. He noted that although people’s sources of livelihood and churches were destroyed during the fiery days of the insurgents, the Christian community should, in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ, forgive and look forward to better times.

The Speaker, who is the first northern minority Christian from the core north to hold the highest political office in Nigeria, made this appeal yesterday in Abuja at the Christian Ecumenical Centre, during the diamond anniversary lecture of the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria.

Dogara re-affirmed the right of every Nigerian to subscribe freely to any religion of his choice as long as it suits his or her conscience.

According to him: “The need for sober reflection is particularly important for us in Nigeria, especially in the North-eastern states of Nigeria, where the terrorist group, Boko Haram, which of late, has been flaunting its association with the world terror group, the Islamic State (ISIS), has targeted not only the Church, but also Mosques, children, women and indeed, the entire society, in mindless terror, death and destruction of all that we hold dear.

“The rights of our people as entrenched in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended, to worship and choose their religion has been violated by the terrorists, who left no one in doubt that they want everyone to follow their ways.

“What are the lessons for us today in Nigeria? Christians would need to forgive those who, especially in the last six years, have promoted, strengthened and supported the massive destruction that the Church and others had suffered in the hands of the Boko Haram. But, where else lies the footstep of the saviour except in forgiving? History has shown that the blood of saints cannot be shed in vain?.”

The Speaker called on clergymen to live above board and be actively involved in nation-building, noting that Christian leaders should not look up to the world for ?leadership.

“The Church must never look to the world for leadership; rather, the world should look to the Church for leadership,” he stated.


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