A President, His Wife And Misogyny By Raymond Nkannebe

Aisha Buhari is no doubt a beautiful dame. Give it to her. But then history has shown that good looks accounts for almost nothing in the political chessboard. That is, when it comes to the turf of politics, beauty of whatever kind, takes the back sit. The only time as far as this writer can recall that beauty formed part of our socio-political discourse was in the early eighties. Precisely in 1982 when politicians spoiled for the 1983 elections. And it was when the fire eating strong man of Kano politics- late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi  was quoted to have said that “he was confident that his political party, the defunct PRP would win the votes of every Nigerian woman because of his handsomeness and that of his running Mate- Jim Nwobodo”.

That election would not hold as the military struck on the last day of December, 1983.furthermore, that the likes of Robert Mugabe, Olusegun Obasanjo, Emmanuel Uduaghan and Adams Oshiomole among others have held prolonged political offices despite what many would agree is a horrible look, is a testimony that Beauty is inconsequential in this thing called politics and politicking. In place of Beauty, it is wit and tact that matters. And that is why, when history will be written, Patience Ibifaka Jonathan would be remembered more than Aisha as the quintessential Thatcher, Merkel or even Queen Victoria. And that is the first take away dear reader, from today’s discourse.

Perhaps we should forgive Aisha Buhari. Unlike Patience Jonathan, she obviously does not know that power and politics is business. A monopoly of sort.  But if she does not know this truism, how come she also does not know that the Family too, is business? For if she had known, she wouldn’t have said the sort of things she said the other in that interview that has drawn much blood from the life of this administration and has kept many mouths occupied. For the sake of all that is good and just, who takes their husband’s dirty linens to wash in the full glare of the public? And a presidential ‘ogburu’ at that! It is in sheer agreement with the fact that family matters should not be made a public affair that even the Police in Nigeria came out with the coinage, “ Na family matter” to ward off complainants  who come to the police stations  intending to make it a pseudo-family court. Telling them to go back home and see how they can negotiate some peace. And as young couples are told, never discuss otherwise bedroom business in the markets of the state.

That is to say, on no account should family affairs be made a subject of public logomachy or objurgation. In Mario Puzo’s classic work: The Godfather, published in 1969, we learn that it is the height of folly to tell anyone outside the family what you are thinking. This is because everyday living is a continuous but subtle battle for the few resources up for grabs. And therefore telling anyone outside of the family what you are thinking, is akin to leaving your flanks open to attack and your continuous existence to the discretion of your opponent. The unwritten rule therefore is: however bad it may be on the home front, we are to carry on as though bliss is pervasive within while alternating divergent trouble-shoot mechanisms to earn the bliss. In the realm of politics, it is a no-brainer. You cannot spill the beans abroad.

Aisha Buhari in her naivety, seem not to appreciate all of this. And unwittingly constituted herself into an opposition element against her spouse goaded by the fact that she was speaking the truth but oblivious that in politics and power, honesty is not a virtue. In doing that, it became obvious that she, after 27 years of marriage to the Daura politician, does not understand the chemistry of the man she has shared the ‘other room’ with, for almost three decades.

Not only was her grouse with the spouse uncalled for, it was also not a legitimate one. She came across as an advocate of cronyism whining and crying that her Buhari would not imbibe the unofficial policy of “no contribution no chop”. She is not happy that those who made inputs into the presidency of her husband have been relegated to the background while those who were not instrumental in the process or even suffered the need to pick up their PVSs were literally woken up from their slumber to take up juicy positions in her husband’s government. Said the dame, “…That is what I am saying. Those that know they don’t have voters card, they should give chance to those that have; they are the ones that struggled and knows what we want to do…..they didn’t even work for it…” Nothing could be more infantile. Apparently, in saying that, she betrayed the fact that her husband’s plagiarized but popular “ I belong to everybody, I belong to nobody”  mantra at his inaugural address made no sense to her. For her, it was just another of those political platitudes. The traditional politics of settlement was for her, a rule of thumb. She was ready to compromise standards provided “those who worked” were happy.

She alleges that a cabal was running her husband roughshod and calling the shots within the presidency and tells us to watch our TV screens if we need to know them as she would not tell us the ‘essential ingredients’ of this cabal. She didn’t even put in a word for her husband’s lopsided appointment that is diametrical to the Federal Character Principle; what would have been a more nationalistic grouse, but rather was pained that cronyism was not imbibed by her husband. She signs off threatening not to support this spouse come 2019, if he chooses to throw his hat into the ring. In her delusion, she thinks her beauty was instrumental in bringing the government to power. Perhaps she must have thought the pictures of her (doing what she probably knows how, to in the kitchen—turning bean cake (Akara balls) in certain Nigerian suburb), that was widely circulated in the media during the campaigns moved many Nigerians into voting the Buhari-Osibanjo ticket. Altogether, she confirmed the fears of many- that she would go down as one of Nigeria’s most unpopular ‘first lady’.

But no sooner had she finished her political “insider trading” than her husband entered appearance. This time, in far away Germany, where at a joint press conference with German Chancellor, Angela Markel, in Berlin, true to his characteristic nature of committing colossal gaffes outside our shores, president Muhammdau Buhari in a political joke (assuming we want to concede the damage control spin set about by Garba Shehu and co.) that would not be forgotten in a hurry, told a stunning audience that she does not know what political party his wife belongs to. But most certainly that he was sure, “she belongs to his kitchen, the living room and the inner room”. Coming at a time when top contender for the United States president job, Donald Trump has been picketed and harangued for his obscene comments about the feminine gender, PMB carelessly enlisted his name in the annals of infamy. The Washington Post correspondent, Ishaan Tharoor would draw a parallel between Trump and Buhari saying in a post for the tabloid, “If you think Donald Trump has problems, consider those of Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari…”

Buhari’s rather brash reaction to say the least, was not only uncivilized to be heard of the leader of a country in the 21st century, it betrayed him as not being a good crisis manager. He should have known that family business must not be brought to the public domain even though they have political undertones. He could have shrugged the question and thereby saving himself the colossal pitfall that became his response.  He had more than a thousand ways to wriggle himself out of the corner he was boxed, but alas he was not the smartest of presidents. And in a rather misguided manner, shot himself in the foot in a never-before-seen answer to a question.

Whatever the presidential media team wants us to believe, truth is that Buhari’s riposte to his wife’s strictures on the trajectory of his government feeds from a rapacious and misogynistic maniac that labels the woman as an object to be thrown about with no need to be factored into the workings of the larger society. Little wonder why we have seen fewer women dotting the corridors of his government unlike the previous administration. That is to say, in Buhari’s social thought, the woman should be preoccupied with the tasks of cooking and making babies for her spouse—that myopic and often traditional perception of the feminine gender which is a stone throw from gender abuse.

At the end of the day, the first family made a mess of themselves to the consternation of too many country men and women with Aisha stirring the hornet’s nest. They did not only take care of their dirty linens in the local corridor, they did so through the international media making global headlines for the wrong reason. What would have been a successful outing in Germany was therefore eclipsed by the discordant tunes that the president and his Aisha traded offshore. And while we must blame both husband and wife for such faux pas of international magnitude, it is Aisha Buhari who should take the heavier knocks for not knowing where and when to ventilate her grievances. And whose moments of verbal incontinence set all these stones rolling.

 

Raymond Nkannebe, a Legal practitioner and Public affairs commentator can be reached via RaymondNkannebe@gmail.com. Twitter @RayNkah

 

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Taming The Excesses Of PMB’s Gestapo Police; The Urgency Of Now By Raymond Nkannebe

One of the major ideals that recommend democracy as a conventional system of government is the principle of Rule of Law as one of its cardinal pillars. British jurist and constitutional theorist, A.V. Dicey when he coined the concept at the end of the 19th century, described it as “one of the two basic principles of the English constitution” . He saw in it a veritable weapon for checking the excesses of governments who at the time carried on like lords of the manor with little or no respect for the triumph of laws. It is instructive to note however, that before Dicey popularized the concept, renowned philosopher, Aristotle already wrote 25 centuries ago in his work Politics III, that “the rule of law was preferable to that of any individual.”

This ideal has remained alive to the present day. Thus, the notion of “the free and lawful men and of the king being under God and the law” are to be found from the early times of the common law. The conception of the rule of law demands that all actions of government officials be justified in law and that no government official , however exalted in rank, be entitled to disregard the law in the name of “reasons of state”.  In Dicey’s words, “every man, whatever be his rank or condition, is subject to the ordinary law of the realm and amenable to the jurisdiction of the ordinary tribunals”. Quite more apposite to our discourse is the words of Herring CJ in the celebrated case of Arthur Yates & co pty Ltd v Vegetable seeds Committee (1945) 72 CLR 137 at 66, “it is not the English view of the law that whatever is officially done is law ….. On the contrary, the principle of English law is that what is done officially, must be done in accordance with the law”.

Of the five distinct branches of the principle, “Action According to Law”, finds more expressios and relevance to this intervention. This simply means that the organs of government must be subject to legal rules. This conception, being the simplest of the 5, can be found very early in the common law. Thus , King John promised in Article 39 of the ‘Magna Carta’ (1215) that “No free man shall be taken or imprisoned or desseised or outlawed or exiled or in any way ruined , nor will we go or send against him except by lawful judgment of his peers or by  law of the land”.

The jurisprudential import of this phenomenon is one that begs of no serious intellectual riguour before its tenets meet conprehension. In fact, it is what it says: rule according to laid down rules and regulations as a veritable tool to check the excesses of power which we are told by Lord Acton, that its absolutism corrupts absolutely. And who is despot other than one with acute reprehension for the institution of laws.

The concept of rule of law therefore, side by side its adjunct principle of seperation of powers, it could be said,  are the features next to enfranchisement , that have earned democracy as a system of government, its resplendent colours and arguably the reason why it has become a model for many nations in contemporary human society.

What follows from the foregoing therefore, is that a government which fails to institutionalise such and make it the raison d’etre of its administration is not worth its good name as a democratic government. Such a government becomes at best an authoritative one in democratic garb, flaunting democratic institutions , ostensibly to “fly the banner” of its democractic nature to the international community and citizens at home . That is, it becomes a democracy only in form but not in substance. And since substance in the equation of legality takes precedence over form, it would not be out of place to conclude that democracy is not practiced in such a clims but at best, a mockery of same.

It is therefore along this construct, that the uncivilized, militaristic, draconian and obnoxious manner, operatives of the DSS acting on “orders from above” (whatever that means), in a near nationwide brazen attacks cum invasion of the private residences of respectable judges of both the superior and inferior courts of records at the most ungodly hour of the day on Saturday, 8th of October 2016 must be situated. If anyone bought the narrative of the mercantilist spin doctors of President Muhammadu Buhari being a changed and democratised military dictator by the act of his taking the oath of office and swearing to uphold and defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 29th of May 2015, that confidence must have been lost with the speed the coconut falls from its tree, when the media ran to town with the news of the exectuive rascality and highhandedness carried into effect by its Gestapo police.

And as for Buhari and the gullible ilk who bought the narrative of the spin doctors of “white wash” wizadry, this latest act among others provides an opportunity for their ranks to learn a thing or two from these age long proverbs to wit: The leopard does not lose its spots, no matter how much is expended to come about that, and that we do not learn to be left handed at old age. This much, PMB has proven times without memory.

For the records, there is nothing that can explain away the manner the DSS in the quintessential gestapo style set about their hatchet job the other day. No amount of explanation and justification can win it any acceptability. At law, we say that it is void ab initio and therefore, loses the chances of any legality deriving from it.

One is miffed and obfuscated over the manner and reckless abandon with which the SSS have carried on under the headship of Buhari’s kinsman, Alh. Lawal Daura so much that it has become a consistent pattern, snow balling into an unwritten law since the notorious invasion and arrest of the former National Security Adviser Alh. Sambo Dansuki in his house with no regard for standard procedures in its modus operandi. As of fact, it appears with each obnoxious act , they have only become more ferocious and brazen; a pattern that suggests some hands in the background patting them in the back and urging them on in their professional misfeasance.

It would be recalled that this same Gestapo police was reported to have invaded the government house of an incumbent governor at about the same ungodly hour of the day destroying, maiming and carting away properties including cash sums belonging to the government house without as much of a whimper from the presidency. An act never before witnessed in our chequered history. Similar scenario played out in  Rivers state during the re-run elections into the national assembly of the state. The same “Nazi police” has become notorious for  disobeying and flouting court orders with inpunity and unbriddled breach of the fundamental rights of too many a citizen from Nnamdi Kanu, to Sambo Dansuki through Robert Azibola among others.

What should worry all and sundry, irrespective of political persuasions in this particular incident is the choice of judges who are victims of this latest act of gross insubordination. Upon a closer look, one finds out that they in one way or the other have an axe to grind with the DSS in the discharge of their professional duties as the interpreters of our Laws and “bulwark of the liberty of the citizens”  in the words of Right. Hon. Nnamdi Azikiwe.

Justice Adeniyi Ademola and Dimgba of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division is said to have been raided for allegedly granting bail to retired Air Commodore Mohammed Umar of the presidential Probe panel on Arms. Another is said to have been raided for banning the DSS from coming to his court for unending flouting of its orders. Justice Pindiga who was picked at Gombe state, is said to be the first chairman of the election tribunal that upheld the election of governor Nyeson Nwike in Rivers State.

Justice Sylvester Ngwuta of the supreme court is also hounded for delivering judgments that have not been particularly favorable to the DSS and the presidency. In Rivers state, the governor would not such happen under his watch. We are told he had the nozzle of a gun pointed at him and went home with injuries. Altogether, one is presented with an ugly picture of the DSS resorting to inpunity as a weapon to itimidate the judges and send a word to the judiciary that the barrel of the gun is stronger than the gavel.

To justify and lend some credence to their stealth, they fly the Kite of corruption on the part of the judges in the discharge of their duties and allege the recovering of substantial amount of money in the apartments of their victims in a fit to earn popular support. But the corruptness or otherwise of our judges is not immediately in issue here . What is, is the resort to the commando style in the prosecution of a supposed legal duty. At law, an unlawful act done in the prosecution of a lawful duty remains a wrong.

In criminal jurisprudence, a criminal summons almost always preceed and arrest. With the latter  option always had recourse to, when a summon has been disobeyed. At no time atleast as far as we know, were the justices invited by the DSS for interogation neither is a search warrant which the operatives claim to have gotten executed at such ungodly hour of the day, save in circumstances where efforts to arrest an accused or a suspect within the window set by the law which is between 5am and 8pm has proved abortive. All of these cast serious doubt on the testimony or representation of the DSS and leave behind the impression of a sinister object by the DSS to itimidate and embarras the learned Justices.

No one says the judges that line our court both the superior and the inferior ones are paragons of decency or vintage cesar’s wives beyond reproach, but diplomacy and professional due deligence matters. The Nigeria judicial council (NJC) is not oblivious of the rot within the judiciary and only last week recommended the compulsory retirement of three judges of the superior courts including a chief judge to send the message that professional indiscretion and misconduct both in professional respects and otherwise, would not be tolerated within the bench.

In any case, the DSS cannot overeach it self by constituting itself into a busy body holding brief for both the EFCC, ICPC and NJC combined. No matter the amount of money found in the private residence of these judicial officers, it doesnt in anyway earn their stealth any justification, however they belabour the narrative. That can only be a story for another day.

Let it be said that our grouse is not with the personages or the personalities of the judicial officers – indeed the law remains supreme in any democratic institution. Our worry and fear is with the institutional victim of this affront. If the judicial arm of government in a state should at anytime become the object of ridicule, the victim of executive compromise or abitrage, then citizens in such a society have every course to be worried – for if the institution that is widely aclaimed to be the last hope of the common man comes under attack from the executivs not only is their independence compromised but also the civil liberties of citizens vanishes into the thin air like a gust of wind.

It is commendable therefore, that the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) under its new headship, A. B. Mahmud (SAN), and the Nigeria Judicial Council (NJC), have both voiced their opprobrium for the otiose and odious conduct of the DSS calling for the immediate release of the learned justices without more.

It is trite that two wrongs does not make one right. In the bid to rid our body politic of corruption that has become its by word, courtesy deserves and the law impresses it that such a general good must be prosecuted with equal respect for the laws shorn of any promiscuity and impunity so that we do not lose four running after eight.

President Muhammadu Buhari, may or may not have given the orders upon which such Gestapo-ic theatrics was executed but the buck still stops right at his table as the Commander in Chief of this Octopus of a nation.

At not time should any arm of our nascent and burgeoning democracy, or any of its institutions be subjected to such level of intimidation, harassment and embarrassment as witnessed last weekend if at all the idea of running a democratic system of government according to the dictates and sanctions of the law, still appeal to us.

It is high time PMB as he is popularly called heeded the voice of reason by taming what has overtime leapfrogged into a Gestapo police reminiscent of the dark era of Nazi Germany, as the consequences of a failure to, promises incalculable harm to both government, the citizens, our democracy and the ultimate goal of governance. This is not Banana Republic nor is it a “Hitlaristic” Germany. Enough said!

Dino Fiddling while Nigerians “Burn”

The ostentatious, opulent, controversial and profligate self – styled Anti-corruption crusader, senator Dino Melaye, Chairman Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, in an obvious show of nonchalance to the poverty, deprivation, indigence hunger and want ravaging many Nigerians in the face of a biting recession, bought himself a brand new Rolls Royce which media Reports say is valued at 180 million naira. When quizzed by press men as to the source of the money, the garrulous senator tells them, “he deserves some Privacy and ought to be respected”. Dino Melaye gives no hoot what anybody thinks and like emperor Nero, would rather fiddle while Nigerians especially members of his senatorial district, “burn”. Like the French Queen Maria Antoinette in the 17th century, he may as well ask Nigerians to go grab some cake if they can’t afford bread. What pity!

 

Raymond Nkannebe, a Lawyer and Public affairs commentator Can be reached at Raymondnkannebe@gmail. Twitter :@RayNkah

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On Sambo Dasuki And The Ruling Of The ECOWAS Court By Raymond Nkannebe 

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The ‘Tribulations’ Of Abdulmumin Jibrin And A Call To Action By Raymond Nkannebe

Nobody would have thought that a time will come in the history of this nation when a member of the National Assembly; an institution that has become somewhat synonymous with looting and plunder— would rise up to the occasion against its leadership, look the dis(honourable)  members in the eyes and say: you reek of filth. But the events of the recent past in the green chambers of the National Assembly seem to be proving our scepticisms wrong. Alas a messiah of sort has risen within the house and has left no one in any doubt as to his mission: like Hercules, to clean the augean stables and to slay the larnean hydra of corruption.

And like all revolutionaries in history who set out to exorcise an ignominious past and enthrone a new beginning for the greater good of the greatest number true to the utilitarian model of the philosopher —Jeremy Bentham, he has become the butt of vilest affronts at the hands of a cabal for whom the green chambers has become a pseudo money market. With the latest act being an unceremonious suspension handed down by an Ethics and Privilege committee so called, whose manner of commissioning repudiates the very ethos of good ethics. How true the lingo, that corruption always fights back!

Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin, the member representing Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituencies  in Kano state at the House of Representatives and until recently the Chairman House Committee on Finance and Appropriation is no doubt in the eye of the storm. The circumstances leading to his present ‘troubles’ is one that has dominated public discourse in the public domain. His only fault as far as we are concerned was standing for the course of truth and transparency and speaking truth to power, but which his traducers say was against the extant laws of the House and has since shamelessly handed down a punishment to satiate their ego and prove a point. But all of those appear to be achieving the opposite and the man has since taken his case apart from the conventional courts, to the court of public opinion. A move that has continued to win him social currency and grass root support to the irk of the many who want him ‘dead’.

The trajectory of the crisis that crystallised into his suspension albeit by subterfuge, last week,  is one that needs no further adumbration as too many a Nigerian are now at home with the scandal that rocked the 2016 appropriation bill involving the principal officers of the House. But what provokes wonder and begs for decisive action is the extent the members of the house are willing and ready to go in bringing down the axe on a man who in saner climes should be deserving of praise.

At the resumption of plenary last week after a protracted recess, the near blanket show of support and veiled vote of confidence passed on speaker Yakubu Dogara choreographed by the infantile and agbero-ish adorning of “I Stand With Dogara” mufflers (mass produced by God-knows-who) by the Pro-Dogara camp was a testimony that ours is parliament where the virtues of integrity and good conscience have long been traded for both rascality and thuggery. By that ignominious act they unwittingly put the message across thusly, that an act only becomes a wrong for want of popular support. Therefore, whereas Dogara and co. May have padded the budget, they were not going to probe the weighty allegations simply because they ‘stood with him’. It was indeed a sad day for democracy in the entire sub-saharan Africa. However, they seem to have missed the plot.

It didn’t occur to the ‘honourable’ members so called, that the desperation with which they have churned out diverse strategies of buffeting the man only speaks to one thing: that he must have spoken the truth. And if not the whole truth, a substantial portion thereof. Of course, nothing else can explain the unbridled desperation with the latest act in the menu, being the surreptitious and clandestine manner the panel secured his suspension even though the man was absent. A process which many lawyers would agree was a mockery of the twin pillars of Natural Justice: Audi alterem patem and Nemo Judex in Causa Sua.

How could the committee have gone ahead to try the man when he had unequivocally stated his lack of confidence in its Nicholas Osai chairmanship? Why was the session not made open to the ‘public’ in accordance with the provisions of the constitution as provided in section 36(3)? And from whence did Dogara assume the moral justification to set a panel in motion given the enormity of allegations raised against him by Jibrin? Assuming the illegal suspension is not upturned, how does the house intend to carry on with holding plenaries without the presence of Jibrin knowing that the circumstance of his suspension was born out of contrivance and repulsive dislike for the truth? And where does the house place Nigerians in their shenanigans? Does the escapist act of calling a dog a bad name to secure its conviction a testament of bravado?

If the ‘quartet’ as Jibrin rightly dubbed them have no skeletons in their closet, is it too much of a thing to ask from them to step aside while investigation into the allegations are concluded? Is not a clear conscience, the best ‘candidate’ for a trial? Were it to be in a more serious nation, shouldn’t the likes of Yakubu Dogara, Yusuf Lasun, Ali Doguwa and Leo Ogor have stepped aside and wait to be given a clean bill of health by an independent committee of inquiry? Why then must a man who blew the proverbial whistle be made a victim based on the consensus of a ravenous cult whose hands are soiled?

Let it be said that Nigerians are not altogether oblivious of the magnitude of heist that has over time become the rule of thumb in both houses of the National Assembly. In no distant past several accusing fingers have been pointed at the legislative arm on allegations not too different from the type we are once again confronted with today.

Of these, two readily comes to mind. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has more than once described the members of the assembly as bunch of ‘rogues and armed robbers’ who only meet at plenary to share their loot. The erstwhile CBN governor and current emir of Kano state, Dr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi it would be recalled got involved with the National assembly four years ago after revealing to Nigerians that as much as 25% of Federal Government overhead cost ends up in floating the National Assembly describing the members as “corrupt and constituting a big drain to the national treasury”. It is instructive to note that on those two occasions the reactions of the members took the same confrontational approach that terminates in making a victim off the whistleblower or the pouring of expletives and vituperations on such persons.

That the current national budget could go down in history as the most corruption laden appropriation bill is no longer an issue for debate no matter what the national assembly wants Nigerians to believe. The signs are all too clear for anyone except the wilfully blind to see. And a reading together of the pieces of evidence that has become the rump of the budget presents the gloomy portrait of a budget process  midwifed under a climate of fleece. The stamp on this assertion being the birth of the term ‘budget padding’ in our political lexicography.

But the good news is that the man of the moment and certified ruffler of feathers— Hon. Jibrin Abdulmumin, appears to be a different kettle of fish. He is not a man to be barked nor shoved off. He has spoken and reiterated that sycophancy is not the hallmarks of his personality and has harped his reprehension for fawning adulation. He calls himself a blunt and fearless extrovert who’ll stand firm for the cause of what he believes no matter the tyranny of the majority. This much, we have seen in his countenance since the battle line was drawn.

While his opponents see him as man chasing vendetta, he is on the contrary committed to legislative reforms; which is a supreme good and not the impotent claims of abuse of house rules that is bandied by Dogara and his ‘Ethics’ committee. And this is where his campaign must resonate with Nigerians— the ultimate victims of legislative malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance.

On the 27th of August he said on his twitter account, “when a new speaker emerges and the other principal officers replaced, I will write to the presiding officers of both chambers to commence a radical internal reform in the entire national assembly beyond budget, to cover performance, assessment, running costs and allowances, investigations e.t.c. If the reform so done by the national assembly is not made public latest by December, I will take it up and lay bare before the general public even if I am alone”. If only he had known that the Brutus and Cassius of our parliament were plotting his suspension from the house.

However, From this much, it becomes easy to glean that Jibrin feels the same frustrations and helplessness Nigerians have suffered under a National Assembly that has elevated impunity and incompetence to an article of faith and corruption a standard of conduct with little or no care for transparency.

Suffice it to say therefore that in the 17 years of the institution of the National Assembly since the turn of democracy in 1999, there has been no member with an acute distaste for corruption and an unbridled hunger for reforms and change like Hon Jibrin. He is not only the shining light of leadership with transparency and accountability, he is in the tiny league of elected public officials who reinvigorate the lost hope of many citizens that things may never get right here. He is our closest shot at enthroning a leadership culture that’ll not be guided by looting and rapacious plundering of national wealth but one that is anchored on transparency and accountability.

While the members have chosen not to stand with him, it is now for us to queue behind the man and call the bluff of the compromising lot that has chosen not to stand for truth and justice. While their numbers average the hundred mark, ours run into several millions. And our confidence should be renewed in the fact that absolute power resides with the masses in an ideal democracy.

Finally, how we handle the fleeting tiff between Jibrin and the leadership of the House will go a long way in voicing our true stance on corruption in high places. The options fortunately enough are twofold. Whether to keep silent in the face of the gargantuan injustice rocking the lower chamber of our national assembly crusaded by Dogara and the lot ‘standing with him’, or to join arms with the only symbol of revolutionary change— Hon Abdulmumin Jibrin who is set to turning around the crooked norms of the past and enthroning a leadership style and a parliament of our collective aspirations. The option we elect, may we not forget will be for posterity to judge.

AND TWO OTHER THINGS

Edo Botched Polls

Despite the controversial postponement  of the Edo state elections from the 10th  to the 28th of September ostensibly for security concerns, what transpired last week in Edo state assuming we want to call it an election could not be described as a model exercise that can be held out as a postcard for free and fair election unfortunately enough. It came with the full trappings of the impishness and rascality that have over the years become the poster of our electoral process to wit: ballot box snatching, monetary inducement of electorates by agents of political parties, visibly compromised security agents, intermittent problems with card readers, allegations of doctored results, police harassment and intimidation among a host of other shenanigans that put a huge question mark to the fairness of the process, if the reports in the media are anything to go by. While the electoral empire—INEC may have tried in making sure the process receives a clean bill of health with the introduction of the practice of voting immediately after accreditation , the influence of politicians have proven to be a huge storm to weather. It was therefore expected that the main opposition party— PDP would reject the result of the elections for what they believe was a stage managed exercise by Adams Oshiomohle hands in glove with the security agencies allegedly acting to the script of Abuja. But can it in all honesty be said that the PDP will be coming to equity with clean hands given reports of monetary inducement by their agents in their perceived strongholds and other places during the election? Couldn’t it have been a case of one party out-rigging the other? Whatever the case may be, It is indeed sad and most unbecoming that after spending huge funds in organising elections, political parties and their candidates still look to the election tribunals as the final arbiter of the fairness or otherwise of the process. What should be an exception have since become a standard practice in our electoral regime over time. What is wrong with us?

56 Years of Independence Ahoy !

Two days ago, we marked 56 years of nationhood. 56 years of a political freedom that has since made us the boss over our affairs both domestic and international. Like every anniversary, it is a time for introspection and retrospection into the future and over the past respectively. Many writers have expressed divergent views on the state of the union 56 years after independence. While for some, there is nothing to celebrate being that every anniversary presents only a nostalgic fervour of the good old days against a gory picture of a country presently on the edge of a precipice courting a precipitous fall. Others like Reuben Abatti writing on the subject think there is a lot to cheer about despite the nefarious problems that have dogged our progress. Expectedly, the mood of the nation foisted a low-key celebration without the pomp and fireworks that normally characterise the day. For us, 56 years of Independence readily brings to consciousness years of wasted opportunities and untapped potentials and sadly this trend may continue if we do not return to the drawing board to chart a new course for man and country. The most glaring evidence of this is the picture of a nation at war with itself. Of a nation struggling to reinvent herself. With secessionist forces  east of the divide beating drums of war and calling for self-determination; a most potent insurgency North east of the divide by Islamic fundamentalists calling for a Shariah state with reports of captured parts of our territory and a ferocious militancy in the creeks of the delta denting the wealth of the nation and threatening war, it would be understating the point to say that we sit on the keg of a gunpowder and may be on our way to Kigali at the least confrontation. Having said this, our greatest challenge at 56 is not our economic doldrums but the battle for our sovereignty.  Current and subsequent administrations therefore must as a matter of urgency do all within the ambits of its powers to placate all centrifugal forces threatening the continuous existence of the country for it is only when we have a country at peace that every other dividends of governance can be enjoyed. This independence therefore calls for more introspection and efforts at fostering national cohesion and not any form of celebration. God bless Nigeria.

 

The writer is a Lawyer, public affairs commentator and a Pilot Member of the “WHAT IS THE NIGERIAN DREAM?” project. He tweets from @RayNkah. Comments and reactions to raymondnkannebe@gmail.com

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James Faleke’s Tortuous Dance with Providence by Raymond Nkannebe

Whatever your political persuasion or misgivings about him, truth is: Mr. James Faleke deserves our pity. But he also deserves our praise. Pity, because of the chain of circumstances that brought him face to face with providence and the blow it dealt him. A circuitous chord that has terminated adverse to his interest. And praise for the courage and gumption  which he took to wage  ‘war’ against his personal god. A battle which has been lost but not without shaping further our democratic experience and enriching our electoral jurisprudence; an area of our law in constant need of reforms. He comes across to us like the protagonist, Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, who said yes, while his personal god thought otherwise. His only wish was to become the governor of Kogi state. But the gods had other plans. And to achieve their aim, set in motion a series of event that leaves the man helpless like a fish out of water; what reminds one of the tragic character— King Adewale in Ola Rotimi’s classic work, The gods are Not To Blame. Would he not have been the governor today if Abubakar Audu’s death took place sometime after the supplementary election?  Why wasn’t he chosen to fly the flag of his Party after the demise of Audu? Why didn’t the courts find accommodation for him within the confines of section 187 of the constitution? The questions may never end. Providence alas, always finds her way.

Last Tuesday, anxiety hung on the air like the gathering of the cloud before a heavy pour. Ants ran amok in the pants of too many a kogi indigene. Though the sun may have risen in the east in its default style, but when it was setting in the evening, not everybody within the state enjoyed the ethereal beauty of the sunset. Why? A 7 man panel of the supreme court led by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta (JSC) had earlier in the day upheld the election of the incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello whose circumstance of emerging the governor of the confluence state, many would readily come to consensus was an act of sheer luck. And who says there is no element of luck in politics after the near legend of former president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan?

By the time the learned justices finally rose from the bench, it was the Yahaya Bello camp that took the glory of the day, while poor Faleke and co. were left with the tail wagging the dog. The judgement had not gone his way. Driving the last nail in the coffin of his gubernatorial ambition. It was indeed a last straw which visibly broke his back.

Too many of us are now familiar with the facts of this electoral war fare that would read like a political thriller. But suffice it to rehash the facts as it comes to our mind for the benefit of those who may not be at home with the chain of events. We recall that James Faleke became the running mate to the late Abubakar Audu at the Kogi state gubernatorial election scheduled for the 21st of November 2015 after the late Audu successfully coasted to victory at the primaries conducted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) with Yahaya Bello the runners-up in that particular election.

However, events were to take a drastic dimension when the said election became a victim of crass irregularities leading to its inconclusiveness in some local governments and subsequent postponement for another two weeks for election to be completed in the Local governments by the electoral umpire— INEC. This was well after the Audu-Faleke ticket had amassed a mammoth 240,000 votes. Tension was rife and permutations fever-pitch. Not long after the media went to town with the postponement of the election did Abubakar Audu, the big name on the ticket suffer death in controversial circumstances thereby setting the stage for the poor Faleke to take on what arguably would become the greatest legal tussle of his political cycle.

As hours became days leading to the rescheduled election, the APC was to go and put its house in order by sending a new name to the electoral umpire as to who shall become its flag bearer in lieu of Audu. All manners of politicking and gerrymandering were let loose and when the dust settled, Yahaya Bello became the favoured man to carry on from where Audu had stopped. He had come second at the primaries but a lot more went into consideration in coming to the choice of his candidacy with the usual suspect: politics of zoning, top on the list. The Ebira, a dominant ethnic group in Kogi state had never produced the governor. Yahaya Bello happens to be from this tribe. Every other thing was at best, secondary.

To cut the long story short, the supplementary polls soon came and it was almost a stroll for Bello to victory. But just as many had feared, a legal battle was in the offing; gathering momentum all the while. Faleke, obviously feeling cheated as according to him, he ought to have stepped into the shoes of his would-be boss, Abubakar Audu in honour of the ticket and not relegating him to play second fiddle to a man he described as an “interloper” reaping where he had not sown. He would not accept to deputize for Bello and approached the courts, the supposed last hope of the common man to see if any respite may come his way. Meanwhile, Yahaya Bello would later be sworn in and went down in history as the only governor to have taken the oath of office without a deputy. Faleke would not be seen at the event amidst all the pomp, let alone consider acting as a mere lieutenant.

The journey through the courts from the tribunal to the appellate court and finally ending at the supreme court last week was no doubt, a long, arduous and tortuous one. Suffering defeats at the lower courts would not daunt the man. He seemed so certain that a glimmer of light might be at the end of the judicial tunnel given the novelty of the issue at trial. Perhaps his legal team must have urged him on. And when justice Ngwuta dropped the gavel last week, that glimmer of light never came. That ‘justice’ he vociferously sought was nowhere to be seen. He must go back to the green chambers where he is a lawmaker to continue the business of making laws. May be this time, more seriously. Perhaps sponsor a bill that would cover the lacuna in our electoral instrument that set him on collision course with fate.

The apex court would not give the full ratio for coming to its verdict. It adjourned that business to the last day of September to tell us why it didn’t marvel the nation as it did 8 years ago in the Ameachi vs. Omehia debacle. While we now await that considered judgment, we must not put the court on trial here and now. That would be a trouble for another day. But more importantly, a turf for legal academics, the NBA and the Civil Society to dabble; but suffice it to pose the following questions: Couldn’t the court had relied on section 187 of the constitution as lead counsel for Faleke, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) urged it , in order to secure a footing for Faleke? Why didn’t it heed the arguments of Chris Uche (SAN), legal practitioner to former governor Idris Wada , another party to the appeal in order to disqualify Bello for not having “gone through all the stages of the election” in the spirit of section 141 of the Electoral Act (2010) as amended? Could it be that the apex court merely invoked the “Ut res magit valuet quam peret” doctrine of Interpretation of Statutes to decide the matter as it did? Too many questions beg for answers, but let us not pre-empt the court.

Having said that, the biggest beneficiary of this legal warfare remains our democracy and legal jurisprudence. The case  would no doubt join the pantheon of  Ngige v Obi [2006]14NWLR(pt.999)1,Amaechi v INEC[2008]5 NWLR(pt. 1080)227, PPA v Saraki [2007]17 NWLR (pt.1064) 453 among other landmark electoral cases that have served to shape our jurisprudence and spurn a cavalcade of legal literature. For our democracy, it would send the message across borders that citizens still harbour confidence in the judiciary— that very important institution that gives life to any democracy, as the last hope of the common man and the bulwark of the civil rights of citizens.

The case further brings to fore, the pressing need for legal reforms. While it is true that there may never be a time when parliament would foresee every eventualities of everyday life of the society, parliament must remain proactive. The constitutional crisis generated by this case no doubt is a tacit mockery of our laws and the docility that has enveloped the institution that should churn out laws to keep the engine of state grinding. At a time when our senators are more interested in inanities such as budget padding and pointing accusatory fingers here and there, our laws must suffer the twin inexorable catharsis of redundancy and anachronism. This habitude must stop

James Faleke deserves our praise. The manner he bowed out is a stuff of legends. In reacting to the verdict the other day, the man went philosophical. Said him, “… I have no regrets challenging the decision to declare the election inconclusive as the step was taken in good faith to protect the interest of the over 240,000 electorates who voted for the Audu-Faleke ticket…” Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. His response is a lesson in standing for a cause we believe in, the enormity of odds notwithstanding. His resort the courts and not fomenting trouble qualifies him as a core democrat who believes in the rule of law and not might.

In concluding this intervention, we turn to the word of the immutable and irrepressible legal and judicial colossus, late Justice Ckukwudifu Akunne Oputa on the finality of the decision of the supreme court subject however to the proviso of overruling itself or nullification of its decision by legislation, as was enunciated in the celebrated case of Adegoke Motors Ltd v Adesanya& Anor (1989) 2 NSCC327 where the cerebral justice observed,

We are final not because we are infallible rather we are infallible because we are final. Justices of this court are human beings, capable of erring. It will certainly be short-sighted arrogance not to accept this obvious truth. It is also trite that this court can do inestimable good through its wise decisions. Similarly it can do incalculable harm through its mistakes. When therefore it appears to learned counsel that any decision of this court has been given per incuriam, such counsel should have the courage and boldness to ask that such a decision be overruled. This court has the power to overrule itself (and has done so in the past) for it gladly accepts that it is better to admit error than to persevere in error

On the strength of the above, we take the verdict of the Supreme Court as it comes as the authority when next a similar set of fact presents itself again until such a time when the apex court considers it fit to overrule itself on the strength of a superior argument canvassed by counsel. But in the mean time, we must not forget that it was James Falekewhile ‘enthralled’ in a long dance with providence set all these legal stones in motion.

 

The writer, a legal practitioner and public affairs commentator wrote in from kano. Comments and reactions to Raymondnkannebe@gmail.com follow him on twitter @RayNkah

 

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Patience Jonathan And Her $31m; Of Crass Idiocy, Naivety And Honest Arrogance, By Nkannebe Raymond

Throughout the duration of her stint in the plum office of the First Lady (an office unknown to our constitution by the way), which she almost brought to a parallel with the more exalted office of the presidency evidence of which is had in the manner we are told she flexed her muscle around the seat of power something that reminds one of the late strong woman of Kenyan politics, Mrs. Lucy Kibaki (while her husband, Mwai Kibaki held sway in that east African nation), Dame Patience Ibifaka Jonathan has never left anyone in any doubt as to her stupendous senility and capacity to confound.

Ever since she lost the vantage position from which she thrilled Nigerians in her unofficial office as the chief comedian of the federation, Mama Peace as she is fondly called, with her notorious distaste for “Blood sharing” has obviously lost the spotlight of the media, for a woman who arguable love to make the headlines. But the lull in media attention was to end soon; only that when it came, it wasn’t for her infamous usage of the English language and the therapy it became for a nation that finds a way to make a joke out of anything.

Early last week, news filtered in that she was fingered to have lined millions of dollars to the tune of $31 million, in a certain dollar account she operates with four commercial banks, including Skye Bank Nig. Plc by the anti-graft agency EFCC. Reports also had it that the EFCC had since frozen the accounts albeit without a court fiat in order to secure the allegedly stolen funds while investigations continue. But Mama Peace is not the type to be silenced by the antics of the EFCC. She has since mounted a loudspeaker telling anyone who cares to listen how the EFCC is “finding her trouble”. She has also instituted a Fundamental Right enforcement action at the Federal High Court in Lagos claiming 5 billion naira in exemplary damages through her legal practitioners, First Law and Associates.

Never mind, she was only a permanent secretary and the first lady in those good days and God knows no one could have amassed a quarter of that sum, within that slim period without engaging in, and overseeing a never-seen-before-bazaar of sleaze and thievery. Could it be her own moiety of the DasukiGate? Or was she also engaged in the business of snake husbandary as events of the recent past in our polity has proven snake-rearing another cash-cow but which i wonder why many of our people are not making frisk investments in it .

But Mama Peace was not done: she said part of the money was for her medical bills which leaves us wondering whether she is an out-patient at some foreign health facility battling Pneumonia, ovarian cancer, HIV and Tuberculosis at the same time. One writer said, may no body ever spend such a sum on health concers. How much serving and ex public officials like to wave the health flag at the least prodding. Remember that Dasuki has sought times without number to be allowed to travel abroad to take one or two doses of paracetamol. Even Olisa Metuh at one time or the other waved the health flag before he finally secured his bail.

And so what do all of these tell us about this woman and the administration that ‘gifted’ her to us? Our good man, Sam Omatsaye has the answer. Writing in his column for The Nation Newspaper of 19th September, 2016, on the same character, he said, “…her revelations tell us two things among others. One, she unveiled how people in high places take away money in stealth, except that she is not prepared to hide hers, because she believes it is her money. Two, that her husband was not able to tame the wife. She is the shrew that got away. An English newspaper once wrote that President Jonathan lacked the ability to control his wife. He could not play the tamer in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew where Catharine is made from a wild woman into a model of obedience…”

Mama Peace’s open admission of being the proprietress of these humongous sums which she has been barred from having access to, and the manner in which she has carried on about it, shorn of any remorse is both astonishing and mindboggling. It is the poster of her drunkenness with impunity. Her utterances for one, has made her come across as one who feels that her years of (dis)service to the nation earns her some perpetual immunity no matter the height of her undoing. This must be the delusion that leads her into throwing unveiled tantrums here and there prevailing on a beleaguered nation to believe that she earned such amount of money from doing almost nothing and hence shouldn’t be dispossessed of it. What only a palpable delusion and incurable idiocy can beget. Perhaps Mama Peace deserves to be told a thing or two. The GEJ era is long gone with its good and its bad, and a new administration has since taken over the affairs of the nation. While she obviously has eluded being tamed by her spouse, the Law is not the respecter of persons be they how ever so high.

Not only is she naive in her dispositions, she is also unskilled in her thievery. Of course she might have gone away with ‘her’ money. If she was subtle, calm and clinical, she might have carted away the money in guise as did others. She could have been a step or two further than the EFCC but even that too was so difficult to come by leading her into raining fire and brimstone like one cursed and struck by the gods.

But can we ever say a thing about Patience Jonathan, without mentioning his Goodluck whom she loves so much, but who also must bear the burden of the cacophony and otiose commentary generated by these revelations? At a time when the man is crowned and honoured across the globe for his democratic credentials; the only takeaway of his rudderless leadership, a wife who obviously proved difficult to tame continues to be a source of embarrassment even in his post- Aso Rock days.

Rather than go about in vainglorious chest thumping and a show of puff and ego, Mama Peace should rather go on her knees and apologise to Nigerians for the part she took in the pillaging of our common patrimony. She deserve to wake up from her trance and come back to reality whatever might have stung her. The law suits she has lined in virtually every court in the federation, would only serve to exacerbate and compound her woes. A better path is a visit to the EFCC to explain the circumstances bringing her in connection with such staggering sums and at worst, cutting a bargain. Anything short if this can only be at her peril.

We trust the anti-graft agency to follow this particular matter to a logical conclusion and once a prima facie case is made out, drag to court this unabashed and garrulous matriarch who carries on like one citizen whom the nation cannot call to order. Her arrogance offends. Her naivety, sui generis!

The writer, a legal practioner and public affairs commentator Writes from kano. Comments and reactions to Raymondnkannebe@gmail. Com

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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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Postponed Edo Polls; Vintage Voice of Jacob and the Hand of Esau by Nkannebe Raymond

Fellow Nigerians, it appears not too many of us seem to appreciate the degree of political fraud that was pulled off last week by the (mis)ruling party in Edo state? hence, the seeming cold acceptance that has greeted the “democratic coup” (in the words of Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose) by the general public without much of a whimper as would have been seen were it to be in saner climes where citizens hold the leadership accountable for any executive recklessness, especially in matters of the ballot. Or perhaps, the recession which we are told is just a “mere word” in Kemi Adeosun’s thought has bitten so hard so much that it has grown into a phrase and nobody seem to give anymore hoot about the numerous gaffe of the current band of progressives (or if you like, retrogressives) in Abuja, which were supposed to be a beacon of hope and the very symbol of exemplary leadership. Many , we suspect may have since resigned to their fate waiting only to be heard more poignantly at the ballot when the general elections come around again.

We shall in this engagement put in the proper perspectives the notoriety of that voice of Jacob, resident in Abuja, properly carried into action through the hands of the Esaus of this clime, aptly represented by the Gestapo police in furtherance of the spirit and letter of the script. We shall also bemoan the consequence(s) it behoves for our nascent and burgeoning democracy.

Perhaps no other gift would have come in good taste for the good and peace loving people of Edo state, than the gift of being allowed the latitude and space to freely exercise their franchise by electing a new resident for the government house in Edo state; side by side catching up on the Eid celebrations for a state with a considerable population of Muslim faithfuls. But that, as we later found out, was not to be. Some pundits and analysts we learnt, were of the view that the handwriting on the wall for the Oshiomole camp was not looking bright enough and so something had to give. What happened next was a combination of mendacity, fabrication and falsehood and before one could shut the windows, last minute steps were taken to shift the goal post meters further and to buy more time for Oshiomole’s anointed stooge, aka, Godwin Obaseki and also to throw more money at the system.

Of course they didn’t need to solve a hard algebra to come about that. All they needed was to come up with an ostensible reason and they found that with the unholy bride: Insecurity. Borrowing from the antics of their colonial masters-PDP( we have argued times without more in previous engagements, that there is nothing  to choose faced with the dilemma of making a choice between PDP and APC. Both of them are one and the same; the only difference lying in mere nomenclature), at the last general elections, they played the ‘insecurity card’ and surreptitiously stormed the electorates who at the time were already in high spirits for the polls; Nigerians and members of the international community who were already either in Abuja or within the state to monitor the process, by postponing the elections for another two weeks.

In a joint statement on Wednesday, 7th of September, the police and the Department of State Security (DSS)——— who have since become handmaids of the current establishment shamelessly told Nigerians that, “credible intelligence indicates plans by insurgent/ extremist elements to attack vulnerable communities and high population soft targets during the forthcoming sallah celebration between 12th and 13th of September, 2016….” And we ask, were the elections scheduled for these dates? Isn’t a gubernatorial election expected to be a day exercise save in inconclusive polls? But they were not finished. “Edo state”, the statement continued, “is amongst the states being earmarked for these planned attacks by the extremist elements…” among other mendacious representations signed by one DCP Don Awunah for the police and Garba Abdullahi, for DSS.

Let us recall that the Inconclusive National Electoral Commission (INEC), (we are told that is the moniker they have earned for themselves from consistent and palpable failures in the past), had refused to buy the alibi of insecurity when the rumour mills went to town to test the water, as according to Professor Mahmud Yakubu, the head of the commission, “ they were ready to go ahead with the exercise” only to be arm-twisted and ambushed by the Brigadier General Sule Kazaure camp, the Director General of NYSC, who apparently, was a partner to this ‘grand theft’ who  told the commission that he could not guarantee the security of the corp members who constitute a bulk of  INEC ad-hoc staff and without whose inputs, holding the elections becomes a sheer impossibility. With these successive developments, Mahmud and his commissioners ambidextrously handicapped, couldn’t do more but bow to the well organised coup-plotters and reviewed the exercise forward for the next two weeks; by rescheduling the polls for 28th of September, 2016  as provided by the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended).

But the good news about the whole shenanigan is that one need not be a political wizard to smell the rat here. It is very clear to even a blind man that the arranged postponement was the grand scheme of reactionary elements with vested interests operating from somewhere in the federal capital territory, not minding the consequences, material and financial for the nation and the psyche of the people of Edo state.

In the midst of the whole quagmire, one is moved to ask, whether the misfortune of insecurity and terrorism in Nigeria has become a double-edged sword such that it is now exploited and used as a fodder to perpetuate social and civic vice on the polity? That Insecurity, a common denominator that frustrates just about anything has been witnessed here in alarming proportions , does it give us the temerity to now capitalise on it  to score some parochial gains even when such threat do not exist? From whence did the so-called “credible intelligence” emanate from and since when did our security outfits become the CIA in Intelligence gathering and arrest? Was not the crème de la crème  of the present administration in Edo state, a day or two before this execrable act of postponement in last minute campaign razzmatazz for the APC candidate, Obaseki? Where was this Intel at the time? Or perhaps the imagined terrorists were more interested in “soft targets” and not their hard counterparts.

While there is a legal basis for the postponement of elections, as provided in section 26(1) of the Electoral Act, such an option is not and cannot be as a matter of course as such threats must be subject to “cogent” and “verifiable”  reasons for postponement. Gentlemen, permit us to produce verbatim the provisions of the law on which the Police and DSS induced Mahmud and his co-travellers in Inconclusiveness to postpone the election. Section 26(1) of the Electoral Act provides thus:

Where a date has been appointed for holding an election and there is reason to believe that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if the election is proceeded with on that date or it is impossible to conduct the election as a result of natural disasters or other emergencies, the commission may postpone the holding of the proposed election, provided such reason is COGENT and VERIFIABLE” (Emphasis Ours).

Now it is our suspicion that the “Credible Intelligence” of the police and DSS combined; was everything but cogent and verifiable in contrast to the spirit and letter of section 26(1). It was vague, baseless, cosmetic, unsubstantiated and without foundation. A case in point: it didn’t tell us the other states “earmarked” for the planned attacks by extremist elements or the source of the information. While the security operatives, we understand, reserve the right to be circumspect with some of these details as with protocol, we submit that the occasion wherewith it was invoked, demanded that at least it should be told, if anything to foot the bill of  cogency and verification in the language of the draftsman of the law. Reading the statement, you could see and smell the conspiracy with which it is laden. You could see through the insincerity of purpose and intention. It was not just a sad day for Edo indigenes who had travelled home to participate in the exercise; it was a sad day for the law too, as it was used as an engine of fraud contrary to a cardinal maxim of equity to wit: Equity will not suffer the Law to be used as a cloak of fraud.

In any case, what was all that 25, 000 police men, 10,000 operatives of the DSS, 10, 000 members of the Civil Defence Corps, a DIG of Police and his assistants , among other security apparatchik billed to cordon the election for a state of a paltry 18 local government areas expected to be doing assuming there were no security threats? Since they cannot repel any attack during the election. Take selfies? See what the state looks like and drink palm wine or maybe buy garri and plantain for their wives; as the commodities appear to be cheaper in that part of the country. Or were they just mere mercenaries to help rig the process?  Or is sending large troops into a state for an election just another form of electoral tradition? We have to begin to get serious in this country to say the least.

The elections might have been postponed, and the reactionary elements already one point ahead as far as the election goes. Bitter as the pill may come, many have already swallowed it. You won’t blame Edolites so much. For a people visited with an unprecedented hardship reminiscent of the Egyptians with the plague, as with many other Nigerians but for Bayo Onanuga and his famous “pot of soup”; one cannot ask much from them. In just about no time, two weeks would have rolled over and the ballot shall have its time. Maybe it would speak loud enough. May be not. But the circumstances leading to the postponement’ll not be defaced by time and will forever find a pride of place in the annals of history. The consequence is not only dire for our democracy; it is also a mockery of our democratic institutions and at the extremes, a travesty of justice.

Whichever way the pendulum of the election tilts, is not the immediate concern of this writer. That should be the trouble of the career politicians and proprietors of our national malaise. What remains to be said however, is that APC; hands in glove with the PDP have written into our political books a sad chapter which leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It is a system of politicking that compromises the security outfits and leave them at the mercy of their handlers; gory sight for any democracy. It is a do or die tactics to power  and an undemocratic disposition that provokes wonder.

Let us conclude. An African aphorism goes; that those whom the gods want destroyed, they first make mad. We saw traces of this sort in the actions of Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his PDP, few years ago, the circumstance of their calamitous fall needs no adumbration here. APC must therefore thread with caution or else court the anger of the gods sooner than they ever estimated. On no account shall the mockery of our sensibilities, be put on national display again. Onu’kwube!

AND TWO OTHER THINGS…

Kelechi Iheanacho’s Manchester Derby Heroics

Over the weekend, we made out time to watch the Manchester Derby between Manchester United and Manchester City, at the Old Trafford, aka, Theatre of Dreams. It was indeed a repackaged notorious encounter with the new entrants into annual pulsating footballing experience between the two neighbours. With all the verbal exchanges between the uncouth Jose Muorino and somewhat circumspect Pep Guardiola, the new coaches to the two sides going into the fixture, it was a Must Watch to understate it. But at the end of 90+5 minutes of  an engaging encounter, it was our own Kelechi Ihenacho, who decided the day. With a brilliant assist to Kevin De Bruyne and a fast finish within the area all in the first half, he proved to be a worthy substitute for Kun Aguero; the man he came in for, no thanks to the latter’s ban. At the final whistle, Manchester United were only able to pull back one goal, and it was to Ihenacho that the city dwellers must  turn to, for gratitude. Heroic!

Much Ado Over Who Change Begins With.

The other day, president Muhammadu Buhari flagged off a campaign code named: ChangeBeginsWithMe in Bauchi state in collaboration with the ministry of Information and Communication through its minster, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. It is a campaign that look very much like the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) during the military interregnum of President Muhammadu Buhari but this time, in a democratic garb. It is a campaign brought to bear to instil in the consciousness of Nigerians that Change does not start and end with the government, but instead a product of twin efforts of the leadership and the led. Since after the flag off, Nigerians have vehemently rejected the gesture which many have seen as a way of the Burahi government that promised Change, passing the buck to the masses who are already suffering from disaffection from a rudderless economic reality. The hair-splitting and unending debate over whom the burden of Change rests has continued even as we write. For our reaction to this burning issue, dear reader, please make recourse to our Facebook page as we have said much on that in one of our posts there. Ike gwuru!

We wish the entire Muslim Ummah a wonderful and Rahama filled Eid celebration.

Nkannebe Raymond is Lawyer, a social critic and public affairs commentator. He tweets @RayNkah.Comments and reactions to 08068271477 (Text Message Only)

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Nigeria @55: The Unending Search for ‘National Rebirth’ By Raymond Nkannebe

“…The general feeling in the air as independence approached was extraordinary like the building anticipation of relief of torrential rains after a season of scorching hot harmatan winds and bush fires. We were all looking forward to feeling the joy that India?the great jewel of the British empire? must have felt in 1948, the joy that Ghana must have felt years later in 1957. We had no doubt where we were going. We were going to inherit freedom? that was all that mattered. The possibility for us were endless, at least so it seemed at the time. Nigeria was enveloped by a certain assurances of an unbridled destiny of an overwhelming excitement about life’s promises, unburdened by any knowledge of providence’s intended destination…” Chinualumuogu Albert Achebe

Fellow compatriots! Let me quickly admit that it took great pains and interminable mental hurdles to articulate what would be the title for this 55th Independence Day anniversary essay. At the end of that process however, I finally settled for that which now crowns it. The reason I think, is not farfetched.  For me, those words are what aptly captures our pilgrimage as a nation since the Union Jack was lowered at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos and the green, white colors of our national flag hoisted at full mast; the greatest symbol of our Independence from her majesty, the Queen of England. This is because, I believe that ours has been the case of a soul trying endlessly to redeem itself. Of an airplane which has lost its coordinates and permeates rarefied skies without a direction; of a ship which has lost its bearing and continues to grope rudderless, buying time before its inevitable doom. In this consideration, the question that comes to the mind naturally becomes: at what point did this happen? Where exactly did we get it wrong that the cookies have continued to crumble without stopping?

An Igbo proverb tells us, that a man who does not know when the rain began to beat him, will not know where he dried his body. I think 55 years after independence from our colonial masters, the above apothegm lucidly captures our story. Little wonder then, why to this day, we still do not know the exact point where we got it wrong, so that we may retrace our steps and forge ahead again.

Could it be during the Pre-Civil war era of the Azikiwes, Ahmadu Bellos and Awolowos? Did we lose our tracks that very moment we settled for a genocidal Civil War whose ‘detritus’ of bitterness and acrimony between the Muslim North and Christian South , continues to this day, as evidenced in the bitter exchanges  that are thrown up between the two major groups on certain ‘sensitive’ issues? Perhaps we finally lost it in the dark years of the military junta that saw political power change hands like the Russian game of roulette among accidental military characters bulldozing their way to power through barrels of the gun, with beautiful and near utopian promises, coupled with quixotic and romantic action plans, but end up raping and pillaging the nation at the end of the day, before it is sacked by the next regime.

If it wasn’t in any of the foregoing epochs, it cannot be in the 16 years of our fledgling and burgeoning democratic experimentation. It is so palpable therefore, that we know not where this rain that has beaten us to a cataclysmic stupor started. One is not surprised why we have continued to search ceaselessly for our re-awakening.

But here comes the Coup de Grace: this wave of doom will continue for even longer time as experts have predicted. I received a disquieting mail from a colleague last week, who wrote to me on the “State of the Nation”. He told me, that things haven’t started getting bad here. That whatever we are seeing are mere tips of the berg. That it was still “morning on creation day”. And that we must brace up for tougher times ahead, summarily. Was my friend being excessively pessimistic? I think that should be a homework for all us, but I didn’t take his submission with a pinch of salt. I think my ‘interlocutor’ was only being realistic as Nigeria has thought one not to be carelessly optimistic. So what happened to us?

At independence, as I have argued somewhere else, our Nationalists received the “Instruments of our Freedom” without understanding the responsibility that was concatenated and dovetailed with freedom, the discipline and tenacity that leadership deserves, and had no scintilla of the slippery slope of self-rule that they were to tread on immediately the white man left. Some have attributed this to the ease with which we rode to the cusp of independence; so much that what to do with power was lost on us. One man said, independence was handed to us like a bar of chocolate at a birthday party which we swallowed in sheer extravagance.  Other people have said, it was served on a platter of gold, and so we wined and dined, toasting to freedom amidst the clings of glass cups in reckless profligacy. We were that stupid! Lord Acton said, Power Corrupts absolutely, for us, Freedom became a nemesis. A double-edged sword of sort.

Incisive leadership which ought to have followed almost immediately, was jettisoned and in no distant time, we found ourselves, horns locked against each other in a fratricidal Civil War that would change the history of Nigeria, and indeed, Africa. It’d take three years, before we came to a ‘settlement’, but unfortunately, the exact dynamics that led to that violent confrontation, continue to stare us in the face, unresolved.

Right from then up till this day, we have continued to go around a vicious cycle like koroso dancers searching for Change and Transformation that exists only in the figments of the mandibular ‘wackabouts’ who mouth them. At 55 years of statehood, Nigeria could be best described as an utter disappointment! A greatness that didn’t happen! A light that refused to shine! A salt that lost its taste and a city on a hill, that didn’t stand out. It should be our collective shame!

How can one begin to describe the mess that Nigeria is? Perhaps the greatest irony of our political independence, is the Economic colonization that her successive ruling class has foisted on the citizenry since they took the mantle of leadership for their selves and forebears. In his book, entitled: This House has Fallen: Nigeria in Crisis, Karl Maier quoted Dr. Kurfi Bashir Usman, the Executive Director of the Network for Justice to have said, “The only difference between South Africa and Nigeria is that you have a group of blacks who don’t make up ten per cent of the population, but control the economy, while the majority are poor”. Couldn’t have been said any better.

At more than half a century, nothing much has changed in the core indices of measuring the growth of a nation. Our political process is constantly mired in pedestrian polemics bereft of sound ideologies that shape socio-political conversation. Our political institutions are weak and suffering. Stable power supply despite billions of dollars spent in the sector has only succeeded in bringing forth more darkness. We have the highest population of out of school children, pegged at 10.5 million kids. Our tertiary institutions are incapacitated to accommodate the millions of teenagers seeking tertiary education. We have a large swathe of unemployed graduates roaming the streets, and constituting potential threats to social peace. Pipe borne water do not run in our homes. The health sector is moribund with life expectancy at an all-time low. Agriculture is a mirage. The Naira has continued on its free fall with the economy nearing recession as estimated by the apex bank last week. Our roads look like those to Golgotha. We are yet to build a second Niger bridge. We are yet to build new ports. Our refineries are decrepit, hence we take to be refined overseas, what God has placed in our soil. These and many others have overtime, watered the ground for the thriving of an internal terrorism that leave each and every one of us potential victims of their wickedness and sits at the top of all our problems. The cumulative and most painful consequences of these and more, is the birthing of a generation of people, who have lost hope in their country. Especially people of my generation. Despite these dire straits, all we have done has been ceaseless noisemaking and recycling of promises of Change by successive leaders through a vaudeville of government functionaries who promise heaven on earth, after big-stouting and pepper-souping.

Nigeria at 55, is the ‘locus classicus’ of an injury not properly managed at the early stages which grew larger than life from unrestrained neglect out of the negligence of the patient and the indiscipline of the physician and which has since defied pathological genius. This is why despite all that is been done to get Nigeria up again, it remains impotent.

 

What do you make of a nation whose citizens, cannot unanimously point to who exactly has been her best leader? Every accidental public servant who sauntered on the seat of power, resorts to self-help and retires back into recluse to enjoy the exalted office of the “Elder Statesman” in monolith and well-furnished condomiums where they are cocooned and sheltered from the odium and opprobrium of the citizenry. Why wouldn’t Nnamdi Kanu of the Radio Biafra fame, refer to this place as a zoo? The reality that is Nigeria must have led him to such demeaning and disparaging adjective.

Fellow compatriots! At 55, let no one massage our egos with sweet, flowery and romantic speeches of “How far we have come, and how well we are doing” that glide us into phantasmagoric realms, as that’d create the illusion for a further decline. Let us confess the mess and filth that we are and find the tolerance to tell ourselves the hard truths that we’ve always shied away from, as this hold vistas of understanding the true essence of our union as a people under one indivisible, indissoluble and sovereign entity under God.

At the root of our problem, I think lies our weak and non-performing structure which has encouraged a lazy citizenry and foisted a rent-economy. If we must be a Federal state, then let us do so in spirit and in letters by imbibing the phenomena of Fiscal Federalism, Resource Control, Devolution of Powers and the Repeal of section 1 of the Land Use Act of 1978, that vests all land on the federal government and all the other laws that clog and contradict our federalism. The present structure as has been argued severally, doesn’t provide the healthy competition among federating units that make a nation stronger.

Our independence was secured at about the same time with countries like South korea, Malaysia and Singapore to name a few. Today, those nations with considerably low endowments, have left us behind and are already big players in the global economy.  We have wasted our time on inanities and a whole lot of gung ho that adds nothing to Nation Building.

Finally, in our unending search for Eldorado, it mustn’t be lost on us that great nations are not made from seeking foreign solutions to national problems. They are made from an infectious discipline and an uncommon determination to do things the way they ought to be done. While we must maintain a healthy relationship with our international partners, we must do so with tact, knowing that our interest comes least in their minds; as nations give their citizenry the first line of charge. So in essence, we must think home, and devise for ourselves workable solutions to national problems.

At 55, our scorecard is not looking any good. In another 5, may be 10, or 20 years, it may look better. But that would be premised on our actions and attitude towards governance and leadership within the period. Time is indeed running out on us, and the world is watching. Fellow countrymen! If we can think it, we can do it. Let us then fold our sleeves and get to work.

 

Happy independence anniversary!

Raymond Nkannebe is a Lawyer and Public Affairs Commentator.

He is on twitter @RayNkah

raymondnkannebe@gmail.com

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Sarakigate And The Poverty Of ‘Moral Leadership’ In Nigeria By Nkannebe Raymond

The name, Richard Nixon is one that resonates with any serious student of history or an adept observer or follower of the international political scene; more precisely, American politics. Well, for those whom it doesn’t, on the 8th of August, 1974, he became the first president of the United States of America to resign from office in controversial circumstances.

The irrepressible Nixon, a 2-term president of the US saw his second term engulfed by the now famous ‘WaterGate’ scandal. The scandal grew from a bungled break-in by five burglars who entered the Democratic National Committee offices at the WaterGate Complex in Washington on the night of 17th June 1972. Subsequent investigations, most famously by Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, linked the break-in to President Nixon’s top aides, who were involved in an extensive cover-up of politically sanctioned illegal activities.

After a two year investigation by the News Media, government agencies, the US Senate, the House of Representatives and the US Supreme Court, the extent of the White House cover-up consumed Nixon’s presidency. Seeing the downward pace the whole scandal was spiraling, the beleaguered Nixon stunned Americans and indeed the world, by resigning from his position as the president of the United States, becoming the first person to so do.

In the famous “Farewell to the White House” speech, on the 8th of August 1974, at about 9:10 PM (Local Time), Nixon said:

“…I’d have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it’d have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interest of the Nation must always come before any personal considerations. From the discussions I’ve had with congress and the other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter, I might not have support of the Congress that I’d consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the ways the interest of the Nation would require. I have never been a quitter. To leave the office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as president, I must put the interest of America first. America needs a fulltime president and a fulltime congress, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad. To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost certainly absorb the time and attention of both the president and the congress in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues of peace abroad and prosperity without inflation at home. Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow. Vice president Ford will be sworn in as president at that hour in this office…”.

Anyone who expects such from our political office holders, the Ogas-at-the-top riding in cozy black Prado jeeps with long convoys at the speed of light like armed-robbers fleeing a crime scene, should do us the pleasure by presenting his head for examination at some medical lab for traces of logorrhea and first degree dementia. Does things don’t apply here.

Here, political office holders do not come in order to leave so soon. For where? Na craze worry you?  Many, suffer from the syndrome of acute amnesia as not to know that the offices they hold is at the pleasure of the citizenry and ought to be vacated at once, in the event their character comes to question whether directly or indirectly.

But they had rather you save that gospel or beatitudes for the nza bird. As far as the Nigerian political-big-man is concerned, he can knock off a law abiding citizen on the highway and still refer to the victim as a “prostitute”. His aides and bootlickers feeding from the crumbs falling off his table can smash the gadgets of Law abiding citizens and ask them to “go to hell” if they please. As a matter of fact, they can insult helpless citizens and even ask them to “go and die” if they please, but yet get away with it. They are in some light, pseudo Lords of the manor. Here, “sit tightism” is the norm, if I’d be pardoned to infiltrate that term into the English lexicography. And even when it is constitutionally time to go, a morbid ambivalence sets in; as we saw in the failed third term gambit of the Chief Watcher of the Federation.

For the avoidance of doubt, political office holders view power as a platform to re-coop the hefty sums spent on inflationary campaign extravaganza and the loans collected from banks to pick up party nomination forms. That is, holding an elective office does not provide the opportunity to serve and leave indelible marks in the sands of time; on the contrary, it is a business. And like in every business, there is no morality. The only language the business world understands is hustle, hustle and more hustle. It is same for the Nigeria political big-man. And so even when it is crystal clear to ‘Blind Bartimaeus’ that they have messed up, resignation of their office is never served in the menu. No way, those things don’t apply here.

On the contrary, politics is thrown to the matter and ill-gotten monies are shared to “Bribed tools of reactionary intrigue” or “Lumpen proletariats” who run to town with the message of political witch-hunt of their ‘criminal benefactors’ who suddenly become the best thing that ever happened to them. Paid advertorials deluge the national dailies at the instance of numerous existing and virtual town unions and corporate organizations who cry more than the bereaved, just to justify their payments. In the social media, compromised “overlords” in tweet storms and face book updates whine to the heavens in condemnation of the government of the day bringing charges of Financial misappropriation against their unscrupulous paymasters and shameless ‘yam eaters’ and wage war against those who offer a dissenting opinion to their positions.

At the end of the day, the political thief, with an obsession for ‘yam eating’, basking in the euphoria of the fraudulent ‘media support’, finds a scaffold large enough to stand on, and tell the world that he is being berated and reprimanded on political and other ridiculous grounds by persons who are envious of his office or those who ‘do not like his face’ (apologies to former president GEJ), instead of honorably resigning of his position for the impudence and disrepute he has brought to the office he occupies, as is seen in more serious climes.

For those who may think that Nixon’s offence was so grave and deserved his actions, as not to compare with any particular scenario in Nigeria, how about a little incursion into early history?

Last year, South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Hong-Won amidst a ferry disaster which left 300 people dead or missing and resulted in widespread shame, fury and finger pointing  by the citizens who blamed the government for “deep rooted evils” in the country for the tragedy. The then embattled Chung was heckled by victims’ relatives and his car was at the time blocked when he visited a shelter on an island near the site of the sinking ferry. Few days after, Chung resigned of his office, saying:

“…As I saw families suffering with the pain of losing their loved ones and the sadness and resentment of the public, I thought I should take all responsibility as prime minister. There have been so many varieties of irregularities that have continued in every corner of our society and practices that have gone wrong. I hope these deep-rooted evils get corrected this time and this kind of accident never happens again…”

Nobody blamed anything on the devil, neither was God indicted. Chung left office, accepting all the responsibility and bowed out in shame; allowing it to be sunk into the head of whoever takes over him, that ‘nansense’ will not be tolerated, thereby, raising the bar of governance higher in that country.

But let us come back to Nnamdi Kanu’s “Zoo”. On the 16th of March, 2014 was a day of national tragedy. What happened?  The Nigerian immigration service recruitment exercise turned out to be a disaster as no fewer than 20 lives were lost due to stampedes across the various centres from Abuja to Jos to Benin to Minna (not Mina). It was a tales of sorrow, as fathers lost sons, wives lost husbands, brothers lost sisters, friends lost relations and fiancées lost fiancés.

The exercise it was told was badly organized as no fewer than 70,000 people turned up to fill 5,000 vacancies. Among the dead, were 5 pregnant women, while scores of people were injured. Reports had it that security operatives were overwhelmed with the crowd such that controlling them became a problem and this resulted in security operatives firing gunshots into the air which precipitated the stampede. When the dust settled, at least 19 persons had lost their lives.

You would think that the interior minister Abba Moro would have immediately resigned from his office to take responsibility for the mis-managed exercise organized in collaboration with his office. But that was not seen. Moro went tangential instead, blaming the applicants for their ‘impatience’ and ‘failing to conduct themselves in an orderly manner’. Not even the barrage of calls for his sack from Civil Society organizations could bring the man within the pangs of his conscience to force him into resignation. Politics was instead set afoot and as the days went by, the issue was laid to rest as the families of the deceased were bribed or pacified in one way or the other. Had GEJ won a re-election, Moro would have continued to this day as the minister of interior. Who said Nigeria is not a land of the awkward?

We can go on and on to feed from the vine of history to bring to you dear reader, the numerous cases of resignation by public office holders who did so in utter respect for the offices they occupy and to ensure the elevation of societal morality in more serious nations, against what obtains here but for space constraints. Suffice it however, to bring to the fore the latest of such which directly informs the troubles of this column.

Last week, in the aftermath of the corruption and emission cheating scandal that has rocked Automobile Corporation Volkswagen, the embattled CEO of the company resigned. In his resignation statement released on the 23rd of September, 2015, winterkorn Martin said:

“I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen group. As CEO, I accept responsibility for the irregularity that have been found in the diesel engines and have therefore requested the supervisory board to agree on terminating my functions as CEO of the Volkswagen group. I am doing this in the interest of the company even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part. Volkswagen needs a fresh start also in terms of personnel. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation. I have always been driven by my desire to serve this company, especially our customers and employees. Volkswagen has been, is, and will always be my life. The process of clarification and transparency must continue. This is the only way to win back trust. I am convinced that the Volkswagen group and its team’ll overcome this grave crisis”.

Back home, it is no longer news that former governor of Kwara state, current bearer of the staff of the Saraki dynasty, two time senator, business man and the president of the 8th National Assembly is in the eye of the storm. The beleaguered senator is been tried on 13-count charges preferred against him by the  federal government which included among other crimes, improperly using state funds to purchase private assets during his tenure as the governor of Kwara state while he was senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is also accused of declaring as part of his assets, a property that had not been sold to him, a maneuver known as “anticipatory looting” in Nigerian political lexicon.

After the controversy which initially trailed his appearance at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), the embattled senator finally appeared at the tribunal, took to the dock and took the plea which all expected to be in the negative and the matter has since been adjourned to the 21st of October for the continuation of hearing.

In the typical Nigerian style, the matter has been condemned as a ‘political trial’. A cancerous paradigm that you see in a society that politicizes everything and is never prepared to set new standards and narratives for socio-political engagement. I have always wondered where such reductionist and infantile diagnosis of issues takes a nation.

Ever since the news broke, I’ve refused to swim along in the murky waters of partisan analysts and commentators who with their mouth and pen, set the tone for the deterioration of this nation more than the Boko Haram militants.

It has been my opinionated stance, that politics should by all means come to marriage with morals against Niccolo Machiavelli’s mafian gospel that “politics have no relation to morals”; for a state whose leaders are bereft of morality too soon disintegrates from within and suffer a precipitous fall. Therefore, no matter what Saraki wants us to believe, no matter the political undertones of his trial which he alleges and tells anyone who would listen, it couldn’t have started from nowhere as there cannot be smoke without fire. Whether he likes it or not, in the legal context, there exists a prima facie case against him which for us, is enough to subject him to the test of morality barring when the long hurdles of litigation comes to an end.

This is my immediate concern in the whole drama. That he already has a prima facie case against him as a public official and the 3rd citizen of this nation is more than enough  grounds for him to hand in his resignation letter, render an apology to Nigerians as we’ve always seen in the dealings of the nations we so  much aspire to become someday. And the importance or significance of such a move, cannot be overemphasized. Not only does it present us as a serious nation in the international circles with zero tolerance for corruption; back home, it would create a precedent which subsequent erring officials would be judged by.

For a country struggling to destroy corruption before it destroys it, I do not think political pills thrown to the disease would come in good taste. Less of politics must be brought into trials of saraki nature. I think it is come for us to decide what we truly want out of our political leaders. Are we merely pretenders wanting to stamp out graft and political heist but go about patronizing it with our comments and utterances in cases of the saraki nature? It only beats my imagination that people who ought to know, have tacitly held brief for saraki; blaming his travails on Tinubu and Buhari who thy say, are peeved with the way the embattled senator came upon the presidency of the senate.

While this may be true, to those who play this card, we say: government is a continuum, and the measure we use in Saraki’s case, would be used in another potential victims’ case, the moment their ‘dirty linens’ get to be washed in the public scene as with Bukola Saraki.

Never should the collective good of Nigerians be slaughtered on the altar of unnecessary and energy sapping politicking. We repeat, never! Public offices should be reserved for men of impeccable character and who must be beyond reproach like Ceasar’s wife if possible. Those who fail this test, must be disgraced out of office at once.

It is in the light of the above, that one would have expected Saraki to draft his resignation statement that would go well to raise the bar of governmental modesty here, instead of making racy denials through his media office on account of the humiliating treatment meted to him at the hands of angry Kwarans who are visibly tired of the democratic slavery foisted on them by the Pharoahic hands of Saraki. What a shame!

Political office holders must be told that they hold offices at the instance of the citizenry, and such offices must be accorded the highest decency and courtesy which public service commands. For the Sarakis of this world, who cannot stand the heat, they could do themselves a whole lot of good by staying out of the kitchens of leadership.

Having a senate president who cannot come clean to the citizenry with regards to his finances, as well as a Revenue Chief who lies about his academic qualifications, to put it mildly, portends great danger for such a state. The least that could be done therefore, is to allow the subjectivity of politics to allow such monster to fester.

Nigerians are eagerly anticipating to see how this whole saga will pan out. Will Saraki rise to the demands of morality by tendering his resignation letter and sort himself out at the tribunal? Can he rise to become the Nixon of Nigerian, nay African politics and spurn a precedent never before seen, or would he play the political card as usual and continue to lead the 8th National Assembly like a mad man with no shame? To put it in a better perspective, would he prefer to etch his name in gold like GEJ, who drew victory from defeat at the last general election, or rather enlist his name in the unenviable list of infamy populated by men stricken with a paucity of character and who allowed the greed for holding on to power, corrupt them absolutely?

All these, as they say is impregnated in the womb of time, but Sarki would be doing himself and humanity a magnitude of good, by towing the path of honor which exclusively lies in his resignation.

 

Raymond Nkannebe is a Lawyer and Public Affairs commentator.

He is on twitter: @RayNkah

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Understanding Muhammadu Buhari’s First 100 Days By Nkannebe Raymond

Last Saturday, September 5, 2015, it was exactly one hundred days of the Buhari presidency. It would be remembered that the retired major general was inaugurated as the 5th democratically elected president of Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 29th of May, in an historic and epoch making event that saw the nation and her international collaborators rise to an ovation to welcome and usher into office a man who we must give the credit Of being our own Abraham Lincoln on account of how much doggedness he showed in his ambition to rule this nation in civilian garb in the face of adversity. A man whom many Nigerians, especially the Muslim north, believed was a messiah to take Africa’s largest Nation, if you like, Economy out of the lurch.

As was expected, mixed reactions have continued to trail the achievement of this president in his first one hundred days in office, or expiration of his “honey moon” as is often couched in political parlance. This, do doubt, was a pavlovian reaction given  the huge expectations president  Muhammadu Buhari and his APC placed on themselves in the period leading to the elections engineered by a masterstroke propaganda machine that elevated Buhari into some demi-god who had a magic wand to wave and restore Nigeria to her lost dignity, if she ever had one.

While it was almost mechanical for unsuspecting Nigerians to fall for the antics of the propaganda mills, cool headed and discerning minds of our population understood all the razzmatazz as a game which must be played in a democratic setting to woo electorates.

Due to the  success of such promising pre-election posturing, Nigerians had filed out in their numbers, defying the harsh weather to cast their ballot, and in many cases waited until they were counted, to ensure the victory of a Man whom they had been told by propaganda mills, was ascetic, led a Spartan lifestyle, was a metaphor for integrity and who had the Midas touch to see normalcy returned, and the ship of state steered out of the ice berg which it was headed at the time according to pundits.

On the occasion of the first hundred days, it is only natural for many of them to ask impatiently for the “manna rain” which was promised; and throws up the opportunity for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to whine and wail, if in their estimation, PMB is not living up to his electoral billings. This too is excusable. But that shouldn’t be the question.

I think we must have to address ourselves whether one hundred days is a time enough to judge an administration which has no less than 1,460 day life span; Worst still write it off? An honest response to this poser would be a better compass for us to locate our reactions. At the time of writing this piece, there is already an ongoing social media campaign in the microblogging site Twitter, with the hashtag #100WastedDays by opposition elements in a bid to write off PMB’s “Honey Moon” for not having gained traction but has only continued to be rudderless and without focus since he came on board. I like to call the bluff of such carpetbaggers, dissenting and reactionary voices, not for any sympathy nursed for the Buhari presidency, but for their surreal and fantastic protestations which can barely find existence in reality.

For me, it is most uncharitable to write off PMB’s presidency on account of The “One Hundred Days Myth” or “Honey Moon”; as not everyman succeeds in impregnating the bride during the Honey Moon period but which does not automatically mean the union would not be blessed with a child in the future. We cannot in all sincerity, judge PMB’s #100Days on account of some bogus “Covenant” (whether claimed or disclaimed by the APC) had with Nigerians which for the most part of last week, was the rave. This is because, assuming APC admits authorship of the said document, one hundred days, is just little a gestation period for them to have germinated, much less harvested. The One Hundred Days circus is a myth. It is a fairytale. A fable and lacks any empirical evidence to substantiate it. In fact, it has been discountenanced by many renowned leaders time and again. Perchance, a brief incursion into history would be apposite to refresh our minds.

The first #100Days in a presidential term took on symbolic significance during the presidency of the 32nd president of the United States of America, Franklin Roosevelt, and is considered a benchmark for measuring the early success of a president. During The Great Depression, Roosevelt promised drastic initiatives within his first One Hundred Days. The “New Deal” Legislation( a series of domestic programs enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1938) he got passed, set a standard of action that subsequent presidents have been measured against, but which in reality has less significance as has been confirmed by many presidents including our own PMB.

Immediately after winning the American Presidency in 2008, 44th president of the US, Barrack Obama, told pressmen that he should not be judged by his first one hundred days. “…The first one hundred days is going to be important, but it’s probably going to be the first thousand days that makes the difference…” he said. John F. Kennedy once said, “…All this will not be finished in the first hundred days, nor will it be finished in the first thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our life time on this planet. But let us begin”.

Addressing State House Correspondents on his first day in his office inside the presidential villa, Abuja on the 22nd of June on the culture of addressing government’s performance in the first one hundred days in office and the pressure that comes with it considering the mammoth work to be done and the unrealistic nature of “Change” in just one hundred days, PMB said, “…The culture of One Hundred Days in office brings so  much pressure with treasury virtually empty, with debts in millions of dollars, with state workers and even federal workers not being paid their salaries….this bad management we’ve found ourselves, we really need your help (referring to the media) to protect us from people, before they march on us…”.

Several other world leaders have spoken similarly on the pointlessness in judging how an administration would hand over the baton, or asking for the “fruits” of governance within just a paltry, one hundred days in the saddle. But we will not go into such details here and now.

Dear reader, we had undertaken this discourse to put in the right perspective why Nigerians, expect a lot from PMB and the justification for same. To properly situate why One Hundred days in the Saddle is too trifle a timeframe to walk into the socio-political orchard of PMB and his APC to pluck the fruits of the much touted “Change” and finally, to acknowledge the little imperceptive steps the Buhari administration has taken thus far, to restore Nigeria to its “Factory Settings”. And these are not without compelling and convincing evidences.

From the very first day of this administration, I had consigned myself to the unenviable role of a conscious and cautious observer of what happens or ensues from the seat of power. In that capacity, I have had the coolness of head and the sanity of mind to follow the “Change” procession, howbeit, cautiously lest the leaders of this procession into a Budha-ian Nirvana, fall out of trajectory. From my vantage point like a Pythagorean “Lover of Spectacle”, I’ve had the honor to observe literally everything that happens in the market place of governance to see who is doing what and what not.

So on an auspicious event like this, unlike the retinue of presidential aides (known and unknown) who would traditionally run a litany of the achievements of their boss; real and imagined alike, I will not join the fray in their endless citations of what has happened since Baba came on board, but would rather concentrate on what drives such gains. Instead of going into details, I’d rather be more theoretical nay, academic in locating what is undoubtedly at the root of the “PMB revolution” as one man observed, which has seen some modicum of sanity and decorum which has eluded us for a very long time, returned to the business of governance.

It is nothing more but the “Body language” of Mr. President since he took captainship of this rudderless ship. This disposition of mind and body, has in no small measure, spread its tentacles across with the impressionistic message that a new era has heralded. A new era where things would be done how they ought to be done. An era which drapes governance in its signature or boilerplate apparel and allow it to walk resplendently to the admiration of courtiers. It is not an era that makes a ragamuffin of governance; but one which elevates it to Olympian heights. These, for us, above all other things is the cream of the Buhari presidency so far and which markedly distinguishes it from those before it and which sits well with the “Change” agenda of the present order.

Exactly one month into the life of this administration, I’d told a friend, an unrepentant “Buahrist” who sought to know my reaction with Baba’s governance at the time, that for the first time we have a leader who from his carriage, understands what is at stake and makes no pretenses that measures to find a way around them would be Sisyphean but not in any case insurmountable with the right discipline and character. Till this day, that is the impression the Man cuts for me.

It is really consoling that we have at the helm of our affairs, a man who appreciates that much of what has held us back, is deep seated in our paucity of attitude. A very, very assertive arrogance that thrives in cavalier management of national issues, and who has come with the sermon of “Attitudinal Change” for both private and public citizens?A veritable ingredient of National growth. And all of these can easily be gleaned from the “Body Language” of Mr. President. It is immaterial that it has been reduced to a pun by little spirits.

Some call it The Buhari bounce. Some, The Buhari Aura. For many still, it is The Buhari Effect. But whatever the semantics of nomenclature, the impression created is that: a “No-Nonsense” character is now the protagonist in our National drama. A man who has no tolerance for “Anyhowness”,  a disturbing repugnance for kleptomaniacs and who is ready to rule from a very high moral ground, not minding if it warrants him rising to become the conscience of state, as was Gandhi to India; and Thomas Sankara to Burkina Faso.

Presidential spokesman on Media and Publicity to PMB and my pen friend, Femi Adesina perhaps captured it appropriately in an op-ed piece to commemorate the #100Days extravaganza titled “A New Sheriff is in Town” and I cannot agree less. Femi, in his vintage style of writing wrote, “…When a new sheriff comes into town, disorder gives way to order. Chaos flees. Impunity is swept away. Laxity gives way to diligence and people change their old, unedifying ways. When you have a Wild Wild West situation prevailing, the sheriff comes, and stamps his Authority, old things then pass away, behold everything becomes new…”

The foregoing is an artist impression of what is today unfolding in our polity. It is a perfect picture of the Buhari Effect. Like we have said before now, we’ve always needed an attitudinal change. “Anyhowness” have all these years enmeshed and entangled us and the leaders who took charge of our affairs wittingly or unwittingly ‘supported’ those era of disorderliness. Nigeria, for many, became a sort of game to be hunted by those with the requisite poaching skills and weapons. Holding a public office became an official invitation for such officials to enrich themselves and feed fat from the proverbial and never-finishing “National Cake”.And so we had carried on, leaving the elephant-Nigeria, comatose and behemoth.

But this is what PMB has come to correct it appears, from all indications. And this is what would stand him out from his contemporaries in the event he succeeds through and through. It appears it has been his boyhood dream to restore sanity to the Nation whenever the opportunity to lead presents itself. Small wonder then, why he had initiated the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) 30 years ago when he was the military Head of State?a programme that died with the administration. Even in civilian garb, he appears undone with that life dream. Indeed, what is bred in the bones, never goes out through the flesh. Adesina was right.

The birds of the homestead are now telling their colleagues in the bush that a “New Sheriff is in town” no doubt, and unnecessary chirping is forthwith ruled out, as the new sheriff also has the mandate of his “employers”, to shoot. And sitting up, is just the only option for Justice and Mercy may not ride in the same bus in the tribunal of the new Sheriff.

This is what PMB represents so far for us. And I do not think it is in sync with the cravings of the party which brought him to power. But this no doubt is debatable and would be the subject of another column. Like we have said, #100 days is too little in the life of an administration to write it off. It is too short a time to go harvesting but long enough to see how the farmer would plant. Too much of a time to gauge the poise, the stand, the attitude of that administration and all of these I want to believe PMB has shown much. It is for me, the most fundamental for it has a way of ushering in every other dividends of governance. It is the Launchpad that triggers or sets afoot, the programmes of the government. Call it the “Political will” and you would be just right and the effect is already cascading and nestling into the ministries, departments and agencies of government.

The other day, I was at the Police Station to get a Police Report for a client in respect of a  non-received Re-Constructed Union Bank Share Certificate. This was after having sworn an oath of indemnification for Non-receipt of Share Certificate at the High court. After explaining the reason for my visit to the divisional police officer, he told me he cannot order his boys to make such report as there was no proof that the said document was lost in the post, since the company hasn’t written them to that effect. “Barrister, am sorry, I may not be able to order the issuance of such report as it violates protocol. This is an era of “Change” and we are mandated to observe strictly the force protocol” he said. I was instantly caught up in nostalgia. A mixture or joy and sadness took over me. Sad, because I had put too much effort into the process. And happy knowing that the practice of cutting-corners appears to have been ruled out. It brought to mind that with Buhari, “Business would not be as usual” anymore in the Police Force. I left his office happily after discussing national issues that border on the improvement of the Nigerian Police Force and other sundry issues. Dear reader,there cannot be a better evidence of the Buhari effect. An effect that has orderliness at the core of its philosophy and not the organized disorder that window dresses issues.

No doubt, opinions are bound to be divided on PMB’s #100 days and the achievements therein, but objective observers would readily admit that in the last one Hundred days, our affairs have been piloted by a septuagerian who at his age has seen it all, with an unbridled passion to bequeath on this nation a lasting legacy that would make up for her wobbling years and return her to where she belongs. A leader who understands more than anybody else how profusely this nation hemorrhages and is committed to be the physician to heal her wounds. A trailblazer who is not easily given to distractions and impetuousness; but most importantly, one who knows more than everyone of us, that The “Change” project is not negotiable and must be achieved even though not in one fell swoop. For me, this is the most important achievement(s) of the last one Hundred days. It is the Audacity of Hope.

Finally, I like to believe that if he remains consistent and fair for the remainder of his administration with this same attitude to governance, he will score a bull’s eye; and things might just start getting right with us. But until then, we must return to our vantage point once more and watch where this procession to “Change” avenue with baba in front leads. It is today, the 102nd day, but these days certainly, were not wasted days.

 

Raymond Nkannebe is a Lawyer and Public Affairs Commentator.

Follow me on twitter @RayNkah

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PDP’s “Rebirth” And Okupe’s Prognosis By Nkannebe Raymond

The other day our man Dr. Doyin Okupe, the Senior Special Assistant on Public Affairs to former President GEJ and a hardline critique of PMB and his APC in the period leading to the just concluded general elections was in the news. Whether in a bid to prove detractors who think he has a failed medical career wrong, or out of sheer love for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), our man took to his Facebook page to prescribe what seems like a prognosis to the diseased body of the PDP yet to come to terms with its woeful performance at the last elections which has culminated into their dwindling relevance and risking political obliteration.

The former spokesman for President Olusegun Obasanjo and a onetime governorship aspirant in Ogun State, after expressing delight in the formation of a body headed by Chief Raymond Dokpesi in a bid to increase the party’s membership base said “…The time has come for the PDP if it must remain politically relevant to embark on a total overhaul and reform itself. It must engage Nigerians in a new coalition for the sole purpose of putting our dear country on the path to true, real and the enduring change that will come once and for all and establish us as a major global player, not pretenders that we presently are…” He further said “the PDP must reform itself lest it dies, God forbid a painful and insidious death…” – and concluded by saying, “At the end of the day, the APC may not meet the expectations of Nigeria or may in fact fail outright over time, but PDP as it is presently constituted will not be an acceptable alternative to the majority of Nigerians now or in the future.” The Medical Doctor turned Politician concluded his medical prognosis thusly, and it has since become the subject of news in both print and online media.

It is indeed something of applaud that somebody in the PDP at least understands what is at stake and what the party must do if it can begin to become a major player in the Nigerian political tournament once more. The case of the PDP is the quintessential story of the biblical servant who refused to invest the talents given to him by his master but instead hid it in a safe place, and when the day of gathering came, the master lambasted the servant for frittering away the goodwill and trust reposed in him. That docile servant in the biblical account is what the PDP represents.

Sixteen years ago, she found herself at the dawn of democracy being the most organized political party with a wide array of political big weights and money bags and sauntered upon the headship of a nation in an election that was marred by irregularities but which was pardoned by Nigerians as a result of the bigger picture of democracy. So it could be said that the party really got its mandate on a platter of gold unlike how the present ruling party rode to the center of government.

Like the proverbial apprentice who does not know, and cannot understand the dwindling fortunes of his master’s business, led luxurious lifestyles at the detriment of the business, the PDP not knowing the difficulty involved in a party engaging the minds of the people to woo their votes spent all their goodwill and social currency in frivolities and always bought their way at periodic elections with foreign currency to consolidate its hold on power.

They even boasted like gang of robbers enjoying their bootie in a beer parlor with prostitutes massaging their balls that they would rule Nigeria for at least fifty (50) years as though it was their sole goldmine to devour. That is, they saw Nigeria as a domestic property, a sex slave of sort and rode her rough shod all they can oblivious of the dark days that lay ahead for them. Some analyst are of the view that the total amount of money lost to financial misappropriation in the sixteen (16) years of the PDP cabal could be used to build Nigeria into a modern day nation with the full complement of facilities and institutions that define a modern city but with the PDP, if you are not talking how to siphon money, you are talking nonsense.

It is not surprising therefore that an opposition party crept like a snail and before long morphed into a large coalition and with the massive support of Nigerians who have suffered sixteen (16) years of arguable misrule and governmental neglect, swept the party and its umbrella, off the seat of power and till today, it continues to suffer from a posttraumatic stress, not yet haven come to realty with what beat it. And you won’t blame Nigerians. They have agonized too much at the hands of accidental characters with stupendous wealth but with little or no understanding of Statecraft, but instead saw it as a means of consolidating their ill-gotten wealth. And so they rose to the occasion, making Abraham Lincoln wherever he may be, proud in the process by proving that the ballot is stronger and more potent than the bullet in election matters. The rest is today history, as the cliché goes.

Since the Political Tsunami of March 28th, the cookies have continued to crumble without stop for the party. And the ruling APC do not seem to make their burden light. But have continued to compound their woes by revealing all sorts of shady deals and other hideous gimmicks of the PDP when they had their day, so that Nigerians would know how much they were wrecked by the PDP apparatchik; thereby making the task of the PDP re-inventing itself akin to the twelve labours of Hercules in Greek mythology. A development which has seen the PDP almost lost without bearing to retrace it steps. This must definitely be trying times for the prodigal former ruling party. It was some of these developments that good Okupe must have observed before coming to the rescue with his ‘medical sermon’ the other day.

But we are not done. The APC has quite spent its Honeymoon in recriminations. Blaming and revealing all the rot of the PDP days, threatening to probe everything under the sun including Mama Patience and Jonathan’s marriage if the need arises as though Nigerians weren’t aware of same before voting them out. But is it enough for the APC to repeat the PDP script and justify same with the PDP days as has since become the norm among their voltrons and spin doctors? How long will Nigerians condone the mantra of: there is a lot of damage done by the previous administration. We have to start almost from the scratch to get this Nation on course again, easily bandied by APC enthusiasts and the Party top brass? Have they too soon forgotten they campaigned on the platform of no less a word but “Change” and even promising by their carriage to wave a magic wand where possible once elected? And are the sins of the PDP too grave to be pardoned by Nigerians or the injury they left in their flight too deep as not to be healed with time? Within the answers to these posers lies the chance(s) for the PDP to be able to put its house together once more and wrestle powers from the APC. And assuming they want to do so, how do they go about it?

As it stands, the party must as a matter of urgency hold its national convention and select substantive leaders of the party with the requisite leadership qualities whose mandate shall be: getting PDP back into the minds of Nigerians and making it an enviable bride at forthcoming elections. Such leadership through its internal organs should work for the harmonization of the party across all states and eschew factionalism in any of its branches; for an army divided against itself cannot put up a good battle and would fall to any enemy. The PDP must understand that much of what it suffers today were due to the failure of the house to keep its members united, or how could one explain the drama that led to the mass exodus from the party during the days of the famed G7 governors? PDP for all intent and purposes could pass as a metaphor for intra party skirmishes over the years and this same intra party squabbles in no less a measure contributed to its precipitous fall.

If Nigerians will have to take the PDP serious again, then the governors of the states under its control presently must perform and be seen to perform above their APC counterparts in all indices of governance. There is no better way to prove to Nigerians that they have undergone the baptism of fire and are now “born again” without coming up or having to show Nigerians what they are doing in the states under their control as that could be the only way to usher in Nigerians into their new philosophy in the business of governance. If anything, to cast a doubt about APC in the minds of discerning Nigerians. The present antics of criticizing everything done by the ruling APC will come back with no dividends for the party but it will only cast them in bad light and prove to Nigerians that they do not pose a better substitute.

Okupe has said that the APC as presently constituted shares little or no difference with the PDP. I quite agree with the man but Nigerians with their proclivity for patient with their leaders would want to give the APC their own chance to see how they would dance before contemplating any change. So the PDP must come up with better ideas to prove that they represent a better choice to influence Nigerians to mull over them again.

The youth of this nation have proven to be the decider of elections as shown from the statistics of the last general election. Nigerian demographic records indicate that over half of Nigerian population, perhaps sixty percent comprises the youth between the ages of 18 and 35?so the bulk of voters are the youth. In this age of social media, the youth matters because they are the most savvy and adept at using it to mobilize support for or against a candidate. The PDP therefore should work out modalities to penetrate the minds of the youth constituency through engaging commentary and debates about the project Nigeria and its actualization.

Assuming they want to do this, I think they have their rhetoric already cut out for them: we have been there, we have seen our flaws and this is how we want to make amends and which is why you have to give us another chance to make things right. The party through its National Working Committee (NWC) can organize periodic leadership workshop in major universities across the nation to engage Nigerian students in dialogues that have vistas of collective good for both man and country. By doing so, they would have left lasting impressions in the minds of these young generation of Nigerians.

Nigerian politics/democracy, whether anyone likes it or not is gradually deviating from the era where money buys everything including the ballot. Despite the millions of dollars spent by the PDP in the last elections, Nigerians still managed to vote according to their conscience and used the paltry sums given to them in exchange for their votes, as transport fare to their polling units. Better political ideas have always been a better currency in the market of leadership. The PDP should therefore look to the youth as the epiphany or the panacea out of their political Golgotha. Yes the youth!

The APC rode to leadership on the wings of “change”. Well, that mantra after being stolen from the Obama revolution, I think is now over flogged. In other words, its breasts have fallen like those of an eighty (80) year old woman. PDP should do their political homework to come up with a better catchy word or phrase that would inspire the minds of Nigerians and capture the party’s agenda. The current chant of “power to the people” I think is too elementary. Of course, in any democracy, power belong to the people, at least in principle. There is no profit in telling them you will give them power. That phrase for me is lifeless, without a soul and cannot spur a political revolution, as you cannot give a people what belongs to them. APC borrowed the word “Change” and it has worked for them perfectly as it did for Obama before now. PDP must consequently, come up with another, which encapsulates their agenda and would have the prospect of sticking like bees to honey comb.

Opposition politics no doubt demands patience, tenacity and doggedness and is not an exercise in undue fastidiousness, vulgarity and unnecessary garrulity just to be heard. Two days ago, the National Publicity Secretary, Olisah Metuh in a press conference embarked on a journey to educate us how the APC has made the economy worse in three months and how it has shown that it has no spectacular ideas on how to steer the ship of state right. He said and I quote: “In the last three months under an inert and poorly coordinated APC led government, our nation’s economy which before now held record as the largest in Africa and one of the fastest growing in the world suddenly plummeted as officially evidenced in the lull in the capital and money market sectors which have lost billions of Naira; spiral rate of inflation and stagnation in domestic and foreign investment with investors scared away due to uncertainty arising from lack of economic direction, an apparent confusion in the polity”, the estranged parrot of the party twittered among other things. But as was expected, Nigerians called his bluff, asking what they did while they were in the saddle and questioned the much touted Nigerian Economy being the best in Africa under the PDP days which had no bearing in the living conditions of the average Nigerian.

If the foregoing is how the PDP intends to go about the onerous task of opposition to the ruling APC which control the Media to a great extent, then we are afraid they may remain in that position for a very long time. An opposition government is a shadow government which presents better alternatives to how things ought to be done and not one which revels in quintusian campaigns just to rub shrew on the face of the government of the day even when the need do not arise. Such antics smacks of bankruptcy of ideas and cannot be contemplated as an alternative by an informed electorate.

The earlier PDP realizes they would have to play opposition politics for a very long time (a friend of mine said at least 12 years), before it can pose any threat to the APC, then the better for them. But how they carry this “cross” however long it tarries, would be the necessary test of their character and the yardstick for measuring whether they can ever become the bride of choice to Nigerians again.

Okupe said the PDP was created as a coalition to wrest power from the military, and the APC was a merger of several interest groups set up to wrest power from the PDP. I also agree with the man. It then follows that the PDP may as well ruminate over a merger with other mushroom political parties to give the APC the fight it deserves.

It is on the strength of the aforesaid, that Okupe’s prognosis resonates and finds apt expression. Whereas Nigerians have voted the PDP out, we have not ruled them out as an organized political front which may never walk again. Even the Prophet Ezekiel in the Bible prophesied that “Dry bones shall rise again”. The PDP therefore, can still rise and walk again. The only question extant is: how and when do they intend to rise again? Nigerians may have voted “Change” over a bogus “Transformation” at the last polls but we cannot imagine the consequence of a democracy without a virile opposition. Indeed! It is better that such a state were not a democracy.

The danger of a tepid and puerile opposition we dare say is best imagined than lived. Imagine a situation where the PDP continues in its self-destructive path, chances are that the APC government as a Human Institution, could lapse into lethargy since the threat of an alternative platform, if you like, a government in waiting, would have been destroyed. But that is even the milder of two potential dangers. The more serious scenario is the prospect of Nigeria descending into full blown dictatorship. It’ll be infantile in the extreme as some are wont to do, to dismiss such a possibility unless one is too naïve to realize that without a virile and patriotic opposition, an ex-general’s regimental background could overshadow his democratic credentials.

So in essence, PDP owes itself a duty to rise again like a phoenix from the dead and reassert itself, and also owe Nigerians an obligation to pose a strong and enviable opposition to the APC to allow our democratic space its full complements and dress democracy here, in its boilerplate apparel.

Nigerians and indeed the world are watching to see how the party fulfills these two pronged obligations. But in doing so, Okupe’s “Medical prognosis” I think must be taken hook, line and sinker!

 

Raymond Nkannebe is a Lawyer and Public Affiars Commentator. He can be reached via: Raymondnkannebe@gmail.com

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