Sunday, 21 April 2013

Noel Adeniyi: In Defence Of Ibrahim Salisu Buhari

In Defence Of Ibrahim Salisu Buhari

By Noel Adeniyi Decker
It is common place these times to wake up in the morning,catch the early morning news on television and leave for work depressed. On your way to work you tune on the radio, listen and arrive work depressed. Lunch time, you read the newspapers and get back depressed. Our days are constantly filled with news of wickedness. Man’s inhumanity to man. Wars, earthquakes, avoidableaccidents claiming lives and maiming others, floods, rapes, murders, name them. Nothing is an aberration to modern man.
In the midst of all these we are often prompted to search inwards for answers on how to thrive amidst such wickedness. The only solution seems to be with us. Doing good. It is imperative for us to be the change we want to see in the world because no one, no being will do it for us. We should step out each day with the mission of doing good. Looking for someone to do good to, touch someone’s life with goodness. Our lives should never be dictated by hurtful or painful experiences we have had over the years at the hands of many who might have taken us for a ride. It should only make us wiser. But good we must strive for because our Creator out of goodness He created us and our lives must be a living example of our Creator who is good.
The recent rumpus over the appointment of Hon Ibrahim Salisu Buhari as a member of the University of Nigeria Nsukka Governing board has been viewed with cynicism which is totally superfluous.
The various ravings and mud-slinging on the person of the former speaker of the federal House of Representatives clearly shows that we as a people prefer to chase the shadows at the expense of the substance.Why the campaign of denigration over his appointment as a member of the governing board of the University? They attributed their criticisms based on his past conviction of fraud and age falsification.
We should not forget that it is on record that Ibrahim Salisu Buhari is the first and only public officer till date who publicly apologized to millions of Nigerians with tears in his eyes over his actions which was inimical to the nation in an era when public office holders see themselves being above the law and even subverting judicial processes with the powers, connections and funds at their disposal. Some say he was shedding crocodile tears and were not fazed at all.
What in their view expresses remorse? Should the man inflict himself with serious injuries and bleed on television in addition to the tears, or simply put a gun on his head and shoot himself on national television for a wrong action he took in his zeal to serve his fatherland?
No individual should be judged based on past mistakes or behaviours as they can change and make good choices once they get another chance in a free society. Success is not only for pious people who have never been convicted or made erroneous deeds. Success is for anyone who wants it. It is so sad that we live in an extremelyjudgmental society were people have various sorts of prejudice. Prejudice is not just racial or religiousdiscrimination, ageism, sexual preference or against those who are overweight, but a prejudiced person can judge a person based on their past.
I was surprised to note in many of the articles criticizing his appointment that no mention was made of his achievements at the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council [NERDC] in 2005 where he held sway as the Chairman during the twilight of the Obasanjo era. The uproar generated over his recent appointment was not generated then, so why the storm now? Were they not informed, do they have a problem with the President who appointed him now? Its quite amazing the issues we blow out of proportion while a lot needing our attention is never mentioned at all.
I wish to commend all the great Lions and Lionesses for their great heritage over the years and wish to implore them to welcome the former speaker of the Federal House of Representatives with open arms in the tradition of their great hospitality not forgetting that the Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council never had it so good during the Chairmanship of the former Speaker who is not known to court media attention over his accomplishments in a society where silence is often seen as a sign of weakness.
In this period of holler for reformation and transformation in the polity we should never forget some sagacious sayings such as that of Alexander Pope 1688-1744: to err is human; to forgive, divine and the saying of the Great Rabbi ‘he that is without sin, let him cast the first stone’.
Noel is a media practitioner and writes from Abuja

A revolution is coming! – Ogunjimi James Taiwo

A revolution is coming! – Ogunjimi James Taiwo

The time comes in the life of any nation when there remains only two choices – submit or fight.” – Nelson Mandela
When we talk of revolution, when we talk of the people revolting and seizing power from the thieving ruling class, so many people are of the opinion that it may have worked in other countries, but won’t happen in Nigeria. Such people base their assertions on the obvious lack of unity both in religious and tribal fronts. They also say that Nigerians love life too much to lay it down in a bid to regain the nation from a ruling class that is bent on running it down by pandering to the threats of terror groups, being pawn in the hand of the IMF, enthroning corruption on a large scale, gross misuse of public funds, arrant disregard for the rule of law and practicing anti-democratic acts in a democratic regime.
Recent developments however will perhaps cause them to have a change of mind and a difference of opinion. Signs are clear now that the end is near for this current leadership that has held Nigeria hostage with their fake dose of democracy. The telltale signs are here. They are slipping. There are acts of desperation everywhere. Illegal arrests and detention, attempts at silencing voices that disagree with their policies, unguarded comments, withholding of vital information; they are slipping!
April 8 2013, a freelance journalist, Cyriacus Njoku, who had challenged the eligibility of President Jonathan to contest at the polls twice, was arrested on charges of rape and was taken to Suleja prison where he was held under tight security, denied the services of a lawyer and denied access to visitors. In fact, it was claimed that had it not been that a note was smuggled out, his whereabouts wouldn’t have been known. It would be recalled that prior to his arrest, his lawyer, Mr Ugochukwu Osuagwu had fled the country with his family after seeking political asylum with the German embassy who granted him the asylum to protect him from assailants who he alleged were threatening to eliminate him.
Journalists are being harassed, brutalized and arrested. August 9, 2012, Mr Benedict Iwalaka, a photo journalist with Leadership newspaper was brutalized heavily when the corpses of the victims of the Dana crash was being released in Lagos.
November 9, 2012, Basil Ogbu, Michael Ogwa, Sunday Omogo, Philip Nwankpa, Eze Ndubisi, Ebuka Eze, Obinna Ofor, Joseph Udoh and Uchechukwu, members of Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Baifra (MASSOB), were arrested at MASSOB security office at Onitsha, Anambra State by a combined team of the army, police and State Security Service men and were handed over to the State Anti-Robbery Squad headquarters, Awkuzu, Anambra state. It was their corpses however that surfaced on the Ezu river on the 19th of January 2013.
On April 8, 2013, four journalists with Leadership newspaper were arrested on the orders of President Jonathan and were quizzed in a bid to make them reveal their sources of a report they published. On April 10, 2013, following the conditional release of two of them, Mr. Tony Amokeodo and Mr Chibuzo Ukaibe, the management of the newspaper house released a public statement condemning the obnoxious act in the strongest of terms. “The Nigerian government must understand that this very crude tactic of arresting journalists and invading media houses is dated. Even smaller African countries do not engage in those uncivilized acts anymore. And certainly, no democracy in the world still does it.” April 15, 2013, both of them were re-arrested.
On Monday 24th February 2013, four students of the Nasarawa State University, Keffi, were shot dead by security operatives during a peaceful demonstration in the university premises over scarcity of water and power in the institution, while about 17 of them were arrested.
November 8, 2011, the President of National Youth Council, Mr. Wale Ajani was arrested by the SSS in a bid to stop the planned hunger strike/protest that was supposed to hold in Unity Fountain, Abuja on 11-11-11.
April 21, 2012, Convener of United Action for Democracy, UAD, Jaye Gaskia was arrested and detained by SSS in Abuja in a bid to stop UAD from coordinating a general protest against the government of President Jonathan over massive corruption in the payments of fuel subsidies to the tune of $6.8 billion.
December 19, 2012, Dr. Dipo Fashina, Comrade Abiodun Aremu, Comrade Hassan Taiwo Soweto, Comrade Oladunni Segun and Comrade Usman Oloyede were arrested while leading a protest in defense of motorcycle riders in Lagos state, on orders of the Deputy Commissioner of Lagos State, Mr Babatunde Sobulo, who alleged that the organisers “lack the right to hold the protest.”
September 3, 2012, the special adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati denied allegations that the nation’s first lady, Dame Patience Jonathan was indisposed and had been flown abroad for treatment. In his words, he claimed the report “was a rumour and there is nothing like that.” February 20, 2013 however, the first lady, in what was described as a spiritual event, power show, fashion statement and political gathering held in the banquet hall of Aso Villa, confessed that her sickness was so severe that she ‘died’ for 7 days.
March 9, 2013, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswill Akpabio, who also doubles as the PDP Governors Forum Chairman, during a visit by a delegation of the National Good Governance Tour led by the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, confessed to manipulating the result of a 2007 People’s Democratic Party senatorial primary election in the state by single-handedly replacing the rightful winner’s name with the name of his own preferred candidate, Aloysius Etuk. In his words, “The people of Ikono and Ini from 1960 have never produced a Senator. I used my own hand to strike out the name of the person who has won before, and I produced Senator Aloysius Etuk for you; that’s where he comes from.”
February 4, 2013, 39 beggars were arraigned before the Special Offences court in Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos state for soliciting alms. According to the Lagos state government, they were arrested because they constituted public nuisance. While 29 of those arraigned got 72 hours community service, 10 of them were sentenced to 3 months in jail.
Demolition of houses is a common thing now. Over 3000 houses were demolished in Abuja, thousands were demolished in Lagos state, Ogun state government is not left behind too. Recently, the Zamfara state government said it would demolish over 800 houses to make way for the construction of a new airport.
April 14, 2013, a former Nigerian lawmaker and self-acclaimed anti-corruption crusader, Mr. Dino Melaye, escaped assassination. Mr Melaye, a staunch government critic, claimed the attack was as a result of his stance on corruption.
I could go on and on listing the numerous signs that points to the fact that a revolution is imminent in Nigeria. We are entering a stage where there will be continuous protests, unrest and crises. The refusal of the Boko Haram sect to accept the questionable government amnesty, the resumption of MEND hostilities, OPC has been offered a paid responsibility of guiding pipelines; the government is blundering! The end of an era is near. Crime now pays better; illegality now pays better than adhering to legal ways.
For those who still have reservations about whether or not Nigerians will revolt, watch all these signs carefully; study the signs as they glaringly stare us straight in the eye, IT WILL HAPPEN! Nigerians are getting to that stage where they have been pushed to the wall, the thirst for information is unquenchable.
A revolution will happen, and it will first be a revolution of personal transformation that will divest us of mental and ideological orientation that have crippled the sense of reasoning of the masses and silenced their quest for change. A revolution is coming that will break the stranglehold of religious houses on the masses and turn pulpits to a platform where the voice of freedom will boom out. A revolution is coming that will challenge the monopolistic powers of traditional rulers and their ability to continually repress the masses while earning their pay from the thieving elites. A revolution is imminent that will reclaim our oil wells from those who have shared it between themselves. A revolution is coming that will reclaim the jobs of our youths from those who have huddled it for their kids. A revolution is coming that will transform the state of public schools. A revolution is coming that will provide a good health plan for ordinary Nigerians and bring down mortality rate. A revolution is coming that will upset the balance of oppression and repression. A revolution is coming that will consume the very foundation of corruption and mismanagement. Nigerians will revolt; believe it!
A new Nigeria is possible; don’t ever doubt it!
Ogunjimi James Taiwo
Twitter: @hullerj

Our Suffer Neva Start–By Akan Imoh And Isaac Kolawole

By Akan Imoh And Isaac Kolawole

True, true, our suffer neva start.
We are just seeing the prelude; the real movie is coming soon. We never start to cry, we never start to dey hungry, we never start to dey bury loved ones. We are still experiencing jollyment in comparison to what’s in store for us if we continue in our lackadaisical “siddon-look” attitude.
It is irritating to see how Nigerians adapt to every horrible and terrible situation like Chameleons. We have become silent survivors of suffering, yet smiling and moving on; gathering experiences of suffering and adding it to our curriculum vitae to be told at round tables to children yet unborn, who would also continue the chain of suffering and smiling with no plan to break the cycle of suffering.
It is more irritating to see the youths, the supposed leaders of tomorrow, sacrifice excellence on the altar of mediocrity, sacrifice progressive and positive change-oriented activism on the altar of ignorance, sacrifice political participation on the altar of indifference.
We always believe that one day things will magically get better. We pray always for a better Nigeria, as if God will come down from heaven in His splendor and majesty to set things right in Nigeria. We spit fire and brimstone in buses while being held in traffic on terrible and unmotorable death traps called roads, arguing blindly about corrupt politicians and how much they have looted. We keep forgetting the collective power of the masses and the fact that change can be effected by our collective efforts, if channeled in the right direction.
Yet, our youths prefer to discuss the round bottom of Kim Kardashian and Nicki Minaj, passionately tweet about the fight between Rihanna and Chris Brown, prattle with empty heads and fine faces; bimbos of the highest order.
I get frustrated when I read bios of youths on facebook, and I see ‘Not Interested’ in the column for politics. Ignorant big boys and girls; who should be more interested in politics if not the youths?! How can you not be interested in politics. If we all leave politics to these drained-out, geriatric and fatigued men, where will the radical change come from?
From lootocrats ready to change party without batting an eyelid and with no consideration for ideology? I think not.
A mentor of mine, Chude Jideonwo of Y! Naija, in his article – ‘Don’t get it twisted – anger is good’ opined that we all need to get angry, we all need to rise up with vexation and cry out in pain. It was collective anger of the people that led to the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy “Mis-management” ; it was anger that led to the delay of tolling on the second phase of the Lekki-Epe Expressway; it was anger that caused the PDP to lose the governorship in Edo State; it was anger that led Mr. President to rescind his decision to rename the University of Lagos.
My take on that opinion is quite simple: Our youths do not even know what to be angry about. Ignorance has been used to rub our faces like petroleum jelly. We are blinded by mediocrity and lack of interest in who and how we are governed.
Tell me, how many young people know what the foreign reserve is about? How many young people know about the Sovereign Wealth Fund? How many young people know that serious countries are seriously looking for alternatives to petroleum? Have you realized that a news story on Whizkid or Davido sells better than a political analysis?
Parents warn their children to steer clear of politics. We have been taught that it is a dirty game and only dirty people can play it. As if that’s not enough, a popular religious sect sees it as a violation of rules for its members to go into politics. The members of this sect do not even vote during elections, yet we want a better Nigeria. Don’t worry magic will happen.
We so much believe in that part of the bible that says ‘a thousand and ten thousand shall fall by our sides, but nothing shall happen to us’, so we act like we don’t see the people that are being killed by accidentsand armed robbers on Benin-Ore road. We act like we don’t see the people being murdered by Boko Haram. We act like we don’t see the people being murdered emotionally when they have to write UTME five times before getting admission into a university, or the ones that have to trek the length and breadth of Lagos to secure a job. No, we are only conscious of our well being.
Until we rise and start asking the right questions and getting involved in politics, we may continue in this downward trend into the abyss.
We are @ovasabii and @newnaija on twitter.

OPINION: Beyond The Recommendations Of The Oronsaye Committee Report ~ By Theophilus Ilevbare @tilevbare

Beyond The Recommendations Of The Oronsaye Committee Report ~ By Theophilus Ilevbare @tilevbare

steve oronsanye
In spite of repeated assurance from the government to appropriately down size its unwieldy work force and cost of governance, most Nigerians doubt the commitment of the government to fully implement the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on Rationalization and Restructuring of Federal Government parastatals, commissions and agencies headed by Steve Oronsaye. The committee recommended the scrapping of 102 statutory agencies from the current 263, abolition of 38 agencies, merger of 52 and reversion of 14 to departments in the ministries. The 800-page report also recommended the discontinuation of government funding of professional bodies and councils.
The high cost of servicing the public sector is antithetical to economic growth. As the Governor of the Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, rightly pointed out, the civil service is over-staffed. There is an alarming 45, 000 ghost workers in 251 MDAs. In no small measure, the civil service has contributed to the culture of corruption, cronyism and foot-dragging.
From time immemorial, recommendations and solutions to Nigeria’s myriad of problems has never been in short supply, it is the political will to implement that has been the bane. As far back as 1975, government restructured the Federal Civil Service with a massive purge. In 1984, under the then head of state, Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, another 3,000 civil servants were sacked for laziness, idleness, lack of initiative, lateness to office, absenteeism and inefficiency. A Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC) chaired by T.Y Danjuma, which had in January 2011, called for “a more effective and optimal use of national resources,” advised the government to restructure and rationalize to eliminate waste. Earlier, in 2000, there was the Ahmed Joda Panel White Paper on the Review, Harmonisation and Rationalisation of Federal Government Parastatals which was not implemented until the Oronsaye committee was set up in 2012.  By summoning the political will to implement the Oronsaye report, the FG will spare successive governments the waste of resources and time in setting up similar committees. If the government of the day is serious about the planned restructuring, it knows exactly what to do to prune the cost of the civil service without constituting any committee.
Perhaps, government can start from its duplicity of committee functions when it constituted a committee led by the minister for Justice and AGF, Mr Adoke to review the work of another headed by Oronsaye. A third committee was set up by President Jonathan to review the public sector reform, headed by Ahmed Fika. Maybe we now await the constitution of an implementation committee to fast track the execution of Oronsaye’s report. This is a duplicity that the committee itself was set up to ratify. After all, from the government’s antecedents, there is a probability, that the work of the three committees might be left in the cupboard to gather dust.
In the mean time, palpable fear has pervaded UTME, NECO, EFCC, ICPC and other agencies under the sledge hammer of rationalization. But there are clandestine moves to stymie the implementation of the report by those who benefit from the bloated bureaucracy that allow about one percent of the population enjoy allowances estimated at N1.031 trillion representing 35% of the N4.926 trillion been the total budget of the federal government in the 2013 budget. Expressing its displeasure with this data, the Fika committee report said, “It is certainly not morally defensible from the perspective of social justice or any known moral criterion, that such a huge sum of public funds is consumed by an infinitesimal fraction of the people.”
Mallam Nasir Elrufai, former Minister of FCT, in an essay why the cost of government is unsustainable in Nigeria, said “It costs nearly 2.5 million naira on the average annually for the upkeep of each of the federal government’s nearly one million public sector workers – in the police, civil service, military and paramilitary services and teachers in government schools and institutions. That is why we should ask questions when ministries are created and more ministers are screened by the Senate and sworn in! Each one costs billions!” The implication is that our entire oil earnings for the year cannot pay the salaries and allowances of politicians, public sector workers and their overheads.
Recently, the overlapping functions and battle for supremacy between government agencies was brought to the fore in the shooting of two Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, officials by men of the Police Force which ignited a war of words. It took the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan to bring the situation under control. This particular incident highlighted the conflict and acrimony that has always existed between agencies with overlapping functions.  The two paramilitary outfits have been embroiled in an age-long mutual mistrust, over what the officers of the Nigeria Police often tout as the NSCDC’s intrusion into its statutory roles. It is a fundamental breach of good public sector governance to create a new agency or institution as a result of the failure or poor performance of an existing agency in order to suit political or individual interests.  That such practices have been precipitating systemic conflicts, crises and collapse at a substantial but avoidably high cost to the government cannot be contested,” the Oronsaye reported said.
The scope of the Oronsaye committee should have been expanded to federal ministries. The duplicity extends to one office for ministers and another for ministers of state. Like deputy governors, it seems the constitution does not have clearly defined role for these ministers of state. And how about their numerous Special Advisers? Ministries with overlapping functions such as the ministry of petroleum and that of solid mineral resources should be merged. The merged ministry can aptly be renamed ministry of petroleum and solid mineral resources.  There is no reason why there should be separate ministries for information and communication. Can we safely conclude that since we now have a Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs which birthed after amnesty was granted to Niger Delta militants that the federal government will create another for North affairs if amnesty is eventually granted to the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists? How has the ministry for Police affairs since its inception improved the workings of the Nigeria Police Force? How does an inefficient and corrupt police force necessitate the formation of a ministry at the federal level? You would have observed too that we hardly hear of more than fifty percent of the ministers or ministers of state in cabinet for the better part of four years of an administration.
But a handful of agencies should be left to function separately. The EFCC and ICPC for instance. Both should be repositioned and made independent of government. Merging them with the Police Force will further weaken the fight against corruption.
After all said and done, it can never be over-emphasized that the Nigerian public sector needs to be reengineered. The endemic corruption in the sector must be fought with renewed determination and vigour, which should start from the restructuring and rationalization of agencies and parastatals. Their proliferations, motivated by selfish interest, to near redundancy are concomitant effects of sleaze.  Until the corruption in the system is tackled, we might just be moving in circles.
By Theophilus Ilevbare (
twitter: @tilevbare

Musings! By Efe Wanogho: On Nigerian Unity.

 On Nigerian Unity.

Efe Wanogho
In the post-World War 2 era, the international arena witnessed an increasing resort to international groupings as a means to resolvingconflicts and furthering a peace-engendering multilateralism. The forming of the United Nations Organisation has been credited by many to be the singular most important reason for the non-occurrence of a Third World War, a marked departure from the seeming haste that brought about the Second World War, not long after the First World War. In Europe, the formation of the European Union, which succeeded the European Economic Committee, has seen to the non-resurrection of the virtually ubiquitous feuding that characterised the countries in the region in the period preceding its formation. The point of the above and it’s relationship to the subject of discourse is to bring to the fore, the increasing resort to a coming-together of peoples for the purpose of their mutual development interests.
In more recent times, the world stage witnessed the formation of BRICS, by the emerging national economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. An amalgam of nations strategically brought together to further their interests. The gains of coming together of even a seemingly diverse people, cannot be over-emphasised. Countries that are far apart from each other, are seeking closer ties to address issues of collective concern. One would then wonder, why Nigeria, five decades after political independence, and almost a century after the amalgamation of the North and South of the country, is still being plagued by discordant tunes. Is it impossible for the people of Nigeria, with their ethnic and religious divergence from each other, to live together in peace and harmony? Is there anything inherent in our cultures and religions that forbids us from peaceful coexistence with people of varying origins? Is it not possible to understand the so-called differences of the various parts of Nigeria, evolve an atmosphere of mutual respect for such differences, and derive strength from the conscious working together of the divergent parts?
Apart from the increasing need of people to cooperate to address common issues, Nigeria has a prevalence of adherents of the Christian and Islamic Faiths; religions which preach a common ancestry for humanity. If both religions are right about the common origins of man, and by extension, all Nigerians; what then is fuelling the debilitating intolerance of people of other faiths, as is particularly witnessed in the Northern fringes of the country? Wouldn’t it be sheer hypocrisy to purport to be followers of supposedly peace-loving and peace-propagating religions, whereas, at every flimsy excuse, we are quick to be at daggers drawn against those who have different ethnicity or who profess different religions from ours? Who does this situation of needless rivalry among peoples – for matters that were clearly a function of the circumstances of their birth – actually benefit? If we are ever to be intolerant, such intolerance should be targeted at vice and criminality, the very bane of our socioeconomic quagmire; and not at others who are themselves victims of criminality in public and private office.
It must be stated, however, that the argument for a united Nigeria, need not be predicated on its being sacrosanct and non-negotiability. People have an inalienable right to self determination and should not be forced to cohabit. What should be paramount in advancing Nigerian unity, should be the comparative advantage that the unity brings to everyone in the arrangement, as against a state of suspicion and pernicious rivalry that would attend a balkanised Nigeria. This brings me to the crux of the matter.
What is the Federal Government, which should be the main unifier in the Nigerian arrangement, doing to further the course of national unity? What resources are being deployed to get the citizenry to have faith in the continued unity of the country? Are federal institutions strengthened or receiving enough support to respond to crises situations, so much so that, ordinarily dissident groups would have a sense of belonging that their fears would be sufficiently addressed in the subsisting arrangement? What is the correlation of amnesty to national unity? Does the brand of amnesty witnessed in Nigeria since the era of militancy in the Niger Delta, and which is being clamoured for Boko Haram terrorists in the North; do anything to further the unity of the country? I think not. What the amnesty does is to empower and embolden dissident groups through cash gifts, multi-million Naira contract awards, and the assuming of an air of invincibility occasioned by the ineffectiveness and incompetence ofsecurity agencies and policy somersault on the part of the government; to prepare for an armed onslaught against the Nigerian State, and resulting in the emergence of ethnic-based and militant-led empires.
I would reiterate what I have stated endlessly on this column: the surest way to promote criminality is to clothe it in the robes of ethnicity or religiousity by generalising the perpetrators and referring to them as unknown gunmen, whether of the Southern, kidnapping and robbing stock, or of the Northern, bomb-detonating and mass-murdering stock. Every crime is perpetrated by an individual or a group of individuals. The perpetrators should be tracked and brought to justice according to the law of the land as it pertains to the crimes committed. The surest way of bringing a Nigeria to an end, is to continue to pamper criminals and dissident groups, which, sooner than later, would be positioned to successfully engage and overpower the State, militarily; or railroad the country to a sovereign national conference, with a predetermined end of national disintegration.
I am @efewanogho, on Twitter.
Laus Deo!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Tom Rogan: Why Thatcher Was The ‘Iron Lady’

Why Thatcher Was The ‘Iron Lady’

Editor’s note: Tom Rogan, 27, is a conservative writer for and The Guardian. Although he’s American, he grew up inLondon, England.
Margaret Thatcher, one of the seminal political figures of the 20th century, will be remembered for her unswerving belief in the virtues of free market capitalism and the vices of socialism, and for her role in the downfall of communism.
People might wonder why Thatcher evokes such positive emotion from young conservatives, such as me, who were children during her heyday. The answer is simple. In our era of politics in which spin seems to take precedence to substance, Margaret Thatcher was an icon for what politics should be about — courage, spirit and the determination to change things for the better.
In pursuit of the defeat of what she saw as socialist totalitarianism, she made a close alliance with U.S. President Ronald Reagan and built a relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, while still standing firm in opposition to the Soviet empire. Without question, she was one of America’s closest and most important friends and was instrumental in winning the Cold War for the West.
She refused to be bowed by terrorism and stood against it in all its forms. After the Irish Republican Army attempted to assassinate her and her Cabinet at the 1984 Conservative Convention in Brighton, narrowly missing Thatcher but killing five people, she insisted on continuing the conference the next day.
“The fact that we are gathered here now, shocked, but composed and determined, is a sign not only that this attack has failed, but that all attempts to destroy democracy by terrorism will fail.” Her courage brought moral clarity in highlighting the atrocity of terrorism as a means of political activity.
Her resolve to stand against any threat to British interests was clear in the Falklands War. After the invasion of British territory by Argentine military forces, Thatcher said it would not stand. Fully knowing the real prospect of defeat, Thatcher ordered a British military task force to re-take the islands. They did.
Along with foreign policy successes, Thatcher, known as “The Iron Lady,” scored domestically.
Facing high unemployment rates, a crippling union stranglehold and an unproductive, stagnating economy, the United Kingdom of the 1970s was a country in dire straits.
Thatcher believed that pervasive unemployment and growing inflation were not just temporary threats, they were burying Britain’s future. She believed the root causes were found not in the shifts of economic cycles, but in the failure of Britain’s flawed economic model.
She guided Britain’s economic base away from domestic monopolies and toward global capitalism. Because of her privatization and deregulation policies, the United Kingdom became a center for international finance and investment. In 1987, Thatcher was elected to a historic third term.
Despite her successes politically, she was a polarizing presence and had relatively low approval ratings during her tenure. Many Britons detested her attempts to curb the unions, her cuts to social programs and education, and her introduction of the Community Charge, called the “poll tax.” Her Cabinet did not share her views on the European Union. She resigned as prime minister after three terms in 1990, believing her party had betrayed her.
Still, there can be no debate of her enduring impact. Tony Blair’s historic 1997 election and return of the Labor Party to power is often pointed to as a moment of renewed liberalism in Britain. In many ways, it was. But under the banner of a new Labor and Blair’s embrace of a “third way,” it is also evident that Thatcher had changed Britain’s economic debate forever. She had moved the political discussion from one of statism versus capitalism to a basic acceptance of free market economics as a standard of British political consensus.
Although many on the British left oppose what Thatcher did and what she stood for, there is a quiet, begrudging perhaps, but unmistakable admiration of her strong and unswerving leadership.
History will record Thatcher stood for what she believed, and that both Britain and the world are better for it.
culled from CNN

Adeniran A.A: Let The Noise Go Beyond Social Media

Let The Noise Go Beyond Social Media

Twitter Co-Founders Biz Stone And Ev Williams Address Developers Conference
By Adeniran A.A
In view of the last address of the nation by President Jonathan, I am convinced beyond reasonable doubt that having an iota of hope in him now will be the most foolish thing to do on earth. I thus want to implore all fellow CCOA (Collective Children Of Anger) to please let’s direct our efforts and anger in ensuring a positive change; orchestrated of course by us.
Our parents’ generation has failed us, and we are already failing our children. But God forbid that we should fail them completely! Most tweeps have been saying we are just ranting on twitter, that nothing will change from just ranting online, that we need to do more than rant, that we need action.
I think they are right; nothing will sincerely change from mere online ranting. But I have being thinking about what can be done differently.
I realized that the percentage of those of us ranting here online is a drop in the ocean when juxtaposed with those who will really swing votes at the polls. Serious grassroot liberalisation is needed all over Nigeria. People at the grassroot are still awaiting a Messiah. We need to sensitize these people and re-sensitize ourselves. I was chatting with my friend on BBM a while ago and he was reminding me about the level of corruption among our youths. He wanted to know if the change I was implying could be achieved with this same set of young people. That was when I felt a lot still needed to be done in sensitizing our youths: both the so called educated and most importantly the uneducated ones out there on the streets.
The determination of the youths is what is needed to fight this enemy of the society called corruption. And we need to raise a huge data base of youths to achieve that. We need to let the apprentice in the mechanic workshops, the tailors, shoemakers, Danfo drivers, Okada riders, butchers, the market women, traders, know what we collectively stand for. They all need to be carried along. We cannot do it alone. We need to enlist an army of people needed to take back our country.
Something serious needs to be done– needs to be put in place before the election period. We need to educate people beyond the social media. We need to begin kicking asses–and hard!
It is we, the CCOA on social media that can champion the course. We cannot afford to look up to the mainstream media as it has been bought over and we need to get across through other channels.
To go about this, I suggest that templates of messages to pass across should be made. We are agitating for change here because we are aware of what is going on in government circles. Most people don’t. Let us make the information we have also available to other like minded folks.
These information can be designed into templates, uploaded on various known blogs like Ekekeee, omojuwa, etc. It should be designed in a manner printable in pamphlets to minimize costs. It can be in different languages but with the same message. Poster templates can as well be made by those who can still afford it among us.
Then everyone who is dedicated to change in Nigeria should see it as a duty to print and distribute same to these people. A copy can be printed and photocopied. Of course, it has financial obligations. A sacrifice of like #500 per month is not too much to make for our country. We spend more than that sum on girls, parties and the likes. Someone needs to take responsibility. We all have to take responsibilities to move this country from this tortuous level.
The information or message intended to be passed across could be made in series. Each individual should ensure that he gives out 10 of such pamphlets per month. Let’s paste them on school notice boards, mosques, churches, bill boards, road sides, let’s distribute them while in the Danfo, BRT, mass transits, school buses, garages, car parks. Let us get our own campaign started now! These people (thieves) are already mapping out strategies on how they are going to continue enslaving us, but we are yet to set out plans concerning how we will free ourselves from their shackles.
2015 is almost here, the fight is for all of us. Let us all contribute our quota to ensure we achieve the change we need and crave for in this country.
I cannot start this because I don’t have a well publicised blog neither am I influential, but I am sure if this campaign is supported by the so called social media elites, we will reach across to more youths beyond the walls of social media. We need them. We need to back our rants with actions. Let’s make the noise more audible on the streets; let us shout louder. Let’s bring down the roof of corruption and bad leadership with a scream on the streets!!!
The revolution we seek is not an event, it is a process. Let it begin; and now!
I will like to use this opportunity to congratulate the Ekekeee team on the one year anniversary of Nigeria’s best political blog and also to congratulate the blog’s ‘Don Jazzy’, my brother, Chinedu Ekeke on the occasion of his birthday. You are a blessing to this generation, and “The UpNEPA generation and the memories of Biafra” are ample testaments.
The writer is on twitter @mrbhiyi (Adeniran Adebiyi

Candid Reflections’ With Debo Adejugbe: Power, Politics And Poverty

Candid Reflections’ With Debo Adejugbe: Power, Politics And Poverty

Reading through Olusegun Adeniyi’s “Power, Politics and Death”, one cannot but wonder how we got here. The disdain and selfishness with which our elites and supposed leaders treat governance and the governed is so worrisome that, as you leafed through the pages, it became harder to fathom objectively.
The author tried his best to be kind to the memory of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua but did not mince words in exposing what went on, how he felt and in certain situations, what could have been done better in hindsight. Good book, I must say and the fact that it took me this long to read it is inexcusable.
Several things struck me in the grand hypocrisy that littered the book. From the person of the late President, to his VP, his wife, AGF, CSO, ADC, The National Assembly, The Governors Forum, Organized Labour and the several others mentioned in the book; you could see they were all there to water their lawns and make ends meet while making sure we remain poor.
Decisions were made to the detriment of the state. The rule of law, for which Yar’Adua pledged allegiance and total compliance, became just a byword in the grand scheme of shielding Nigerians from the truth about his health. The “honest” man as dubbed caved in to his handlers and by extension, made Nigerians the scapegoat.
Nothing screams hypocrisy more than the sight of a sick President, who couldn’t discharge fully (even up to 30%) the demands of the office he occupied, and yet failed to resign to tend to his health and save the nation from the several chess games we witnessed during that dark era. The fact that during his campaign train, he had to be rushed out of the country to receive treatment, further buttressed my opinion of the late President as selfish.
As if having a sick and non-functional President in place wasn’t bad enough, he was (un)ably assisted by an AGF who became the personal Lawyer to the most wanted criminal in the country. Ibori became law and the servant leader gulped every morsel he fed him without asking questions. He ceded power (willingly or not) to a tiny group of individuals who had no meaningful plan for the country other than to encourage disunity among the populace.
Then, came his VP. The Goodluck Jonathan portrayed in that book is anything but clueless. That is my major point in this piece. We have erroneously termed this calculative and ruthlessly efficient politician as clueless and he is always happy to play along. He paints a picture ofsomeone who doesn’t understand anything and willing to play along as long as his objectives were being realized.
On page 193 of the book, Olusegun Adeniyi while speaking on the several pleas and counter pleas made to President Yar’Adua to write the National Assembly on the transference of power to the VP while away in Saudi Arabia and the intervention letter written by the AGF to the VP, wrote: “I said I had just been given a copy of a letter written to him, producing same as I spoke. He dismissed the letter out of hand, repeating the question, “why would he write me a letter?” He appeared angry, but I nonetheless pleaded with him to read the letter. Reluctantly, he accepted the letter from me, and as he went through, I could see that he had actually read the letter before.”
He continued: “when he got to the part on the Supreme Court interpretation, he read aloud the phrase “the president is required toexercise such executive powers conferred on him either directly or through the vice president and minister of the government….,” he looked up and said, “That can mean anybody, even you. This is a very stupid letter, which says nothing.”
Jump to page 195 and you will see where Jonathan rebuffed all entreaties to him to sign the 2009 supplementary budget on the ground that “he had it on good authority that if he signed the budget, he would be impeached by the National Assembly”. Say what you will, but I will maintain that President Jonathan is not clueless. Everything he has been doing is well planned, rehearsed and dispatched with ruthless efficiency. We run the risk of losing again in 2015 if we still garb him in the clueless cloak.
From the little extract above, few things were glaring. Jonathan is, like most politicians, very cunning. He feigned ignorance at a letter he had already read. He showed his anger at not being made the acting President contrary to the public persona he radiated at that time – that of a clueless person. He played his game well and made sure he never gave the National Assembly any reason to discard him on the flimsy excuse of signing a supplementary budget. He even marshalled the FEC through a process of invoking section 144 of the constitution – declaring Yar’Adua incapacitated!
When he became substantive president, he racked up more bills than Aruma Oteh could ever get by sourcing his campaign (and bribe monies) funds from the subsidy account in advance. That was followed up with an unprecedented subsidy regime that has far-reaching effect on our future. Hear this: Jonathan is not clueless.
We can sum up the mission of those at the helm of affairs with Goodluck in simple terms and it is: using the Power they have been given to play dangerous Politics with our lives while appealing to our human and sensitive side to give them four more years to sink us further into Poverty.
Simply: Power, Politics and Poverty.
It is in your Power to stop this Politics of Poverty. ‘Whatcha’ say?
Here’s a belated birthday wish to my pretty daughter, ‘Madam’ Hailey Adejugbe Adebowale who was a year older last Sunday. My promise, Dear Hailey, is to be the world’s best Dad for as long as we both live. I. LOVE. YOU.
And to all my friends and well wishers who took time out to honour Hailey via BBM Display Pictures, avatars and messages, may God continually bless you.
I’m @deboadejugbe

Stop misapplying the law on state pardon: Speaker Tambuwal warns President Jonathan

Stop misapplying the law on state pardon - Speaker Tambuwal warns

by Isi Esene
Speaker, House of Representatives,  Aminu Tambuwal, on Monday in Abuja spoke against the misapplication of the law in granting pardon to corrupt officials.
Tambuwal who was speaking at a Two-day National Conference on Corruption and National Security in Nigeria, organised by the Institute for Anti-Corruption Studies, University of Abuja, said, “A situation whereby you misapply the law even to grant pardon or whatever it is, we need to really look at that. Because if you don’t understand the law you may tend to misapply it.”
The Punch Newspapers report it thus:
President Goodluck Jonathan recently granted ex-governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and others state pardon.
The Alamieyeseigha pardon had generated controversy with many arguing that it had made a nonsense of the country’s anti-corruption war.
The ex-Bayelsa governor, to whom Jonathan was a deputy, was jailed for corruption in 2007 after making a plea bargain in a trial conducted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
In his speech at the event, Tambuwal expressed the importance of developing the capacity to understand the Nigerian legal system, especially in the fight against corruption, so as to guard against misapplication.
The report continues,
“So there is the need for us at the high places to increase our capacity of understanding our legal system, and the laws that relate to issues of security and fight against corruption for us to apply them in the best interest of the citizenry.
“It is a common knowledge that corruption is all over the place, ranging from institutions of higher learning to virtually all sectors of our national life; so there is a need for us to re-orientate ourselves and face a direction so that we can have a better society.
“For me, as I said, we need to embark on serious re-orientation to address the challenges and there is a need for a diagnosis to properly fund the security agencies for them to have proper training to be able to face terrorism which is a new phenomenon here. And also for the anti-corruption agencies not only to be independent on paper but also to have adequate funding and the requisite financial muscle to face the uphill task of the fight against corruption.”
He asked for adequate funding for the nation’s anti-corruption agencies, saying, “I’m sure that you will find that our anti-corruption agencies are seriously and grossly underfunded and without adequate funding there is no way they can fight corruption.
“We are in most cases being accused of padding the budget as if it is not our constitutional responsibility to actually do that. So I’m using this platform to call on you to understand the role of the legislators in budgetary process.
“We are not being meddlesome when we say certain provisions being proposed by the executive should be enhanced for that agency of government to function at optimal level. “And that is part of what the anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria are facing today. As I said, go back to the budget and check the funding pattern of the anti-corruption agencies and you will definitely find out that the funding provision is quite inadequate.”
Former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, who also attended the event, said the problem started when the rule of law was side-stepped and overlooked.
According to him, “We don’t need to talk much about corruption as you all know it. I know the root cause of all these, because I happen to be a lawyer, a police prosecutor, and have participated actively in the justice sector of Nigeria so I know how it started, how it happened and I know the whole process of the chain. It all started when we decided not to follow the rule of law.”

Nnamdi Anekwe-Chive: Nigeria’s Crude Oil Theft: Military And Security Chiefs Have Questions To Answe

Military And Security Chiefs Have Questions To Answer

In May 2012, The Federal Government of Nigeria through the Minister of Petroleum set up a task force comprising of all service chiefs among them the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Air Staff and the Inspector General of Police as well as Chief Executives of International Oil Companies. The minister said the creation of the task force was to stem the tide of crude oil theft with its attendant economic and environmental losses to the nation. According to her, the task force would ensure that all those arrested for crude oil theft are properly investigated and prosecuted.
Almost one year after the high powered task force, the menace of crude oil theft has assumed alarming proportion. The Managing Director of Shell put the figure of its stolen crude via the Nembe Creek Trunk line at 800billion naira per annum, while the Federal Government estimated 180,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily or approximately 7Billion dollars yearly was lost to oil theft. Other oil majors have cause to declare force majeure due to activities of oil thieves and destruction of their flow stations. There is no single day that passes without reports of crude oil theft from the pipelines that convey crude oil or other petroleum products around the country.
Reports allege that foreign ships, from Eastern European countries, illegally berth off the sea coast of Nigeria and wait for days for the stolen crude oil from Nigeria’s oil pipelines. These foreign criminals are often armed with sophisticated weapons, including their Nigerian accomplices (often former employers of Oil companies and renegade militants). They deploy sophisticated technology that compromise the pipelines easily and siphon as much quantity as they want, under the cover of darkness and always at alert against any intruder. Once mission accomplished they sail, leaving behind vandalized pipelines with crude flowing freely.
Where is the Joint Task Force in all of this? How possible is it that a combination of SSS, Military Intelligence, Navy, Air Force and Police cannot stop the crude oil theft? How true is the alleged charge that senior military officers receive suitcases of dollars and look the other way as crude oil theft goes on? Why the incessant crude oil theft? If other ranks are aiding and abetting crude oil theft, what has the military hierarchy done to stop it? Could it be that the Commanding Officers in charge of Joint Task Force in the Niger Delta have all compromised?
Take for example, then General Sani Abacha set up Rivers State Internal Security Task Force to handle the aftermath of Ogoni crises in 1995. In 1997, in the course of duty, a young Army Captain with 1 Amphibious Battalion, Bori Camp, who was the Officer Commanding Rivers State Internal Security Task Force started investigating cases of stolen crude oil and pipeline vandalism at Ogoni, which fell within his Area of Responsibility (AOR). Preliminary findings by the captain revealed the syndicate who stole crude oil from the Shell Petroleum Flow Station were aided by Senior Military officers including his boss, a Major (currently a Major General in the army). The Captain came under pressure from his commanding officer to drop the investigation but he refused. Eventually, the Captain was arrested and detained for alleged breach of procedure; charges were never leveled against the captain and subsequently posted out of the battalion to a Military Training Institution in Zaria, which is considered as Siberia. The case of those who were stealing crude oil from Shell flow station died a natural death till today.
The above scenario represents an insight into what might be going on in the Joint Task Force, because no one from the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defense Staff, Inspector General of Police to the National Security Adviser seems to be coming up with any tenable explanation as to the reason why Nigeria’s territorial integrity is being violated continually by foreign crude oil thieves in conjunction with Nigerian partners.
There is clearly no sense of urgency in the quest to stop the crude oil theft. A report from the natives of the area where the oil theft is most rampant alleges that military personnel openly share cash on the high seas with foreign and Nigerian oil thieves. Or how can one justify a situation where foreign ships come into the Nigerian waters without any attempt from the Navy or any security service to question such brazen foray. It suggests there is collaboration at the highest levels between security personnel detailed to guard the waterways and oil pipelines. The military chain of command and other security top brass cannot claim ignorance of the brazen act of crude oil theft.
Nigeria will continue to lose revenue in billions of dollars in crude oil theft if President Jonathan cannot develop the political will to investigate the JTF and all the Commanders and bring all them to justice if found to have been involved in this national economic sabotage. The Federal Government need to compare notes with other OPEC countries on how to properly secure the oil pipelines and ensure such heist is stopped.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Omar Hassan: The Nigerian Dream

Omar Hassan: The Nigerian Dream

By Omar Hassan
Today marks a great a day in the historyof my great belief system. I was
born into a great nation, my country. A country in existence since
1960. Fifty Three (53) years later, citizens are still suffering from
ethnic marginalisation. Fifty three (53) years later, my country men,
we are yet to receive our basic amenities which is basically the right of
every citizen of a country.
Corruption has enveloped our great democratic process, our entitlements
are sources of corrupt enrichment for a few. I once heard a man speak about
himself, “I stopped believing in the Educational sector since 1981, when
I found out my secondary school science laboratories were more equipped
than that of a federal university in my country Nigeria”. The mortalityrate
in all aspects of our lives is alarming: security operatives killing innocent
citizens, lack of health facilities and personnel leading to death everyday, lack of
access to basic amenities kills faster than most diseases, no good
roads, no security and the bane of all this is illiteracy.
With grave sadness I use the history of this great day to speak out: a
constitution was written, a country was created and a promise made to
every citizen that they will have access to Good
roads,Water,Electricity,Education and Healthy Facilities.
Now back to the present day. It is obvious that our promises have not been
achieved Fifty Three(53) years later. Nigeria has made its citizens
groan daily from suffering. I believe that in this great nation,
Nigeria and Nigerians can do better. Now, it’s time we helped our
great nation demand and strive to make this Nation a greater Nation.
My Fellow citizens, I say this with great pains because I am a
Nigerian and know the difficulties and frustration every citizen of
this country experiences everyday. But I will be failing today if I refuse to have
a dream– A dream borne of the belief that my great Nation can do
I have a dream that the citizens will count in every aspect of this
great Nation some day.
I have a dream that failed health care will be a thing of the past.
I have a dream that the needs of the poor will be met and the
margin between the rich and the poor will be greatly reduced.
I have a dream that there will be justice for all Nigerians, the corrupt
will be tried and judged and convicted.
I have a dream that every child will grow up into a better Nigeria, where
they will rejoice that they are Nigerians.
I have a dream today. Do you?
Ihase Osazee

Friday, 5 April 2013

Abimbola Adelakun: No Country For Nigerian ‘Unbelievers

No Country For Nigerian ‘Unbelievers’

05 Apr, 2013
In my national youth corps year, I got a job offer with a woman who was a magistrate but also ran a private school by the side. One day, she asked me to show up for an interview with her but when I did, it turned out to be a chat. Actually, she did the talking and I, not sure if I was being tested, listened. She narrated stories that ranged from crime cases she had dealt with to marital infidelity. She asked which church I worshipped. I told her.
“That church?” She said. “The pastor lives in South Africa and his wife somewhere else. What does he do when he has to have sex?”
I responded that I had no way of knowing. She provided the answer herself, saying she knows what men do even when their wives were around. She went on criticising churches, including the one she attended, in really strong words. When it was time to thank her for offering me the job, I asked why she still goes to church despite her antagonisms.
I have not forgotten her response:
“My dear, I have to. I am a magistrate. If our people see you as godless, they will think your judgment is influenced by the devil and not by the law. Here, you must be seen believing in something.”
There are people out there who, for one reason or the other, base their religion on the principle of you must be seen believing in something. Social appearances count for everything and therefore, the profession of faith is primarily to keep up pretenses. They do not give a damn about faith, and neither fear God nor regard man. They will hardly recognise their own God if he passes them in a mask at a market square. But to declare yourself as an atheist, agnostic, freethinker or even non-religious in Nigeria is to open up yourself to suspicions by people who cannot deal with your neutrality. It is easier for them if everyone is either a Muslim or Christian.
It gets worse in Nigerian political spaces because practically everything is designed for these two religions. Politicians are either Christians or Muslims and are paired to reflect a so-called balance. We still talk about M.K.O. Abiola/Babagana Kingibe’s unprecedented Muslim/Muslim ticket as if it is some life-changing scientific discovery. Because we hardly demarcate between religion which should be a private affair, and politics which should be public, politicians go over the top to be seen believing in something.
In 2011, after the Action Congress of Nigeria governors were voted into office in the South-West, one of the first things they did was to go to Saudi Arabia. A friend told me that in one of the states, in the governor’s pictures placed on billboards, he was wearing overtly religious costumes and his hands clutching prayer beads. To contest as governor in a Muslim state, a female candidate has to quickly put a hijab over her head even though other images of her show she is different from what she portrays. They all have to make a show of their religiosity because it comes down to one thing: Religion in Nigeria is more theatrical than a personal conviction.
In the final analysis, there is little space left for those who are not into organised religion. Rather than be disadvantaged, people hide their true selves and pretend they belong to either Islam or Christian faith. I must add that this phenomenon is not exclusive to Nigeria. Elsewhere, people sell their candidature by showing they have certain social and moral values that could either be religious or non-religious-based. In the case of Nigeria, however, we have majored so much on this that the religious space has become an extension of the political.
And if there is any leader who has consistently manipulated the religious space to derive political gains, it is President Goodluck Jonathan. Many of the dramas about his Presidency have occurred in a church. When his wife, Patience, unwittingly confessed what she had been up to in Germany as regards her health, she did so in a church. Recently, when Jonathan himself was giving a speech about electricity supply and power cut, it was in a church. You wonder why he had to talk about his agenda in a church at all. Why not simply worship and go home? Again, when he and his ex-godfather, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, had to stage their reconciliation, the church was a veritable platform. At least twice now, Jonathan has gone to a prominent Pentecostal church located on the ever-busy Lagos–Ibadan Expressway to kneel before its General Overseer and beg for prayers. The first time, it was shortly before the 2011 elections and the image it produced turned out to be an iconic one; it shows in a simple but powerful manner, the dynamics of the politics of religion in Nigeria. When Jonathan gave his famous I-am-not-a-lion-not-a-Nebuchadnezzar-not-the-Pharaoh-of-Egypt-and-I-cannot-figure-out-I-am-supposed-to-be speech, it was still in a church. It was also in a church that he announced he was not the best but God chose him. When he spoke about fighting corruption, his efforts second only to the US, and which threw people into laughing fits, it was still in a church!!
As if those were not enough, he recently presided over a fundraiser that got a whopping N6bn for his hometown church. One would think that with all the hoopla generated when an Italian construction firm donated a church to his village, he would go easy on his churchy activities. In a country where there are no basic educational facilities, where schools are worse than pig stys, the best he and his coterie of friends could do is to build one more church. At least, Obasanjo, with all his “defects”, raised funds for a library. And to top it all, this week, the President travelled to Enugu to inaugurate, not a specialist hospital or cancer research centre, but a church built by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu.
It is high time somebody told the President he is overdoing things. We know he must be seen believing in something, regardless of how antithetical this is to his stance on issues such as corruption but as the President of a country that recognises no religion, he needs to deemphasise his religiosity. When he goes to church, he should limit his engagements to worship and when he comes out, he can resume talking about his policies. And politics too.
Abimbola Adelakun (
Article culled from Punch

El-Rufai On Friday: Counting the Cost of Nigeria’s Water

Counting the Cost of Nigeria’s Water

By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
Not many Nigerians may know Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and fewer still would have any reason to. Born in 1772, he was an English poet who lived long before any notion of Nigerian nationhood was forged, but his most famous work, ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ which was written in 1798, aptly describes the Nigerian situation: ‘Water, Water Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink’.
Through a press release on the 28th March last year, Sarah Ochekpe, the Minister of Water Resources said that the country would require some $2.5bn (about N396bn) to provide potable water for 75% of Nigerians. It is 2013, barely 2 years to the Millennium DevelopmentGoals target of providing water to the 75% of the populace and official release from the ministry puts the percentage of Nigerians with access to safe drinking water at only 32%.
If this picture is not bad enough, at a briefing in Abuja just before the Presidential Summit on Water, the Minister confirmed that Nigeria will not meet the MDG goal on adequate water supply by 2015 if the country is not willing to commit an annual budget of some N360bn for the next 3 to 5 years.
Consider the impact of the nation’s water situation on our health indices and you would see where exactly this government is taking Nigeria. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that about 361,900 people die yearly due to poor water and sanitationconditions in Nigeria, while the UNICEF estimates that 194,000 children under the age of five die from diarrhea yearly. Gruesome as they may be, these figures are the direct impact of federal, states’ and local governments’ continued neglect of this all important sector, and the Jonathan administration shows no signs of providing leadership that will turn the tide.
In light of these figures and the very little success that has been achieved in water provision, this column would today examine the federal budgetary provision for the water resources ministry with a view to addressing very pertinent questions like how much of the ministry’s N30.4bn 2012 capital budget was implemented? How much of Nigeria’s 267 and 92 billion cubic meters of surface and ground water respectively are currently targeted for the use of Nigerians? What were the gains of the much talked about Presidential Summit on Water? Has any progress been made in implementing the Water Road Map? What should the National Assembly be doing in this vital area of our national well-being?
In 2012, the ministry’s total allocation was N39bn or 0.82% of the Federal budget. N8.6bn (22%) was set aside for recurrent spending while N30.4bn (78%) was voted to capital expenditure. This sectoral ratio exceeds the 70% we have always advocated as the minimum for capital expenditure. The 2013 budget reveals an even better picture; the total allocation is N47.8bn consisting of a capital allocation of N39.8bn (83%) and a recurrent expenditure provision of N7.9bn (17%).
In an administration where costs seem to continuously escalate, the Ministry of Water Resources deserves some commendation as it is one of the few ministries with a reduction in its recurrent budget. The personnel cost for 2013 of N6.4bn is a reduction of about 6.2% from its 2012 N6.8bn figure. According to 2013 Capital Expenditure plans, some N17.9bn would be used to complete various irrigation projectsacross the country: 24 projects in North Central Nigeria, 21 projects would be completed in the North West, 18 in the South South, 11 in the South East, 9 in the North East and 7 in South Western Nigeria.
However, examining the figures closely, one notices that there is a 2013 provision of about N122.7m to complete the Zobe Dam in Katsina; there was a similar provision of the same figure allocated to the same project in the 2012 budget. Simply put, budgeting (and spending?) on this project in 2012 and 2013 would add up to N245.4 million. Incidentally, this same project was awarded at some N52m and was brought to about 80% completion by the Shagari administration by December 1983!
In February this year, the President announced the intention to host an overdue Water Summit with the theme ‘Innovative Funding of the Water Sector in Nigeria’. Unfortunately, Mr. President himself could not make out time to attend this all important summit; he was however represented by the much ‘freer’ Vice President Namadi Sambo. The highpoint of the occasion was the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the Bank of Industry which would enable private investors in the water sector access loans with very low interest rates. This is an interesting development, and it is hoped that the MoU will be developed further to provide another source of funding the implementation of the water road map which President Jonathan launched with much fanfare in 2011..
The water road map has as its main objectives a 75% water coverage by the year 2015 which would increase to 90% in 2020. This might lead discerning Nigerians to question, if between 2011 and 2013, we have not recorded an increase of even ten percentage points of coverage, what hopes do we have of achieving moving from our dismal 32% coverage within the next 2 years?
A more realistic forecast must be made. According to the Water Sanitation And Hygiene (W.A.S.H) 2013 report, at our current rate of progress, the water target of 75% coverage will be achieved in 2033, 18 years after MDG target of 2015.
When the decay in the nation’s water infrastructure is considered, neither the executive branch nor the federal government cannot be wholly blamed for this massive failure. The states’ and local governments bear most of the responsibility for the failure to ensure reticulation of potable water in our urban and suburban areas. The legislative arms of the states and federal government must be held responsible for part of the failure.
The national and states’ assemblies have a substantial say in appropriation decisions, so must be held responsible for any under-funding of the water sector at federal and states’ levels respectively. The legislatures’ law-making powers have not been diligently discharged as well. For instance, the bill for the establishment of a National Dam Commission has since been presented to the National Assembly. This bill which would establish a commission whose sole responsibility is maintaining and upgrading dam infrastructure is worth revisiting, revising if need be, and passing into law. It is obvious that if a bill like this is passed and the commission set up, the pitiable state of Nigeria’s oldest dam, the Kainji dam would probably be reversed.
In spite of our combined 359 billion cubic meters, our inland water systems of about thirteen lakes and reservoirs both of which have a surface area of between 4,000 and 550,000 hectares, Nigeria is still classified as a ‘water short’ country. From all indications this government neither has the vision, nor the political will to bring Nigeria out of its present crisis. Thus, the sad reality is that more Nigerians may die from water related illnesses, while the ministry continues with its current budgeting practices. For most Nigerians, the words of Coleridge, ‘water, water everywhere not a drop to drink’ rings true today, as when it did when it was first written over 200 hundred years ago.

NECO and JAMB: The End of an Era and The Future of Nigeria’s Educational System

The End of an Era and The Future of Nigeria��

05 Apr, 2013
Apparently the Federal Government has concluded arrangements to scrap and merge some agencies and parastatals in line with the recommendations of the Stephen Oronsaye-led Presidential Committee on the Rationalisation and Restructuring of Federal Government Parastatals, Commissions and Agencies. The committee, which submitted its report to President Jonathan in April 2012, had recommended the scrapping of 38 agencies and merging of some 52 others.
There have been calls from well-meaning Nigerians and civil society groups on government to implement the widely acclaimed recommendations of this committee in a bid to bring down the cost of governance in Nigeria and reduce the overheads of ministries and agencies to free up much needed funds to drive the nation’s infrastructural development.
However, this commendable move by government comes with serious implications for the nation’s educational sector as two key national examination bodies are to be overhauled.
According to reports, the National Examinations Council is to be scrapped, and its functions and infrastructures handed over to the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). Under the new arrangement, WAEC would be expected to hold two external examinations every year (January and November) and still continue with its internal senior school certificate examination (May/June).
It is hard to disagree with the decision to scrap NECO; if anything I think it’s a decision that should have been taken yesterday. NECO has not outlived its usefulness; it never had any in the first place. NECO was established in April 1999 by the Abdusalami Abubakar administration, in line with decisions reached at the 49th meeting of the National Council of Education, in an attempt to break WAEC’s monopoly over the conduct of external examinations for secondary school leavers in Nigeria. It has since proved to be one of the most retrogressive decisions in the history of Nigeria’s education sector. NECO has proved to not be a better alternative or a cheaper option (for parents laden with the legendary WAEC exam fees) and it has failed completely in what is arguably its biggest objective: the conduct of reliable examinations that could command widespread national and international respect and acceptability.
It is easy to fall into the trap of the kind of pseudo-patriotism which evokes sympathy for a product because of its indigenous appeal, but we cannot afford to allow such sentiments override our sense of judgment in the call for the abolition of a national examination body whose certificates were forced down the throats of some of the nation’s best universities.
The second Steve Oronsaye hammer about to be wielded by the Federal Government in the education sector comes in the form of restructuring the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB), in a move which would lead to the scrapping of the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), give individual universities in the country the freedom to conduct their own admission examinations and admit students while JAMB will set and ensure compliance to standards as it acts as the clearing house.
JAMB was established in 1974 in response to the untidiness in the uncoordinated system of admissions into the nation’s seven federal universities at that time so the plan to restructure the body into a central clearing house for admission into tertiary institutions is in tandem with the objectives of the body and this move couldn’t have come at a better time. However, scrapping UTME and giving universities the autonomy to conduct entrance exams appear a tad irrational for a number of reasons.
I understand the attempt to model the admission process after the United Kingdom’s Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS), but ours is a peculiar system with its own unique challenges. Even at that, the UK still has a central A level exam model through which all applicants are assessed while the United States have SAT. As such we cannot do away with a central assessment examination to provide minimum benchmark for suitability for university education.
The woes plaguing JAMB which have made a mockery of UTME and indeed the entire university admission process in Nigeria are vices which have eaten deep into the fabric of our society as a whole: corruption, nepotism, bribery and fraud. The slant you observe in a half-crippled man’s load emanates not from the top.
If all the universities in the country are to conduct independent admission exams, the financial burden of paying for the different exams will be too enormous for the families of candidates in a nation in which the majority are befriended by poverty. And there are questions as to the preparedness of many of these universities to conduct standard admission tests if the poor conduct of the post-UTME exercises are anything to go by.
The UTME should be retained and restructured while universities should be fully empowered to conduct elaborate screening of the successful UTME candidates while JAMB acts as the overseer of the admission process to ensure that due process is followed. Government should focus on expanding the capacities of existing universities and create new ones to absorb thousands of qualified candidates who are denied admission yearly and are at the risk of been driven into criminality and other social vices.
-          Ogunyemi Bukola is a writer, editor and social media strategist.

Musings! By Efe Wanogho: The “Aluutization” of Agbara. Or “How to Die on Easter Sunday”.

The “Aluutization” of Agbara. Or “How to Die on Easter Sunday”.

Efe Wanogho
When the news of the killing of four young men in the university community of Aluu, in Rivers State, with its horrid video, hit the consciousness of Nigerians from varying walks of life; it was greeted with widespread condemnation by all who felt disturbed by the horrendous resort to misguided jungle justice by Nigerians, leading to the barbaric termination of the lives of promising young men who have come to be reduced to the mere literary appellation of “The Aluu 4″. Not a little indignation was expressed by many, not only for the crude conduct of the perpetrators of the dastardly and civility-repugnant descent to subhuman levels, but also for the wider implications on the social life of the people, in which there was made manifest, an apparent lack of faith in the capacity of public institutions to dispense justice as due.
Social media platforms were plunged into a frenzy of sorts, as for days on end, the horrific photographs of the Aluu 4, were bitterly etched on our collective psyche. Our humanity was questioned. The Police and the entire judicial system were put on the spot in bad light. The people of Aluu community were subjected to public ridicule for evolving a society that could tolerate the desecration of human life for so flimsy an excuse as mere suspicion of criminality. Or was it?
Following the sour taste which the Aluu incident left in our mouths and the disfiguring scar that it left behind on our collective face, which is already excessively scarred by a myriad of socioeconomic cum political maladies that plague us; one would think that Nigerians would resolve to never again allow the display of such barbarous barbarity. But no! Other communities are struggling to outdo the Aluu mob in such despicable infamy. You think not?
On Easter Sunday, 31st March, 2013, yours truly, alongside my elder brother and a friend, were victims of mob justice, if that’s what you would call what happened to us. On the said day, at about 10am, we were headed for Orogun, in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, for a family engagement. Naturally, we had to pass through Agbara, as we were coming from Ughelli. As we progressed on our journey towards Orogun, in Agbara, we came to a portion of the road that was partially blocked with a canopy and some kind of structure that looked like a telecommunications mast, in form and height, only that it was wrapped in cloth. While we attempted to do a u-turn, taking photographs with our phones of this imposing and awe-inspiring structure; a young man beckoned on us to come forward, stating that there was room enough to pass. Thus, we aborted the u-turn and continued forward slowly, only for our vehicle to be suddenly attacked by a rampaging group of about fifty young men who forcefully opened the doors and dragged us out. No sooner had we come out of the vehicle than these men descended on us with the beating of our lives while dispossessing us of our phones, wallets, and part of our clothing. Our offence, according to the few that managed to proffer a reason for their actions, was taking photographs of their supposed cultural deity of sorts. We were dragged on the asphalt coated road, manhandled, hit with fists and all manners of objects, thrown into a Toyota Hilux van, given more beatings, brought out of the vehicle, and beaten some more. All these, despite our unceasing plea for leniency as we couldn’t have knowingly photographically offended their gods.
At some point, albeit, following the intervention of Divinity, there was a cessation of violence. Some “elders” were drafted in, to adjudicate. After impressing on us, the enormity of our sacrilegious conduct, according to Agbara standards, and after we had already been served some heavy handed justice; we were pronounced guilty as charged. Our fines were: a goat each, twenty thousand Naira, each, and some undisclosed sum of money for drinks for the youths and for appeasement purposes. We begged for a less harsher punishment as we didn’t have access to the amount of money that is needed to offset our culture-desecration liability. They were gracious to accept about thirty eight thousand Naira as remission for our sins. Two phones and an iPad were returned to us, while two other phones, wallets, and a pair of sandals, could not be located; or so they made us believe. While calls were being made for anyone with the phones to bring them, we advised ourselves to seize the moment, when violence had subsided and our fines accepted, graciously, we thought; to quickly take our leave.
The entire incident spanned a duration of about two hours, as we were back on the road around noon. And yes, the security agencies have been apprised, procedurally, if you ask me.
The purpose of relating this experience here, is certainly not to elicit pity from readers. Far from it. I have had, and I surmise same goes for my brother and also for my friend, a tremendous outpouring of emotion and concern from several individuals, from within and without the shores of Nigeria. What this piece aims to achieve is to bring to mind once again, that a huge veil of darkness pervades the land, and we must all do our minutest bits to dispel this darkness of criminality, ignorance, superstition, and demeaning crudeness.
In the case of the Aluu 4, the victims were students in a community other than their places of ancestral origin. In our case, the perpetrators and victims were all Urhobo-speaking to varying degrees. In fact, my paternal lineage is traced to the Orogun community which borders Agbara. If we were subjected to such an ordeal by 21st Century barbarians who were hungry for blood as well as for meaningful engagement, what would have been the fate of persons who were total strangers to the Delta? What manner of society, in this day and age, would allow its young people to hold human life with such disdain and be as bloodthirsty as our assailants were? Can we lay any claim to being civil when a good number of the people in our various communities have been conditioned by defaultto be a menace to society? What is the responsibility of government at various levels in tackling this menace? What is the role of the National Orientation Agency and the traditional institutions of our society? Of what use is holding firmly to a traditional practice that adds no value to the life of the people and encourages jungle justice? What principles guide our national educational policies? Are we interested in turning out school-leavers who suffer compulsory mass-promotion whereas they remain very shallow in the humanistic aspects ofdevelopment?
It is trite knowledge, one would think, that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as propounded by the United Nations, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which, Nigeria is signatory to; guarantees the right to human dignity of any person as well as the right to education, or that irreducible minimum of enlightenment required for the pursuit of an ordered life that guarantees one’s sustenance while respecting the rights of the other person to equally exist. It is also trite knowledge that in Nigeria, fundamental human rights are hardly guaranteed, much less those that fall within the ambits of socioeconomic rights.
What can we do about it, other than expressing pity whenever we hear or read tales of such ubiquitous barbarity that is upon us? Is it enough to parade several academic degrees and titles on our persona, whereas we ignore the apparent degeneration that lives side-by-side with us? Is there really nothing we can do to confront indolence and barbaric practices in our society, as a government, and as individuals?
A towering lesson I took away from the mob attack which we miraculously survived is that, whatever ennobling virtue which an individual possesses, is not enough for his safety, if he dwells in the midst of misguided people. You know nothing, until that which you know, and is edifying, is also known by the mass of the people. Put differently, we are poor and insecure, if, despite our individual havens of affluence and comfort, our neighbours remain largely poor and crude. It is said that a necessary first step to solving a problem, is an acknowledgement that there is indeed a problem. The mindset and orientation that pervades many of our communities, in the words of Chinua Achebe, is too dangerous for silence.
I am @efewanogho, on Twitter.
Laus Deo!