Nigeria – a young country for old men

Letter from Africa: Nigeria – a young country for old men

President Muhammadu Buhari, right, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida

In our series of letters from African journalists, editor-in-chief of Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper Mannir Dan Ali looks at why a country where more than half the population is under 35 looks set to get another septuagenarian president after next year’s election.

On polling day, the two leading candidates in Nigeria’s presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari and opposition leader Atiku Abubakar, will have a combined age of 148.

This seems a far cry from the burst of optimism that accompanied the passing of the “Not Too Young To Run” law in parliament in May, which lowered the minimum age to run for the highest office from 35 to 30.

Perusing the list of more than 76 candidates, it is true that there are some who are at the more youthful end of the spectrum, like 46-year-old businessman Fela Durotoye, online news site Sahara Reporters publisher Omowale Sowore and newspaper columnist Tope Fasua, both of whom are 47.

But we all know that come February, it will be a contest between Mr Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who is turning 76 in December, and Mr Abubakar, the flag-bearer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), who will be 72 next month.

The old political networks are too entrenched and the cost of running for president too high for a candidate from outside the two main parties to stand a chance.

‘Fists full of dollars’
More than half of Nigeria’s registered voters are under 35 and when the Not Too Young To Run campaign was launched in April, it was hoped that it would encourage the peoples’ representatives to look more like the people themselves.

The election will make 20 years since the end of military rule
According to the electoral commission, full-blown campaigns will start in mid-November.

The campaigns, like previous ones, will be more about creating a carnival-like atmosphere than to debate key issues, like the high level of youth unemployment, or the money that will be needed to fund promises around, for example, the development of Nigeria’s infrastructure.

With the old guard still dominating, the joke doing the rounds these days revolve around the fact that you may not be “too young to run” but you are “too poor to make an impact” – rumours are rife that during party primaries, delegates walked away with fists full of dollars.

‘Age brings wisdom’
In the race to become the APC’s candidate, President Buhari was the only person in the running.

A 46-year-old former senator Yusuf Datti Baba Ahmed did run to be the PDP’s presidential candidate, but he got just five votes from the 3,000 delegates.

The two main candidates could have made a concession to younger voters by picking more youthful running mates.

But Mr Buhari has stuck with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, who is 61, while Mr Atiku has gone for former Anambra state governor Peter Obi, 57.

The truth is that strong patronage networks have developed over the years in the two main parties, and powerbrokers are reluctant to take a risk with younger, untested candidates.

And yet the youth risk their lives to defend the country, toil to pay taxes and seek to improve their skills so that they can be more productive citizens.

Perhaps they can comfort themselves with the thought that age brings wisdom – or that some other countries have older presidents, like neighbouring Cameroon, where Paul Biya, 84, won a seventh term last week and Algeria where Abdellaziz Bouteflika, 81, is running for a fifth consecutive term next year.

Culled from BBC

Thanks for the debate, now share the rice!

Thanks for the debate, now share the rice!

By Wole Olaoye |

Debates are good to help the electorate make informed choices in the coming elections but rice is also good to satiate the hunger of millions of Nigerians, especially when the rice is free. Don’t let me confuse you, so late in the year. Let’s peel off the leaves and savour the menu.

Oluyemi Oluleke Osinbajo and Peter Gregory Obi thrilled us last week in the first in the series of debates between vice-presidential candidates of political parties. Both men stole the show although five parties were represented. The other parties and their candidates that showed up were the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Abdulganiyu Galadima; Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN), Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya; and Young Progressives Party (YPP), Umma Getso.

The debate, organised by the Nigerian Election Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), was a good start. Although, there are several questions one would have liked to hear at the occasion, that does not remove anything from the great job the organisers did. The design of the set could also have been done differently so that the anchor would not have to back the audience. But let’s give it to the organisers, that was a commendable effort.

If your faculties are not blinkered by raw political partisanship or tribalism, you have to agree that both Osinbajo and Obi did well. When I visited some social media sites after the debate, I immediately noticed the usual Nigerian resort to ethnicity. Many of the commentators were not even concerned with the substance of each candidate’s discourse. All they were interested in were the cliches and stereotypes they could fling at will at their perceived enemy. In al election so crucial to the destiny of the country, I thought this resort to primordial trenches was a luxury we could ill afford.

My deduction from the debate was that we are confronted with a choice between capitalism and capitalism. PDP is unapologetically capitalist while APC is also capitalist but with welfarist pretensions. Now, for a country to prosper under capitalism, the system has to be efficient and corruption minimised. Not surprisingly, that issue cropped up when Peter Obi carpeted the ruling APC for devoting all their time to chasing corruption instead of running the shop. That was sweet, and the audience applauded. Osinbajo showed his quick wit with an immediate reply: if thieves are given free rein to steal from the shop, there would eventually be no shop to run!

Like in every debate involving an incumbent and others, the incumbent has a head start because he has all the latest figures and facts. That is why co-contestants are better advised to do their homework before getting to the podium. Obi deployed quite a number of figures to buttress his points that APC was not doing well. Unfortunately his fantastic point about cost and distribution of petrol was decapitated by the fact that the figures he relied on were wrong.

For example, his claim that there were two million vehicles on Nigerian roads is wrong; a cursory google check would immediately reveal that the answer is 11.7 million. Some of his other figures were also wrong. So was his claim that intra-African trade was 9% as against the true position of 15%. In logic, once the syllogism is based on a wrong premise, what follows it cannot be true.

Some analysts have argued that Nigerian politics is not logic.

To the credit of Osinbajo, Obi, and, to some extent, Abdulganiyu Galadima – we witnessed a debate largely devoid of gutter language and open display of ill-breeding.

Does Obi look like someone ready to be Vice-President tomorrow? My answer is a definitive yes. Does Osinbajo cut the image of someone who knows the VP job he is currently doing? Of course!

And someone was so impressed that he asked me why these two men were not the presidential candidates of their parties. I answered that there was an unwritten clause of Turn-By-Turn Nigeria Limited in the Nigerian constitution. However, I have no answer to Peter Hitchens’ famous question: “Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?”

While thanking the organisers of the political debates and looking forward to even more professionally packaged episodes in future, let us now examine the small matter of rice as hinted at the beginning of this piece.

This year alone, the Nigerian Customs seized over 200,000 bags of contraband rice in various parts of the country, with a total of 124,407 bags seized in the first half alone. In the same vein, a total of 11,319 cartons of chicken and turkey were seized and destroyed during the period. The practice where the Customs made burn-fires of seized items must be discontinued forthwith. I am advocating nothing less than a presidential order instructing the Customs to distribute all seized food items among the IDP camps and orphanages all over the country. It is stupid to burn food which could provide nourishment to millions of people.

We look forward to hearing the president direct the Customs to share in an audit-able manner, all the seized bags of rice and turkey and chicken and fish and whatever else, among those who desperately need them in the IDP camps and orphanages. Why incinerate what could be a life-line?

Credit: Daily Trust

How doctoral programs train the mind to think

How doctoral programs train the mind to think

By MD Aminu, PhD |

If there is any cue that I can take from my experience during my doctoral candidacy, it is the recognition of it as nothing more than the training of the mind to think. Before my registration as a research student in Cranfield University, a friend who completed his own doctorate in another UK university advised me that to be successful in the program, I must have my critical thinking mode activated throughout the duration of my candidacy.

For the entire periods of our education, from the elementary school and up to the bachelor’s and master’s degree levels, we were typically taught to notice already established patterns, and to solve analytical problems. We take standard tests and examinations that only puts to trial our analytical problem-solving skills, and we miss out on an essential aspect of human intelligence: creativity. Because of our ability to notice these known patterns, or for our pragmatism in applying analytical skills to solve known problems, we may even end up being the best and brightest within our peers, yet we can be utterly uncreative.

To be awarded a doctorate, a person must demonstrate that they have pushed the boundaries of knowledge within that discipline they have researched on. This means they must have achieved novelty. To achieve novelty, they must have started their investigations from an unknown location and arrive at a known new and significant location. To conceive and deal with novel situations, they need creative intelligence. In the process of creating new knowledge, they are constantly drawn in on critical analysis for introductory and concluding justifications; validation of conclusions; distinguishing of facts and opinions; evaluation of the credibility of information sources; clarification of concepts and recognition of conditions, etc.

It is for this reason that some doctoral programs put in place a mechanism to help stimulate the mind on a critical thinking trajectory so that the student’s research begins by transcending the ‘pure discipline’, making the doctoral program to commence from a solid philosophical base that exposes the mind to tough arguments. Because of these emphasis on theoretical and methodological issues, the student can appreciate and can soon begin to question the underlying traditions and mechanisms across different spectrums of knowledge.

Then you go on to conduct research that gives you a lot of valuable experience such as the ability to write effectively and professionally; to learn to read from primary source formats, retain, and synthesize a lot of literature within a short time; to work in a team; to teach; to present at conferences and refine your public speaking skills; to learn to talk to different people in different ways (e.g. professors, colleagues, laboratory technicians, journal editors, peer reviewers, etc.); and to even do some administration. Due to the diversity of skills and experience that you get from the doctoral program, it cannot be denied that upon the completion of a genuine doctorate, a person should be able to construct and sustain complex arguments, ask interesting questions, and decide on appropriate methods to answer them.

It must be noted however that all these skills can equally be gained elsewhere (such as through a professional role in an office over some years), however, when a person has completed a doctorate, it is expected that such a person can develop and sustain some reasonable and appreciable level of critical thinking and evaluation; which are attributes for success in a postgraduate program. Although it must also be stated that the quality of doctorates can differ depending on several factors, which could include the structure of the program which varies from place to place; the excellence of the institution of study in terms of their research output and impact; the reputation of the supervisor amongst their peers; the strength of the results (and its scaled-up implications) in the sense of how acceptable they are for high impact journals; etc. Thus, the fluidity of any of these factors or a combination of it can influence the overall strength of the doctorate, and by consequence, the value of the experience gained from the process of earning the degree.

During my doctoral candidacy, I realized that the completion of the degree required creativity to elicit novel concepts and report the findings, as well as persistent practicality. My primary supervisor was a world leading researcher in his field and he published his work in the topmost journals in the energy discipline, believing that publishing in low impact factor journals can only do damage to a researcher’s reputation. I equally worked with a postdoctoral fellow as a collaborator, who published several papers in leading journals prior to receiving his own doctorate. These two people that I worked with not only imbued in me the qualities of ethical research, but they equally challenged me all the time by taking me onto paths of critical discussions. When my supervisor was convinced that any of his students were not critical enough, he could liken the student’s abilities to that of a technician, whose daily activity, he says, is mere routine work, that is artless and ingenuous.

During one of my progress review meetings, the committee chair advised that I read a lot of books on critical and systems thinking, and he equally confessed to me that as academics themselves, they do read a lot of those books every so often, to remain relevant in their jobs where they synthesize new knowledge.

When my friend, Mustapha Abubakar, presently of the United States National Cancer Institute, defended his doctoral thesis at the University of London, the last question he was asked by the external examiner was if the study program he had undergone had influenced his critical thinking abilities; required to become an effective academic researcher. His response to the examiner was that the program did not only influence his ability to be a critical thinker for effective researching, but that it has also made him a very critical person in his general approach to life. Many people agree that the ‘life lessons’ and thoughtful rigors learned from the doctoral study transcends knowledge in one area but shapes all aspects of our lives. Therefore, I expect it as the norm (rather than the exception) for all people who earned a doctorate to be critical thinkers, until they prove to me that they are not; which could then indicate that they might have gone through an irregular doctoral program.

The Daunting Hurdle Before Amosun

The Daunting Hurdle Before Amosun

Governors Ibikunle Amosun

Femi Ogbonnikan writes that Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State appears to be at a loss on how to deal with the disaffection that has torn the All Progressives Congress in the state to shreds

There appears to be no end or solution to the battle of wits that have attended the simmering crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State. Throwing all manners of tricks into the mix in order to curry empathy, Ogun State Governor, Sen Ibikunle Amosun, has resisted the urge to pander to pleas. He is aggrieved because the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party through the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari, turned down the demand to return his preferred successor, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, as the APC governorship standard bearer, but rather decided to give the ticket to Prince Dapo Abiodun, his arch-rival. Also, the governor is miffed, because all the names of the 26 State House of Assembly candidates he unilaterally handpicked and submitted to the NWC to represent their respective constituencies were omitted on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) list, but replaced with the names of candidates of those he (governor) labelled “Lagos cabal”.

Against this background, it is believed that the governor has lost sight of the fact that, since the current dispensation was ushered in, in 1999, no sitting governor has ever successfully foisted his preferred successor on the people of Ogun state.
Aside for his (governor) bid to substitute Abiodun’s name with Akinlade’s, the APC’s hierarchy led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole has been uncompromising to the chagrin of its traducers.

Thus, in making good his threat, close associates and aides of Amosun have begun to leave the party in droves to register their displeasure over the decision of the NWC for denying them their respective tickets. Mr Mukaila Kazeem and the governor’s preferred candidate, Akinlade who are both currently representing Abeokuta North/Odeda/Obafemi-Owode and Yewa South/Ipokia Federal Constituencies respectively at the National Assembly, took the lead of the defectors from the party, a week ago, when they moved their membership to a fringe platform, Allied Peoples’ Movement (APM). The aggrieved defectors had attributed impunity and undemocratic norms as reason for leaving their former party. At the home front, the same script played itself out when four (majority leader, Adeyinka Mafe, Chief Whip, Idowu Olowofuja, Tunde Sanusi and Ganiyu Oyedeji) members of the State House of Assembly pulled out of the APC and pitched tent with the APM.

Prior to the defection train, it was reliably gathered that Amosun and his close aides, including the names of Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Barr Taiwo Adeoluwa, who is to vie for Ogun Central; Consultant to the governor on Energy and Power, Mr Segun Gbeleyi (for Ogun West); Commissioner for Special Duties, Leke Adewolu for Ewekoro/Ifo Federal Constituency; Chairman, Local Government Service Commission, Mr. Rotimi Rahman (for Ado-Odo/Ota Federal Constituency); Commissioner for Forestry, Mr Kola Lawal, (for Yewa South/Ipokia Federal Constituency); and Special Adviser on Education, Bayo Adeyemi, (for Yewa North/Imeko-Afon Federal Constituency), had already perfected and concluded the plan to cross-carpet to APM, a position clearly confirmed by a top official of the INEC, in Ogun State. The source hinted that the names of the governorship, National Assembly and State House of Assembly candidates had already been submitted to the commission’s office earlier than now even before it became a public knowledge and he ruled out the need to publish a separate list of the APM candidates.

Distraught by the growing status of Abiodun’s camp, almost on a daily basis, and coupled with palpable fear of infiltration of moles in his group, it was gathered that the resignation of the Chief of Staff, Chief Tolu Odebiyi, and six other aides (Commissioner for Sports, Afolabi Afuape, Lanre Edun, Tola Banjo, Muse Lamidi and Mrs Adewummi Onanuga) last Thursday was informed by what a source described as a “gale of targeted purge” orchestrated under the guise of voluntary disengagement because of the refusal of the affected persons to defect to the new platform, APM. Besides, it was learnt that the former aides were branded APC top loyalists, who have been hob-nobing with the Abiodun’s camp, but the governor’s die-hard loyalists have still retained their respective seats in government.

Reacting to the legal implications of still retaining defected aides in the government, a Lagos – based legal practitioner and a former APC governorship aspirant in Osun State, Mr Kunle Adegoke, said the 1999 Nigerian constitution permits a member of any political platform other than that of the ruling party the right to be part of the state executive.

According to him, “the governor has the power under the Constitution of Nigeria, 1999 (As altered) to appoint anybody into his cabinet, not necessarily a member of the ruling party. The fact that some members of Amosun’s kitchen cabinet have taken ticket of another political party does not deny them the right to be in the cabinet, because such appointments are at the pleasure of the governor.

“The party has no power to determine the right of such persons to continue holding political offices once the man who appointed them is satisfied with them. It is only an elective office holder elected on the platform of one party that cannot cross to another, except there is factionalisation at the leadership of the party. What APC is embroiled in right now is worse than factionalisation and they must be ready to bear the consequences.”

To some political pundits, the emerging trends signal a death knell tolling on the disintegration of the party’s structure, with reference to the repeat of the intractable intra-party crisis that rocked the then, PDP, preparatory to the 2011 general elections. The party became polarised into two factions which led into inchoate groups with a faction led by Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the then governor, and fielded Gboyega Isiaka as the Peoples’ Party of Nigeria (PPN) governorship candidate, while the then, President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo supported Adetunji Olurin as the governorship flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The secenario threw up the candidate of the Action Congress (AC), Amosun, an Egba man from Ogun Central, as the, then governor – elect.

If care is not taken, it is envisaged that the anticipated sympathy votes may be split between the two strong contenders from Yewa-Awori zone, Akinlade, the APM governorship candidate, and Isiaka, of the ADC, thereby blighting another chance for the Ogun West Agenda of staking a claim to the Number One plum seat of the state.
Despite failing in several gambits, nemesis is magisterial in the governor’s pursuit, while Abiodun has become a survivor of the subterfuge to have him replaced by Akinlade.

Besides, the emergence of Ijebu-Remo Agenda (made up of a mix of notable politicians, business moguls, powerful technocrats and seasoned bureaucrats), as a potent mouth-piece for Ogun East, it was further learnt, is a thorn-in-the-flesh and a big headache for Mr Governor.
However, informed sources told THISDAY that the emergence of Abiodun, an Iperu-Remo born Prince, hit Amosun below the belt as he never thought of the apocalypse of his impending failed permutation through his consensus mechanism. It was learnt, he is adamant and has rebuffed every entreaty to pacify him into accepting Abiodun as the party’s governorship flag bearer, because of his pride.

“Apart from that, it seems he (governor) has some things he is concealing but which he is yet to tell the members of the general public. He has done some things in the secrets and that is why he wants to use Akinlade as a protégé in order to cover the tracks. It is not as if he has genuine interests of the Yewa-Awori people at heart. It is like crying more than the bereaved”, said a source who pleaded anonymity.

Besides, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ogun State, Dr Femi Majekodunmi, has cautioned the state governor, Sen Ibikunle Amosun, to desist from acts capable of undermining the general interest of the party in the upcoming 2019 general elections.

Majekodunmi, who is Baagbile of Egbaland, appealed to the governor to play the role of a statesman in resolving the controversy trailing the outcome of the gubernatorial candidate which has pitched him against the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party.

He said Amosun cannot afford to let the party down by playing a spoiler game, warning that doing such can only be counter-productive with grave implications for the good name of the governor which he has built over these years as well as the state as a whole.

Majekodunmi averred that the governor has nothing to lose by accepting, at the end of the day, whoever is the governorship choice of the party whether Abiodun or Akinlade, but that the governor would rather gain a lot more, with the continuation of his good legacy of so many years to come and noted that the governor’s good name will be a reference point for those who desire the best for the state.

“According to him, “the governor who through his achievements has been regarded as the architect of a modern-day Ogun State, should not make mistake of a political decision that will consign his name into political oblivion.

He has served the people of the state diligently for over seven years with landmark achievements, littering all over the state and history would be kind to him if he allows reason to prevail and work assiduously for the victory of the party both at the state and federal levels.

“Nobody would dispute the fact that Governor Ibikunle Amosun has become the architect of modern-day Ogun State with many landmark achievements scattered all over the state. Indeed, whenever the history of the state would be written, his name cannot, but be in gold. And as the sitting governor, he is a major stakeholder whose views and interest must be important and paramount.

“But as a politician who has always been committed to the APC, I want to sincerely appeal to the governor to see the present issue concerning the gubernatorial candidate of the party as a test of his statesmanship in which the interest of the party must be supreme, not only because of the entire members of the party in the state but of President Muhammadu Buhari, whom the governor always holds in high esteem.”

Also, Majekodunmi stressed that as the leader of APC in the state, he should be the father of all who is desirous of handing over the government to a member of the party to continue his good works and admonished him that if he fails to have his candidate (Akinlade) picked as the gubernatorial candidate, his plan ‘B’ in resolving the controversy should be a total reconciliation with the candidate already picked by the NWC who has publicly announced his resolve to work with the governor, concede some grey areas to him and most importantly pledge to continue his good works in the state.

“Governor Amosun as the leader of the party ought to bring every aggrieved member back into the fold to ensure a united front, so that the party does not go in disarray in the upcoming 2019 general elections, just few months away,” said the APC stalwart.

Reacting in stout support of the state executive, an impeccable inside source hinted that the Ogun State chapter of the APC remains an indivisible entity and will not join the aggrieved governorship candidate (Akinlade) and the 26 State House of Assembly candidates in moving to the APM.
According to the source who craved anonymity, “we are not going to APM. All the executive members of the APC in Ogun State still remain in the party.

“Those who decided to go to the new party (APM) because of injustice meted out to them, not only limited to the governorship candidate (Akinlade), but also all the aggrieved 26 State House of Assembly candidates, that are not happy with the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC), following the imposition of Prince Dapo Abiodun, as the governorship candidate, are free to do so.

“So, their defection to the APM can’t and will not shrink the strength of the APC, even preparatory to the upcoming 2019 general elections.
“Though the executive members of the party in the state are not happy with the decision of the NWC, by imposing Dapo Abiodun on us, but one thing I want you to know is that, the governorship candidate, Abiodun himself, hasn’t reached out to us for our support. Once he does that, we will give him our unalloyed support.

However, in his riposte to the defection, APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said the party is critically looking at the development and in due course, would take a position on it.
“However, in the interim, we will continue to encourage our members not to be driven by selfish ambition, but rather to be driven by higher ideals that the party represents.

“The unprecedented achievements the party recorded in the part few years are pointers that members should rise above personal interest. We will also continue to encourage them to think deeply to the larger implications of their actions and in-actions.

“We are, however, mindful of the fact that, at the end of the day, the generality of the people are happy with what we have done and what we are doing. We can never regret sticking by the rule of law and operating in accordance with what is good for the interest of other country.
“Let me emphasise that what we have done was for the best interest of the party, government and the generality of people of this country.

This has continued to encourage us to be focused. We will however take what happened into consideration and in due course, react appropriately.
“The reality is that, as a party, you can’t afford to lose any party member. But we also know that as some are leaving, many others are joining us. Regardless of what happened, I can tell you that the ruling party is very much secure.

“They won’t threaten our chances, especially as many more people are joining us have continued to see APC as a party standing on a solid and higher ground for the generality of the people. That exactly is the comfort.

“I will advise them to place party interest above personal interest, especially as it conforms to the overall and generality of members. Leaving a party because you didn’t achieve personal ambition is off the mark.
“Reconciliation process has started with the setting up of the panel whose members have started working round the clock to pacify the aggrieved members from every part of the country.

“Good enough, we have very credible and eminent personalities in the panel, like governors, elder statesmen. They are committed to bringing lasting peace within the party. Let me say that we don’t regret any action we took in the interest of the party that led to their exit. It was in the best interest of democracy”, said Issa-Onilu.

Credit: ThisDay

Jubril al-Sudani

Jubril al-Sudani

By Cheta Nwanze

I have vivid memories of the celebration in Benin City on July 6, 1994, when we heard that seven of the Italian players who had knocked us out of our first World Cup the day before had tested positive for drugs, leading to Italy’s disqualification. My cousin, Chuma, who came into Benin from Jos the next day, confirmed that he had also heard the story in Jos, which confirmed the authenticity of the story.
Our first World Cup campaign had started well. African champions, in our first match we dazed Bulgaria 3-0 before falling to Argentina 2-1 in a tightly contested match where Maradona the junkie played some funny tricks. Then we beat the Greeks 2-1. Therefore when the knockout game against Italy came, we were confident of victory. We scored first, but the Italians turned it around and won. Nigeria’s World Cup debut was over.

But the next day, the rumour about the Italian drug tests spread like wildfire, and people came out to celebrate our passage to the quarter finals. Thus it was that on June 9, we gathered around the television set expecting to see our Super Eagles file out against Spain. It never happened.

The rumour carriers in 1994 could be forgiven by today’s standards, as they had no way to verify the drug test rumours, except to wait, and get their hearts broken as Gli Azzurri filed out to face Spain in Foxborough. Rumours are a staple in Nigeria, and that incident made me promise myself that I would try and verify every story. It’s a promise I have largely kept, although I have had some spectacular failures which still haunt me. You see, some stories are just too sweet not to run with once you hear them.

Twenty years later, another rumour caused quite a bit of heartbreak in Nigeria, and this time it was spread by the very tool that would have allowed its propagators to verify, the mobile phone.

The year was 2014, and Nigeria was in the grips of a potential outbreak of the Ebola virus. In Catholic churches as an example, the Pre-Eucharist ritual of Pax Domini was suspended so that people would not have to come into contact with a potential carrier of the virus. However, for some reason, the rumour spread, aided by the BBM instant messaging client, that a saltwater bath could cure someone of the virus.

At least two people died, and 20 ended up in hospital in Plateau state alone, because of excessive use of salt water, based on that rumour. Something that could have very easily been verified. It is important to note that given the medium of spread – BBM, a good number of Nigeria’s cream took part in spreading that story.

Last week, Nigeria’s President was subjected to international ridicule, because he addressed a rumour. The rumour had gained ground that Muhammadu Buhari whom we see, is not Muhammadu Buhari, but a body double, or clone according to some, a chap from the Republic of Sudan, whose original name is Jubril.

There are three threads to this incident:
First — Jubril al-Sudani is the creation of a delusional and possibly deranged Nnamdi Kanu. He first talked about it in a Radio Biafra broadcast last year. Unfortunately, Jubril gained strength on the back of the information gap that Buhari’s long absences created when he disappeared for treatment without explanation. Till date, we do not know what was, or is, wrong with our President. If he had been honest, we won’t have had to deal with this. When there is an information gap, people will fill it with something.

Natura abhors vacuum.
Second — Buhari’s choosing a foreign venue to respond to the allegation in person, when he could have simply told the person who asked the question something along the lines of, “I don’t dignify such stories with a response,” is a clear testament to the disdain with which Buhari holds Nigerians in Nigeria. Not responding to the rumour was the right thing, but Buhari being Buhari, the moment he was outside the country, his mouth loosened up. Then the international press, and the comedy circuit, picked it up. The first person to pick it up was the influential American political commentator, Ben Shapiro, who has the ear of a man that allegedly called Buhari lifeless…

Third — Most importantly from my viewpoint is this: remembering the Italy rumour, and the saltwater thing, that this rumour spread like wildfire is evidence of the kind of society that we are. We thrive on unsubstantiated tales, and disdains rigorous fact-checking and data gathering. To be honest, I am a lot more frightened about Nigeria’s future now than I have ever been. The kind of people who have propagated this tale, highly educated people, makes me worried. I got WhatsApp messages from people, where they simply forwarded the flipped “left-handed Buhari” as evidence that he is now a clone. If the so-called cream of the crop in Nigeria can spread this without thinking, imagine the kind of damage a well thought through fake news campaign can do to us.

Culled from The Guardian

How dare you be you!

How dare you be you!

Posted By Sam Omatseye

Not many want the ‘Buhari double’ saga to sag. Even now, some still believe it is all a ruse, and that Muhammadu Buhari is no more. We are in the era of el Sudan, and an impostor is on the throne. We have dressed the presidency in borrowed robes.

Not even his assertion, in faraway Poland, should suffice. It does not matter that the impostor story originates from an impostor, the ethnic entrepreneur and phony Biafran, Nnamdi Kanu. A fake in charge of an original. He is a mockery of the French writer Jean Cocteau that you have to “copy in order to be original.” After all, who better to fake an impostor story than an impostor himself, a past master of the art of deceit. Kanu did it to manoeuvre himself back into the dubious graces of his fans and gullible followers. But like all fakes, it will fade.

But why did the story develop such resonance, even among some ordinarily discerning folks. First, the mainstream media ceded the narrative to Soyinka’s millipedes of the internet. The story took on a virile momentum, and editors acted as though it was a quiet squirm in the sewer. The alternative media is teaching many gate keepers that they can no longer be smug about what makes news. Hence I wrote a column on the doppelganger story a few weeks ago to break the cold spell. While newspapers and television outlets froze, the social media fizzed. A schizophrenic reality.

The other point is that Buhari’s health story was not the first affliction in high places. Such illnesses have always been bungled by befogging the facts. When late president Umar Yar’adua took ill, the so-called cabal scrambled to concoct media miracles to bring the late president to health on the pages of the newspapers. They advanced apocryphal stories on the man’s well-being. When they didn’t, they kept silence over important details. They pushed reality from the hospital to the people’s imagination. Yar Adua was healthy if the public wanted him to be, or sick, or voiceless, or dead, or limping. In the public imagination, there were many apparitions of the late president. Each story had its own integrity, its source, its doctor’s report, its picture, its sound. You chose your own.

It was not limited to him. Three governors of that era had illnesses of the public imagination. Chime of Enugu State, Imoke of Cross River State and Suntai of Taraba State. Like Yar Adua, they were hospitalised abroad, and the Nigerian masses became concocters of medical fairy tales. When Buhari took ill, facts also became victim of the febrile fancy. Most people did not know what was wrong, and neither the presidency nor his close aides were forthcoming on his diagnoses or prognoses. Again, fantasy upended facts.

So when Kanu wove the story that he was dead and therefore a double, it played into the pattern of past fiction. The thoughts of those who believed he was dead or dying had only to be born again. So when columnist Olatunji Dare penned a satire, a cleric fell for it and read it as a straightforward piece. Dare, famed for his satirical missiles, had to issue a clarification. For those who have digested his writings over decades, it was no mystery.

Yet, the fact that we have in the past been left in the dark about our leaders’ affliction is no excuse not to examine the facts before making conclusion. As I noted in the past, many wise and discerning persons did not ask enough questions. Who was Sudan, where did he come from? How could the vice president and everyone in the cabinet be so blackmailed? When Franklin Roosevelt was president, he was a cripple and led the world against Hitler and tyranny. But most Americans did not know. But his illness was no scandal, and those who saw him in the pre-television era knew about his affliction but the media was quiet.

But in the day of social media, such conspiracies of silence cannot hold. If Sudan were real, then we all would know if we wanted. But we cannot deny that if Buhari had been transparent on his health when he was in London, his Poland denial would have been unnecessary. It is a lesson in media and communications.

The third reason why the story took a power of its own is the human fascination with ‘the other’ since the origin of time. Even prominent leaders, especially tyrants, have been known to have doubles. Hitler had his, so did Franco, Mussolini. Recently, Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi reputedly had their own doppelgangers. Yet, when it came to it, no serious enemies fell for the doubles. They have often been an amusing spectacle in history. Hitler had many close shaves, including a bomb that went off on his conference table. His double operated with ease, but not the real person. The point is, doubles are imperfect. They cannot replicate the original fully.

In fiction, they have often come as psychological tales. In the novel titled Despair, prose spirit Vladimir Nabokov weaves a story of a person who commits murder because he thinks his lookalike would be arrested. But the person is a look-alike only in his eyes. Other writers have looked at it, including Robert Louis Stevenson in Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Or in two great works of Oscar Wilde, his novel The Portrait of Dorian Gray. In his play, The Importance of Being Ernest, the name Ernest is not his real name, like Sudan.

The idea of the doppelganger originated in German folklore, and it taps into age-long obsession with the double, including the idea of the alter ego. We have had the Cain and Abel story as well as the Chinese yin and yang. The other is often associated with bad or evil, like Frankenstein or Dracula. Wilde’s Ernest wanted his double to be free and sensual. “Hell is other people,” said Jean Paul Sartre. Hence some who believed and propounded the Buhari double thought it was a way to nail him and his image. Buhari was probably right that they wanted him dead. But I don’t believe everyone who believed in the double had such intention. The evil was also planted by lack of communication when he was ill. Psychologist Otto Rank, however, thinks it is a human way of coping with death. If we create a double, like the soul, we live forever.

The fourth reason for the story’s power was political. Buhari returned with so much fervour and physical well-being. His strides, his strength of voice, his body language. So some believe it was more than a miracle that such a weak man should transform to such a sprightly state. His political enemies who visited him in the few days before he returned home saw him, and knew it was him. A word or two from them could have quelled it. It paid them for a Kanu and his men to stoke the false fire. And they felt warmed by the heat. So, his foes may be wondering in their minds and saying to the president, “how dare you be you!”

Credit: The Nation

How 2019 elections are becoming ‘religious’

How 2019 elections are becoming ‘religious’

By Hamza Idris, Muideen Olaniyi, Abbas Jimoh, Saawua Terzungwe & Ozibo Ozibo (Abuja), Yusha’u A. Ibrahim (Kano) & Jeremiah Oke (Ibadan) |

How 2019 elections are becoming ‘religious’
With the main gladiators of the 2018 elections clearly President Muhammadu Buhari (APC) and ex-vice president Atiku Abubakar (PDP), the political games have already commenced. However, going by the landscape recently, religious angles are being introduced, to varying degrees. Daily Trust Saturday sheds some light on the trend.

Many prominent religious leaders have taken positions by their outright alignments to political candidates, not necessarily at the national level, but in many states. In the past couple of months, mosques and churches have turned into campaign grounds were politicians besiege in search of “blessing”, and clerics openly giving directives to faithful to cast their votes for certain candidates. Some clerics have even gone to the extent of invoking the wrath of God on followers who fail to heed to their directive.

Just on Thursday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) banned Catholic priests and faithful of consecrated life from engaging in partisan politics, including becoming a member of any political party. The Secretary General, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria (CSN), Rev. Fr. Ralph Madu, who gave the order in Abuja on behalf of the Catholic Bishops, frowned at the public altercation between Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka and a former Anambra State governor and the vice presidential candidate of the PDP, Mr. Peter Obi.

The incident occurred on Dec. 2 at Fr. Mbaka’s adoration ground in Enugu, on the issue of patronage in respect of the forthcoming 2019 general elections.

Mbaka had predicted failure for the Atiku/Obi joint ticket. In a viral video, he rebuked Peter Obi for not executing a project for his church, warning him of the consequences. Nigerians who reacted to the viral video were quick to share divergent opinions concerning Mbaka’s statement. Some commended Obi for standing his ground and not making fake promises at the altar of God despite pressure from the priest.

That was what prompted the Thursday reprimand by the Catholic Bishops. According to Rev. Fr. Madu, the Bishops condemn, “the shameful scenario on an adoration ground,” saying the incident does not have the support of the Bishops Conference of Nigeria.

“As has always been our stand, the Catholic church in Nigeria as clearly stated in their August 7, 2018 directives, remains apolitical and does not support or subscribe to any political party. Our concern is for a peaceful election process seen to be free, fair, credible and just, and a democratic governance that guarantees peace, justice, equity, among others,” he said.

In the run up to the 2015 general elections, the fiery Fr. Mbaka had blazed the trail by endorsing then-candidate Muhammadu Buhari of APC, a Muslim, and even canvassed support for him against the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian. In a scorching New Year’s Eve service, Mbaka had told Jonathan to “resign or be voted out over Nigeria’s alarming insecurity and corruption.” Earlier, the same Mbaka had lauded Jonathan for “doing well.” He also lambasted those blaming the president for not rescuing more than 200 schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in April 2014 by Boko Haram militants.

Aside Mbaka, popular Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has said he had no regrets playing a role to reconcile former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and his former deputy Atiku.

Despite what other clerics said, Gumi acknowledged his right to endorse any candidate for the 2019 elections, while describing Obasanjo as “a leader worthy of emulation.”

“First of all, the negative reactions that greeted our visit to the Presidential Library, Abeokuta, came mostly from social media that is infested with agents of government where an individual can employ numerous identities based on ethnicity, region, religion, etc. It is a natural instinct in us to make peace as humans,” he said.

Daily Trust Saturday recalls that some religious and political heavyweights in the country had all met with Obasanjo on the “altar” of reconciliation. These included the General Overseer of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo, Catholic Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus, and PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

Recall further that these men had at one time or another spoken of their reservations about the APC leadership at the centre, hence their claim that they were only playing conciliatory role was not convincing to many, including those sympathetic to the APC.

On his part, Bishop Oyedepo denied endorsing Atiku. “I was only invited to make peace. I have never belonged to any political party and will never belong to one. Our goal is to secure the glorious destiny of our nation by paying whatever price it requires,” he was quoted as saying. Like Oyedepo, Bishop Kukah “worked to reconcile, not endorse.”

“My focus all along had been with Obasanjo as I had never brought Atiku into what I was doing. Quite fortuitously, a chance meeting changed the tide in favour of reconciliation,” he said.

Analysts believe that in developed, western democracies, elections provide a platform for engaging on meaningful, issues-based arguments, in clear variance to what obtains in developing democracies such Nigeria’s, where elections most times stimulate ethnic and religious fervour. According to them, most political parties and politicians lack ideologies to campaign on, hence their desperation in “conscripting” religious leaders as campaign tools.

A lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Bayero University, Kano, Dr Sa’id Ahmad Dukawa opined that the issue of merging religion with politics is not healthy for democracy in Nigeria, or anywhere else. “The trend is meant to promote hatred among adherents of the two major religions of Islam and Christianity, which can disturb peace and in the end affects the unity among followers of the religions. And of course without unity, no country could develop. It is also meant to divert the attention of the electorates from issues-based politics, which in reality is the best practice anywhere in the world, to attend to problems of the people irrespective of their religion or ethnic background,” he said.

Dukawa therefore charged religious leaders to focus on interrogating politicians and identifying who among them is serious, so that they could tell their followers to vote for such candidate. “Our religious leaders should understand that all the prophets sent by God, the Almighty from Adam to Muhammad (SAW) lived in multi-cultural societies and they brought goodies to their subjects including those that follow them and those that have not. After all, the Nigerian Constitution is clear about the issue of Muslim/Christian ticket. So, by preaching against followers of other religion, you have violated the teachings of your religion, and constitution.”

Sheikh Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa, a renowned Islamic scholar in Kano and Commander General of Kano Hisbah, said religious leaders need to consider certain things in handling this kind of situation. “They need to hide their choice in respect of candidates and political party. Religious leaders should not show their followers which political party they like, or which among the candidates is their choice. This can cause division not only between Muslims and Christians, but even among his followers because they too have their choices,” he said.

Daurawa said religious leaders should instead enlighten their followers about politicians in terms of qualities and qualifications, to help them choose the best among all the candidates contesting.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan told our correspondent in a telephone chat yesterday, that what is happening is part of the electioneering process, saying clergymen are also Nigerians. “I read the statement credited to Cardinal Onaiyekan that Nigerians have not gotten a reliable presidential candidate yet. And after making that remark, he also said Nigerians must not give up despite the reservation he expressed. I am also saying that Nigerians should not give up. Our own candidate is best suited for the task ahead. I believe so because he understands the nuances and problems of the nation and he had got the experience having been vice president for eight years. I have not seen religious leaders who have come out to campaign, but there are some who are making their views and opinions public. So, as they have not come out openly to campaign, I can’t be judgemental,” he said.

On its part, the ruling APC expressed opposition to any form of campaign that focuses on religious beliefs to the detriment of competence of candidates. The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu, in a phone interview with Daily Trust Saturday, said the ruling party would anchor its 2019 election campaigns on the character of candidates and its stewardship in three and a half years.

Issa-Onilu said: “As the ruling party, we completely object to any attempt by PDP or any party for that matter to throw up issues that do not unite this country. We are very certain that Nigerians are not also prepared to be taken through that route again. We agree to ensure that in our campaigns, the issues of religion and tribes are de-emphasised completely because Nigerians are interested in issues that matter to their life. From what we have seen in recent times, the PDP campaign is about throwing up just anything they could lay their hands on because they don’t want to discuss issues. Each time we mention a road that we have done, we are reminding Nigerians of the 16 years of waste under PDP. So, the issue of religion will not feature in our campaigns.”

In 2015, when the presidential contest was between a southern Christian president, Goodluck Jonathan and Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim candidate from the north, the role of religion in the election was much more predictable, and many feared that the country’s unity might be stretched to its limits. It was keenly contested with palpable tensions but a winner emerged at last. However, shortly after President Buhari and ex-VP Atiku emerged as the presidential candidates of APC and PDP, respectively, pundits assumed religion will play little or no role in the run up to the 2019 general election since both candidates are Muslims.

The situation is the same with political leaders who believed those looking for fault lines to cause disaffection would fail this time around.

At a recent function in Abuja, National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said: “Ethnic and religious sentiments that characterised the 2015 election wouldn’t be factors in 2019. The two candidates are from the North and they are both Muslims. People are now going to look at character.”

However, that prediction might likely turn out to be a huge miscalculation, as from all indications, there is no gainsaying that the voting pattern of Nigerians in 2019 will once again reflect religious undertones, even if in a different manner.

In Nigeria, the role of religion in elections is a mixed bag. Ahead of the 2019 general elections, religious leaders have played both constructive and destructive roles. Some Muslim and Christian clerics have been on the forefront for a peaceful election. Some have even urged their followers to vote irrespective of religious affiliations. Others, however, have done the opposite.

In some states, such as Kaduna, the decision of Governor Nasir el-Rufai to pick Dr. Hadiza Balarabe, a fellow Muslim and a female as his running mate generated a lot of furore, following the decision of a section of the elite, religious leaders, and politicians in the Southern part of the state to pass a verdict that their people should not vote for the APC and its candidates.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the state has asked all their members not to vote for el-Rufai, saying the governor no longer deserves their votes.

The same “Kaduna action” had caused a stir in Ekiti State where gubernatorial election was held recently. Hammering on the decision of Governor Kayode Fayemi to pick a fellow Christian as running mate, many clerics from the other side of the divide are calling him “a fanatic,” saying there are enough Muslims in Ekiti to deserve the deputy governorship slot.

Similar narratives have reared their heads in Plateau and Benue states, where some clerics believe the issue of Muslim-Muslim ticket should be a factor in determining who gets what in 2019.

The Chief Imam of University of Benin Muslim Community, Prof Bunyamin Ayinde, said in an ideal setting, being a Christian or Muslim is not an issue, but advocating for good governance.

The PRO, Ibadan Anglican diocese, Venerable Dr. Wole Ogunseyinde, said he didn’t believe in such development, adding that it is time for Nigerians to work together regardless of their religious background.

Speaking on the issue, the Convener of Good Governance Team (GGT), Tunde Salman, said while religious leaders, like other citizens, may have personal preferences and opinions on politics, they should be more circumspective in their expression. “Open partisanship given that they occupy spaces that must always be protected as neutral is not good for the polity,” Salman said.

Senior Pastor of the Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide (OFM), Apostle Johnson Suleman, has prophesied that unless Nigerians pray for the country, the 2019 election will not hold. In a chat at his church, the cleric had said: “Tell Nigerians who wish to see democracy sustained, to pray for our leaders and work for peace; tell the leaders too to pray and be honest with the people they are serving. Otherwise, elections may not hold in Nigeria in 2019. That is what God has shown me.”

If the tempo of politics in Nigeria ahead of the 2019 elections is any indication of what’s to come, then Nigerians may have not heard the last of a mixture of religion and politics.

Credit: Daily Trust

Real reasons Gov Ahmed dropped Senate ambition

Real reasons Gov Ahmed dropped Senate ambition

By Romoke W. Ahmad,
The governor of Kwara State, Dr Abdulfattah Ahmed, who was the Kwara State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for the Kwara South Senatorial district in the 2019 elections recently dropped his ambition for the incumbent Senator Rafiu Ibrahim to serve second term in the Senate amidst speculations that all is not well after recent defections led by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

There have been series of arguments over the real reasons behind the governor’s decision to cede the seat to Senator Ibrahim, prominent among which is the defeat suffered by the PDP in the recently conducted by-election to fill the vacant post in the Irepodun/Isin/Oke ero/Ekiti federal Constituency.

It was gathered that the Senate President and National leader of the PDP, Dr Bukola Saraki, who is also the political leader in Kwara State told the governor and other candidates contesting under the PDP to work hard and make sure that their party wins the by-election which he said would be the determinant of 2019 outlook, failure of which will affect the governor’s ambition.

Although, the PDP was quick to deny a media report that there is a panic in the party over the decision of Saraki to substitute Ahmed with another candidate over the fallout of the by-election and that Ahmed is under pressure to withdraw from the Kwara South senatorial race as a result of the aftermath of last Saturday’s by-election in Ekiti/Oke-Ero/Isin/Irepodun federal constituency.

“This is totally untrue, ridiculous and a deliberate mischief orchestrated by some unscrupulous elements and political jobbers who are bent on causing confusion within the party and among our leaders. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no tension or whatsoever within the fold of the PDP in Kwara State and there is no pressure on Governor Ahmed to drop his senatorial ambition because of the outcome of the recently held by-election in the State.

“The party however, notes that there are ongoing consultations and pleas by leadership of the Ibolo axis of Kwara South, where the current senator representing the senatorial district, Dr Rafiu Ibrahim, hails from, for the party’s senatorial ticket to be retained in the axis in the interest of fairness and equity in the distribution of political offices within the district.

“It is instructive to note that these consultations and pleas preceded the November 17 by-election and are based on the understanding that the Igbomina and Ekiti divisions of Kwara South had produced senators who served two terms in the Senate as opposed to the Ibolo division whose representative had only served one term.

“This was the sole observation raised by the stakeholders during all their consultative meetings with the national leader of our party and Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and other leaders of the PDP in the State,” the party said.

Despite the denial, it was however gathered that Saraki got angry over the governor’s failure in his assignment to win the by-election which was a bad omen for the party in the coming election because with APC winning three out of the four local governments in the constituency, there is no way PDP can win in the seven local governments that made up the Senatorial district since there is every likilihood that Offa local government will vote for the APC candidate who hails from there.

It was also believed that Senator Rafiu Ibrahim is more popular in the district and has contributed emersely to the lives of the people which gives him upperhand and the fact that Ahmed will be serving for 16 years at the end of his tenure as governor of the state having served 8years as the commissioner for finance during Saraki’s tenure as governor, the position that is considered as second to that other the governor.

The fact that the governor will also enjoy pension for life as a two term governor and other benefits as well as securing a bigger appointment at federal level hopefully if PDP wins are some of tenable argument that the governor was confronted with before he agreed to cede the ticket to Senator Rafiu Ibrahim.

Governor Ahmed’s Senior Special Assistant On Media and Communications, Dr Muhideen Akorede confirmed that consultations had been going on within the political family to consider the request by the leadership of the Ibolo division of Kwara South, from where the current Senator, Rafiu Ibrahim hails from, for a second tenure at the Senate

He clarified that the cinsultations and request of the Ibolo leaders preceded the November 17 bye-election in Irepodun/ Isin/ Ekiti/ Oke- Ero federal constituency.

He added that the ongoing consultation was based on the view that the Igbomina and Ekiti divisions had successfully served two terms in the Senate as opposed to the Ibolo division whose representative had served only one term in the Senate.

While describing the last by-election as a farcical exercise marked by voter intimidation, widespread disenfranchisement and the use of security agencies against PDP supporters and members, Akorede quoted the governor to have said that the result of such a disputed election could, therefore, not have formed the basis of a review of his candidacy for the Kwara South Senatorial elections.

“Governor Ahmed assured that PDP will win the general elections in the state as the people of Kwara have resolved never to allow such harassment by security agents again,” Akorede added.

The insinuation that things have fallen apart between Saraki and Ahmed may also be true because of statements credited to both of them after the ticket was given to Ibrahim.

Political observers however noted that Ahmed was never a popular and acceptable candidate for the post by many PDP stakeholders but accepted grumbly when Ibrahim was forced to step down for him before the primary election where he was affirmed as the candidate of the party.

This they said was a sacrifice made by Senator Rafiu for the good of the party which later hunt the party because since emergence of Ahmed there have been insinuations that he may not win the election which was later confirmed by the outcome of the by-election.

The agitation and pressure from the people of Kwara south which resulted in the protest votes during the by-election made him feel embarrassed, which led to his withdrawal.

Daily Trust on Sunday also learnt that the money meant for mobilisation for the election got into wrong hands which are people who are said to be loyal to the governor. Some of them were said to have ran away and switched off their telephones but lied that police harrassed and arrested them.

The outcome of the election also shows the party leadership that the governor is not in charge of the Senatorial district which was a litmus test set for the governor after he was given the ticket.

However, amidst these dramatic moves, there are speculations that Gov. Ahmed is planning to move elsewhere.

However, Dr Muideen Akorede who is the governor’s SSA media, told the Daily Trust on Sunday that the governor will not leave PDP.

“He is not going anywhere; the governor is committed to PDP and will work for its success,” he said.

On the rumoured plans of the governor to see President Muhammadu Buhari next week, Dr Akorede said “The governor has right to see the president whenever there is the need to do so; this is irrespective of any political reason,” he said.

Credit: Daily Trust

Impediment to decisive victory over Boko Haram

Impediment to decisive victory over Boko Haram

By Mohammad Qaddam Sidq Isa |

After nearly a decade since the eruption of the protracted war between the Nigerian state and Boko Haram insurgents, and in view of the failure of the Nigerian military to achieve a decisive victory over the terrorists, it’s high time the federal government identified and addressed the underlying impediment(s) to achieving it.

This is absolutely imperative as it appears that the already barely prepared and largely demoralized Nigerian military has practically exhausted its tactical capabilities, which explains the preventable yet recurrent massacre of its personnel at the hands of the terrorists who are growing more audacious and exhibiting more sophisticated attack and tactical maneuver, thanks to their apparently growing links with some transnational terror groups, e.g. the so-called ISIS from and/or through which they receive more terror training, more funding, more weapons and equipment.

Though the recently reported intense aerial bombardments by the Nigerian Air force against some terrorists’ hideouts, which reportedly killed hundreds of them were quite reassuring, which many Nigerians celebrated following the extremely distressing developments on the warfronts where the terrorists killed tens of Nigerian soldiers, I for one never considered the bombardments consoling enough anyway. This is even if the reports are actually accurate in the first place, as it’s obvious that exaggeration can’t be ruled out under these circumstances.

Besides, from my experience in following the developments about this war since its outbreak on which I have also written many articles in this paper, I have grown much wiser towards the official narratives about developments on the warfronts. On several occasions, the narratives sounded so reassuring inspiring Nigerians to expect an imminent decisive victory over the terrorists. In 2013, for instance, the military claimed to have killed Shekau, the terrorists’ leader; a claim they still haven’t retracted even after it appeared clearly that Shekau was/is still alive after all.

In fact, at a point, President Buhari himself declared that Boko Haram was “technically defeated”. On a subsequent occasion also, the military presented him with what they claimed was the Boko Haram’s flag, as a symbol of their purported achievement of a decisive victory following their supposed capture of the so-called “Camp Zero”, which they claimed was the most important and last main Boko Haram stronghold in the Sambisa forest, claiming further that military personnel had already begun mopping-up operations to clear the forest of any remnants of the terror group.

Of course, on each of such occasions, Nigerians would celebrate only to be shocked afterwards by a devastating terror attack(s) disproving the official narratives and signaling a resumption of another wave of attacks targeting civilians and even military units.

However, for the sake of clarity, the foregoing doesn’t dismiss the efforts of the soldiers on the warfronts in their struggle to defeat the terrorists, especially considering the hugely challenging working conditions and operating environment they operate in, which some observers sometimes ignore in their assessments of the army’s performance. After all, the military is like any other government institution in Nigeria where inefficiency and ineptitude characterize performance and service delivery.

Faced with this dilemma, the federal government should understand that achieving a decisive victory over Boko Haram terrorists requires much more than the combat capabilities of the Nigerian military. Because on the world stage today even fighting terrorism isn’t spared from the influence of global politics, geopolitical struggles and other considerations at the expense of human values. Consequently, the potential of any terror-affected country to decisively defeat terrorism depends to a large extent on its understanding of the intricacies of the underlying global politics of the war, and indeed its ability to play the political game correctly, i.e. in such a way that it secures appropriate international cooperation it necessarily needs in order to defeat it within and around its geographical boundaries.

The Buhari administration, like its two immediate predecessors i.e. the ‘Yar’ adua and Jonathan administrations respectively, equally betrays a lack of such understanding thereby inadvertently allowing the war to persist amid inexcusable global apathy towards the war even though it’s one of the worst of its kind in the world today.

To address this situation, the federal government should, for a start, identify its potential, assets, circumstances and whatever can be used as an advantageous tool to push for appropriate global recognition of its war against Boko Haram as a war that the world simply can’t afford to ignore.

This is quite achievable by, for instance, engaging relevant leading international consulting firms, international pressure groups and influential lobby groups with unhindered access to the corridors of, say, the Capitol Hill and the White House in Washington, the Palace of Westminster and 10 Downing Street in London, the Élysée Palace in Paris and the European diplomatic and military institutions headquartered in Brussels, to pursue this agenda on behalf of the federal government.

Of course, this necessarily involves a significant investment of resources, yet it’s absolutely worth it, and if sustained, it would certainly begin to result in more international media interest and wider coverage of the crisis, more cooperation from international community especially in terms of intelligence gathering and processing about the terrorists’ sources of funding and weapons as well as the methods and routes through which they secure them. It would also begin to result in more foreign humanitarian assistance for the internally displaced people (IPD’s) and perhaps even assistance for post-conflict reconstruction and microeconomic recovery projects for the worst affected people.

Credit: Daily Trust

FAKE NEWS ALERT: Buhari, Jibrin Al-Sudani, Osinbajo and NEMA — what’s the link?

FAKE NEWS ALERT: Buhari, Jibrin Al-Sudani, Osinbajo and NEMA — what’s the link?

by Oluseyi Awojulugbe

After several public appearances and speeches since news of President Muhammadu Buhari’s “death” broke out in January 2017, the rumours should have died by now.

But no. Not yet.

In recent times, the news started trending again that Buhari actually died, and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo should have taken over as president but a certain Jibrin Al-Sudani, a body double, was brought in by the “cabal” to replace him. Osinbajo would have resisted, according to the allegation, but his hands were “soiled” and he had to retreat.

How do these events connect?

CLAIM 1: Buhari died and body double replaces him

The content of various WhatsApp broadcasts claims that the president passed on in January 2017 in a United Kingdom hospital. The broadcast claims that the president was replaced with Jibrin Al-Sudani, a former prisoner and body double.

Buhari’s purported ‘death certificate’

In a January 2017 fact check published by TheCable, it was established that the websites claiming to be UK’s Metro newspaper and Huffington Post of the US were spoofs.

Some of the loopholes that killed the story were: calling the high commission in London ‘Nigerian embassy’ and attributing the death announcement to the Nigerian mission and not Aso Rock, which is the seat of power.

Read the fact check here.

A commenter on social media wrote in response to the latest speculations: “The writers claimed that President Buhari who died in London was replaced by Jubrin Al-Sudani, a former prisoner but they did not think that there is something called technology. They also have never heard of a voiceprint. This is a set of measurable characteristics of a human voice that uniquely identifies an individual. These characteristics, which are based on the physical configuration of a speaker’s mouth and throat, can be expressed as a mathematical formula. The term applies to a vocal sample recorded for that purpose, the derived mathematical formula, and its graphical representation. Voiceprints are used in voice ID systems for user authentication.

“Even if the bigots that wrote the article claims that Buhari will pass the voiceprint in Nigeria, will he pass the test across the world? Will he get past world leaders? Will this mirage of a Jubrin speak like him, recognize all the people he knows, his family, friends, etc? This is a stupid and lazy allegation to say the least.

“The writers also claimed that Aisha Buhari could not stand this so-called Jubrin that she refused to receive Prince Charles and Camilla on their royal visit to Nigeria.

“But the writers forgot that in September, Aisha and her husband graced the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. They held multiple meetings that were reported by both the local and international media.”

CLAIM 2: Osinbajo blackmailed to play along

The authors also claim that Vice-President Osinbajo could not confront the cabal and take over as president because his hands were soiled with the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) scandal.

True, the house of representatives report said that the vice president acted against the law by approving N5.8 billion north-east intervention fund for NEMA without appropriation from the national assembly.

However, the report said the approval was given in April, three months after the purported death of the president. Practically, the sequence of events was impossible.

Osinbajo had not given the approval during the period of the president’s rumoured death.

Linking the purported death of Buhari in January 2017 and the failure of Osinbajo to become substantive president in January 2017 to the NEMA affair of April 2017 is implausible.

The office of the vice-president has defended his action in approving the emergency funds.

According to his media team, Osinbajo, then as acting president, acted in the best interest of Nigerians and saved thousands of Nigerians by swiftly approving N5.8 billion for emergency food supply — in line with Section 43 of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) Act which makes provision for emergency procurement, in which case the procuring entity can engage in direct contracting for goods and file a report thereafter with the BPP.

Conclusion: As previously established, news that President Muhammadu Buhari died in January 2017 remains false and theories that Vice-President Osinbajo could not take over office then because his hands were “soiled” from the NEMA approval in April 2017 are chronologically impossible.

Culled from TheCable