Sunset on Saraki’s political dynasty

Sunset on Saraki’s political dynasty

By Dayo Omotoso

In a 1796 letter, third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson wrote: “I have no ambition to govern men.
It is a painful and thankless office.” And, former British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, observed that “Politics are almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.”

For about four decades the Saraki family of Ilorin dominated the politics of Kwara State. The patriarch of the family, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, a medical doctor and politician, was the prime mover. Dr Saraki first entered politics in 1964 when he contested the parliamentary election for Ilorin as an independent, but lost.

After the election he returned to his medical practice in Lagos, only returning to party politics in 1978.

Earlier in 1977, Olusola Saraki had been elected as a member of the Constituency Assembly that produced the 1979 constitution. He won election into the Senate in 1979. He was re-elected in 1983 on the platform of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and became the Senate Leader. Between 1979 and 1983, he was a member of Ilorin Emirate from Agoro compound in Agbaji.

In 1998, Olusola Saraki became a National Leader of the Board of Trustees of the All People’s Party (APP), contributing to the victory of the APP in Kwara and Kogi States. He assisted Mohammed Alabi Lawal in becoming Governor of Kwara State.

In 2001, Olusola Saraki was head of a team from the Arewa Consultative Forum, a Northern Cultural and political group, sent to meet and discuss common goals with Northern state governors and other stakeholders. Later Olusola Saraki defected to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP); and in the April 2003 elections the kingmaker supported his son Bukola Saraki as candidate for governor of Kwara State and his daughter, Gbemisola, as Senator for Kwara Central Senatorial district.

In March 2003, the Societe Generale Bank (SGBN) of which Olusola Saraki was the Chairman was investigated by the National Drug Law Enforcement
Agency (NDLEA) for alleged money laundering. Later, SGBN was investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under Nuhu Ribadu, and its licence was suspended.

The SGBN eventually went under. Many depositors and customers of the bank lost a fortune in the process but there were no consequences.

Dr Olusola Saraki’s last political party was the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) on whose platform Gbemisola contested the 2011 Kwara State gubernatorial election.

The attempt created a schism in the Saraki family because Olusola Saraki wanted Gbemisola to succeed her brother, Bukola, as Governor of Kwara State but Bukola preferred his own anointed candidate, Abdufattah Ahmed, instead. Bukola Saraki’s candidate defeated his father’s candidate.

Popularly known as Baba Oloye, Olusola Saraki was allegedly deeply hurt and humiliated. Rumour, however, had it that father and son later reconciled.

Olusola Saraki was born in Ilorin on 17 May 1933 and died of cancer in Ikoyi, Lagos on 14 November 2012. His mother was from Iseyin in Oyo State; his father hailed from Ilorin, Kwara State. Saraki’s paternal ancestors were Fulanis from Mali about 200 years ago.

Olusola Saraki attended Eko Boys’ High School, Lagos; University of London; and St George’s Hospital Medical School, London. He worked as medical officer at General Hospital, Lagos and the Creek Hospital, Lagos. He had four children: Bukola, Gbemisola, Temitope and Olaolu.

Abubakar Bukola Saraki followed closely in the footsteps of his wealthy and influential father. Born on 19 December 1962, Bukola was educated at the Corona School, Victoria Island; and King’s College, United Kingdom: 1979-1981 for Higher School Certificate (HSC); and London Medical College: 1982-1987. He worked as Medical Officer at Rush Green Hospital, Essex: 1988-1989; and Director of SGBN: 1990-2000.

In 20000, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Bukola Saraki as Special Assistant on Budget. During his tenure, Bukola Saraki initiated the Fiscal Responsibility Bill. He also served in the Economic Policy Coordination Committee, where he was responsible for the formulation and implementation of several key economic policies for the nation.

Bukola Saraki was elected governor of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2003. He served for eight years: 2003-2011. As governor, Saraki became the first state chief executive to complete the Nigeria Independent Power Project in collaboration with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria. He introduced innovations in the Primary health care, agriculture and infrastructural development. He also brought revolutionary changes into the Nigeria Governors’ Forum

In April 2011, Saraki was elected into the Senate on the platform of the PDP representing Kwara Central Senatorial District, and then re-elected in March 2015 on the ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) after he had decamped from the PDP. Saraki was the arrowhead of those who moved against President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term bid for the presidency in 2015.

However, Saraki defected back to the PDP on 31 July 2018 some days after 14 Senators decamped from the APC to the PDP. He blamed his defection on intolerance of some influential persons in the APC.

The party’s national Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole actually campaigned vigorously for the removal of Saraki as Senate President. Indeed, the national leadership of the APC never liked the emergence of Bukola Saraki as President of the Senate and they never disguised their disdain for him.

The 2019 National Assembly election was therefore, an opportunity for the APC hawks to take their pound of flesh. Before the election the Senate passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill but President Muhammadu Buhari rejected it, stating that it reduced the President’s powers. The Senate said the Bill was passed to promote transparency and accountability. Buhari has no petroleum minister of cabinet rank.

In the February 23, 2019 election, Bukola Saraki lost his senatorial seat to Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe of the APC. Saraki polled a total of 68,994 votes against Oloriegbe’s 123,808 in the four Local Government Areas of Kwara Central Senatorial District leaving a margin of 54,814 votes. Oloriegbe is a former Majority Leader in the Kwara State House of Assembly.

A political scientist, Dr Kehinde Awujoola, commented on the shocking defeat of the Senate President. He said he was not surprised that Saraki was ousted considering the several unsavoury occurrences since he became the Senate President in June, 2015. He said “First, you will recall that the leadership of the APC did not want him as the Senate President.

The party had a preferred candidate from the North East. Saraki’s tenure was tempestuous. He encountered many tribulations. Several wild allegations were hurled at him including the Code of Conduct Bureau saga and the futile attempt to link him with the Offa robbery case.

The immediate past inspector general of police, Ibrahim Idris, had no respect for the office of the Senate President.

On several occasions, Idris derided the Senate President with impunity without consequences. The Executive arm of government did not help matters. Nobody in Buhari’s administration wanted Bukola Saraki. They saw him as a liability. So, the APC cabals waited for the right moment to humiliate him at the poll.”

Another commentator, Dr Tosin Iyaniwura, observed that the rivalry between the Saraki siblings, Bukola and Gbemisola had destroyed the cohesion of the Saraki political dynasty.

She said: “The current problem began in 2011 when the once united Saraki family became polarised over Gbemisola’s gubernatorial ambition. Unfortunately, those who were envious of the family’s streak of luck and influence exploited the crack to convince the Saraki teeming followers that it was time for them to chart a new course hence the new political slogan “ O to gee” in Kwara politics.

For several years, the Sarakis had always kept their followers happy and loyal by distributing food and money to them with some getting killed in the stampede for the items. But, now, some young Kwarans who were probably former followers of Baba Oloye have decided to challenge the Saraki dominance of Kwara politics.”

Reacting to Saraki’s defeat, a former media adviser who prefers anonymity said, “If an unwanted visitor comes to your compound, you quickly sweep off his or her footprints. Bukola Saraki is too arrogant and self-centred. He is a butterfly pretending to be a bird. When you talk of Kwara politics, we were loyal to him and his father.

The people served them faithfully but Bukola took their love and loyalty for granted. He became swollen-headed, and we said O to gee, meaning enough is enough. Bukola Saraki has become a pariah in Kwara politics.”

But, earlier in a newspaper interview in October 2014, a former Commissioner for information under Saraki’s governorship, Raheem Adedoyin, had argued that “The system in Saraki’s political dynasty is not about struggling for anything…”, adding that “Elections in Kwara had never been a tea party; but from 1979… the winning machinery is the Sarakis. The founder, a great visionary, Late Olusola Saraki, established the machinery and the machinery…has even surpassed the founder. Bukola Saraki, our leader is the Senior Prefect of the dynasty.”

The plot against the Saraki political machinery in Kwara first reared its ugly head before the 2015 general elections when some former loyalists kicked against an alleged plan by Bukola Saraki to impose a gubernatorial candidate on the APC. He compounded his political woes in 2018 when he decided to go back to the PDP.

Shuaibu Iyanda, a resident of Ilorin, is from the Amilegbe area of the state capital. He sympathised with Saraki’s political misfortune but eulogised Ibrahim Oloriegbe’s modesty and humility in victory. He said: “Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe is a noble man. I congratulate him on his modesty and humility in victory. Oloriegbe is not like some proud Abuja politicians who regard themselves as the Alpha and Omega of Kwara politics.

They have been going about boasting that they are behind the APC victory in Kwara. These pretenders are not even from Ilorin. Why, then, are they claiming to be leaders? Ilorin people have just shaken off the hegemony of one family. We do not want a new imposition from any quarters. Nobody should use us to secure appointments in Abuja,” he concluded.
Omotoso, a journalist, wrote from Ibadan

Who Will Save the Judiciary?

Who Will Save the Judiciary From PDP’s Assault?

By Shuaib Shuaib

It happens in every election cycle: Somewhere in Nigeria, a candidate runs for an elective office despite being closely related to a prominent public servant or even anyone likely to be on election duty. At times, they are two very talented individuals from different generations who won’t let family ties get in the way of their future. There was an instance like this leading to an election.

In April 2011, Mohammed Sani Idris was elected member of the House of Representatives from Lavun/Edati Federal Constituency under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Politics has come naturally to him and was always going to be his calling. When he kicked off his campaign for the seat, his late father, Idris Legbo Kutigi, was still Chief Justice of Nigeria. But that wasn’t an issue back then and nobody made it one.

Today, the former lawmaker is a top official of the PDP and impressively still has siblings serving at the Court of Appeal, High Courts and Magistrate Courts in different parts of the country.

Ironically, his party – the PDP – is looking to make families like Idris’ have to choose between the aspirations of one member over the career of another. In Nigeria that could spell trouble for millions of people who have relatives in the army, police, judiciary or civil service and choose to go into politics.

Character assassination has been the hallmark of the PDP’s presidential campaign in the just-concluded elections. Along the way, there have been dozens, maybe more, that have fallen victim to the party’s smear campaign simply for being in a position to preside over electoral matters. The chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Mahmood Yakubu, has been on the receiving end of PDP attacks. But it is probably Amina Zakari, a commissioner in INEC, who has suffered most from the party’s constant aggression aimed at damaging her reputation.

All throughout the electoral process, the opposition party has tried to pick and choose the officials who are acceptable to it and those who are not. Others too have faced the wrath of the party, including the service chiefs, former IGP Ibrahim Idris, police commissioners, resident electoral commissioners of INEC and joining that list now are officers of the courts. In its quest to reclaim the presidency, the PDP seems ready to bring down the whole house. Virtually everyone it has attacked is someone in service of the nation and has a track record going back decades. But they have simply been made casualties of a political contest.

The name of Justice Bunmi Oyewole has been tarnished. The PDP has gone to the extreme to paint the picture that he made it to the Appeal Court not on merit but rather because of ties to former governor of Lagos, Bola Tinubu. For the opposition party, just the fact the Oyewole, a native of Osun, served as a High Court Judge in Lagos is enough to make him indebted to Tinubu thus disqualifies him from any position of responsibility. And for millions of Nigerians who have no means of understanding the workings of the National Judicial Council and how judges are elevated, that idea that Oyewole didn’t get there on his own and that Tinubu can place whoever he wants in any court has forever been implanted into their minds.

Never mind that a lot of the actions attributed to Tinubu happened when the PDP was in power. The party wrongly accused Justice Oyewole of being on the appeal panel that was set up to determine the petition on the governorship election campaign in Osun. And when it was discovered that he wasn’t, PDP expressed no remorse. Yet, his reputation has suffered some damage and all his years of service have been rubbished by the party.

The judge is just one more victims.

Now, the target of the PDP and its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbodiyan, is the President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab Bulkachuwa. According to Ologbodiyan, to have a husband elected to the Senate on the platform of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) is enough to disqualify the justice from heading the presidential election panel. But it’s important to understand if the PDP has always adhered to this standard: Other than ex-governor Murtala Nyako and Justice Binta Nyako, maybe the most popular couple with one leg in politics and the other in the judiciary is Dr. Peter and Justice Mary Odili. They have faced their fair share of political pressure as their politics overlaps with Justice Mary Odili’s duties as a justice of the Supreme Court.

The pressure was particularly intense when the apex court had to rule on the outcome of the governorship election in Rivers where Dr Odili, a two-term governor of the state, was linked to Nyesom Wike’s legal strategy in defending his victory at the 2015 elections. But the pressure wasn’t coming from PDP. If anything at all, the party turned a blind eye to what was a potential conflict of interest. Yet, Mary Odili still recused herself from the case on the Rivers governorship election. It was however, the only case she felt a need to so.

Zainab Bulkachuwa didn’t become President of the Court of Appeal under normal circumstances. She was in reality the steady hand that the then ruling PDP had to rely on after a tumultuous period. After going to war with Ayo Salami, who was the Appeal Court President, over his alleged romance with the opposition party, the PDP found itself in a legal bind. Salami was suspended from office and replaced with the late Justice Dalhatu Adamu who served in acting capacity for only 15 months before being forced to retire due to constitutional limitations.

It was to Justice Bulkachuwa that the NJC and Goodluck Jonathan-led PDP government turned to. Even before then, Justice Bulkachuwa had ruled in several cases that benefited the PDP, including cases challenging PDP governors and even a senate president. So there has never been an issue of bias or conflict of interest against her. And in the entire period she was made head of the Court of Appeal, essentially bringing closure to a feud that engulfed heads of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, she was married to Adamu Bulkachuwa who was at the same time, a strong member of opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari’s APC. Not once did the PDP complain about her marriage to Bulkachuwa or her husband’s membership of the APC. After two decade in the Appeal Court, it has suddenly become an issue.

In fact, ever since the couple got married, Adamu Bulkachuwa had been a politician after retiring from diplomatic service several years earlier. While she was a judicial officer in Bauchi, he ran and lost a race to be governor in 1993. And the Justice was already in the Appeal Court when he was elected to serve in the House of Representatives in 1999. So, should he as a politician have given up his aspirations for his wife’s career? Or was it Justice Bulkachuwa that should give up her professional career?

As senator-elect, Adamu Bulkachuwa has a pre-election case against him in court. The APC senatorial ticket in Bauchi that was handed to him by the party is being challenged by Usman Tuggar. Here, there is an undeniable conflict of interest and the justice will have to disqualify herself from the case. But it is a case the PDP doesn’t care about. What the party wants is to drag her name in the mud, make her collateral damage out of desperation.

The PDP tendency to turn its ire towards anyone remotely resembling a stumbling block to its goals has gotten the attention of the presidency. Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, has admonished the PDP attacks on the Appeal Court President. It was Shehu that even labeled the attacks on her as character assassination suggesting the whole exercise was aimed at driving a wedge between the executive and judicial arms of government. It is what it appears like. Every judge the party suspects won’t play to their tune, they blackmail and paint black. In doing that, it’s enough just to insinuate that she is under investigation by the SSS even if the claim is false.

The PDP cannot continue to hurt and ruin the lives of good people and excuse their actions in the name of politics. There have to be limits to how far PDP is willing to go in denigrating institutions and individuals for its own interest.

Shuaib, a former editor of Leadership newspaper, writes from Abuja

Shall we now beg Goodluck Jonathan for forgiveness?

SATIRE SATURDAY: Shall we now beg Goodluck Jonathan for forgiveness?

Former President Goodluck Jonathan

Oladeinde Olawoyin

Two weeks ago, I was in Ibogun-Olaogun, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s ancestral village, for an interview with the retired general. The conversation is meant to be part of a special publication by this newspaper, set for release in commemoration of Nigeria’s 20-year democratic journey later this month. Of course, having served for the first eight years of the 20-year journey, Mr. Obasanjo occupies a significant part of that narrative.

Sitting right before the former president in his room while the engagement gathered momentum, one thing struck me about his views on Nigeria and her leadership question: Mr Obasanjo had no doubt that the nation has consistently witnessed a complete descent in its choice of leadership since 1999.

To be sure, anyone who has read the Otta farmer well enough would be conscious of this not-so-subtle obsession with the self; his numerous ways of pronouncing himself the best thing that would happen to Nigeria’s leadership institution and his tangential reference to everyone who came before and after him as incompetent simpletons.

Yet if we look beyond the numerous flaws of Mr. Obasanjo himself, beyond his megalomaniac tendencies, given that he had the will power to do so much but delivered not as much, it is tempting to agree that Nigeria has indeed been experiencing a descent into the abyss in terms of its leadership choice since 1999.

For, with the understandable exception of the turbulent tenure of the late Umaru Yar’adua, whose early reformist steps and failing health threw into our own version of what could pass for martyrdom, the nation has taken several steps backward than it has taken forward in her journey toward growth and development.

And these disturbing concerns, by default, are a reflection of the quality of leaders the system has thrown up over the years. While former President Goodluck Jonathan elevated institutionalized sleaze by his legendary docility, the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has given a new nomenclature to crass incompetence. This leadership pattern, frankly, is a major reason why Mr Obasanjo whose serial iniquities are all too known now considers—-some would say ‘deludes’, and rightly so—-himself to be our own Gandhi!

The bar of governance, of leadership, hasn’t only fallen; it is on the muddy floor reeking of incompetence and corruption and related malfeasance.

So the other day when a narrative began to gain traction across the media landscape, I was as amused as I was disturbed. It began with a subtle campaign by folks suggesting that the nation faces numerous leadership and institutional crises today because of the way Mr Jonathan was (mal)treated at the polls in 2015, by the political elites and, by extension, the ordinary voters. First, it would have been funny if it was not very unfortunate.

Then came the bigger narrative, peddled first by — I think — a former aide of the ex-president, Reno Omokri, and a former minister for aviation and Mr Jonathan’s campaign manager, Femi Fani-Kayode. It would get to its crescendo at the height of the royal rumble between former Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido, and the dollar-flaunting governor of Kano, Abdullahi Ganduje. The wise logic of Messrs Omokri and Fani-Kayode is steeped in the narrative that suggests that the humiliating actions taken against Emir Sanusi are simply the outspoken former CBN governor’s ‘reward’ for his anti-Jonathan “treacherous” actions when he held sway at the CBN. In other words, Nigeria and those who (mal)treated Mr Jonathan would only know peace when they apologise to the man and he forgives them.

Because Messrs Omokri and Fani-Kayode wield considerable influence across Nigeria’s social media landscape, that narrative would soon take on a life of its own. They and their alleluia crowds would later release a long list of names of those who met their comeuppance after “betraying” Mr Jonathan, Nigeria’s, and indeed Africa’s, all-time “hero of democracy”! Bukola Saraki. Atiku Abubakar. Dino Melaye. Nigeria. Nigerians. The list is endless.

Then came the biggest of all initiatives: a massive, never-seen-before, all-inclusive delegation of detribalised Nigerian youths, selected across fora like Facebook and Twitter, from Zamfara through Ile-Oluji, with the sole mandate of marching all the way to Otuoke to go seek forgiveness from Mr Jonathan on behalf of 180 million gullible Nigerians who rejected him in 2015. As at the last time I heard of this initiative, over a thousand names of willing participants had been captured.

This delegation, whose activities I understand would be covered live on CNN and Aljazeera, would also plead with the former president to pray for the country because, as the narrative goes, our numerous crises would disappear pronto once he does. It remains unclear whether the delegation would go see Mr Jonathan with sacrificial materials—-e.g white foul, a ram, a calabash, kola nut, a piece of red clothing, and, most importantly, ninety-seven bottles of undiluted Ogogoro—but the possibility of that would not be ruled out. Nobody visits a deity (of democracy) empty-handed. And, you know, especially for those who nurse the bitter thoughts these selfless Nigerian youths are out there to “hustle” Mr Jonathan, nobody comes back from a deity empty-handed too.

But in the meantime, just before the world witnesses the biggest of all appeasements, let us make it clear that people who build sane societies do not obsess about a wasteful past because of a lifeless present. Rather, they organize to actualise a vibrant future.

And for those selfless youth who would soon be on their way to Otuoke, they should be fair enough in their dealings. If Jonathan deserves to be appeased for elevating sleaze to a “transformational” height, then they should also extend the consideration to, of course, Yar’adua. If Jonathan enjoys the honour of being described as a “gentle” man with good heart, Yar’adua is the epitome of that virtue. It does not matter that “good” heart does not build “good” nation. It matters not.

And because Yar’adua is a product of Obasanjo, let our selfless youth also move to Otta—to appease ‘Baba’ whom some ignorantly accused of wasting $16 billion on an illusory power even if details have shown that it was just a paltry 3-point-something billion dollar that was expended. Obasanjo, of course, is a product of the Abdulsalami Abubakar transition initiative and so our youth would also need a visit to Minna, to appease the retired general for being a subject of wicked conspiracy theories over the death of M.K.O Abiola.

Still on Abiola, and because Abdulsalami’s residence isn’t far from a certain gap-toothed general’s hill-top mansion, our youth would also need to visit Ibrahim Babangida, to seek forgiveness over our misunderstanding of his annulment of the June 12 election. Because we now know better, we are sorry.

Mr Buhari needs no appeasement because he is the source of this pan-Nigerian peregrination. Shehu Shagari died recently so a visit to Sokoto is pointless. Ditto Murtala Mohammed and Mr Buhari’s friend, mentor, and confidant who never stole us blind, Sani Abacha. Yakubu Gowon already prays for Nigeria and so we are sure he needs no such appeasement; he loves us already. Aguiyi Ironsi and those who came before him too are not here.

Finally, in line with our obsession with what we call “Afghanistanism” in journalese (evident in how we empathise with victims of disasters in far away places even when the homefront burns), is it out of place too if our youth help seek forgiveness from Adolf Hitler—-on behalf of gullible European Jews

Credit: Premium Times

Talkin’ about a revolution

Talkin’ about a revolution

by Simon Kolawole

I always hesitate to use the “R” word because I don’t understand how it really works, but a lot of Nigerians have been talking about “revolution” for a while. They say Nigeria will experience a revolution at a point in time, given the way the society has been going: the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer; the fat getting fatter, the lean getting leaner. One definition goes like this: “Revolution is a fundamental and relatively sudden change in political power and political organisation which occurs when the population revolts against the government, typically due to perceived oppression — political, social, economic — or political incompetence.”

It sounds interesting but many have also argued that a revolution is not possible in Nigeria because “we the people” are “docile”. Some say Nigerians deserve the kind of leaders they have. They collect cash, rice and vegetable oil at election times to trade their votes and are inevitably bound by the choices they make. It is said that morally, therefore, they cannot rise up against the same leaders they put in office after selling their votes. Nigerians are also sharply divided along ethnic and religious lines, meaning there can never be a consensus to rise up against the government in power because it will be resisted by those who have the incumbency advantage.

Revolution is too heavy an idea for me to discuss on the pages of newspapers, but Senator Dino Melaye got me thinking with his tweet on Thursday about the “revenge of the poor” and the “perilous times” that lie ahead. He tweeted: “I am afraid of the revenge of the poor, it happened in Russia, France and recently in Sudan. It can happen in Nigeria. Housing segregation put us the elite in jeopardy. Ikoyi, Banana, Maitama, Asokoro etc. Our leaders + me beware of violent revolution. Perilous times loading.” Coming from a senator who has more fancy cars than the hairs on my head, the warning hit me like a half-hearted satire but I managed to survive it.

In my previous article, “Whatsoever a Man Soweth” (May 12, 2019), I did warn that nobody is safe in Nigeria, including those who think they are covered by a convoy of armed escorts. I also said that the rebellion by the vulnerable elements of the society seems to be in full motion as Nigerians groan under the pandemic of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, internet fraud and all kinds of criminality. Unfortunately, the security system designed to protect the high and the mighty is failing. It is not just the poor and the lowly that are bearing the brunt, although it is only when the big fish are victims that we make so much fuss over the calamity that has befallen us as a people.

I don’t know if Senator Melaye actually meant what he was saying but I will, all the same, give us a few examples of how our legislators are contributing to the state of union and how they are making “perilous times” inevitable — except they change their ways. As I will always argue, our leaders should stop thinking that Nigeria is like this because of some mistake or co-incidence. No. We are only reaping what we have been sowing. What we failed to plan for yesterday is coming back to bite us today and unless we plan for tomorrow as a matter of urgency, the harvest is going to be bountiful but unpleasant. The ruling elite must chew over this again and again.

The first thing the lawmakers must realise (and I refer to both state and federal legislators because I don’t believe Abuja is the only problem) is that there is a link between their greed — the obscene allowances, extortion-driven oversight activities as well as padded budgets — and the poverty and insecurity in the land. It is a very simple matter. In a country where tens of millions are unemployed and those who have jobs are struggling to survive, each senator is pocketing N13.5 million “running cost” in a month. We still don’t know what members of the house of reps take home every month, neither can we say anything about state legislators. Maybe theirs is even fatter and juicier.

Imagine if the lawmakers — at all levels — are determined to live a decent life and are not obsessed with grabbing every naira in sight. Imagine they are working round the clock to hold the executive accountable for the budgets that are passed every year. Imagine that the lawmakers make sure what is budgeted for roads goes into roads, every kobo earmarked for education goes into education, and every naira allocated to health goes into health. Imagine that those public hearings are actually meant to hold MDAs accountable and expose the rot in the system. Imagine that the auditor-general’s reports are used by the lawmakers to clean up the system rather than to extort.

Unfortunately, the lawmakers are a big burden on Nigerians. Not so long ago, the Bayelsa state house of assembly passed a bill granting themselves pensions. The speaker would take N500,000 monthly, the deputy N200,000 and the others N100,000. This, we must understand, is different from the severance package, which the rest of us are not privileged to know. We can only guess that it will not be miserly. All of this happening in a state where the majority of the people are struggling to make ends meet. So we run a society where the fat are getting fatter and are not ashamed to keep sowing bigger coats for themselves every day. But Nigerians are watching.

Not to be outdone, Kano state lawmakers have also passed their own law to award life pension to their principal officers. They will also be entitled to foreign medical treatment for life — while the people who voted them into office are not entitled to common paracetamol at the public hospitals. The lawmakers in several states, working as rubberstamps of incumbent governors, passed pension laws that awarded former governors new cars every three to four years, in addition to mansions in the state capitals and Abuja, foreign medical treatment and other sickening benefits. Nigerians are programmed to be exploited by their leaders in and out of office! The inequality is wicked.

The bazaar of budget padding by lawmakers is one of the most evil developments in this democratic dispensation. A former lawmaker once challenged me to define “budget padding” and I was wondering if he was pulling my leg. It so happens that an agency will prepare a budget of N10 billion and the supervisory legislative committee will tell the agency it can double the figure to N20 billion if they can bring a certain amount in cash upfront. Some lawmakers will even insist on nominating contractors for projects smuggled into the budget, and you and I know that the job may not be done at all. How can any society make progress that way? How can?

Melaye is talking about the coming “revolution”. Yes, the behaviours of the power elite are in the public domain. Nigerians are watching. They listen to the news everyday and can tell you what the lawmakers are doing with our commonwealth. They are seeing pictures and videos on social media. They are reading the charges filed against politicians in court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). They know all these things. Nothing justifies criminality and I will never vote for criminality, but maybe it is time for Nigerian politicians — not just the lawmakers — to see how their greed and lifestyles are hurting Nigeria’s progress and breeding criminals.

You can always argue that we should not use poverty to explain the growing criminality in the land. But we need to step back again and again and ask the question: why are certain crimes becoming attractive to our young people? Many of those being arrested are university graduates and brilliant people whose energies have been deployed for the wrong use because they have nothing gainful to do. I will, therefore, conclude with the same admonition: the time has come for the Nigerian elite to have a “meeting” and agree to change their ways. Things cannot continue like this. They must forsake their greed and redirect our commonwealth from personal comfort to communal progress.

To make my admonition simpler: let our budgets and resources be utilised to build a society that prioritises the welfare of the majority and not the pensions, wardrobe allowances and DTAs of a tiny minority. Governors’ convoys must grow leaner and the presidential jets must reduce in population. Tracy Chapman, the American singer, sang in 1988: “Don’t you know/They’re talkin’ ’bout a revolution/It sounds like a whisper/While they’re standing in the welfare lines/Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation/Wasting time in the unemployment lines/Sitting around waiting for a promotion.” Those who have ears, let them hear.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
CHICKEN CHANGE

Abdulgafar Ayinla, a member-elect of the Kwara state house of assembly, has been arrested by the EFCC over an alleged N26 million property scam. Ayinla, a legal practitioner, allegedly defrauded a US-based client in a property deal. He is accused of collecting the money without delivering service and has allegedly confessed to the crime, promising to refund the N26 million to the petitioner as soon as he is inaugurated and he — wait for this — collects his “wardrobe allowance”! The lawmakers are really feeding fat on the treasury. Of course, he will be sworn in as a lawmaker. That is the way we roll. And we still wonder why Nigeria is like this. Honourable!

LOOT AND LAUGH

If you are a public officer in Bauchi state, I have some news for you: you can now loot and laugh all the way to the bank. The Bauchi state house of assembly has repealed the law on the recovery of looted public funds and properties. The law was passed on the floor of the house with only 13 out of 31 members in attendance. Governor Mohammed Abubakar had signed the law establishing Public Property and Funds Recovery Tribunal in 2017 allegedly to deal with his predecessor, but now that he is about to become a predecessor himself, he does not want to have a dose of his own medicine. And life will continue as usual. And we will keep wondering why Nigeria is like this. Licence.

SMOKING HOT

Is the grass greener on the other side? Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo state, has joined Omoyele Sowore, former presidential candidate, in stressing the value of marijuana business, which is projected to hit a global value of $145 billion by 2025. “We all know that Ondo State is the hot bed of cannabis cultivation in Nigeria… we would be shortchanging ourselves if we failed tap into the legal marijuana market,” he said. Of course, there is a difference between medical use of marijuana, which has been identified as a cure for diseases such as epilepsy, and recreational use — which we regard as a vice. Marijuana is gradually becoming a burning issue in Nigeria. Highlight.

MYTH BUSTER

The full meaning of “sir” is “Slave I Remain”, isn’t it? It was a word introduced to Indians during the British colonial rule to make them subservient to their colonisers for life, according to the urban legend. While India was under various forms of British colonial rule from 1612 to 1947, the word “sir” entered the English language in 1297. That means it was in use about four centuries before India was colonised! Indeed, “sir” was a formal English honorific address for titled knights, not slaves, derived from “sire”. It was also used as a respectful address to “senior commoners”. Sir, sire, seigneur and senior all grew up together in the evolution of language. Fact.

Credit: TheCable

Whatsoever a man soweth

Whatsoever a man soweth

By Simon Kolawole

Eleven years ago — to be specific, on July 7, 2008 — the title of my column was: “One Day, the People Will Rebel”. I warned that the extravagant lifestyles of our elite in the face of crippling poverty in the country would come back to bite all of us one day. At the time, kidnappings were a Niger Delta thing as militants agitated for resource control, but I was talking about what I called the “non-oil” kidnappings which I said would become the fad in the near future. I said the Nigerian elite must get the message that they could not continue in their ways and expect peace and safety. I warned that there was a lot of frustration, anger, bitterness and resentment in the land.

I wrote that when “blood relations of wealthy people are being kidnapped in exchange for ransoms, that is a clear danger signal to the elite. You have a driver. You have a cook. You have a security guard. You have policemen guarding you. They are all human beings. They see things happening around them. They hear your phone conversations as you conduct your mindless transactions. They are hearing the mind-blowing figures. They see the movements of Ghana-Must-Go bags. In an attempt to ‘redistribute’ the loot, they will resort to kidnappings and demand ransoms. It is happening already. More are in the offing, I think”.

A reader was so angry with me that he sent me this SMS: “Simon, you are sowing evil ideas in the minds of our drivers and domestic staff. You are highly irresponsible. I will never read your column again.” Typical of me, I did not respond. I had realised early in my column-writing career that those who really want to engage in constructive debates normally use decent language. I hate street fights. As a kid, I was never involved in street fights. My grandmother (God bless her soul) was always proud to show me off to her friends as a “good boy”. I would be letting “Iya Kola” down in her grave if I engage in internet street fights. So I always let attacks and insults pass — with all pleasure.

However, I am always unhappy whenever I lose a reader because of my views. I feel I have lost a potential co-evangelist in my “leadership by example” approach to the building of a nation “where peace and justice shall reign”. That reader clearly misunderstood me: I was only forewarning on a disturbing development with the sole aim of gingering our leaders to act. Growing criminality is a product of our broken social system that deprives the majority of Nigerians the basics of life such as roads, water, healthcare, education, security and jobs. I was fighting for social justice. I was warning the elite that they were not safe in their fortresses no matter how many police escorts they have.

As a philosopher said, all I did was to hold up a mirror for the society to look at itself. Breaking the mirror — as that angry reader decided to do — would not change the picture. The inequality in Nigeria has been too much for too long. In a country where people lose their lives because they cannot afford drugs of N1,000, you have people buying private jets and flashy cars not from some hard work but by feeding on the commonwealth. Our hospitals are rejecting poor patients because there is no bed space. Pupils are sitting on the floor to learn chemistry and biology in schools the governor cannot allow his relatives to attend. Such a society cannot escape doom.

In that “offensive” article, I asked, sarcastically: “What is the way forward? More policemen? More bullet-proof SUVs? More private jets? More Banana Islands? More signs of ‘military zone, keep off’?” I then replied myself: “I don’t know, but I have a hunch that more equitable management of resources could be of help. I suspect that more jobs, more housing, more medicine, more books, better roads, and better power supply would be of use. I suspect that less looting, less waste of resources would go some way. But if things continue the way they are, there is no doubt about it: one day, the long-suffering people of this country will react. They will rebel. Mark my words.”

The rebellion seems to be in full motion today as Nigerians groan under the pandemic of kidnapping, banditry, terrorism, internet fraud and all kinds of criminality. Worse still, the security system cannot protect either the rich or the poor. We should ask ourselves how we got here. One of my favourite Yoruba proverbs, as oft-repeated by my late grandmother, says “when a child stumbles, he looks at his front; when an adult stumbles, he looks at his back”. Someone else would add: “Where did the rain begin to beat us?” If only we could retrace our footsteps, we will gain insight. We can then begin to sow a different seed today so that we can reap a different harvest tomorrow.

Last week, I watched as some members of the house of reps took turns to lament the state of insecurity in the country. One speaker after the other complained that they can no longer travel to or sleep in their villages because of insecurity. They are overwhelmed by the army of criminals. However, they just cannot see a link between their greed — their obscene allowances, their extortion-driven oversight activities as well as the padded budgets — and the poverty and insecurity in the land. That is the problem with Nigerian politicians: they think Nigeria is like this by mistake. They think if we are able to deploy more troops, kidnapping will stop. If only it were that simple!

Let me say this yet again: the Nigerian ruling elite need to have a meeting, perhaps a “meeting of minds”, and agree to change their ways. We cannot continue to run a system of an overfed elite minority and a malnourished majority and expect to keep travelling to the village in glittering SUVs without consequences. No. It won’t work. We cannot run a system where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and expect peace. We have been living a lie for too long. Commonsense tells us that inequality comes with a price. We cannot sustain a system that ruins the lives of the majority of 200 million Nigerians and hope to sleep and snore at night.

Although the economic downturn in the last five years and some of the policies of President Muhammadu Buhari are implicated in the current socio-political crises, the truth remains that for too long, we ignored the warning signals. For decades, the UNDP told us that 70 percent of Nigerians were living on less than $1 a day. What did we do to prevent the incoming disaster? It was all Greek to us. We spent our petrodollars as if there would be no tomorrow. Well, today is yesterday’s tomorrow. You don’t have to be a development expert to know that any country where the bulk of the youth are unemployed or unemployable is headed for chronic insecurity.

Don’t take my word for it. Check the poverty and unemployment rates of countries with the least incidence of crime and you will get a better idea of what I am driving at. When young men and young women wake up in the morning with nowhere to go, they are tempting the devil. He will give them something to do. Their energies will be misused and abused as they struggle to survive. No human being will sit down at home and die of hunger. Survival is a basic human instinct. The human being will survive by any means necessary — even if it is to steal, beg or borrow. The police and the army combined cannot contain crime when the factory producing criminals has not been closed.

Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. We have sown the wind and we are reaping the whirlwind. The teens and teenagers that we refused to care for yesterday have become our nemesis today. They are now in our neighbourhood and on the highway, making life unbearable for us. The security system we failed to overhaul and modernise for ages — despite security budgets in billions of dollars — is now unable to protect us. But if I may ask, what are we doing today to make sure our trouble does not double tomorrow? Are we investing properly in the future? Are we striving hard to make the country conducive in the future so that ordinary people can enjoy the basics of life? The elite must realise that it is in their own interest to make Nigeria habitable. This milking must subside.

Until the elite across board reach a consensus to curtail their greed and put Nigeria first, we cannot begin to make meaningful progress as a nation. Our predatory system will continue to breed terrorists, kidnappers, ritual killers, yahoo boys and circumstantial sex workers. What we are witnessing today would be child’s play compared to what is ahead. Nobody is safe in Nigeria, including those who think they are covered by a convoy of armed escorts. It is just a matter of time. Until we begin to sow the good seeds at all levels — federal, state and local — our troubles will keep multiplying. Nigeria will not develop overnight, but if we fail to act decisively and intelligently today, we cannot hope to reap gainful jobs, lasting peace, security and national prosperity tomorrow.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
RAPID RESULT

On Monday, the Kano house of assembly received a bill seeking to decimate the 214-year-old emirate. By Wednesday, it had become law — all because Governor Abdullahi Ganduje wanted a pound of flesh from the emir, Alhaji Muhammad Sanusi II. It may sound weird but the Kano drama has revived my hopes in Nigeria. It tells me that if Nigerian politicians really want to get something done, they can do it in seconds! Therefore, if they decide to start doing the right things for the good of this country, our development won’t take 50 years! There is just one problem though — they only use their energies for the things that have no impact on the price of garri. Pity.

THE NAVY 15

Comedy paid tragedy a visit on Monday when the Nigerian Navy denied knowledge of the whereabouts of 15 Nigerian citizens they have been detaining incommunicado and without trial since September 2018. Was that really a joke? The navy initially got court orders to detain them and later wrote the lawyer of one of them that the detainees had been transferred to the EFCC, which turned out to be false. As Mr. Femi Falana asked: at what stage did they disappear from custody? The navy must prove to Nigerians that the detainees are still alive by charging them to court for any offences they are accused of committing. This military rule in disguise must stop. Enough!

EMEFIELE’S 5+5

Mr Godwin Emefiele is not the dream governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in the opinion of some analysts, but President Muhammadu Buhari has given him another term of five years after much speculation. That suggests the president is pleased with him. In the last three months, the Nigerian rumour factories had gone into overproduction over Emefiele’s fate. Some even named his successor! For me, I never doubted that Emefiele would be re-appointed, even if that would be the first time a CBN governor would be getting a second term in this democratic dispensation. Let’s now hope Buhari will complement the governor with a solid minister of finance. Onwards.

MYTH BUSTER

When next you get a broadcast telling you that the full meaning of Google is “Global Organization of Oriented Group Language of Earth”, laugh very hard until you forget your name. In fact, Google is derived from the word GOOGOL — a mathematical term for the digit “1” followed by a hundred zeros. It was coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician Edward Kasner, and popularised in the book, “Mathematics and the Imagination”, written by Kasner and James Newman. In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin named their search engine “Google” — playing on the word “googol” to show the endless possibilities of their invention. How did I know? I googled it. Simple.

Credit: TheCable

Army raises the alarm over plots to stop May 29 inauguration

Army raises the alarm over plots to stop May 29 inauguration


By Ronald Mutum | 


The Nigerian Army yesterday said it has noted with great concern efforts by some unpatriotic individuals, groups and foreign interests determined to cause mischief and exacerbate the security situation in this country in particular and West African Sub-region.

The spokesman of the Army, Colonel Sagir Musa made this known in a statement without being specific, said these persons and groups are making concerted efforts to further induce ISWAP/Boko Haram terrorists and bandits with funds and other logistic supports.

He said “their body language and unguarded utterances seems to be in tandem with above and imply tacit support for the criminals. For example, credible source has shown that some individuals are hobnobbing with Boko Haram terrorists, while others are deliberately churning falsehood against the security agencies with a view to set the military against the people and the government.”

Musa said they are also demoralising troops and security agencies through false accusations and fake news, adding that, “Therefore, it has become necessary to inform the public and warn such persons and groups to desist as the consequences of their actions would be calamitous to themselves and our great country.”

He said, “Some of these mischievous elements thought that we would not have a safe and successful general elections but were proved wrong, hence they want to derail the scheduled handing over later this month and to scuttle the democratic process in the country.”

He said, the Army also noted that foreign interests are also working assiduously to cause disaffection and divide the coalition Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to give room for the so-called Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP) and its defeated local franchise, Boko Haram terrorists group to resurrect.

He said, while we have confidence on the Federal Government of Nigeria’s efforts at sustaining and reinvigorating the MNJTF to continue its good work, we would not relent in clearing the visages and remnants of Boko Haram terrorists and their sympathisers.

He said “the Nigerian Army is a stakeholder in our national security and sustenance of democracy in Nigeria. Additionally, we are making this statement because the military, particularly the Nigerian Army, has always been called upon to intervene in conflict situations in order to resolve crises in most cases when they get worse, while the public expect miracles.”

He also said Nigeria is a sovereign country with clearly established judicial system, therefore all aggrieved persons and groups should take advantage of that and resolve differences amicably.

Credit: Daily Trust

You can’t stop Tinubu’s presidential ambition, Ajomale blasts Miyetti Allah’s leader, others

You can’t stop Tinubu’s presidential ambition, Ajomale blasts Miyetti Allah’s leader, others

No group can stop Tinubu’s presidential ambition –Ajomale

Bola Tinubu

Former Chairman, Lagos State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Henry Ajomale has said that no group can stop the presidential ambition of the national leader of the ruling party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In this interview with TUNDE THOMAS, Ajomale spoke on various issues.

How would you react to the declaration by the National President, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Alhaji Abdullahi Bodejo that the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu will not be President of Nigeria in 2023?

Who is Bodejo? Is Bodejo God that he should be making that kind of declaration? Only God knows tomorrow. Bodejo is going too far by trying to play God. What Bodejo should realize is that if God has destined it that Tinubu will be President of Nigeria in 2023, one million Bodejos of this world can’t stop it. Who even knows what will happen between now and 2023; it is only God. Bodejo’s statement is not only reckless but also very unfortunate.

The Miyetti Allah leader further claimed that Tinubu is an old man, and that he may be older than President Buhari. He further said that Tinubu is not a Yoruba leader.

Why is Bodejo so obsessed with Tinubu? Why is he talking about the man like that? I believe Bodejo perhaps has a hidden agenda against Tinubu, if not, he would not have become or speaking so bitterly about Tinubu.

But like I said earlier, Bodejo is not God, and he can’t act God. What Bodejo should realize is that it is Tinubu’s constitutional right to aspire for any political office in the country including the Presidency. It is now left for Bodejo to vote or not to vote for him. Bodejo has only one vote. It is Nigerians that will determine Tinubu’s fate if he has such an agenda.

But Tinubu has even declared recently that his pre-occupation for now is to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in its plan to take Nigeria to the Next Level. Tinubu said that 2023 is not on his agenda for now, so why is Bodejo so concerned about Tinubu? Bodejo is a busy-body, he is crying more than the bereaved.

Rather than worrying himself and having sleepless nights over Tinubu, Bodejo’s headache should be how to stop the senseless killings of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen. Bodejo should first put his own house in order before he starts dabbling into other people’s affairs. I expect Bodejo as the national president of Miyetti Allah to be sober and apologetic to Nigerians for the havoc being wreaked by the herdsmen instead of talking on politics, and attacking individuals. I implore Nigerians to ignore Bodejo and his rantings on Tinubu. Tinubu will not be distracted by his vituperations as Tinubu is focused and determined to continue giving his support to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

On the issue of his claim that Tinubu is not a Yoruba leader, what’s your take on that?

That’s his own view, but there is no controversy about it, and the fact still remains that today as we are speaking, Tinubu is our leader, not only that, he is also a Yoruba leader, and his leadership is recognised and acceptable to the Yoruba.

On whether he was able to get only 50 percent of Yoruba votes for Buhari during the last general elections, that’s not the issue, the fact remains that he delivered Southwest for President Muhammadu Buhari, and the APC.

In a recent interview, former Minister for Works, Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe claimed that APC has been winning elections in Lagos State since 1999 through manipulations, rigging and that Asiwaju Tinubu has moles within PDP who are on his pay roll, what’s your reaction to that?

Ogunlewe is a failed politician, and he is very bitter that Tinubu has been flooring him and other PDP leaders like Bode George and Kofo Bucknor-Akerele.

I have been with Tinubu since 1999, and not only that, I have also been part of the system and took active part in every election in the state since that time. Tinubu is a democrat who detests rigging. He believes in selling the party’s manifesto to Lagosians starting from the days of Alliance for Democracy, AD through the period when the party metamorphosed into ACN and now APC.

Lagosians love Tinubu and the parties namely AD, ACN and APC and that’s why they have always been voting for the party.

Ogunlewe was once with us in AD, and it was during that time that he was elected as a senator on the party’s platform. But when he crossed over to PDP, his political career diminished and since that time, he had never won any election in Lagos State. Since Ogunlewe joined PDP, he has become politically irrelevant to the extent that he can’t even win his own polling unit, not to talk of his ward. Ogunlewe has even become a liability to PDP in Lagos State. He has no electoral value again. If it is true that Tinubu and APC are rigging elections in Lagos State, then why has Ogunlewe been unable to win any election since he joined PDP? Since he was one of us before, the assumption is that he would have mastered the art of rigging from Tinubu and AD. Ogunlewe should not be taken serious.

By attacking Tinubu, Ogunlewe is biting the hands that fed him. It was through the grace of Tinubu that he was elected a senator, and since he left AD, Ogunlewe has become a spent force in politics,

How can he compare himself with Tinubu? There is no basis for comparison, even in Ogunlewe’s ward, he can’t get 10 people to follow him whereas millions of Lagosians will troop out to follow Tinubu if the two of them are to engage in a test of popularity on Lagos road.

Ogunlewe should face reality; PDP is dead in Lagos State. Lagosians love APC and the party’s programmes. Lagosians like how APC has turned Lagos State into Centre of Excellence, and that’s why Lagosians have been voting for the party and Tinubu since 1999.

On his allegations that Tinubu’s private company, Alpha Beta is siphoning funds from Lagos State government through the Internally Generated Revenue, IGR that it collects for the state government, what’s your take on that?

Tinubu should be commended for boosting the IGR in Lagos State when he was the governor of the state between 1999 – 2007. Before then, the state’s IGR was very poor. But through his political brilliance, sagacity, and ingenuity, Tinubu boosted the IGR, and other governors that followed him sustained it, and that is why Lagos State has been able to have the money to embark on many monumental projects that have transformed the state. This is why many people have continued to refer to Tinubu as the builder of modern Lagos State. Tinubu laid a solid foundation which others have been building upon till today. But what can Ogunlewe point at as his achievements or contributions to the development of Lagos State? Nothing. I’m publicly challenging him to mention anything he achieved for Lagos. When Ogunlewe was Minister for Works when he was supposed to be attracting projects to Lagos State, he didn’t do so. Rather, he was blocking projects that were supposed to be allocated to Lagos State. Not only that, many would remember that it was during the period when he was Minister for Works that he brought hoodlums and thugs to be disrupting free flow of traffic on Lagos roads. He was actively involved in this show of shame. To me and many others, Ogunlewe was a disgrace to Lagos State when he was a minister because Lagos State didn’t benefit anything from his tenure as a minister.

Ogunlewe should stop linking Tinubu with woes in PDP in Lagos State. PDP in Lagos State has always been a house divided against itself. PDP in Lagos State has always been like a flock without a shepherd. Even on the eve of the recent general elections, the former Lagos State PDP chairman, Moshood Salvador with his exco members defected en masse to APC, and you refer to PDP in the state as a party. There is no PDP in Lagos State, but just a group of confused elements parading themselves as politicians.

What’s your assessment of the recent general elections?

The election was okay, and I believe we should commend INEC and even President Muhammadu Buhari.

Unlike what happened when PDP was in power when rigging and manipulations were the order of the day, the ruling party APC lost some states. If it were to be before, this would have been unthinkable. This is why I believe President Buhari should be commended. We all knew what happened when the apostles of do-or-die politics in PDP were in power.

The deployment of the military for the polls has been condemned by some people …….

The deployment of the military was to forestall breakdown of law and order. It was aimed at protecting lives and properties. We could see how hoodlums and thugs unleashed violence in some places. If not for the military, the situation could have degenerated.

Election is supposed to be a civil affair, but the way some people take it as a matter of life and death, they are so desperate to win at all costs and in order to actualise their ambition, they hire thugs and hoodlums not only to disrupt the voting exercise but also to attack their opponents, but government can’t allow anarchists to hold the nation to ransom, and this is why military is there to keep peace.

President Buhari was declared the winner of the presidential election, by the INEC but his main challenger, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of PDP has gone to court to challenge his victory, what’s your reaction to that?

Atiku is fighting a lost battle. Although it is his constitutional right to go to court, but I see nothing coming out of the case. Atiku is wasting his time. President Buhari beat him hands down. The margin was so wide. Let Atiku continue with his case while President Buhari forges ahead with his plan to take Nigeria to the Next Level.

One thing again is this, the court case Atiku brought against Buhari and APC is now leading to some issues unheard of before like the issue of Atiku’s country of origin. Although Atiku is claiming to be a Nigerian but what I know is that those who made the allegations that he is a Cameroonian wouldn’t have done so without having their facts. The onus is on Atiku to provide incontrovertible evidence that he is truly a Nigerian. Atiku will not be the first politician to be so accused of. In the 2nd Republic, Alhaji Abdurahman Shugaba, a politician from Borno State was deported to Chad after allegations were made against him that he was a Chadian but he denied the allegations and he was later brought back to Nigeria when he eventually showed proofs of his Nigerian citizenship. Let Atiku also provide concrete evidence that he is not a Cameroonian otherwise, many will continue to doubt his claims of being a Nigerian.

I implore President Buhari not to be distracted by Atiku’s case, he should continue with the good work he has been doing to transform Nigeria. It is easier for people to forget easily. Many Nigerians have short memory; if only they could remember the rot and the mess PDP put Nigeria into before Buhari took over in 2015.

President Buhari is doing his best. He is not a magician. It is not easy to transform Nigeria overnight especially after 16 years of PDP bad leadership. I enjoin Nigerians to continue supporting Buhari’s administration to enable him achieve his goals of restoring Nigeria’s lost glory.

Credit: The Sun

Buhari won’t accept Onnoghen’s resignation –Presidency

Buhari won’t accept Onnoghen’s resignation –Presidency

By Anule Emmanuel and Tunde Oyesina

The Presidency has confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari will not accept the voluntary resignation request from the suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen. President Buhari had, on January 25, 2019, suspended the CJN on the orders of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) given on January 23. The CCT, last Thursday, convicted the suspended CJN and ordered for his removal from office, having breached the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) Act. The decision of the CCT came despite an earlier recommendation by the National Judicial Commission (CJN) to President Buhari, for his compulsory retirement from service.

Onnoghen had also reportedly sent his resignation letter to President Buhari barely 24 hours after the NJC concluded investigating him for various allegations of misconduct. A senior aide to the President, who prefers not to be mentioned in print, yesterday, told New Telegraph in an interview that the case of the suspended CJN was a closed matter. He said there is no way Onnoghen would have expected President Buhari to accept his resignation when the issues surrounding his case were already in court. The presidential aide also explained that the NJC, in its recommendation letter to President Buhari for compulsory retirement of the suspended CJN, failed to cite the issue of alleged gross misconduct. He said the NJC’s recommendation was not appropriate with regards to the matter as it affected the suspended CJN. “There is no way the President would have acted on the letter of the NJC which recommended for compulsory retirement of the suspended CJN. They were silent on the issue of gross misconduct.

“But the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clear on the basis upon which the President can sack a CJN. They were silent on this. If the President acted on it, someone would have said that he acted against the Constitution. Some people would even say that he is looking for a short cut on the matter. “Now, he has been convicted by the CCT. The President will allow the court process to go on since Onnoghen himself has also filed an appeal at the Appeal Court,” the president’s aide noted.

The Federal Government had, in January, on the strength of a petition filed a six-count criminal charge bothering on nondeclaration of five accounts domiciled with Standard Chartered Bank on Onnoghen. About four months later, the Danladi Umar-led threeman panel of tribunal, last Thursday, convicted Onnoghen of the six-count criminal charge and consequently removed him as the CJN. The tribunal equally barred him from holding public office for 10 years for contravening the CCB laws on asset declaration for public officers. In addition, the tribunal also ordered the forfeiture of various sums of monies in naira, euros, pounds and dollars denominations found in his five bank accounts with the Standard Chartered Bank which he was said to have failed to declare.

The forfeited sums are N26.8 million, $137,700 and £13,730. However, not satisfied with the judgement, Onnoghen, who described his conviction as unconstitutional and premeditated, had approached the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division to challenge same. In his 16 grounds of appeal filed through his counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Onnoghen prayed the court for an order that the lower tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain the case in the first place. He also prayed the court to make an order that the lower tribunal ought to have recused itself from the proceedings before it.

Onnoghen equally prayed the court for an order that the charge has become an academic exercise and should set aside the conviction of the appellant. He also wants the court to set aside the order of forfeiture of assets made by the tribunal. He equally prayed the appellate court to discharge and acquit him. There are about five different appeals filed by Onnoghen pending before the Appeal Court at the moment. Earlier, before the final judgement, the tribunal had refused Onnoghen’s no case submission, application challenging the jurisdiction of the tribunal to entertain the matter and another application praying the chairman of the tribunal to recuse himself of the matter on the allegation of bias.

Credit: New Telegraph

My parents are from Sokoto and Jigawa — Atiku

My parents are from Sokoto and Jigawa — Atiku

Atiku Abubakar

By John Chuks Azu |

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar and the party have stated that he is a Nigerian by birth as his parents both have roots in the North West and is therefore qualified to seek office of the president.

Atiku and PDP stated this in reply to claims by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, filed at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal sitting at the Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday, April 18, 2019.

The APC in its reply to Atiku’s petition had claimed that he is Cameroonian by birth and not qualified to contest the office of president based on the Nigerian Constitution.

The party had claimed that Jada in Adamawa State, where Atiku was born on 25th November, 1946, was part of the Germany administered territory of British Cameroons which became a mandate territory of the League of Nations following Germany’s defeat in World War I in 1918, and opted to join Nigeria in a plebiscite in 1961.

But Atiku in a petition by his team of lawyers led by Livi Uzoukwu (SAN), stated that his father, Garba Atiku Abdulkadir was a Nigerian by birth who hailed from Wurno in present day Sokoto State, while his mother Aisha Kande was also a Nigerian who hailed from Dutse in present day Jigawa State. He said both were of Fulani tribe, indigenous to Nigeria.

“The birth of the 1st petitioner (Atiku) in Jada, in present day Adamawa State of Nigeria was occasioned by the movement of his paternal grandfather called Atiku who was an itinerant trader, from Wurno in present day Sokoto State to Jada in the company of his friend, Ardo Usman,” he said.

Atiku contended that he had served in the Nigerian Customs Service, and had been a presidential aspirant under the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992, contested and won the governorship of Adamawa State in 1999 under the PDP, and became vice president under the same platform in 1999 with President Olusegun Obasanjo and was re-elected in 2003.

He further averred that he was the recipient of the National Honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), and was the traditional title holder of Turakin Adamawa from 1982 to 2017 when he was elevated to Wazirin Adamawa.

Atiku contended that APC’s reply was incompetent because the counsel who signed it did not reflect his National Identity Number “contrary to the provisions of the Mandatory Use of National Identification Number, Regulations, 2017, made pursuant to the National Identity Management Commission Act, 2007.”

Atiku also countered Buhari’s submission that his petition challenging his qualification to contest the election was not a post-election issue which could be entertained by the tribunal, insisting that the matter was both a pre-election and post-election matter.

He said the issue of qualification of the 2nd Respondent (Buhari) to contest election to the office of president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was a mandatory statutory and/or constitutional requirement that cannot be waived by the petitioners as erroneously averred in paragraph 499 (d) of the 3rd respondent’s reply.

Credit: Daily Trust

The search for the Nigerian Dream

The search for the Nigerian Dream

Simon Kolawole

In July 2005, aboard an Egypt Air flight from Cairo to Lagos, a number of Nigerians spent hours discussing the state of the nation. We were from different parts of the country and different religions. We discussed virtually every topic — from the horrible roads to the unending importation of petroleum products, from the inhospitable hospitals to the abysmal education sector. We spoke extensively on corruption in public institutions across the country, the bazaar of contract awards, the hyperinflation of contract costs, as well as the obscene lifestyles of civil servants, politicians and political appointees. I was fully charged as passengers narrated their experiences.

Then something happened: we could not land at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. The pilot said a cargo aircraft had broken down on the runway and flights were being diverted. He announced that we were going to land in Kano. That clearly meant we would spend the night there. The first question I asked was: is there only one runway at the Lagos airport? Someone, who seemed to know a lot about the airport, said there were two but the other one was undergoing maintenance and had been shut down for a while. We were all frustrated because spending the night in Kano was not part of the plan. It added one day to our journey.

And then a young man from the Niger Delta dropped a bombshell: “All this nonsense will not stop until there is resource control! Nigeria is paying for the injustice being meted out to the Niger Delta! The rest of Nigeria will continue to suffer too!” I was shocked. The cabin initially went quiet, and suddenly we started arguing over the outburst. It soon became a bitter exchange about how the rest of Nigeria was a parasite on “our oil”, how the federal government needed to urgently organise a sovereign national conference to take a final decision on how to divide the country, and so on and so forth. I was disappointed. I gently withdrew from the discussion.

My disappointment stemmed from just one fact: for nearly two hours, we had discussed as Nigerians and reached a consensus that we had a serious leadership problem. We agreed that the political and economic mismanagement of Nigeria at all levels was at the root of our backwardness. We complained about how our council chairpersons were not up to scratch and how the governors were having fun at our expense. We agreed that the federal government was failing in its responsibilities. We went as far as saying all Nigerians, irrespective of “tribe and tongue”, were victims of this gross mismanagement. I was delighted that we could discuss so frankly without bitterness.

We collectively reasoned that ordinary Nigerians did not have problems with one another; we were just victims of elite manipulation for political purposes. We concluded that Nigerians needed a united front to confront the leadership deficit pervading the land. We all appeared to be on the same page! Then the Niger Delta “activist” dropped his bombshell — despite having been part of the “consensus” we had reached at the impromptu “national conference” on the flight. My spirit dropped. How could someone ruin such a beautiful conversation by introducing a divisive item on the agenda? Why are some people never satisfied until they play up our faultlines and frailties?

A few minutes earlier, the “activist” had been complaining about how the governors of the oil-producing states were wasting the 13% derivation payment and leaving the people of the Niger Delta poorer and poorer. He was complaining about a state governor who had bought up houses in Lagos, Abuja, UK and the US. He said some Niger Delta governors were arming militias to take out their political opponents. Virtually all of us made damaging allegations against our governors. Abruptly, the Niger Delta “activist” arrived at another conclusion that it was lack of “resource control” that led to the breakdown of an aircraft on Lagos airport runway.

In my previous article, “Nigeria and the Hegemony Ideology” (April 14, 2019), I adapted the theory of “cultural hegemony” propounded by Antonio Gramsci, the 20th century Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician, to explain how the Nigerian elite class has successfully diverted the public agenda from bad governance and, instead, got us talking about our ethnic and religious differences every minute and every second of the day. This they do through institutionalised processes, with their intellectual sidekicks and pressure groups using up prominent pages in the newspapers to discuss all issues — except the ones that impact directly on the welfare of ordinary Nigerians.

As a follow-up to my proposal that we need a new generation of “thought leaders” in the media, academia, civil society and polity that will focus public discourse on issues of development and stop blaming Lord Lugard for all that is wrong with Nigeria, I would love to argue that there are several things Nigerians already appear to agree upon which should form the basis of our engagement with the political system. If we are able to discuss these issues openly and sincerely, we may just be able to evolve the Nigerian Dream and arrive at a consensus on the best way forward. I have not met a single Nigerian who says this is the best Nigeria can be. We aspire to have a better country.

I will point out at least three plagues most of us seem to have agreed upon as impediments to the progress of Nigeria, and these cut across ethnic, religious and regional lines. The first is “leadership without conscience”. Contrary to what you might have been led to believe, we run a multi-layered leadership structure in Nigeria: federal, state and local council. Each layer has its responsibilities and failings in the underdevelopment of Nigeria. However, if we are ruled by men and women of conscience, I believe our story would have changed. A moral morass is severely plaguing Nigerian leadership — and that includes commissioners, ministers and perm secs, to name but a few.

It takes only a dead conscience to see the poor state of public utilities and look the other way. The roads are bad, so the leaders buy Prado SUVs to be able to navigate the potholes deftly rather than fix them. Kidnappers are on the prowl so the leaders get a detachment of security officers for protection rather than attack the problem frontally. The schools are bad so they send their children to the best institutions around the world rather than fix the education system. The hospitals are horrible so they treat themselves abroad rather than make them world-class. Any leader with human feeling will not look the other way: the welfare of the masses will always be priority.

The second plague is “leadership without competence”. I do not mean paper qualifications. You can be a professor and be incompetent in leadership. The skill set for political leadership is different. One basic definition of leadership is “getting people and using resources to achieve results”. How can you develop a country, a state or a council when you don’t have a “vision of society” — a mental picture of where you want to take it, the same way an architect designs a structure before you begin to build? Most of the people who end up in public office in Nigeria do not have this basic competence. And it cuts across all divides, although we often limit this to a section of Nigeria.

The third plague is “leadership without accountability”. In Nigeria, public officers have unfettered access to state resources with little or no accountability. This has led to untold corruption and waste of resources. This works mainly through collusion. The constitution allows state lawmakers to remove governors for corruption and abuse of office, but that is only on paper. A minister can be fired for corruption but how often does that happen? How many can sincerely say they scrutinise their state budgets the way they talk about federal budgets? The thought leaders would rather we discuss Sharia and true federalism. That is how the status quo wants it.

I have listed three plagues that we seem to agree are hurting the development of Nigeria. Imagine a Nigeria governed by leaders with conscience, leaders with competence and leaders with accountability at ALL levels? Imagine the direction we would be facing! Many of my critics have repeatedly accused me of campaigning against restructuring. This is a wrong reading but I have given up trying to explain myself. I believe in restructuring. My point of departure is that it is a different thing we need to restructure — our mindsets, first and foremost. We have been bewitched to think our problem is the “tribe and tongue” of a fellow victim of poor governance.

We can have a consensus on critical issues that affect the ordinary Nigerian and begin to push an all-encompassing agenda for national development. Divisive agenda will only poison public discourse, as we saw with the “activist” on the flight from Cairo. I do not seek to silence the agents of sectional agenda — everybody enjoys freedom of thought in a democracy. They probably have their own convictions that drive their arguments. But I am afraid that we cannot construct the Nigerian Dream and achieve our aspirations for as long as those who believe in playing up our differences continue to dominate the public space. Remember we all are victims of poor governance.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
MINIMUM VALUE

President Buhari has now signed the new national minimum wage of N30,000 into law. In 1999, President Obasanjo inherited N3,500 as the minimum wage and increased it to N7,500 in 2000, while President Jonathan raised it to N18,000 in 2011. Many have argued that we are a federation and each state should determine what to pay, but most — if not all — countries have a national minimum; sub-national governments and businesses can decide to pay higher. The big issue, for me, is the value of the wage. In the 1980s, when minimum wage was N125, the value was roughly $200. Today’s N30,000 is worth $80 only. But N30,000 is still better than N18,000. Consolation.

ROUGH JUSTICE?

An African proverb says once the snake became pregnant, you knew it would give birth to a ‘long’ child. That Justice Walter Onnoghen was going to be convicted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) over alleged false declaration of assets was predictable from the beginning. The CCT chairman never hid it. Ordinarily, Nigerians should be happy that even the chief justice has not escaped justice, but the smell of the alleged political persecution has so much polluted the air that Nigerians cannot even have a consensus on what is right or wrong again. But let us cheer up and take this as a wake-up call — our culture of “too big to touch” is being broken. Precedent.

Justice Onnoghen

SUBSIDY SINK

By some estimates, we spent $5 billion on fuel subsidy in 2018 alone — the highest ever. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been less than transparent in its dealings in recent years — and that is saying a lot for an organisation that historically stinks from lack of transparency. The Buhari administration has also been playing games on the subsidy issue, preferring to call it “under recovery”, as if calling a spade by another name changes anything. The time has come to have an honest national conversation on this subsidy issue, no matter how bitter it would be. Truth is: our finances are going under. Inflammable.

AND FINALLY…

Abayomi Shogunle, the oga for the Public Complaints Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU), don talk am say make we no dey blow big big grammar for police dem when dem dey ask us question. Some pipu laff when him talk am but na the truth the man talk o. Me I sabi police pipu well well bicos I don dey research dem no be today. The pipu wey we dey call officers for road think say dem oga for office no dey treat dem well. To come add insult plus injury, dem think say Nigerians no dey respect dem at all at all. Everything come join dey vex dem, so when we come dey form say we sabi Queen’s English plenty plenty, we sef dey put petrol for fire. Kasala!

Source: TheCable