Hope For Election In Nigeria

By Nofisat Marindoti

Elections in Nigeria has surprisingly taken a new turn over the years. Going by history, election in the recent Nigeria had always been a rowdy, highly manipulated one.

Apart from the 1993 Presidential Election which has been internationally adjudged as the most free and fairest election; subsequent elections in the country have been critically assessed and sometimes not anything to write about them.

The 1993 election was the first since the 1983 military coup that toppled the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari and the result was a victory for Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola of the Social Democratic Party, who defeated Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention.

However, the elections were later annulled by the then military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida, leading to a crisis that ended with Sani Abacha, also military general to assumed the power as the Head of State.

In the wake of return to civilian rule in 1999, the people’s agitation at that was for a change from military rule to civilian rule. Considering the circumstance at which the winner of 1993 presidential election died and subsequent demise of the Sani Abacha, Yoruba nation was on the frontburner as possible consideration for the presidential seat.

General Olusegun Obasanjo who happened to be in the prison at the time he was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party while Alliance for Democracy settled for Chief Olu Falae another Yoruba man.

Though Chief Olu Falae whose party lost the election to the candidate of Peoples’ Democratic Party, claimed that there the elections were flawed with lot of manipulations from the electoral umpire to favour the eventual winner of the election.

The situation was however, not different in 2003 as President Muhammadu Buhari contested with the incumbent Olusegun Obasanjo and the latter emerged the winner of the election. But not without litigations alleging rigging and manipulation by the incumbent government.

Observers from the European Union described the 2007 elections, which brought Umaru Yar’Adua, a Muslim from northern Nigeria, to power, as among the worst they had witnessed anywhere in the world. Human Rights Watch estimated that at least 300 people were killed in violence linked to the 2007 elections.

Another election that leaves a clear picture in one’s mind is the 2011 presidential election when many lives were lost and properties destroyed.

“The April elections were heralded as among the fairest in Nigeria’s history but they also were among the bloodiest,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.”

Deadly election-related and communal violence in northern Nigeria following the April 2011 presidential voting left more than 800 people dead. The victims were killed in three days of rioting in 12 northern states.

The violence began with widespread protests by supporters of the main opposition candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim from the Congress for Progressive Change, following the re-election of incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the Niger Delta in the south, who was the candidate for the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

The protests degenerated into violent riots or sectarian killings in the northern states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. Relief officials estimated that more than 65,000 people have been displaced.

Human Rights Watch estimated that in northern Kaduna State, at least 180 people and possibly more, were killed in the cities of Kaduna and Zaria and their surrounding suburbs. According to media reports and journalists interviewed by Human Rights Watch, dozens of people were also killed during riots in the other northern states.

The elections conducted in 1999, 2003 and especially 2007 were characterized by widespread malpractices such as violence, corruption and falsification of results. After the 2007 election, there was widespread disenchantment with the electoral process.

The elections held in 2003 and 2007 were preceded by widespread intra-party and inter-party violence that continued on the polling days. In a report released in 2004, the Human Rights Watch observed that:

“Both Nigeria’s federal and state elections in 2003 and local government elections 2004 were marred by serious incidents of violence, which left scores dead and many others injured … In April and May 2003, at least one hundred people were killed and many more injured.

“Majority of serious abuses were perpetrated by members or supporters of the ruling party, the people’s Democratic Party (PDP). In a number of locations, elections simply did not take place as groups of armed thugs linked to political parties and candidates intimidated and threatened voters in order to falsify results … One year later, local government elections took place across Nigeria on March 27, 2004. These elections too were characterized by serious violence and intimidation, as well as widespread fraud and rigging. There were reports of dozens of people killed before, during and after the local government elections.”

However, in recent times, there is the rising hope for free, fair and transparent elections in Nigeria with the resounding success in the last few elections starting from the 2015 presidential election when the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari won the race over former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The State of Osun Governorship election in 2014 that produced the incumbent Ogbeni Rauf Argebesola and that of the recent Anambra state guber election are shining examples too.

The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had declared the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, and incumbent Governor, Willie Obiano, as the winner of the November 18, 2017 governorship election in Anambra state.

The success of Anambra election which is the most recently conducted election in the country has shown that the Nigerian electoral system is actually getting better.

It is a reassurance that Nigeria might still have the kind of 1993 election when all Nigerians shared the spirit of brotherhood, know what they wanted and come out en mass, peacefully, to vote for what they wanted.

In the final analysis, the possibility of transiting from the third world to the first where sanctity of fairest election is predicated on the resolve of the country’s political leadership to galvanize the people so that they can buy into the rescue programme devised by their leaders. The disconnect between the leaders and the rest of the population would need to be corrected before the prospects for socio-economic and political transformation can become so much enhanced.

Nigeria is, undoubtedly, poised for great electoral accomplishments in the years ahead, given its incredible endowments in both human and material resources. However, it needs be emphasized that greatness is not to be conjured into existence but a product of painstaking and dogged pursuit of well-thought out electioneering process.

Empowerment Programmes: The Tale Of Two Senators By Adeboye Adebayo

 

Empowerment programmes, people call it poverty alleviation programmes that is meant to empower the vulnerable class of the society to be self sufficient, self reliant, self confident and live a sustainable life devoid of joblessness and begging for them to be self dependent like it is embedded in the life more abundant policy of the late sage; Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory.

 

In the present society, empowerment programmes has become a political tool in the hands of politicians, old & young, including myself to seek favour of the classless class of the society to achieve our goals in getting to a political office or to be relevant while in the office.

 

In as much as some unscrupulous political elements want to bastardize the so called political tool, it has remained a viable way of genuinely getting our people across the poverty line and that has contributed in no small measure to the recent ranking of the State of Osun as the 2nd wealthiest state in the country under the leadership of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola through the numerous empowerment and poverty alleviation programmes & policies of his administration, of many state and federal lawmakers in our great party; APC and many of our Governorship aspirants which has indeed progressively changed the classless class of many of our people in the State of Osun.

 

But of note is two events that went viral in pictures, testimonies and video last weekend on social media where two Senators had empowerment programmes for their constituents in different qualities, quantities, contents and for different reasons.

 

Distinguished Senator Babajide Omoworare representing the good people of Osun East Senatorial at the weekend constructively empowered over 100 people from Ijesha land by training them how to manufacture some of our daily used products like soaps, cake, candles, perfumes, deodorants and other daily used products. The over 100 people were trained to manufacture the products, they were given materials needed for the manufacturing of those products, they were given needed kits to start on their own and money to kick start their businesses.

 

With this, they have become producers of daily needed products within their environment with a very big room for expansion and improvement.  They individually can also become employers of two or three labourers or more each based on how well they can develop themselves and Osun people, trust us, we know how to make fortune from little opportunities since we have all naturally and practically become Omoluabi courtesy Aregbesola.

 

With this long lasting gestures from Distinguished Senator Babajide Omoworare, these 100 women can feed themselves, buy their cloths without waiting for any politician to give them rice or Ankara, they can pay their rent and send their children to schools.

 

Also at the weekend, a video become viral on the internet where another “Dinstinguished” Senator Iyiola Omisore; an impeached deputy governor in the then Osun state was distributing a bundle of 5 yards Ankara and 2000 naira to Osun women in the name of empowerment. In as much as I don’t to refer to the past when the same man was sharing “rices” on air, I want to say with high level of responsibility that this is an insult on the personality of women in the State of Osun, they are virtuous women for God’s sake that have dignity and command respect, it is absurd and very irresponsible for “Distinguished” Senator Omisore to be insulting them by taking advantage of their current situation of vulnerability  asking them to line up and be giving them 2000 naira whereas his colleague constructively empowered them and taught them how to fish for the rest of their life.

 

In comparing the two scenarios, it is deduced that the PDP & its members in Osun have still not learnt their lessons, they lack basic idea of how to govern people by providing critical infrastructures and enabling environment for business to thrive and bring about flourishing home grown economic developments which will encourage our people to contribute willingly to the growth of the state by paying their taxes as it is under the current administration of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

 

Whereas Osun APC through the initiative and benevolence of Distinguished Senator Babajide Omoworare has shown that we are really the progressive party that respect people especially women and the vulnerable, we don’t insult them by sharing ” rices” or Ankara or 2000 naira notes but we encourage them, give them necessary infrastructure, create enabling environment, support them with training and necessary facilities to stand on their own and become employers of labour in line with the thought of our father, our leader; Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu when he says “Our vision must be geared towards improving the living conditions of our people and we must encourage them to conquer poverty ”.

 

Osun APC through Babajide Omoworare has done just that over the weekend while Iyiola Omisore insulted the ever hardworking, diligent and resilient Osun Women.

 

Adeboye Adebayo is the National Publicity Secretary of Asiwaju Grassroots Foundation; AGF, Leader of Youths and a Raufist to the core.

Impunity Rides Again, By Wole Soyinka

It is happening all over again. History is repeating itself and, alas, within such an agonizingly short span of time. How often must we warn against the enervating lure of appeasement in face of aggression and will to dominate! I do not hesitate to draw attention to Volume III of my INTERVENTION Series,and to the chapter on The Unappeasable Price of Appeasement. There is little to add, but it does appear that even the tragically fulfilled warnings of the past leave no impression on leadership, not even when identical signs of impending cardiac arrest loom over the nation. Boko Haram was still at that stage of putative probes when cries of alarm emerged.Then the fashion ideologues of society deployed their distancing turns of phrase to rationalize what were so obviously discernable as an agenda of ruthless fundamentalism and internal domination. Boko Haram was a product of social inequities, they preached – one even chortled: We stand for justice, so we are all Boko Haram! We warned that – yes indeed – the inequities of society were indeed part of the story, but why do you close your eyes against other, and more critical malfunctions of the human mind, such as theocratic lunacy? Now it is happening again. The nation is being smothered in Vaseline when the diagnosis is so clearly – cancer!

We have been here before – now, ‘before’ is back with a vengeance. President Goodluck Jonathan refused to accept that marauders had carried off the nation’s daughters; President Muhammadu Buhari and his government – including his Inspector-General of Police – in near identical denial, appear to believe that killer herdsmen who strike again and again at will from one corner of the nation to the other, are merely hot-tempered citizens whose scraps occasionally degenerate into “communal clashes” – I believe I have summarized him accurately. The marauders are naughty children who can be admonished, paternalistically, into good neighbourly conduct. Sometimes of course, the killers were also said be non-Nigerians after all. The contradictions are mind-boggling.

First the active policy of appeasement, then the language of endorsement. El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, proudly announced that, on assuming office, he had raised a peace committee and successfully traced the herdsmen to locations outside Nigerian borders. He then made payments to them from state coffers to cure them of their homicidal urge which, according to these herdsmen, were reprisals for some ancient history and the loss of cattle through rustling. The public was up in arms against this astonishing revelation. I could only call to mind a statement by the same El Rufai after a prior election which led to a rampage in parts of the nation, and cost even the lives of National Youth Service corpers. They were hunted down by aggrieved mobs and even states had to organize rescue missions for their citizens. Countering protests that the nation owed a special duty of protection to her youth, especially those who are co-opted to serve the nation in any capacity, El Rufai’s comment then was: No life is more important than another. Today, that statement needs to be adjusted, to read perhaps – apologies to George Orwell: “All lives are equal, but a cow’s is more equal than others.”

This seems to be the government view, one that, overtly or by implication, is being amplified through act and pronouncement, through clamorous absence, by this administration. It appears to have infected even my good friend and highly capable Minister, Audu Ogbeh, however insidiously. What else does one make of his statements in an interview where he generously lays the blame for ongoing killings everywhere but at the feet of the actual perpetrators! His words, as carried by The Nation Newspapers: “The inability of the government to pay attention to herdsmen and cow farming, unlike other developed countries, contributed to the killings.”

The Minister continued: “Over the years, we have not done much to look seriously into the issue of livestock development in the country….we may have done enough for the rice farmer, the cassava farmer, the maize farmer, the cocoa farmer, but we haven’t done enough for herdsmen, and that inability and omission on our part is resulting in the crisis we are witnessing today.”

No, no, not so, Audu! It is true that I called upon the government a week ago to stop passing the buck over the petroleum situation. I assure you however that I never intended that a reverse policy should lead to exonerating – or appearing to exonerate – mass killers, rapists and economic saboteurs – saboteurs, since their conduct subverts the efforts of others to economically secure their own existence, drives other producers off their land in fear and terror. This promises the same plague of starvation that afflicts zones of conflict all over this continent where liberally sown landmines prevent farmers from venturing near their prime source, the farm, often their only source of livelihood, and has created a whole population of amputees. At least, those victims in Angola, Mozambique and other former war theatres, mostly lived to tell the tale. These herdsmen, arrogant and unconscionable, have adopted a scorched-earth policy, so that those other producers – the cassava, cocoa, sorghum, rice etc farmers are brutally expelled from farm and dwelling.

Government neglect? You may not have intended it, but you made it sound like the full story. I applaud the plans of your ministry, I am in a position to know that much thought – and practical steps – have gone into long term plans for bringing about the creation of ‘ranches’, ‘colonies’ – whatever the name – including the special cultivation of fodder for animal feed and so on and on. However, the present national outrage is over impunity. It rejects the right of any set of people, for whatever reason, to take arms against their fellow men and women, to acknowledge their exploits in boastful and justifying accents and, in effect, promise more of the same as long as their terms and demands are not met. In plain language, they have declared war against the nation, and their weapon is undiluted terror. Why have they been permitted to become a menace to the rest of us? That is the issue!

Permit me to remind you that, early in 2016, an even more hideous massacre was perpetrated by this same Murder Incorporated – that is, a numerical climax to what had been a series across a number of Middle Belt and neighbouring states, with Benue taking the brunt of the butchery. A peace meeting was called, attended by the state government and security agencies of the nation, including the Inspector General of Police. This group attended – according to reports- with AK47s and other weapons of mass intimidation visible under their garments. They were neither disarmed nor turned back. They freely admitted the killings but justified them by claims that they had lost their cattle to the host community. It is important to emphasize that none of their spokesmen referred to any government neglect, such as refusal to pay subsidy for their cows or failure to accord them the same facilities that had been extended to cassava or millet farmers. Such are the monstrous beginnings of the culture of impunity. We are reaping, yet again, the consequences of such tolerance of the intolerable. Yes, there indeed the government is culpable, definitely guilty of “looking the other way”. Indeed, it must be held complicit.

This question is now current, and justified: just when is terror? I am not aware that IPOB came anywhere close to this homicidal propensity and will to dominance before it was declared a terrorist organization. The international community rightly refused to go along with such an absurdity. For the avoidance of doubt, let me state right here, and yet again, that IPOB leadership is its own worst enemy. It repels public empathy, indeed, I suspect that it deliberately cultivates an obnoxious image, especially among its internet mouthers who make rational discourse impossible. However, as we pointed out at the time, the conduct of that movement, even at its most extreme, could by no means be reckoned as terrorism. By contrast, how do we categorize Myeti? How do we assess a mental state that cannot distinguish between a stolen cow – which is always recoverable – and human life, which is not. Villages have been depopulated far wider than those outside their operational zones can conceive. They swoop on sleeping settlements, kill and strut. They glory in their seeming supremacy. Cocoa farmers do not kill when there is a cocoa blight. Rice farmers, cassava and tomato farmers do not burn. The herdsmen cynically dredge up decades-old affronts – they did at the 2016 Benue “peace meeting” to justify the killings of innocents in the present – These crimes are treated like the norm. Once again, the nation is being massaged by specious rationalisations while the rampage intensifies and the spread spirals out of control. When we open the dailies tomorrow morning, there is certain to have been a new body count, to be followed by the arrogant justification of the Myeti Allah.

The warnings pile up, the distress signals have turned into a prolonged howl of despair and rage. The answer is not to be found in pietistic appeals to victims to avoid ‘hate language’ and divisive attributions. The sustained, killing monologue of the herdsmen is what is at issue. It must be curbed, decisively and without further evasiveness.

Yes, Jonathan only saw ‘ghosts’ when Boko Haram was already excising swathes of territory from the nation space and abducting school pupils. The ghosts of Jonathan seem poised to haunt the tenure of Muhammadu Buhari.

Tambuwal: Leader, Mentor, Visionary Clocks 52

By Imam Imam

Six years ago, five young Nigerians graduated from Usmanu Danfodio University with a bachelor’s degree in Law and were on the verge of missing admission into the Nigerian Law School due to lack of finances. Over dinner, it was mentioned to the then Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, of the dire situation the young ones were in and how their dreams of becoming lawyers was getting away by the hour. Without asking who they were, he directed us to contact them. Few days later, he not only paid for all they required, he ensured each of them got a laptop computer to aide their studies.

The interesting aspect of this story is that few days ago, I encountered one of them in Abuja and while thanking me for intervening at a very critical period in their lives, he expressed disappointment that none of them was able to meet with Tambuwal to thank him collectively and individually for his dream-saving gesture.

Why am I telling this story today? The lesson here is simple: some people are attracted to those who need help because it feels good to be of help at critical times. Whenever someone is hurting or suffering in some ways, kind-hearted individuals deliberately come forward to help without even wanting to be praised. This is where Tambuwal comes in.

I am sure the lesson in this encounter is not lost on Tambuwal himself. This is because his life does not lend itself to embellishments – it is an inspirational and captivating study of the triumph of mind over matter. As we mark his birthday today, we will all meditate on this lesson, and draw the positives that will continue to illuminate paths in our relationship with others.

In the last 52 years, Tambuwal has left no one in doubt about his capacity for fair and equitable representation. Over the years, he has demonstrated ability to meet with the needs and demands of the people that he encountered. His profound achievements as Governor in the Seat of the Caliphate have drawn praises, honour and recognition from far and near.

In his role as the Number One citizen of Sokoto, Tambuwal has raised the ante of purposeful leadership and good governance. By a magic of work, ethics and sincerity of purpose, his administration has prioritized areas whose importance will continue to have enduring impact on the life of the citizenry. Such sectors include education, agriculture, health, women and youth empowerment, energy, poverty eradication and revamping of the entire governance structure.

His administration is making positive impact in public schools by building new classrooms, supplying of chairs, tables and textbooks for students, delivering new buses to schools, and flagged off program to enroll 1.4 million new kids into schools in the next 12 months. All these led to a stamp of commendation by UNICEF after the number of out of school children dropped by half in the state in two years.

In agriculture, 140 women and pensioners were trained in fish farming and supported with grants and starter-packs of tanks and fish feeds to start businesses. The government gave out 981,000kg of improved rice seeds to farmers free of charge to support them, and after ir introduced wheat farming to the state for the first time, it gave 6000 bags of 100kg wheat seeds to farmers, free of charge.

To ensure sustainability, promote new technology and enhance private sector participation in farming, the state government and Dangote Industries Ltd started a rice outgrower scheme at Goronyo and Middle Rima Valley. 1000 farmers were engaged for the pilot project in 2017 with 500 hectres of land committed. For the 2018 farming season, 2000 hectres will be used with the number of farmers also increasing.

All these efforts were complemented by distribution of fertilizer, water pumping machines and pesticides. The result is increase in yield and more wealth and prosperity for Sokoto farmers.

The same team work and strength of character led to these successes replicated in all the sectors of the economy of the state.

Tambuwal’s approach to leadership is defined by the vision to build people and enduring structures that can stand the test of time. While most are admired because they move others to follow their example, Tambuwal belongs to the category of a few who are special enough to encourage others to find their own unique path. Just by being who he is, he has sparked many to be who they want to be. Through thoughtful leadership, great vision and sincerity, all parts of Sokoto have felt the positive impact of his activities. And for that, if for nothing else, he deserves to called a leader who inspires.

In this season of politics, many, especially closer home, have deliberately chosen to misunderstand Tambuwal. But as Ralph Waldo Emerson said decades ago, “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”

With time, people will understand the fact that Tambuwal is indeed a role model for all those seeking to understand how to make impact with their lives. And on this momentous day of his 52nd birthday, I thank him for his service, and wish him a happy birthday.

*Imam, the spokesman to Governor Tambuwal, wrote from Sokoto

A New Year Prayer For Osun!

Goodbye 2017! May your soul rest in peace! Welcome 2018, the year Pastor Enoch Adeboye has prophesied would be “far better … for the country.” While the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration sees 2018 as “pivotal” in Nigerians’ quest for “Change”, Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua describes it as a year of battles, a “warfare where the serious-minded will be victorious.” In the State of Osun, it is better referred to as the Year of the Politics of Power, when the Rauf Aregbesola-led government will relinquish power, in consonance with the provisions of the Nigerian constitution of 1999 (as amended). Coincidentally, Adeboye’s message of hope came on a day National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced Nigeria’s economy’s final exit from recession, following its contraction for five consecutive quarters.

Like Adeboye, whose target on assumption of office as General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) was to “put a church within five minutes of every person on earth,” Aregbesola assumed power at a time things were not looking up for dear state. But, being a man on a mission to succeed, the governor promised responsive, responsible and capable government in strict compliance with the Six Point Integral Action Plan. Commendably, more than 75 per cent success has been recorded.

Within seven years in office, he has added new, state-of-the-art buildings to existing school structures and refurbished several others. He has constructed more than 1000 kilometres of roads and empowered several thousands of our youth. The Health sector has benefitted immensely from the contents of his administration’s large heart while Agriculture has also had a feel of the efficiency of his intellect. Aregbesola touched the lives of the widows and people with special needs were not left out. To demonstrate his fairness to all religions, this administration has since 2013 been declaring ‘Isese Day’ as a public holiday which allows advocates of traditional religion to come together for their annual celebration. Leadership is described as the ability to transform dreams into realities. However, Nigeria’s search for relevance in a hurting world remains one of a compartmentalised bag of mixed fortunes where winners embrace the interesting accent of ‘Hallelujah’ while losers heap their misfortune on marginalisation.
The North is right at the moment infested with the dysentery of terrorism and has as such not been able to recognize its location while the South is bogged down by the stench of restructuring and has all along been all grunt, no bacon. The corrupted illogicality and the inability of the judiciary to serve as a moral compass for a nation that is stuck in a rut, coupled with the generation of a whirlwind of identity politics among the electorate, are some of the tragic manifestations of our beingness as Nigerians. Why is Nigeria this fated? First and foremost, money is scarce in circulation. Secondly, crude oil is in short supply, thereby leading to a sharp reduction in oil prices, and … accruals. Thirdly, crude oil as the cash cow is fast approaching a state of depletion and uselessness! Fourthly, once upon a regime, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) gluttonously ate all of Nigeria’s honey as if it already had a premonition of defeat in 2015.

Fifthly, from the look of things, it’s as if the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) got it wrong in terms of election promises. Little wonder the party has been scavenging for solutions to Nigeria’s multi-dimensional problems! Added to the above is lack of political appointments into offices by the party in power. Last but not the least is the opposition’s satanic grip on most of those offices expected to have long been taken over by APC. All these have not only made empowerment among party members and loyalty to the party thin on the ground, they have also continued to make 2019 look as if it’s 1000 years away.

But God wills us to “give thanks in all circumstances” and “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” So, Lord, we pray: in this New Year 2018, let Osun’s land yield its harvest and let openness, good health, employment opportunities, security of lives and property define our state. Create in us a new spirit; a new spirit that recognises worth and appreciates performance. Teach our leaders to understand that satisfaction of the people encompasses the acknowledgment of significant accomplishments and the utilisation of personal prudence. Grant them the wisdom to know that fulfillment yields smooth work, better relations and greater achievements and that enjoyment helps in restoring lost and unexploited thoughts, reciprocated alertness and proficiency. Consolation of Israel, rest the souls of the faithful departed and discourage the living from having to seek the dead among the living (Luke 24:5). Instead, teach us always to remember that death is “only a horizon” and that “a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.”

Jehovah Rapha, the socio-economic waves which have been beating Nigeria to different, unimagined shores has considerably impacted its federating units. Take for example, my state is now Nigeria’s 13th most secured state. In my view, this is not too good for a state that is now her 2nd richest state. The God Most High, who raised the lost axe-head (2 Kings 6: 1-7), correct our steps and let there be abundance in Osun. Disabuse the dreamers and the adventurous of their using the state as a front for unnecessary confrontation between God and glamour.

El Elyon, You who, in Your omniscience, arranged for a coin to be found in a miraculous way (Matthew 17: 24-27), express Your divinity and spiritual power again in Osun’s state of finances and lead enemies of development up out of their poorly-mapped seas so that they will stop using the state’s ‘within manageable level’ debt stock as a tool for the national salary impasse. By Your power, deprive the do-nothing-but-rail-from-morning-to-night elements the privilege of mistaking a dimple for a pimple whenever issues relating to social welfare and ‘stomach infrastructure’ are raised.

Finally, Lord, You’re the God who chooses the “foolish things of the world to confound the wise,” We beseech Thee: lead us to elect a worthy successor to the incumbent governor and let not our land return to those locust years of insidious logic of uncertainty and ravenous culture of impunity.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace in Nigeria!
Komolafe wrote in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State.

Buhari: Between Yesterday And Tomorrow, By Reuben Abati

I wrote the following piece, presented in italics, shortly after the postponement of the 2015 Presidential elections. It is important that the reader approaches it with an open mind, with an understanding of the context of its construction. The piece, titled “Buhari’s One Chance Campaign” never got published. One of my colleagues to whom I showed it advised against its publication. His point was that we should remain professional and not get involved in partisan politics.  A member of our digital media team was so excited he wanted the article published. Anyhow, the older team member won the argument. But in the light of recent developments and the fortunes of the Buhari administration since 2015, the article has proved prophetic.

In 2015, the Buhari campaign train was so hypnotic most Nigerian voters jumped onto it. Less than three years later, the same persons are struggling to jump off the train. Out of the 15 million persons who voted for Buhari in 2015, millions of them have lost their jobs. Today, the strongest and most vocal supporters of the Buhari proposition are all so embarrassed they have chosen to keep quiet. One of them is now a self-appointed referee of Nigerian democracy going about with a RED CARD.  A former Minister of Petroleum who promised that under Buhari, petrol would be N40 per litre has been wisely quiet. A senior citizen who asked Nigerians to stone the Buhari team if they did not deliver in two years has not been heard from for a while. On Twitter, and the rest of social media, many Nigerians are wielding stones and throwing them at will.

The tomorrow that we looked forward to yesterday is now so laughable if not saddening. The country is in a worse shape than it was in 2015. The same economy that used to be one of the most stable in Africa is now in tatters; insecurity has worsened, yesterday’s hope has turned into despair. Yesterday’s supporters have become today’s critics of the government. There are many lessons involved: how the Nigerian intelligentsia gathered dust in their faces, and how the people betrayed themselves.  In 2015, here is what I wrote and kept:

BUHARI’S “ONE CHANCE” CAMPAIGN:

“Ordinarily, a busy bus station in Lagos is the headquarters of nightmare. Getting from one stop to the other could be an uphill task especially during rush hours. In those days when I journeyed from one end of the city to the other in Molue buses, I had to, like nearly everyone else in the same situation, learn how to jump into a moving vehicle, how to descend while it was in motion and how not to end up under the wheels as many routinely did in our Alakuko-Alagbado side of the city.

But the “One Chance” always seemed, at first encounter, like a God-sent. If you lived in Lagos in the 80s and 90s, you’d probably remember those buses referred to as “One chance” and the dubious notoriety that they eventually came to acquire. Once you heard the bus conductor screaming “One Chance…one chance…enter, enter.. ko si change ma wole o”, you knew immediately that with only one seat left to make up the full passenger load, your long wait at the bus stop had come to an end.

It was natural to jump into the bus. It promised a change of circumstances and offered hope.  It was also reassuring because you could actually see a number of people already seated inside the bus. And of course, it was ready to move. But with time, and this is the rub of it:  the “One Chance” acquired real notoriety. The phrase itself has since become a footnote in motor park lexicography, following the realization that a “one chance” trip could be a journey to despair.  Not every “One Chance” bus was necessarily bad in those days, but the phrase became a metaphor for impending evil, and the label stuck.

It became synonymous with a vehicle of deceit deployed by criminals who posed as transporters and passengers and lured anxious commuters into their trap. The passengers in the bus were practised con-artists who would eventually reveal their true nature. The driver could be an agent of the real gangsters waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting victim. Lives were lost, many ended up in ritual dens, never to be seen again, women were raped, the luckier victims were dispossessed of valuables and pushed out of the vehicle.

As such frightening tales made the rounds, people became wary of “One Chance buses”; they became more careful in responding to the calls of urgent movement and deceptive completeness. They learnt to look before boarding.  They learnt that useful lesson about the contrast between appearance and reality. What you see is not always what is. When the illusion clears, the residue is sheer regret. And so, to every “one chance” call, caution became advisable.

The leading opposition party in the 2015 Presidential elections, the All Progressives Congress (APC) reminds me of this “One Chance” phenomenon. General Buhari is driving a “One Chance” bus, and trying to lure unsuspecting Nigerians to certain despair. His passengers are a motley of disaggregated, conflicted persons, looking for innocent preys. Their conductor is a waltzing, energy-drink-guzzling hustler who is driven by malicious desperation. With drums and dance, and a song, they have managed to generate hype, hoopla and hysteria at every bus stop. The unwary may have boarded the bus, not even knowing where it is headed. Those who seem to believe that a democracy also guarantees the right to be misled, have jumped into that tragic “one chance bus”.

They have been told their driver is unqualified, lacks a mastery of the road; he doesn’t even have a licence. Happily enough, they are all beginning to get the message. I have heard some of the once- hypnotized respond that they actually wouldn’t mind if the fellow brandishes a NEPA receipt and calls it a driver’s license. This is a strange kind of hypnotism; and that is how it works: it is the first cousin of delusion. No wonder, every attempt to get the driver to take a driving test has also failed.

The conductor is also hyperactive, gripped by strangely high spirits, having customarily taken a quantum of same.  He urges the driver to keep his feet on the accelerator, and yet, the last time this man drove a vehicle was in the other century. But the hashish is so strong, its effluence so consuming that the passengers have failed to see that their driver is already falling asleep on the steering.

He is the oldest driver in the motor park, but he wears stylish clothes to make him look young by all means. His bones are weak; his grip on the steering is failing. He often forgets the name of his assistant. He can hardly remember the name of his conductor.  And don’t bother to ask him about road signs.  If only those rushing into his “One Chance” bus would take a look at the passengers and the conductor: the tell-tale signs are not hidden.

A certain kind of people is easily deceived by appearances. It happens often on our expressways, where all you need to do to mislead other motorists is to suddenly make a U-turn in the middle of the road, and face the opposite lane. Wave your hands to suggest anything and mumble some mumbo-jumbo such as “Change, Change”; almost instinctively, every other motorist will slow down and begin to stare at you for signs, and they will obey your cue.

They will even scramble to do so, until a logjam is created. The madness could continue for close to an hour until a reasonable man would venture out in the proper direction of the original route. Gradually, others will return to the same route until it is realized that they had initially been misled, scammed, misinformed, deceived.

This is exactly the tragic nature of the Buhari campaign in this election. Apart from the hotly-contested 1959 and 1964 General elections, which unfortunately sowed some of the seeds of an eventual blow-out, no other general election in recent memory has been this fiercely contested. Before February 14, emotions had reached a boiling point in Nigeria. This is probably why the postponement of the elections has been a blessing in disguise. If the pre-February 14 tension had run its course, with the country tottering dangerously on the brink, the outcome could have been disastrous for the polity or whosoever emerged as the winner. Elections in themselves do not guarantee peace or stability; they could in fact, become the catalyst for dissolution. This is why caution is advisable.

But the Buhari campaign group and its supporters are incautious, driven as they are solely by narrow interests, unbridled passion and phantom triumphalism. For an election that has not yet taken place, they are already claiming victory, and threatening chaos if Buhari does not win. Their attempt to force their candidate and ambition on Nigerians as an inevitable outcome only points to sinister motives. This is their undemocratic strategy with which they are luring the unwary into a tragic “One Chance” bus. Such shamanistic tactics, and the hideous propaganda propelling it, do not bode well for our country.

Buhari was unelectable in 2003, 2007, 2011, and he is even far more unelectable now. In his previous failed attempts, he was at least his own candidate, but this time, he is at best some other people’s Special Purpose Vehicle; that is why he comes across more in this campaign like a mannequin under the control of seen and unseen masters with hidden agenda.

Nobody should seek the Presidency of Nigeria as an SPV.  I argue that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, apparently the owner of the APC, wants a Buhari Presidency because he imagines it will transform him, not Professor Yemi Osinbajo, not anyone else, into the most influential political figure in Yorubaland. The “treacherous” Rotimi Amaechi is busy dancing up and down because for him, a Buhari Presidency will enable him settle scores, with his imaginary enemies. Festus Odimegwu, who was booted out as Chairman of the National Population Commission for making racist comments about Nigerians of Northern extraction wrote a Buhari endorsement article recently, it was actually a masked revenge piece. They will all be disappointed. And if General Buhari wants to be President, he needs to come across as his own man.

President Jonathan is his own man. All the self-proclaimed, would-have-been Godfathers to his presidency have on their own committed political suicide. He is tested, healthy, strong, focused and committed. He has campaigned on the basis of his record of achievements and the phenomenally positive transformation that Nigeria has witnessed under his watch in the past four years: the revived railways sector, the strengthened education sector, greater emphasis on youth, women empowerment and inclusive governance, a robust, economy, massive job creation, expansion of the space for human freedoms, and a purposeful, engaging campaign for a second term.

In comparison, all I see on the Buhari side, is a lot of mean tactics, hate-driven propaganda, shallow costuming, third-party outsourcing of leadership, and manifold deception. Their attraction is that of a “One Chance” bus, not concrete vision, not change or progress, not leadership. The electorate is beginning to see through their charade. Their “One Chance” bus is now being seen for what it is:  and it is precisely why the electorate will vote massively for Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on March 28.”

That is the article that never was. But here it is, three years later, unedited, fully reflective of the mood in which it was written. I leave you to draw your own conclusions. But this much can be said: no matter how challenging the last three years may have been, we can only hope that we have all learnt our lessons about the complexity of Nigerian politics and the length of the politics of acrimony. Looking forward to tomorrow, President Buhari can still change the narrative and prove all Damascus-moment critics wrong. I am optimistic that he can. He should.

 

1984 Again? ( The case of the Elombah’s), By Akeem Soboyede

In George Orwell’s novel, 1984, a larger-than-life “Big Brother” superintends over the affairs of subjugated members of society. He is aided in this nefarious role by minions who staff an odious “Thought Police” that victimizes and tortures perceived adversaries of the state, even for alleged “mind crimes” (however plausible), among other cruelties.

In Major-General Muhammadu Buhari’s Nigeria of the year 1984, the term that ruled the land was “Decree 4”, a nomenclature for a draconian piece of military legislation that prescribed jail terms for journalists who published what the-then military government headed by the country’s present leader literally perceived as “uncomfortable truths”, no matter the veracity of such reports. Two Nigerian journalists at that time felt the decree’s cruel sting when they were tried and jailed under its martial fiats.

The application of Decree 4 and other draconian edicts under the Buhari military government only helped build a reputation for the man who would later become Nigeria’s democratically-elected President as a Big Brother-type dictator who brooked neither criticism nor counsel, however factual or well-intentioned. That image, of course, was not wholly-deserved: it subsequently came to light after the demise of the Buhari military administration that many of his influential subordinates in the same military government he led actually trampled—and very visibly so—on the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens in order to literally give the tough-looking leader a bad name in order to hang him later with a successful coup d’etat.

Which they did.  Anyone remembers the well-publicized raid ostensibly “ordered” by Head of State Buhari on the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s house in Apapa, Lagos in 1984?

While this may yet be a far-fetched rationalization, it appears certain Fifth Columnists are also now hard at work in the incumbent, democratically-elected government of President Muhammadu Buhari.  Only a few days ago one Daniel Elombah published a quite riveting piece (which I recommend to everyone who has not yet read it) on the acts of intimidation, torture and false imprisonment, among others, that he and other members of his family suffered in the early hours of New Year’s Day, at the jackboothands of certain members of the Nigerian Police.

According to Elombah, who is a London-based lawyer he, his brothers and other members of the family were rudely roused from their sleep in the most raucous and indecent manner, without even the simply courtesy of being told why they were subjected to such treatment by agents of the Nigerian state. Leaving their targets’ aged mother, wives and little children alarmed and hypertensive in their jackboots’ wake, the armed state agents who intruded into the Elombah country home then forced the brothers into vehicles that traversed 500 bumpy and treacherous miles from that home in the Eastern part of Nigeria, before finally coming to a halt in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.

According to Daniel Elombah’s account, further interrogations by their state abductors revealed the “New Year Day arrests” had allegedly been ordered by Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris. The latter was allegedly piqued by a publication that had allegedly appeared in an online medium, Elombah.com, founded and run by Tim Elombah, one of the brothers abducted during the dawn raid on New Year’s Day.  Subsequent explanations that the said offensive publication was neither penned by Tim Elombah nor published on his website as alleged by his traducers were discounted by the Police interrogators, who then proceeded to charge Tim Elombah with many crimes—including alleged blackmail—while parading him in handcuffs.

Acts such as the ones described in detail by Daniel Elombah in his account of his family’s nightmarish experience certainly do no credit to the government of a retired military general who, before his Phoenix-like rise to the Presidency of Nigeria in 2015, humbly and creditably declared himself a “reformed Democrat”.  It is certainly not democratic nor an exemplar of a reformed past to scale the walls of the home of citizens engaged in peaceful slumber, not give an immediate reason for their mass abduction masquerading as “arrests” and then arraign one of them on charges that evidently do not even satisfy the basic elements of such an indictment.

I recall that sometime in 2015, not too long after the swearing-in of President Buhari sequel to his well-deserved victory in the presidential polls earlier that year, I wrote an article drawing attention to the clear-and-present danger represented by certain anti-media laws and practices in Nigeria, with the focus in that article being the cynically-named Cybercrime (Prohibition) Act of 2015, particularly Section 24 (1) (a) (b) of that law. The Act had been used to corrall and unjustly-imprison two online media practitioners at that time.

This particularly-vile legislation had been promulgated and signed into law in the waning days in office of former President Goodluck Jonathan and was clearly aimed at Nigerian journalists who have since revolutionized the use of online media in shining the light on rampant acts of iniquity that hold sway in Nigeria, especially among the archetypal “high and mighty”, particularly the politically-connected.

This piece of legislation specifically seeks to punish any online publication or information that is “…grossly offensive…or knowing to be false [causes] annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult…” In retrospect, that particular provision could have been lifted verbatim from the even more odious Decree 4.

Ironically the same former President Jonathan has directly and through the activities of such proxies as his ex-media aide Reno Omokri, largely used articles and rebuttals published on online media to burnish his personal image and the acts of his government that have come under intensive and very negative scrutiny since he departed office!

I equally believe much of such defenses and rebuttals launched by Omokri and others on Jonathan’s behalf since May 29, 2015 have not only been perceived as “false” by many now ensconsed in the corridors of power in Nigeria, the latter have also undoubtedly found the bulk of such missives (especially those by Omokri) “annoying”, Inconveniencing”, “dangerous”, “obstructive”, insulting”, etc.

Even worse is the growing trend by those who wield any kind of power and influence in Nigeria to proclaim any publication which seeks to expose their iniquitous acts as “blackmail”. The IGP allegedly used that term to describe the publication he supposedly used as an excuse to detain the Elombah brothers and haul one of them before a Court on patently-dubious charges. It is equally the term-of-art that has been variously employed to justify the apparent and continuing physical, mental and psychological torture of blogger Kemi Olunloyo, who remains in detention as of this writing for publishing materials numerous third parties who should know have testified to their veracity or have acknowledged as substantially true.

Needless to add, spurious accusations of “blackmail” against those who expose or seek to shine a spotlight on the illegal / corrupt acts of public office holders and the personal malfeasance of individuals who hold public office or are well-connected should not be used to innoculate such against exposure of their wrongs.

The “reformed Democrat” in Aso Rock (and I do believe President Buhari really is one)  should take action to stem this growing tide of public officials and well-connected private citizens who use the instrumentalities of the Nigerian state (and in many cases, ill-gotten personal resources) to harass, assault, jail or otherwise injure patriots who do their bit to create a Nigeria of which we can all be proud.

— Soboyede is a US-based attorney.

Nigerian Air Force Bombards Sambisa, Kills Many

The Nigerian Air Force revealed it gave a heavy blow to terrorists earlier in the week, when it bombarded Boko Haram structures in Sambisa Forest.

A statement by Nigerian Air Force spokesman, Air Vice Marshal Olatokunbo Adesanya, in Abuja, yesterday, said many of the terrorists were killed in the renewed clearance operation begun on January 3, 2018.

He said the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole dropped series of bombs on Boko Haram during an air interdiction with Nigerian Army troops. The Army coordinated ground operations. It released several rockets from its multi-barrel rocket launcher. Many of these hit the insurgents, killing some of them and causing a few survivors to flee in disarray.

He added that on the same day, the Air Task Force conducted air interdiction on another hideout near Camp Zairo.

He explained that the ongoing combined clearance operations by the Nigerian Air Force and the Nigerian Army were aimed at preventing full-scale resurgence of Boko Haram in Sambisa.

In the same vein, the Nigerian Army said it killed many Boko Haram members belonging to the Mamman Nur faction, while several others surrendered in the Lake Chad region.

Recall that the Nigerian Army, on Friday, said it injured the factional leader of the group, while one of his wives was killed.

A statement by Deputy Director Public Relations, Operation Lafiya Dole, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the continued onslaught on Boko Haram enclaves in the Lake Chad region caused over 1000 members of the group, including high-ranking commanders to surrender.

Time To Rupture The Vultures – A Display Of Self Denial, Semantic Arrogance And Bad ‘Belle’ By Isiaka Owoade

The article by Mr Remi Oyeyemi titled ‘Osun State – Time to Rupture the Vultures’ is an award winner in self-denial, semantic arrogance bad ‘belle’. A futile effort to deny the obvious gains of democracy spread across the state, an ego trip in word-play employing so many words and yet saying nothing, an indulgence in over-generalisations, unsupported allegations and the use of uncouth words and logic characteristic of beer parlour debates.  The article was apparently written to achieve two objectives, (i) to abuse the person of Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and (ii) to denigrate the landmark achievements that have been recorded by the administration.  In his attack on the person of Ogbeni, Oyeyemi came across as a petty-minded wailer out to impress his co-travelers with his unabashed use of gutter language, lacking in tact, decorum and respect for the reading public.  My purpose here is not to join issues with Mr Oyeyemi for abusing Mr Governor as I am sure Ogbeni’s skin must be by now so thick to absorb anything the likes of Oyeyemi throw at him.

Oyeyemi touched on raw nerves with his brazen effrontery attempting to rubbish the widely acclaimed policies and projects executed by this administration especially in the education sector. Rather than providing evidence to prove his ‘years of locust’ metaphor, Oyeyemi chose to regale us with his mastery of meaningless high-falluting words in a ploy to confound the poor reader.  Because he was actually out to lie, he struggled and succeeded only in revealing his abject lack of knowledge of the socio-economic dynamics and developmental needs of Osun.  In his odium-laden description of Ogbeni’s administration as the years of locust, he failed to tell us which previous administration was his benchmark years of development. In education which Oyeyemi singled out for derision, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has recorded  ground-breaking achievements in all aspects, infrastructure, teachers’ morale, students conduct and performance, enrolment and retention.  I challenge Mr Oyeyemi to deny the under-listed achievements in education.

Twenty-three Elementary Schools have been built, each 1000 capacity.Twenty-two Middle Schools have been built, each 1000 capacity.Eleven High Schools are at various stages of completion. Six have been completed commissioned and in use. The High Schools have capacities for 3000 students.All the new schools are state-of-the-art and compare favourably with schools in the western world. Aregbesola believes our students deserve the best.In addition to building new schools, forty dilapidated schools were stripped, refurbished and equipped.  The schools are all over the place.The school feeding programme was expanded. 300000 elementary school pupils are fed lunch every school day. Over 210 million dishes have been served since Ogbeni’s arrival. The objective is to increase enrolment and retention.  This objective is being achieved.In the 10 years that preceeded Aregbesola, the best WASCE result was 15.7% in 2010. The result for 2017 is 44.6%. A whopping 184% improvement in performance which the likes of Oyeyemi pretend not to see.  We are not where we want to be yet, but there is no doubt that the investment in education is beginning to pay off.Decentralisation of education management by the creation of three district offices each headed by a Tutor-General of Permanent Secretary grade.  As a means of boosting the morale of teachers, the TGs were appointed from the principals.The establishment of Osun Education Quality Assurance and Morality Enforcement Agency.The establishment of Osun Education Marshal Corps to help eradicate truancy.

 

These were achievements recorded in the space of seven years which Oyeyemi has so uncharitably labelled as years of locust. It is either Oyeyemi does not reside in Osun or he is in self-denial, playing the proverbial ostrich with his head permanently buried in the sand and so cannot see nor appreciate these achievements which have been unparalled in the annals of Osun. 

 

Oyeyemi made reference to WAEC results league table and the seeming low rank of Osun on it.  This is a needless table WAEC compiles every three years despite the fact that the examination conditions and supervisory regime vary considerably across the nation. It is no secret that ‘miracle centres’ are all over the place where the integrity of the examination is known to be seriously compromised. Tolerance to these miracle centres differ from state to state. How can the results be comparable when the examination conditions can not be guaranteed to be uniform.  Here in Osun, we do not use WAEC league table for any purpose.  If Oyeyemi wants to compare Osun basic education with other states in Nigeria, a more credible league table is the JAMB league of university admissions by state. Osun has always been in the top three of this table for the past six years. This information is publicly available – simply Google Jamb admissions.

 

Mr Oyeyemi bombarded his readers with vacuous generalisations, alleging this and that without an iota of proof.  He initially sounded altruistic and came across as a patriotic defender of the people’s interest. Sadly, he eventually revealed his true self in his concluding paragraphs as nothing but a desperate opposition politician believing that disparaging the incumbent administration using vulgar, abusive and emotional words will get him the throne. Osun people are far wiser than that.  He concluded his diatribe by admonishing his cohorts to prepare for a show down should the 2018 elections not be favourable for them.  We are waiting.

Dr Isiaka Ayodele Owoade is the Executive Chairman, Osun Education Quality Assurance and Morality Enforcement Agency

 

PDP: The Imposition, The Implosion! By SOC Okenwa

The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) ruled Nigeria for sixteen uninterrupted years — from 1999 to 2015. Today, having lost the presidential poll of 2015, it is struggling as a major opposition party in the country. The ‘umbrella’ is too big to accommodate everyone, even the strange bedfellows. In the PDP one can find all manner of folks — politicians, contractors, swindlers, glorified criminals, and killers. In the party you can find gubernatorial riggers and professional coup-plotters; prostitutes and ten-percenters. There, it is easy to count members responsible enough to make any list of honor anywhere. But they have rabble-rousers and spin-doctors in their midst too. They boast of those who can talk the talk and defend the indefensible. In the PDP there is enough room for reprobates and shameless elements.

In any democracy worth its name opposition to the ruling party is allowed but such opposition must be organized and responsible enough to be taken seriously. To oppose responsibly you must be both constructive and sound in your arguments providing alternatives to programmes and policies of the administration you want to be changed or replaced. You must show that you are a better party and if given the opportunity to serve you would be a better manager of men and resources at your disposal.

Losing the 2015 presidential election to the then opposition party (now the ruling party) All Progressives Congress (APC) seemed to spell inevitable doom for the PDP but they have rebounded or so it seemed. After the APC deserved victory in the presidential poll confusion had set in in the PDP and that confusion is still visible even today –two and a half years down the line. With Goodluck Jonathan as President then and seeking a second mandate corruption was a national staple and slush funds were thrown into the pre-election campaign leading to the discovery of both Dasuki-gate and Diezani-gate. Sambo Dasuki played a Santa Claus while Diezani Allison-Madueke played a Jezebel — all tailored towards winning a second undeserved tenure for GEJ by hook or by crook.

When you combine the two ‘gates’ (measuring billions of Dollars on a staggering fiscal scale) you come to the conclusion that GEJ ‘achieved’ something ‘great’ indeed during his years in Aso Villa. He empowered the privileged and abandoned the less-privileged; he produced millionaires and billionaires with some doing practically nothing to deserve what they got. He surrounded himself with the ‘best’ materials in the sleazy business of governance Nigeriana.

The implosion in the PDP never started as recently as the national convention of the party held at the Eagle Square in Abuja late last year. Soon after losing the presidential election defections and internal wranglings took over. The leadership crisis rocked the party with two factions slugging it out and claiming to be more PDP than the other. Litigation after litigation the Ahmed Makarfi and Modu Sherrif groups pulled all the legal tricks to maintain a semblance of superiority. But things had fallen apart and the center could no longer hold. It took the supreme intervention of the Supreme Court to bring the dispute to a definitive end. The Makarfi-led group trounced the Sherrif ‘rebels’ and sent them packing from the Wadata Plaza.

Now the national elective convention of last December had come and gone with winners and losers emerging. Before the convention, we had many pretenders to the chairmanship position including the former Governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel; former military administrator and Lagos-based chieftain of the party Olabode George; the Chairman of DAAR Communications High Chief Raymond Dokpesi; Prince Uche Secondus and Prof. Tunde Adeniran.

According to the information following the conclusion of the Abuja event Prof. Adeniran, who lost out placing a distant second to the eventual ‘winner’ Prince Secondus, walked out of the event even before the proclamation of official results. He claimed later that the election was manipulated. Dr. Dokpesi, too, had initially refused to recognize the outcome citing imposition of candidates on the delegates. But he later congratulated the victor.

Among the six that had vied for the position of chairman of the party three had withdrawn from the race leaving Uche, Dokpesi, and Adeniran to slug it out. In the end, Secondus was proclaimed triumphantly over his rivals. But before the voting could even commence the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike and his Ekiti State counterpart, Ayo Fayose had hit the convention ground with what they termed “Unity List” containing the names and positions reserved for favored candidates. After all said and done it became clear that the so-called ‘unity list’ had prevailed! Almost ninety percent of the selected positions were imposed on delegates in a sham election that demonstrated yet again the lack of internal democracy in the PDP.

Governors Wike and Fayose had sought desperately to hijack the PDP at the national level and it appeared that they had succeeded in doing so by the Secondus ‘unity list’ imposition. It remains to be seen however if this huge victory would stand the test of time given the recent discord. Following the emergence of the national leadership of the PDP, division had set in with nay-sayers growing in number and strength. These ‘rebels’ in the PDP establishment, unhappy over the ‘unity-list’ imposition, had risen to create another rival political party called the “Fresh PDP” (FPDP). To demonstrate their seriousness they have even opened up a secretariat in Abuja!

Those behind the formation of the new unregistered party are not yet fully known but It is led by one Prince Emmanuel Obi-Nwosu. Other members included Alhaji Hassan Adamu, Chief Olusola Akindele, Chief Godwin Duru and Franklyne Edede. The splinter group re boasting of the high and mighty as its members saying that sooner than later their names would be made public. Their primary grouse remained the imposition of Uche Secondus and other principal officers during the convention at the Eagle Square.

In politics, imposition could lead to implosion and implosion to a division. And such division is always difficult to resolve since reconciliation is as hard as hell. With selfish interests and egos waiting to be satisfied or massaged such political organization in the eye of the storm finds itself besieged as it were.

While the PDP led by Secondus has conveniently accused the ruling APC party of being behind the splitting in the PDP there is no evidence to buttress such point or back such accusation. If the PDP were not able to manage its affairs as regards elective office convention then the ruling party should be left out of it all. It was not the APC that produced and distributed the ‘unity list’ during the convention unless the PDP is telling us that Wike and Fayose are APC members! Nothing is impossible in the Nigerian politics! Today Atiku Abubakar is no longer with the APC while Musliu Obanikoro has left the PDP.

The PDP is dreaming to return to power at the center next year. Given the past and present political circumstances and the probable political permutations of the future, the possibility exists of a resurgence come 2019. But to pull it off all hands must be on deck. Before the 2019 general elections, however, the PDP must resolve the festering internal crisis if it hopes to position itself for victory both at the states and national levels. Otherwise, another spectacular failure awaits it in 2019.

SOC Okenwa

[email protected]

Okada Accidents And A Wailing President, By Tunde Odesola

Lightning shone into the black night, forewarning about the fast-approaching downpour. Then thunder bellowed from behind the ominous clouds, forearming mortals to scamper to safety for the gods of the sky were about to embrace their earthly counterparts in a seasonal relationship that multiplies the toil of the farmer.

To be caught outside your home in this type of an unkind weather is ‘baba nla’ bad luck. Atmospheric commotion; dust replaced air, swishing and filling all mortal crevices; eyes, ears, noses, mouths, all. With my index finger, I rubbed dust out of my eyes and also blew my nose. Ah! Thank God, I didn’t have my laptop with me. Oh, wait! I have my phone! My phone of inestimable contacts! I grabbed a piece of black cellophane the angry wind blew my way. What kind of ‘lylon’ is this, I muttered. It was even wet. Could the wetness be urine? I was past caring. I switched off my phone and wrapped it with the ‘lylon’, tucked it into my black suit.

‘Agbotikuyo!’ ‘Agbotikuyo!’ I shouted to the oncoming rickety, noisy and dangerous looking okada, which braked temporarily to hear the destination I was calling out. ‘Agbotikuyo!’ I raced up to the commercial motorcyclist, who had sped a few meters past me. The lanky rider, who did not cut the engine, winced on hearing my destination, engaged the gear, and revved off, saying ‘Agbotikuyo ko, mortuary ni’.

Luckily, another rickety okada soon pulled up, bearing a passenger. ‘Agbotikuyo!’ I shouted. “Na N200 o, I no get change o,” the okada rider said. “I have change,” I said, struggling to sit in the little space left by the passenger on the okada, who cared less if I sat on needles. The passenger, on whose T-shirt, ‘Call me Emeka’, was boldly written, just wouldn’t budge despite entreaties for him to ‘shift’ for me. I clambered up the iron rack adjoining the seat, and off we zoomed. The okada tore into the night like an accursed arrow shot from hell. Despite the dust and dirt, I opened my eyes to the squinting wind while the teary journey lasted. To take your eyes off the road is to walk into your grave. The wind got colder, bearing with it a drizzle. The okada man asked if he could park somewhere while we wait for the gentle shower to subside. As we all were discussing this, a lightless tricycle, as if being pursued by the anti-Christ, whizzed through the dark and came headlong at us from the opposite direction. There are times when fate cages freewill; this was one of such times. There was nothing I could do; I only braced myself up, opened my eyes in horror and was waiting to hear gbooaaa!!! I didn’t hear gbooaa!!! I heard tyres screeching. I heard curses. I saw the marwa tricycle suddenly switch on its light, giving our okada rider a nail-biting nanosecond to swerve. Vrooooooowwmmm gbaaa!!!! We, the two passengers and the rider, all ended in a gutter – with the okada. Luckily, none of us sustained any life-threatening injury except the other passenger who had some bruises on his legs.

“Sorry o, sorry o, shey una no injure o,” sympathizers rushed to the scene, cursing the marwa and offering thanks to God for our miraculous escape.

“Make una wait make rain stop before una go continue una journey nah, no be house una dey go?” a sympathizer said. Our okada man, referred to as Adamu by his fellow okada riders, who came to our rescue, advised we go to an aboki’s ‘mai tea’ shop by the side of the road – to wait for the rain to subside.

“Person wey dey smoke among una should just buy cigarette smoke o, maybe una for don dey knock for heaven gate by now. Person wey sabi shack ‘mai tea’, make e drink o,’ another customer of the aboki said. “The way wey okada accidents dey happen nowadays sef, e be like say God dey vex for Nigeria. You no hear say Buhari son too get okada accident?”

“Why you dey call a motorbike an okada, idiot? The cost of that Buhari son motorbike fit buy five Tokunbo o,” one of the aboki’s customers remarked.

Emeka, who had been listening to the conversation, quipped, “Buhari dey blame im pikin for riding motorbike, abi; where the boy get money to buy the costly okada? If you buy toy for your pikin, no be for him to ride am?”

I expressed concern over Yusuf Buhari’s friend, who was also involved in the accident. Adamu said, “Oga, nobody mind if anything happen to that one o. You see any of our big men wey dey greet Buhari since this accident happen, greet the family of the other boy? Dis country na Eye Service PLC o. Half of those greeting Buhari go dey talk for back say na God catch am. You think say dem like am? Sai Baba too stubborn.”

A bald man sipping hot tea from a big jug cleared his throat and blamed Buhari for openly condemning the Aso Rock security operatives for letting Yusuf out by that time of the night, saying as President, Buhari cannot claim not to know that his son owns ‘several motorbikes’. “The President should have just kept quiet. What if Yusuf locked his bike in a vehicle and drove the vehicle to his friend’s place? Buhari should just accept that children can beat any form of scrutiny. He shouldn’t try to shift the blame. If the kidnapped Boko Haram girls got a fraction of attention this accident is getting, the girls would have been rescued by now. When the whole country didn’t have fuel, your son filled up a motorbike with fuel and went racing.”

“The lesson wey me I see for this whole matter be say the rich also cry. As we lay our bed, na so we go sleep on top of am. If to say we develop our country well, if we get accident emergency units for our expressways, dem for rush to the scene of the accident and give Yusuf and im friend first aid treatment. Na God save the boy nah, if to say e lose too much blood, na another thing we for dey talk now o, God forbid. Can you count how many of our big men and their families die for abroad this year alone? Why dem no build good hospitals here, shebi we get good doctors?” Wale, a customer who wore an Arsenal team jersey, said.

“Nigeria no go ever get better if our leaders no dey feel wetin we poor people dey feel. Make dem make law banning our leaders from travelling abroad for treatment, make dem ban dem from sending their children to school abroad; ban dem from spending holiday abroad, buying houses abroad or going abroad to born. Make dem ban dem from having more than two cars, and building more than one house. If dem do so, Nigeria go better,” another customer said amid a mouthful of bread, egg and tea.

The song of Fela Anikulapo Kuti – ‘Shuffering and Shmiling’ – blared from the transistor radio of Adamu, further fueling the conversation on Nigeria.

“Wetin Fela no sing? He sing ITT, Zombie, Original Sufferhead, Teacher, Sorrow, Tears and Blood, Mr Follow Follow, Palaver, Coffin for Head of State, dem listen? Gani Fawehinmi no talk? Ken Saro-Wiwa no talk? Tai Solarin no talk? Awolowo no talk? Ojukwu no talk? Bamidele Aturu nko? Una listen to Aminu Kano? No be kill una dey kill people wey dey talk true? God never vex for us o, God still dey sandpaper the cane wey he go take wipe our yansh,” Wale said.

The man with the big jug said he did not understand why ‘bad things’ were happening around the Presidency, recalling the President throwing a blanket of doubt over his age, fuel scarcity, the ill-timed presidential human side PR and the resurrection of the dead in federal board appointments – all in one month!

“When I tell una say Buhari too stubborn, una listen? Why you go draw up list of federal board members since 2015 and you no announce am? Why we come vote for you nah? To dey do smeh, smeh? Adamu hissed.

As the rain stopped, we left the mai tea’s shop for our okada, bending our heads against the moist wind. I have had enough for the night. All I need now is a bottle of beer, a prayer and sleep.

Agbotikuyo dey o!

Odesola was a former editor, politics, Punch Newspaper