Admission of Morocco into ECOWAS is an Anti-Nigeria Move, By Bolaji Akinyemi

Since I left the office of the Minister of External (Foreign) Affairs in December 1987, I have refrained from making direct comments or I can count on the fingers of one hand, the number of times I have made comments on issues which are of direct concern to Nigerian foreign policy. I did this because I believed and still believe that having had my own opportunity at batting, the present ministers at the crease should be allowed unfettered room during their innings.

However, this issue of the admission of Morocco (and possibly Tunisia) into the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), an organisation midwifed by Nigeria and Togo, an organisation on which Nigerian regional security construct has been based for the past 40 years, an organisation on which Nigeria’s claim to be a regional medium power is based, is such an existential issue for Nigeria that every other thing pales into insignificance.

Firstly, the creation of ECOWAS was one of the most fundamental post-civil war strategic policies arising out of the lessons of the civil war which is that it is in the strategic interests of Nigeria to lock its West African neighbours into an area of co-prosperity and co-stability. Since then, Nigeria’s security policies in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’ Ivoire and The Gambia had been anchored on ECOWAS. When South Africa tried to be an interloper in Cote d’Ivoire, it was on the platform of ECOWAS that the South African attempt was seen off. That also explains why Nigeria bears a substantial cost of the ECOWAS.

Secondly, the geographical boundaries of regions have acquired a legal status internationally. The United Nations, the African Union and all international institutions now use the concept of regionalism in the distribution of both appointive and elective posts. ECOWAS cannot unilaterally expand the boundary of West Africa to the Mediterranean. What is the legal or moral or historical justification? How does this dovetail with the acceptable international norms and usage?

Thirdly, how well-thought-out is this move? If ECOWAS now shifts West African boundary to the Mediterranean, does it mean that not only Morocco and Tunisia, but Egypt, Libya, and Israel (shares a boundary with Egypt) and Palestine are eligible for membership in ECOWAS?

Fourthly, in whose interests is this move? Definitely, not in the interests of members of ECOWAS. When elective and appointive posts and resources are being allocated by international institutions, does Morocco now benefit from the West African quota?

This is not just a theoretical issue. Elections to seats at the Security Council, the World Court, various commissions of the United Nations are distributed on regional basis. Morocco, as a member of the Arab League, will benefit from the Arab League quota, and then have another bite at the West African quota, without other West African states benefiting from the Arab quota.

If ECOWAS decides to invite Angola, Mozambique, South Africa or even Ethiopia to take up membership, my concern will be exactly the same.

Having failed to find any rational benefit to ECOWAS by expanding membership to Morocco, I can only conclude that the move is motivated by bad faith driven by the desire to whittle down Nigerian influence in ECOWAS, and by extension in the world, as Nigeria status as a regional power is facilitated by its role in ECOWAS.

Nigeria has only one option: Let the West African Heads of State and Presidents drop this whole issue of expansion to the Mediterranean or Nigeria should serve notice that it would terminate, NOT SUSPEND, TERMINATE its membership of ECOWAS.

This issue is the biggest challenge to Nigerian foreign policy since the civil war.

Prof. A. Bolaji Akinyemi is a former Nigerian Foreign Minister and Deputy Chairman, 2014 National Conference

Editorial: Buhari Administration’s Mid-term

Monday this week, Nigerians celebrated the second anniversary – the mid-term – of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. Nigerians, as would be expected, have continued to offer their assessments of the administration, not just against the backdrop of promises it made to Nigerians prior to its coming into office, but also against the challenges that the country has had to face in the last two years of the administration.

It is of course natural that the Buhari administration would want to beat its chest about not doing badly, given the circumstances it found itself. However, Nigerians in general terms, would appear to have resolved that the country remains ailing – on all fronts. From the security sector where the North-east remains a seething cauldron and the activities of the murderous Fulani herdsmen have reduced vast swathes of the republic to a killing field; the economy which, despite the valiant efforts to get it out of the current recession, has remained largely unyielding to the broad range of stimuli pumped in by the federal government; or the anti-corruption war that continues to be bogged down by the same traditional strictures of process; the indices are such that leave little to cheer.

Be that as it may, it seems now, fairly easy to forget where we were two years ago. We refer here to the grave crises the administration inherited after 16 inglorious years of PDP administration – the reason Nigerians voted so resoundingly for change.

Take for instance, the war against the Boko Haram in the North-east, we were witnesses to how the once proud Nigerian Army was forced to endure the daily humiliation of Boko Haram with their superior fire-power – the consequence of the billions voted to fight the war ending up in the private bank accounts of some brass hats, something that former President Obasanjo would capture to succinctly to wit: “Jonathan and his people turned Boko Haram into an industry for making money… Boko Haram became an ATM machine for taking money out of the treasury”.

As for the economy, if preceding PDP administrations since 1999 failed to transit the economy from an oil-based to an industrial one – an economy less prone to cyclic shocks – the immediate past administration would present a classic study in wanton profligacy and cluelessness.

A few of the bazaar that went on under the Jonathan administration is worth recalling. First is the industrial-scale heist under which a nation with a modern Navy was reported as losing 20 per cent of its daily oil production to thieves. Add to this, the countless deals under which the administration alienated some of the nation’s choices oil blocks to its cronies under some dubious ‘strategic’ partnership; and then the inexplicable build up in debts at a time of unprecedented oil earnings – under the dubious but ingenious claim that the country was under-borrowed even when there was nothing to show for the massive borrowing; the result could not have been anything other than the broken system that the administration inherited.

All of these – long before the dip in global oil prices which merely came to knock the bottom of the primitive economy run by the cabal in the Jonathan administration. If few Nigerians recall that the federal government had to resort to borrowing to pay salaries at some point, the fiscal crisis that engulfed the finances of the states is unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry.

It was in this background that the Buhari administration rode into office. As if to compound the problems, oil prices not only took a dive, the militants would also ensure that the nation’s capacity to export crude oil was substantially crippled. The combined effect was the recession and the foreign exchange crisis which attenuated it.

Today, it is safe to say that things are beginning to change. While the nation may not be out of the woods yet, things are certainly not getting worse. Boko Haram is being fought with a new resolve; ditto, the monster of corruption – if admittedly the result has been modest. Although, still very high – at 17 per cent, inflation has been on a steady climb-down. Even the naira, has in recent time gained some strength. And while it is true that the cost of borrowing has remained prohibitive, there are also signs that a number of the concerns of businesses, particularly the environment for doing business are being addressed gingerly. The infrastructure situation, particularly power, of course, remains dire although, there have been renewed interests in railways development. And with the expected boosts in agricultural produce in the coming months, the nation seems on an assured path to food security.

Mid-way to its four year tenure, it is clear that the administration would need to do more. One thing that would need to change is its snail-pace approach to governance. Most certainly, the administration could do with new tools in its anti-corruption war. Its greatest challenge however, is growing the economy to create millions of jobs; fixing the archaic infrastructure at the heart of the economy’s legendary lack of competitiveness and reversing the situation of the country’s dependence on imported goods.

Who is Afraid of Prof Osinbajo?

By Musa Alhassan

Our people say a toad does not wander about in the afternoon for no good cause. This is why we must examine the personal attacks that have been leveled against Professor Yemi Osinbajo, purportedly showing the disaffection of the “North”. Like all things crooked, the more you look, the less you see! The more you look at the allegations that the promoters have maliciously published and disseminated on various social media platforms, the less you see any truth or coherence in their work. Without more, this is a hatchet job! To tag their battle as a destruction of Prof Osinbajo’s “sainthood”, you must go back a long way to see that Prof did not just acquire the cloak of integrity overnight or in just 2 years as VP. His reputation for integrity, diligence and rendering humanitarian social service precedes his occupation of the Vice-President’s office. As Attorney-General of Lagos State, his integrity in public office is very well known, just as his reform of the justice sector is still being replicated across the country.

First, we know Dr Ismaila Farouk from Zamfara is a phony and not very well-thought-out alias. As you can imagine, one would expect an “Ismail” not “Ismaila” from Zamfara. So Dr. Ismaila, the paid underground media, and all other paid toads are only out in the afternoon to display the deadly fangs and teeth of their sponsors. If you are patient to read through to the end, you may get to discover who these sponsors really are. It’s a mix between “corruption striking back” and political jobbers grappling for personal relevance and power

Their first bite is Dr. Enelamah- an Igbo man. So, Dr Ismaila and his sponsors have an issue with Mr. President for picking a notable South-Easterner as his Minister for Industry, Trade and Investments. It is a well-known fact that Dr. Okey Enelamah, a graduate of the prestigious Havard Business School, and the Federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Investments is the pioneer chief executive of African Capital Alliance, Nigeria’s biggest private equity firm with over $1 billion in management and direct investments in Nigerian private companies. Dr. Enelamah who is well known in Nigerian investments circles, (including to the President’s Chief of Staff, Chief Abba Kyari, who was once an Executive Director at UBA) for leading investment into MTN Nigeria and other blue chip companies, was nominated by the President himself. Dr. Enelamah has done more to sustain the Nigerian project far more than the self-absorbed sponsors of this smear campaign as he has directly invested in small and big Nigerian companies that employ Nigerians from both North and South.

The lack of commonsense in this power play and diversionary tactic belies reason when we have just seen how the sit-at-home exercise by the agitators of Biafra proved effective. Now Dr Ismaila’s sponsors question a qualified Igbo man amidst the ongoing agitation. Please for God’s sakes, do not push Nigeria over the wedge for your evil and selfish aims. One can perceive the evil intentions of the sponsors in trying to create contention in identifying Mr. Wale Edun as Tinubu’s pick for Minister of Finance. First, it’s the President’s prerogative to consult with people and identify those that take up ministerial positions. Secondly, Babatunde Fashola represented Lagos State. So, how could the VP have been angling for a particular cabinet position against an individual who was not on the ministerial list? Also, to the extent that he is being tribal won’t the choice of Kemi Adeosun for finance from Ogun State be his obvious preference? So why Ismaila’s inconsistency that he preferred an Igbo man? Obvious mischief!

It is this old order that President Buhari came to fix when in repeated campaign speeches he promised to assemble a team of honest and competent professionals to move Nigeria forward.

As everyone recollects what is not a very distant past, the Cabinet Ministers were appointed long after the President and the Vice-President picked their aides. So, how can people be coming to terms with the choice of Dr. Enelamah when the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff were appointed long before the ministers? The choice of Mr. Ade Ipaye as the Deputy Chief of Staff speaks to the interest of both the President and Vice President in competence and character. Mr Ipaye is a seasoned public servant and one of Nigeria’s foremost tax practitioners and was the immediate past Attorney General of Lagos State. A devout Muslim who goes about his work with extreme diligence and without fuss and the common airs of the Nigerian big man, was vetted by the President as suitable for administering the chunk of work for the Vice President within the Presidency. Anyone who knows Mr. Ipaye can see why Prof. Osinbajo, a man of similar ilk, will support a man with a humble and diligent disposition. Alluding to his descent from Ogun State (although he doesn’t even hail from Ogun State) as an indication of nepotism, without reference to his qualities as a professional and a decent man, shows you the reprobate hearts of the sponsors of this smear campaign.

The evil sponsors, somehow and conveniently, failed to mention that the biggest focus of this administration, which is the Social Investments Programme is being handled by Mrs. Maryam Uwais, a Muslim woman from Kano. Mrs. Uwais, a seasoned legal practitioner with years of experience in tackling social developmental issues is the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments and works in the Vice President’s office. Like all other Special Advisers and other political appointees, Mrs Uwais was appointed on the basis of merit and her character. The Vice-President is a man that pays attention to diversity and has given opportunity to women and youth. Particularly, Dr Balkisu Saidu, a female northerner is the Senior Special Assistant on Legal Matters. Also, Gambo Manzo, Hafiz Ibrahim, and Murtala Aliyu are all close aides of the Vice-President who hail from the North.

Somehow, the malicious sponsors of this smear campaign intend to taint the character of the VP by fabricating a falsehood about Simmons Cooper Partners (which was Prof Osinbajo’s previous law practice he resigned from to be Vice-President) obtaining “juicy” or any work from Federal Ministries and agencies. This is untrue. Everyone is aware of the requirements of the Public Procurement Act. An enquiry directed to the concerned ministries or agencies will show or disprove if there has indeed been any procurement of service that has been awarded or manipulated in favour of SimmonsCooper Partners.

As regards the appointment of Babatunde Irukera, the sponsors may choose to enquire from the consumer protection circles as to who is a more qualified professional who has contributed immensely to the body of consumer protection work . It is well known that Mr Irukera, who is from the North, has for decades now advocated for consumer protection rights, including formulating policies and regulations in consumer aviation and other sectors. The sponsors don’t ask the most relevant question for public service- Is he qualified and competent? No, they are only interested in their hatchet job. The same goes for Mrs. Yewande Sadiku who is very well known in investment banking circles. Many of these professionals are serving in these positions, not because of any pecuniary benefits but bringing their experience, knowledge and skills to bear for the public good.

Besides, the supervisory Ministers in charge of these agencies are mostly responsible for selecting the relevant chief executive. So why castigate and malign the VP? In most instances and as in the cases identified, the supervising Minister presents an appointee who is then evaluated and approved by the President. The assertion that the VP has appointed persons on the basis of their religious affiliation is disingenuous, malicious and untrue. The reference to Mr. Okoh’s relationship with the VP demonstrates the nature of the evil Nigeria is contending with. They rightly assert that Mr. Okoh (from the South-South) is a former CEO of a bank, but the claim that NNB (that consolidated in 2005 and ceased to exist then) had a retainer with Simmons Cooper is patently false. It is well known in legal circles that Simmons Cooper came into existence in the year 2006 and Professor Osinbajo joined the firm in 2007 after serving as Attorney General of Lagos State from 1999-2007. The vile sponsors of this smear campaign will stop at nothing- lies, falsehood and uncreative imaginations. Beyond innuendo, there’s no truth, accuracy or sense in the allegations of contracts, and taking over the work of the Ministry of Niger-Delta. Obviously, the President needed leadership to ensure that restiveness in the Niger-Delta was tackled, which was why he delegated the role to the VP. We are all witnesses to the effect of the VP’s engagement with the Niger-Delta.

Belief in the Nigerian State is characterized both by action and statements. The VP’s responsibility to all Nigerian people in his actions and statements is clear to all, except for the sponsors of this evil plot who have other sinister intentions in undertaking this hatchet job. From children to youth, to women, to the vulnerable in society, the VP demonstrated sense of empathy is apparent. Again, the allusion to a quarrel or tussle emanating from travel concerns to Lagos between the Chief of Staff and the VP is manifestly devious. The President and Vice President have enjoyed a cordial, symbiotic and brotherly relationship since they campaigned and got into office. The appointment of aides and political appointees within the presidency has never minimized or diminished this relationship. It is apparent that the VP continues to maintain a healthy relationship with the Chief of Staff. Anyone who knows the VP knows he is not given to frivolity and will not undertake needless travel nor run up expenditure. Prof. Osinbajo is focused on his job- that is to serve the Nigerian people in partnership with Mr. President who obviously continues to repose trust in his character and competence to deputise for him and deliver their promises to the people. The attempt to impugn his character is to stop the good work of all Nigerian people regaining confidence in the Nigerian State.

The big picture purpose of this smear campaign is not only to tarnish the image of the VP but also to derail Nigeria’s progress. This is the handiwork of the evil that has held Nigeria back. The evil axis of those drunk and made blind by the allure of power, permutations of 2019 and those struggling with corruption cases have found in the VP a stumbling block. They know he will not bend to their whims on relaxing the stance of Government on corruption. Do not be fooled. This is not the North! It’s corruption striking back. It’s personal parochial interest versus the people. This great evil must be resisted by all of us.

Eighteen Years of Threatened Democracy By Alabi Williams

The Guardian 
 Opinion

Opinion | Columnists
Eighteen years of threatened democracy
By Alabi Williams | 04 June 2017 | 4:14 am

Alabi Williams

After 18 years of democracy, we do not need to search very far to know how well the journey has fared. The glaring evidence of how troubled it has been is the very fact that we are still discussing the idea of a coup, no matter how embryonic and remote it may have been. That some people still nurse nostalgia for the salvation procurable via coups suggests that this democracy is not offering what it was programmed to deliver. There is sufficient amount of desperation that triggers a search for alternatives. Unfortunately, the one ready alternative people tucked somewhere in their psyche, is the military, with capacity to obliterate the present nonsense and begin afresh. Very tempting.

But many have rushed out to condemn the thought of a coup because of very ugly past experiences. The military has so debased itself that its original messianic capacity has been squandered. At the point it was forced to exit from civil governance, the military had transformed into a rampaging occupation force, abusing rights of citizens and stealing their money.

That was why in the twilight years of Gen. Sani Abacha, a global outrage was triggered to compel the military to return power to the people. As it was, it became the privilege of Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar to see that happen in 1998/99. It was a staggered process to quickly exit those horrifying days. Perhaps, that was when appropriate quality controls were not put in place to ensure a deepening of the systems. Remember that prior to 1999, the last time there were serious political formations was between 1979 and 1983. That was when our heroes past, professionals in party politics, men who participated in the struggle to attain independence and were the dramatis personae of the first republic, returned for a last effort at consolidating party supremacy. Unfortunately, all their experiences put together could not rescue the second republic.

After that, it was a long process of trial and error, with soldiers tampering with core values of party systems. First, it was General Ibrahim Babangida, who toyed with the idea of decreeing parties into existence. His two political parties, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Party (NRC) were programmed to fail, because IBB never wanted to transfer democratic powers to politicians. He was too enamoured of awesome state powers to let go. He dribbled Gen Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and exhausted the man. Yar’Adua was later to be picked by Abacha, and liquidated. IBB then picked MKO Abiola and had him thoroughly dishevelled. He too was handed to Abacha for final winding up.

In between the two Generals, the party system was humdrum and lacked direction. Whereas there was an assemblage of eggheads to nurture a transition system, what took place was a calculated freeze to create suspense and kill reality. It was Kafkaesque at its best, because IBB was a master in power and mind game. So, many serious minded politicians stayed away. The ones who operated were jobbers and military apologists who didn’t have anywhere else to go. They were the leproused hands that were to crown Abacha with lifelong powers, like those of late Kamuzu Banda. But fate played tricks on them.

Come 1998, therefore, there were not too many good people around. Abdulsalami was left with little choice but to groom some people. Meanwhile, there were no good political parties to fall back on. A new template was rolled out and the requirements not very lenient. But that was not the issue. It was an emergency transition. So, political associations formed and three parties emerged.

Power was handed to former military head of state, Gen Obasanjo, after his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) came first in that first election. After that, the military left the scene, supposedly. From there, the so-called democratic leadership was tasked with responsibility to grow the new system, deepen party structures and allow constitutional checks and balances to dictate the running of the process.

Eighteen years after, we have seen all sorts. First, budgets do not work. Whereas military budgets are read on January 1, every year, civilian budgets are tossed back and forth between the executive and legislature for many months. In between those months, the economy is left miserable. While that exchange of budgetary debates was designed by owners of the presidential system of government to carry everybody along for purposes of accountability and transparency, what we have in Nigeria does not inspire any confidence. There is still no transparency of any sort. Even the All Progressives Congress (APC) that promised transparency went to town in 2016 with the most padded budget in the history of this dispensation. As we speak, in June 2017, budget 2017 is yet to be signed into law. These frustrating trammels of democracy help to nourish nostalgic feelings about military rule.

While military regimes are trim and less expensive, the presidential system is full of baggage. It is costly and less efficient. The three arms of government share the budget, with the executive having lion share. More than 70 percent of that of the executive is used to service government. The remaining that is supposed to drive infrastructure is too little to make Nigerians feel there is a government in place. As little as it is, that sum, most times does not leave government coffers. It idles away because the distance between the Central Bank, Finance Ministry and Budget Office is made deliberately cumbersome, so that nothing happens.

The Judiciary that is supposed to instill fear and restraint in the other arms is starved of funds and made impotent. To enjoy better life like their counterparts in the other arms, judicial officers are ensnared in filthy sums dangled at election tribunals. They become complacent and cheap, without bite. Democracy is threatened, when election matters are deliberately programmed for the courts, where politicians may influence outcomes with huge sums. The playing field is skewed to make the Judiciary appear lower than other arms and subservient. But that was not how the original owners of the system planned it. But here, the executives are too powerful. The system kills democracy, just as it did during military rule.

The legislature, powerful and lacking in patriotic acts, is the most troublesome. Many who were elected into Houses of Assembly in states and federal in 1999 had no idea what they were going for. They were never groomed, but once they saw the resources available there, they became entrenched, cult like. Whereas the parliament of a nation can turn its fortunes around, the Nigerian legislature has specialised in grooming a political class united by resources. You cannot rely on them to transform the economy, which is why they are now proposing another petroleum tax to fleece Nigerians. Instead of reducing from their allowances to make sums available to build roads, they are going for the easy way out. They want to transfer the burden to hapless Nigerians.

There is no synergy among the three arms of this democratic system to frog-jump Nigeria into serious action. There is no vision and there is no patriotism. If you are fair enough, if you look up north, south, west and east, there is despair. That is why some are afraid that soldiers are warming up to sack this system.

I still think we can salvage this system. But people have to open their minds and stop being ethnic champions. The lean resources available can no longer service a presidential system that is consumption driven. We are very close to that time, when men of good will should show Nigeria some mercy. It is time to begin with simple forms of restructuring, beginning with a more manageable and result oriented parliament. The one we have now is too large and wasteful.

If we must run a federal system, since some are afraid of returning to regions, states must be encouraged to earn their own resources and pay taxes to Abuja. Let there be substantial decentralisation of responsibilities and obligations. Let democratic institutions be freed from federal stranglehold.

If those who have capacity to effect changes refuse, the very monster we are all running away from will be waiting ahead for us, willy-nilly.

60th Birthday: Deconstructing Rauf Aregbesola

By Goke Butika

Life is a product of deterministic concept, for every ounce of breathe is measured. It has a take-off point, maybe from the zygote at a formative stage in the womb, and it has a terminal date, a situation that makes all men and women mortals-a terminal project. For the fact that people booked different dates of departure: some will die young, some will be denied existence at all, some will live and live miserably; while some will have a celebrated life. But all within the given by a Great Determinist who could be given different names or nomenclatures: Nature or God or Eledumare or Olorun or Chukwu or Allah et al. I only know that something must be determining something somewhere as far as the concept is concerned.
In that wise, it is a rare opportunity worth of celebrating for anyone who lives, navigates the offerings of life and still being celebrated by the people the same nature imposes such an individual on, particularly one advances in age from golden to platinum. On that note, I celebrate with Governor Rauf Aregbesola of State of Osun who clocks 60 years on earth, obviously with good health, enviable position, beautiful family, sprawling wealth, thankless job and indelible marks.
Having been a distant watcher of his 50th birthday in Lagos, I could not tell which of the birthdays is best celebrated, because Aregbesola’s associates and friends ensured that the entire city of Lagos was painted red when he marked his golden age, and I learnt that the same people who bankrolled the birthday then are still the financiers of his 60th birthday where the entire Osun is being painted blue. At the risk of dramatic irony, one could say that Aregbesola is one of the luckies persons in the democratic experiment that took off in 1998.
Yes, his fame, politics and position came with a price. He had suffered in life like anyone from humble background, he had made a choice that is critical to him; that explains while he settled for the lineage of left leaning; following the track of Comrade Ola Oni, and made Fidel Castrol his mentor as a Communist in search of egalitarian society. He had labored in politics before the nature threw him up for the most important job in Lagos as Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure- that metamorphosed his life from common to elite, and his struggle to become the governor of Osun was fiercest and quite expensive, but the mother luck smiled on him after three and half years in the trenches.
Rauf, as his friends fondly call him is a dogged fighter, give it to him. He could dare devil sometimes when he makes up his mind. He came up with concept of unusual government, started from intangibles which were trailed by controversies; he faced stiff opposition from hostile federal powers; he fought with jaw-dropping performance, which radicalized the people of Osun in the heat of his reelection. Of course the then power that be, made an attempt to supplant him, but his popularity was feverish and only a war monger could toy with it.
With life expectancy pegged at 45 years in Nigeria, the great son of Aregbesola is an elder in the class of leaders with emotional intelligence called AGBA SHANKO to borrow from the Speaker Najeem Salaam of Osun Assembly. He is a game changer, because his sterling performance in office with a doctrine of utilitarian left of the centre makes him to cultivate 800 friends, that shows, if 400 are castigating him; 400 would eulogize him.
However, I am concerned about one ugly trend of the same people who bankrolled ten years ago, are still the ones who bankroll his birthday this year. Why the same people? Is it that only his friends residing outside the state of Osun benefitted from Rauf’s large-heartedness? Are his friends and political associates in this part of the country who might have benefitted from him in the last six years stingy? What would be their lot if Rauf is out of power? These and many questions are begging for interrogation from those who claim that they can die for Rauf today. Know that the son of Aregbesola has no problem with that, but the loyalty of the loyalists must be examined with cursory look.
However, celebration or not, Rauf will go down in history as one man who came to governance with load of ideas, he advances villages to cities, and turn incinerator of refuse dump into markets, as numbers of schools, markets, roads and bridges coupled with the number of people he made would bear eloquent testimonies to his contributions to humanity.
As someone who has worked for Rauf, sat with Rauf, listened to Rauf, and admired Rauf, and ultimately, one of the beneficiaries of Rauf’s large-heartedness, I must admit that he is a rare-bred iconoclast and a mentor to the younger generation. Yes, naysayers have issues with him, but it is a statement of fact that Rauf can never share the glory with God whose work must not be questioned, at the risk of fallacy of question begging.
Congratulations The Man of the People!
Butikakuro is a journalist of international repute.

One Week, Two Dramas: Who Will Save Okorocha From Himself? By Azu Ishiekwene

Whenever I’m about to forget what it means to be a politician in these parts, I remind myself of the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha. He combines the drama and ebullience of Ayo Fayose with the shenanigans and hubris of Wada Nas. The fellow just keeps your jaw agape, making you laugh and cry at once. It happened to me twice last week.

First came the news that Okorocha had rejected the appointment of his daughter, Uju Anwuka, to the Board of the Federal College of Education and Technology, Omoku.

He said he rejected it because he was not consulted and he suspected that it was a Greek gift by unnamed politicians who don’t wish him and his family well.

I’m sure that Okorocha knows by now that if his wellbeing depended on what people, especially those in his State wish, he would be long gone back to his village in Ogboko. The Imo State that he is governing today is, in many ways, a shadow of itself unable to pay its workers
or pensioners and yet having enough to dedicate official quarters to the first family.

Imo is a chattel of Okorocha, a piece of real estate for the governor and his family. I will come to that.

If Okorocha says the offer of a board appointment to his daughter was a setup, he must know what he is talking about. But I still don’t understand why it was his job to reject the offer for his adult daughter.  Wasn’t it possible for him to explain whatever dilemma it
was privately to his daughter and for her to publicly and personally eject the offer for whatever reason?

How many Nigerians who are not Okorochas get such malicious offers of appointment? And God knows that out of the 541 Federal boards in this country you can count on the fingers of one hand those where an appointment means an appointment to work.

Take the National Population Commission (NPC) board, for example. The Board comprises 37 commissioners statutorily appointed from the 36 states and Abuja with a five-year tenure each. They are virtually on the same level with Federal ministers, drawing comparable personal benefits, allowances, and perks.

For all the free milk and honey, in a place like the NPC board, for example, all 37 commissioners appointed after 2006 when the last census was conducted have done nothing in 11 years. No enumeration, no census, nothing. But they earned their allowances and perks
nonetheless.

Multiply this waste in about 541 places, including the College of Education board, where Okorocha would have us believe that his daughter was ruthlessly set up, and you will understand why the biggest favour anyone can do us is to scrap the boards, including the one where Uju Anwuka has been offered an unsolicited letter of employment. The board members should all go home.

But the College of Education board recusal was just one incident. It was, for Okorocha – my governor, my governor – one week, two dramas. The second was at the Children’s Day leadership summit hosted by the Imo State government and broadcast live on Friday, May 26.

I thought it was a day when any modest host would lead from behind, allowing the children to take the stage as they share their hopes, aspirations, and disappointments with us.

In a country where one million children die of preventable diseases yearly and where 40 percent of children between the ages of six and eleven have no access to primary education, I thought the generation of leaders that has been responsible for this mess would be ashamed to
preach to the same children whose future they have eaten along with their own.

Not Okorocha. He shamed shame. The summit stage was his shrine with his life-size pictures emblazoned in a backdrop. They provided a throne for him on his altar, while a few aides and security men squatted, almost incognito, on a low bench behind the governor’s
throne.

Speaker after speaker mounted the stage to speak of how the governor has turned their night into day. They spoke of how he makes the sun to rise and the rain to fall and how the state could never see the like of him again in our lifetime. His Excellency grinned through it all as
he fiddled with his trademark sash.

Hardly anything was said about leadership or the tens of hundreds left behind.

I didn’t see civil servants who have been compelled by Okorocha to forfeit 60 percent of their monthly salaries and still don’t get paid the balance regularly. I didn’t see pensioners who traveled all the way to Owerri, the State capital, to sign off 60 percent of their 24-month pension arrears and yet are not getting the balance regularly. I didn’t see elders of communities who levied themselves to support Okorocha’s fourth-tier community government but who have apparently been conned.

Only the whitewashed crowd was invited. Depressingly, they also recruited children, who took turns to praise the governor in exchange for plastic hugs from him. I’m trying hard to remember the lessons the children learnt about leadership but it’s the charade that keeps coming to my mind.

I know that with Okorocha nearing the end of his second term, there’s  nothing we can do to make him change his ways. He will continue to reign like an emperor and we must bow or be bended for his good pleasure.

His fingers are in every pie. His wife, Nkechi, is the only person in Nigeria who has more government portfolios than Babatunde Fashola: she supervises the Ministries of Women Affairs, Works, Health and the Office of the Secretary to the State Government. His son-in-law, Uche
Nwosu, is the Chief of Staff, and a government building is named after one of his daughters, Uloma Nwosu. Imo is Okorocha’s chattel.

Is it too much to ask that he should leave the children out of his drama the next time?

As for the rest of Imo and other states afflicted with wolves in sheep’s clothing, the lesson is to be a little more careful the next time you vote. That’s your only insurance.

Ishiekwene is the MD/Editor-In-Chief The Interview magazine and board member of the Paris-based Global Editors Network.

Aregbesola: Giant Strides of the ‘Ajele’ at 60! By Abiodun Komolafe

Two major factors influenced my decision to support Rauf Aregbesola, especially, in his reelection bid as governor of the State of Osun in 2014 and I think they are worth repeating here; perhaps they may be helpful to the cause of this piece.
 
I left Ijebu-Jesa in 1985, after the completion of my secondary school education, but by the time providence would take me back to my Native Nazareth some years later, almost all the roads on the axis had become so impassable that it’d not be out of place to ask if there had ever been a government in place in the state. As good governance would have it, the narrative took a turn for the better less than two years of Aregbesola’s assumption of office. As at last count, government has constructed not less than 1000km of roads and they traverse all the nooks and crannies of the state.
 
Closely connected to the above was my preference for this fiery and fearless politician at a time it mattered most. Like the story of the elephant and the knife on the day of the former’s date with death, some funny characters whose political antecedents were sufficient enough to qualify them as unworthy candidates for ‘Bola Ige House’ had thrown their hats into the ring in a desperate attempt to capture power from the incumbent governor. Unhelpful also was Nigeria’s political landscape, with its ‘the-more-you-look-the-less-you-see’ features in dubious connivance with the ‘by-any-means-possible’ disposition of its handlers. A third reason for supporting his reelection bid was his integrity. Amongst all the contestants, his integrity stood poles ahead and was clearly non-comparable with his closest rival from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). 
 
On my part however, I was of the opinion – and, rightly so – that spectatorship was not an option in an event that was designed to shape the future of my state as well as define the destiny of its people. The rest, as it is often said, is history! Of course, these, added to one or two other reasons here and there, have continued to increase the clockwise ticking of the clock of my admiration for the “chattered politician” and I am happy I took such a decision at such a critical time in the life of my state.
 
Although, democracy has become so acceptable in this part of the world that we now regard service as an established fact, it is important that lovers of good governance use the opportunity that Aregbesola’s birth anniversary presents to briefly reflect on the real definition of service to the people and what the people stand to gain from the presence or absence of it. For instance, why did Aregbesola leave his comfort zone in Lagos where all things were bright and beautiful to become a symbol of resistance to a system that was well-stocked with characteristic fancies and unusual features in Osun?  Why did he choose to become a story of courage to a struggling state which, pre-November 27, 2010, was fraught with false starts, painful groping and failing fortunes, indeed a system which wheel of progress was already on its way back to the bottom of the hill? 
 
When, in his essay, ‘The three types of legitimate rule’, Max Weber particularly pointed in the direction of charisma as an essential ingredient a leader must possess if he must succeed, he probably might have had the likes of Aregbesola in mind. But Weber’s option of courage amidst the tragedy and the savagery of primordial sentiments has again brought to the fore the way we are as a state and as a people. A few questions will suffice. Why have professional hoppers who derisively described Aregbesola an uneducated mind so lost memory of historical facts that this gentleman, noted for technical finesse and political astuteness, once had a stint as a teacher at Imesi-Ile High School in the 1970s? Why is this achiever, who has within a short period of six years set the ‘Land of Virtue’ on fire with his dreams, being tagged a ‘debtor-governor’ when, indeed, in the universal space called salary palaver, Osun is just a sample space for other states in Nigeria? Again, why are they equating his vision for Osun with a mission to Islamize the state even as the governor has consistently wondered why trying to be a good Muslim should be misconstrued for ‘conversion campaign’?
 
Some crooked beings even go as far as referring to him as Bola Tinubu’s ‘Ajele’ (Sole Administrator) in Osun. Agreed, he is! So what? Well, the sad side of our Nigerianness is that there’s nothing one can do to immunize desperate politicians from wallowing in delusional insinuations. Be that as it may, it is a settled premise that Tinubu is a leader whose creative ingenuity and ceaseless potentials unravel by the day. Driven by pure interest and manifest integrity, the Jagaban Borgu is a principled, dependable and caring historian of sort who positively and masterfully replenishes his stock each day through his deeds and actions. It needs to be noted that, despite the “petty envy and outright jealousy by those that feel dwindled by his greatness”, Tinubu is one politician who cannot do any evil beyond his devotion to his political party and commitment to humanity. 
 
In any case, as ‘Ajele’ which the opposition has nicknamed him, Aregbesola is very proud of his relationship with the ‘Governor Emeritus’ of Lagos State, his leader and mentor. Little wonder many refer to him as the ‘Symbol’. On the other hand, in Tinubu’s clan and court, ‘Ogbeni’, as he is fondly called by his admirers, is the ‘numero uno’; but not to the point of being subservient. No doubt about it: Aregbesola is one person whose political judgment Tinubu respects. Essentially therefore, if ‘Ajele’ is a synonym for transformation and rapid development, then, Osun will need several ‘Ajeles’ to bring it at par with the leading states in the federation. Gladly, too, Elisha, the son of Shaphat (1Kings 19: 19-21); Nelson Mandela; Abraham Adesanya; and Bola Ige, evenTinubu, among others, have at one time or another demonstrated that, for one to succeed in life, the ideal thing is to start as an apprentice, a disciple, or a protégé.
 
An American politician, Benjamin Franklin, once remarked: “human felicity is produced not as much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day.” One noteworthy reality is that politics is about the economy and economy is about the people. It is about prioritization and allocation of values. Put succinctly, politics is about the people. It is about generational prosperity and usefulness to humanity. Without being immodest, Osun’s developmental strides have presented Aregbesola as a worthy product of Tinubu’s school of politics. An activist whose primary concern is how to build a super system, not super human,  Aregbesola has happily and healthily given pleasure to others by ‘rambunctiously’ spearheading the technological transformation of Osun into “a developed, cleaner, safer and more beautiful state”. The man behind the ‘O’ Revolution in Osun is an outstanding politician of authority who has by his pursuit of causes with unblemished peculiarities shut the mouths of enchanters whose remit is in sounding like broken bottles for reasons not unconnected with selfish ambitions and personal gains.
 
Mention his accomplishments! Is it in the education sector where, as at last count, a total of 55 new structures, comprising 20 Elementary, 22 Middle, and 13 High School have been added to existing structures while a total of 82 school blocks, comprising 1,534 classrooms across the state have been refurbished by his administration? Or the Elementary School Feeding Scheme, (O’MEALS) which has also greatly reduced unemployment by absorbing no fewer than 20,000 food vendors, in addition to providing certain categories of pupils with highly nutritious meals on a daily basis? Or the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) which, with its mopping up of more than 40,000 youths off our streets and productively engaging them, has succeeded in reducing the scourge of unemployment among our youths? Have we forgotten the creation of additional 31 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs), 3 Area Councils and two Administrative Offices for the overall purpose of bringing government closer to the people? Or the procurement of 25 Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) and 100 Patrol Vehicles which has greatly helped in making Osun “the safest state in Nigeria”? Of course, the list is endless!
 
Aregbesola’s intervention in the hospitality sector has also not gone unnoticed. For instance, Osun now has more than 400 hotels, out of which more than 15 are in ‘Category A’ (equivalent to a ‘3-star’ hotel). Before this administration came on board, the state could only boast of less than half of this figure. Added to these are more than 80 Tourist Attractions in the state. The establishment of Osun Microcredit Agency has also gone a long way in reducing unemployment as well as alleviating poverty in the state. Taken together, these  laudable initiatives have  helped  a great deal  in shoring up the state’s internal revenue base, particularly, at a time Nigeria  is painfully hemorrhaging from dwindling economic fortunes as a result of global oil glut.
 
According to Woodrow Wilson, “a man has come to himself only when he has found the best that is in him, and has satisfied his heart with the highest achievement he is fit for.” So, which is easier to say:  ‘Aregbesola has no money in any bank anywhere in the world’, or to say: ‘he has not drawn salary since he became governor of the State of Osun’? Or that he has only two buildings: one in Egbeda, Lagos; and the other one in Ikeja-Lagos, given to him as ‘retirement benefit’ by Lagos State Government for serving as its Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure between 1999 and 2007? Of course, this is where plunderers who latch on the rebellious twists and turns of seeming adversity or perceived inadequacy of the moment to judge Aregbesola’s government are missing it. Today, we discuss Obafemi Awolowo in glowing terms, not because of the money he stashed in any local or foreign bank; or the number of houses he built. Rather, it’s because of his transparent commitment to the development of Yorubaland in particular and Nigeria in general. 
 
As ‘Ogbeni’ floats through the years ahead with grace and good cheer, may principalities and powers, assigned to rubbish our leader’s efforts, scatter!
 
*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria ([email protected])
 

Nigerian Youths Behave Like Tenants In Nigeria – Donald Duke

The former governor of Cross River, Donald Duke has called on Nigerians, especially young people, to play a pivotal role in leadership and governance.

 Mr. Duke made this call at the Nigeria Symposium for Young and Emerging Leaders which held on May 30, 2017 at Terra Kulture, Victoria Island, Lagos.

 According to him, Nigerians behave like tenants in their country, thereby leaving older politicians and godfathers to take decisions on their behalf.

 Themed ‘Open Governance: Improving Transparency and Accountability in Government’, the Symposium brings together leaders in politics, business, media, and more to discuss issues and challenges of open government and active citizenship.

 Speaking during the panel session titled ‘Office of the Citizen’, Mr. Duke stated that Nigerian youth need to get involved in making a difference while in the prime of their lives, or suffer the consequences of not making the right demands from their government.

 “Godfatherism grows out of mentorship… They are there to set you on a path but do not let them enslave you. Right now, Nigerian youths have the numbers to make positive changes in this country, and they should use it,” he said. 

 “There is a lot of contempt in government now because there are no consequences to wrong actions by the government. The failure in the country is the youths’ inability to aspire for better lives and situations for themselves. They behave like tenants in their own country.”

Speaking at the event, Rinsola Abiola, a youth advocate and media aide to the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, urged Nigerian youth to make use of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill in requests for information in order to make decisions.

 Other speakers at the event include Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra; Deji Adeyanju, former PDP social media director; Demola Olarewaju, political strategist/analyst; Japheth Omojuwa, founder and chief strategist, Alpha Reach; Dayo Isreal, youth advocate; Arit Okpo, award-winning TV/Radio presenter; and Seun Okinbaloye, political correspondent, Channels TV.

The third edition of the Nigeria Symposium for Young and Emerging Leaders was powered by The Future Project, in partnership with National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and Y!/YNaija.com.

The Suitability of Presidential System of Government in a Multi-Ethnic Democracy By Femi Gbajabiamila

This is an excerpt of the speech delivered by the Leader of the 8th House of Representative at State of Osun House of Assembly to commemorate the 60th birthday anniversary of the governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.

I am humbled by the invitation extended to me to deliver this lecture on the suitability of the presidential system of Government in a multi-ethnic democracy, a very topical subject in our present day democracy. Apart from the fact that I may not be the most qualified person to take up this all important assignment, this lecture is coming at a time many Nigerians are confronted with enormous challenges and so many unanswered questions with regard to the most suitable system of government to adopt in order to get out of this present economic and political quagmire. Most importantly, this lecture is coming at a time when the entire Country and the good people of the State of Osun are gathered to celebrate one of the very change agents in Nigeria’s political history. His Excellency Governor Rauf Aregbesola. I am indeed humbled.

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?

A very popular and well acceptable definition of democracy is that it is the Government of, by and for the people. It is a government whereby every citizen of a country irrespective of class/status, colour, sex, and race has the right to participate. The rights of the few and weak are protected even though the majority rules. In fact, the majority rulers derive their authority from the people. In constitutional democracy, the powers of the rulers are regulated by legal means so that the rights of the minorities and the weak are protected and respected. This is the type of democratic practice in most countries in the world, particularly, the United States of America, Germany, France etc. And of course, this is the democratic practice in Nigeria. The structure or system of government in any country is derived from the Constitution of that country. The United States operates federal system of government where government is separated between two independent sovereignties at the federal and state level. However, there is some truism to the saying that all politics is local and as all politics is local I believe all democracies can also be local.

THE PRACTICE IN NIGERIA

However in Nigeria, our Constitution prescribes for us a federal system of government with 3 federating units to wit: federal, states and the local governments. Section 2 sub-section 1 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 provides that “Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of Federal Republic of Nigeria”. In most federal democracies of the world, Federal system is designed along two federating units which seems to be the intention of the legal draftsmen under sub-section 2 which states that “Nigeria shall be a Federation consisting of states and a Federal Capital Territory”. However under Section 3 sub-sections 1 to 5 of the 1999 constitution (as amended), Nigeria’s federal system appears to be designed to consist of three Federating units perhaps to suit our local circumstances according to our current experiences. Even at that, it is practically difficult for many Nigerians to accept that we practice federalism. This has led to the question as to what system of government do we really practice in Nigeria, and of course what system of government is most suitable for Nigeria which is where the topic of this lecture revolves. For us to answer this question, recourse must be made to some simple descriptions of the systems of government relevant to our discuss.
Presidential system is a government where the executive is led by a President who serves both as the head of state and the head of government. The President is always dominant. However, due to the principle of separation of powers usually entrenched in the Constitution, he still has to obtain majority support from the legislature for his actions.
In the parliamentary system, the executive is not really separated from the Legislature. As in the UK for instance, the Leader usually referred to as Prime Minister is a member of the legislature. He picks his cabinet’s members who are also members of the legislature. He is the head of government and the head of parliament. In the circumstance, the party that controls the legislature controls the executive. The executive is tied to the parliament. The Head of government who is also the head of Legislature can easily get the laws favorable to his party’s aspiration passed, and of course there will be no issues with execution.
In federal system, powers are shared between the central and the component regions. The central cedes certain powers to the regions. The regions are independent of the central to a very large extent. In countries were federalism is in full force, regions have more responsibilities than the central.
The unitary system is one in which all the powers are concentrated in the hands of one central government. Even though the central governs, it may delegate some powers to the regions, these powers are exercised at the whims and caprices of the central authority.
The question arising from the above is: where exactly does Nigeria belong?

SUMMARY OF NIGERIA CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY

The right answer to the above question may be missed without attempting a retrospect of Nigeria Constitutional history.
Nigeria had at one time or the other practiced almost all the systems of government. After the first military coup of 1966 and under the short-lived administration of the then Head of State General Aguiyi Ironsi, Decree 34 of 1966 was promulgated abrogating the federal system of government and substituting same with unitary system of government. This system continued even during the Yakubu Gowon led Military government.
When General Murtala Mohammed took over as the Head of State, he, after meeting with the Supreme Military Council adopted the presidential system of Government and thereafter set up a Constitution Drafting Committee to draft our Constitution in line with Presidential system of Government. While addressing the Committee on the 18th day of October, 1975 he stated that the Supreme Military Council had discussed and had agreed on the Presidential System of Government in which the President and Vice President are elected with clearly defined powers and accountable to the people, Eric Teniola also captured this record of events in his book, Origin of Presidential System of Government.
From independence in 1960 to 1966, Nigeria practiced the Parliamentary system of Government where we had the president Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe as the Head of State and the Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa as the head of Government.
Federalism dates back to the year 1939 by Governor It was adopted by the Richard Constitution of 1946, the Macpherson constitution of 1951 and the Littleton Constitution of 1954. The 1954 Constitution was as a result of the Constitutional conference that took place in London in 1953 where the resolution for Nigeria to remain a Federal State was adopted and the reasons for the adoption of federalism were:
Cultural and ethnic diversity
The fear by the minority of domination
Geographical factor and economic factor and
Bringing government and power to the people
From the foregoing, it is very clear that Nigeria has passed through almost all the systems of government. It is however disheartening that today we are still pondering over a suitable system of government that will take us to the Promised Land. Some scholars have argued that our problem does not lie in the system of government we practice but in our insincerity as a people. For instance, even though we proclaim federalism today, we cannot boldly say we practice federalism. To me, we have combined the features of federal, presidential and unitary systems of government. By name, it is Federal Government of Nigeria; by Constitutional design, it is Presidential and in practice, it is Unitary. But we pretend to be operating the federal system. Even though the reasons for adopting the federal system were mainly for the protection of the minority so that power is spread evenly, in practice, power has continued to concentrate at the center.
Let’s be clear, the drafters of Nigeria’s constitution were mindful of our diversity. For this reason they included provisions you will not find in many other constitutions. Provisions such as Federal Character found in section 14 (3) of the Constitution and appointment of Ministers from each State of the Federation found in section 147 (3). The philosophy and principle behind these provisions are based on the need to protect ethnic minorities almost similar to the principle of affirmative action in the United States which was to protect blacks from racial discrimination. Indeed the Constitution ensures equal participation by providing equal representation through election of National Assembly members. It also provides strict requirements of popularity of votes and 25% in 2/3rd of states for the President. This way the President whether or not he likes it must have enough spread across the ethnic groups.

The multi ethnicity and diverse nature of the Country does not seem to help issues. The negativities of our diverse nature seems to always raise its ugly head with every system we operate. Apparently, there is so much distrust among the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. As it was in the sixties, so it is today. And at the risk of sounding so pessimistic, so shall it be if we as a people do not take urgent and sincere steps to correct the ills and abnormality in our democratic system and practice.
SUITABILITY OF THE PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEM

For the purpose of this topic, I will like to revisit the features of Presidential system of government for us to ascertain how suitable it is in a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria. They are:
Separation of powers between the arms of government
President is both the head of state and head of government. This makes the President too powerful
President is responsible to the electorates
There is hardly any recognized opposition which is dangerous for democracy
Ministers are individually handpicked by the President and can be summarily dismissed by the President
The system is very expensive
Following the highlights above, most powers are concentrated in one man at the Centre and this cannot be suitable in a multi ethnic society like Nigeria where there are issues of marginalization, resource control, power sharing issues, revenue allocation, agitation for secession etc. As evidenced today, there are too many responsibilities at the Federal level and it is therefore not surprising that the dividends of democracy hardly get to the grassroots. The medical, education and social standard in our villages are nothing to write home about. Majority of the citizens leaving in rural areas hardly feel the effect of government. This is not surprising for it is foolhardy to expect the center government in Abuja to know and solve the problems in every hamlet in Nigeria.
It is important in addressing this topic, the system of government cannot be addressed in isolation of the structure of government. Both work hand in glove. In other words, if the system does not fit into the structure then there will be a misfit and the two will never be able to work in unison. What do I mean? A Presidential system of government which by its nature cedes a lot of powers to “Mr President” or maybe “Madam President” one day, can only work in a democratic system where true federalism thrives. An executive President in a unitary system is perfect recipe for chaos and absolutism.

PATTERN OF FEDERAL ALLOCATIONS

Available Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) first quarter 2017 report indicates that the Federal Government statutory allocation to the three tiers of government in January 2017 was N430.16 Billion of which N168 billion went to the Federal Government, states N114.28billion, and local government councils, N85.4 billion. In other word, the 36 states of the Federation and FCT and the 774 local government areas got less than one tier of the government at the center.

In February 2017, Federal Government got 200.6 billion, states received N128.4billion; local government councils received N96.52 billion representing (20.60 per cent).

In the month of March 2017, Federal government received a total of N180.51bn from the N466.9bn shared. States received a total of N116.5bn and Local governments received N87.5bn.

The FAAC allocation was made applying the revenue sharing formula, federal government – 52.68%; States – 26.72% and local governments – 20.60%

This has always been the narrative. It is worrisome that it is the federal government that want to provide water for the people in Esa-Oke or the man in Mubi. It is the federal government that want to provide fertilizer for the farmer in Idoma land, use the federal police to secure Badagry, Bama and the creeks. If the various ethnic groups in Nigeria must come together with one mind in one spirit to accept Nigeria as one indivisible country and if we must collectively work towards the unity and development of Nigeria, the narrative must change. Democratic government is for the people and by the people. Power must return to the people. Therefore, items under part 1 second schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 must be revisited. Items relating to power, police, water, agriculture, mines and mining, parks, registration of business names, prisons public holiday’s railways, stamp duties, marriages etc must be moved to either the concurrent list or residual list. The issue of restructuring must be revisited. States and local government areas through which the common man feels the Government must be empowered.

CONCLUSION

Nigeria’s democracy has experienced a very rough history arising from several military coup leading to many years of military rules and the civil war of 1967 to 1970. These together with ethnic sentiments, tribalism, religion fanaticism insincerity and greed by some politicians have hindered our democratic growth. In democracy, power belongs to the people, but in Nigeria’s democracy, power has been taking away from the people leading to distrust, inter-ethnicity rivalry, disagreement and conflicts power tussle and the quest for secession.
Does the idea of zoning stunt development of other areas? Does it sacrifice merit on the alter of ethnicity. I think like everything else it is the practitioners that matter. Whilst the above two questions are germaine and can be a problem, I believe the whole idea of federal character and the appointment of a minister per state should adequately answer the question of schewed federal presence in certain regions. It is important to note that the federal character policy is not only applicable to appointments but also to projects of the federal government The fact that the constitution also provides for equal state representation in the legislature also addresses this issue. Surely a budget that is lopsided will find it difficult to pass through the National Assembly. It must be clearly understood that what drives the policy of zoning or federal character is the fundamental quest of all people for equity, fairness and justice which is also written into our constitution. It is no different from the cry for resource control. This underlying principle is therefore implicit and explicit. Though zoning is not written into our laws (at least not yet), it is implicit in the sense that a Party that presents 2 south west candidates as President and Vice President is bound to fail. Today the No1, No 2 and No 3 must be from different zones.
I believe the presidential system if modified to fit into our local peculiarities and if practiced within the context of a federal system, can work well in Nigeria, but there must be some modifications particularly by devolving powers to the regions and the states.
Many have said Nigeria is a mere geographical expression and the amalgamation in 1914 was really and truly an amalgamation of several nations with different cultures, religion and languages. For this reason it has been suggested by scholars that the presidential system should be modified and rejigged by having rotational presidency as a form of government enshrined in the constitution. Some have also proffered that we should have a council of presidents with one President and two Vice Presidents and all three representing the three major tribes, or a six man presidential council representing all six geopolitical zones of the country. Some have even gone further to argue for a hybrid system of government, part presidential, part parliamentarian. Which ever way, it is abundantly clear that to achieve a more perfect union, we need to some recalibration or restructuring as some will like to call it. The presidential system of government in and of itself works well generally, but as Nigerians we must not play the ostrich or continue to be in denial that our society, our people and our chequered history have peculiarities and vagarices that may not necessarily be found in other societies that practices a typical and traditional presidential system of government therefore it is my humble opinion that because there exist a patent symbiotic relationship between politics and economics and because the two feed off each other and to maintain a social equilibrium for the purpose of achieving a more progressive and egalitarian society there is need for some re-engineering.
I stand on that side of the divide that believes we do not need to jettison the presidential system wholesale but that we should look at the merits and demerits and come up with a customized presidential system of government for our great country.
Before I close let me use this very auspicious moment to on behalf of my colleagues in the National Assembly from across party lines congratulate His Excellency, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the executive Governor of the State of osun for attaining this milestone, my prayer for you is very simple but even in its simplicity it is very powerful and that is, May the best days of your past be the worst days of your future.
Once again I thank you for the opportunity to hear my thought and in my own way contribute to this most important debate that is essential for our forward movement.

Femi Gbajabiamila is the Leader of the 8th House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In Defense Of Aisha Yesufu By Moshood Isah

The co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, Aisha Yesufu, has been at the center of the storm in the past few days after releasing a video via her Twitter handle urging President Muhammadu Buhari to resign on health grounds. The woman, who came to prominence (at least to many Nigerians) via the BBOG campaign, received the bashing of her life from ardent supporters of President Buhari for what they described as lack compassion and concern for the president as others questioned her sincerity to the campaign.

As a matter of fact, the Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie wrote an article bashing Aisha and accusing her of childish tantrums and incoherent ranting against the President. Aisha was also accused of turning the campaign on its head and taking it personal and malicious over the nearly two years since the inception of this government.

This is one of many verbal and written assaults received by a woman who simply urged the President to resign to take care of himself rather than handing power to his vice every now and then for medical reasons. I heartily sympathize with Aisha because there is every possibility that she has taken this action for altruistic purposes rather than the selfish reasons she has been accused of.

Just for the record, the one and only time I ever saw Aisha Yesufu was during a town hall meeting just before the 2015 elections at Ladi Kwalli Hall in the Sheraton Hotel in Abuja, where the then running mate of President Buhari now the Vice President (and subsequently acting president) was in attendance to dole out electoral promises. While some of the organizers came out and spoke vehemently in favor of change and declared themselves ardent supporters of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Aisha didn’t mince words in telling us that she is pro-Nigeria. She honestly but enthusiastically said that Nigerians will be ready to boot out any government that under-performs.

After scolding virtually everyone in the hall for not showing enough solidarity to the BBOG campaign, she asked further questions regarding her business and how it could flourish better if the government was elected. I started following her on Twitter after the event and apparently saw all the strong advocacy and campaign regarding the safe return of the abducted Chibok girls. I must confess a lot was sacrificed, physically, mentally, financially and emotionally for the campaign by notable members like Dr Oby Ezekwesile, Bukky Shonibare, along with Aisha Yesufu and others. The group advocacy gained both national and international attention with several publicity and interviews both on local and international media. Most notable of such interviews was on Al-Jazeera when Dr Ezekwesile was a guest on the famous “head-to-head” program hosted by Mehdi Hassan.

Ironically, the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party felt the BBOG campaign was a stick used by opposition to attack the government. Thus it may be easy to decipher that many Nigerians always believe that if you speak against a particular government, then you are definitely for the other. The funny part is that, this isn’t the first time, individuals and groups have called for the resignation of the president on health ground but since Aisha is expected to be a “Buharist”, her case caused a steer. As a matter of fact, many people expected that the BBOG campaign will die a natural death with the emergence of Buhari as President but alas the campaign got even stronger with continuous peaceful sittings, demonstrations and protests.

In this vein, Aisha and the group continue to suffer in the hands of political shenanigans just for using their freedom of expression and, to quote my oga Gimba Kakanda, “she says the things she does because she has the right to, it’s her constitutionally given freedom as a citizen for which she owes no one an apology. In a sane society, her suggestion would’ve initiated a deep reflection, but where everything wears the cassock and caftan of sentiments, this strikes as a cultural treason. I’m not unaware of the party scheming to demonize the sick President by promoting a covert campaign for his resignation, but the Mrs. Yusufu I know isn’t an agent of any partisan interest. She’s a free spirit, an annoyingly unapologetic advocate.”

Lest I remind you all that it was this BBOG campaign that led to the past government to even set-up a fact finding committee before it was even admitted that some girls were abducted. The unequivocal demand for the girls’ rescue was what led to the rescue of about 100 of the girls via a prisoner swap deal.

Let’s calm ourselves and reply constructive criticisms with constructive replies rather than throw jabs on critics. After all, Aisha’s call for the President’s resignation will end up being a
self-fulfillment value of freedom of expression as the president will apparently not resign because of that video nor the will the Lawmakers impeach the President for that purpose.

Countries Where Internet Is Payed For In Large Sum – By Mercy Abang

We are in the 21st century and it is shocking that activists, advocates and development agencies still continue to agitate for citizens access to the internet – internet accessibility has undoubtedly become a fundamental human right  – but some nations are not allowing the freedom that comes with internet access – there’s been a large-scale government-authorized crackdown or total shutdown of the internet especially in developing nations.

 

To best describe the Internet in formal terms, it is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP.)   Despite the increasing billions of people accessing the Internet there remain pockets of the world that do not have access; attempt to restrict or control the content that users have access to.Why are developing countries shutting down the Internet? Why the legislation to crackdown users? Why has the Internet become more of a threat?

 

Participants from over 400 countries gathered in Stockholm to find answers to the foregoing concerns – with the theme, “leaving no one offline” at the just concluded Stockholm Internet Forum (SIF) – from governments to corporate agencies and civil society actors, the argument moved from legislation to economic liberation and users privacy.

 

To get closure, I decided to enquire from participants from seven countries – (used that number for my sample size) on how they have fared in accessing the Internet, from legislation to affordability and crackdowns, their responses gives a sense of what is obtained in many under-developed nations.

 

 

1.     Cameroon

The Cameroonian government recently suspended Internet services for Anglophone areas of the country, (Southwest and Northwest province) after a series of protests that resulted in violence and the arrest of community leaders [from what period to what period]. How many deaths during protests?

“The cost of exposing the state abuse and the state excesses has fallen below the price of data”, says 38-year old Kathleen Ndongmo of the Anghore Group [a risk analysis firm?]. “In any gradation of citizen activism, taking a picture or video is the lowest risk form of engagement – a bullet cost more today than any dissenter”.

Despite being the leader of the country for almost 34 years, President Paul Biya is also to stand for the 2018 presidential election in Cameroon –  a new seven-year term for the head of state is also linked to the severe internet crackdown.

2.     Mozambique

Mozambique, a nation of 26 million people, has a barely sufficient 6% Internet penetration nationwide. 32-year old, Borges Nhamire, with the centre de Integridade Publica says the poor access to Internet is linked to government stringent regulations. “They (government) are not allowing for a free market”, he alluded. “During the 2011 demonstrations against the state of the economy, government shutdown access to the internet and all forms of communications.”

Mr Borges says to ensure the crackdown is absolute, much after the restoration of Internet, “the government embarked on an enlightenment campaign, deceiving the population that WhatsApp conversations are monitored – that move reduced the participation of most Mozambicans from civil society activities that may be termed anti-government”.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption ensures only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp- messages are secured with a lock, and only the recipient and users have the special key needed to unlock and read messages – but a government manages to deceive its people in a bid to stifle dissent.

3.     Zimbabwe

Another country facing series of crackdowns is Zimbabwe and with elections ahead, speculations are rife. The government introduced a cyber crime and computer crimes bill with unclear definitions “so you could tweet something and they can determine whether you’re cyber terrorists – and the essence is to kerb protests”, says 32 – year – old Munya Blog of Magamba Network, a Zimbabwean organisation.

 

Munya said in January 2017, “the government in collaboration with the private sector, allowed a 500% increase in data so it becomes out of reach of the ordinary people which then led to “data must fall” hashtag.

 

4.     Myanmar

In far away Myanmar with Aung San Suu Kyi as incumbent State Councillor and Leader of the National League for Democracy. The popular Section 66(d), seems to be the newest threat to freedom of expression and a tool surprisingly, for the former activist. Persistent repression of criticism through section 66(d) of the Telecommunications Law has led lawyers, politicians and activists to suggest that conditions for free speech have continued to deteriorate under the National League for the Democracy-led government, despite expectations that the new leadership would usher in an era of freedom.

The government is under mounting pressure from the public and from rights groups to amend its criminal defamation laws after a spate of cases against journalists and bloggers has raised questions about the administration’s commitment to protecting free speech. “Our member posted a satire on his facebook wall and he got six months in jail,” Activist Zar Chi Oo tells me. Activists Chi Oo is a member with PEN Myanmar, a pressure group advocating for the law to be abolished says it puts every social media user at risk of arrests or detention. “A supporter of a public figure can just see any post and sue the user and said social media user is immediately detained”.

 

5.     Tanzania

The Tanzanian government in 2015 also got smart enough to develop a cybercrime bill. The document shrouded in secrecy was “taken to the parliament– citizens were given only 24 hours to review the document with most parliamentarians lacking knowledge of most of its content”, a famous activist with the Change Tanzania movement, Maria Sarungi-Tsehai says. “What they were really doing was criminalising gossip”, she continued – “and that has led to series of arrests of crackdowns as we’ve seen over the last year”.

 

6.     Pakistan

While other nations give different reasons for the subtle crackdown or total shutdown of the Internet, the Pakistani government blames its intermittent act of shutdowns or blocking platforms like YouTube and Facebook to the prevention of terrorist activities.

Authorities claim users posting blasphemous contents have a tendency of leading extremists/terrorist attacks – the government only recently, also threatened facebook to reveal the identity of users. But 24 – year- old Rafia Shaih, a freelance Journalist says “ If you’re shutting down the internet for national security, what is being done is simply attacking the basic human rights of communication”, she argues.

7.     Kenya

Judith Omigar, working with Juakali, an online platform linking young people seeking jobs in the formal sector says, “The Kenyan government is likely to shut down the internet ahead of the August general elections”. She said there has been series of arrests of bloggers posting contents against powerful persons in the country and the build up to the election season will likely see to more crackdowns of Internet users.

 

While the conversation about a free, open and secure Internet that promotes human rights and development worldwide continues. For governments especially in the developed nations, I’d like to share a 2009 report by the World Bank, which clearly states that access to broadband boosts economic growth in all countries, but most especially in developing ones. The study also showed that in developing countries, for every ten percentage points of broadband penetration, their economies grew by 1.38 percent -the report, conducted in 120 countries between 1980 and 2006, showed that developed countries’ economies grew by 1.21 per cent.