Kwara heading for a logjam?

By Dapo Akinrefon

KWARA State offers an interesting perspective on age-long reverence for patriarchal politics. Indeed, a storm is gathering in the political firmament of the state.

For a state, which to some, is regarded as city of lawyers, perhaps, the judiciary will be used to solve the on going logjam in the state.

Ilorin is a city in love with the wig and gown; its sons and daughters bestride Nigeria’s bench and bar. The city has families that have produced lawyers and judges. Indeed the first lawyer to be given the silk in the whole of Nigeria’s North is from this expanding city: Alhaji A.G.F. Abdulrazaq (SAN).

He too has at least two lawyers in his family. One of the most respected judicial officers in the history of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mustapha Akanbi, who used to head the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), is from Ilorin. He retired as President of the Court of Appeal. His son is also a lawyer.

The Belgore family has made notable contributions to the profession especially with Justice Alfa Belgore of the Supreme Court and Justice Babtunde Belgore, retired Chief Judge of the Federal High Court. Another judicial officer from the Belgore family is currently serving in the judiciary of The Gambia.

Ilorin’s Emir, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari is a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal. Justice Saidu Kawu, retired Justice of the Supreme Court and Alhaji Aliyu Alarape Salma (SAN) are from Ilorin.

But like a colossus, one man holds the ace as far as the state is concerned. For the man fondly called ‘Oloye’, Dr. Olusola Saraki’s grip, has shown little respect for zonal cleavages and religion as in some states.
However, Dr Saraki’s Central Senatorial District has always provided the leadership exclusively.

The clamour to get the North and South provide the governor is presently, one of the deciding factor in the choice of the next governor come April.

Saraki has again pitched his tent in the central zone backing his daughter, Gbemisola. But his son, Bukola, the sitting governor, sees it differently and is supporting Alhaji Abdulfatai Ahmed, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate.

With deep South-West sub-ethnic bias, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), is equally holding a good chunk of interests. Its candidate, Dr. Dele Belgore is also from the district. The battle is therefore, a three horse race – PDP, ACPN and ACN.

While the PDP which has ruled the state in the last eight years has the wherewithal to retain power, the ACN on the other hand is gearing up to wrest power from the former.

The PDP candidate, Ahmed, sees his ambition as an extension of the ‘legacies of Governor Bukola Saraki, whose extensive agricultural strides has endeared him to the citizens.

He declares that “I have been part of this administration for seven years as Commissioner for Finance. I was involved in the blueprint that resulted in the massive transformation of the state. So, I see my victory as a continuation of the legacy. Again, PDP is very popular in this state. It is well accepted by the people, and the president on his visit to the state recently was amazed at what he saw. He observed that truly, the state is PDP.”

The Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), which is largely seen as a breakaway rump of the PDP consisting mostly of die-hard followers of the older Saraki, is equally strong in the state. Its weakness, however, is mainly the lack of a strong national leadership to invest proper structure and status.

Observers have resorted to label it ‘a one state party’, owing to it not having a national outlook. But that notwithstanding, the party is riding high on the popularity and magic wand of ‘Baba Oloye’, who has come to be accepted and adored as the ultimate political machine of the state.

As things stand in the state, the 2011 elections will be taking another dimension from previous ones.
While the performance of the outgoing governor, and a seeming challenge to his hegemony from within, will come to fore, there is also the gender challenge.

The poser of whether the state, despite religious and socio-cultural interests, is ripe for a female executive governor and how far has he (Saraki) gone to prepare the minds of the voting populace for the change, or is he merely taking the people for a ride, remains questions seeking answers.

From all indications, the election in the state will be fought on a triangular basis – the PDP, ACPN, and ACN. And to reduce it further to the holy orders, it will be in the name of the father, the son, and the daughter.

But to many, there is the general perception that the ACN will have an edge over others.

Media Aide to Kwara ACN Gov Candidate, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye was quick to point out that the guber race is clearly between Belgore and others, measured against the reality on the ground. Political analysts would be mistaken to predict the outcome of the poll based on indices that shaped previous polls such as the somewhat over-bloated level of Saraki’s popularity among the people.

It has been argued that given the widespread sentiments against the Saraki, accentuated by the unprecedented level of uncoordinated protests among the youths and grumblings within the elite, Belgore would likely be a beneficiary of pent up anger over perceived arrogance of the Saraki political dynasty.

And to worsen the situation the unprecedented rise in political awareness among the people would make rigging almost impossible. The antecedence of the ACN in retrieving stolen mandate is also a serious deterrence for the ruling clique.

Ajakaye explained that “all of these come next to the impact and influence Belgore’s pedigree already have on the psyche of the populace. He comes from a resoundingly popular family with nothing to link with political negativism and much to draw massive votes.

The name Belgore is synonymous with sterling record in public service in Kwara State and in Nigeria as a whole. The name might well have entered into the Guinness Book of Record as the family with the highest number of jurists, a legacy that dated back to well over 200 years when the popular Alfa Belgore, Dele’s great grandfather, became the Alkali (grand jurist) in the colonial era on the altar of competence, commitment and superior knowledge.”

He said “Dele himself comes to the race armed with some of the best credentials needed in the 21st century politician, when meritocracy is urgently replacing mediocrity and favouritism. He is for now immune from any political baggage, some of which are found in his challengers. A senior advocate of Nigeria without any link to corrupt government bureaucracy, Belgore is respected for his urbane mien, thoroughness, intelligence and national prominence.”

But the only problem Belgore faces appears to be the shaky structure of the ACN in Kwara. But this may not count for much, when weighed against public sentiment which tends to spot him out as the only candidate that can make the difference.

He is seen as a new face in Kwara politics, but this seems to be a plus for him rather than being a burden in normal politicking. That may well be because of the anti-Saraki sentiments that are daily gaining ground in Ilorin and elsewhere.

Four blunders Obasanjo committed in office —Fani-Kayode

Yusuf Alli, Managing Editor, Northern Operation

A former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, has accused ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo of committing four grave blunders while in office between 1999 and 2007.

He singled out the choice of the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, in spite of protests, as the biggest mistake Obasanjo made.

Fani-Kayode gave a rare insight into the last days of Obasanjo’s presidency in an interview in the maiden edition of a new magazine,

African Statesman.

The ex-minister also said in the magazine that President Goodluck Jonathan would have to do “a much better job if he comes back as the President.”

He said: “Ex-President Obasanjo probably made three mistakes while he was in office, possibly four. The

first one was the issue of ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, which could have been managed better. And I think people on both sides of the divide were fuelling it for their own purposes. Atiku made a lot of mistakes, certain things that were not acceptable.

“Where you have a situation you have terrible crisis within a government itself; between the President and the Vice-President and everybody took sides. That could not have been good for the government, and it wasn’t good for the government.

“I played quite a few roles initially and I found that regrettable, but it had to come to that. And since then, I had met with Atiku long ago, and we had put all that behind us. That was regrettable.

“The second one was the challenge we had with former President Ibrahim Babangida from time to time. Gen. Babangida has always been a stabilising factor for Obasanjo’s government from day one. He brought Obasanjo into power in 1999 and, for me, I am a deep believer in spiritual principles.

“Someone that brought you into power, brought you out of jail and for you to allow Babangida’s son to be arrested and detained for doing nothing wrong, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), was something I think was a grave error.

“I think that, together with other squabbles we had with Gen. Babangida, was one of the mistakes.

“Babangida was a positive force and he could have been treated with far more respect, and he will stabilise the government of the day and the country at large.

“The number three mistake, which I think was the second greatest mistake, was the attempt to have a third term in office. That is all people remember today. They don’t remember the positive things. There were many positive things but they don’t. I could list them, but people just remember third term.

“And third term is something that is perfectly within his right to attempt to change the constitution. But it was rejected by the people and it failed. I think it was a mistake to have even tried to do so.

“The biggest mistake was the choice of his successor. Late President Umaru Yar’Adua was a disaster from the beginning and was a disaster right up to the end. He was somebody that was not accepted and not the right person to run the country. He was a bad choice.

“And we warned him. The same caucus that I mentioned to you, including Batagarawa (I forgot to mention his name earlier, the former Minister of Defence), we sat down and we warned Obasanjo about it, but he wouldn’t listen and he still brought Yar’Adua on board.

“Yar’Adua was literally imposed on the party. Yar’Adua was imposed on the country, and the rest is history.

“But I think these were four major errors that ex-President Obasanjo made.

“Having said that, I can list the achievements of Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, which will take one a whole day. They were monumental and so many of them. And he did a great job as the President.

“So, we must be mindful of the fact that history demands that we are objective in analysis and to point out the pros and cons.”

Asked if these four mistakes were raised with Obasanjo, the ex-Minister added: “Absolutely. On a number of occasions, we had discussions, both as a group and individually.

“I remember very clearly particularly on the issue of Yar’Adua. That was a critical issue. We told him pointedly that this was a mistake and we gave our reasons. Many felt that Yar’Adua’s wife would control him and run the country, not Yar’Adua himself.

“Many felt that Yar’Adua was physically and mentally unfit, and he said so. Some said that they had known him for 25 years. I think it was Batagarawa that said that. And that the man would end up attempting to jail every person for no reason. Others said that he was tyrannical. All kinds of things.

“I didn’t really know him very well but I felt that clearly, this is not the kind of man to run Nigeria. And we told him, but he (Obasanjo) refused to listen.”

Pressed to clarify why Obasanjo settled for Yar’Adua, Fani-Kayode, said: “He did not give us any reason. It is inexplicable up till today. There was no reason apart from that; one, he is from the North and two, he felt that he was an honest man; that he wasn’t corrupt. For me, I felt that being from the North was not enough.

“There are so many people he could have selected. Why Umaru Yar’Adua? That is the question I think you really need to put to him.”

Asked if Obasanjo complained to his loyalists when Yar’Adua was derailing, Fani-Kayode said: “On a number of occasions, Obasanjo expressed concern that Yar’Adua was like a hunting dog, who was no longer listening to the whistle.

“The young man lost it. The minute he got to power, he changed. He became something else. And our group was very vocal and strong, and he feared immensely. I heard his Mallam told him that those are hotheads you have to watch out for and as far as we were concerned, we were ready for them. However the same Obasanjo told us to keep quiet.

‘The first thing he (Yar’Adua) did was to implicate us in a coup attempt. In January 2008, the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, forwarded a report to the Presidency, saying our group was planning a coup and we have met in London .

“And, of course, it was a lie. The State Security Service (SSS) investigated and discovered it was a lie. Then they said they would do Judicial Commission of Enquiry in all our ministries.”

Fani-Kayode explained that Obasanjo initially denied the Third Term agenda until it was clear that he wanted it.

He added: “I want to look back to the record. I, together with Nasir el-Rufai, Nuhu Ribadu, Akin Osuntokun, Frank Nweke Jr. and a few others like Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, were in a group within the government of the day. That was our caucus.

“Not one of us spoke in favour of the Third Term Agenda. Check the records. What a lot of people don’t know is that within the government, there was serious division over the issue.

“We felt that we had done our best for the government. Obasanjo had two terms; he should go and appoint a successor. A good person to continue with his policies. That was our view. Obasanjo was not happy with that. He was not happy with us for taking that position.

“It was hidden from us until the last minute when it was obvious that something was going on. At that point, we didn’t even want to be part of it.

“People that were involved with Third Term are people like late Mohammed Waziri, Andy Uba, Ex-Governor Saminu Turaki; the late President Umaru Yar’Adua, ex-Governor James Ibori and characters like that. Our group was known as the intellectual group within that government. We were not part of it.

“Certainly on the issue of Third Term, we were very silent about that and he noted that. Clearly, he (Obasanjo) wasn’t happy about that. Of course, we raised issue with him personally. On a number of occasions, he denied it for quite some time, saying it was Dr. Andy Uba, ex-Deputy President of the Senate, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu and others, ‘go and talk to them,’ until it was manifest and clear.

“There were characters that were pushing these things and those of us that are intellectual, smart and educated enough could see that history would not allow this to happen; that it was bound to fail.

“And we saw it was bad, having achieved so much; he would allow himself to be pushed into such a thing by people that barely understood the implications of what they were trying to do.

“So, when people attack people like me…if only they knew the truth.”

The ex-Minister also said that there is no sign that the administration of President

Goodluck Jonathan is working.

He said: “What is your definition of working? I think if you go and talk to an objective person and analyse the situation, you will find out that you have a lot of work to do.

“The facts and figures are there. One thing we did when we were in power, at least one, I would argue with facts and figures, I wouldn’t come and tell you lies. If you can prove to me that my facts and figures are not correct, fine. I would bow to superior argument. But don’t tell me lies.

“The fact of the matter is, since 2007, we are now in debt again as a nation. That is not good. The fact of the matter is that Excess Crude Account is next to nothing today. In 2001, we had $20 billion, which is the fact. The fact of the matter is that our foreign reserve has depleted. I could go on and on.

“The fact of the matter is that Stock Exchange has crashed; banks are not as strong as they were when Obasanjo was in power and they are not lending as much as they were. Nigerian Middle Class is beginning to shrink again, and, in fact, it has been decimated in the last three to four years. Those are the facts.

“These things, nobody can run away from and I urge the President to do a much better job if he comes back as the President. I pray he does. I am a PDP man. Regardless of all this, I have refused to leave the PDP and we are supporting the PDP.”

Dinner With Mr. Speaker

By Pius Adesanmi

Venue was Parliament Hill, Ottawa, home to the proud Gothic Revival buildings that make up the national Parliament of Canada. Our host was the Honorable Peter Milliken, Speaker of the House of Commons and Canada’s equivalent of Dimeji Bankole. Date was Thursday March 3, 2011. The occasion was a dinner prelude to a conference convened to celebrate the life and legacy of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the great African nationalist and former president of Tanzania. Carleton University’s Institute of African Studies, in liaison with numerous actors and organizations in Ottawa’s Africanist community, especially friends of Tanzania, was organizing the conference. As Julius Nyerere had been a great friend of Canada, it was in order for the Canadian establishment to support the conference.

Because dinner was the Speaker’s show, the guest parade was intimidating. A Nigerian journalist writing about it would describe the guests as “dignitaries and top government functionaries from all walks of life.” On the Tanzanian side, there was the High Commissioner of Tanzania in Canada. Tanzania’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations flew in from New York for the dinner. There was the Honorable Abdulrahman Kinana, a former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly and a top political figure in Tanzania. On the Canadian side, there were distinguished Members of Parliament (MPs) and leaders of sundry congressional delegations in the areas of international trade and development. There were high ranking Canadian government officials whose job descriptions put Africa on their table every morning. Carleton University’s delegation comprised the University President, two Deans, the Director of the Institute of African studies, and a number of African studies professors.

It was a bitterly cold evening. I parked on a street across from the imposing Parliament buildings and ran towards the main entrance of the central building, passing the two casual police cars (often empty) that I have seen decorating parliament grounds since I moved to Ottawa about five years ago. This time, there were police officers in the cars. They smiled and nodded in my direction as I shot past them, probably pitying the poor fellow who had to brave that bitter cold to reach the main building. How were they to know what I thought of the fact that only four police officers, seeping coffee and smiling in their cosy cars were all I had to see (see, not even deal with) before I accessed the centre of Canada’s parliamentary democracy? How were they to know that my mind was already in Abuja, visualizing the mean and unfriendly security obstacles that separate the National Assembly from the ordinary Nigerian?

At the main entrance, I met my Dean and a few other guests. We went through metal detectors briskly and were given directions to the Speaker’s office by the very friendly staff at the lobby. We made our way to the elevator, up one floor, and into labyrinthine hallways with great ceilings. Fifteen or so odd metres to the Speaker’s office, and we were on our own, walking like we were in our fathers’ oko egan (farm), totally unharassed, unmolested by anybody. No power show. No do-you-know-who-I-am (apologies to Salisu Suleiman). No overbloated egos. No barking of orders by paraga-drinking and igbo-smoking security guards. No corking of rifles preparatory to accidental discharge. The ‘abnormal’ simplicity and humility of that environment was beginning to annoy me. Remember, I was thinking about our friends in Abuja.

We got to the reception area of the Speaker’s office for that part where you do a little chitchat and exchange business cards with other guests while picking wine glasses from trays being ferried around by uniformed staff. Canada’s High Commissioner in Tanzania was already there with a few MPs and some Directors of Parliamentary offices. The High Commissioner had heard about me and told me he was looking forward to the publication of my Penguin book. I was pleased and told him that I had recently had a meeting in my office with Chris Cooter, Canada’s High Commissioner in Nigeria, and he had assured me that he would want to play a role in a possible book launch in Nigeria later this summer. More chitchat and Speaker Milliken breezed in from an inner sanctuary, accompanied by an aide, just one aide. I made a mental note of the fact that anybody in his status bracket in Abuja would have made such an entry accompanied by at least two Ekene Dili Chukwu bus loads of personal assistants and protocol officers.

The Honorable Speaker went round the room, spending time with each guest. Finally somebody I can call “honorable” without puking, unlike the clowns in Abuja. My turn. A handshake. I introduced myself as one of his guests from Carleton University. And he said: “Professor Adesanmi?” I nodded. He smiled, our hands still locked in a handshake, and: “did you say you were from Nigeria? How long have you been in Canada sir?” I gave him the appropriate answers, taking a mental note of that “sir” of politeness and scrutinizing him closely in case the mention of Nigeria gave him a heart attack. Because of a long tradition of respect for learning, Western politicians and government officials always have a way of creating an aura of solemnity and respect when they are in the presence of University professors. Teachers in this culture remind me of the exalted position of teachers in a once-upon-a-time Nigeria. Treasury looters and yahoo boys who hammer to hummer are the new cool in Nigeria, not Professors.

“Thank you for offering your expertise to Canada,” the Speaker’s voice broke in to my thought. He patted me on the shoulder and moved on to the next handshake with another guest. Soon, we were formally invited to the dining room somewhere down the hall. I looked at the haute cuisine menu and regretted not having had the opportunity to perform a little ritual I always perform before attending upper class oyibo functions. Despite all my years of Frenchification and movement in the circles of culture and haute cuisine in the Western world, I never leave home to eat oyibo food at exclusive gatherings without laying a solid foundation of pounded yam or eba and egusi soup in my stomach. That way, I can look very relaxed when those painfully small servings of five-course menu items with encyclopaedic names arrive in very expensive plates on the trolley of a uniformed chef.

After dinner came the speeches but my mind was not there. I have never been able to escape a comparative frame of mind in these kinds of situations. Never mind that comparison with what obtains back home always brings misery and migraine. I looked at that room, packed with so many dignitaries from the top of the Canadian establishment and the thought I how casually I had strolled in there depressed me. I thought of what it would take to assemble this calibre of people in one room and at the same event in Abuja. How to manage their ten-kilometre long convoys and the inevitable clashes between their security agents and protocol officers? How to manage the cacophony of their sirens? How to ford their igbo olodumare of special assistants, special advisers, senior special assistants, and senior special advisers? How to massage the anjonu iberu of their bloated egos? How to deal with their competition to arrive two hours late for the event and have the emcee “recognize their presence” according to protocol?

There is so much arrogance of power in Nigeria. So much irresponsibility on the part of the largely empty egos prattling all over the place as Chief or Alhaji in Abuja and the state capitals. How to get the Nigerian government official to embrace an ethos of the ordinariness of power such as I was witnessing in that room has been at the centre of much of my reflections lately. We will make no progress as a nation until we figure out how to demythify and demystify power. I remembered my friend, Bayo Aregbesola, who had worked as a senior parliamentary librarian before being transferred to New Brunswick as a senior manager in a Federal ministry. Bayo had to deal with MPs, Senators, Committee Chairs, and the general leadership of the Parliament every day in his line of work. Seeing all these people take the Ottawa public bus system to work every morning was a source of great sadness for my friend who would remember Nigeria, phone me from work, and scream: “Pius, can you imagine a Nigerian Senator or Rep taking public transportation to work?” And we would agonize to no end about Nigeria’s totally indolent National Assembly.

Dinner over, formal speeches began, followed by more small talk, exchange of business cards, and promises of phone calls. Some of the Canadian government officials and Members of Parliament told me that they had been to Nigeria in the past as members of all sorts of delegations and in the context of inter-governmental relations and initiatives. This is the part I like most about my access to Western officials who travel in Africa. This is the part where I get to ask: “so, who did you meet in Nigeria and what did they tell you?” You hear that they met Minister X or Senator Y or Governor Z. You hear that they were also in the Presidency. You hear very nice things about Nigeria and the wonderful things that the government of Nigeria is doing for the good people of Nigeria. Don’t blame these Western government officials for these views. Remember, they are telling you what they were told by their hosts in Abuja and the state capitals.

Nigerian officials display two kinds of behaviour when they are hosting their Western counterparts – especially if the guest if white. Firstly, they are overly obsequious, grinning from ear to ear, demonstrating a level of sheepish solicitude for western officials – no matter how junior – that they will never accord the Nigerian people. Secondly, they tend to tell loads of lies for they must prove to their western patrons that they are delivering the “dividends of democracy” to Nigerians. This atrocious psychology and slavish mentality explains why so many of them would begin to sing like a canary the moment an American official steps into their office as we see in the Wikileaks revelations on Dimeji Bankole, Bukola Saraki, Yayale Ahmed, and so many Nigerian officials. They sing and sing and sing, revealing Nigeria’s state secrets to these people, and praising their own meretricious service to high heavens.

This explains why I go to meetings with Western officials hoping to hear what they were told in Abuja. My personal policy is: no lie told to a Western official by a Nigerian official – especially if they are PDP – shall be left standing after a meeting with me. One by one, I shoot down the lies. Painstakingly and meticulously, I tell the story of the Nigerian people. I speak of our travails in the hands of those lying and treasury-looting officials. I warn those Western officials to always do their home work and check in order to know who is credible and who isn’t before rushing to Abuja to be lied to by treasury looters. I tell them that the only official they should take seriously for now is Babatunde Fashola in Lagos. Sometimes the lies from Abuja are so overwhelming you don’t even know where to start. Here, I apply the Unoka principle and debunk the big lies first. Remember Unoka? That is Mazi Okonkwo’s father in Things Fall Apart who subscribes to the principle of paying off his big debts first before attending to the small debts. I shed light on the lies standing before looking at the lies kneeling under them!

In moments of candour, some Western officials tell you that they know all these things but, sadly, in the real world, governments deal with governments. Were Speaker Milliken to visit Nigeria, for instance, it would be impossible for him to avoid Dimeji Bankole, no matter what Nigerians think of their Speaker and the overall leadership of their moribund and money-guzzling National Assembly. Governments deal with governments.

On my way back to my car, the policemen were still in their cars. One wound down his car door window and offered: “chilly night, eh?” I agreed with him. “Hurry home, buddy, and keep warm”, he shot after me sympathetically. I didn’t have to look over my shoulder. I felt safe.

The President Is A Good Son Of A Bad Family

By Dele Oluwole

“Democracy is an impossible thing until the power is shared by all, but let not democracy degenerate into mobocracy”

 

– Gandhi

As a Nigerian, before I share my pain with you let it be known that the followership (all of us Nigerians) is as bad as the leadership and that is because we do not hold the leadership accountable like it is in Europe and America.

Starting with a macro economic comparison between Ghana and Nigeria, Ghana foreign reserve is just below 3 billion US Dollars and the GDP of less than 40 Billion US Dollars. On the other hand, Nigeria’s GDP is 320 Billion US Dollars and foreign reserve of almost 40 billion US Dollars. The euro bond issued by Ghana had a sovereign interest of 6.5% but that of Nigeria was 7.8%

Are you wondering about the wide difference in the interest? Even though Ghana envies the Nigeria’s bequest of over 200 natural recourses and despite the fact that Nigeria is far richer than Ghana the global financial community has more credibility, respect, and trust for Ghana than the government of my country, the Nigerian government.

The holy bible says, “The hearts of my men are desperately wicked” the bible did not say hearts of black men but ‘men’. In this perspective, the white politicians in Europe and America have the predisposition to be corrupt but majority of them at least have either chosen or compelled to be transparent because the followership holds them accountable.

Haven leaved in Europe for many years I now know that the leadership of Nigeria will continue to milk the country dry until the Nigerians themselves say enough is enough as we have seen in the Arab countries recently. Unfortunately, we Nigerians are too timid to embark on a path that will liberate us from the jaws of the clique that has held the country captive for many years.

Occasionally we have the brave amongst us like our own Allen Greenspan, the bold central bank Governor, Mr Sanusi Lamido. He has spoken openly without fear or favour against the corrupt malpractices of the lawmakers in the National assembly and the presidency, these are those who should know better. The national assembly senators challenged him to clarify one of his public speeches or be sacked. He bluffed the senators who summoned him to defend his statement that the annual expenditure of the national assembly is massively burdensome on the overall national budget. The senators dug their own pit as he gave his televised defence to the detriment of the committee members whose mediocrity seems to have taken turn for the worse.

The ruling party, PDP in the past 10 years or so have brought the economy of the country to its knees. From a rigged election to jailed corrupt party chiefs, speakers and governors. The ruling party has made a governing a do or die affairs as we have seen in recent years as they are the only party that failed to sign the electoral code of conduct. They now hurriedly read the freedom of information bill that has been avoided for over four years with hope of passing it before the election. Do they think Nigerians are fools?

What has also characterised the ruling party is the failed Nigerian economy because of policy somersaults, mediocrity, and greed. These unpalatable national antecedents have eroded the very little credibility the Nigerian state and people have in the international community before the ruling PDP came into power.

My country’s economy is now on life support due to the unprecedented colossal looting of the treasury and the non-implementation of the national budget since 1999

How does one justify the National Security Adviser office massive capital budget of $580 million for 2011 whilst the Ministry of Education capital budget is just $399 million? No one should expect anything better from a clique of mediocre that hijacked the country since the early 90s.

My country have spent more than $333 billion on Nigerian roads since 1999 yet our roads have become more deplorable. Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) reports put daily deaths on our roads to about 780. That sadly means that there are 780 avoidable deaths on our roads while the politicians fly across the country in private jets and helicopters.

We do not need UNO, EU or America to intervene in the man made national political Tsunami Nigeria is experiencing. We are blessed with enormous natural and human resources, therefore the future lies in our hands. Let the good people of Nigeria vote out corrupt politicians that have plagued the country and vote in those who they believe in.

The election is next month and the president is vying for your vote again, unfortunately, he is the good son of a very bad family (the ruling PDP). The Holy Bible has it that seeds that falls on bad ground will die; the ruling party PDP is the bad ground whilst the president is the seed.

Vote for whom you believe in not a party!

Before the politicians are voted out or given another tenure in office let us start by petitioning our governors, senators, local government chiefs, etc FREE at ….

http://www.myopenpetition.com/ – it is FREE

.

Don’t threaten Tinubu, says CAN

By Wasiu Adeyemi and Yusuf Sanusi

The Lagos State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the alleged threat to arrest former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

It said Tinubu should be allowed to participate freely in politics.

CAN Chairman Bishop Adebayo Abiola told reporters on Wednesday that all democracies needed the opposition for effective nation building.

He said: “The importance of Tinubu Politics in Lagos, the Southwest and Nigeria is becoming more pronounced.

“Politicians should see this development as progressive, as all democracies require effective opposition.

“If this is true, why is Asiwaju Tinubu being threatened with detention? If this is a wild rumour, then, the authorities should dispel it immediately.”

The cleric praised Tinubu for presenting Governor Babatunde Fashola to the people in 2007.

He said: “We believe it is the Lord’s doing that Tinubu came to power in 1999 and, after two tenures, picked a dynamic, honest and result-oriented youth to build on the foundation that he had laid.”

Polls: Aregbesola urges ACN supporters to fast, pray for victory

News Mar 18, 2011

Ilorin – Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun has directed ACN supporters to embark on one day fasting and prayer in Kwara to unseat the ruling PDP in the April polls.

Aregbesola gave this directive on Thursay in Ilorin while addressing supporters of the ACN during the flag off of governorship campaign by the ACN candidate, Mr. Mohammed Dele Belgore (SAN).

According to him, all the muslims should at night after the fasting, recite a specific portion of the Quran while the Christains should also pray with Psalm 24 after their fasting to ensure total victory for the party.

Aregbesola pointed out that the PDP administration at the Federal and State levels had failed Nigerians and should be swept out at the next general elections.

The National Publicity Secretary of ACN, Alhaji Lai Muhammed cautioned the ruling PDP against violating the principle of one man, one vote as exemplified by the INEC so as to have a free, fair and credible polls.

Muhammed said: “the PDP must abide by the principle because it is the only panacea to the sustenance of the nation’s democracy in the country.”

“I belief that with the principle of one man one vote in Nigeria as arranged by the INEC, the era of multiple voting and other malpractices will be over in the country’s electoral system.”

Muhammed said there has never been free and fair election in the country in recent past, claiming that the electoral process had always been characterised by alleged manipulation by the PDP.

The ACN governorship candidate in Kwara said the era of stealing votes or manipulation was over in Nigeria.

Belgore promised to introduce free education, establishment of mobile dispensary, free medical services for children, aged, and pregnant women, if voted into power.

“If the party wins the election, the state will witness even development that will usher in good governance and growth,” he said.

The governorship candidate urged the people to use their votes wisely for a government of their choice so that their future would be guaranteed. (NAN)

SR Speaks: D’Banj’s “Kokolette” Interview With Jonathan

SaharaReporters

President Goodluck Jonathan and his running mate think so little of Nigerians that they have so far fled any venue where the presidential candidates have been invited to hold a debate. But when young Nigerians invited all the candidates to a debate tagged “What About Us?” to be anchored by acclaimed novelist, Chimamanda Adichie, many of them were certain that Mr. Jonathan would not say no to them.

They obviously didn’t know the man.

Instead of facing Adichie, Mr. Jonathan arranged his own one-man “debate,” inviting Nigeria’s hip-hop star, D’banj (whose real name is Dapo Daniel Oyebanjo) to ask him questions in a low-grade, soft session.

On March 17, 2011, D’banj took off his so-called Kokomaster hat and replaced it with that of the voice of the Nigerian youth as he took it upon himself to ask President Jonathan questions “concerning the youth.”

We would not have bothered if Jonathan was being prepped for a reality show on D’banj’s Koko mansion, but this was a session with a man asking Nigerian voters, including young ones, to entrust him with the highest political office in their country.

Having decided to duck from a debate organized by numerous Nigerian youth groups, Mr. Jonathan nevertheless wanted to show off that he’s got the backing of the Nigerian youth. He chose a well-known popular entertainer as collaborator in a patently deceptive game.

Jonathan got it wrong!

Jonathan must have figured that the interview occurred at an opportune moment. It was his attempt to divert attention from the calls for real debates on an independent platform. Yet, in giving D’banj the job of asking him questions, Mr. Jonathan sought to give the impression that he’s in touch with the youth—and has great regard for them. But by choosing a rich stage performer who is obviously out of touch with the realities of the average Nigerian youth, President Jonathan showed himself up as a clueless leader who is out of tune with the vast majority of Nigerian youth and their top issues in the upcoming elections.

D’banj was an embarrassment. He spent much of the interview nodding blankly at Goodluck Jonathan’s uninformed answers. The social media universe was merciless. It twittered insults at D’banj and his sponsor, Jonathan. On facebook, more barbs were flung at the two men. Many of D’Banj’s fans pointed to their newfound disrespect for the artist who is now seen as a man with a purchase price.

Many critics were disgusted that D’banj, who’s on Jonathan’s payroll, would dare appoint himself to represent the Nigerian youth.

By granting an interview to the likes of D’banj, Jonathan has ignored the politically aware coalition that formed “What About Us?”—a collection of talented, imaginative, articulate, highly educated and globally acclaimed Nigerian youth.

“Why would this man ignore the youth-led initiative for a real debate and give a comical interview to a hireling like D’banj?” asked a disappointed youth. “Is President Jonathan so scared that he won’t take questions from Chimamanda Adichie?” asked another.

D’Banj’s performance was so bad that he came out looking like a brainless political pawn, too grateful to sit across from a candidate who appears too timid and too unsure of himself to submit to any real debate.

Jonathan and the PDP may be misjudging the youth who are determined to put an end to the era of mediocrity and criminal showmanship that has dragged their nation backward for several decades.

For D’banj it was a regrettable moment, marking his career as an anti-youth crusader.

Adding to D’Banj’s miscalculation is the discovery that the Jonathan campaign is a sponsor of the Koko Concert scheduled to be held on the 25th of March, the same day as the Adichie-anchored youth debate. Many young people have reacted furiously to the news.

While this move might have been packaged by the Jonathan campaign as an ostensible outreach to the youth community, it came off as a huge gaffe, leaving the President looking disconnected from the core concerns of young people—and a man too afraid to speak to the youth without a script.

As for D’banj, the question is whether he’s going to ever regain respect within the Nigerian youth community. One former fan tweeted: “See d cheap propaganda of Dbanj n GEJ. I see y naija youths cant be trusted. Dbanj na west.”

The entertainer’s huge public relations misstep might not matter to him, though; he’s making trips to the bank to lodge his lucre!

But one thing is certain, Nigerian youths don’t seem in any mood to be manipulated by politicians who hold them and their issues in contempt—or by their hirelings, whatever seductive songs they may sing!

Education: Seven And Half Years of Waste


The calamity that befell Osun state during the pathetic regime of Oyinlola, like we have always said, is better forgotten. It is a truism that there is no sector in the life of Osun state that was spared of Oyinlola’s ineptitude and mismanagement. But worst hit is the education sector which was completely bastardised by Oyinlola’s lack of concern for the future of the state even as education remains the only route to greatness for any society.

The waste and graft that characterised the education sector from 2003 to late 2010 when Oyinlola and his bunch of inept lieutenants finally met their waterloo at the Appeal court in Ibadan are, without exaggeration, beyond talk. The parlous state of education in the state under Oyinlola is to say the least nauseating as nothing was left of infrastructure in the schools from elementary to tertiary level. For instance in the primary schools, teachers who had been frustrated by the lack of concern for their welfare by Oyinlola’s government were forced to impart knowledge to the pupils under the worst form of
conditions; collapsed buildings, leaking roofs, broken floors, unavailability of teaching materials et cetera.

The story is the same in the secondary schools where teachers taught under terrible conditions. In some of the secondary schools, similar to what obtained in many of the primary schools where pupils sat on bare floor to learn, students sat on broken chairs and without tables in dilapidated buildings to receive lectures. We can therefore ask from the foregoing – what performance do we expect from students who were subjected to this kind of frustrating conditions? Nothing accounts for the poor performances of Osun candidates in WAEC/NECO examinations in the recent years than the disaster that befell the education sector under Oyinlola. Though we are not oblivious of the fact the poor performance is general, it was reported however that Osun state recorded the worst case. This is a confirmation of the appalling education condition in the state under Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

But no level did education receive the worst form of ill-treatment during the inglorious and better forgotten Oyinlola administration than at the tertiary level. Oyinlola’s clear contempt for education mostly manifested here. The list is inexhaustible of the varying degrees of contempt exhibited towards the development of education in the state by the discredited ‘governor’ Oyinlola. As reported recently in the magazine arm of this newspaper, slashes in the salaries of lecturers were the order of the day during Oyinlola era. This callous act went on unabated till the very last day of Oyinlola’s government. To therefore state at this juncture that there was never a time in the history of Osun state that lecturers of our higher institutions went through the worst form of frustration as they did during ‘Uncle Lagun’s regime is stating the obvious.

Coupled with the above was the total collapse of infrastructure in all the colleges of education and the polytechnics which turned the institutions to mere glorified secondary schools. Therefore a fortiori  little blame should be put on the doorsteps of most of the products of these institutions who cannot live up to the billing with respect to the standard that is expected of them. What’s more? The worst of the incalculable damage that Oyinlola inflicted on tertiary education in the state was the case of many students that were made to drop out of schools due to non-affordability of school fees. Many brilliant
students from indigent homes who would have in future been able to contribute immensely to the development of the state, had to abandon their educational career because their parents could not afford to pay the exorbitant school fees imposed on them by Oyinlola. What could be more callous!

The new progressive government of the capable Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola has a lot of work to do to revamp education in the state. We are happy that Mr. Governor has started on a good footing. That the Governor saw convocation of education summit an urgent task immediately he assumed office is a commendable step indeed. No doubt the recommendations that emerged through that summit, if implemented (and we urge Mr. Governor to please do), will go a long way in addressing the dilapidations that befell education during Oyinlola’s inept administration. Also the reduction in the school fees in our higher institutions by Ogbeni Gomina is highly commendable. All these are pointers to the fact that a new dawn has truly arrived in Osun state. We appeal to Mr. Governor not to rest on his laurels.

Some people don’t have conscience – Daniel

From Kolade Larewaju

Those who booed me were hired from Lagos at 20000 each
ABEOKUTA – GOVERNOR Olugbenga Daniel of Ogun State has alleged that those who booed him at the Saturday Presidential rally of President Goodluck Jonathan were hired from two higher institutions in Lagos and were each paid N20, 000 to do the hatchet job.

He said that some people were against him because in the last eight years of his administration, he did not go through them to rule the state and described those who were against him as “undertakers”

Daniel who spoke at the Sagamu Stadium venue of a rally organized by the Gateway Teachers Forum to honor him also in a veiled reference to former President Olusegun Obasanjo; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] said that some people who claimed to be conscience of the country do not even have the conscience to do that which is right.

Addressing the rally to honor him, Daniel said “In the last eight years, I stood by you through thick and thin, through difficulties. But let me also say that we made history because in the last eight years, we didn’t go through anyone to rule of any sort.
“In eight years, teachers of Ogun State did not need to go on the streets because whatever your entitlements before you asked for it, we did it for you.

It is therefore important that we shine our eyes; we open our eyes very wide. The undertakers have come; by the special grace of God their coffin will have no body.

“When they speak in public, they speak from the perspective of what they have done and the way they are doing things. Their imagination is that the way they do things is the way everybody does things; they did not understand; they cannot imagine that God has been truly with us; they cannot even understand how we did what we did. We know the amount of cost that it cost them.

“I’ll give you a typical example: there was a stadium is Abuja, you were told it cost N30 billion. Now, can an international stadium be better than this? This one cost less than five percent of what they used to build that stadium.

“You are our teachers, you are our brothers, you are our sisters; you are the conscience of this country. Some people parade themselves and say they are the conscience of the country. How can they be conscience of the country when they don’t have the capacity to do what is right without minding whose ox is gored? A bad man cannot be a conscience of the country.

“On Saturday, they hired some people. We have found out; they hired people to the stadium in Abeokuta. The people that they hired have now come to us to confess. Some of them from the Lagos State College of Education, Ijanikin, some of them from the Polytechnic in Lagos confessed; they said each and every one of them they paid them N2000 each to come to the rally to come and boo OGD”.

Governor Daniel who said that very soon, he would open up on many things happening in the state said that all that he had touched in the state had been turned to gold and that he may bee returning to the teaching profession, where he said he started his life.

He said “In Ogun State, whether people like it or not, we have brought out the best in everything that we have touched. We have brought out the best in education. As you aware, in the last few years, we have employed 10,000 teachers in secondary schools alone. I am not aware of any state in this country that has been able to do this in this in the last 8 years. If that state exists, I like to be challenged.

“We have created legacies that nobody can change. We have created confidence in the lives of our teachers. Ordinarily, many people don’t want to teach because they believed that there is nothing there. We are happy today that as we have Permanent Secretaries; so we have Principal Generals.

“The last 8 years that I have been serving you as the governor of Ogun State, something tells me that am still going to go back to teaching”

“Steer clear of Osun or face the music”

Governor Aregbesola warns election riggers

For the umpteenth time, Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on Wednesday, issued a stern warning to election riggers to stay away or be ready to face the music.

He also admonished traditional rulers to warn politicians who rely on violence as a means of winning elections to desist or be ready to face the consequences.

Aregbesola issued this warning on Wednesday evening while continuing his electioneering campaign for candidates of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) at the palace of the Olu of Kuta, Oba Shittu Aderibigbe Bamigbade.

He expressed the determination of his administration to ensure that law breakers would not be allowed to disrupt the peace of the state while everything possible would be done to ensure that the elections were free and fair.

“We shall ensure that all security arrangements are put in place to ensure that the coming elections are free and fair. No one will be allowed to rig these elections”, Governor Aregbesola assured.

He then urged traditional rulers to use their sacred positions to prevail on their subjects to choose the path of peace and obedience to the law before during and after the elections.

The governor warned further that anyone caught participating or sponsoring violence would not be spared no matter how highly placed they could be.

He recalled that the 2007 general elections were replete with violence, bloodshed and disenfranchisement of the electorate insisting that he was ready to make sure that voters are able to cast their votes and make their democratic choices without let or hindrance.

Aregbesola declared that he was not on any vengeful mission since he has put all his past experiences during the period when he was seeking to reclaim his mandate behind him.

Having given all the glory to God on his eventual victory, the governor said “I have forgiven and put behind me all that I passed through in the hands of my opponents while trying to reclaim my mandate. I have no reason to embark on vengeful mission having been vindicated by God through the divine judgment delivered on November 26, 2010”.

He urged the people of Iwo, Ayedire and Ola-Oluwa Federal Constituency to vote massively for the ACN and reject the regime that had aggravated poverty and multiplied misery across the nation.

He told the gathering that “my priority has been to reinvigorate the comatose economy of Osun State through people-oriented policies. One of such policies is the creation of 20,000 jobs within 100 days of our coming into office”.

Addressing thousands of ACN supporters in front of Oja-Oba Central Mosque, Ile-Ogbo, Ayedire Local Government, and Aregbesola told the gathering that they had to reject the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and choose a party that makes their interest the focal point of its operations.

The PDP he maintained had, in the last seven-and-half-years in Osun State ensured that the educational sector became comatose while the health care delivery system was non-functional.

He later presented Hon. Mudashir Hussain, Gafaar Ameree, Hon. Rasak Salinsile and other flag bearers to the crowd asking them to vote for them as if they were voting for Aregbesola.

Primaries: Jega rejects secret talks with lawmakers

BY TORDUE SALEM

 

ABUJA – Efforts by a House of Representatives’ joint-committee on Justice Electoral Matters to hold a secret session with the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, failed yesterday as the electoral umpire insisted on an open meeting.

Prof. Jega had turned down a request for a secret session with the lawmakers, following allegations that the commission was partisan in honouring exparte orders on party primaries.

The House panel had, at an interactive session with Jega, proceeded on a general demand that the commission must avail it with facts on cases pending in courts against it and exparte orders it had honoured or ignored.

The lawmakers, however, posed a caveat that explanations on specific cases raised in the allegation be done closed door.

But the INEC boss insisted that all enquiries on allegations and his responses be made public for Nigerians to get the side of the commission on the issue of party primaries and court orders.

“The motion that was passed by the House on this matter was done in public. And allegations of preferential treatment were made. So we will prefer that if there are specific cases, they should be mentioned publicly now so that we can clarify them.

We want to be given an opportunity in public to clear them,” he said. The legislators, however, did not respond to Jega’s response.

It should be recalled that some of the lawmakers at the session had either lost at the parties primaries through party-hierarchy intrigues, dying-minute substitutions or exparte orders.

According to Prof. Jega, the commission had to ignore certain court orders because they came after INEC had obeyed orders from “courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction”.

Henry Dickson, Chairman, House Committee on Justice, who had suggested the close-door session, stressed that “the meeting was not an investigation or an inquisition” of INEC, but an “interactive session”.

He argued that a secret session would have taken care of the technical aspects of the probe, while the commission’s boss made general remarks in public. The idea was immediately endorsed by all members of the committee.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Electoral Matters, Musa Sarki Adar, had regretted the plethora of court cases that bedeviled the party primaries, warning that April polls could be imperiled if the trend was not checked by politicians and the commission.

“We prayed that the scenario that led to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election is not being re-enacted by the sponsors of those exparte injunctions,” he said.

Jega had earlier told the committee that over 300 court cases were either pending against the commission, including those on party primaries in which INEC was joined.