The Sexploiter And His Cousins By Azu Ishiekwene

Afeez Baruwa could be on his last mile to jail. Or he could be going home a free man.

Three years ago, the former lecturer in the Department of Accounting at the University of Lagos cornered an 18-year-old girl.

The girl’s father, a friend of Baruwa’s, had sent her to the lecturer for help to gain admission. Baruwa apparently had other plans: he allegedly seized the poor girl, overpowered her and raped her in his office.

The case has been in court for nearly three years and came up again on Wednesday. The state has closed its case; and Justice Josephine Oyefeso of the Ikeja High Court will decide, perhaps on June 14 or later, whether Baruwa goes to jail or walks home a free man.

Baruwa has many cousins in sexploitation, the campus variety of which is the non-academic business of trading sex for grades, or generally extorting sex even from female students unwilling to engage in such tradeoff. One of Baruwa’s cousins, Professor Richard Akindele, has been in the news lately. The professor of Accounting at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife (OAU), has been dragged out in a sad and sensational audio recording in which he was bargaining for multiple rounds of sex to upgrade a failed student. He offered to give the student who scored 33 percent at least an “E”, if she would sleep with him five times.

The matter is not in court yet, but the outcome of Baruwa’s court case might send a signal to campuses nationwide that this sexpidemic cannot continue receiving soft treatment.

For a while after the allegations of sexual harassment against Akindele went viral, the authorities at OAU were behaving as if they needed a voodoo priest to explain the gravity of the allegations.

The school called a press conference to address the issue, canceled it hours before it was due to hold, and later issued a statement about investigations.

It has taken nearly two weeks and a wringer for the school to find the section of its own code of conduct that says that when a prima facie case has been established, “the Vice-Chancellor shall suspend such staff from office pending the final determination of the case.”

Not unexpectedly, the school has come under pressure from highly placed religious people, who worked the hotlines at the highest levels, pleading that, “it was the work of the devil.”

For all you know, Akindele may have returned to the classroom from his sabbatical or extended leave of sorts, with version 2.0 of Accounting 101 modified to include offline tutorials on how many rounds of sex equals the lowest pass mark.

It’s not funny.

Grapevine sources have hinted that the major problem of the investigating panel was also compounded by the reluctance of the accuser to come forward.

Some even said the incident occurred earlier, that the victim has graduated and is afraid that the Senate might withdraw her degree if she comes forward, since her testimony would be proof that she obtained her degree fraudulently. And wait for this – that the victim’s boyfriend had been using the audio recording to extort money from Akindele who got fed up and asked the victim and her boyfriend to go to hell.

That hardly makes sense. If the victim slept with the lecturer early on, passed the course and left the school, she’ll be a fool in a hand basket to go public. The probable reason why she has gone public is that she’s trapped in the school and hopes that this desperate step might save her.

Farfetched excuses about her motive are apparently being invented by people who are taking advantage of the lukewarm attitude of the University towards the matter, even when the call log of the accused drips with his own testosterone.

The University appears to be more interested in protecting its reputation than in rooting out any nest of sexual predators in the system.

Besides, there may be many more undiscovered culprits of such sexual predation in the University with a guilty conscience. And it would be hard for them to cooperate in punishing one of them who only happens to have been foolish to have been found out, as they might see it.

Instead of behaving like an old Boy’s Club, OAU should keep in mind that it also has a fiduciary duty to protect its staff and students. It can and will be liable for any action that tends to suggest negligence or a cover-up in a case where the campus has become a predator’s playground.

An audio recording similar to the one in OAU went viral two years ago when Muhammed Idiagbon, then the head of department of English at the University of Ilorin, demanded sex in his office from a 200-level student, whom he repeatedly accused of being “unserious,” adding intermittently that, “you’re not the only one.”

When Idiagbon was found out, he accused his “envious colleagues” of setting him up only to resign his appointment before the school finished investigations in the matter.

Even though the school promised at the time that it would complete the investigation and make its findings public, the matter was swept under the carpet after Idiagbon’s resignation.

We can almost hear that same echo in OAU, an echo of the authorities just wanting to close this chapter and move on.

It’s a matter for regret that neither the students’ union of OAU nor the academic staff union of the university has said a word since the Akindele scandal broke.

Two years ago, when the National Assembly was debating the Sexual Harassment Bill, ASUU opposed it vigorously, saying that it would infringe on the autonomy of universities. The union insisted that the code of conduct in each university was perfectly capable of dealing with matters of sexual misconduct.

Well, there’s no Nigerian university website that I know of – and I checked OAU, University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, University of Benin, University of Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello University and Ado Bayero University – that has any resource on sexual assault on its website. Not a word.

In fact, the OAU website, which comes closest doing this, only defines misconduct in general terms, focusing largely on its impact; not on the individual, but on the reputation of the university. It is silent on predatory sex, one of the perennial scourges of higher schools.

It’s fair to say that if laws or codes alone were sufficient to curb sexual exploitation, members of the National Assembly will not be snatching female children from the cradle in forced marriages. And videos of senators in twosome orgies during recess will not be two-for-a-kobo.

The real problem is that when outrages like OAU and others happen, we shout, complain and just slink off, with hardly enough courage or stamina to stand up long enough for what we know is right, until the next horror story.

If students in OAU insist that justice must be done and must be seen to be done; if rights groups step up to offer the victim protection and insist that the school will be taken to court if the matter is not satisfactorily treated; if independent education watchdogs have credible public advisory, which includes resources for tackling sexual predation and safety in general, perhaps we would not be where we are now.

It’s been said that female students sometimes set themselves up for – even invite – predators by their lifestyles. That may be true, but lecturers, who believe, like Oscar Wilde, that the only way to overcome temptation is to yield, have no place in the Ivory Tower.

The body of evidence, so far, including a 2015 study on sexual assault by Harvard University among 26 universities in the US, shows that perpetrators of sexual misconduct are largely male faculty members, confirming existing data that one woman in five is usually assaulted while in college.

Let’s stop making excuses and deal with this evil for what it is. And the first step would be for OAU and other higher schools to have whistle-blower policy.

Review of Okey Ndibe’s “Never Look an American in the Eye.” By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo

The trend among the African literati has been to make claims of lineage to one of the three preeminent writers of post-colonial African literature – Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka or Ngugi Wa Thiong’o. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie famously narrated how she mentioned in passing that she grew up in a house that Chinua Achebe vacated at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka campus, and her American editor insisted in putting it in her biography.

“…It’s the most important thing that you’ve told me about yourself!” her editor said.

At 2013 PEN America tribute to Chinua Achebe at The Town Hall in New York City, Chris Abani told stories of how he wooed girls in Secondary School with lines from Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

Stories abound of African writers marketing tales to link them to one of the trio – Achebe, Soyinka, and Ngugi. The truth, however, is that the only contemporary African writer who can lay claim to a marginal relationship with Achebe, Soyinka, and Ngugi is Okey Ndibe. And that is how he starts his memoir, Never Look an American in the Eye.

From telling stories about his first meeting with Achebe and how it led to his coming to America, Ndibe goes deep into his childhood fantasies of communist life, American wrestling, and the English dream that many people born in former English colonies often have. For all his rebellious nature, Ndibe pays attention to the words of his elders even when he disagrees with them. They become helpful when he arrives in America and confronts the cold realities of his new abode. A curious and vibrant fellow, Ndibe approaches writing the same way an artist approaches the canvas. He is willing to use himself as a brush to draw a picture. It is at the core of the memoir as a genre. As he narrates, in the first few chapters of Never Look an American in the Eye, his adventures into writing, readers will have no doubt at the extent he is willing to go to find a story.

Ever since my teenage years, the insane had fascinated me. What was their history? When did they turn mad, and how? Was there some symmetry and logic in their thoughts and actions?

Growing up, I had known several madmen and women. I used to spend long hours trailing them, observing their idiosyncrasies, eavesdropping on their utterances. Sometimes, I would speak to them, try to coax them into a conversation. Page 119

The trajectory of a migrant’s life follows a well cut out template. There is the shock, the adjustment and then the transformation. Within this trajectory are the typical stories of alienation, loss, identity crisis and, hopefully, for the lucky few, redemption. What is often not clear, even for those who have lived it, is why some make it while others do not. In the hands of a master storyteller, these experiences are brought home in the most passionate way. With his signature humor and willingness to take the readers to places where most writers fear to go, Okey Ndibe brings to life stories that reinforce human resilience in the face of uncertainty. He writes with no bitterness but rather with the attitude of a man who has developed a quiet fortitude towards life’s curveballs.

Ndibe’s strength lies in his ability to milk a story, any story until he arrives at the core of its essence. What should have been mundane tale is transformed into a magnificent microcosm of themes universal to humanity. He tenders words as if they are delicate flowers. In dialogues of people he encountered in life, he captures and preserves conversations as if the future of stories, our stories, depends on them.

The title of the book came from an advice he received from an uncle as he prepared to leave for America in 1988 to edit Chinua Achebe’s new magazine, Africa Commentary. His uncle said to him, “Americans can’t stand any stranger looking them in the face. They take it as an insult. It’s something they don’t forgive. And every American carries a gun. If they catch you, a stranger, looking them in the face, they will shoot.”

As we see in the book, he spends a significant time unlearning some of the fallacies and misconceptions. In a pivotal case of mistaken identity when he was mistaken for an armed robber, Ndibe comes to term with the real America and how it really works, a far-fetch from the stories his uncle told. In one of the most fascinating tales in the book, Ndibe recounts the friendship between his father and an Englishman he fought alongside in Burma during the Second World War. Though his father didn’t meet the Englishman again, the two maintained a friendship via correspondence that lasted almost fifty years. Ndibe facilitated a phone call between the two men at one point capturing in the story how despite their differences, the two maintained a friendship till the end.

In 1994, Ndibe visits his father’s English friend in England. He makes this observation afterward:

“What moved me…was to see how two ordinary men had done extraordinary things; how they had salvaged something beautiful from the ravages of history; how, transcending their own narrow biographies, they enacted a friendship that could not be quenched neither by distance, time, war, nor for that matter, by death.”

There are times that you wish he would hold back only to be pulled along as he pours the stories all out. And then there are times that you wish that he would dig deeper, but he leaves you hanging on the teases. For a life that spans through some of Nigeria’s most turbulent years when the military adventure of Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida to Sani Abacha and of which Ndibe observed from the strategic media stool as a senior journalist in African Concord and African Guardian magazines, he shares his observations with great generosity without an iota of posturing.  He bears witness without laying bare personal resentment. He indulges in the luxury of all great writers – the ability to unflappably look at events and dissect them.

A reader interested in understanding the development of the man and the psyche that informs his core, Never Look an American in the Eye provides the roadmap. This is very pronounced when he chronicles his journey from a young man afraid of commitment to a man who later embraces fidelity. Ndibe narrates the role his wife, Sheri, played in taming the rebel in him who was dedicated to opposing everything his father and mother stood for. Writing on this, he allows himself to be vulnerable.

“My dread of serious relationships was at once ironic and understandable. I’d suggest that its root was in my parents’ exemplary marriage, a relationship that inspired amazement and admiration in each town where we lived. My parents were models of fidelity and closeness at a time and in a society where public displays of affection were rare.” Page 203

So many memoirs of the American experience have been written. More will be written as long as people from other parts of the world continue to come to America. But this one by Okey Ndibe will stand as a gold standard in the genre. It is remarkable in so many regards, but its ability to inspire is perhaps its most potent force. In the end, the image of a modest man with great strength of character, wit, and talent will remain with you long after you have closed the last page.

All Said, Why Should I Vote Out Buhari? By Peter Claver Oparah

As 2019 approaches, those who brought Nigeria to its knees, vandalized and wrecked it and left it for dead before 2015 are busy trying to weave a comeback mantra that will help them access power once again in 2015 after a disastrous 16 years trauma that left Nigeria for dead.

They are being joined in this vain mission by those who thought the coming of Buhari would shift the looting tent to their side and as it never happened, they became bitter, inconsolable enemies of the regime. Also in the train are the confused ideologues who have good intentions initially but are so disoriented as to be captured by the pedestrian feel-good stories of a utopia which Buhari would have wrought even with the fact that he inherited the most austere economic realities.

They have massed together to lead an erroneous chorus that Nigerians should vote out Buhari in 2019. Sho? Some of us who have been assaulted by this perverse gospel have asked why we should vote out Buhari but we have gotten no convincing answer than a rehearse of a more perverse narration of how Buhari has turned Nigeria to a land of hunger and misery and how killings have been happening under Buhari? Is that so? When you prod further, what you get is a string of poorly articulated narration of how life was a seamless bread and butter affair in Nigeria before Buhari came. If you try to run some comparisons to prove this story, they tell you to forget the past and face the future.

Truth is that those who weave sordid stories to make Buhari look bad are so afraid to confront the past, which itself introduces a huge paradox to their badly-arranged stories. Can you face the present and the future without excursing into the past? To them, life should start from May 29, 2015 when Buhari took over from the scandalous regime they ran. That itself, is a cut-and-paste effort to manipulate. It is as fraudulent as the claim of these same people that they have repented (and you ask, repent from what?) and their more notorious request to be allowed back to power. They are so pathologically hunted by the past they created that they make every effort to shout down any person that refers them to the hell they presided over here for a whole 16 years. They want Nigerians to abridge their memories and senses and join them in voting out Buhari based on their micro-managed but hardly agreeing narratives, which sees Buhari as having failed. Some of them are even telling Nigerians that Buhari has proven not to be the solution to our problem.

Since we have an Eldorado they claimed they did here in 16 years, which other problems are they talking about? Which problems are they claiming they will offer solutions to when they brought down heaven on earth to Nigeria n their 16 messy years in power? PDP claimed they did beyond expectation so why are they apologizing and telling Nigerians of their readiness to be born-again rulers if given back power?

But then, the question remains; why should I and other Nigerians vote out Buhari and bring back the locusts? Should I vote Buhari out because he is meticulously rebuilding an economy that was eaten down and ran in red during a providential oil boom? Do I vote out Buhari because he is frantically building up our foreign reserve that was so badly vandalized when oil, our solo export product, went at over $120 a barrel and the country was exporting over 2.5million ever day? Do I vote out Buhari in 2019 because he is achieving this unbelievable feat at a period the oil price crashed to between $27 to $50 a barrel and our daily sale volume was cut to as low as below 700,000 barrels a day because those that lost their power to loot saw oil facilities as one of the sectors they must avenge their electoral defeat on? Do I vote out Buhari because at this very arid economic turn, he is making the highest investment in capital projects?

Do I vote out Buhari in 2019 because he has channeled all the money that would have used to service the gluttony and bacchanal greed of party men, cronies, hirelings, friends, subalterns, bed mates and party members of the party in power and its government to critical capital projects that will drive the Nigerian economy? Should I vote out Buhari because he adamantly refused to bow to the pressure to sustain the corruption omnibus and ensure Nigerians live straight and narrowly without stealing from the treasury? Do I vote out Buhari because he has taken up the nation’s decayed infrastructures and is fixing them in a way no other government has done in the past?

Do I vote out Buhari because he decided to implement strict monetary policies to save Nigeria’s resources from yam eaters, rodents and plunderers who are anchoring the noisome battle for his replacement? Do I vote out Buhari because the treasury raiders who looted a richly endowed country dry before he came feel that he should satisfy their senses of entitlement and continue abandoning the infrastructure that should drive our growth as a nation? Do I vote out Buhari because he has stopped evil servants from operating millions of phantom accounts through which they bleed the treasury while we collectively suffer? Do I vote out Buhari because the economy is no more about looting, plundering, sharing and stealing?

Should I vote out Buhari because he has insisted that he will neither chop nor allow pests to feast on our commonwealth? Should I vote out Buhari because he insists that Nigerian wealth must serve us all instead of a ravenous few? Do I vote out Buhari because in a period of austerity, he saved states that went bankrupt when we were having  oil boom and had made them solvent through prudent and honest management of our economy? Do I vote out Buhari in 2019 because he insists that Nigerians should work for what they earn? Should I vote out Buhari because he is fixing federal roads, the power sector, the energy sector in a way no government has done in the history of the country?

Do I vote out Buhari because he is no longer feeding corrupt-former leaders who not only looted Nigeria to the bones but insist on being serviced by what remains of the treasury? Do I vote out Buhari in 2019 because he is no longer pandering to the indecent corrupt interests of the legislature whose members are being ran ragged by frustration that they are no longer enjoying the bazaar as they used to do? Should I vote out Buhari because he is no longer deploying sacks of billions of Naira to bribe the legislature on sundry issues? Should I vote out Buhari because some of his party men who expected being spoon-fed from the national purse are disappointed he is not doing so? Do I vote out Buhari because those that stole the country to the bones and who thought they had escaped with their loot are being called by to return what they stole?

Do I vote out Buhari because the professional scavengers that flood around the seat of power with the hope of free-loading from our commonwealth have been made extinct? Do I vote out Buhari because he stopped the murderous escapades of Boko Haram that killed in tens of thousands, that took a huge size of Nigerian landmass and subjected the entire country to unrestrained attacks and untamed danger? So do I vote out Buhari because he is building the Second Niger Bridge for which past regimes duped my Igbo people? Do I vote out Buhari because he is building the enormous Mambilla Power Station which past governments played around with for decades without as much as turning the foundation soil on the project site?

Should I vote out Buhari because he is building massive railways across Nigeria? Should I vote out Buhari because he is meticulously building a viable economy from the rubble of the chaos he met on ground? Should I vote out Buhari because the vampires that wrecked the public treasury are angry and baying bare blood because, for the first time in the country’s history, they have lost access to the treasury? Do I vote out Buhari because the vampires that sucked life out of us especially in the fatal 16 years’ period before 2015 are wailing their eyes out and feigning hunger as an elaborate dubious project to take another injurious bite on us?

Do I vote out Buhari because he paid off trillions of Naira past governments owed contractors for contracts they used to enrich their members? Do I vote out Buhari because he paid off over N600 billion subsidy the past regime owed fuel importers and saved the energy industry from collapse? Do I vote out Buhari because he has rebuilt what remained of the four refineries that previous governments abandoned as  scraps? Do I vote out Buhari because he stopped the payment of fraudulent subsidy to phantom fuel importers as was the culture before he came? Do I vote out Buhari because sundry, corrupt interests are no longer being awarded fake contracts where they walk away with the contract monies without even visiting the project sites? Do I vote out Buhari because he paid off trillions of Naira owed pensioners in federal government ministries, parastatals and agencies during our unfortunate oil boom? Do I vote out Buhari for the trillions spent on the most ambitious social intervention scheme to rescue the most vulnerable in our society, which is the most elaborate any government has ever embarked in Nigeria?

Why should I vote out Buhari? Do I vote out Buhari because he has stopped the drainpipe of freaky importation of freebies that served as feeding bottle for corrupt politicians before he came? Do I vote out Buhari because he stopped the importation of foodstuffs and through this bold action, has made Nigeria a sustainable agricultural country where citizens feed themselves? Do I vote out Buhari because of the agricultural revolution he is doing in Nigeria, which has seen the country unravel as sustainable food producer from its recent past as a top food importer? Should I vote out Buhari because he has made politics a non-rewarding venture unlike in the past? Do I vote out Buhari because he had securely locked up our treasure box and restrained access to it to even his appointees and supporters? Do I vote out Buhari because he is strongly ranged against the gargantuan corruption complex from which most Nigerians eke out a living?

These are just few posers I want those that have launched a project to get Nigerians to turn against Buhari. I don’t know of any incoming leader but I make bold to say that President Buhari has done far more than any other President that ruled Nigeria. I am open to correction by any person that feels otherwise and this would be done through telling us any president that has done better by listing what such president did. So are these reasons why I should vote out Buhari? Make no mistake about it, the project to stop Buhari flows from no patriotic reasons but squarely on the reality that Buhari has capped official stealing and plundering. It is for the singular reason that Buhari has plugged our treasury from these leeches that he is making huge investment in growth-driving capital ventures even when we are going through difficult economic realities because the oil we have, over time, depended lazily on, has met turbulent times.

So, on what ground will I and millions of Nigerians that endured very desperate pressures in 2015 to vote out the moths and rodents, not vote in Buhari in 2019 to continue the good works he is doing? Is it because the looters and their accomplices that neigh the country’s treasury have weaved enough incoherent and contradictory lies against Buhari that I will dive into a fatal voyage in 2019? Is it because those that ate down our country are breathing enough vain fury? Is it that we are simple-indeed enough to be taken advantage of by desperadoes that want power for its corrupt ends? Is it that those who raped and pauperized us before 2015 are right in their feeling that we are a simple-minded and memory-challenged people as to fall for any silly prank Never! I see no reason why we should not vote more emphatically for Buhari in 2019; not based on who he is but on what he had done with the mandate we gave him in March 2015 and based on the fact that he is the most assured hand to deepen the recovery of Nigeria and the setting of a credible template for the growth of Nigeria.

Another Dawn, Another Dirge: Goodbye, Honest Man By Femi Osofisan

Greatness can be a surprisingly quiet thing. Some geniuses are of such exceptional modesty or gentility, that they shield themselves in deliberate self-effacement. Such a man was the man we fondly called ‘Honest Man’, who has now departed and paid the ineradicable debt of death.

That nickname was, thinking of it now in retrospect, perhaps a deliberate part of the disguise, and perhaps that was why he relished it. So many people knew ‘Honest Man’; and throngs of devotees know by heart the plots and protagonists of such scintillating works like Efunsetan Aniwura, Saworoide, O Le Ku, Aiye Ye Won Tan, Koseegbe, and numerous others. But many of these adoring fans would be hard put to come forward and identify in person Akinwumi Isola, the author of the works. Because he wanted it like that: wanted his works to speak directly to his audience by themselves. Most unusually, Isola was a culture activist more interested in propagating the lore of our people than in acquiring any adulation for himself.

Our friend lived this paradox to the end. He came from the small village of Labode, in the forests of Ibadan, but grew into an artiste of uncommon genius and unusual inventiveness. But, in spite of his enormous popularity however, and his international renown, he chose to live humbly, without ostentation, away from the glare of the limelight. Wrapped thus in the cloak of humility, he could walk the street any day unencumbered by his fame, unknown and anonymous among his teeming fans. That way, he could remain one of the people he wrote about, and be their faithful witness, singing their sorrows and their joys.

I am proud to have been a friend to such a man, this giant avatar of our much-neglected Yoruba culture and civilization. I came to learn so much from him. For, with the exception of Faleti, who is also unfortunately gone now, no one else I have I known can speak our language with the eloquence of the ancestors. No one else has been as prolific with stories and wisdom. No one else has made us more proud of the riches in our Yoruba identity.

But he is gone now. Like other friends we have lost before, we must learn henceforth to speak of him in the past tense. Oh, I will miss him and his companionship. I will miss his consummate skill in the art of weaving words. Yes, as his faithful wife for so many decades put it, Labode ti din nikan!’ Labode village has been deprived of another talent, and Yorubaland has lost one of its gifted chroniclers…

Fabulist, raconteur… friend! We must meet again in the after-life. But for now, I can only wave my hand and say—Good night!

The Editor Of The Guardian And The Defense Of Looting By Laolu Akande

There is something incongruous about the Editor of the Guardian Newspapers, a paper once known for its strident advocacy against abuse of power and corruption, to excoriate a Vice President who repeatedly calls out perpetrators of grand corruption. Even more astonishing is the fact that the Editor, Mr. Abraham Ogbodo abdicates the investigative role of his newspaper when there are allegations of corruption, but works hard to disparage both the information supplied and the informer. While it is clear that the Editor is a rabid PDP apologist, and this is obvious from the direction that he has taken the newspaper since he assumed the role, one would have thought that, even if only to give an appearance of fairness in the great tradition of a newspaper celebrated for balance, (and “the best tradition and ideals of republican democracy”) he would still not descend to the use of abusive language against the Vice President.

Perhaps it might help to reiterate what the VP said at the Quarterly Business Forum held on the 19th of March, 2018. His basic premise was that grand corruption constitutes the preeminent problem of Nigeria’s economic development. He said that, unlike any other country, it would be either ignorant or negligent of any economic planner in Nigeria not to fully appreciate the massive hemorrhaging that comes from corruption. He went on to point out that despite the fact that the nation earned between $100 to $114 a barrel of oil between 2011 and 2014, investment in capital was abysmal.

He argued that the difference between the current government and the previous one is that the current government has tamed grand corruption and the impunity in the looting of public resources and is thus able to spend more on capital even when it is earning probably 50% less than the previous government. He gave one example of 2014. Then, oil prices were consistently over $100 dollars a barrel. Actual capital releases to the Ministries of Works, Housing and Power was N99B. Ministries of Transport and Agriculture got N15B and N14B respectively. In total these 3 ministries got N139B. He compared that with capital releases to the same ministries in 2017, when oil price was between $50 to $60 a barrel: N415B for Power, Works & Housing, N80B for Transportation and N65B for Agriculture, totaling N560B.

In exposing the impunity of the grand corruption in the Jonathan regime, the VP said barely two weeks to the 2015 elections, the sum of $289million dollars was released in cash. ( N104 billion today) That sum of money was disbursed from the JVC account of the NNPC/NAPIMS with the J.P Morgan Chase Bank, and the cash was released on 25 February 2015. Part of the sum was the $43m cash discovered at an apartment last year in Ikoyi and is now the subject of EFCC investigation. The full facts may not of course be disclosed until the case is tried in court. But suffice it to say that even the disbursement of such an amount in cash is a criminal act under our money laundering laws.

In addition, another N60B that had been sourced from the Central Bank towards the latter part of 2014, which was set apart for campaign purposes. It was shared between the then NSA-N40B and SSS N20B. This is apart from another N10B again sourced from the CBN’s Corporate Responsibility Budget in November 2014 that was used for “PDP Presidential Primaries.” Also N2.1B in cash was approved and paid through the office of the National Security Adviser. Most of the money which was disbursed between January 8 and Feb 25, 2015 was shared between senior PDP members, including companies, without any contracts being awarded to them. Most of them have admitted to receiving these sums of money, some have made refunds, many are on trial, others are prosecution witnesses in the trials.

So while a total of N139B was disbursed to the above listed five key ministries for the entire 2014, well over N100B in cash was disbursed and illegally shared within a few weeks by the same government! This shows how corruption can completely undermine an economy. Amazingly, Mr Ogbodo pretends not to be aware of these facts though they have been in the public domain for almost two years.

A few days later, at the Ogun State investment Forum, while speaking on the subject of the catastrophic impact of grand corruption on the Nigerian economy, the VP also gave an example of the looting of Nigeria’s oil earnings through the so-called Strategic Alliance Contracts involving two companies owned by the duo of Jide Omokore and Kola Aluko. The companies lifted Nigerian oil, by some estimates in excess of $3billion( over N1Trillion) and paid nothing back. The theft was not limited just to that amount but also included unpaid taxes and royalties.

The VP then pointed out that government was now putting together about this same sum of $3B to build the following roads: Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, 2nd Niger Bridge, Enugu-PH road, East-West road, Sagamu-Ore-Benin road, Kano-Maiduguri road, Abuja-Lafia-Akwanga-Keffi road and the Lagos-Abeokuta: the old road.

How corruption can defeat our best hopes for the future!

One of the promoters of the company is on trial, the other is still at large although there is strong international collaboration to confiscate their assets all over the world. The effort includes the tracing and confiscation of the assets of the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Dieziani Allison-Maduekwe

Nigeria’s recursive economic growth is not merely because we have for years ran a mono-product economy, it is more because the proceeds of that single product is hijacked by a few. So even when oil earnings were high, the number of the poor, sick, malnourished and child mortalities continued to rise.

For the editor of a major Nigerian Newspaper, like The Guardian, to attempt to trivialize all that, rather than hold the perpetrators to account, is the tragic paradox of corruption fighting back through the very forces established to fight it.

Bill Gates As “A Wailing Wailer” By Reuben Abati

I do not enjoy speaking to you this bluntly when you have been gracious enough to invite me here…”  – Bill Gates.

Mr. Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, friend of Nigeria and one of the richest men in the world was in Nigeria recently, but he ended up violating the official interpretation of “table manners” in Nigeria’s corridors of power.  When you are a guest in people’s home, you don’t count their nine toes one by one. It is an essential part of African tradition and culture that when people host you in their homes, treat you with courtesy, open their doors to you, even if the dinner they serve you is the worst you have ever had, you are still required to say nice words. Mr Gates’ recent visit to Nigeria was like a special treat.

He had a special audience with the President. He was also a special guest at one of the most memorable weddings on the Nigerian social calendar: the wedding of Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s daughter to the son of a former Inspector General of Police, IGP Mohammed Abubakar – from Kano to Abuja, to Lagos.  Mr. Gates was also invited as a Special Guest to the meeting of Nigeria’s National Economic Council, and was given the opportunity to make a speech and he simply proceeded to tell Nigerian leaders that they are not doing enough to help their people. This was a collection of Nigeria’s biggest men, the same guys who currently call the shots- so powerful they can demolish anybody’s house, lock anybody up and classify any critical statement as “hate speech.” In fact, one of these big men didn’t waste time in reminding Bill Gates of expected “table manners”.

The only problem is that Bill Gates chose to determine his own table manners. He did not come to Nigeria to “eat”. He is not a contractor; he is not looking for an oil bloc, and he obviously has no plans to take a Nigerian wife. He was in a manner of speaking, putting his mouth where his money is. “I have been coming here regularly since 2006”, Gates told his audience. He defined his bona fide further: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent about $1.6 billion in Nigeria’s health sector trying to make the lives of Nigerians better – that’s more than 500 billion Naira and that’s Mr. Gates’ hard-earned money.  His words: “…With the money I’d been lucky enough to earn at Microsoft, we started working toward a different goal: a healthy and productive life for everyone. That’s why I come to Nigeria, and that’s why Melinda and I will continue coming for as long as we are able. Our foundation’s biggest office in Africa is here. We have committed over $1.6 billion in Nigeria so far, and we plan to increase our commitment. We have strong relationships with the federal government, state governments, businesses, NGOs, and civil society organizations. We are eager to support you as you work to make Nigeria a global economic powerhouse that provides an opportunity for all its citizens—as you strive to fulfill this country’s immense promise.”

Mr. Gates’ speech was not just about “immense promise; it was also about the seeming reluctance of the Nigerian state to confront the hard facts and avoid the risks of failing to commit fully to the development of human capital in Nigeria. He took one good look at the Nigerian government’s “Economic Recovery and Growth Plan” and dismissed it on the grounds that it does little to develop human capital. He also believes that a lot more can be done to develop the health, agriculture and education sectors. I find the following particularly instructive: “This is the scenario we all want: Nigeria thrives because every Nigerian is able to thrive.” Gates didn’t talk about “some Nigerians” but “every Nigerian” – a country that is committed to the common good for the happiness of all. There is nothing strange or earth-shaking in what Mr. Gates has said. Nigerians say very much the same things every day on television, in seminars and workshops, and other fora. But the Bill Gates voice carries a strong and special resonance.

While it may difficult to transform Nigeria overnight, given the extent of the rot, the decline is worse because something has gone wrong with the nexus between leadership, democracy and public opinion in Nigeria. Those in the corridors of power, perhaps because of the triumph of politics over rationality, have resolved to filter everything through the lens of partisanship – religious, ethnic and political. Every critical opinion is dismissed as the opinion of  “a wailing wailer” – not Bob Marley’s “Wailing Wailers” – no certainly not in that sense. The Nigerian “wailing wailer” is dismissed as a frustrated person, an irritant, claiming to know how best Nigeria should be run, because his or her party, Godfathers, kinsmen, associates or members of the same religious faith are no longer in power. Every contrary opinion is therefore dismissed as procured; every contribution is rejected except it comes as a perfumed eulogy.

Mr. Gates cannot be accused of ethnic bias, or religious or political partisanship. He would also feel insulted if he were to hear that some Nigerians have been saying that he is probably echoing the thoughts of some Nigerians, acting as their spokesperson. But “a wailing wailer”?  May be yes. Among many Nigerians, the label “wailing wailer” has since been adopted as a badge of honor. There is even a twitter account – @WailersNG and an online newspaper that has since adopted the label as title and identity. The “wailing” citizens of Nigeria are, like Mr. Gates, frustrated with what Nigeria has become in the light of what it is capable of becoming, and the opportunities that have been missed. The people have expected a change in their circumstances for so long, but change is so long in coming. Even when the change that the people were promised in 2015 has turned out to be a myth, they are like Mr. Gates still asking for change – real change.  Nigerians like other human beings just want to be happy. They want a country that works. They want exactly all those basic things of life that Mr. Gates outlined in his speech:  they want their needs to be addressed; they want their potentials to grow.

Mr. Gates’ place in Nigeria is tied to his efforts in the health sector, to help the Nigerian people through their governments and other institutions to fulfill these expectations. And to that end, he has committed $1.6 billion from 2006 to date. To be sure, his speech is not quite a criticism of the Buhari administration. He may have cited the Buhari government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), but I think, in a sense, he may just have felt the same way about the Obasanjo government, the Yar’Adua eight-point agenda, the Goodluck Jonathan Transformation Agenda, and the efforts of the various state governments he has had cause to work with.  He has offered us an informed commentary on the Nigerian state since 2006 as he has seen it.  His speech is a comment on the leadership elite in Nigeria – he calls them out on the duty they owe their people and the need to do more in terms of policy thrust and execution.  The speech is not about APC or PDP, APGA or SDP or 2019 – I don’t think he gives a damn about that – he is more concerned about the people and how this great country can fulfill its potential. I don’t even get the sense that he is attacking the Federal Government; he is in fact advising the Nigerian government at all levels and the leadership elite in every sector.

But there is a whiff of frustration and disappointment in that intervention. Having addressed the expanded National Economic Council and seeing how his statement was brusquely dismissed, Mr. Gates has since gone to CNN, to restate his position, just in case his original audience was hard of hearing: “As a partner in Nigeria, I am saying the current plan is inadequate. Nigeria has all these young people and the current quality and quantity of investment in these young generations: in health and education just isn’t good enough. So, I was very direct. If they can get health and education right, they will be an engine of growth not just for themselves but for all of Africa.”

What Mr. Gates says is perhaps as important as things he has left unspoken. He is an outsider, looking in, offering dispassionate advice. But as “a partner,” he probably knows Nigeria more than many of us claim to do. We have heard you, Mr. Gates; definitely, $1.6 billion is a lot of money. When Mr. Gates takes the newspapers and he reads that in Nigeria, rats have invaded the Nigerian President’s office, even if he considers this a tad bit bizarre, he is likely to wonder what impact the Gates Foundation’s investment in Nigeria’s health sector has been able to make. Don’t they realize health is important, if rats can invade their President’s office, what will be the fate of the ordinary Nigerians we are trying to help?

Mr. Gates also obviously knows that corruption is a big problem in Nigeria as it is in other parts of the world, but when he reads or gets to hear that Nigerians have since added a new dimension to the art of corruption: pythons now swallowing millions of money, he cannot be blamed for wondering how much of his $1.6 billion may have been swallowed by rats and snakes, and whether indeed that explains why not much progress has been made. Over the years, in the course of visiting Nigeria, Mr. Gates must have observed the opulent lifestyle of Nigerian leaders.  He probably has visited one or two private homes, or government houses, to see car garages full of exotic vehicles, some of them useful only for display, and he would surely wonder why anyone should live so conspicuously when Nigerian children are suffering from malnutrition, over 10 million of them are out of school and the ones that have had the benefit of education have no competitive skills.  He must also, I believe, have held discussions with some of our highly placed persons, and be shocked by the inability of many of them to keep a long attention span on serious subjects or have an intelligent conversation.

In the world of the internet, he must have read or heard about the shocking wealth of some Nigerians, and wonder why these same Nigerians cannot join him, an outsider, to invest in human capital in Nigeria and Africa. He knows Aliko Dangote who is supporting philanthropic causes and touching lives. He probably also knows Tony Elumelu who is promoting Afro-optimism and developing entrepreneurship in 33 countries across Africa. But he probably has seen many more privileged Nigerians who can make a difference but who do not seem to care. He may have in fact attended one or two Nigerian “owambe” parties: he would have been shocked at the elaborate dressing of Nigerian women: the rich ones among them looking like they are decked in a million dollars per party, from “N40 million hair attachments” to designer make-up, shoes, jewelry, handbag and a haughty attitude on top. He must be similarly intrigued by our flowing agbada and babariga, and neck-beads and golden walking sticks, and the lavish parties we throw, in a country where the poor can barely feed or pay hospital bills. Hence:  “Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth…”, he announced.

Bill Gates’s core message is that Nigeria must get its priorities right, and make governance more people-oriented. If Nigeria must grow its potential and make its people happy, Nigerian leaders must develop a sustainable plan for progress, do more for their people and encourage youth development, promote transparency and accountability and reduce alienation. That certainly is not “hate speech.” It is so simple; it shouldn’t be too difficult to understand. We should listen, lest Mr. Gates finds a more deserving environment and turns his back on Nigeria.

Play The Game According To The Rules – ES Charges Parliamentarians

The newly-inaugurated Chairman of Atakunmosa West Central Local Council Development Area, Honourable Anthony Adeboye has charged the operators of the newly introduced parliamentary system of government at the third tier of government in the State of Osun to play the game according to the set rules with dedicated loyalty and high sense of patriotism.

Adeboye gave this charge  recently at the inauguration of the council’s parliament in Ifewara.

The council boss recalled that since the adoption of the presidential system of government in 1979, the introduction of a parliamentary system at the local government level by Governor Rauf Aregbesola is novel in the history of Nigerian politics and of course, a new experiment that deserve a trial in view of the fact that it is devoid of Executive-Legislative face-off arising from the fusion of the duo and also because its running cost is  cheaper.

The Chairman noted that its adoption is in apparent response to public outcries condemning presidential system of government for its expensive nature.

He however stated that its success or otherwise would determine whether the state would copy it or not.

While congratulating the parliamentarians for the victory at the January 27th, 2018 local government election, he gave kudos to Ogbeni Aregbesola for his exemplary leadership which had won several accolades from the lengths and breadths of the country.

Admonishing his colleagues, he charged that it should be known that they were elected to serve and as such they must endeavour to serve God and humanity.

“Let us do all the needful to put smiles on the faces of the people by improving their quality of living.

“Mind you, you are not successful in office until your constituencies are left better than you met them at the expiration of your tenure.

“So let people say he or she has tried even though people do refer to public service as a thankless job”.

He enjoined them to make spirited efforts and act fast within the ambit of available resources.

The council boss also saluted the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the state and local levels for its tenacity of purpose and steadfastness in ushering in this new dawn in the state of the virtuous.

“To the party’s teeming members and supporters, I assure that the APC government at all levels is ever determined to bring the dividends of democracy to their footsteps. I urge them to be a little patient”.

The council Chief appreciated the co-operation and support of career officers led by the Council Manager during the caretaker era and solicited more robust and cordial relationship in this new dispensation so that meaningful development can be attained.

The elected Leader of the House, Honourable Ola-Oluwa Olusakin in his own speech assured that he would not preside over a divided House, promising harmonious relationship with the council’s workforce and an evenly shared dividends of democracy to the citizenry.

Other elected officers of the Council Area include; Honourables Julius Fakowajo as Vice Chairman; Jumoke Oladipupo, Deputy Leader of the House and Saka Hamzat.

The ceremony was graced by dignitaries which include, Honourable Festus Komolafe representing Atakunmosa East and West Constituency in the Osun House of Assembly, traditional chiefs, political, religious and community leaders.

The Boko Haram ‘Business’ By SOC Okenwa

When the former President Goodluck Jonathan was in the saddle in Aso Villa the Boko Haram (BH) armed rebellion cum terrorism was flourishing enough that the fugitive Abubakar Shekau and his misguided followers were taking towns and invading villages up north in Nigeria with reckless abandon nay, relative ease. The Nigerian military machine then was offering little or no resistance as Shekau bared his terrorist fangs basking in the bravado of invincibility. The Jonathanian presidential era, as muddling as it was, was an embattled one — what with mounting security challenges and ubiquitous social discontent across the federation.

Shekau knew that he was dealing with a weak President, one without balls or vision and one chiefly commanding no troops anywhere even though the federal constitution empowered him with limitless powers to ‘kill’ and destroy in order to preserve the territorial integrity of the Nigerian nation-state. But the truth is that GEJ never made any attempt at asserting his authority anywhere even when an Athenian tragedy was metaphorically unfolding without the majesty of the Greek drama. The Bayelsa-born man of extra-ordinary good luck was glad eating his cassava bread, drinking his fish pepper-soup and enjoying the Clintonian Monica in the good-lucky Diezani!

Faced with the BH audacious challenge Jonathan had little or no idea of how to deal with the daily national threat posed by the armed and dangerous Islamic elements. So, upon recommendation, perhaps, from knowledgeable quarters, GEJ went for a new National Security Adviser (NSA) in the person of the retired Col. Sambo Dasuki. Dasuki, a son of Sokoto royalty, upon his appointment, obviously had some novel ideas on how to tackle Shekau and his demented men and women.

But as Sambo was proposing a fresh idea on how to win the war on terror he was also making plans on how to steal as much as possible from the BH lucrative military ‘business’. As an old IBB boy, one of the remaining surviving disciples of Babangidaism Dasuki must have learnt a lesson or two from the ‘evil genius’ on how to swindle a nation. He knew all along the then President’s strenghts (if any) and weaknesses. And contemplated ways of exploiting them maximally for his personal aggrandizement.

Few years ago in 2015 GEJ was deservedly given a red card against the run of play by the ‘Naija’ people fed up with the presidential fumbling and wobbling of a man never destined for serious leadership position, least of all the presidency. And so he fell from grace to grass, soundly defeated by the organized opposition desperate to get rid of the old PDP order. Months after the electoral shellacking the NSA Dasuki was promptly arrested in his opulent Abuja home and detained by the DSS operatives. Since then Sambo has been in detention despite countless court rulings granting him provisional conditional bail but conveniently ignored by the powers that be.

Dasuki was found to have stolen billions of Dollars meant for the purchase of military equipments for the gallant soldiers battling BH in different war fronts. Instead of using the funds to procure the arms and ammunitions as directed Dasuki simply pocketed the money! And during the presidential polls featuring his deposed principal against the then opposition candidate and now President Buhari Dasuki threw the money around for the ill-fated GEJ re-election bid. Like a drunk over-fed Santa Claus on Yuletide revelry Sambo shared some of the largesse among the GEJ loyalists including Reuben Abati and Femi Fani-Kayode.

When you add the ‘Dasukigate’ to ‘Diezanigate’ (the latter involving the former omnipotent Petroleum Resources Minister said to have stolen billions of Dollars from the oil and gas sector) you are presented with a perfect picture of how corruption almost strangulated Nigeria under GEJ. Yet the ex-President was said not to have known how deep-rooted the problem was! While outright impunity reigned supreme he was aloof in a presidency best described as an embodiment of incompetence and mediocrity.

Today however, it is quite unfortunate that many Nigerians who voted out GEJ are now expressing certain nostalgic feelings about GEJism in an atmosphere of general disappointment with Buharism. The ‘messiah’ they thought had come has proven to be an executive non-miracle worker in terms of the transformation of lives hitherto envisaged. The Buhari magic, like in 1984/85, has not yet played itself out. Perhaps due to old age or lack of energy or whatever President Buhari may end up being a President that came, saw but never conquered like the rest before him.

When he came to power in a blaze of glory some years ago he dutifully declared war on BH courageously as any other patriotic retired General would. And the war was going very well until the sudden arrival of military ‘businessmen’ or their cronies who saw a huge opportunity worth exploiting to boost their economic well-being. Nigerians are generally smart whenever or whereever they smell money! Yes, it is in our national character!

The recent mass abduction of over a hundred girls from Dapchi town in Yobe state by the BH violent sect had led to some insinuations in certain quarters about how the Buhari regime had demonstrated some complacency in the opprobrious episode that instantly evoked the sad memories of Chibok and how Shekau had deviced an unbeatable strategy of using such kidnappings to rake in millions of Dollars. In this lucrative venture of terrorism it is no retreat no surrender as filthy lucre remains the major reason of involvement.

The breaking news online had it that the kidnapped Dapchi school girls have been released by the BH Islamic sect in exchange for the liberation of some detained BH combatants and millions of Euros paid as ransom! The Buhari regime was alleged to have shelled out some millions of Dollars to ice the ‘cake’ of the negotiations that finally led to the release of the kidnapped Chibok girls. And now we are being told that millions more were given to the terrorists before reaching an agreement that led to freedom for the Dapchi girls. Aside from giving them back some of their henchmen being held.

Pray, how could Nigerians (especially parents of the ‘raptured’ damsels) be made to understand the reports online that hours before the BH invasion some security operatives posted to the affected town were withdrawn inexplicably? Who ordered their withdrawal and why? Was it true that valid information went out to the security forces prior to the abduction happening without anything being done to counter the effort of the terrorists? Or does it then mean that the weaker sex among us (women, girls, especially students)  are not safe any longer in their campuses or colleges? Whither education? Boko Haram, if this scenario is real, must have won the ‘war’ against Western education, something they are up against!

While it gladdens our hearts that the Dapchi girls have regained their freedom we must interrogate the system that made it possible for them to be bundled out of their dormitory in the first place. Like Chibok Dapchi had left the federal government exposed to founded or unfounded accusations that inside the military or para-military establishments there are spies or informants working in cahoot with Shekau and his brain-washed commanders. That Shekau has thus far evaded capture (despite the dangled paltry 3 million Naira reward for any information leading to his arrest) has shown that he must have had some active or passive collaborators inside the Buhari regime or the military hierarchy.

Evans, the arrested and detained billionaire kidnapping kingpin, succeeded for many years in his nefarious obscene business, even while living opulently in Lagos, because he had some paid agents within the police and military forces. Some of them had been apprehended and some others are still at large! Yet Evans could be considered a lesser criminal compared with Abubakar Shekau — a mass murderer, arsonist, rapist and abductor. If Evans could be caught despite his well-oiled security network (and now being tried for his numerous crimes) then Shekau must be found, fixed and finished. If the FBI and the CIA in the United States could diligently track the late Osama Bin Laden of the Al Queda 9/11 fame for almost a decade and brutally eliminating him in a decisive commando dawn raid in far-away Pakistan then Shekau, unless he is a ghost, must be made to face the justice system. It is not enough for us to be told that he now disguises himself as a woman wearing hijab!

When the late Lawrence Anini, the executed terrible armed robber in Benin city, was terrorizing the ‘Bendelites’ he was able to beat the security network trailing him because the late George Iyamu, a high_ranking cop, was aiding and abetting the Anini/Osunbor gang — supplying them with classified information and arms and ammunitions. When Anini was standing trial he shocked the world by telling Iyamu that he was a blatant liar as the latter was struggling to save his head having been found to be an accomplice of the notorious bloody robber.
The Boko Haram insurgency has endured for years because there are unpatriotic elements, fifth columnists et al, working hard to sabotage the government’s valiant efforts at tackling the national menace posed by BH. The sooner the government looks inwards for those within the administration sympathetic to the BH cause and making money out of our collective grief the better for our collective security. It is about time we end the Boko Haram ‘business’ for us to concentrate on national development.

Dapchi: Dangerous Example Of How Not To Help Boko Haram By Azu Ishiekwene

It’s like a tale from fish-wifery told by moonlight: how Boko Haram entered a Nigerian town as villains, kidnapped dozens of schoolgirls, and 32 days later returned them to the same town as heroes with flags
waving and crowds cheering and not a single Nigerian soldier in sight.
Amend the last part. The soldiers who were in sight were present to stop journalists but to ensure the safe passage of Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi’s men.

If it were a movie, it would have been titled: “From Shekau to Al-Barnawi: The Making Of Another Monster”. Are these fellows still wanted? I’m bereft.

One month ago, we woke up to the news that Boko Haram had kidnapped 110 girls from their dormitory in the Government Girls Science Technical College, Dapchi.

From all accounts, the incident happened under very bizarre circumstances. Even though the region remains the epicenter of Boko Haram activities, the army was withdrawn from the town and two weeks later, the terrorists struck.

To say they struck, is to dramatize the incident. They came in Nigerian Army uniforms as if they had come to their playground. They came in nine trucks over miles of open, largely flat ground, released a few random shots in the air and within an hour rounded up 110 girls, while a few managed to escape.

The cries for help fell on deaf ears. The police station in Dapchi was conveniently empty and multiple sources reported that the phone numbers of the Divisional Police Officer were switched off.

God knows we’re glad to have the girls back, and we should do all we can to help them recover from the trauma. We’re deeply saddened about any of them who may have been lost or left behind, and we remember again the remaining Chibok girls.

But there’s a lot that the government needs to account for. We can’t say Shekau and the ascendant outlaw, Abu Mus’ab Al-Barnawi, are wanted men and yet continue to deal with them like the fellows next door.

The only way for Dapchi not to happen again, for this whole thing not to become another criminal enterprise, is for the government to tell us exactly what happened and to adopt a different approach to this problem, instead of feeding the monsters.

I have a sickening feeling that we might be heading down a slippery slope with the lives of innocent children and sending a dangerous signal that parts of Nigeria are safer under the control of terrorists.

When are we going to be able to tell the terrorists that our children’s lives will not be toyed with?

My children grew up staying mostly with me. They did not go to boarding school; and even when they went away on holiday, I cannot recall them spending two or three weeks away at a stretch.

At about 18 when the eldest moved into the hostel after her admission to the University in Lagos, there was hardly any weekend when I did not find an excuse to visit, often under the pretext of taking some needed provision to her.

I’ve found out that I’m not alone. If we can help it, we, parents, want our children to be near, until it becomes inevitable to free them from the nest.

After the kidnap of the Dapchi girls, I’ve been thinking about that day when I left my daughter all by herself in her new school outside the country. For the first time in both of our lives, she was going to be on her own, not knowing what was going to happen to her after my departure.

If I could be so deeply confused and saddened by the prospects of her safety in a largely secure place, then I wonder how the parents of the Dapchi 110 must have felt losing the apples of their eyes to murderous strangers with no idea where they were or what was happening to them.

And I can imagine what joy it must be to have them back.

Buhari came close to this experience in a public way, lately. In December, his son, Yusuf – his only son – was involved in a bike accident that nearly claimed his life.

The country rallied round him and the First Family – which is as it should be. I still remember those pictures from the early days of the accident, when the poor chap’s life was hanging by a thread at Cedacrest Hospitals, Abuja.

Buhari and his wife, Aisha, visited the hospital a couple of times. On no occasion was the red carpet laid out for them like it happened during the President’s visit to Dapchi.

When I saw photographs from that Dapchi visit that was the first thing that struck me – the red carpet and Buhari’s light blue three-piece agbada and a matching cap.

I’m not saying his heart was not heavy with grief or that he should have faked his concern by appearing in rags. But for God’s sake, it was a somber visit, in some way reminiscent of his visits to Yusuf after the chap’s bike accident.

It was a visit to a crime scene strewn with the broken emotions of a community that is half-dead, as one resident described it. If it didn’t occur to Buhari’s chaperons not spread the red carpet and deck the place like a set for the Oscars, didn’t the President himself
think that his appearance was insensitive?

It may seem an irrelevant point now, after the girls were rescued on Wednesday. Yet symbols, especially genuine and moderate symbols, can help any community going through difficult and distressing times.

It didn’t help matters that Buhari was comparing his response with that of former President Goodluck Jonathan in Chibok. He ought to know that no two miseries are ever alike; yet each demands our fullest
empathy and nothing less.

Is Dapchi the emerging template for dealing with Boko Haram? It worked for the release of over 101 Chibok girls, but even in that case, we did not see the terrorists in a triumphant procession on the streets of Chibok.

Something has changed. Al-Barnawi and his men have become emboldened to the frighteningly alarming point where they can march confidently down the streets of Dapchi with crowds waving the same Boko Haram
flags that gallant soldiers laid down lives to remove in many parts of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa in the last three years.

This dangerous sign can only be viewed with pleasure by Al-Barnawi, other Boko Haram franchises and their accomplices for whom we’re opening yet another door.

It’s true that Buhari said almost three years ago, that he was willing to negotiate to free the Chibok girls. But now, the handshake has reached the elbow and Dapchi may have signaled the end of our sovereignty.

#NoTooYoungToRun But #TooNaiveToHarmonise By Damilola Banjo

I am happy to be young at this time in the history of our dear country, Nigeria. The youth seem to be saying enough is enough as to jettison being used as pawns in the political chess game. They are fighting for a seat at the table instead. The #NotTooYoungToRun bill has been endorsed by 24 states assemblies. Younger people are coming out to run for various offices across Nigeria. A number of them ran for elective offices in 2015. More would definitely run in 2019. We have seen younger Nigerians throw in their hats to run for the highly revered Presidential seat in Nigeria against 2019, yes, that’s the audacity I am talking about. I counted about 22 of them last week and I heard they are more but Fela Durotoye, Adamu Garba and the publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore who joined the race barely three weeks ago, seems the most popular people in the pack. Is not this a good time indeed?

However, reading “The Long Walk To 2019” an article written by the Simon Kolawole, the publisher and founder of TheCable Online Newspaper, it confirmed my long held view that the younger generation might not be too young to run but they sure are too naive to harmonize.

Let me digress a little, I always enjoy reading SK’s opinion because he not only present his opinions in the most lucid and noncontroversial way, he also enriches same with a good dose of history. For people who were not born during the military era or who were too young to understand the politics of our early democracy or people like myself who are late bloomers in political discourse, SK, with his articles, helps you connect with the events of the past so that you can appreciate and better understand current happenings. “Long Walk To 2019” was rich in history. It established the fact that the only reason All Progressives Congress (APC) was able to unseat now fragmented PDP was because the opposition came together. He also validly opined that what happened in 2015 could not happen during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s reign in 2003 because the opposition could not unite. Obasanjo, the Ebora of Owu himself, bought over the oppositions so much that even when the people became tired of him, they could simply not unseat him. The Only visible opposition at the time, Alliance for Democracy (AD), was a regional party hence could not stand the formidable front and structure Obasanjo had built in PDP. That changed in 2015 when the opposition harmonized and with the resolution of the people to change Goodluck Jonathan, it was a walk in the park for APC.

This simply confirmed what I have been saying to friends in my little circle. The youth need a single voice to stand a chance of having an “Emmanuel Macron” moment in 2019.  The younger people aiming for presidency really do not stand a chance on their own except there is a deliberate coalition able to cast aside all forms of insecurities and doubt. And my reason is not because they showed interest too close to the election as many have opined. A lot can change in 24 hours with the right strategy and support, in fact, the oldies have not declared their interests openly, they are strategizing and mobilizing their war chest, they are conditioned to believe that we are only waiting for bread on election day. They will be shocked, but that’s only if we unite. They are not debating or discussing ideas, only the young aspirants are meeting and greeting people, having town hall meetings (something I personally find inspiring).

And here I’d lack to dabble into the “experience” theory, I hear that a lot. “Oh, they lack experience”, I beg to differ, It is not because they lack experience, it because we don’t seem to get the meaning of experience, Ask yourself, what has the country benefited from the experienced leaders except ineptitude, cluelessness, clannishness and complete incompetence? However, I think the young aspirants do not stand a chance because they are too naive to know that except they come together and unite as one they do not stand a chance in 2019.

If they go to the poll individually, they sure would come back with terrible JAMB scores like the “blackberry party” did in 2015. How will Adamu Garba convince thousands of Chukwudumem Kalu who want nothing but Biafra to vote for him? How will Fela Durotoye get the votes in the grassroots, where the majority of the voting population are, when those who know him are ‘elites’. Who knows  Kingsley Moghalu in Kanlajali village in Sokoto state? I am impressed with the number of people Sowore has got talking in less than a month that he made known his ambition to run. Some of the prominent online newspapers are generating buzz around him, either positive or negative. Sadly, we already know that those who vote in Nigeria don’t have the luxury of social media. Iya Bose is too busy selling yam to care about who is trending on Twitter neither is Kabiru aka “Mighty Body” engaging in any debate on Facebook.

Again, I agree with egbon Kolawole that President Muhammadu Buhari has lost the goodwill he enjoyed two years ago. Some people even believe he will not seek re-election, contrary to his body language. The opposition party is also in disarray. I don’t think PDP has a known candidate yet. Atiku is still romancing SDP for a ticket. This is the best time for the youth to come together and take back Nigeria if only they will see beyond their naivety.

Imagine if all these younger aspirants come together, harmonize their resources and support, there would be no stopping them. Not APC, not PDP, and definitely not the 1% moneybags who would be strong enough to push aside 50 million youths.

Unfortunately, these people will not only have to contend with the money bags in the bigger parties, they will also have to compete amongst themselves. The support that could come together to secure collective success for us all would be divided along Sowore2019, TeamFD, Garba for president, etc. etc…

I am for Omoyele Sowore. I will rather ‘throw away’ my vote than vote APC, PDP or anyone from the old bloc. Also, I believe in Sowore and I think Nigeria needs a radical person like him at this point of our national development. But the realist in me knows it would be a tough call if he had to battle the thieving political class who already hates his gut and also struggle for the attention of the youth who are divided along different loyalties. I wish I could call all these people to their senses, force them into a room like brothers and sisters, and have them come up with the real coalition of vision driven youth. Unfortunately, I do not have that clout, at least, not yet! I can only hope that somehow, they will realize the need for them to harmonize, organize and stop the divisive self-inflicted agony.

Progressive Communication And The Defence Of Good Governance

By Semiu Okanlawon

As a postgraduate student some years back, I chose to do a thesis on Politics and the New Media. This decision was inspired then by what I envisioned was going to be a boom in new communication religion with the burgeoning fortunes of telephony in Nigeria and the rest of Africa.

With the advent of the Global System of Mobile Communication (GSM) and the growing availability of internet facilities across our continent, I had no doubt that the future of politics was going to be determined and shaped by a wider scope of communicative culture where restrictions, controls and censorships, as they were known, would become tall orders.

I knew certainly that with telephones and internet on citizens’ hands, so many conventions and norms would change especially in political communications. I was also confident that public opinion would no longer be monopolized and manipulated by the few aristocratic and elitist media owners. I also knew that a time was coming when even campaign funds would be raised and spent through communication technology.

Obviously, no time in history has communication been so democratized than now. Voices no longer exclusively belong to the affluent who could buy airtime, pay for ample spaces in print media and possess massive resources to toss the minds of the masses; swinging them in whatever direction that suited the elites at each particular occasion.

The people can now tell their stories! A government that is not conscious of the people’s mandate

runs the risks of instant judgment. And in equal terms and quantities, a government that is well at home with the people’s mandate could measure the backing of the people through the ceaseless communication which tells the stories of its successes and groundbreaking attainments.

Researchers in political communication must by now be conscious of an emerging trend of the progressive culture and its communication strategies that is well rooted in Osun, South-West region of Nigeria.

As a case study, the emergence of what was initially a ‘ragtag’ group of scattered, zealous, young men who simply noticed that there was a clear departure from the old order in governance and democratic norms, began to morph into a concise army of highly organized youth group all in defence of good governance.

Those who had followed the Osun political space since the inception of the Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola administration would have no qualms coming to the conclusion that a government that prides itself as “unusual” readily and, willy-nilly, puts itself up against all the arrows. Many might not have taken cognizance of the import of the swearing-in-day declaration by Governor Rauf Aregbesola on November 27, 2010 when he paused to announce that he would not follow the norms; he would break ‘rules’; and definitely upset the apples cart to achieve the human development, the reason for his political adventure to Osun in the first instance. In an environment where political gladiators are only known to be gifted with highfalutin, grandiose speeches full of promises, it could not have been a surprise that most people didn’t take Aregbesola too serious with his promises then.

Beyond the allure of demagoguery, how many campaigners keep their words anyway? Aregbesola has kept his own. By the middle of 2011, about seven months into his first term, it was becoming clearer to those who never took much notice of the November 27, 2010 ‘threat’ that the governor meant every word in his promise to run an unusual government.

By that time, the stage was already set for a new direction in the state’s education. Also in the conviction that the state needed a fresh face to attract new fortunes, a new brand must be built in line with the new desires for the state. From these two components of the “unusualness” alone, Aregbesola’s had stirred the hornet’s nest causing ripples that were never known in the history of the state since its creation. But the ripples were for the good!

The adoption of the Sobriquet, Ipinle Omoluabi (State of the Virtuous); dumping the toga of the State of the Living Spring, a new flag, a new crest, garnished with an anthem, were to bring the state to confront a huge deluge of criticisms ranging from allegations of secession plot to raising and training of militia to confront Nigeria.

While the fire of that was raging with ferocious fervor, the assault on the rot in the education sector began with schools re-classification into Elementary, Middle and High Schools. That necessarily culminated in the movements of students from some schools to others with all the attendant logistic issues. But those who were in haste to abort the pregnancy of these ideas did not have the patience to wait whether the delivery would bring blessings or curses.

In addition to these reforms and many others that the Aregbesola administration determinedly brought forward, it was obvious that the state would be the centre of all attractions especially given the eagerness of the opportunistic opposition to bring down the administration and return them to reckoning. This was further compounded by the existence of a populace that was tied to the old order and too rigid to explore new possibilities.

In the face of this stiff opposition came the army of young minds who could see through the impact of the new initiatives and were up to defend it against the venom of those poised to frustrate them. As in many templates that have been adopted in other places and even by the Federal Government, I am of no doubt that there are different organizations of young men and women forming themselves into progressive communication pressure groups in other places convinced now that their voices must be strident, amplifying and strong enough to drown the ranting of the opposition.

In a way, the emergence of the Progressive E-Group in Osun further amplifies the strategic youth engagements of the Aregbesola administration that reforms the minds of young men and women and makes them find fulfillment in befitting and gratifying ventures rather than the destructive and demeaning engagements youths think are the last options in some other places.

Had the environments under the Aregbesola administration not been conducive and encouraging, couldn’t these energetic men and women who have taken it upon themselves to defend good governance today be found as militants, kidnapers, fraudsters, prostitutes, armed robbers and other promoters of social vices? But there is an established trend of progressive youths engagements in Osun as illustrated by the creation of the Osun Youths Empowerment Scheme (OYES), Osun Rural Enterprises and Agriculture Programme (OREAP), training of young farmers in Germany to acquire modern technologies in farming, training of young technicians for the repair and maintenance of communication devices such as laptops, telephone handsets, iPads, under the OYESTECH Scheme.

Members of the Progressive E-Group in Osun and other allies find their voices through the fresh capacities and power offered by the social media to say that these (the Aregbesola ways) are the ways to go.

If anything, the facebooking and tweeting generation in Osun has rescued the state from what could have been an invasion by the anti-progress elements and elites. Of course, it is a reality that these elites would always rise against such people-oriented governance simply because it erodes their hitherto unchallenged monopoly and manipulation of the people to keep them down and trample on them. In clear terms, the communication technologies that the electorate live with every day of their lives also offers them the power, just as their votes do, to remove bad governments and support good ones. The power, from all indications now, lies with the people.