Trump And His “Shitholes” Countries By Tayo Ogunbiyi

Recently, United States President, Mr. Donald Trump allegedly dubbed Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shitholes ” countries” whose citizens were not the kind of immigrants the United States wanted.

The rather vulgar statement has led to a flow of swift condemnation across the world. Understandably, the African Union, AU, has come out in strong term to condemn the alleged statement, while explaining that it “strongly believes that there is a huge misunderstanding of the African continent and its people by the current [U.S.] administration.”

Besides the United Nations which has equally condemned the unfortunate statement, various countries had officially written to similarly denounce it. However, it is on the social media that condemnations that trail the purported statement are really heightened. Trust the social media! Before you could say Jack Robinson, several citizens from Trump supposed ‘Shitholes Countries’ started bombarding the space with attractive images of their respective countries, perhaps with the aim of debunking Trump’s “shithole” tag.

As I write this piece, in Africa especially, rather than dissipate, outrage against Trump’s supposed outburst has continued to gain momentum across the continent. Indeed, some African leaders have outrightly rejected Trump’s face saving rebuff of the statement. Some have even gone ahead to label the American President ‘a racist’. Most nations in Africa have made diplomatic protests over the alleged statement. In South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, the new president of the country’s largest political party, the African National Congress, described the president’s comments as “really, really derogatory, and highly offensive.”

In Nigeria, the country’s foreign minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama has called on American diplomats to clarify the president’s remarks, while portraying them as “deeply hurtful, offensive and unacceptable.” Similarly, Botswana, Senegal, South Africa, Haiti and Ghana have all called in American diplomats to explain what Mr Trump meant by his supposed comment. Predictably, the US State Department anticipates more US diplomats to be summoned by host nations over it as well, in due course.

Ironically, in the midst of it all, US, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, claimed that “nothing has changed” between the US and African nations. But then, Tillerson doesn’t seem to be aware of the gravity of extensive havoc that Trump’s supposed statement has caused in the US-African relation. More so, when Trump’s Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reportedly said that: “The President hasn’t said he didn’t use strong language, and this is an important issue, he’s passionate about it, he’s not going to apologize for trying to fix our immigration system.”

The Trump administration left not quite a few keen watchers of African events perplexed when it alleged that Chad was particularly included in the ‘Shitholes Countries’ categorization because it failed to “adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information.” But then, the truth is that Chad has been assisting in the fight against Isis-West Africa, al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram. Surely, it would take some time for the wound inflicted by the statement to heal. Presently, African hearts bleed, and Trump is the cause.

What one foresees from all this is that relations between African nations and the United States might become a bit strain for some time to come. With his America First philosophy, Trump has left no one in doubt that the days of hand outs from America to indigent African nations might be over. So, one anticipates that in the days ahead more African nations would continue to tilt more and more towards China for economic, technological and other forms of aids. Currently, especially along the West African coast, Chinese presence across many critical sectors is becoming quite pronounced.

The Chinese are building roads, ports, dams, railways and other infrastructure across Africa. These include a metro system in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and a vital railway connecting landlocked Ethiopia’s 100 million people to Djibouti’s Red Sea port, where the Chinese plan to open their firs6t military base outside China. In Kenya, they financed the biggest post-colonial infrastructure project in the country: a nearly $4 billion railway linking Nairobi with the country’s main Indian Ocean port in Mombasa. Currently, in Nigeria, besides its many infrastructure enterprise in many states, China is also building a major train network in Nigeria. Therefore, for many African nations, even before Trump’s supposed outburst, they have already picked a friend.

Cheerfully, while Trump sees nothing good about Africa, China sees abundant opportunities and it is willing to put in the necessary investment that could enhance the continent socio-economic development. It is a win-win scenario for the Chinese on one hand, and the African nations on the other. For one, Africa gets on with her quest for infrastructure development, while Chinese firms equally make modest gains. With this development, one expects the study of Mandarin, the Chinese language, to be in the increase in more African countries in years to come.

It is, however important to stress that African leaders should see the Trump’s eruption as a wakeup call to rescue the continent from the excruciating grip of poverty, corruption, diseases and poor governance. In Africa, the practicality of poverty is quite frightening as most Africans live on less than a dollar income per day. Perhaps more niggling is that, with 34 out of a total of 49, African countries account for a greater proportion of the Least Developed Countries, LDCs, in the world. This, perhaps, explains why poverty indicators such as extreme hunger, malnourishment, homelessness, diseases, high crime rate, slums, lack of opportunities, low productivity and illiteracy abound in larger quantity in the continent.

The African poverty situation is further compounded by failure of governments across the continent to properly harness human, natural and material resources for the common good of all. This is why Nigeria, a famous world oil exporter, is ranked among the poorest nations of the world. As things presently stand, the threat of poverty in the African continent might continue unabated, except African countries look inward to develop their natural resources and curb corrupt tendencies.

Nevertheless, Trump’s outburst is, to say the least, unpresidential and unbecoming of a leader of a country as revered as America. Great leaders think deeply before they talk. They weigh and measure every word before speaking out. The power of the spoken word cannot, in any way, be over emphasized. Indeed, research has shown that most communal, civil and international crisis that have plagued the world, at one time or the other, were exacerbated by scorching remarks of certain leaders ,who like parrot talk endlessly and senselessly without knowing when to stop. This is why it is often wisdom to always think before talking.

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump is like a parrot. He talks first and thinks later. He talks without restrain from both sides of the mouth. And he is not just talking, he is actually singing like a Red-eyed Vireo bird which sings more than 20,000 songs a day. This moment he says the earth is oval, the next moment he claims it is perpendicular!

Osun: Preparing For The Future

Two significant events took place in the State of Osun this week. Both of them indicates a forward thrust to lay strong foundations in the state. The initiatives are interlocking and in this way a synergy is being created here into a critical mass.

The first initiative is the signing by the Osun Produce Board (OPB) of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Osun State College of Technology, Esa-Oke in order to boost commercial agriculture in the state of Osun through advance Technology. As the Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of the Osun produce board, Dr Yemi Adegoke pointed out during the signing, “… the MOU is in line with the vision of the present government led by Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola to boost agricultural production and improve the income for all that are involved in the agriculture value chain”.

Very well stated by Dr Adegoke, for it is absolutely critical in the process of modernisation leading to industrialization that there must be an upliftment of the process from subsistence to commercial farming. This is the only way to revitalise a stagnant rural economy and uplift the living standards of farmers. Involving the Osun State College of Technology, Esa Oke is also very important. For the transition to commercial farming must be focused on technology and research which the institution is eminently suited to provide. The synergy will be decisive.

The modernisation of Agriculture will certainly be decisive for the state to meet the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) target of N10 billion monthly proposed by Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. Modernizing agriculture means that the State of Osun will be operating on the framework of the State of Iowa In the United States. The comparison is important. Iowa is a very successful economic example. It does not have the[minerial] resource base of much larger Texas, the technology industries of California or New York’s turbo-charged financial services industries.

Nevertheless, Iowa is a sterling success story. The state has leveraged its highly developed agriculture through technology, research and cutting edge commodities exchange mechanisms to provide very high living standards for its citizens. Osun must look at the Iowa model as well as the Cooperative model of The Netherlands. It is astonishing that the Netherlands with less than a third of the landmass of our own Niger state, consistently exports over $100 billion worth of Semi-processed and processed agricultural commodities a year. For Osun this is the way to go.

Ogbeni is absolutely correct to point the way forward. Osun must build on the framework of taxation as the way forward to sustainable development. In his words –”So we must henceforth let the people of Osun know that if Lagos could earn N41.7 billion as IGR every month, then it will unthinkable and irresponsible for Osun not to strive to make N4.1billion every month.

“That is what we need. It is the least we can work on. So by 2028 if Osun must be modern, we must have capacity to generate N10 billion monthly.

“So, the communiqué of this workshop must develop the capacity to support the state in its quest for development in practical term that will make Osun one of the best, economically viable in Nigeria”, Aregbesola told the gathering.

He added, “The reason for this summit is on how Osun will be in 2028. We must through this summit, acquire capacity to be able to fashion out ways of improving our revenue base because one thing we cannot deny is the economy fact that in 10 years to come, there will be no economic value for crude oil.

“We must also be conscious of the future population explosion in whatever economy we are planning by educating the people against the effects of reckless procreation because if we failed to take the bull by the horn, the present population in the country would have risen to 200million with similar effect on each state of the federation in 10 years time.

“Thus, we must aggressively pursue local production on our own to overcome unemployment and the consequences of it, otherwise, we will still be facing challenges”.

This is the incontrovertible roadmap for the future. The political will as well as the robust resolve is clearly there. What will be vital for the future of another generation is to ensure the continuity of this laudable objective by electing a progressive government on the 22nd September, 2018 to continue this framework. All hands must be on deck to achieve this.

Are We Really A Shithole Country? By Fisayo Soyombo

Are we one of the countries Donald Trump had in mind when he wondered why US lawmakers were seeking protection for “all these people from shithole countries” —  immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries?

To be clear, this question is not originally to Nigeria. It has been appropriated — and I am thoroughly ashamed to admit this — from Botswana.

Following the latest of Trump’s trademark jibes at the black race on Thursday, Botswana was the first African country to formally and openly reprimand the US, dispatching a query to the American ambassador to its country and asking him to clarify if it was one of the countries classified by Trump as ‘shithole’. Up till yesterday, only officials of two more African countries — Uganda and South Africa — had spoken out in strong terms against Trump. The rest, among which Nigeria is sadly languishing, have been mute, hiding behind the African Union’s branding of Trump’s comment as “clearly racist”. The likelihood is high that South Africa and Uganda were emboldened by Botswana’s immediate response.

This isn’t the first time Botswana, a country of just over 2 million people, has recently stood up to America on behalf of Africa. In December, after majority of the United Nations voted against Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the US was so riled that it threatened to cut aid to the nations that voted against it. Before the vote, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, had said Trump and the US were “taking this vote personally”. And, after, seeing it didn’t go their way, Haley said Trump “would be watching which countries voted against the US”, and had given instructions that he should be given the list. While other African countries hid away in the aftermath of the threat, Botswana called Trump’s bluff, branding Haley’s utterances “threatening and grossly inappropriate communication”, and affirming that it would “not be intimidated” in the exercise of its sovereign rights to vote. Botswana is certainly not a shit-hole country!

From Botswana, Nigeria can learn a few lessons. Like Nigeria, this southern African country is natural resource-endowed. But unlike us, Botswana doesn’t just export its gemstones and precious metals, it mines them. So, while Nigeria mostly exports crude oil in a garbage-in-garbage-out manner, Botswana has a robust in-country mining of its gemstones; it generates revenue from the end products, such as diamond, rather than from the raw resource itself.

Of the 50 large mines that account for 90% of the world’s diamond supply, the largest — the Orapa Diamond Mine — is in Botswana. A 50-50 partnership between the De Beers company and the government of Botswana, Orapa (meaning ‘resting place for lions’) began operating almost five decades ago. Nigeria, meanwhile, can’t boast anything close to a 50-50 stake in the total refining of its oil. Big as the mining industry is, it is only 40% of the Botswanan economy. But oil is Nigeria’s mainstay; without oil, our economy is gone. Botswana was a poor country at Independence in 1966, but decades of reinvestment of its resource in other sectors have seen it rise to a middle-income country. What it means is that Botswana, to a large extent, can remain in America’s bad books without batting an eyelid. That’s why it could summon the US ambassador. And that’s why Nigeria couldn’t.

That’s not all. Botswana has a unique understanding of foreign aid application that has perhaps eluded Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry: western aid never goes to a country unless the donor is confident of some sort of future payback. For all of Botswana’s economic independence, it’s HIV/AIDS baggage is scary. Nearly one-quarter of its adults are infected with HIV, placing a heavy burden on social services and the economy — and this is where the US has been most useful. Aid from the US and other foreign donors has been critical to the process of alleviating the epidemic via the strengthening of local organizations and the government with technical expertise and financial resources to support the county’s response. Is that big enough a reason for Botswana to adopt a slave-master relationship with the US. Maybe.

But Botswana understands that America’s relationship with the rest of Africa is symbiotic; its stranglehold on the continent only enjoys permanence because of interventions like aid and other sundry assistance. Without the aid, the US can no longer be the US. So, Botswana understands that despite Trump’s threat to cut aid, the US cannot afford to throw away its diplomatic relationship with Africa. Botswana understands that the greatness of America today does not only exist in part due to centuries of slavery and exploitative trading with Africa, it also exists due to the intellect and energy of the finest collection of Africans seduced to the States by the promise of a better life. It is this knowledge that emboldens Botswana to demand respect from the US. Still, has Nigeria’s anonymity in the most diplomatic discourse of the year earned us shithole status?

Some Nigerians have answered ‘yes’ — not just because of the silence but for the hunger, joblessness, hopelessness, insecurity, inequality, anger and frustration in the land. While these are, without doubt, our realities, it would take a monumental underestimation of Trump as a racist and a similar misjudgment of the word ‘shithole’ for anyone to reach that conclusion. By varied dictionary definitions, ‘shithole’ relates to the physical dirt or shabbiness of a place; it is more about a place and its people than the conditions of living in that place. Trump’s ‘shithole’ comment is a reflection of his disdain for Africa as a place and Africans as a people — it bears no relationship with the problems besetting the continent. Nigeria does not qualify as a shithole, regardless of the opinion of a million Trumps!

Nevertheless, if African leaders will wake up from their slumber, Trump’s indiscretion can play to our advantage. We must ignore the messenger. We must, because Trump, were he a man of history, would remember that as a son of an unskilled German who emigrated to the US at 16 and started working as a barber, he is the least qualified to disparage or slam the doors of the US on shit-hole migrants. That’s why Trump, the messenger, must be ignored.

But we must never ignore the message. Never. And the hidden message in Trump’s vitriol is that Africans will continue finding themselves at the wrong end of outbursts like this until we’re serious about catching up with the rest of the world by building countries where personal and professional fulfillment can be attained without necessarily migrating abroad. Till then, every now and then, garrulous leaders like Trump will bank on that loophole to lump us all together as descendants of a shithole.

 

2019 Elections: The Clear And Present Dangers Ahead By Chima Amadi

Expectedly, and in keeping with its proactive approach to elections management, the INEC just released the schedule of activities for the 2019 elections. Going by INEC’s timetable, it is precisely thirteen months before the general elections, while official campaigns are supposed to commence on the 18th day of November. However, even when they make the rules, politicians being the rule-abusing clan that they are, have already started not too covert electioneering activities, way before the officially designated date. Well, it would be disingenuous to tar the political class with the brush of abuse of process if it is not stated among other things that the president did not set the force of personal example to adhere to rules.

Under the guise of wasteful commissioning of projects first in Ebonyi, and subsequently, in Anambra and Kano states, the president has already commenced campaigning for his not too secret ambition to seek a second term of office. The actions of the president have already opened the vista of politicking, horse-trading and conspiracies that is the routine of politicians.

However, in a departure from the last election circle, i.e. 2015, when during the same corresponding time, the polity was already abuzz with seismic realignments ala knew PDP and APC mergers, pontifications, posturing, and cross-fire barbs by political actors, there seems to be some graveyard peace. Perhaps, the political class, quite uncharacteristically, is showing deference to the veil of death and flow of innocent blood that has covered the land, from the plains of the middle belt plateau to the desert hinterlands of the North East. Any keen observer that mistakes this unofficial armistice as foreshadowing a peaceful 2019 elections is naïve at best.

As someone that has had the rare privilege of formally studying elections in Nigeria since 1999 as a Civil Society observer, this writer can without equivocation state that there are clear and present dangers lurking around the corner for the 2019 elections. These threats, accentuated through the examination of the history, profiles, actions and inactions of the strategic stakeholders during elections are the focus of this week’s discourse. It is hoped that this early exposé will help prevent avoidable pitfalls that can put the polls in jeopardy.

There are usually four key stakeholders in any elections in most climes, namely: The Election Management Body, the electorate or voters, Politicians/candidates, and security personnel. Given the peculiarities of the Nigerian body polity, this writer, now includes the judiciary to these key stakeholders and will shortly unpack the reason for their inclusion in this classification.  Since Nigeria started experimenting with democratic governance, and this time series goes back to pre-independence elections, the legitimacy and integrity of Election Management Bodies have always been called into question. However, no State institution, bar the Nigerian Police, typifies the rot that Nigeria has become like the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC). The INEC was cobbled together by the departing military in 1998 to quickly conduct elections that would usher in the Fourth Republic. The Junta had their preference of outcomes for the elections which the INEC was expected to effectuate. The dissatisfaction with the successive leadership of INEC and elections conducted by them led to the overwhelming clamour for a reform of the electoral process. It was in attempting to provide some form of credibility to the INEC that former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed Professor Attahiru Jega, a man renowned for his integrity, as the INEC Chairman on June 8th,2010.

Jega realized very early in his tenure that the organization he was asked to lead was reeking with the foul and offensive smell of the Nigerian system. For instance, it is an open secret among stakeholder-circles that any Nigerian politician of means has moles in the INEC that provides him/her with information aimed at compromising the organisation and its operations. Rather than adopt a reformist approach in tackling the integrity deficits and severe dysfunction of the electoral body and system, Jega chose to whitewash or mask the defects by applying deodorant to the stench in the INEC. In the conduct of elections, Jega adopted the same principle that led to his appointment, he merely brought his professor colleagues from the various universities in Nigeria, many of them serving Vice Chancellors. Academics, especially of the professorial class are mostly considered to be politically aloof and bring some integrity along with them. He also dragged Youth Corpers into the process by using them as ad-hoc staff. All these moves merely peppered over the enormous cracks in the system, but given Jega’s integrity credit, he cashed-in efficiently and got Nigerians to trust the system. By introducing the limited use of technology in the last elections, which inevitably led to the defeat of the ruling party, Jega created a myth of someone that left behind an outstanding organisation and huge shoes to be filled by his successor.

Nothing could be further away from the truth. Without disrespecting the legacies of the eminent professor, evidence suggests that the 2015 election was the worst in the history of the conduct of elections in the Fourth Republic. Beyond the usual culprits of underage voting, logistical handicaps, etc., the number of cancelled and rerun elections ordered by the tribunals in the last election is not only unprecedented but outweighs all other cancelled elections in past combined. This article, written in Awka where a court-ordered rerun election took place, three years after the 2015 elections is one of the legacies of the Jega INEC. It is within this context that the current INEC leadership, headed by another eminent professor of no mean repute, Professor Mahmood Yakubu, was appointed to superintend the 2019 elections.  Professor Yakubu, in a sharp departure from his predecessor, adopted a reformist approach to the electoral process. But this has put him at daggers drawn with the establishment and entrenched interests in the polity. It is important to recall that following the string of APC losses of elections conducted by the INEC under Yakubu, the APC’s National Chairman openly accused him of being a mole of the PDP and an enemy of the ruling party.

The reason for this is not farfetched. Behind Professor Yakubu’s smiling façade is a stubborn and uncompromising insistence on respect for rules. This demand led to a series of inconclusive elections early on in his tenure. He just refused to budge on cases of proven disregard for the Electoral Act. However, he was severely burnt and exposed to the way of politicians during the Edo governorship elections in 2016 where while announcing to the world that the INEC was ready for elections, authorities in Abuja short-circuited him with a fait accompli that led to a shift in the elections. A change instigated mainly by the ruling party which ultimately benefitted from that adjustment. The current INEC’s reformist approach has seen some attempts made at clearing the Augean stable. For the first time, the INEC is carrying out an internal cleansing of itself. Over 250 staff members of the organization indicted for various election malpractices have been handed over for prosecution by the Chairman. It is understood that more have been penciled down for the same treatment.

Again, there is now a deliberate attempt by the INEC to respect the letters of the Electoral Act as intended. The registration of new voters has now become continuous, systemic and frequent engagement with stakeholders has been put in place, a test run of electronic transmission of results has also commenced. It is also noteworthy that the Card Readers, contrary to information being bandied about are now less cumbersome. In fact, during the Anambra elections, the number of faulty Card Reader machines that could not be rectified during accreditation was less than 0.01 percent of total Card readers deployed to the field.

The reforms are yielding fruits. No tribunals have thus far overturned any elections conducted by the Yakubu led INEC. History was made recently when all the candidates in the recently concluded Anambra gubernatorial elections accepted the outcome of the elections and congratulated the winner. This has saved the nation millions of naira in potential litigation cost.

To be fair to INEC’s thousands of staff, there are indeed a quiet majority who are honest, transparent, hardworking and genuinely want the system to work.  However, the active minority who collude with politicians to perpetrate electoral fraud are so entrenched that it would take more than just prosecutions to rid the Commission of rotten eggs in the system. The ease at with which political actors compromise INEC officials suggests that there must be a surgical, methodical and meticulous reorganization of the agency to position it for efficiency. The fact that there is no time for that as the elections are already upon us is a clear and present danger to the 2019 elections. The lacunae for compromise of electoral officers occasioned by the structural defects of the agency is reflected in the audacious governor Wike leaked audio tapes. A recurrence played out in the last Anambra elections were a suspected internal compromise nearly ruined the deployment of Corpers to the field but for a contingency intervention quickly put in place by the INEC. In 2019, when elections will be simultaneously taking place all over the country, I doubt that the INEC will have the capacity to carry out a timeous and efficient intervention in the event of sabotage of its operations from within.

The Nigerian voter experienced a euphoria at the ease of voting out an incumbent president and quickly realized the power of the Voters Card or PVC. The rapid collection of PVCs has reduced the number of outstanding and uncollected PVCs from the embarrassing twelve million that it stood at shortly after the 2015 elections. As at April 2017, there are 66.5m registered voters, out of which 54.43 have collected their PVCs and 7.8m yet uncollected. The impressive collection of PVC belies the fact that there is troubling and deep-seethed apathy among voters in participating in the electoral process. This indifference played out in 2015 where only about 25 million voted in the presidential elections. However, a more potent and dangerous threat to the outcome of the elections is the emergent trend of vote selling. This pattern became brazen during the Edo elections and have now become a norm. The Anambra elections witnessed an upsurge in this practice with parties colluding with officials to foreground this bizarre practice. Why is this a threat to the 2019 elections?

Shortly before the 2015 elections, the Goodluck Jonathan administration requested for billions of dollars to purportedly combat the Boko Haram insurgency. We now know that most of those monies went into manipulating the electoral process to seek re-election for the ruling party. Unsurprisingly, the current government seems to be picking a page out of that last administration’s playbook. Nigerians are bewildered at the request for 1 billion dollars to fight a supposedly “technically defeated” Boko Haram in an election year.  A little bit of statistical Arithmetic will drive home my point and show a possible nexus between elections, security votes and the dangers ahead. Based on observed patterns of votes buying in the most recent elections, the average cost of a vote in Nigeria is about one thousand naira. The margin of defeat between Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari in the last presidential election is nearly two million five hundred thousand votes. It will take just 2.5 billion naira to purchase that number of votes. Now, the National Bureau of Statistics in its 2016 economic outlook report declared that about 66 million Nigerians were living in abject poverty or below the poverty line of less than one dollar per day.

That number is just five hundred thousand short of the number of registered voters in Nigeria and a whopping 11 million higher than the number of Nigerians that have collected their PVCs. All other factors kept constant; if all Nigerians living below poverty line were to vote in the next elections, it would cost just 66 billion naira to buy their votes. At current dollar to naira exchange, the $ 1 billion (357 billion naira) requested by the president to fight Boko Haram is enough to buy the entire registered voters in Nigeria with still a large chunk left to cater for elite gratification and engagement of “prayer warriors” which cost the last administration about 4 billion naira.

The possibilities of a hijack of the process and inducement of the voting public to go against their will in exercising their franchise by money bags from the major parties represent a clear and present danger to the outcome of the elections. However, it will be too simplistic to opine that anyone with most enormous war chest should carry the day. If we have learnt anything from patterns of vote buying, especially during the Anambra elections, it is that the size of a candidate’s wallet does not always determine the eventual decision of who to vote by voters. However, the fact that money is a factor suggests that we may be saddled with another class of ruling elites whose mandate was bought. The implications of this scenario for development and governance is scary.

Elections are serious affairs the world over and present peculiar security challenges, even in more advanced societies. The security architecture usually woven around elections in any nation is determined by the security challenges and needs of that society. Since the life of this Republic, Nigeria has been bedevilled with several security challenges that have made it near impossible to conduct elections safely in specific areas. The Niger Delta militancy proved a significant bottleneck for officials especially in the movement of materials to far-flung creeks that served as the bases of many of the militant groups. The relative peace in that area has not made elections any more comfortable as the groups have now been transformed into standing militias for electoral violence and rigging. But worryingly, the flashpoints have transcended just the Niger Delta and has engulfed virtually most parts of Nigeria.

The resurgence of Boko Haram attacks in the North East, murderous internecine clashes in Adamawa and Taraba and the North Central states of Benue, Plateau and Nasarawa, a threatening Niger Delta Avengers, a rampaging cult/gang related deadly violence in Rivers, Lagos and Bayelsa and an underground but potentially lethal IPOB all have the capacity of inciting the political class to trigger Section 26 of the Electoral Act. For those who may not know, that section grants the INEC the powers to postpone elections if in its considered opinion there may be a likely breach of the peace or the occurrence of natural disasters of such ramifications that could jeopardise the conduct of elections. If this happens, we may witness the return of that famous “doctrine of necessity” that was used to install Jonathan as the Acting President in 2010. This time, it may be deployed to elongate the tenure of the sitting president.

Again, in our clime, where politics had obvious economic allocative implications over the course of the tenure of an administration and given the winner takes all structure of our polity, elections have become what some refer to as a “do or die” affair. Given these situations, the role and importance of security personnel in elections have become all too important. I make bold to say that the greatest threat to the 2019 elections is that posed by security institutions saddled with the responsibility of providing a safe environment for the conduct of the elections. In this regard, the role of the police and other sister agencies and their hierarchies need to be critically examined. While an institution like the INEC has made conscious efforts to improve on its performance in the conduct of elections since 2015, security agencies, mainly the police have merely ignored the call for a paradigmatic shift and are continuing with business as usual, even becoming a significant threat to the 2019 elections.

The Inspector General of Police(IGP), who perhaps was rewarded for providing the security cover that ensured that the APC was not blindsided in Kano state in the 2015 elections has shown a continuing lack of competence in the handling and management of elections security. His lack of foresight almost cast a pall over the credibility of the Anambra gubernatorial elections late last year. In an irritating, insensitively embarrassing and most reprehensible display of a lack of grasp of best practices in elections security management, the IGP withdrew the security detail of the governor of the state less than 72 hours to the conduct of the elections. He was rightly overruled by a visibly embarrassed president Buhari.

The IGP was to delay the commencement of a stakeholders meeting called to address election issues by over three hours when he was apparently in Awka. The meeting had to be declared open without him by a vexed INEC chairman until he sauntered into the meeting at an advanced stage. The same IGP without due regard for the security arrangements that were put in place for the Anambra elections, and without consultations, unilaterally changed all the Divisional Police Officers that had been trained for the elections, replacing them with new and completely ignorant officers less than 48 hours to the elections. This was after assuring officials of the EMB that no such move would be undertaken. This was apparently a repeat of the Edo elections strategy which he almost bungled.

The consequences of these actions played out in the field with the security architecture put in place for the elections collapsing midway into the elections. The mitigating factor that prevented a disaster was the resolve of the Anambra people to be peaceful and to conduct themselves in a most decorous manner. An IGP that has shown serial disregard for due process cannot be trusted to provide security supervision for the 2019 elections. What is more, his integrity has been called to question by the allegations of a serving senator. This writer was present at a meeting where the Senate President stated that the IGP had come to “beg” for leniency after the Senate commenced a probe of the allegations against him. However, rather than investigate the weighty allegations against the IGP, the government filed a case against the senator, charging him for peddling “injurious falsehood” against the IGP. The government chose to throw a blind eye to the weighty allegations.

This move by the government raises intriguing posers. Is the IGP being kept around to midwife another ‘Kanoesque’ operation but this time on a much grander scale? Can a man who has so much baggage and skeletons in his cupboard be trusted to be fair to all, and to provide adequate security that will guarantee free and fair elections? A corollary to these posers would be to ask why the humongous number of personnel always touted by the police hierarchy as being deployed for elections is not reflected on the ground? Are funds for these, in my opinion, ghost deployments, being retired on paper? There are so many unanswered questions but if this IGP is left to supervise the security arrangements for the conduct of the 2019 elections, that in my opinion portends grave dangers ahead.

Another security anomaly confronting the 2019 elections is the infighting that is replete with the Buhari administration especially among the secret security agencies (this will be discussed in detail in a later article). Like many Nigerians know, there is no love lost between the Directorate of State Services(DSS) which is supposed to provide intelligence for the elections and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) that is supposed to coordinate all security agencies. This war of attrition between two security institutions whose covert operations help provide proactive intelligence for use in the planning of the security architecture for elections is a dangerous omen for the 2019 elections. Except of course the crises of confidence is deliberately left to fester for some advantage to the political class.

The political class, another critical stakeholder in elections, whether as candidates, party chieftains, godfathers, or campaign buffs are at the heart of the many process manipulations that have so far been discussed. Nothing more needs to be said about them apart from the fact that they will not change their colours in 2019 and as purveyors and apostles of the Machiavellian principles will do whatever it takes to seize and retain power. This desperation is dangerous enough to pose a threat to the elections.

Finally, the judiciary and their growing and expanding influence in elections also add to the jigsaw. The role of the Judiciary in elections is contained in the constitution and the Electoral Act and needs not be rehashed, but this writer’s interest is in the ignoble roles that a few within that arm of government is playing to derail elections and unwholesomely influence their outcome. Politicians have now mastered the act of “shopping for judgements”. We have suddenly awoken to anomalous behaviour of lower courts challenging and giving counter rulings to the rulings of courts of appellate jurisdictions. To buttress the danger inherent in this trend, we only need to recall that the Third Republic was truncated by a court injunction contrived and contracted by the infamous Arthur Nzeribe-led Association for Better Nigeria (ABN). If this example is part of our better-forgotten history, consider that INEC just conducted the Anambra Central Senatorial elections almost three years after it was meant to have taken place. That election was held to ransom by countless litigations spurred on by a complicit judiciary. It is not beyond politicians to use a corrupt few in the bench to derail the 2019 elections especially if they suspect that the will of the people at the ballot box may not go their way.

In conclusion, I want to state that this discourse intervention is by no means meant to be alarmist or aimed at conspiratorially constructing realities to suite a predetermined end, but rather an intellectual contribution to the course of better elections. Like the infallible wisdom of the sages would say, “it is better we start early in the day to chase a black goat before night falls “. The clear and present dangers of the 2019 elections highlighted herein can be averted.

Dr China Matthew Amadi, a 2016 Chevening Scholar in the Department of Government of the London School of Economics, is the Executive Director of the Centre for Transparency Advocacy.

Buhari: Between Yesterday And Tomorrow, By Reuben Abati

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

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

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

BUHARI’S “ONE CHANCE” CAMPAIGN:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Battering Your Wife May Shorten Your Life By Akin Fadeyi

About ten years ago, my tough, disciplinarian Uncle stopped talking to a certain friend of his. I told him how wrong it was to indulge in malice. He gave me a very steely look, told me to sit down and told me this pathetic story:

His friend was not employed and was not going to touch anything that is from his egoistic prism, “lower than his standard”, to earn a living. So his wife picked all the bills, fed the man, clothed him, paid their only child’s school fees and gave monthly pocket allowance to her in-laws. When there were family ceremonies from her husband’s parents or relatives, she catered for the guests, bought the chosen aso-ebis, and gave money to her mother-in-law and father-in-law. They would take her money and utter not a word of thanks to her. Because their son lied to them that he was a “business man” with a huge income. So they concluded that, “after all she’s giving us from our son’s money”. She, in turn, never told them the truth, so as to “cover her husband’s shame”. Meanwhile, she was a comfortable banker without personal financial issues.

One day, she thought she might be coming down with a complicated pregnancy of their second child. The visits to her usual private hospital were not yielding the desired result. She spoke with a friend in the UK, who also spoke to her own GP. The friend in the UK then sent the relevant documents for her to process her visa. It was her first time abroad. With a good bank statement and job profile, she got the visa. Excited, she went home and informed the husband. His response fired a chill through the air: “Have I your husband being to London before?” Shivering and with trepidation, she replied: “No”. Thereafter, he said, “Then you can never visit London before me”! He also added the cliche from men suffering from inferiority complex: “Is it because you have money? Are other women not coping in our local hospitals?”

She thought she was in a dream. This man knew the urgent pressing situation from the life-threatening pregnancy. But he did not budge as she cried. So she called his parents to weigh in on her behalf. The in-laws said they couldn’t advise her to “go against our son’s wish”.

She sought help from her own parents. They told her, “you know if we intervene now, it would seem as if we’re influencing you against your husband”. She was stuck! She had no time to waste, and so opted for the private hospital. Something went wrong as they tried to manage her. Don’t forget that she had lost precious time seeking to persuade her iron willed and intransigent husband. Doctors battled to save her, she went into coma and never returned. Today she’s no more.

She died because she married a man who had an unnecessary ego, inferiority complex and chauvinistic stone-age ideas.

My uncle said another woman moved in about two years later and the innocent child from the late wife became a step-daughter. You can imagine the rest of the story.

Some other women will fight this. They will raise hell so as to survive. But certain upbringing from diverse backgrounds given to daughters can configure them in default docility, so much that they don’t even know when husbands reduce them to pieces of rag, to be picked and used, to be pumped and killed.

For this some women become rebels and take the law into their hands. Unfortunately, the moment she murders her husband, she has crossed the red line in law. I have the empathy that Nigerian women go through a lot in the bondage and den of some men who are not worthy to be called husbands. I know some women endure the worst forms of humiliation in the hands of some men whose penchant for gender discrimination and suppression of the womenfolk is a delightful paranoia. I know some men were raised from childhood to disregard, disrespect and shut down the voice of women. Such men shall never make good husbands. Such men are domestic slave holders. Turning the woman into market slaves, kitchen slaves, laundry slaves, and slaves to be used as caterers, glorified maids at functions of her in-laws and then sex slaves who participate in sessions she never enjoys. A marriage counselling consultant once told me some women have complained that when they try to be active participants in bed, their hubbies ask them, “what is wrong with you, are you a prostitute”?

At the same time, these women are not allowed to say NO to SEX. This can end in rape, because the man will strangle her and scream: “I PAID YOUR DOWRY!”

Why do women marry and keep living with men with inferiority complexes, and with insecurity issues? Men who cannot cope but would rather loathe the attainments of their wives! Men who cannot celebrate the same women who went through labour and gave birth to their children. Such men are mere cold-hearted, insensitive, robotic mannequins, only with the physiology of functioning male organs. Such men have committed murder. Either through physical execution or mental torture of their spouses.

Some women also abuse men. They nag, they whine, they slap and they deny him! They dish his food like he’s begging for it. They play domestic politics that skew the children’s support to their myopic little in-house political corners. Such have not only destroyed their today, they have designed the wrong life-template for their children.

When these toxic relationships get to the boiling point, various scenarios play out. Some women become “prayer warriors” and outer clause “congregation” for their pastors in endless counselling sessions.

In all fairness, some pastors are fantastic psychologists. They do all they can to turn the home around and back on the sail. However, some other ones spot opportunity for sidekicks and take advantage of the woman’s engendered vulnerability. With some well seasoned and ulterior-motif motivational deliveries, she’s hypnotised and ends up warming the “pastor’s” bed! Meanwhile, she’s just one of the “bed warmers” in his league of emotionally traumatised women.

This is well interlaced with some other women who seek escapism in infidelity. While it is hard to excuse them, it’s also constraining to blame them. But she who the shoe pinches feels the hurt. You cannot pass a verdict of damnation on an “adulterer” until you feel her kind of heat!

Some other women resort to self-help. They have been traumatised, they have been used, they have been told the ridiculous lines of “don’t kill me as your mother killed your father before I married you”. In there the husband inadvertently offers a tragic solution that the wife never thought of. And on a day her oppressive tiger snores away, she reaches for the knive and delivers her justice in cold blood murder. She sought her own escapism in a vendetta of tragic dimension. The law picks her up, and as she shuttles between prison remand and courtroom trial, the children become unpropitious, doomed victims. By the way, she does not have to use the knife. The woman who you beat but who still cooks your food holds the key to your grave.

In all of these, it’s pertinent to drive home some home truth. Our society is guilty of domestic violence! Some of those who sit behind the desks to determine when to weigh in and save a combustible situation are warped in thinking, ultra-conservative in judgment and limited by medieval mentality. I once heard of a woman who went to complain at a certain well known police formation that her husband was battering her. She also told them he now rapes her at will and she’s under siege that he might strangle her one day. I heard the O/C asked “how can your husband rape you, there’s nothing like spousal rape. No be your husband? No de talk like that o, IT IS NOT GOOD”. When the lady insisted her life was under threat, he told her bluntly, the Nigerian law does not protect her. He told her she should first go and pack out of the house with her children and then come back to report for processes of divorce and ex parte motions. She has no money. She went back home. She’s stuck and waiting for the worse. What kind of law makes it impossible for the police to invite a man disposed to committing murder anytime and place him under watch with a stern warning to at least save his wife and children. It beats me.

Most of our NGOs too only pay lip service to protect the women. They receive many reports but do nothing. But the day the domestic murder takes place and it becomes celebrated in the media, they jostle up and down, issuing well rehearsed lip-service statements and seeking cheap public relations’ relevance. Shame indeed!
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And as long as we treat domestic violence with kid gloves, and as our society insists the disregarded, unheard and unseen wife must keep co-existing with her assaulter, let’s all live with a tragic and bitter reality which is that more women will seek self-help and more brutal husbands may kiss the dust and bid the world good bye.

I must note with optimism and commendation that Lagos State has stepped up it’s game to curb domestic violence. It has set up Lagos Protection Against Domestic Violence Agency. On December 8, 2016 at a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) activity to mark “16 Days of Activism Against-Based Violence Campaign”, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mrs. Lola Akande reiterated that “domestic violence remains a crime in Lagos State since the law providing protection against the act was still in place, and as such violators would be prosecuted accordingly”.

This is heartwarming. However, more effort is required to walk the talk. I received a report recently of someone who reported her matter to the Agency, having been referred by the Area G Command in Ogba. The Agency listened to her and started inviting the hubby through text messages. As we type, he is yet to honour the invitation, and the Agency has done nothing further to rein him in. This is dangerous and may be another murder waiting to happen. Domestic Protection Agencies should be proactive, engaging and pragmatic in taking actions to save Nigerian women.

We cannot continue to live in denial in this country. Women are vital to national development. Children are better saved from witnessing mentally damaging sights of “horror movie” at home. Usually, it shapes the eventual narrative of their entire life.

And for every wife that her husband has done well for but still thinks the pasture is greener out there, this is some bit of counsel: That minister you admire may be dealing with his own domestic issues; that governor you adore may be relating to his wife only through the ADC. That CEO you’re comparing your husband with may indeed be battering his own wife at home. There is no “perfect man” in a battered economy, with struggles to keep up pace; all men just try to be above board. Communicating with your spouse in the bluntest of language is essential. Laying bare all that rocked your marriage in 2017 and why you think you may not live with it in 2018. Conversely, playing your upbuilding part and nagging your husband less. The holy books compare a nagging wife with a leaking roof. Where shall her husband find peace? Some men can be won over with wisdom and well-bred conduct.

And for the beasts in men who can never treat women with honour, the Nigerian government should, as a matter of urgency, embrace global best practices in women and children protection. Most men who assault their wives in Nigeria are quite aware that if they do the same in saner climes, they would not only be bundled out of the house, they would be instructed not to trespass within a certain radius of the premises occupied by their estranged families. And they would probably still be mandated to pay the rent!

But here in Nigeria, they become pugilists at home. But seriously, only cowards batter their wives!

And as long as we treat domestic violence with kid gloves, and as our society insists the disregarded, unheard and unseen wife must keep co-existing with her assaulter, let’s all live with a tragic and bitter reality which is that more women will seek self-help and more brutal husbands may kiss the dust and bid the world good bye.

I know new year resolutions have been catalogued here and there. Some want to read more books this year, some want to buy new cars, build new houses, change apartments or get involved more “in the service of the Lord”. But I am really interested in knowing how many husbands made a resolution and a serious one at that to henceforth stop mentally assaulting or physically battering their wives altogether. This may be a good resolution to consider: You may just be saving your own life.

 

Iconic Comrade Hassan Sunmonu

The choice of Comrade Hassan Sunmonu as Chairman of the Committee of Government and Labour to oversee the allocation of Osun state’s revenues towards prompt payment of salaries as well as adequate running of government is quite symbolic of a worker-friendly government. This appointment did not come to many as a surprise, going by Sunmonu’s antecedents. Surprisingly, if there is any, may be, is probably due to the fact that the much maligned head of government of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, was bold enough to go for a no-nonsense labour leader in the mould of the Comrade. Why? If truly the government was guilty of the sometimes alleged nonchalant attitude towards Osun workers, he most certainly wouldn’t want such a calibre of person near his administration. So far, so good, transparency runs in Osun finances and the workers are most satisfied. The sacrifices by Osun workers cannot but be commended.

Comrade Hassan Sunmonu was born in the village of Akim-Eshiem, in Ghana to Nigerian parents. He has an identical twin brother named Hussein, both of whom worked with the Federal Ministry of Works in the 1960s. Sunmonu briefly attended a primary education in Ghana before following his paternal grandmother and mother back to Nigeria where they settled at Osogbo, present day State of Osun, Southwest Nigeria. In Osogbo, he attended Ansar Ud Deen between 1948 and 1950, All Saints School, Osogbo and then Osogbo Grammar School in 1955. As a young student, he and his twin met Alake Ladapo Ademola who was then in exile in Osogbo. Ademola later sponsored his trip to Ghana after he quit school due to lack of support in paying the school fees. Sunmonu stayed in Ghana till 1956 before moving back to Nigeria a year later. In 1957, he gained admission into a technical school in Yaba where he earned a certificate in 1961. Sunmonu completed his education with a diploma in civil engineering from Yaba College of Technology. During his final year at Yaba College, he was president of the college’s student union, an executive member of the National Union of Nigerian Students and member of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria.

Sunmonu joined the civil service in 1961 working for the Federal Ministry of Works and Surveys as a technical officer. His first assignment was working on the Zaria-Kano road. Sunmonu later became the General Secretary of the Association of Technical Officers within the Ministry.

In 1969, he became the Second Assistant Secretary of the Wahab Goodluck led Public Works Aerodrome Technical and General Works’ Union. In 1974, he became the union’s president.

Sunmonu was elected president of the newly formed Nigerian Labour Congress in 1978. Prior to the union’s formation, the Obasanjo-led federal military government had disbanded four national labour centres, including the moderate United Labour Congress led by Haroun Adebola and the more radical Nigeria Trade Union Congress. As a labour leader, Sunmonu’s NLC presented a Charter of Demands that among other things sought the institutionalisation of a national minimum wage and minimum pension scheme. To press the government to approve its demand, NLC embarked on a nationwide strike in May 1981.The Shehu Shagari’s administration subsequently reached a compromise with the union.

So popular was this famed fiery labour leader that Fuji lovers of the early 80s will not forget easily Kollington Ayinla’s vinyl “Sunmonu n so fun ‘Joba p’ogorun meta lawon le-gba…” (Sunmonu is telling government that Labour won’t accept anything less than N300 as minimum wage….”). Labour and government later settled for about N100 minimum wage.  Today, the sing-song is N56,000! But sweet as a raised minimum wage could be in the short run, has this ever solved workers’ problem or added to it, even quadrupled? It is high time we put on a thinking cap on best ways to remunerate workers other than raising of salaries which later create galloping inflations and quadruples workers’ sorrow instead of abating it. This has put question marks on the desirability of raising minimum wage arbitrarily. But this is a story for another day.

Today, Ayekooto celebrates this labour icon, father of workers, friend of government, untainted, and trusted by both government and people of the state of Osun to create a win-win atmosphere in the equitable sharing of scarce state resources.

LAW & U: Concept Of Bail

First of all, what is bail? This is a procedure by which a person, arrested or detained in connection with a crime may be released, upon a security being taken for his appearance on a day and place as may be determined by the person or authority effecting the release. In order to secure the release of a suspect who has been arrested from a law enforcement agent’s custody or jail with the understanding that the suspect will return for trial and court appearances, a bail can be requested. Bail can also be said to be a mechanism or money or some form of property that is deposited or that which stands as a pledge to a court.

The concept of bail is an enforcement of fundamental human right in Nigeria has recently taken a centre stage of discussion among jurist and people. In a nutshell, bail is a security of attendance in court from commencement of proceedings to judgment. In determining whether to grant or refuse bail, the determinant factors appear to depend upon the peculiar facts of every case. This takes us to the CONCEPT OF BAIL and its enforcement in Nigeria.

The concept of bail which is the right of a person to have or be granted a bail. This is an adjunct or direct offshoot of the constitutional right to liberty, guaranteed under Section 35 (1) and the right to freedom of movement under Section 38 of the Nigerian Constitution. It is also not unconnected with right to presumption of innocence as well as the fair trial granted by the same Nigerian constitution. Though, the power of court to grant bail is not inherent as such, it has constitutional, as well as statutory foundation. It can be buttressed in, Ikotun Vs FRN & Anor (2015).    Bail generally is of right to a person accused of committing a crime. This is informed by the presumption of innocence that the accused enjoys under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Over a period of years, most suspects who might not have committed any offence or whose relation had been suspected of committing a crime have found themselves incarcerated in police detention. Sometimes, they can’t press or hold charge, and sometimes this incarceration could take a longer period of time or many years before the actual trial (if any) would be instituted.

The objectives of this topic, is to enlighten Nigerians on their constitutional right to bail, and why every suspected criminals is in compelling right other than bail. Its objective is to expose the unconstitutional practice of holding charge with a view to detaining a suspect.

Bail arises at three (3) stages of the criminal justice which are:

  • The police may release suspect on bail pending further investigation.
  • The court may release an accused person on bail pending the determination of the case against him.
  • The court may release a convicted person on bail pending the determination of his appeal against his conviction.

Bail by police can be buttressed in the Police Act of Nigerian in Section 129 and 27 (b) which provides that bail can be granted by the police pending the investigation of the allegation against the person arrested. When a person is arrested to the police station, the law enjoins the officer in charge of the station to release the suspect on bail pending further investigation into the case or before a charge is preferred against the person in court.  It’s very annoying when some officers of the Nigerian police force insist on collection of money, whereas policing law in Nigeria states that “BAIL IS FREE”. Rather than bail is free, it has been turned to “BAIL FEE”.

Bail by the court can be emphasised in Section 161(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act provides for an instance which states:  “a suspect arrested, detained or charged with offence punishable with death shall only be admitted to bail by a judge of the high court, under exceptional circumstances”.

 

Re: Celebration Of Mediocrity BY Inwalomhe Donald

I want to describe several allegations leveled by Yemi Adebowale of Thisday Newspaper as crass ignorance and ill-informed. It shows that he is actually acting the script of the opposition in Osun State. Governor Rauf Aregbesola deserves commendations rather than subjective criticisms because he has turned Osun to a construction site and attracted development to the state.

Adebowale ought to cover his face in shame for his piece, having failed to see the giant strides and the rescue agenda in Osun. This is a signal that the platform he is using should be careful with him, as he is using the name of the newspaper to work for the opposition party.

For some time now, I have resolved to ignore Adebowale’s vituperations and his opposition co-travelers not because of his obstinacy, but for his deliberate attempt to distract Governor Aregbesola in the discharge of his statutory responsibilities to the people.

By now, I thought he would have grown up and shed himself of his infantile mentality to understand the nuances and dynamics of governance particularly in a state like Osun that was completely crippled by the shenanigans of his group, demagogues, but his persistent ignorance makes a refresher course a compelling need.

While I am of the opinion that constructive criticism is an integral part of the democratic order and governance process, doing so with so much ignorance and feeble knowledge creates more problem of misinformation for the larger society.

Let it be placed on record that Aregbesola embarked on global initiative aims at supporting capacity building in Osun and the rest of Nigeria to advance future leadership, focusing on sustainable global development by investing in human capital. As a symbol of national development, he introduced Sukuk Islamic bonds issuance programme to help fund big infrastructure needs in Africa’s biggest economy. Aiming to tie the transaction to one of several projects, Aregbesola has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Chinese firm, Jiangsu Wuxi Taihu Cocoa Food Company Limited, to establish a N216 billion industrial park in Osun state.

The new Osun Airport makes Nigeria to save N22bn annually which is one of the lessons this strategic mega project taught Nigeria. When the first phase of MKO Abiola International Airport, Ido Osun in Osun state is completed, the facility will save the country a foreign exchange of N22 billion per annum.

Osun State under Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into the German contribution to the Fund for Agricultural Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN), which provides loans to small and medium entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector. Osun under Aregbesola is the first state in Nigeria to key into the establishment of an “Innovation Centre for the Agriculture and Food Sector” financed by the German Government in order to improve sustainable production and processing of food as well as entrepreneurial and vocational skills in agriculture and food processing. Osun is the first state in Nigeria to key into Germany-Nigeria agricultural cooperation in the establishment of a “Green Credit Line”, which shall improve the access of small and medium enterprises to funds in order to enable them to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Osun elementary schools were over-crowded, a perfect environment for diseases and deaths before Governor Aregbesola became the Governor in 2010. By 2016, the story has changed as representatives of various states in Nigeria, at the end of a three-day study of the Osun School Feeding Programme, vowed to use the template set by the state. They concluded that the Osun government had set a good template for the implementation of the nationwide school feeding programme.

No doubt, Osun has set a standard for both the 36 states and Federal Government of Nigeria to follow. Federal Government of Nigeria is building on progress made by the state government on School Feeding Programme. The Governor has transformed Osun schools from obscurity to limelight. Osun has built standard schools and produced nutritious meal for school pupils. The Osun government’s effort in the education sector has removed the dilapidated and neglected school buildings and replaces it with a conducive learning environment. Of the infrastructure upgrade under the first phase, the government has successfully commissioned Elementary Schools,  Middle Schools, and High Schools.

While there is a decline in Nigeria’s annual production of cocoa , Aregbesola has encouraged Osun cocoa farmers in Ondo, Edo, Delta and other southern states to boost cocoa production which has led to the expansion of Ede Cocoa Processing Plant which is the only functioning plant in Nigeria today. Aregbesola has re-ignited national interest in cocoa production by partnering with a Chinese firm to reactivate cocoa processing plant. Another lesson is that Aregbesola has turned cocoa to a vital product which contributes immensely to Osun economy and the welfare of the people. He has used cocoa to create an economy and other enterprises which has risen beyond producing raw cocoa by turning it into intermediate or finished products. Ede cocoa processing plant has moved from transition of a primary commodity exporter to an industrial producer. The plant has become strategic for national economic development and created incentives for cocoa industry in Nigeria. The incentives to return cocoa farmers to their farms have now been created.

But typical of Adebowale, already used to cheap propaganda, if he does not mention such humongous sum, such vacuous story would not soothe the sheer hollowness of his thoughts. He and his group presided over a regime of squandermania, kleptomania, crass brigandage and outright plundering of the economy to the extent that even Federal Government could not pay salaries of workers and pensioners.

He belongs to an era of financial recklessness and leadership atrophy that asphyxiated our collective enterprise. As a product of such cabal of economic predators, one wonders where Adebowale and his co-travelers derive the morality to even utter a word about due diligence and accountability.

The era of Aregbesola is one that has altered the sorry narrative of Osun to a more dignifying, edifying and superlative emanations. It is a narrative of development in the face of poor revenue occasioned by Adebowale’s group fat-cats who looted the treasury blind and annihilated the states of the Federation.

Now that Osun is working again, a thousand Yemi Adebowales cannot distract Aregbesola from delivering his electoral promises to the people who gave him their overwhelming mandate to lead them.

Dealing With Indecent Dressing Among Girls

An adage says, “Dress the way you wish to be addressed”. Indecent dressing is a social illness uttered by the youth and not only the youth, but also among married people.

It simply means an act of exposing oneself to the public and dressing inappropriately in a way that does not comply with the values and culture of the society particularly in Africa.

Civilisation has played a negative role in fashion to the youth and this has increased sexual assault and harassment in this generation. Most girls in the bid to show off different fashion style wear net dresses that will expose all they put on underneath them such as bra, knowing fully that the bra will not cover their breast.

Any girl that looks around her and sees eye popping seductively needs to look at herself and the way she dresses.

Some parents who ought to react strictly to this act and rebuke only encourage their children with their unwise silence.

Mass media also has greatly influenced our youth negatively by following the steps and ways of the foreign culture in terms of videos and dressing have however failed to play this role. It is a complete shame that our youths have embraced the life style of the Europeans.

Though, it is rather not difficult and not impossible for this wrong to be corrected though, it has eaten deep into the lives of the youth which is putting a stain on the Africa culture.

Therefore, I will advise the youth to stop exposing themselves to the public by putting on an indecent dresses.

And in conclusion, parents, religious leader and government should play their different role to amend the defects in the way youth dress today.

 

Lagos-Ibadan Expressway Tragedy And The ‘Ember’ Months’ Myth By Tayo Ogunbiyi

According to reports, five persons died and many others were seriously injured in an early morning compound road mishap at the famous Kara Bridge, just by the Lagos end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Viewing the gory scene of the tragic event through various media platforms was quite distressing. Three of the victims died instantly while the other two died in the hospital.  Reports had it that about 55 people were involved in the accident, 40 men and 15 women.

An account of the incident revealed that a tanker laden with 33,000 liters of ago (diesel) ram into a stationary truck carrying brewery products. The resultant oil spill on the road resulted in the multiple crashes involving some trucks and cars. Conservatively put, not fewer than 16 vehicles, comprising eight trucks and eight vehicles were involved in the multiple crashes allegedly caused by the spilled diesel on the road.

As if the lives that have been wasted through the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway gruesome incidence weren’t enough for that day, reports had it that two other people died in another accident which involved a collision between a truck and a train in the Fagba axis of Lagos State, on same day. So, it was a rather busy day for men and officials of the Lagos State Emergency Agency, LASEMA, who had to move immediately from that incident on the Kara Bridge straight to Fagba for rescue operation.

Characteristically, many have tried to establish a connection between these bloody incidences and the usual ‘ember’ months’ tragic jargon.  The so called ‘ember’ months, which refer to the last four months of the year from September to December, are naturally regarded as tragedy prone period. This belief is so entrenched in the consciousness of the people that various religious groups and other relevant institutions regularly organize special prayer sessions and seminars with a view to minimizing ember months’ havoc.

The reality, however, is that the so called ‘embers’ months are not really spiritually jinxed as many might want to swear they are. Tragedy occurs in ‘ember’ months just as it does in every other month of the year. Ascribing needless spiritual and mythical undertones to tragic happenings during the ‘ember’ months could just be the usual Nigerian way of trivializing issues. Rather than clothing the ‘ember’ months in a garb of gratuitous mystery, the pragmatic way of explaining dreadful events during these months is more human than mythological.

The truth is that there is usually an increase in the tempo of public, private and corporate activities during this period.  Religious bodies are equally not left out of the frenzy of the season as they organize various events during the period. The ‘ember’ months are always the busiest on our roads for obvious reasons and the tumultuous air of festivity do not really help matter. It is a period when people are in so much haste to make all the money they have not made since the beginning of the year. Hence, commercial drivers, who usually embark on five trips per day, capitalize on the aura of festivity to go for ten trips. This, naturally, comes with its fatal consequences. It is only logical that when there is a mass exodus of people from one place to the other, there is bound to be a measure of uncertainty and disorder.

The bottom line, therefore, is that tragic occurrences are bound to happen during the ‘ember’ season because of the intensity of human activities. In a bid to be part of the various end-of-year activities slated for the period, a lot of people throw caution into the wind by disregarding critical safety issues. Vehicles are driven irresponsibly. Alcoholic drinks are consumed with reckless abandon while social outings are organized as if tomorrow will not come. The atmosphere, during the season, is often filled with unusual allure and jollity. It is in the midst of this hilarity that avoidable human blunders that result into diverse kinds of misfortunes usually occur.

Hence, it is imperative for everyone to, first and foremost, have a changed perception of the ‘ember’ months. Hence, conscious efforts must be made to disrobe the months of every garb of unfounded mysticism. It is only when we are convinced that the dangers associated with the months are human rather than mythical that we could really make considerable progress in averting disasters during the months.

Therefore, enforcement of existing laws and attitudinal change is central to making any progress. Sadly, law enforcement agents are also involved in the mad ‘ember’ months’ rat- race. In a bid to make some ‘extra’ buck to furnish special festive ‘necessities’ , they usually engage in treacherous compromise that encourages law breakers to go un-punish. The result, of course, is the continuation of avoidable circle of pandemonium and sorrow.

Consequently, as we march towards the end of the year, we must modify our views on the ‘ember’ months. We must not get involved in any pointless extra-ordinary  end of the year ‘rush’ that could endanger our lives and , indeed, those of others. Those who have to organize social events to correspond with this period should do so bearing all safety precautions in mind. Commercial drivers and other road users must respect the sanctity of the human life by observing required road safety measures.

Perhaps, more importantly, relevant government agencies must step up enlightenment campaigns as well as enforcement strategies to guarantee that ‘ember’ months’ crashes and other related tragedies are reduced to the barest minimum. In this respect, the Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC, and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, should be commended for their various ‘ember’ month’s safety strategies, in Lagos and adjoining States.

However, there is a need for them to intensify efforts in this direction while more appropriate government agencies should also come on board the ‘ember’ months’ re-orientation and re-awareness project. Presently, the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy is embarking on an ‘ember’ months’ responsiveness campaign across the State. The objective is to change the attitude of the people towards these months and offer key safety tips.

As it has been previously affirmed, it is critical to re- affirm that tragic happenings during ‘ember’ months are promoted by reckless human actions. It is only in living modestly and responsibly that we could avoid the dangers and hiccups that are generally associated with ember months. If only we could rid ourselves of our usual ‘ember months’ excesses, we would discover that nothing is actually wrong with the months.