OPINION: Do you know that you are One of Nigeria’s Biggest Problems? – By Samuel Daniel

Nigeria is a place where blames are placed on virtually everyone and everything. In this eye-opening piece, Samuel Daniel explains why the only person stopping the growth we need is you!

As he gave his inaugural speech on January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy, one of America’s greatest presidents, threw a timeless charge at his fellow Americans.

He said: “And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”.

John F. Kennedy must have known that his countrymen were consumed with impatience for change and were very concerned about the dividends of good leadership which he can bring them; he knew that they wanted very much to know what they will benefit from what they considered “the coming of fresh air” that JFK’s presidency promised.

NIGERIANS
NIGERIANS

He knew that they were too carried away by their burning desire for ‘newness’ to the extent that they were apt to forget what their own responsibilities were in the process of bringing about the ‘democratic goodies’. And so his inaugural charge was meant to rejuvenate the people’s sense of obligation and thrust their onuses before their faces.

Today, decades after that fateful inaugural morning, John F. Kennedy is still chanting aloud his ageless words to our ears in a world where self has become extremely glorified.

It is true that Nigeria has never been devoid of critics at all. Right from the inception of this great nation, we have had critics who voiced out their displeasure at the way things were run, and tried to change popular notion. In fact our independence was achieved chiefly or even only because of that.

We do not here, wish to discredit the noble act of criticizing wrong procedures or corrupt tendencies, but we are stating emphatically that even though it is such a noble thing to stand against evil, it is not so noble to be part of the evil we are trying to stand against. If we are going to change a particular trend, we cannot be swayed by it. We cannot be part of the evil itself.

It is already 55 years after independence was won and we still have critics who in fact, keep rising up every day in all parts of this country. These days it is not only those in national limelight that criticize government; everyone is doing that now. From the smallest villages to our most sophisticated townships, the general outcry is “Why can’t our leaders change for God’s sake?”

Nigerians have an unfading tradition of placing blames on the leadership of the nation when we talk about the failure of the Nigerian State. They very often forget or may not even be aware, that the ‘Nigerian State’ also comprises of their persons and the roles they have to play in it. They isolate themselves from the field of play and lay the burden of transformation on the one man they conceive as ‘the messiah’.

Dear Nigerian, next time, before you scream at the picture of Mr. President (because you may have no guts to scream at him when you see him in real life – you may not even get that opportunity anyway), claiming that he has not done his part to alleviate the suffering of the Nigerian people, first think about the way you treated your wife this morning, how she greeted you and you refused to reply for no reason whatsoever. Do you know she will go out with a dejected feeling that will surely affect other people negatively and consequently contribute to the growing tension in the air?

What about the man you lied to in order to cheat him out of his money? What about the so-called diplomacy you apply when carrying out your daily activities, which involves deceiving other people and making false advances just to keep your head up and make personal gain? Do you know that you are part of Nigeria’s problem? Have you forgotten that day that you fought in public and even broke someone’s head right there for everyone to see?

Do you know that you are contributing immensely to fuelling the menace of terrorism and the idea of jungle justice which has taken over Nigeria? What about your children that you leave unattended to, every morning? Do you know that they will grow up and join the massively growing restive youths that are turning Nigeria upside down?

Can you still remember that period when you had the chance to help that young boy and that young girl to achieve their goals in life and yet refused to help even though you could have? Do you know that when you refuse to care when you can, to lend a helping hand when indeed you can render help; when you think only of yourself and what you alone will gain, that you are one of Nigeria’s biggest problems?

Never has it been heard that a captain ferried people across a river even when they refused to enter the vessel. Can you feed a man who has his mouth sealed with gum? How can you bear the same yoke with a man who is three feet shorter than you? If we must see the desired change in our dear country, we cannot become indifferent to the progressive efforts of those at the helm.

We cannot become isolated groups of growling, complaining people. We have to come together and become focal components of the struggle to achieve that change. We have to allow the efforts of our leaders make sense!

We cry that we have no electricity yet we go about vandalizing our electric wires and power lines. We say we don’t have water but we have constantly made a mockery of our public taps by making sure they are constantly in need of repair because of the ways we handle them. We cry that the police harass us every day and yet we make no effort to know the dictates of our constitution and challenge the policemen on the highway. We just relax, completely complacent in our grief and complain away our comfort.

What have you done for this country? You whose only preoccupation is to sit and grumble, what have you done to alleviate suffering?

You know, you do not have to think too far. What about that poor little child by the end of the street? Have you ever lent him a helping hand? And that old deprived widow living all alone by herself in that ancient mud hut; what have you done about her? What about that orphaned youth with great potentials who walks your street every day; have you thought of prodding him forward yet?

Dear Nigerian, if this country must change, that change must start from YOU!

The great Confucius of China once said: “To put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right”.

He was absolutely correct! The change starts from home, from that place where you are, from that little corner beside the fireplace where you are preparing the meal, from that company where you work. It starts with you. You have the absolute power to change this country. Stop blaming our leaders all the time. If they can’t do it, why can’t you start the process? Make Nigeria great today and that means that you have to change the way you think.

Now, like John F. Kennedy said 54 years ago, I am saying using this simple poetic style to say:

And so Fellow Nigerians

Ask not what your country can do for you

Ask what you can do

For your country.

God bless Nigeria!

SOURCE: TORI NEWS

OPINION: 5 Things Buhari Must Do to Save Nigeria – by Matthew Page

A leading political analyst and internationally acclaimed writer has enumerated in details exceptional things President Buhari must do to change the fortunes of Nigeria within a short time.

1. Carefully clean house
Buhari’s reform agenda probably faces its greatest threat from corrupt, old-school politicians within his own All Progressives Congress (APC) party. Buhari should neutralize some of the APC’s shadiest figures, who could emerge as “veto players,” as described in Carl LeVan’s recent book.

Examples of these kleptocrats are not hard to find. The U.S. Department of Justice has accused one sitting APC governor of helping former dictator Sani Abacha steal at least $458 million from state coffers. Likewise, both APC candidates in the upcoming Kogi and Bayelsa State governorship elections have been indicted by Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency.

Preisdent Muhammodu Buhari
Preisdent Muhammodu Buhari

Admittedly, housecleaning carries political risks for Buhari. After all, his victorious electoral coalition included powerful defectors from former president Goodluck Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP). If he unduly antagonizes these establishment figures, they could derail his party’s newfound dominance by joining their former comrades in the opposition PDP.

2. Pare down the parastatals
Buhari has an opportunity to realize immediate savings by eliminating or merging some of Nigeria’s more than 500 federal parastatals and boards. Parastatals are government-operated companies or commercial agencies. Pundits allege that past presidents used parastatal appointments to cultivate national political allies and provincial cronies. These institutions, which range from the lucrative to the modest to the moribund, have long been a cornerstone of corruption in Nigeria — a complicated topic expertly explained by Daniel Jordan Smith.

Buhari may also want to disband some nice-to-have but non-essential parastatals in light of competing priorities and current fiscal constraints. Does Nigeria need to spend more than $4 million annually on a Center for Space Transport and Propulsion? Is there an effort underway to rescue the supposedly stranded Nigerian astronaut featured in this legendary scam letter?

3. Tame domestic oil refineries and steel mills
Buhari’s apparent determination to revive two “white elephant” economic sectors — domestic oil refineries and steel mills — worry industry experts. Nigeria is replete with these kinds of investment projects where state-owned enterprises are funded for long periods even if they incur huge losses. For decades, Nigerian leaders have thrown good money after bad at these projects because, as Robinson and Torvik argue, white elephant projects yield short-term political gains.

Buhari, like any of the rest of us, could stumble into a sunk cost dilemma where his efforts to maximize future returns of Nigeria’s white elephants only increase their cumulative losses. Instead, he should address the graft, inconsistent policies and opaque privatization deals that experts say turned these industries into white elephants in the first place.

4. Rein in subnational debt
As Buhari tries to put Nigeria’s public finances back in order, the balance sheets of the country’s 36 states are sinking deeper into the red. In a decentralized federal system like Nigeria’s, state budgets typically affect the lives of ordinary citizens more than federal spending does. Since taking office, Buhari has already bailed out 27 cash-strapped states to the tune of $2.1 billion. States’ borrowing trends are risky and need to be addressed, according to a recent report by the African Development Bank.

All but a few states generate minimal revenue outside of their monthly allocation of Nigeria’s anemic oil income. While Nigeria’s national debt is still relatively low by global standards, fiscal federalism means that if states default on their debts, the federal government foots the bill. Buhari’s reasons for watching state borrowing should also be personal: One of the stated reasons for the 1983 military coup that first brought him to power was runaway borrowing by state governors.

5. Show a new sheriff in town
Nigeria will need to feel the “Buhari effect” (the sense, evident in a recent New York Times article, that there is a new sheriff in town) long after the president’s tenure is over. The best way for him to protect his legacy is to partner with the National Assembly to enact legislation enshrining key reforms. With few other politicians like him on the horizon, Buhari should put his legacy in writing.

A good place to start would be an act prohibiting the use of “security votes.” Both a definitive article by Uche et al. and a 2007 Human Rights Watch report illustrate how these secretive budgetary line items are used by officials at all levels of government as slush funds. Even Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption agency had a $1,000,000 security vote included in its 2014 budget. Buhari has his work cut out for him.

SOURCE: TORI NEWS

A MUST READ! Thou shall not steal: Whither the National Peace Committee?

PEACE COMMITTEE
PEACE COMMITTEE
THOU shall not steal”. As expressed in the telling chapters of the Bible, this is the eighth Commandment of God, the disobedience of which has, from early times, been visited with grave consequences as happened when King Ahab of Israel and his wife, Jezebel, caused Naboth the Jezreelite to be stoned to death so that they could take his land (I Kings 21:1-19). By God’s decree, Ahab and Jezebel were paid back in their own exact coins.

In a recent Message, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, dwelt exhaustively on this subject. He observed that it is now common for people to rebrand a particular evil so that the full weight of the evil is not felt by their conscience.

Adeboye, however, maintained that rebranding prostitutes as commercial sex workers or calling the sexually transmitted disease “gentleman’s disease” would not change them from what they are before God.

Similarly, describing stealing as “taking” does not make it less evil and removing stealing from the corruption bracket would not alter the equation either. Anything you take without the permission of its rightful owner is stealing.

Initially, President Muhammadu Buhari was intent on making a clean start, without looking at the past. But a peep into the books soon revealed how the nation’s patrimony was shared among a few people under former President Goodluck Jonathan, to the extent that some of those individuals became richer than the Federal Government.

And here was Buhari who was elected on the solemn pledge to reduce corruption to the barest minimum and to make the path to corruption unattractive. It therefore became incumbent on him to probe further into the Jonathan administration.

Objections began to come in from various directions. To Jonathan and his co-travellers, Buhari’s war against corruption is good but it should not be limited to Jonathan’s administration. Buhari should go back to 1999.

The idea here was to push Buhari into a wild goose chase; and let him spend his entire tenure investigating others without executing his own programmes.

These advocates of backward integration are perhaps unaware that probes are not time-barred. Otherwise, they would have been pushing Buhari to take his probe back to 1960, our year of independence or, better still, to the 1914 amalgamation!

Many Nigerians are uncomfortable with the fact that for some time now, President Buhari has been receiving visitors ostensibly on matters related to his plans to expose those who fiddled with the nation’s wealth. During the visit of former President Jonathan, he was reported to have brought up the ordeal of his former aides in the hands of security agencies – former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; the former Chief Security Officer, Gordon Obua; and some of the Ministers – who are said to have been invited as a probe has been launched for large-scale malfeasance under Jonathan.

Thereafter, the General Abdulsalami Abubakar-led National Peace Committee went to Aso Rock Villa to confer with Buhari. From the innuendos and insinuations of the Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah, it was clear that the Committee had mediated at the instance of Jonathan.

Kukah insinuated that President Buhari should spend more time addressing the country’s problems, reiterating that, after all, Jonathan deserves commendation for his “spectacular act” of conceding defeat at the March presidential election. He subtly upbraided Buhari for “frittering away” the goodwill engendered by Jonathan’s concession.

We have no objection to the Committee but it is unacceptable that a matter that came up during the election and on which the electorate spoke out loud and clear should be made a subject of undue interference, particularly after the inauguration of the administration.

President Buhari solicited for, and got, the support of Nigerians in the fight against corruption. He is on the right path. We commend his resolve to take those against whom prima facie cases have been established speedily through the courts. That is what Nigerians are looking forward to. Let no one derail this move. Anyone asking the President to soft-pedal on this fight certainly means harm for the nation. Such is worthy of condemnation in heaven and on earth and in all Nigerian languages!

We also commend President Buhari for setting up the Prof. Itse Sagay Advisory Committee against Corruption. This Committee will provide the balancing-act and the necessary intellectual input.

The National Peace Committee must be reminded that its time is up. This is an ad-hoc Committee that was self-appointed. Admittedly, it did a good job. But it has since accomplished its task.

Naturally, the law of diminishing utility has set in and the Committee has largely outlived its usefulness.

For effect, the Committee should know that the time has come to disband itself so that members could retain what remains of their self-respect.

The idea of conceding defeat is novel in Nigeria and it is good. But let no one stretch it beyond reason. After all, in the face of civilisation, what is so spectacular about a defeated person accepting defeat in just the same way that a winner accepts victory? Shall we continue to celebrate the loser over and above the winner who is also magnanimous in victory? Or, was there a pre-arrangement that the loser should not accept defeat? Should his concession now become atonement for all iniquities?

Is the anointing still flowing? It is in Nigeria’s larger interest that those Bishops do not abdicate the business of soul-winning and soul-saving. Rather than engaging in the misadventure of “Pull-Buhari-Down”, they should embrace the Adeboye-type crusade of spreading the gospel of “Thou shall not steal” because the soul that steals shall certainly die!

History shows no mercy for duplicity. The problem before Nigeria today is of epic proportion and failure is not an
option. All Nigerians of goodwill must support President Buhari in his effort to trace and return to the Nigerian people all monies stolen from them by officials of the Jonathan administration.

Culled from: EMPOWERNEWSWIRE

EXCLUSIVE: Attacks on Buhari’s war on corruption – The case of Kukah

Kukah Vs. Buhari
Kukah Vs. Buhari
The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Reverend Mathew Hassan Kukah, is, of course, not the only person to have apparently pooh-poohed President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of war on corruption. Chieftains of the erstwhile ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), notably its spokesman, Olisa Metuh, and the Governor of Ekiti State and probably the most unrelenting detractor of Buhari’s person, Ayodele Fayose, have all poured scorn on the president’s declared anti-corruption crusade. None, however, not even Professor Ben Nwabueze’s statement on behalf of a rather nondescript organisation, the Igbo Leaders of Thought, has attracted as much public opprobrium as the bishop’s.

The bishop has been blaming the media for misrepresenting the interview he granted the media at Aso Villa after an audience the president granted members of the National Peace Committee on August 11. The NPC is led by former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, with the bishop as the coordinator.

Kukah, according to the media, had expressed concern in his interview about the president becoming too obsessed with the fight against alleged corruption by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration at the expense of governance for which, he said, the president had been elected.

It is unfortunate, the bishop has said in several subsequent media interviews, that his concern has been distorted to mean he was trying to defend the former president from being probed by his successor. Nothing, he has been saying, could be further from the truth.

“We were,” he said in an interview with Sahara TV on August 16, “interested in saying that our role is not to run anybody’s errands. Our role is basically to give encouragement to our politicians on behalf of Nigerians. That we had free and fair elections and Nigerians want to see a new dawn in place.” The earlier version of the story on the bishop’s remarks at Aso Villa, had quoted him as saying his committee had been sent to President Buhari by Jonathan to plead on his behalf.

However, it seems, at least to me, that the bishop’s attempts at clarification have only made matters worse. From all indications it is true, as he has said, that the former president never sent the committee to plead on his behalf. Indeed in all the meetings the committee has had with all the stakeholders before, during and after the last elections – stakeholders like the presidential candidates, the leadership of the political parties and of the National Assembly – there is evidence to prove that the issue of probing the former president was never even raised, never mind being discussed.

Bishop Kukah can therefore have only himself, and not the media, to blame for the widespread impression that his committee was on the former president’s errand, the simple reason being that his negative remarks about Buhari’s war on corruption were simply gratuitous in the circumstance. He was, of course, entitled to express his view that the president’s war looks like the persecution of his predecessor. However, the timing and the venue of his remark, not to talk of the fact that he was the coordinator, indeed creator, of the committee, can only create the impression that their main mission that day was to intercede on the former president’s behalf. To make his remarks even more suspicious, some of the committee members who had attended only few or even none of its previous meetings, notably, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), were all in attendance.

Then, of course, there were some of his rather untoward and unhelpful remarks like “Nigerians must be appreciative of what President Jonathan did…even if he stole all the money in the world” and “This is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws everybody is innocent until proven guilty,” which he made in his Channels TV interview.

As a priest and an intellectual, Bishop Kukah knows that his role is to tell truth to power. It also requires that he tells truth to friends. Both require uncommon courage. Sadly, in recent years his courage to tell truth to power and to friends, a virtue for which he had become justly famous, seems to have largely deserted him, apparently because he has become too close with those in power.

The most glaring evidence of this was nine years ago when, in a lengthy interview with Weekly Trust (July 22, 2006), he defended President Olusegun Obasanjo’s inglorious Third Term agenda by dismissing it as a non-issue.

The third term, he said, was “a useless conversation, a waste of energies and I think it is nothing other than that. And it does not merit the attention.” He then went on to condemn those critical of Obasanjo’s agenda as “political eunuchs who could not do anything when General Abacha was around.” Worse, he even denied that times were hard under Obasanjo.

“People”, he said, “keep saying to me people are dying and things are getting worse. And I say it is not true … Things are getting better and it could get even better than they are.”

If as a Reverend Father, Kukah tried to defend power nine years ago, this time as a bishop he has tried to defend a friend who, though no longer president, remains powerful by virtue alone that he had been in government for the last 16 years. And in both instances, my hunch is that he has tried to defend them essentially because they are fellow Christians, who he sees as battling for their faith.

As in Obasanjo’s case, Jonathan’s case too is simply indefensible. However, Jonathan’s case is far worse, even if only a fraction of the revelations of monumental corruption under his watch the public has been inundated with of recent is true.

Bad as Jonathan’s case is, it is not really surprising that the bishop would try to defend his friend. As Dr Ebenezer Obadare, a Nigerian teaching Sociology at Kansas University, US, pointed out five years ago in an article in The Guardian (May 21, 2010), Kukah tried to canonise the man in an article in the same newspaper (May 13, 2010) and in a lecture earlier on in Calabar. Kukah’s paper was captioned “The Patience of Jonathan,” an apparent play on the president’s name and his wife’s. Obadare countered with “The impatience of Father Kukah.”

In his article, which was less than a month after Jonathan succeeded his predecessor, following his death, Kukah argued that the man’s rise in politics “defied logic and anyone who attempts to explain it is tempting the gods.” In the earlier lecture in Calabar he had said, among other things, that “With the swearing-in of President Goodluck Jonathan, something has happened in Nigeria that may not happen again in the next 200 years.”

Obadare’s article dismissed Kukah as engaging in unhelpful myth-making. This provoked an angry counter-reaction from Kukah in The Guardian of June 2 which, in turn, provoked a counter-reaction from Obadare in the same newspaper on June 7.

Personally, I thought Obadare won the debate on the facts and logic of the issue. But this is besides my point in referring to the sparring between the priest and the academic, which is that five years on it is now crystal clear that Kukah was too impatient to canonise his friend as the best president Nigeria would ever have.

Kukah’s attempt to defend Jonathan is clearly self-imposed probably to defend his position of five years ago. Whatever it is, his defence has seriously dented the image of the NCP which it deservedly earned for the good work it did in helping to bring about this year’s peaceful election.

Penultimate Tuesday, August 18, The PUNCH published a scathing editorial on the NPC which must have resonated well with most Nigerians. The NCP, “which has the likes of Sa’ad Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto; Ayo Oritsejafor, President, Christian Association of Nigeria; John Onaiyekan and Nicholas Okoh (both clergymen),” the newspaper said, “has become a distraction, a veritable platform for making excuses for tainted former public office holders.”

As such it urged the committee be disbanded and even wondered why President Buhari had received its members in the first place.

I do not share The PUNCH’s position that it is a useless distraction. However, its use as a camouflage by its coordinator for his personal view, which seems to have been dictated more by religious camaraderie with his friend than by fact and reason, has damaged it badly.

Kukah, as priest and an intellectual, knows all too well that corruption, like all vices, knows no tribe or religion. Hopefully, the anger in the land from men and women of all faiths about his defence of the former president has taught him a lesson that it is wrong to use one’s reputation to defend what is patently indefensible.

Next week, God willing, I’ll take up Professor Nwabueze’s case and publish the reactions I received over last week’s piece.

Culled from: EMPOWERNEWSWIRE

A MUST READ: Ideas And The End Of Systemic Corruption

Renowned economics professor, Pat Utomi
Renowned economics professor, Pat Utomi

Much of the routine criticisms of Nigerian politics has to do with the seeming of absence of ideas and ideology in organising political competition and contestation for public office from where service can be rendered a population desperate for leadership so as to realise the promise of a great African modern nation state. It is useful therefore to situate the current campaign against corruption and buildup of consequence management in public life in Nigeria, in that context.

Something about the mood of the moment, in spite of those who as usual suggest the anti-corruption crusade may be targeting more of the opposition, suggest the a refrain from a hymn I have chanted for a quarter is finally beginning to resonate among a broad part of the population. Corruption is far beyond good cop, bad guys moral issue. It has indeed crippled the possibilities of progress in this land of great potential. But today it is desired to bring to the fore how that has harmed the place of ideas in politics and governance.

First, too many people in Nigeria have either lived in denial about the extent and effect of corruption; wish it away as a moral issue divorce from performance outcomes or seen it as nitpicking by those ‘unfortunate’ to be outside the arena of ‘chopping’ and so should want their turn for God to butter their bread. But the cost is so high and stirs us in the face all the time. Among the points I raise on this score is how it shapes perception of national character with costly consequences for our economy and the dignity of the Nigerian travelling around the World.

This denial on our side has not changed our reality and how we are seen. I often draw from the opening paragraph of a book on corruption and development in Africa by Kempe Ronald Hope Snr. and Bornwell Chikulo. Those first lines of the book suggest that corruption runs the range in Africa, from rare, in Botwana, to widespread in Ghana and systemic in Nigeria, tells a sad story.

I like also to recall an encounter with American investigative journalism great, Mike Wallace, while I was on sabbatical leave, writing a book on uncertainty and strategy in emerging economies, in 1996, in the United States. Wallace in an interview with Nation of Islam leader, Loius Farrakhan, challenged Farrakhan with questionable associations, industry visiting, in his words, the most corrupt country in the world, Nigeria.

I thought the reporting unfair and sent a fax to CBSTV expressing surprise that a thorough bred like Wallace would violate a law laid up for would be journalists in Journalism 101 classes, care with the use of superlatives. Mr. Wallace on receipt of the feedback called me and suggested that sometimes hyperbole is used to make a point. He noted that Nigeria had disappointed many who wished it well by allowing corruption to cripple it. He said he had come to Nigeria in 1970 to interview the Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and presented an optimistic story about the coming of the first black power. He said corruption had prevented Nigeria from claiming that promise. I insisted that even though his observations on corruption were not inappropriate it was still unfair tarring all with same brush.

I said to him, I am a Nigerian and have served in government at a presidential advisory level, in industry as an executive of a multinational in manufacturing, in thought leadership and journalism as columnist, and at the time in academia and I could state with certitude that I had never asked or received a bribe in my life and I was sure there were many Nigerians better cultured than I.

Wallace expressed a wish he could correct the impressions and return to Nigeria with me and do such a story but regretted that in those Abacha days he could not expect to leave Nigeria alive after the stories with the hidden cameras and policemen extorting money on the streets now compounded by the Farrakhan interview.

The bigger irony of that encounter was that I had told Wallace I was a member of the board of the Transparency International, Nigeria, as it was in those days. Barely a few months after the encounter Transparency International published its first corruption index and Nigeria came out the most corrupt country of those surveyed in the world, in the perception of the businessmen surveyed. Wallace could then have been justified in his use of superlatives.

With these images dogging Nigeria from corruption one would expect it to be a central issue in how social, economic and political reforms are engage in Nigeria. But this has not been quite so until recently because the market place of ideas has been the arena of a few civil society types shouting themselves hoarse on the matter. The powerful, who profited from the corrupt and corrupted order, somehow were successful in tagging the anti-corruption crusaders as impractical iconoclasts or even freaks angry with the world. So the mainstream saw the crusading with the bemused understanding reserved for those who have growing up to do.

For me the big challenge is in the effect corruption has on allowing for the flow of ideas that improve policy choice and reduces the extent of iatrogenic choices where the policies do more damage to the patient than the original problem policy intervened to solve.

Who are the kinds of people that engage in debates in the electioneering campaign process and how are they funded. No doubt just as people complain of the role of lobbyists in many more mature democracies we can complain about the place of corruption in determining share of voice. The bigger part of the problem is that many people of ideas, who could enrich the process, exit the arena, which for me is fleeing citizenship, but it is hard to be too hard on them.

The bottom-line outcome is that the system is denied a body of ideas that can lead to consistency of superior ideas for progress. It is even more in the choice of political association and body of ideas, as ideology, that the trouble with corruption does even greater harm. Many move from one party to the other; opposition to ruling and back, if there is change.

In pursuit of the gains of being close to power in the ruling party, some of those crisscrossing blur what the parties represent. If the lure of corruption were not there the tendency would be for belief systems to orient how and who people associate with. It would therefore be easier for people of ideas to coalesce into followers of approaches on how to organise society in advance of the common good.

The lack of ideological movements make recruitment into political parties more challenging for people motivated by more than just raw power has meant that our society cannot find the right footing for sustainable growth.

As we hear the speculations on how bad things got with abuse of the commonwealth, it has become clearer that if we had a proper market place of ideas, parties that were based on an articulated view of how human progress is made, things would not have gotten as bad as they have become.

Pat Utomi, Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship, is founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership.

Culled from: EMPOWERNEWSWIRE

Fighting corruption: What Buhari needs; As Corruption Fights Back…A MUST READ

Joe Igbokwe
Joe Igbokwe
As President Buhari digs in without looking back in fighting corruption in Nigeria, corruption is ferociously fighting back like a wounded lion. The most corrupt political party in Africa and the world, PDP was the first to start the blackmail and intimidation. What the brigands tell us is that the President should hit the ground running and stop chasing shadows. When it suits them, the idiots in PDP tell us that President Buhari is clueless and unprepared for the big business of governance and hence the pretence to be fighting corruption. In another development they tell us that Boko Haram has killed more people in a very short time when compared with the same time frame during Jonathan’s tenure.

Soon the ‘Pay me I write for you’ diaspora internet warriors in Jonathan’s camp joined the foray in hitting at Mr. President to form his cabinet as a matter of urgency and give them what he promised. The charge and bail lawyers and charge and write writers among them said the president’s inability to appoint his cabinet three weeks after being sworn in clearly shows unseriousness and unpreparedness on the part of the President who prepared for leadership for sixteen years. They are angry. They are frustrated and frightened. Jonathan made heavy investment on them to help him to realize his dream of governing Nigeria for 10years but the project crashed like a pack of cards. They are yet to come to terms with what hit them. Pains, tears, abusive languages, hate speech and name calling have become their ways of life these days.

Frustrated left and right they sought the help of General Abulsalami’s Peace Committee to intervene to rescue them from the bottomless pit they are going into. The Peace Committee moved in with their blackmail and intimidation also to suppress the anti-corruption machine of Mr. President. Hear them: “I think what we are concerned about is the process (of fighting corruption). It is no longer a military regime and under our existing laws, everybody is innocent until proven guilty”. The yeyePeace Committee spoke about former President Jonathan’s commitment and his spectacular deeds as president, whatever that means. But when we look back to see the deep rot in the system and reckless looting of every strata of our institutions, the so called spectacular stuff in Jonathan’s deeds varnish into the thin air.

Now enter Professor Nwabueze and Ohaneze Ndigbo. After sharing Jonathan’s billion of naira and dollars to help him win an election he was bound to lose they have resorted to their own arm twisting and subterfuge. They insist that President Buhari must start his war on corruption from the days of IBB in 1985(30years ago). After abusing President Buhari, after accusing him of being a Boko Haram sponsor, after denying him of votes from the South East and South South, they are setting an agenda for President Buhari. They are now shamelessly dictating to Buhari what to do after selling their votes for a mess of porridge. After marginalizing themselves politically, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and his shameless hungry politicians in Ohaneze are now complaining of marginalization of Igbo. How many votes did Igbo give to President Buhari? Did we not tell them that Jonathan will not win this election? Did they listen to us? Did they hear us? They abused and shouted us down. Now, you cannot eat your cake and have it. Please go to where you took your bath and pick your clothes. You political idiots have ruined and destroyed Igboland with your greed and political naivety. If you call your boat a useless boat, children will use it to play. Woe betides a nation whose leaders are children. I thank God that APC South East has risen to rebuke the children in Ohaneze for defending Jonathan who ran the most fraudulent and corrupt regime in the world today. According to Mr. Osita Okechukwu, the South East APC spokesperson “We have yet to find any sentence where any of them, even our revered icon, erudite, and constitutional lawyer Professor Ben Nwabueze, in any form denied the mindless, pervasive and unbridles corruption which pervaded ex-president Jonathan’s regime”. There is nothing more to add than to ask Ndigbo and the children in Ohaneze to move on with life and borrow a leaf from Ijaw nation that had moved on since May 29 2015.

President Buhari has been stunned into disbelief by the gamut of rot PDP left behind after 16years. According to Governor Oshiomhole: “If Nigerians know what these people did, they will stone them to death”. These scavengers were not interested in building Nigeria, they were not interested in creating jobs, they were not interested in moving Nigeria to join the human race, they cared less about what Nigeria becomes in future. They were only interested in their pockets. It was a big scramble to pocket anything in sight and damn the consequences. It was primitive accumulation of even what you do not need. It was bazaar. PDP leaders who were less than 0.5% of the population stole 80% of our common patrimony without caring a hoot. Others called it mindless looting, I call it total madness when people do not know when to say enough is enough. These mad people are ready to do anything to keep their loot. They are sleeping in the hospitals abroad pretending to be sick. They are using blackmail and subterfuge as a cover up to divert attention. They are shouting from the rooftop to deceive the gullible Nigerians and the world but there is hiding place for the enemy of progress. They want to run away from justice and keep the loot.

This is the reason why I want maximum protection for Mr. President. The world and concerned citizens of this country must help this President to succeed. Those who looted Nigeria for sixteen years are too two rich and too dangerous to be ignored. They can do anything to retain their loot. They can destabilize the government with their huge resources. They can topple the government of President Buhari if we do not do something tangible to protect the man.

If anything happens to the President now the war on corruption will come to a standstill and the looters will smile away. I know that God will keep President Buhari to do this great job but we have to do our own duty also by being vigilant. If you are surrounded by enemies, you must be vigilant all the time.

Culled from: EMPOWERNEWSWIRE

A MUST READ: Shehu Sani!…The unrepentant activist- By Yemi Adebisi

Shehu Sani
Shehu Sani

When I read through the reactions of some Nigerians as published in the social media network against the outburst of the lawmaker representing Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani of the All Progressives Congress (APC), on the governance style of Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, I was shocked and worried.

Recently, Sani had insisted that he would call the governor to order if he does not deliver on the promises made during the gubernatorial campaign. He also accused the governor of introducing unpopular policies and apparently running a government that does not consider the interest of the people of the state.

Mr. Sani said while he never intended to be in discord with the present Kaduna administration, Governor El-Rufai’s policies are harsh, inconsiderate and anti-people.

It would be recalled that Governor El-Rufai recently banned street begging in the state and insisted that the ban will not be reversed saying it is in line with planned agenda for the state.

In addition, the government reiterates that the ban on commercial motorcycles popularly known as Achaba remains in force.

Sani, who has a long standing record of being a great voice to the masses over decades, however, saw this decision as harsh and undemocratic, arguing: How many of the promises made by the governor during the campaign has been implemented?

The Senator said: “He is a technocrat, while I’m an activist and a revolutionary. So, my power base is the common people the masses who constitute my strength. They are the people I have lived with and fought for over the years. The way the governor is running the affairs of government in Kaduna State is the one which, if care is not taken, we will all sink.

“He has to take consideration of the fact that he met people that were impoverished, that were muscled, harassed and demoralised by the government of the PDP. So, first of all, they don’t need harsh policies that will further impoverish and alienate them. We need to carry them along, taking cognizance of the situation which we find them in. I fundamentally differ with him on that issue. For that reason, he has decided on his own not to even appoint people who identify with me in anyway and who are also seen to be from my camp.”

A rugged fighter for justice, equity and peace, Sani had been in progressive campaign for a united Nigeria for several years. A prolific writer of his own right, playwright and poet, he has used his rare intellectual prowess to address salient issues that have delivered the country from eventual collapse from inherent abuse of power and corruption as recorded in the past nation’s republics.

In one of his books, Prison Anthology, written while in solitary confinement, the renowned comrade and political prisoner examines numerous hiccups to Nigeria’s development such as bad leadership, corruption, violence, intolerance, injustice, crime, greed and value misplacement among others.

The book also explores a wide range of issues touching human life including love, peace, time, justice, sleep, parenthood, finance, goodness, freedom, integrity and power.

Sani was accused of sharing 12 camels, eight cow and food items during the last Ramadan fast. Some critics claimed that for that singular reason, he has joined the corrupt politicians.

But for real, Sani hates poverty to the core. No wonder in his book entitled, Poverty In Northern Nigeria, published in 2008, he x-rayed the concept, dimension, causes and mitigation of poverty and its impact particularly in the Northern Nigeria. He also traced out how Northern Nigeria has suffered from debilitating poverty that had resulted to sickness, death, increased violence and traces of terrorism and proffering solution to all these issues systematically.

While the former minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), El-Rufai was busy with demolition of both ancient and modern buildings at Abuja in the name of beautifying the capital city, Sani was consumed with thoughts of how to create an enabling environment for the survival of a common man in the street.

Predicting the infiltration of terrorism due to mismanagement of treasured information and lack of security in the country, Sani had warned the leaders on imminent dangers ahead of today’s Nigeria. In such books like, Scorpions Under Pillow – Terrorism In Africa; The Killing Fields; The Phantom Crescent (a play); Political Assassination in Nigeria; Civilian Dictators of Africa, among others, the foremost writer stigmatised the leaders with a detailed research document about the philosophy, trends, patterns and consequences of violent terrorist plots and their heinous activities in the African continent, Nigeria inclusive.

Without further sentiment, Sani’s relevance as Nigeria senator, coupled with these intellectual profiles must have shown his transparency to good governance.

In one of his last set of books published in 2013, When Clerics Kill (a play), Sani with his witty style writes on a troubled and violent society that was stoked by a vicious and violent culture of intolerance and extremism.

Shehu Sani has spent all his life fighting for the emancipation of the wretched of the earth. No wonder he is at loggerheads with the governor of his state whose policies he sees as aggravating problems of the poor people of his state instead of alleviating them.

Culled from: EMPOWEREDNEWSWIRE

OPINION: Of pigs and pearls…A MUST READ

pigs and pearls…
pigs and pearls…
‘’Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces’’

Human beings ordinarily possess intrinsic value. Being human is in itself invaluable. Beyond the material wealth and material usefulness of any individual, humanity in itself possesses a value of pristine and profound proportions. Human life is intrinsic. Though a person may improve his value through material wealth and material usefulness via deliberate acquisition and expression of industry, human life possesses a fundamental, irreducible and undeniable value separate from material realities. The worth of any individual person is first and foremost intrinsic.

This critical backdrop of perception of the intrinsic worth of human life is and ought to be the foremost imperative in providing any service, especially leadership, to humanity. In other words, the perception, understanding and acceptance of intrinsic human worth, is an irreducible minimum and a critically fundamental requirement for leadership. This is the philosophy behind the dispensation of model leadership exemplified by the lives and services of the cross section of our world’s most revered leaders. Phenomenal leadership has always been provided on the pedestal of intrinsic human value perception; the fundamental belief that the worth of human life goes beyond the material.

In no sphere of leadership service to humanity is this philosophy and practice more appropriate and critically demanded than in political leadership. Political leadership is the apex of positional leadership. Its import is so germane that the characterization of the quality of lives of a people is inevitably, intricately and intractably interwoven with the quality of its delivery. The performance of governance is often most critically measured by its reflection on economic profile which has a proportionate effect on quality of life. In fact, leadership resourcefulness plays a more critical role in the overall bearing of economic virility and in the quality of life in any nation than the profile of natural endowments of material resources. Simply put, the quality of leadership and its service delivery in any country bears direct proportionality to the overall standard of the life of the citizenry.

It appears however in our part of the world that the requisite intrinsic human value perception for productive leadership is grossly lacking for the most part across board. This critical deficiency incontrovertibly presents the crucible for the explanation and acceptance of the reality of gross leadership deficiency that characterizes the Nigerian landscape. Leadership record in Nigeria has an unbroken record of people neglect whilst the ruling class feeds fat on the common patrimony. A substantial chunk, arguably the most substantial chunk, of our country’s richest people are politicians and acolytes of those in power who have never been known for the genius of enterprise neither can a history of any extra-political industry be linked to them. They simply are political capitalists whose sole resourcefulness is crude political power grab and the machination and manipulation of political privilege for primitive acquisitiveness and self-aggrandizement through the shenanigans of incontinent malfeasance and colossal expropriation. Bereft of any value for the lives of those for whom and by whom they’d be given political commission, they indulge in wanton binge and revelry in inordinate appetite for filthy lucre, seeking to satisfy insatiable material ravenousness, oblivious to the debilitating syndrome of selfishness that has irredeemably compromised their souls.

The reflection of the value of the lives of those who are being led to the political leadership who leads them is in the impact of the dispensation of their political service in the quality of the lives of the people they lead. There are essential and fundamental responsibilities of government to the governed which encompass the security and welfare of the people. The situation in our nation where an individual has to become his own municipality just to have access to certain basic living necessities such as power, water, health care, security, sometimes even roads etc., especially against the backdrop that many of these ‘’individual municipal governments’’ are themselves tax payers, due to government failure whilst government officials on the bill of tax payers’ monies provide these things for themselves often to a point of wastage, underscores a fundamental flaw in the design of our national reality and operation of our national enterprise. Meanwhile, those who cannot afford to be their own governments, which off course is the vast majority of a deliberately pauperized populace, are left to the mercy of raggedy, ramshackle and grossly inadequate amenities and institutions of government for their health, security and general welfare. In many cases, these institutions unwittingly, not being properly funded, equipped and managed, connive with the unscrupulous government to further deplete the quality of the lives of the people and cut short their expectations and life expectancy. Government institutions and amenities like schools and health care facilities are never good enough for government officials and their families as they appropriate and expend enormous resources to give themselves access to qualitative and premium services in foreign countries whilst they deny their own people in the country they profess to lead. This they do without shame and often with much primitive braggadocio. Why? Intrinsic Human Value Perception Deficiency (IHVPD), the inability of a person to place an appropriate value on another person beyond his self-serving need for that person. When the political leadership of any country cannot and do not see the intrinsic value of the lives of the people they lead, people become reduced to mere political commodities who possess only electoral and statistical values that can be manipulated for the political and economic gain of the ruling class. In such reality people simply exist to service the whim of the ruling elites and leadership is simplistically and reductively perceived as the apex position in the food chain.

Until a nation can evolve a leadership class, especially with regard to political leadership, that can perceive the intrinsic value of the lives of the people they lead and reflect this in philosophy and practice and consequently place premium on the lives of the people they lead and on the circumstances that surround these people, the evolution of such a civilization will be shunted and shortchanged indefinitely by the deficient perception of human value. No nation neglects its people and thrives.

Obaje Akor Sunday is a Philosophical Theorist, Writer, Public Speaker and Public Affairs Analyst. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics and a Master’s Degree in Exploration Geophysics.

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Culled from: EMPOWEREDNEWSWIRE

Open Letter To The Nigerian Youth By Onwusameka Ogbowuokara

Nigerian Youth

This reaction to Bayo Adeyinka`s Angry letter to the Nigerian Youth qualifies for at least one other title; Abuse of the Nigerian Youth. The article typifies the generational syndrome of production and use of high sounding words, most of it hollow, their perpetual distortion and the extreme degradation of concepts and values. This wrong mode has been going on since independence 55 years ago. In effect, many of those who were young at the time are parents and grandparents today, have inherited, except where the individual has acquired knowledge; the wrong concepts and have continued in the transmission of error, resulting in error in perpetuity.

You are probably unaware of your numeric number or strength. The sheer number of people that Bayo Adeyinka`s anger is directed against, a colossal 118 million or 70% of the population of Nigeria. He may have had enormous courage to address you the way he did, but he did not tell you the truth.

You were neither the reason why the standard of education fell in Nigeria nor would the attendance of a foreign university have been important if Nigeria structured its universities to meet international standard. Nigeria spends only 0.76% of its budget on education as against Uganda 2.0%, Tanzania 4%, Mozambique 4.1%, Angola 4.9%, Cote d´Ivore 5% Kenya 6.5% and South Africa 7.9%. Some scientists outlined this poor budgetary allocation as a basis for the poor standard of education. Yet others say that improper skills acquisition in schools is due mainly to poor implementation of school curricula is contributory. Accordingly, there is low domestic capital formation and declining foreign investment, heavy indebtedness and high unemployment. But which of these is your fault?

Yet, in spite of the poor quality of education in the universities in Nigeria, Olaoluwa Oluwadara in 2014 became the youngest PhD in Africa at the age of 24 and can compete with any PhD from any part of the world. Olabisi Adeyemi also earned his PhD at the age of 25 from the same university of Lagos in 2012. In 2011, Shehu Balami a 28 year old student of the Federal University of Technology Minna invented two solid –fuel rockets while Jessica Matthews 25, invented the socket ball. I could go on and on. So, how did your accuser not see these achievements?

One other way that the Nigerian State made sure your underdevelopment was assured was to make sure that libraries and books were not made available to you. Otherwise how would you explain the almost non-existence of libraries even in the so called universities? Just last month (May 2015), the library near CMS in Lagos, the only one in that vicinity, was shut down without reasons.

I know of a university faculty (not the city library) in Europe that holds four (4) million volumes and has high speed 24 hour internet services. Yet, you could find still in the same city 30 other libraries equally stocked with books, journals, newsletters, magazines, daily newspapers, games and internet services. I sympathize with you because while you can access books online, the economic situation will not allow you a sustained presence in the net. Nevertheless, while good universities, libraries and books may have helped you to acquire knowledge and to lay a foundation for yourself, many successful persons have made startling discoveries and inventions in times of seeming inactivity. And some of them did not have the privilege of Ivy League universities.

You also would have been startled by the examples of Kaduna Nzeogwu (29), Murtala Mohammed (28), TY Danjuma (28), Ibrahim Babangida (25), Sanni Abacha (23) and Olusegun Obasanjo (29). These people are no heroes. They were trained and given weapons by the Nigerian State to protect the sovereignty of Nigeria. They swore to the effect, but turned their aggression to the same civilians they swore to protect. They were very violent in their youth and disobeyed the laws of the land. They were coup and counter coup plotters who killed many people. The failure of the Nigeria State in rounding them up and executing them summarily did not make them heroes to be emulated by you. Their ignorance and naivety caused the 30 months old civil war and the killing of more than a million people. Some of them committed heinous crimes during that war. Those of them that are alive today have converted Nigeria into their own private property while their ravages have crippled Nigeria. They have not changed and cannot be good examples to you! //

If you wish to draw inspiration from the older generation, then your thoughts should find Professor Wole Soyinka who at the age of 24 was already an established author and playwright, or Professor Chinua Achebe who at the age of 28 had written a world renowned novel, Things fall Apart. Professor Ayodele Awojobi was the first African to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Science (DSc), a degree exceptionally rarely awarded to a scholar under the age of 40, by the prestigious Imperial College London in 1974. Awojobi was the youngest professor of mechanical engineering in the University of Lagos. Professor Claud Ake was a colossus of political science who became a professor before he turned 30.

Chief Gamaliel Onosede has always been a glowing example of an incorruptible boardroom player who headed many boards since he was 34. As recently as 1990 he worked in the NLNG committee. Sir Victor Uwaifo (25), Dan Maraya Jos (24), Fela Kuti (31) and Godswil Akpabio are some examples of Nigerians who have made the lives of their fellow men better by the wise use of their own talents.

Talents! Every individual is endowed by one or more of these. Mathew (25:14-28) would inform you that there are many talents latent in each of you. The purpose of your earthly existence is your identification and development of these talents, the wise application of their result (skills) and their continual refinement, so that they will yield blessing (interest) and hence enhance maturity and progress. You should be aware then that even if you identify only one of these talents and have it developed the interest will be such to make you wealthy in the physical sense. As many examples have shown you do not need an Ivy League education to do this. Neither did the coup or counter coup plotters exhibited any talent till today!

But because of the differences in individuals (early and late bloomers or your requirement of an external pressure to blossom), some of you are unable to identify your talents. In that case a mentor or a good system plays a vital role. This is where the failure of the family, teacher, role model and a functional education system in Nigeria has done you much harm. If you were provided with consistent and sound messages, relaxed, loving and positive environment you would have been capable of making the choice to avoid risk behaviors altogether while developing a firmer sense of true inner being, more so if you were empowered by strong parent and family or mentor connection. Indeed, those of you who feel loved and cared for are more likely to make healthy choices and develop a firmer connectedness with nature. This is why you are likely to insist that parents, teachers, mentors, the State and in fact the media should play huge roles in the transmissions of good values to the young and the necessary exchange of the benefit of things that are good and noble.

Apart from the contradictions of the National Youths Service Corps or the National Policy on Youth, the Nigerian nation has not deemed it necessary to design and implement a capacity development program for the transition of the youth to adulthood or any form of security nets. At this age of the Nigerian nation, should there not be a national law through the Senate establishing what you the youth is, your responsibilities, duties and expectations? Should the law not state what the nation owes you and how it intends to settle this debt?

Unfortunately, according to Michelle D. Gavin (CFR´s International Affairs Fellow), “The most prominent role that Nigeria`s huge youth population played in the recent election (not 2015) was as party thugs. These young people are looking for jobs and ways to better lives, but Nigeria`s institutions don´t appear to be structured to serve anyone but the political elites. The younger generations is now rejecting the idea”. Quite an accusation!

In addition to the satisfaction and happiness that you will experience as an individual, the Nigerian socio-economic climate will receive an upward surge if perhaps 10% of your population is led to acquire the proper knowledge and skills through the implementation of capacity building. Assuming this number transits to adulthood successfully by 2020 or if such transitions occur every 5 years for the next 50 years, there will be full employment, a huge domestic capital formation and low crime rate.

It is your generation that should drive the change we need. In doing so, you do not need to imitate or compete but cooperate with one another. Discover your talent!

Industrialist Sam Ohuabunwa Attacks Buhari, says its a regime of uncertainty

Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa
In an article contributed, published and circulated in the media titled: “When uncertainty becomes a variant of change”, retired industrialist and business mogul, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, has questioned what he described as regime of uncertainty about President Muhammadu Buhari’s 3-week old administration.

If you ask me who is he? I would simply show you the litany of his achievements rolled into one paragraph thus: “Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa has contributed im­mensely to the eco­nomic development of Nigeria. He is one of Nigeria’s most venerated pharmacists, an entrepreneur, businessman, so­cial worker, lay minister, and au­thor, all rolled into one. The Fed­eral Government recognising that he stands out, has always tapped from his reservoir of knowledge in formulating policies and deci­sions. He was a member of Vision 2010, Vision 2020, Obasanjos’s Political Reform Committee, a member of Presidential Advisory Council to Jonathan, and others. He was chairman of Nigeria Eco­nomic Summit Group (NESG), former managing director, Pfizer and Chief Executive Officer of Neimeth”

Please read his article below:

On the May 29 (about 3 weeks now), I arrived Miami, Florida, in the United States of America to attend my son’s graduation from the Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM). The first thing I did was to link up with Nigeria on the Internet and on phone. I was eager to hear President Buhari’s inaugural speech. I was impressed with its brevity and memorable literary lacings. The quote from Shakespeare on the import of seizing the moment was heart stirring and the catcher – I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody – was poignant, brilliant and pregnant.

When he finished speaking, I swallowed hard and lingered around as if waiting for more. Somehow, rightly or wrongly, I had expected more from that speech. It was a speech and a day many Nigerians had waited for with high expectations. In the weeks preceding the handover, if you complained about anything, especially matters related to governance or the economy, you were told to wait till the May 29. And so we waited! Among other things, I was hoping to gleam from that speech the economic direction of his government, and perhaps, some major policy planks in the socio-political arena. But there was not much. Well, this may be part of the change, I thought. Traditionally in Nigeria, inaugural speeches are usually longer and more detailed, whether new civilian president or new military president.

Then I concluded that the agenda would begin to unfold from the next day, more so as I have held the view that President Muhammadu Buhari has adequately prepared for the job, perhaps more than anybody else who had occupied that position. I had canvassed the expectation that he would hit the ground running. Every day I would read all the Nigerian newspapers online, listen to Aljazeera and CNN, called my friends at home in Nigeria, no news. Then we heard of the appointment of Media Adviser and a Senior Special Assistant on media and I asked, why? If we want smaller government, this is where to start. Media adviser is good enough, why duplicate with a senior special assistant on the same assignment? That is how it was, but in this change era, it should not be so. Yet, we shall still have the Minister of Information.

By the way, I am told that Presidential advisers are on the same salary level with ministers, so we already have a minister equivalent. After that, we heard that the President has sent a request for 15 advisers, which is equivalent to 15 ministers in terms of cost to the people of Nigeria. Up till date, I do not know if the advisers were approved and who those advisers are, including what they are being hired to advise on. Maybe I missed the news. But I pray that we do not have Presidential Adviser on Domestic Affairs again. Mrs. Buhari should be in a position to handle this familiar terrain with ease. All we need is to increase her allowance! Then everything went cold and quiet.

I returned to the country last week, and I began to read all the newspapers afresh, in case I missed something from the online versions. I spoke to my friends in the private sector about business, and they said everywhere was quiet, that they were waiting for the new President to unfold his economic agenda; that they were tired of second-guessing him or listening to the economic projections of the cerebral Bismack Rewane; irrepressible Pat Utomi and their tribe of economic ‘seers and soothsayers’; that they needed to hear from the “horse’s mouth”. Then I joined in the wait.

The next thing we heard was that the President had travelled to Niger, then to Germany, later to South Africa where he told Nigerians there not to expect an old man of 72 (years) to perform miracles or magic! Thereafter we read of Elder Ahmed Joda and some APC chieftains asking Nigerians to be patient. And I said, for how long? If they told us for how long, then we could switch off and face other things, rather than listen to AIT at 8pm, NTA at 9pm and Channels at 10pm in search of direction from the new government.

Indeed it was in this search for news that I ran into the drama at the International Conference Centre in Abuja and at the National Assembly. This has kept us busy since last week, reviewing and analyzing the thriller. Who was the fifth columnist who sold the APC legislators a dummy? Whether he was an insider or outsider, he must receive an award for being the greatest dummy seller in Nigeria. For APC, it was the equivalent of scoring an own goal in a World Cup final match. But for Nigeria, I have a feeling that it is a good omen. Our legislators, having blunted the party hard line of division, can now review matters from a common nationalistic outlook. Maybe this will speed up the passage of critical bills like the PIB, the Railway Bill and the recommendations of the National Conference.

Meanwhile, the President has returned from his ‘nuptial’ trips and the transition committee has submitted its report, after reading and reviewing the handover notes from the previous government and the ‘Newswatch’ has resumed. Looking at the size of the reports submitted by Alhaji Joda and his team of ‘transistors’, I am praying that we will not need another committee to do a white paper on the report while we still wait. Yesterday at a board meeting, during the discussion on the economy, several of the directors expressed concern with the level of uncertainty in the economy and complained that it was not helping business.

They emphasized that businesses cannot thrive in climates of uncertainty, and the longer the uncertainty, the more inclement the climate becomes. As I am wont to doing, empathizing with the establishment, I joined in the “let’s be patient” sermonizing, emphasizing that preparation comes before success and that the type of change anticipated requires plenty of preparation. In apparent frustration, one of the directors quipped: “Is uncertainty part of the change we asked for?” Another answered: “It could be a variant.” “How?” the other guy retorted. “Because when you move from gear one to neutral, it is a change”, “Too bad!” the first director replied, and concluded: “If uncertainty is change, then it is a malodorous one”. At this point, the Chairman of the Board asked for adjournment of the meeting, and I supported him.

PDP: Big Money, Propaganda and Utter Debauchery….A MUST READ

PDP crisis
PDP crisis

Since Dr Reuben Abati disputes the N2 trillion allegedly spent, he should help convert all the money spent by TAN on its pro-Jonathan propaganda which began a full year ahead of the elections focused on labelling self-evident lies as evidences of transformation PDP is dead, okay almost. No thanks to PVCs and the Smart Card Readers and, of course, an INEC Chairman whose integrity you can take to the bank. Prior to the elections, various organs of the party had coyly obtained about 20 million voters’ card numbers from their unsuspecting owners. Claiming to be looking for endorsers, TAN, by its own admission, grossed 17.8 million signatories with their voters’ card numbers. Omo-Ilu Foundation must have distributed, and received back, close to 2 million application forms, also with voters’ card numbers in the Southwest, making close to 20 million voters numbers available to be cloned but for the Smart Card Reader.

Nigerians should, therefore, congratulate themselves for their historic escape from a 16-year virtual enslavement. Even President Jonathan, by his own confession, has been entrapped for his own six of those years. Nigerians also know that in the last four, although we voted for one, we got two. While one sat placidly, watching our problems multiply, with hundreds of children stolen under his nose, the other ran roughshod over the entire country, especially in her south south zone, causing problems everywhere she went.

Again, because he that is down needs fear no fall, let us spare the PDP but take a cursory look at some of its most outlandish legacies. First, the humongous, absolutely unimaginable amount of money they spent on the presidential election. Since Dr Reuben Abati disputes the N2 trillion allegedly spent, he should help convert all the money spent by TAN on its pro-Jonathan propaganda which began a full year ahead of the elections focused on labelling self-evident lies as evidences of transformation. Or how can any serious organisation claim that President Jonathan fought corruption to a standstill, even as corruption related cases were being serially withdrawn from the courts? And why do they think a wily Femi Fani-Kayode moved over to the PDP?

Dr Abati should also convert to naira and kobo, all the amount spent on those dizzying television adverts which were, allegedly, funded by federal government agencies. Then to the campaign proper, he should tell Nigerians how much was spent on logistics, adverts –radio, television and outdoors, as well as the staggering ‘mobilisation’ fees paid, mostly in hard currency, to all Lagos -based tribal associations then being assiduously recruited to work against the Yoruba; to Obas, Obis and Emirs; to the ever available CAN and other faith-based organisations, not leaving out hotel expenses at the most expensive hotels in the country. Others are fuelling the thousands of vehicles deployed, rendering operable the entire presidential fleet of 10 air craft and others that were chartered, all put in the service of that most expensive campaign ever in the history of Nigeria. I have deliberately left off security and INEC officials, many of who must have been handsomely ‘settled’ to turn the other eye as we saw copiously in Akwa Ibom and Rivers states. Before he can successfully dispute the allegation that PDP spent N2 trillion of public money on the election, Reuben must tell Nigerians how much the PDP spent.

Apart from literally emptying the national treasury and instituting corruption and crass debauchery in the country these past 16 years, the Peoples Democratic Party has completely disembowelled Nigeria; it has turned it to a mere shadow and we are only fortunate that a man like General Muhammadu Buhari will be taking over in days. While President Barrack Obama took over an America that was economically humbled as a result of a general economic downturn, General Buhari will be taking over a country economically, as well as morally, in ruins. Nobody has captured our current circumstances better than Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú, a Premium Times Editorial Board member, who we shall be quoting here at some length. Her article: ‘Thieving Nigerian Elite and Their Brats’, apart from very accurately capturing the Nigerian condition at the tail-end of the Jonathan era, situating as it does, some of the reasons our politicians, public servants, oil subsidy and pension scammers –all friends of the government – steal much more than they would ever need in nine lives, it also points us in the way of the much desired relaunch of the War Against Indiscipline.

Wrote Ademola-Olateju:

“The rich Nigerian makes a compelling case that unearned money is unfulfilling. That explains their enslavement to primitive acquisition, ostentatious consumption and transparent displays. The Nigerian wants to be rich just to show and to oppress those around him. They steal more and covet more, long after the money has become a burden rather than a comfort. They are raising brats and self-absorbed children who are accustomed to living large from infancy. They have no idea they are ruining this country much more than what they stole but by contaminating the environment with children who have no respect for hard work and know nothing about integrity. They see expensive vacations and high brow shopping as commonplace. What the truly wealthy in other nations consider as luxury is commonplace in Nigeria. Luxury loses meaning when it is a constant.

Constant luxury is no luxury at all; luxury is not commonplace! There is no need for sweeping generalisations as some people earned their wealth in this country but how many are they? How many are genuinely rich and not fronting for people in government or enabled by insiders? Richard Branson who owns Virgin Atlantic has children and they fly economy.

How many Nigerians are as rich as Richard Branson? Unfortunately for these thieving parents, their children know them as thieves and they themselves are trying to be bigger thieves when they grow up. They are all over the Lekki-Ikoyi corridor and the streets of Maitama and Asokoro, displaying the stereotypical arrogance of privilege. They are everywhere, driving fast cars and lacking the motivation to accomplish anything in life. Our rulers who stole us blind send their children abroad to study with the aim of coming back to take over the reins of power; have they? No! It doesn’t work that way. Privileged children have no motivation to take better control of their education.

They have the money to stay in posh apartments, ride expensive cars and party away because the money is there for the taking. There is no need to learn for a future career. While their children struggle through school, partying and doing drugs, the parents are still delusional, hoping it is just a phase. It is not a phase! Life without work, however financially secure, is an aimless life. A life without purpose. That is why monied children are swinging in oceans of anxiety, indecision and despair. In essence, money robs children of their ambition. When children are in full knowledge of their parents vast fortunes, they are more likely to develop a twisted view of the world. Money prevents them from developing a strong sense of empathy and compassion. The result? The aim of sending them abroad eventually falls flat. The best among them come back as DJ’s and the children of their drivers and nannies become doctors!”

Continuing, she writes: “we owe it a duty to tell it loud and clear that stealing billions of Naira will not bring them all they had hoped for nor will it guarantee happiness. We must educate people on the concept of service and aspiring to something greater than the self. Parents, teachers and the clergy must go back to preaching our lost values as people are truly happy when they concentrate on things that make the world a better place. How many Nigerians alive today can have the cult following Buhari has? Money did not fetch him that, something far greater did.

“If nothing is learned from the profligate times of Goodluck Jonathan, we, at least, know that stealing is far more complicated than it seems. Money is never enough! The rich worry more about money than the poor. They worry about losing it, so they steal more and more. As the zeroes increase, the dilemmas get bigger. If anything, the rich faces more melancholy than the rest of us. We generally believe a little more money would make our lives happier and in many instances it is true. But the hard truth is; human appetites for material indulgence are rarely satisfied. Money is overrated!”

As we march into the new Buhari era, therefore, we all must learn to abandon those negative actions and traits that combine to put us smugly amongst the wretched of the earth. We must graduate out of PDP-ism, forever.

Source: THENATION