Tuesday, 16 January 2018
Parliament

Parliament (559)

LATELY, crude oil prices have rallied steadily, rising above $60 per barrel in November. The increase has been precipitated by three principal factors. First is the production cut by members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The reduction in OPEC members’ output reduced supply to the market with a corresponding increase in prices. Another reason is the ongoing hostilities between Iraq and Kurdistan over the status of the city and region of Kirkuk. The crisis has impeded Iraq from reaching its optimal production capacity.

But the most recent factor is the situation in Saudi Arabia. When Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed ibn Salman, launched an anti-corruption purge which saw the arrest and detention of 201 persons, including 11 princes and 38 officials, oil prices rose to $62 per barrel, hitting the highest point since July 2015. Since the Kingdom is the world’s largest exporter of crude oil, whatever happens therein goes a long way in determining the direction in which the oil price pendulum will swing.

The rise in the prices of crude oil is good news to Nigeria because oil is the main source of the country’s revenue. Thus, a rise in its prices signals a surge in Nigeria’s revenue inflow which increases the likelihood of budget implementation and project execution.  However, since the benchmark used for the budget is usually lower than the expected crude oil prices, high crude oil prices means that more money than appropriated comes into the government’s coffers. The temptation, therefore, is for government agencies and officials to treat such money as free fund and squander same.

A pointer to this is the issue of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which was forced to pay N30 billion into the Federation Account following the boycott by state finance commissioners of the September meeting of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) because, according to them, the revenue to be shared was grossly inadequate.

The House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating the pump prices of petroleum products quickly swung into action, directing the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to provide details of the N30 billion unremitted crude oil revenue into the Federation Account. While the step taken by the House is commendable, the action of NNPC suggests that the above-the-benchmark revenue from crude oil sales is largely unaccounted for and ends up in private accounts because if the commissioners had not raised the alarm, the money would not have been paid into the Federation Account.

However, the failure of the NNPC to remit the money points to the far more serious issues of incompetence and negligence of those whose responsibility it is to track the nation’s revenue. Since there is a daily production figure and crude oil prices are not a secret, why was it so difficult for those in charge of monitoring this to find out the unconstitutional act of the NNPC before the commissioners’ protest? Was it a case of a collusion of a few against the interest of the majority? The current administration has repeatedly accused its immediate predecessor of failing to save and squandering the nation’s resources. Therefore, it should not be found guilty of what it accused others of.

Every avenue for ripping the country off should be effectively blocked. The excess earnings from crude oil sales should either be deployed to infrastructure development or saved for the rainy day in the Excess Crude Account as stipulated by the nation’s laws. It is distressing and discomfiting to note that in spite of the hike in the prices of crude oil and the attendant increase in the nation’s revenue, so much debt has been amassed in the last two years. This is not the way to go. No country can experience development without prudent utilisation and optimal management of resources.

The Ministry of Finance must up its game of monitoring and managing the nation’s resources for the benefit of every Nigerian. Every dollar earned by the country must be properly appropriated for the benefit of every Nigerian. It should not be left for a few to misappropriate.

Posted On Saturday, 23 December 2017 16:19 Written by

As the year 2017 winds down, it is imperative to assess the contributions of the eighth Nigerian Senate against the backdrop of this aphorism by poet, Mary Oliver, “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” We have a very “good” habit in these parts by focusing on the negatives in a way that blinds us to some of the good work that may have been done.

To many times, we often remember the Senate for the frequent face-offs that they have with members of the Executive arm, invitations to public office holders, motions of national importance and resolutions, however, there are also many times when they do make the people proud. This piece intends to interrogate some of those memorable bills through which our senators have demonstrated that their service and fealty do indeed rest on the interests and wishes of the people.

In the passage of the #NotTooYoungToRun Bill, the Senate demonstrated that not only does it listen but also has it fingers on the pulse of the people. The Senate has via this bill, which reduces the required ages for seeking political offices, ignited greater participation of the youth, not just in politics but also in political leadership. For a country with over 70 per cent of its population under 35, this is a wonderful development that holds a lot of promise especially for young people going into 2018 when political realignments will gain momentum ahead of the general elections.

The #OpenNASS was another pivotal movement that made the transition from online advocacy to fruitful offline engagement just like the #theNotTooYoungToRun campaign. The decision to open the Budget of the National Assembly to the general public showcased an exemplary commitment to transparency and accountability which the institution hasn’t always been known for. For the first time, since Nigeria’s return to democratic rule 17 years ago, anyone could google up and see, in fine print every dime that the Senate did intend to spend and how it planned to spend it. Such move has raised the level of confidence and trust that ordinary Nigerians have in the Nigerian Senate and the important work that they do there.

No single issue has, over the past decade, caused so much economic and social destruction to our country as the extremist insurgency in the North East of the country. It has been a thing of great pride to see how citizens all over the country contributed their best to this painful road of recovery. Here again, the Senate chimed in with commitment and focus, passing the North East Development Commission Bill (signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari), which among other things establishes a commission tasked with the responsibility of rebuilding and rehabilitating the North East whilst ensuring the resettlement of the internally displaced persons into their homes. Surely rebuilding the North east is the most definitive way to defeat the insurgents, and it’s great to see the Senate playing its part in the fight.

In November, the World Bank released its Ease of Doing Business Report for 2018 with the joyful news that Nigeria had moved up 24 places to be ranked in the 145th position out of 190 countries against the backdrop of a decade of decline in the global rankings. While the Executive arm received tonnes of plaudits for this great feat, many commentators forget that the Senate had helped to lay the groundwork with the Ease of Doing Business Bills – the Credit Bureau Services Bill and the Secured Transactions in Moveable Assets.

The Credit Bureau Services Bill passed in May 2017 helps reduce the risk of lending or engaging in business with individuals or companies with a financial history of not paying back while the Secured Transactions in Moveable Assets, enables ordinary Nigerians use invoices and receipts to access loans and working capital. Together, both laws smoothen the rough edges of doing business in Nigeria by securing lenders from working with people who have questionable financial history and also enabling more Nigerians to borrow towards growing their businesses. This, no doubt, would translate in unlocking more growth potential for our economy.

Lastly, as a nation we have always paid lip service when it comes to leveraging technology to make life easier for the people. What better way to side with the people than to show understanding that the viability of our whole democracy lies in the integrity of our electoral system with the passage of the INEC Reform Bill which will shore up and safeguard our voting process.

Thanks to the bill, there shall now be full biometric accreditation of voters with Smart Card Readers, INEC Officers must now instantly transmit accreditation data and results from Polling Units to various collation centers in a manner that determines final results on real time basis. INEC is also now mandated to keep a National Electronic Register of Election Results as a distinct database or repository of polling unit by polling unit results for all elections conducted by INEC. Collation of election result is also now mainly electronic, as transmitted unit results will help to determine final results on real time basis. But the best part of the bill is that it kick-starts, in earnest, the technological evolution of our voting system. Such adoption of technology to drive our political system as piloted by the Senate would make our elections more free, fair and transparent.

The Whistleblower Protection Bill, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill all passed this year are aimed that giving fillip to the fight against corruption. This somewhat deals a lie to the notion that the Legislative arm of government is not interested in killing corruption before it kills the nation.

The eighth Senate seems not to be as tone-deaf as a lot of critics make them out. A wise man once said, looking back and looking forward is the only way to make progress. In looking backward, we have seen the grounds covered by our legislators in the eighth Senate and that they can deliver progress. In looking forward, we can challenge our law makers to always place service before and above self whilst delivering a future that we all can be proud of.

Ndukwe is an Abuja based communications professional.

Posted On Saturday, 23 December 2017 15:53 Written by

So often, and for reasons that range from ignorance through inexperience, to overzealousness to please a principal, and sheer arrogance of power, Nigeria’s law officers are wont to act beyond their brief, go beyond the call of duty, and  misuse their legally conferred powers. These flaws were acted out in Akwa Ibom State the other day when an officer of the Directorate of State Security Service (DSS) threatened to shoot journalists who were going about their professional and legitimate business. He was quoted to boast in a fit of indiscipline that ‘I will shoot all of you right now …call any one you want to call…’ This is outrageous.  An operative armed with a gun to boot, but lacking a modicum of self-control is dangerous to life and must have no place within the law enforcement system.

For too long, the actual or threatened misbehaviour by officers of the law especially within the DSS and the Nigeria Police Force occur too often; if they are not beating up the very citizens they are trained and paid to protect, they are carrying out arbitrary and unlawful arrests with the intention to extort. And even in the apparent discharge of lawful protection of their principals, they harass motorists off the road, manhandle decent persons who complain of misbehaviour, and generally carry about as a law unto themselves. Recently, and in a laughably glaring display of arrogance, men of the DSS reportedly prevented an agency of government from discharging its lawful duty.

There is a sort of tyranny of the uniform in the land; too many personnel within the security forces generally act in total disrespect for the security of society. Regrettably, punishments for these infractions are few and far between, which may explain the many incidents. All these are not right at all. They put the perpetrator, the force, and the country in bad light.  It is no wonder that recently the Nigeria Police Force, for example, was rightly or wrongly, ranked by one foreign body as the worst in the world. It is the ultimate irresponsibility and a disgrace too, that a public officer and an officer of the law to boot, should act in breach of the law. There can be no doubt that there is need for an urgent overhaul of the entire law enforcement system that will include re-training on the rules that govern security functions as stipulated in the laws, the provisions of the Constitution on fundamental rights, refreshment course in the extant code of conduct, individual psychological assessment, incentives for good conduct and tough sanctions for acts that bring the security services into disrepute. 

The 1999 Constitution (as amended) considers the media of public information sufficiently crucial to both the efficiency and the effectiveness of government to provide a guarantee of unfettered performance of its duty. Section 22 states that ‘The press, radio, television, and other mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives in (chapter II) and uphold the responsivity and accountability  of the government to the people.’  In order to function effectively, the press must have access to people in government in order to provide the public with truthful and balanced information. It stands to reason that any public officer who disallows in whatever manner, men of the press from doing their professional duty violates the Constitution and, by extension harms the smooth functioning of the machinery of democratic governance. That is a grave offence. But there is more to that.

The mission of the DSS ‘is to protect and defend the Federal Republic of Nigeria against domestic threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of Nigeria, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to both federal and state law enforcement organs.’ The directorate also protects high ranking public officials, members of their families, and other persons deemed deserving of such protection. Clearly, a well-bred DSS officer has no business harassing and threatening any citizens going about his or her lawful business the way the officer in the Akwa Ibom Government House did.

In respect of the Nigeria Police Force, its Five-point Mission Statement includes ‘to build a people-friendly police force that will respect and uphold the fundamental rights of all citizens.’ The 7 Values professed includes  to ‘deliver  quality police service that is accessible  to the generality of  the people,’  to  ‘build  a lasting  trust in the police by members  of the public,’  and to ‘protect  and uphold the  rights of persons, to be impartial and respectful in the performance of Police duties.’

It bears repeating that the erring DSS officer in Akwa Ibom State must be identified and punished as a way to deter similar acts and also to demonstrate clearly that over-reaction, over-zealousness, and unprofessional conduct generally are against the norm of the directorate.

Posted On Saturday, 23 December 2017 14:51 Written by

“African leaders do not resign, that’s cowardice and the fact that UK Prime Minister-David Cameron has just resigned confirms everything I have said about him—he is weak and a coward.” President (now Ex) Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe in 2016.

The recent confusion about what is happening in Zimbabwe, with President Robert Mugabe refusing to resign, (now he has finally resigned, 21 November 2017) even when pressured and being pampered has again brought to the fore the obstinacy that exists in Africa when it comes to resigning or relinquishing power voluntarily.

In Mugabe’s case, as a friend from Kenya wrote to me, the Zimbabwean Defence Forces are merely exercising “soft power” – getting others to want the outcomes you want – and co-opting people rather than coercing them. This can be contrasted with “hard power”, which is the use of force and coercion. In other words, the Zimbabweans are being very civilised about removing Mr Mugabe, even after 37 years of holding absolute power.

In our modern history, after most African countries became independent from their several colonial masters, very few African leaders relinquished power voluntarily. In most cases, they are forcibly removed, and in some cases, their ends were not pretty. Did they need to go through the shame, or put their family and even people through such terrible and uncertain times? In some cases, the whole country is plunged into civil strife, instability, poverty, and misery.

African and Nigeria’s top political leaders and their cohorts in the civil service don’t resign as a way of assuming political or civic responsibility for problems in their portfolios. They very rarely account publicly for their responsibilities, or own up when problems arise. Instead, the usual trend is to sit tight and wait to be forcibly pushed out or, if they are lucky, die in office.

Equally rare are resignations of senior people associated with, or in government. Even public pressure fails to force them to resign. In other words, they do not take public culpability for their actions or in most cases, inactions.

Have you ever wondered why public officers (appointed or elected), officials, civil servants, and politicians never offer to resign or step aside while investigations go on when they are accused of wrongdoing and corruption issues?

I did a bit of research and thinking, and these are the reasons that popped out:

  • Primarily, the Indiscipline, Impunity, and Disregard for the laws of the land, because they are not strictly, even if partially, implemented and enforced, allows a lot of impunity from everybody, most especially, people in government. This kind of thing hardly happens in private sector.
  • Secondly, some of our warped cultural and moral values also give backing to the fact that people in high places deem it as a loss of face for them to resign. Resignation or stepping aside when accused of wrongdoing is tantamount to admission of guilt. And it seems alien to our culture to admit guilt when millions of people are looking up to you as a “Big Man”. Resign? No, Sir, Africans don’t resign, they are either forced out or die in office.
  • Third, Cover-up: If I resign when accused of wrongdoing, then I am exposing myself, exposing my arse, because if I do that, then I will not be able to conceal or destroy evidence. I will not be able to have a measure of control over the impending investigation. No, I must be there when they are conducting their so-called farcical investigations!
  • Fourthly, my enemies have won if I resign. God forbid bad thing! I will be back down at the bottom of the ladder and all those I climbed over to get to the top will ridicule me and get back at me. All arrows shot at me by my enemies shall not prosper. It will not be in their eyes that I will go down.
  • Number five; why resign when I know I won’t be found guilty anyway? I will weather the storm. Isn’t it Nigerians? They will shout and cry and splash the news of my alleged wrongdoing all over the newspapers, and let me just keep a low profile, go to the church and mosque, do some praying and offer tithes, and God will deliver me from the hands of mine enemies, and in a few months, the brouhaha will die down.
  • Sixth, Association: Am I the only one doing it? Others are doing it too and not resigning, and getting away with it, so what is mine to leap into the water and drown? Naah! If I go down, others involved will have to go down too.
  • Seventh, the word RESIGN or as we say it in the UK, GO ON GARDEN LEAVE does not exist in the Nigerian lexis. It is alien. Virtually unknown and unheard of. It never crosses the mind that that is the right thing to do, both under the law and morally.
  • Eighth, it is Disrespectful to be asked to resign or leave your position in government. For many “Big Men” in public or political office, we take it as a personal insult of the highest order to be asked to proceed on temporary leave or to resign. That means you don’t respect them or their office.
  • Ninth, according to ex-President Robert Mugabe above, it is Cowardice for an African leader or in high position of public trust to resign. What the heck!!! The man is a warrior of many ages past, coming from a long line of fighters and celebrated heroes. He must die at the warfront as a valiant soldier. He/she could even have descended from one of the Fathers of the Nation, an icon in his own right. No, you don’t disgrace such people even if they are wallowing in culpability and shame. There must be a way out, and that way is to stay put.
  • Tenth, according to Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, the Editor of GhanaCelebrities.com, African politicians are always on “a desperate run to remain at post because politics is the source of his daily bread and fused with their power drunkenness, ego and greed”. The same could be said of the civil servants and other elected or appointed public officials too.
  • And eleventh, unbelievably, there are always sycophants and hangers-on, who have benefitted from the official’s illegal and ill-gotten largesse, who will be spurring him on to stay and fight, because if their man resigns, then “chop don comot for dem mouth too”. Simple as that. Yet, if the man falls, they don’t go to prison or disgrace with him, they find another source of easy income. That’s life anyway.

It is indeed difficult for the African public official to resign from an office or position or to relinquish power when he’s a leader. In a way, I have some pity and understanding for them; they are products of the society that begets them, so it is difficult to depart from the norm and genetic trait.. Now you know the reason our political emancipation, socio-economic and human developments have always been in jeopardy.

The good news however, is that this phenomenon, a typical African trait, is changing. Leaders and public officials are finding it increasingly difficult to hide, and to sweep thing under the carpet. The people are becoming more aware of issues of governance, development, and service delivery, and the misdemeanours, corruption, and other malfeasances (conduct by a public official that cannot be legally justified or that conflicts with the law) of political leaders, public officials and civil servants are increasingly being exposed. It is not business as usual.

They must be made accountable and responsible for their actions, or inactions. They must be made to know the “seats of power or authority” that they occupy is not divine; not their birth right and is only temporary. Power is transient; it does not belong to any one person. And power, when you have it, must not be abused and is to be used justly and fairly for the benefit of the weak.

Let’s keep applying pressure, all kinds of pressure, on our leaders and public servants. Let them know and feel the power of the people, by whose grace they got into power, instead of them alluding to God for letting them get into power.

Let the Truth be told always!!!!!!

 

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Posted On Wednesday, 22 November 2017 18:24 Written by

How times have changed. What do they teach students at medical schools these days? To be heartless, devoid of sympathy and bereft of empathy? In the good old days, medical doctors could not bring it upon themselves to tell terminally ill people or their close relatives that their death is not only certain, but that it is around the corner. They would go about it in a round-about manner like this:

“Papa (or mama) you have lived a good life” (a barefaced lie, they probably do not know the patient from Adam or Eve, as to know whether he or she has lived a good or horrible life), “and God has blessed you abundantly to have lived so long.” 

“Look at all your children surrounding you on your sickbed and showering you with so much love and affection. You have trained and raised your children admirably well and I am pretty sure they are all successful in their respective professions and vocations. You have seen your children’s children. What more can any one of us ask from God?”

“It is well eh, Papa. God is in absolute control. There is nothing to fear. We shall do our best, but God will do the rest (What they actually mean is, when God calls you, who are we to stop you from answering the call).”

It is not so nowadays. Things have changed so much. Medical Doctors no longer tell you that they will do their best while God will do the rest. If you are unlucky to fall into their hands in a desperate situation, they actually give you and your family the approximate date and time God will call you.

I remember when my townsman Elder Big Harry a.k.a. Dirty Harry (behind his back of course) was terminally ill. The news spread around our little town like wild fire. People would tell one another about his sickness in hush, hush tones just like these two married women I accidentally eavesdropped upon.

“Mama Junior, have you heard that Big Harry has fallen ill?”

“No Mama Beauty. Which Big Harry are you talking about?  You mean Dirty Harry?”

“Yes oh, it is he that I am talking about.”

“No that is not possible. Is it not just a few weeks ago that I caught Dirty Harry sneaking into a hotel in the Big City with his grand-daughter’s class-mate? You cannot be serious. People like Dirty Harry don’t ever fall sick. Sickness seems to be reserved for simple folks such as you and me.”

“What? You mean you caught Dirty Harry with a small girl in the Big City? The man is truly shameless. He is never satisfied with women. He wants to have all the women and girls in the world.”

“By the way tell me Mama Beauty. What disease is Dirty Harry suffering from?

“It is terrible oh. What disease again will he suffer from. I heard it is a man-and-woman disease but of a type that medical doctors have not seen before and which lacks any known cure. “

“Ahh, Dirty Harry will kill me-oh.” Mama Junior ejaculated involuntarily.

A sly realization suddenly came upon Mama Beauty. 

“Wait-oh, wait, Mama Junior. Don’t tell me that you too have been seeing Dirty Harry.”

‘Shut up Mama Beauty. Is it only me? You think I don’t know about you and Dirty Harry? Let me tell you, Dirty Harry boasted to me that you were one of his girl-friends. Can you deny it that Dirty Harry was taking you regularly to Paradise Hotel in the Big City. He even showed me some nude pictures he took of you when you were fast asleep.” 

“He what? Ye-eh are you serious? You mean Dirty Harry actually took nude pictures of me and he kept it all this while? No wonder after I broke with him to save my marriage, he was boasting to me even up till last month that whenever he wants me he is sure to get me.”

“The man is a Devil. Who knows how many other people apart from yourself he has shown my pictures to. Now that he is sick, I hope the pictures don’t fall into the wrong hands. Ah - ah Mama Junior I am in serious trouble. What will I tell my husband if somebody comes across the pictures and sends it to him or decides to blackmail me with it?”

“Mama Beauty, your own is even good that it is only pictures that you are worried about. I pity myself. Only two weeks ago, I lied to my husband that I was going for all-night revival crusade with the Women Fellowship in the Big City. But I left the crusade venue and went to hook-up with Dirty Harry in a hotel.”

“If only I had known that the man was sick, I would not have given myself again to him or I would have used protection. I only pray that he has not infected me and that I have not in turn infected my husband. Ah - ah Dirty Harry is a wicked old man. What will happen to my children if both my husband and myself are infected?”

“Don’t speak so loudly Mama Junior. Don’t you know that the walls also have ears?”

“Yes -oh Mama Beauty. You are right of course. We have to be discreet otherwise we will end up exposing ourselves with our own mouths. But tell me what are the symptoms of the disease. I mean is Dirty Harry emaciating?”

“Emaciating? Far from it. I heard he is swelling. You know. I mean. Eh - em. You know. His manhood. I heard it scratches him incessantly and when he scratches it, it swells uncontrollably.” “One fat woman who twice went to visit with him in the hospital said the first time she visited with him, his manhood was as thick as her arms. The second time she went a couple of days later, it was as thick as her thighs. I guess by now it will be as thick as her stomach.” 

“Ah - ah Mama Beauty what on earth have I gotten myself into. My husband was scratching himself down there yesterday. And I threatened him that I hope he has not been fooling around. O what a mess. How much did I even collect from Dirty Harry to expose my family to such grave danger? The money the old fool gave me could not even fetch me a decent Brazilian hair wig.” 

“Mama Junior, were it not that life and death is involved, I would have said that your case is even better than mine. At least you can always deny meeting with Dirty Harry. But in my case, how can I deny it if my nude picture starts circulating among idle gossipers on the internet?”

“You know what Mama Junior, let us travel to the Big City tomorrow and assess his condition in the hospital. We will pretend to be sympathizing with his daughters who are our friends.  I hope he will be gracious enough on his death bed to tell me where he hid my nude pictures.   

“You have made a very good point Mama Beauty. Who knows whether Dirty Harry also took secret nude pictures of me too. The man is terrible, I don’t put it beyond him. He showed me nude pictures of many married women I know in our town. O what a fool I was. Agreed the man gave me some good money. But after the first time why did I keep going back to him? After-all the money he gave me continued to reduce after each encounter, yet I continued to go back to him. I must have been bewitched.”

“Mama Junior admit that you were enjoying it too much. To tell you the truth, Dirty Harry has magical ways and means. It took supreme effort for me to stop going to see him.”

“Mama Beauty, we shall go to the City tomorrow. Apart from asking him if he took nude pictures of me, I hope I can have the opportunity to ask the doctors and nurses if there is a medication someone can take to prevent the organ-swelling disease from reaching the full-blown stage. If that is hopefully the case then I will take it and find a way of tricking my husband into taking it too. May God help both of us in our predicament.”

As both women parted company, alarmed and dismayed by what I had just heard, I said to myself that I too will go and pay a hospital visit to Big Harry to ascertain what was going on.

I travelled to the big City early the next morning, a three-hour journey. By the time I got to the hospital, I discovered to my utmost surprise that the place was swarming with my fellow denizens particularly women from our town. Young, old, single, married, it seemed all the able-bodied adult women and girls from our town had converged there.

A health worker soon pulled me aside.

“Young man, are you from the same town as that patient in the VIP Ward called Elder Big Harry?”

“Yes, he is my kinsman.”

“He must be a very popular man who has touched many lives in your town judging from the way many of your towns people have been trooping here to visit with him since he was admitted.”

“Yes of course Sir. He is a very popular and wealthy Chief from my town who has touched many women.”

The irony in my statement was lost on the health worker as he declared. “Hmmm. Women are always more spiritually perceptive than men. Women instinctively recognize great men whose greatness may be lost on their fellow men when they see them. See apart from yourself and his sons, I can count the number of men from your town who have come here to see Elder Big Harry on the fingers of my palm. But the number of women from your town who come here daily is unquantifiable.” 

“You are right in that assessment of relative numbers Sir,” I answered politely.

Basking in my endorsement of his viewpoint, the health worker said expansively. “Although I am not a Christian, I read the Bible to expand my world-view and it struck me that when all the disciples apart from St John abandoned Jesus Christ on the cross, only the women stood by him.”

I wanted to confront the Health worker for daring to compare our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Creator of the world with a lecherous, dirty old man like Elder Big Harry, but decided to endure the sacrilege. Instead I asked him.

“Is it certain then that Elder Big Harry cannot recover from this ailment?”

“Medically speaking, there is no hope. This is a strange ailment which we have never come across in Medical Science. It seems to affect only his male organ which is swelling uncontrollably, yet biopsies show that it is not cancer but an allergic reaction triggering infection. That being said however, we are unable to pin-point the actual vector behind the allergy or its manner of transmission.”

“Having observed that the only way any person can be similarly affected is by coitus and noting that in his present swollen condition, coitus is impossible meaning that no other person is at risk, we the hospital management have taken the decision to discharge him so that he can enjoy his last few days in the company of his beloved people thereby preventing these women from streaming in here and causing a daily commotion.”

As he said this, he led me into the VIP ward where Elder Big Harry was the sole patient-occupant.

I could not recognize the emaciated figure lying on the bed neither could I fail to notice the enormous protrusion from his waist. It appeared all his life energies were being diverted from his body to his waist region.

As he began to address the patient, I realized the man I was conversing with was the Chief Medical Doctor.

“Elder Big Harry, I must be frank with you Sir. Your ailment is beyond us and medical science. It appears you have at most a couple of days left to live. We decided it is better for you to spend those days in your own house, in your own town and in the company of your townspeople particularly the women who seem to love you so much. “ 

“You must have been a very kind man who touched so many lives as attested to by the presence of all these women and girls numbering in their hundreds some of who are right here with us and majority outside this room. We shall convey you home so that you can have a couple of days to tidy up your estate and bid farewell to your people.”

“Okay women you are advised to leave now as we prepare to transport the Elder by ambulance back to your hometown where you can be with him these next couple of days and bid him final farewell according to your customs and tradition.”

One woman who I recognized to be a married woman could take it no longer. “Doctor please permit me a few minutes to discuss with Elder. Our tradition and customs back home will not afford me the opportunity to have private audience with him. All the women present shouted simultaneously “I want private audience with Elder.” The news spread around like wild fire to the women and girls outside who joined the chorus. “Private audience, private audience, they chanted.”

It appeared as if a riot was brewing. It took the personal feeble intervention of the dying man to bring order to the riotous women.

“Doctor, I will only have private audience with this young man whose late grandfather was my bosom friend and whose family integrity I can vouch for.” Elder Big Harry was referring to me. “After I am no more, the women can meet him individually to collect whatever they want from me. He shall give what they ask to them at his own personal discretion and convenience.”

With this the agitating women were brusquely ushered out and I was left alone with Elder Big Harry.

The dying man’s eyes focused on me. “Young man, I have lived a very bad life. Wealth is good, but too much wealth or power as I have had is dangerous because it makes you do and get away with many evil things which otherwise you would not be exposed to.”

“You see all those women and girls outside, I had numerous liaisons with each and every one of them even including the married ones. Some of them bore children for me. Many others aborted for me. I gave them money beyond what they could ever hope to get from their husbands but as a precautionary measure I took compromising nude pictures of each and every one of them without their prior knowledge or consent as a sort of permanent control.”

“I realize that each one of them without exception is happy that I am dying but they all remain fearful because they suspect or have learnt that I have their nude pictures and are afraid of it falling into the wrong hands when I am no more.”

“I wish to unilaterally appoint you as Administrator of my Romantic Affairs and I shall tell you where all the nude pictures are. You know I cannot tell my own sons and family about things like this without eternally soiling my image. All the nude pictres are stored online at so-so and so place which you can access with so-so and so code. Review them and deal with the pictures as you deem fit.”

“Note that from this moment having taken you into confidence the women will grant me freedom to go home and die, but henceforth they will begin to pester you.”

“My son all evil be it adultery, be it murder or be it terrorism is bad and invariably enslaves its perpetrators.  Nothing you tell these women will convince them or free them from your hands except they publicly confess their individual affairs with me. For the rest of their lives they are subject to you provided you do not expose them publicly.”

“If you tell them you have not destroyed the pictures they will pester you.  Even if you tell them you have destroyed the pictures they will not believe you. They will still continue to pester you, fearful that you have stored secret copies elsewhere.”

“I am sorry young man, but that is my legacy for you. It is not for nothing that people are warned to steer clear of evil. When you associate with evil doers like adulterers or murderers or terrorists, you get to bear a share of their guilt.”

“You ought not to have come to see me on my death bed. Your inquisitiveness and curiosity for information that does not concern you has led you into a carrying a burden you shall bear as long as you and any one of these married women is alive. Thank you.”

Afterwards Elder Big Harry was packaged by the hospital and sent home to go and die.

As for me, my life would never be the same again as I unwittingly emerged as a captive inheritor of his dirty secrets and an unwilling bearer of his evil generational burden.

THE END   -

Posted On Wednesday, 22 November 2017 18:16 Written by

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Zimbabwe’s governing party moved on Friday to expel President Robert Mugabe from its ranks, taking the first step in legally ousting the 93-year-old leader following a military intervention two days earlier.

A majority of the leaders of the party, ZANU-PF, recommended Mr. Mugabe’s expulsion from the very organization that he had controlled with an iron grip since independence in 1980, according to ZBC, the state broadcaster.

Military officers have insisted that their takeover was not a coup, but the party’s leaders appeared on Friday to be providing political cover for the intervention. The party’s central committee, Parliament and Mr. Mugabe’s cabinet could now take steps to officially end his presidency, if he does not resign.

The military arrested Mr. Mugabe early Wednesday, effectively ending his 37-year rule, although it allowed him to appear in public on Friday to address a university graduation.

Later on Friday, party members endorsed the military’s efforts to stabilize the economy and defuse political instability. They echoed military commanders in arguing that the intervention was aimed at rooting out a cabal of corrupt interlopers who had clouded Mr. Mugabe’s judgment and his ability to govern.

“Many of us had watched with pain as the party and government were being reduced to the personal property of a few infiltrators with traitorous histories and questionable commitment to the people of Zimbabwe,” the party leaders said in a resolution. “Clearly, the country was going down the wrong path.”

 

An armored personnel carrier in Harare on Friday. CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

The resolution recommended that Mr. Mugabe be removed for taking the advice of “counterrevolutionaries and agents of neo-imperialism”; for mistreating his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, whom Mr. Mugabe abruptly dismissed last week; and for encouraging “factionalism.” It urged the “immediate and unconditional reinstatement” of Mr. Mnangagwa, who appears poised to succeed Mr. Mugabe, at least until national elections scheduled for next year.

 

Party members also moved to schedule a march for Saturday in support of the military.

Over the past few days, the military has been in negotiations to find a peaceful and face-saving way for Mr. Mugabe to exit the scene, in talks mediated by South Africa and other countries in the region, and by the Roman Catholic Church.

The military has insisted that its intervention was not a coup. The Herald, the state-run newspaper, said the military “had taken action to pacify the degenerating political, social and economic situation in the country,” which “if left unchecked would have resulted in violent conflict,” and said the action was intended “to flush out reactionary and criminal elements around the president.”

On Friday, Mr. Mugabe was freed — if only temporarily — to address a university graduation ceremony. It was his first public appearance since the military placed him under house arrest — an illustration, perhaps, that this was no ordinary attempt to oust a despot.

Mr. Mugabe, 93, has dominated his country since independence from Britain 37 years ago, surviving through a blend of political skill, brutality, manipulation and patronage dispensed among a corrupt elite.

Those days “are numbered,” though, said Chris Mutsvangwa, the leader of Zimbabwe’s influential war veterans’ movement, which was founded to represent those who fought in the seven-year liberation war in the 1970s but has emerged as a powerful political force.

At a news conference, Mr. Mutsvangwa cranked up pressure on Mr. Mugabe, saying the longtime leader would face huge calls for his ouster at a rally on Saturday.

At his news conference, Mr. Mutsvangwa said several key regions in Zimbabwe’s Shona-speaking heartlands — the base of ZANU-PF’s support — had approved calls for the president’s expulsion. Mr. Mugabe himself has in the past used orchestrated maneuvering in the provinces to undermine national figures in Harare.

The talks involving the Catholic Church and South African mediators are intended to devise some form of transition that would have the appearance of constitutional legitimacy while providing a decorous departure for a leader whose role in the pre-independence liberation struggle is central to the national narrative.

The military’s ultimate intention has apparently been to effect a transfer of power without the appearance of illegality that might draw further opprobrium from outside Zimbabwe or frighten off potential investors.

“The army is trying to keep people guessing” while talks continue, said Frank Chikowore, a Zimbabwean journalist.

The ZANU-PF resolution on Friday singled out the G-40, a faction of politicians aligned with Mr. Mugabe’s wife, Grace Mugabe. It denounced four of them as “criminals and counterrevolutionaries”: Jonathan N. Moyo, the minister of higher education; Ignatius M. Chombo, the finance minister; Saviour Kasukuwere, minister for local government; and Patrick Zhuwao, the minister for public services, labor and social welfare.

The party did not, however, explicitly condemn Mrs. Mugabe, whose recent aspirations to succeed her husband appear to have been a trigger for his downfall.

Outside the main cities on Friday, the military set up roadblocks on main highways, apparently to thwart any attempt at organized resistance. Buses traveling from Bulawayo, the second city, to Harare, the capital, were pulled over and boarded by soldiers who checked documents and asked passengers about their business. Sometimes, travelers reported, the soldiers ordered passengers off the buses for inspection. Some were asked if they were carrying weapons.

Such was the official concern to maintain an appearance of normalcy that the state broadcaster devoted the first 10 minutes of its news bulletin on Thursday to interviews with people across the land and, as if scripted, all repeated the same refrain: “It’s business as usual.” Mr. Mugabe’s appearance at the graduation ceremony — however surreal — seemed to be part of the same stratagem.

Some Zimbabweans suggested that the officers’ calculation might offer Mr. Mugabe a chance to play hardball in closed-door talks.

In the annals of Africa’s many uprisings and coups, the script often involves the strongman fleeing into exile or being imprisoned or even shot.

Instead, Zimbabwe’s military allowed Mr. Mugabe to return to State House, his official residence, and on Friday, he appeared in a bright blue cap and gown, under tight security, to oversee the graduation ceremony in Harare. At one point, he appeared to doze, his head lolling.

By appearing at the ceremony, Mr. Mugabe wanted to give “the impression that he is still in charge,” Mr. Mutsvangwa said. “He is finished.”

“He is defying the population, trying to give a semblance of normality when things are not normal,” Mr. Mutsvangwa said. “That’s why we are saying: Don’t lie to yourself; it’s a delusion. You know he has been deluding himself — he is deluded.”

Mr. Mugabe — in official portrayals at least — has maintained power as an enduring emblem of the fight to expunge colonial influence in Africa.

But he has presided over a precipitous economic decline that began with the seizing of white-owned farms starting in 2000. Joblessness has soared, and a shortage of foreign currency has driven up the price of imports. At the same time, a loyal elite around him has amassed villas, farms and high-end automobiles.

Posted On Saturday, 18 November 2017 13:56 Written by

The Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, to me, is the greatest Yoruba oba alive today. Greatest in terms of his intellectual capacity and his understanding of the responsibilities culture has placed on his divine shoulders.

Although the vault of the late Ooni of Ife, Oba Sijuwade Okunade, bespoke on riches untold, Alaafin’s unspeakable wealth lies in his unequalled understanding of the Yoruba’s resplendent history, mores and culture.

He exemplified his matchless repertoire of Yoruba history during the inauguration of the incumbent Timi of Ede, Oba Munirudeen Adesola Lawal, as the Laminisa I, in 2008. During the ceremony, which held in Ede, Ooni Okunade missed the point when he told the audience that the new Timi wasn’t the first from the Laminisa ruling house to be installed as Timi. This position wasn’t, of course, in tandem with the reality presented by the Laminisa ruling house on the occasion 

When it was the turn of the Alaafin to speak, he took the audience, which I was part of, down historical path, painting a vivid picture of how Ede was founded even as he traced, off the cuff, the names and dates of the installation of all the Timis of Ede. A resounding applause greeted his great insight.

I have followed, at a distance, the life of the Alaafin. I know that the Iku Baba Yeye has not forgotten all he learnt about boxing, a sport he picked up as a youth – watching the online video of his pugilistic skills that went viral a few years ago. The paramount ruler is also a world-acclaimed dancer and drummer, too.

Death pursued the Oodua Peoples Congress to my doorstep in Akure where I was a correspondent of PUNCH newspapers around 2000. It was Ogundamisi, Adam’s able lieutenant that lay ‘lifeless’ on the ground floor of the two-storey building that housed PUNCH newspapers’ outstation office at Adegbola Junction along the popular Oyemekun Road in Akure.

I had looked at the almost lifeless and bloodied man on the floor and taken him for a vagrant, sidestepping him unto the stairway en route to the topmost floor, where my office was. I think I saw one or two other OPC members on the ground floor, battered and tattered.

After I had worked for a while in the office on that particular Sunday morning, Ogundamisi, the bloodied man downstairs came knocking on my door. The sun ray must have woken him up. Being a Sunday, and for fear of attack, I always locked the iron burglarproof at the door.

When I heard the knock, I went to the door where I saw Ogundamisi, (I’ve forgotten his first name now), laboring to breathe. He introduced himself in impeccable English, and that got me to open the burglarproof for him.

He then related the story of how himself and Gani Adams in company with hundreds of OPC members – in a convoy of several vehicles – were attacked in Owo en route to Arigidi Akoko. Scores of OPC members were killed. The incident became the lead story of The PUNCH, the next day. The morgue of the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, could not take the dead as they were taken to other health facilities in the state.

Particularly, Ogundamisi was deeply worried about the safety of Adams. He said all the OPC members in the convoy fled in different directions during the night attack.

When PUNCH transferred me to Lagos in 2002, I followed the OPC in the media.
I recall that during the actualization of the June 12 struggle, it was NADECO and not the OPC that mobilized the Yoruba, nay Nigerians, against the military dictatorship headed by General Sani Abacha. It wasn’t the OPC.

Over the years, the OPC has grown from a money-for-security organization to becoming a monster in the South-West. A visit to police stations in any part of the South-West would reveal how mainly illiterate OPC members have been taking the law into their own hands, maiming and killing members of the society in the guise of providing security and settling dispute.

What is chivalrous in an organization that collects money and extorts to provide service? What is noble in an organization whose members are noted for raping, robbery, killing and ritualism?

Gani Adams, the headship of this type of organisation has risen today to become the Aare Ona Kakanfo of the Yoruba. Yoruba ronu.

When Nnamdi Kanu emerged as the new voice of Igbo leadership, I laughed and asked one of my friends, Joel Nwokeoma, ‘is this how low the Igbo nation has sunk’? Joel is having the last laugh now.

Let’s wait and see who the Hausa/Fulani would throw up.

I read someone saying that in ancient Oyo kingdom, the position of the Kakanfo is meant for miscreants. There is nothing farther from the truth than this. In the old Oyo Empire of the 17th and 18th centuries, the Kakanfo was the head of the Eso, who were, according to Wikipedia, ‘70 junior war chiefs nominated by the Oyo Mesi and confirmed by the Alaafin. The Kakanfo later rose to become the supreme military commander and was required to live in a frontier province to keep an eye on the enemy, and to keep him from usurping the government. Forces inside metropolitan Oyo were commanded by the Bashorun, who is a leading member of the Oyo Mesi’.

Which war has Gani Adams fought on behalf of the Yoruba? I only remember Gani to have won for himself a multi-billion pipeline contract from the clueless Goodluck Jonathan government. I also remember Gani Adams unleashed terror on Nigerians in Lagos when the OPC marched for Jonathan during the countdown to the 2015 presidential election.

I have four witnesses who lived in my Iyana Ipaja area, and who are respectable members of the society.
Mr Ben Tomoloju (former Guardian Deputy Editor); Mr Paul Bassey (former Editor, Champion newspaper, former FIFA media consultant); the late Uncle Ben Bayo (former Creative Arts Editor, PUNCH) and a former colleague, Adekunle Salami (aka Slam) who lived in the Mulero axis of Iyana Ipaja in Lagos State.

I mentioned these names to buttress the fact that Nigerians, generally, and not the OPC, fought the military junta. These people were in one way or the other involved/affected in the June 12 struggle and they were never OPC members.

These people I mentioned can testify to the fact that the Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos was the hottest frontline during the struggle to actualise June 12.

I was one of the voluntary youth mobilizers in my area, and I could have been killed by a heavily armed soldier who pursued me into a church on Coker Street, Funlayo Bus Stop, if not for God using the fact that I know the terrain very well.

People were shot before my very eyes at Iyana Ipaja during the struggle.

I trekked from Mulero to Iyana Ipaja in company with thousands of youths every morning to keep a date with fate against the haters of democracy.

I didn’t see any OPC mobilizer during those days.

It is wrong to say that the OPC fought for the actualization of June 12. Nigerians rose against Abacha, not the OPC, please.

The statures of the last two occupiers of the title, Chief Ladoke Akintola, and Chief MKO Abiola, make Gani Adam’s ascension to the title a huge insult!

Enter, the generalissimo that ran with his tail between his legs from some gun-wielding boys in Owo.

Yoruba, welcome the era of an Aare Ona Kakanfo, whose organization exploits, extorts, rapes, kills, maims and robs the citizenry.

Gani Adams’ ascension to the post of Aare Ona Kakanfo is a reward for thuggery, violence and all that is despicably wracking our nation.

Gani w-h-a-t?

The Alaafin got it wrong this time round!

Odesola, a former journalist with Punch, wrote from the United States.

Posted On Friday, 27 October 2017 11:35 Written by

ECONOMY

Growth in Agriculture and Solid Minerals:

The number of sub-sectors of the economy experiencing negative growth has almost halved; falling from 29 sub-sectors for the whole of 2016 to 16 in Q1 2017. Growth in manufacturing has returned to positive territory after five quarters of negative growth. It grew by 1.36% in Q1 2017 after falling to -7.0% in Q1 2016.

Our priority Sectors of Agriculture and Solid Minerals have seen improved

performance, in spite of the recession. Agriculture grew by 4.11% in 2016, while Solid Minerals recorded a 7% increase. The contribution of the Ministry of Solid Minerals’ to the Federation Account tripled to about N2 billion in 2016, up from N700m in 2015.

Savings:

  •   Even at a time of low oil prices (and by implication low government revenues):

  •   Nigeria’s External Reserves have grown by US$7 billion since October 2016

  •   The Sovereign Wealth Fund has seen inflows of US$500m in 2016 and 2017 (the first inflows since the original US$1bn with which the Fund kicked off in 2012), and

  •   The Excess Crude Account has seen an inflow of US$87m, in 2017.

Phasing Out of Subsidy Regimes for Petroleum Products and Fertilizers.

The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (details below), combined with a newly developed soil map designed to aid fertilizer application, substantially raised local production of grains in 2016 (yields improved

from 2 tonnes per hectare to as much as 7 tonnes per hectare, in some States) and produced a model agricultural collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi States.

Nigeria’s rice imports fell from 580,000 MT in 2015 to 58,000MT in 2016

The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate), has resulted in the revitalization of 11 blending plants across the country. The benefits include annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange, and ₦60 billion annually in budgetary provisions

for Fertilizer subsidies. The Scheme has also made it possible for Farmers to purchase Fertilizer at prices up to 30 percent cheaper than previously available.

Support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: The Administration has launched a series of funding and capacity development initiatives designed to support MSMEs across the country, as follows:

  •   The new Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) is finally taking off, with initial funding of US$1.3bn (provided by the World Bank, German Development Bank, the African Development Bank and Agence Française de Development) to provide medium and long-term loans to MSMEs

  •   The MSME Clinic, which bring relevant Government Agencies and their

managements together with small businesses operating in various cities across the country, to enable the Agencies provide direct support to these businesses. The Interactions allow the Agencies better understand the issues facing small businesses, and provides a platform for speedy resolution.

  •   The Ease of Doing Business Reform Programme (see below)

  •   The Government Enterprise and Empowerment component (GEEP) of the Social Intervention Programme (SIP)

Ease of Doing Business Reform Successes: The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (inaugurated by President Buhari in August 2016) implemented a 60 National Action Plan between February and April 2017, with 70 percent of the Targets achieved, including the following:

  •   Intending Business Owners can now search for Company names on the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)

  •   Intending Business Owners can now upload their registration documents directly to the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC)

  •   Eliminated the need for SMEs to hire lawyers to prepare registration documents

  •   Introduced a single form for Company Incorporation to save time and reduce cost

  •   Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) e-payment solution has been integrated with the CAC portal to facilitate e-stamping.

  •   Interested parties can conduct online searches of secured interests on movable assets on the National Collateral Registry

  •   New Arrival and Departure forms for use at our International airports. The new forms are shorter, and have also consolidated a number of previously separate forms into single documents.

  •   Simplified our Visa on Arrival (VoA) Process. Submission of VoA applications and receipt of approval letter can now be done electronically via a dedicated NIS email address: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  •   Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has now been mandated to schedule and coordinate joint physical examination of cargo to ensure there’s only one point of contact between importers and official

  •   Imports into Nigeria now required to be placed in pallets to facilitate quicker physical examination.

  •   Central Bank, Customs and banks now required to process Net Export Proceeds forms within 72 hours; and Pre-Shipment Inspection Agencies (PIAs) now required to issue Certificate of Clean Inspection (CCI) within 3 days

  •   Approval obtained to reduce number of documents required for imports from 14 to 8, and number of documents needed for exports from 10 to 7

  •   Minimum container placement notice time needed by Terminal Operators for examination reduced from 24 hours to 12 hours.

  •   Minister of Interior has approved and launched a new Immigration Policy for Nigeria

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has since followed up on the National Action Plan by signing, in May 2017, Executive Orders on Improving Efficiency in the Business Environment, and on Promoting Local Procurement by Government Agencies.

Infrastructure:

  •   The Buhari Administration has demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s Transport Infrastructure.

  •   Road Projects are ongoing across every State of the country; many of these projects had been abandoned in recent years because of mounting debts owed by the Federal Government to contractors.

  •   The Administration is also pushing ahead with the revitalization of Nigeria’s

3,500km network narrow-gauge railway. In March 2017 a consortium led by General Electric, and comprising Transnet of South Africa, APM Terminals of the Netherlands and Sinohydro Consortium of China submitted the sole bid for the concession of the Lagos-Kano Railway narrow-gauge Line. (Transaction Advisers were approved for the project in 2016). In May 2017 the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the commencement of negotiations with GE to conclude the concessioning.

 In addition, Abuja’s Light Rail system will also go into operation (test-run) in 2017. The first line to be launched will connect the city center with the Airport,

with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line. The test-run will start in November 2017, ahead of full commencement of operations in Q1 2018.

 The Buhari Administration successfully completed the reconstruction of the Abuja Airport runway within the scheduled six-week period (March – April 2017).

Progress with the Alignment of Monetary, Fiscal and Trade Policies: Landmark initiatives here include:

 Ongoing FX regime reforms by the Central Bank, which have seen increased stability in the FX market, and increasing appetite for Nigerian stocks by foreign portfolio investors. Reforms include the creation in April 2017 of a New FX Window for Investors and Exporters. The new Window has attracted $1.4bn in its

first four weeks of operation, according to data from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

  •   Revision of the List of 41 Items excluded from the Central Bank FX Window, in line with a request from the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)

  •   The establishment of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations by the Economic Management Team (EMT), and

  •   The Introduction of a new, Tariff-driven Tomato Policy to support domestic producers and production.

A new Social Housing Programme is kicking off in 2017. The ‘Family Homes Fund’ will take off with a 100 billion Naira provision in the 2017 Budget. The rest of the funding will come from the private sector. A pilot component has already kicked, to construct the first set of homes for the Programme)

1.2 Trillion naira has been released for capital expenditure in the 2016 budget, since implementation started in June 2016. This is the largest ever capital spend within a single budget year in the history of Nigeria. This investment has enabled the resumption of work on several stalled projects — road, rail and power

projects — across the country.

All 4 components of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) have now taken off.

  •   The SIP is the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in the history of Nigeria, with more than 1 million beneficiaries so far — 200,000 N- Power beneficiaries (160,000 of them have had their details validated and are now receiving the monthly N30,000 stipend, while the rest are undergoing verification.

  •   3,162,451 people belonging to 26, 924 registered cooperatives have been registered for the Government Enterprise and Empowerment (GEEP) Scheme.

57,234 interest-free (except a one-time low administrative fee) loans have been issued, across 28 States and the FCT. 56% of loans so far disbursed has gone to female beneficiaries.

  •   1,051,000 Primary School Pupils are currently benefiting from the Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), in 8,587 schools across seven States. More than 11,000 cooks have been employed for the HGSFP.

  •   Under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programme, 26,942 beneficiaries are now receiving the monthly N5,000 stipend in 9 States and 84 Local Government Areas. The States are Borno, Cross River, Niger, Kwara, Ekiti, Kogi, Oyo, Osun and Bauchi.

Strategic Engagements with OPEC and in the Niger Delta have played an important

part in raising our expected oil revenues. Already, Nigeria’s External Reserves have grown by around $7 billion in the last six months. In the same period we have added $87m to the Excess Crude Account, and $250m to the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

New Vision for the Niger Delta:

Acting President Osinbajo is leading the engagement, on behalf of President Buhari and the Federal Government. The Vice President has been visiting oil-producing communities across the Niger Delta, listening to them and outlining the Federal Government’s commitment to the peace, security and development of the region — encapsulated in the Buhari administration’s ‘New Vision for the Niger Delta’.

The New Vision brings together a robust set of promises, solutions, targets and initiatives aimed at ensuring that the people of the Niger Delta benefit maximally from the region’s oil wealth.

The New Vision offers a detailed response to the 16-point Demand Agenda submitted to President Buhari by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in November 2016.

Tangible results of the New Vision so far include:

 Approval of a 2017 commencement date for the stalled Nigerian Maritime

University in Delta State

  •   Approval by President Buhari of an additional 35 billion naira for the 2016 budget of the Presidential Amnesty Programme

  •   Approval for the establishment of Modular Refineries across the nine States of the Niger Delta

  •   Resumption of construction work on abandoned projects across the Niger Delta, including the all-important East-West Road.

Beneficial Government-to-Government Partnerships with China and Morocco: President Buhari’s April 2016 Official Visit to China has unlocked billions of dollars in infrastructure funding. Construction work has commenced on the first major product of that collaboration, a 150km/hour rail line between Lagos and Ibadan.

The National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (NERGP), the Federal Government’s medium-term Economic Plan, launched by President Buhari in April 2017, charts a course for the Nigerian economy over the next four years (2017–2020).

The Vision of the NERGP is to restore economic growth, invest in Nigerians, and to build a globally competitive economy, and the Plan aims to achieve these by focusing on five execution priorities:

  •   Stabilizing the macroeconomic environment;

  •   Achieving Agriculture and Food Security;

  •   Ensuring energy efficiency (especially in power and petroleum products);

  •   Improving transportation infrastructure; and

  •   Driving industrialization primarily through SMEs.

The ERGP will return Nigeria’s economy to sustainable, inclusive and diversified growth, and to transform Nigeria from an import-dependent to a producing economy; a country that grows what it eats and consumes what it produces.

The almost 8-fold oversubscription of our recent Eurobond (orders in excess of US$7.8 billion compared to a pre-issuance target of US$1bn) demonstrates strong market appetite for Nigeria, and shows confidence by the international investment community in Nigeria’s economic reform agenda.

Power Sector:

  •   Power Sector Reform is on course with the launch of the 701 billion
    Naira Payment Assurance Programme designed to resolve the liquidity challenges in the Power Sector by guaranteeing payments to Generating Companies and Gas Suppliers, while the Federal Government undertakes the much-needed reform and strengthening of Distribution Companies.

  •   In addition to the PAP is a much more comprehensive Power Sector Recovery Programme, launched in March 2017 and which has received the endorsement of the World Bank.

Improved Local Refining Capacity: The total amount of Crude refined by the NNPC’s three Refineries (Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna) grew from 8m barrels in 2015 to 24m barrels in 2016, and 10m barrels in the first quarter of 2017.

ANTI-CORRUPTION AND TRANSPARENCY

The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA):

 PICA was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to strengthen controls over Government finances through a continuous internal audit process across all

Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), particularly in respect of payroll. Through the activities of PICA, more than 50,000 erroneous payroll entries have been identified, with payroll savings of N198 billion achieved in 2016.

 Also, the Federal Ministry of Finance has set a target to ensure that the Federal Government’s Payroll Platform — the ‘Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System’ (IPPIS) — covers 100 percent of MDAs by the end of 2017. Currently 60% of MDAs are enrolled on the IPPIS platform.

Budget Reforms:

  •   First, a Presidential Order was issued directing that all budgets of all Government Agencies be prepared in line with International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), using a budget template developed for that purpose.

  •   Second, the 2017 Budget was collated using a web-based application developed by the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), for the first time ever. Instead of the traditional method of hard copy submissions of budget proposals, Ministries, Departments and Agencies were asked to upload their proposals to the new budget preparation portal.

  •   By replacing paper submissions with an audit-able and trackable online system, the 2017 budget preparation process was strengthened against manipulation and unauthorised alteration. All MDA budget proposals were uploaded to the new system, for review and final collation by the Budget Office.

  •   More than 4,000 staff of the MDAs were specially trained to use the new application, across multiple locations nationwide. Also to support the deployment of the budget portal, the Budget Office set up a Helpdesk, accessible by telephone and email, for authorised users.

Expansion of TSA Coverage:

  •   On August 7, 2015, President Buhari issued a directive to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to close their accounts with Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and transfer their balances to the Central Bank of Nigeria on or before 15th September 2015.

  •   This decision to fully operationalise the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system— a public accounting system that enables the Government to manage its finances (revenues and payments) using a single/unified account, or series of linked accounts domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria — has resulted in the consolidation of more than 20,000 bank accounts previously spread across DMBs in the country, and in savings of an average of N4.7 billion monthly in banking charges associated with indiscriminate Government borrowing from the

DMBs.

  •   As at February 10, 2017, a total sum of N5.244 Trillion had flowed into the
    TSA. The TSA allows the managers of the Government’s finances, including but not limited to the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, to have, at any point in time, a comprehensive overview of cash flows across the entire Government.

  •   It also ensures increased transparency in public financial management, as well as prevents a scenario in which some MDAs have idle cash while other MDAs are compelled to borrow exorbitantly from DMBs.

  •   The TSA system was launched in 2012, but failed to gain traction until President Buhari’s executive order in August 2015. As at December 2016, 766 MDAs were TSA-compliant. The Ministry of Finance continues to fine-tune the system to improve its efficiency, and has also commenced an audit to ensure that all funds due to the TSA are remitted into it.

Deployment of BVN for Payroll and Social Investment Programmes:

 Considering that personnel costs are the Federal Government’s largest

expenditure line, the Federal Government has given priority to the deployment of the BVN for payroll and pension audits. The use of BVN to verify payroll entries on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform has so far led to the detection of more than 50,000 erroneous payroll entries.

 The Federal Government has also ensured the deployment of BVN system to serve as the verification basis for payments to beneficiaries and vendors in the N-Power Scheme and the Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP)

Replacement of old Cash-Based Accounting System with an Accruals-Based System:

  •   Cash accounting makes no reference to the liabilities that the Federal Government may be required to meet in the future nor does it recognise the benefits that will be obtained from assets purchased over a period of time.

  •   The cash accounting system fails to capture information on public sector assets and liabilities which may present the illusion of positive financial results in the short term, at the expense of longer-term fiscal stability and sustainability.

  •   Accruals-based accounting, on the other hand, presents the true financial position of the Federal Governments assets and liabilities, which would help the Government plan future funding requirements for asset maintenance and replacement, and the repayment of existing and contingent liabilities and, thus, better manage their cash position and financing requirements.

  •   It provides comprehensive information on Government’s current and projected

cash flows, leading to better cash management. For example, the conversion from cash accounting to accrual accounting led to the discovery of unrecorded debts owed contractors, oil marketers, exporters, electricity distribution companies and others.

Enlistment into Open Government Partnership (OGP):

  •   In May 2016, President Buhari attended and participated in the International Anti- Corruption Summit organised by the UK Government. At that Summit he pledged that Nigeria would join the OGP, an international transparency, accountability and citizen engagement initiative.

  •   In July 2016, Nigeria became the 70th country to join the OGP. Following this, Nigeria constituted an OGP National Steering Committee (NSC), which went on to develop a National Action Plan (2017–2019) that aims to deepen and mainstream transparency mechanisms and citizens’ engagement in the management of public resources across all sectors.

  •   The National Action Plan was submitted at the OGP Global Summit in Paris, France, in December 2016.

Insistence on Conditionality of Fiscal Support to States:

  •   The Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP) is a reform programme that specifies conditions under which States can access the Federal Government’s N510 billion Budget Support Facility (BSF). The FSP was introduced to enhance fiscal prudence and transparency in public expenditure, across the states. 35 States signed up.

  •   Independent verification and auditing of participating States is now ongoing — against the FSP conditions & milestones — by eight (8) accounting firms.

  •   State Governments that fail to implement the FSP action plans, as stated, will be taken off the Budget Support Facility with immediate effect.

  •   The Fiscal Sustainability Plan is part of our reform of Public Financial Management Systems nationwide.

Creation of Efficiency Unit (EU) to spearhead the efficient use of government resources, and ensure reduction in Recurrent Expenditure:

 The Efficiency Unit reviews all Government overhead expenditure, reduces wastage, provides efficiency and ensures quantifiable savings for the country. Also, the Unit identifies best practices in procurement and financial management

for adoption.

  •   The Efficiency Unit’s efforts have resulted in more than N15 billion in savings on travel, sitting allowances and souvenirs.

  •   There is also potential savings of N7 billion on other expenditure lines where the unit seeks to control spending through Circulars. In addition, there is on-going work on the deployment of a price-checker, as well as the use of debit cards for payments.

Asset Recovery Reforms:

Oil and Gas


 Petroleum Industry Governance Bill:

 The Constitution of a Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery (PCAR), headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to bring together all law enforcement agencies involved in the recovery of assets; as well as designation of a dedicated Central Bank Account to receive all recovered funds, for coordination and transparency of management and oversight.

Since August 2015, NNPC began publishing its performance monthly (NNPC

Monthly Oil & Gas Report) in newspapers and various new media platforms and

most importantly on the NNPC website to improve transparency and probity.

The controversial Offshore Processing Arrangement (OPA) has been cancelled

and replaced with a ‘Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP)’ scheme with

reputable offshore refineries.

Completion of work, by the Federal Ministry

of Petroleum Resources, on the draft of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.

The Bill has now been passed into law by the Senate, after 17 years of failed

efforts.

Reform of longstanding Petroleum Sector Cash Call Arrangement:

  •   In 2016 the Federal Government exited the cash call arrangement by which the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) traditionally funded its share of the crude oil exploration and production Joint Ventures (JVs) with International Oil Companies (IOCs).

  •   The Cash Call obligations had consistently put pressure on the Federal Government’s finances, and a failure to fully fund them has resulted in the accumulation of debt arrears of more than six billion dollars, as at December 2015.

  •   Starting 2017, a new funding mechanism is being introduced, which will allow the JVs to transform into independent, self-financing entities. The advantages for the

Federal Government finances include: (1) freeing-up the Federal Government from the budgetary obligation of coming up with the cash calls (savings made under the new arrangement can be directed to critical Infrastructure projects), and (2) a potential increase in Nigeria’s oil production to about 2.5 million barrels per day, on account of optimal funding.

 Also as part of the reforms, the debt arrears owed the IOCs have been negotiated downwards to approximately US$5.1 billion — for which a long-term repayment plan has been drawn up.

New Whistleblowing Policy:

 The new Whistleblowing Policy introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance yielded, within its first two months of operation, yielded $160m and N8 billion in recoveries of stolen Government funds.

SECURITY

Capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest. Following this the Nigerian Army conducted its Small Arms Championship from 26th to 31st March 2017, a measure aimed at enabling the Armed forces to dominate the area, and avoid regrouping by the terrorists.

More than 12,000 Boko Haram hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity, including 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014.

Revitalization of Multi-National Joint Task Force operations, aimed at combating trans-

border crime and the Boko Haram insurgency.

Arrest of Usman Mohammed, aka Khalid AlBarnawi, leader of the Ansaru Terrorist group and one of the most wanted Terrorists in the world, with a US$6m United States bounty on his head. He’s currently being prosecuted alongside his accomplices. Also arrested and being prosecuted: Amodu Omale Salifu, leader of an ISIS affiliate group active in North Central Nigeria.

Establishment of civil authority in the areas affected by the Boko Haram insurgency.

The Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC)

have deployed officers in liberated areas to take over effective civil responsibility from

the military, and secure and maintain law and order in the affected areas. The NSCDC

has also deployed 5,000 personnel to the North-East to protect the Internally Displaced

Persons’ (IDPs) camps and re-occupy the reclaimed towns and villages.

Transfer of 2 Nos. AW 101 Helicopter from the Presidential Air Fleet to the Nigerian Air

Force, for deployment in support of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in the North East. Also

transferred to the NAF: 3 EC-135 and 3 Dauphin helicopters, from the Nigerian

National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)

Establishment of a Naval Outpost in the Lake Chad Basin.

Successful Military Operations across the country:

  •   Operation Harbin Kunama in Dansadau Forest, Zamfara aimed at flushing out

    armed bandits and cattle rustlers.

  •   Operation Safe Haven to curtail the incessant clashes between Fulani herdsmen

    and farmers in the North Central (Plateau, Nasarawa, and Benue states).

  •   Exercise Crocodile Smile to curtail the menace of militant activities in the Niger

    Delta

  •   Exercise Obangame, a multinational operation aimed at securing and protecting

    the Gulf of Guinea.

  •   Operation Awatse, a joint operation between the Military and the Police, in South

    West Nigeria, to flush out militants and pipeline vandals

  •   Operation Python Dance in the South East to tackle kidnappers and militant

    elements.

Establishment of the 8 Task Force Division in Monguno to further strengthen military

presence in the North East.

DIPLOMACY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Re-establishment of Nigeria’s position and influence in the regional and global arena. Fragile/broken relations with the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and with

neighbouring countries (Chad, Niger, Cameroon) have been revived and strengthened since June 2015. The Meeting of the was the first since 2009.

Nigeria’s prominent participation in the London Anti-Corruption Summit and the Commonwealth Conference on Tackling Corruption, in May, 2016 in London. Major outcomes of these events include:

  •   The establishment of a Global Forum for Asset Recovery to be hosted by the governments of the US and UK this year, to focus on assisting Nigeria and three other countries to reclaim their stolen assets.

  •   The signing, in August 2016, of an MoU with the UK Government on modalities for the return of Nigeria’s stolen assets in the UK.

    In 2016 Nigeria signed an Agreement on the identification and repatriation of Illicit Funds with the United Arab Emirates during the Visit of Mr. President to that country.

    The Federal Government under President Buhari has engaged the governments of Switzerland, Jersey Island, United States, United Arab Emirates, and Liechtenstein among others, in an effort to ensure the repatriation of Nigeria’s stolen assets. So far, the Swiss government has agreed to repatriate illicit loot of about USD320 million, while another tranche is being expected from the Jersey Islands.

The Buhari Administration has mobilized International Support for the War against Boko Haram, forging strong partnerships with key countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, ECOWAS, the AU, the UN, and others.

The Buhari Administration has revamped the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising troops from Nigeria and Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin; this revamp has contributed significantly to the weakening of Boko Haram.

Landmark Government-to-Government engagements with China and Morocco, aimed at developing and upgrading National Infrastructure.

Nigeria’s successful rallying of OPEC and Non-OPEC members to discuss stabilisation of the global oil market in Doha and in Algiers, and the successful negotiation of an exemption from the OPEC production freeze agreed at the 171st OPEC Ministerial conference in Vienna in November 2016; leading to a rise in oil prices to US$55/bbl for the first time in 16 months.

Posted On Sunday, 15 October 2017 17:01 Written by

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.” —Jim Rohn

There are two things you need to ensure before starting to read this: the first is the conviction that you really want to be your own boss; the second is to be so sure that your present boss is not aware that you are reading this! Though you have been hired by your boss, but you can systematically turn this around for more financial freedom and control. You can flip the coin around and hire your boss! Yes you can, whether directly or indirectly.

I am writing this piece not just for subordinates to ‘triumph’ over their bosses but also for CEOs, Directors, proprietors and business owners to avoid the major pitfalls that can sink any man into oblivion. Every ‘fall’ is avoidable and any ‘rise’ is possible!

One of the books that molded my formative years was the one written by Thomas Hardy, The Mayor Of Casterbridge. The book illustrates the pitiable rise and fall of the Mayor of Casterbridge- Michael Henchard . The book which centers round a strong-willed and self-made man, Michael Henchard, whose rise to and fall from a high state form the core of the tragic tale of his life. Henchard’s rise to prominence in Casterbridge stems from his business acumen and unparalleled savviness. He would later seal an ominous fate for his competitors by employing a Scottish manager, Donald Farfrae, whose skills and charisma later became a source of insecurity and threat to his boss.

As the rift and friction between Farfrae and his boss grew, it became obvious that he was becoming larger than his boss. Farfrae’s diligence, business-skill and popularity among people arouse feelings of jealousy in Henchard’s mind, who, after some provocation, turns him out of the job under him. Farfrae starts his own business, and prospers much in it.

The rivalry in business between Henchard and Farfrae leads finally to the immense flourishing of the latter’s business and the ultimate ruin of Henchard’s. Henchard ultimately finds himself again at the bottom of fortune’s wheel, while Farfrae now occupies a station at the top. Things come to such a pass that Henchard is reduced to a state of bankruptcy, this will later force him to sell his palatial house to the highest bidder who turns out to be Farfrae! The ill-luck got so much on his way that he sold virtually all that he had amassed in his years of toiling and has to work as an ordinary labourer in Farfrae’s establishment! Farfrae, on the other hand becomes the Mayor of Casterbridge, a position occupied formerly by Henchard. Thus, there is a complete reversal of fortune in Henchard’s case as well as Farfrae’s.

There is an old saying which says that, “No condition is permanent, only fools do not know”. You are not destined to live the rest of your life from paycheck to paycheck. Don’t build your destiny around your pension. You can actually be your own boss by following some principles that have been fool-proofed:

BUILD YOUR OWN DREAM: In life, it is either you build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs. If you don’t have big dreams and goals, you’ll end up working really hard for someone who does. One of the greatest minds of our time, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the former President of India said, ”Your dream is not what you see in sleep, your dream is that thing that keeps you from sleeping”.

DESIGN YOUR OWN PRODUCT: I have come to discover over the years that the poor chase after money while the rich attract money. People that attract money will always employ those that chase after money. Until you sit down with an idea to design a product that can sell, you will continue to run after money! Don’t chase after money; attract money. Steve Jobs once said, ‘’Apple’s goal isn’t to make money. Our goal is to design and develop and bring to market good products…. We trust as a consequence of that, people will like them, and as another consequence, we’ll make some money. But we’re really clear about what our goals are.’’

HIRE PEOPLE THAT ARE SMARTER THAN YOU! : Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do, we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do”. One of the greatest undoing of Michael Henchard was letting go of Farfrae to hire a new manager that he could probably control. We must be willing to surround ourselves with people that are smarter and more intelligent than us.

BUILD YOUR INNER SECURITY: I have often said that bosses that are insecure are threats to their organization. An insecure boss will always short-circuit the growth and advancement of his subordinates. Michael Henchard started spiraling down in his business the moment he started feeling insecure with his manager’s success. Ultimately, people that have good self-esteem and inner security will always end up ‘employing’ their insecure boss! One of the most fascinating stories of secure bosses raising a generation of excellent subordinates was that between Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.

As a young man, Ford took a job at the Edison Illuminating Company, working his way up to become chief engineer. One day while Thomas Edison was taking a stroll around, he met Henry Ford who was working on a novel idea while still working under Edison. Ford was introduced to Edison and showed Edison his plans for a gasoline automobile, Edison encouraged him to pursue those plans. The impetus Ford got from his boss’ encouragement was all that was needed for Ford to revolutionalise the automobile industry.

INVEST IN YOUR OWN PERSONAL GROWTH: Craig Handley said, “You can’t grow a business past your own personal growth”. The greatest hindrance to personal development is personal neglect. Success is about learning to become the person capable of succeeding. Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.

VALUE FEEDBACKS AND CRITICISMS: Andy Stanley said, “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” Surround yourself not only with people that say what you want to hear, but with people that say what you ought to hear! Criticisms and feedbacks are the lifelines of leadership. A leader that is beyond confrontation will self-destruct himself. Great people see confrontation as checks and not as effrontery.

TREAT YOUR EMPLOYEES WELL: Sir Richard Branson said, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients. Henry Ford once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay”. You don’t build a business, you build people and then people build the business.

PURSUE YOUR PASSION: People that chase their passion ultimately employ people that chase after money! When you follow your passion, the universe would open doors where there were only walls. Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Real financial security and freedom is not in your job but in your passion.

CHANGE YOUR CIRCLE OF FRIENDS: They say if you surround yourself with nine losers you’ll soon be the tenth! Do not expect positive things in your life if you surround yourself with negative people. When a man continually struggles on a spot without hope of advancement, then his circle of friends is indicted! Jim Rohn, in his law of Averages said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Pay any price to be in the midst of extraordinary people.

VALUE FAMILY MORE THAN BUSINESS: Family is everything; you must never sacrifice family for business. Those that succeed at home will eventually employ those that struggle at home. Walt Disney said, “A man should never neglect his family for business”. One of the mistakes that later hunted Henchard all his life was his sole act of selling his wife (Susan) and child (Elizabeth-Jane) while under the influence of alcohol (rum-laced furmity) at a fair. Henchard’s story illustrated that neglecting the family is a horrible sin that no amount of penance can undo even after so much repentance!

Posted On Saturday, 14 October 2017 13:16 Written by

A common joke on the Nigerian street has it that if all Nigerians were miraculously transplanted to Germany while all Germans were reciprocally transplanted to Nigeria, within five years Nigeria will look like Germany with well paved roads, 24/7 electricity and a disciplined society, while Germany will look like Nigeria with nonexistent roads, epileptic power supply and an entropic citizenry.

The moral of this idle speculation lends credence to Shakespeare’s observation speaking through Cassius: “the fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

As the wheels come-off President Muhammadu Buhari’s apparently ill-fated administration, it is apropos to point out that the fault lies not just in the vehicle and the overweight passengers but more so in the driver and the driving style. And I am not referring here to human biology over which no man but only God has total control.

You see with his eyes wide open President Muhammadu Buhari made some rookie mistakes from which no political administration in history has ever recovered. His may not be an exception.

On assumption of office, the President, not one to learn from History, labored and tragically still labors under three fatally misconceived notions. The first was that his own Fulani ethnicity was getting a raw deal socio-economically and deserved to be propped up using the instruments of the State at the expense of other sub-nationalities.

The second was that God and fate had given him an opportunity to deal with his erstwhile enemies using the administrative tools placed at his disposition by his new position. The third of course was a morbid dislike for the uber-competitive, republican, proud and increasingly garrulous Igbo ethnicity who ideologically, temperamentally and spiritually represent everything his beloved Fulani are not.

But critical observers make a mistake when they judge the President by normal standards believing that this will spur him on to improve his administrative performance. The President of Nigeria is not a Nigerian patriot. To suggest or imply that he is one, is a grand illusion designed, packaged and sold to the unsuspecting Nigerian public for the sole purpose of obtaining and retaining power. The President only masquerades and presents himself as a Nigerian patriot which he is not. A true patriot will love and act in the best interests of his country not just his ethnic nationality always.

The President is in effect an unrepentant Fulani ethno-patriot who administers Nigeria only from the prism lens of what he can obtain from the rest of the country for his ethnic Fulani people and not necessarily for what is best for the entire country irrespective of ethnicity.

And so, it is perfectly okay for him to be considered a failed Nigerian President provided his Fulani ethnicity (his base) are empowered to retain and maintain their chokehold on progress in Nigeria and provided the Fulani still consider him as a savior, walking in the foot-steps of the revered late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello.

From a critical view-point therefore, apart from age, religious and ethnic differences (one is Fulani, the other is Igbo) and the fact that the younger is a creation of the older, there is precious little to differentiate between President Muhammadu Buhari on the one hand and the youthful leader of the separatist Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu on the other hand.

Both are not Nigerian patriots. Both are unrepentant ethno-nationalists cum ethno-patriots and believe this or not, both are actively working in their own ways to ensure that Nigeria as we know it today ceases to exist. On this score alone, the actions or inactions of President Muhammadu Buhari are far more consequential to the future demise of Nigeria than the antics of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB.

It beats one hollow therefore to imagine that while the one, President Muhammadu Buhari is lionized (although he was chased out from his den in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa by mere rats!!!), the other Nnamdi Kanu is demonized for essentially doing the same thing – seeking the end of Nigeria.

In the typical hypocritical Nigerian fashion, while most commentators are busy condemning the speck in the neo-Biafrans’ eyes i.e. Nnamdi Kanu, they fail to see the log in Nigeria’s eyes i.e. President Muhammadu Buhari. They focus on the Divider, Nnamdi Kanu but are oblivious of the Divider-In-Chief, President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Igbos are not fools. They know who serves their best interest. If President Muhammadu Buhari on assumption of office had reserved his administrative venom for judicially proven criminals such as kidnappers, armed robbers, ritualists, rapists, drug-barons, murderers, human traffickers and looters whosoever they might be, no sane person would criticize him.

If 100 proven kidnappers and armed robbers were caught, tried fairly and made to face justice, the Igbos would not cry foul if all the criminals essentially prove to be Igbo. Indeed, many Igbos resident outside Igboland who are fearful of returning home for brief vacation would be the first to sing the President’s praises to the high heavens.

Operating from the jaundiced view-point of ‘Fulani empowerment at-all-costs’ and ‘Igbo emasculation by-all-means’, the Buhari Administration failed to recognize that ‘transplanting all Nigerians to Germany and all Germans to Nigeria would only make the current Germany, the new Nigeria and the current Nigeria the new Germany’.

You cannot give what you don’t have and you cannot sustain a lifestyle without the requisite means. Indeed, as has been repeatedly proven by history, the administrative style of favoritism sets back the recipient much more than it does the non-recipient especially if the latter chooses to react by working harder.

However, the tragedy of the way Nigeria is currently structured is that progress and development is too often dependent on the whimsical caprices of the nation’s leaders. President Buhari bears a very significant share of the historical burden for the current state of Nigeria. Let us recall a few of these whimsical caprices which involve him.

During the seventies around the time when he was Federal Commissioner of Petroleum, a decision was taken by the Federal Military Government to build the nation’s third petroleum refinery in Kaduna in the far north far outside the crude-oil producing zone. There was no economic basis for this decision. It was purely political. To make matters worse, allegedly the refinery could only refine ‘heavy’ crude oil. Nigeria reportedly lost millions of dollars pumping ‘heavy’ crude up north for refining in Kaduna. Talk of ‘One Nigeria’.

When he assumed power as Nigeria’s elected President in 2015, President Buhari decided to embark upon the reconstruction of the North-Eastern part of the country ravaged by the Boko – Haram insurgency. This was fair enough. The only problem was that the insurgency had not been completely crushed even though the insurgents were gleefully declared as tactically defeated. You do not claim to have killed a snake until you have crushed its head.

Beyond that in a strategic move to prepare the core northern region of Nigeria for the potential disintegration of the country (One Nigeria?), and against all reasonable advice, he unilaterally proposed to sink millions of dollars in petroleum exploration within the vicinity of the Lake Chad region – the very hotbed of the Boko Haram insurgency.

At a time when the world was moving very rapidly away from fossil fuels (representing the past) and into renewable energy like solar and wind energy (representing the future), President Buhari unilaterally chose to invest Nigeria’s hard currency earnings at a time of depression in the past rather than in the future.

This poorly contemplated presidential directive was abruptly terminated when the supposedly ‘tactically defeated’ Boko Haram insurgents staged a dramatic come-back. They attacked and massacred almost the entire exploration team as well as their Nigerian army security detail. They took some members of the team into captivity in which they are still held to this day.

Talk of a whimsical presidential directive motivated by ethno-patriotic reasons, meeting a disastrous end at great cost in irreplaceable human lives. No one talks of petroleum exploration up north anymore.

The sole arrow in President Buhari’s bow, the anti-corruption drive has not fared better. As this writer pointed out in the past, you cannot claim to be fighting corruption (loosely defined as appropriating what does not belong to you or what you do not merit) when you are ipso facto engaged in corruption (unfairly empowering your own ethnic nationality at the expense of other ethnicities without recourse to merit and other acceptable national standards).

It is not surprising therefore that people around the President are being accused of corruption. The Secretary to the Federal Government, the Chief of Army Staff and the Inspector-General of Police all appointees of the President have recently been accused of corruption. The tardiness with which these allegations have been investigated has been noted by critical observers.

Contrasting this with the zeal and propaganda with which corruption allegations against members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party were handled is indicative of the fact that the anti-corruption drive of this Administration is currently mortally wounded.

On the human rights front the case of the illegally detained Shiite Sheik Ibrahim El Zakzaky, the case of the hapless Colonel Sambo Dasuki and the case of the neo-Biafrans currently in detention are some of the most glaring examples of socio-economic injustice and persecution in Nigeria perpetuated by the Buhari Administration. To this day no one has satisfactorily explained to the public the offence committed by Ibrahim El Zakzaky to warrant his continued incarceration.

When the reputation of this same President Muhammadu Buhari was savaged by the very same institution he served i.e. the Nigerian Army, during the run-up to the last election, this writer publicly rose to his defense in an opinion piece published under the ‘A Nation in Heat’ cycle of essays. I would do so again if I establish that he is being unfairly persecuted in future by his opponents. By the same token, I would be lacking in my patriotic duty if I fail to voice out my opposition to the tragically misguided decisions of this administration.

The current national pre-occupation with the antics of IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu is uncalled for. Nnamdi Kanu is a creation of the failed policies of the Buhari Administration. He shall disappear from the national radar when the failed national policies associated with the Buhari Adminstration, which led to his emergence in the first place, disappear. What are those failed policies?

The unnecessary escalation of national tension by the illegal detention of people with contrary opinion, religious beliefs or political views (refer to the comments above); the confliction of the Nigerian space by the tacit support given to murderous Fulani herdsmen; as well as the criminal marginalization of the Igbo heartland are some of the failed policies of the Buhari Administration which led to the emergence of Nnamdi Kanu as a national phenomenon.

To buttress the last point, apart from favoritism, nepotism and marginalization what makes the extension of a modern railway to Daura (President Buhari’s hometown) more strategic and important to the national economy than the extension of railway from Enugu to Onitsha and from Aba to Onitsha.

More insidiously, at a time when the Nigerian Army should be mobilizing more reinforcements to the North-East theatre to crush the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency once and for all, it is engaged under a futile whimsical Presidential Directive (a.k.a. Operation Python Dance II) to harass and intimidate the peaceful people of the South-East region. Who is the President of Nigeria and the Nigerian Army trying to impress or intimidate with this shameless exercise of raw-power? Unarmed citizens? Unarmed peaceful agitators for Biafra?

It is cowardly and would prove counter-productive. If anything, it would only strengthen the Igbo resolve to secede from Nigeria. Indeed, only cowards and brutish thugs resort to violence when they are defeated by superior arguments by their opponents. Refined peoples, governments and institutions face facts with counter-facts not with bullets or dancing pythons.

It bears repeating that the only way IPOB can lose in this battle of wits with the Buhari Administration (I have chosen my words very carefully) is if it allows itself to be provoked into descending into the shameful gutter of violence within which the Buhari Administration and the Nigerian Army is currently dancing. No matter the provocation, IPOB should maintain its discipline and immediately return to its denial-of-target command (DOT COM) phase. This is not cowardice, it is strategy.

Even though I currently do not support the IPOB agitation for outright secession, I support and will defend their right to peacefully express their views and opinions as bona fide citizens of Nigeria, neither superior to nor inferior to other Nigerian citizens. I will also fight for the equal treatment of all Nigerians and their homelands regardless of ethnic origins.

Nigeria is bigger than any one person no matter how highly placed. Nigeria is far bigger than the ego of the current President of Nigeria. The President of Nigeria should humbly acknowledge to the nation that his administrative policies have failed.

If the President loves his Fulani ethnicity more than he loves Nigeria (I do not criticize him for this), it is more honorable for him to resign his position as President of Nigeria and become the President-General of the Fulani nation. Otherwise he should act like the President of all Nigerians while realizing and conceding that like himself, other Nigerians have their own individual ethnicities which they may equally love and be proud of.

Right now the sound we want to hear from the Federal Government is the sound of bulldozers and workmen repairing the dilapidated roads and infrastructure in the Igbo heartland, not the sound of tanks, armoured personnel carriers and troops dancing shamelessly like devilish pythons on the nonexistent roads of the South -East region.

THE END -

Posted On Saturday, 14 October 2017 01:11 Written by
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