Saturday, 24 February 2018

NEWS AND STORIES

Forty-eight of the missing 94 pupils of the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, have come out of hiding.

The Yobe State Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Lamin, who stated this in Damaturu, added that the state government had organised search parties to look for the remaining 46 pupils.

The Busari Local Government Area, where the attack happened is 100 kilometres away from Damaturu, the Yobe State capital.

Lamin explained that the school registered 28 missing students that returned on Tuesday, saying 20 more were received from Magwaram village on Wednesday.

He said, “This has brought down the number of missing pupils from 94 to 48 as of this morning (Wednesday). We are still hopeful that more pupils will return soon.”

The commissioner asked parents to report to the school whenever their children arrived home.

An anonymous source in the school told our correspondent that the 28 students that returned were rescued by villagers from bushes around Dapchi town.

The source said, “Some of the children trekked between 15 and 20 kilometres in the bush to save their lives. We have also received calls from Fulani settlements that they are bringing more students they found in the bush.”

“So far, no dead body has been recovered, but we heard that one pupil was bitten by a snake. She was said to have been treated locally. But she would be taken to a hospital in Damaturu for proper attention.”

It was gathered that a combined team of security operatives had been drafted to the area to search for the remaining missing students.

The Yobe Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, charged the military and other security outfits to ensure that none of the pupil was lost.

The governor in a statement by his spokesman, Abdullahi Bego, said, “The Yobe State Government is working with the Nigerian Army and other security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all students in the school are fully accounted for.

“As the public is aware, the pupils were helped by their teachers to escape to the surrounding bushes and villages as terrorists stormed the town on Monday.

“Many pupils are still unaccounted for, but the Yobe State Government has been receiving the girls that were found in the general area to which they escaped.

“The government is coordinating with law enforcement agencies to ensure that those girls are returned safely.”

“The Yobe State Government has no credible information as to whether any of the schoolgirls was taken hostage by the terrorists.

“The Yobe State Government assures parents and the school community that it will do everything necessary to ensure that all the missing girls are found and returned to their school and families and that security is improved in the area.”

The state government, in another statement send around 10pm, said more pupils had been rescued by by “gallant officers and men of the Nigerian Army from the terrorists who abducted them.”

The government further stated that the “rescued girls are now in the custody of the Nigerian Army.”

“We will provide more details about their number and condition in due course,” the statement added.

Published in Business and Economy

Proliferation of firearms being smuggled in from Libya, Yemen, Mali, Niger and Chad and increasing use of illegal drugs are responsible for the worsening crime situation in Nigeria, Minister of Interior, The

The minister also asserted that the farmers/herders conflicts being witnessed in some parts of the country has no ethnic or religious colouration, stressing that it is a regional problem over sharing of land and water resources.

According to Dambazau who met the Inspector-General of Police,  Ibrahim Idris, Commissioners of Police and other senior officers at the Force Headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday , security and agriculture ministers from West and Central African nations will comprehensively address the issues at a conference scheduled to take place soon.

On proliferation of firearms and their sources, the minister said: “Firearms and drugs are drivers to violent crimes. They do not cause the crimes that we are witnessing but they drive them.

“As police officers, we have a role to play; weapons are drivers to criminal violence. There are huge numbers of the weapons in circulation and we know the sources.

“Some of these weapons come from Libya because of the instability, Mali, Yemen, Niger, Chad. We also know that some of the weapons come from Niger Delta by way of trade by barter involved between oil thieves and militants.

“They exchange oil for weapons. We know the sources and we also know that they come through armed merchants through our ports and seaports but we must do something about them because the weapons give confidence to criminals and they kill without thinking about it.

“They are easily accessible because you can either buy or acquire.”

On the way forward, the minister urged the police to enforce the law of firearms and also widen the scope of the law.

He said: “You must enforce the law against illegal possession of firearms and we must also widen our enforcement to include local made weapons that are not classified as firearms.

“We must widen our law to include those ones that are not presently included and as for me, anyone found to be in possession of firearms would be assumed to be a violent criminal. He is either armed robber, terrorist, cultist, militant or bandits.”

On farmers/ herders conflicts, he said: “Today, in the front burner of issue of security is rural banditry and herders /farmers conflict. These are issues that have a lot of dimensions and for us to deal with the issue of farmers/herders conflict; there is need for us to look at it from multidimensional approach.

“Realising that this issue has regional implication, the ECOWAS President and some members  we find it necessary to organise conference that would involve ministers in charge of Internal security and agriculture in the West and Central Africa region.

He went further to say: “We tend to look at the issue as a local problem but it is not, it is rather a national and regional problem. It is not a religious problem neither is it an ethnic problem, it is problem that has to do with resource sharing; water and land and we must find a way to deal with it.”

Also speaking, the IG disclosed that the Nigeria Police Force loses over 9000 policemen to retirement, sickness, death and dismissal every year.

The police chief also said the Force is currently struggling with manpower shortage.

He said Nigeria Police Force was lagging behind the ratio of one policeman to 400 citizens as stipulated by the United Nations.

He however said 6000 policemen would be recruited in few months’ times to fill the vacancies in the rank and file cadre.

He said: “The issue of manpower is one of the challenges the police is facing and every opportunity I have, I tell stakeholders that there is need to look into the manpower strength of the police force.

“Presently, if you look at the UN ratio, the police is supposed to operate in this manner; 400 citizens to one policeman and presently if you look at our strength,  we are just 308,000 to cover about 182million Nigerians.

“If you look at the ratio, Nigeria Police is operating about 600 citizens to one policeman. Definitely the ratio is below that of the United Nations. The issue of recruitment has been taken serious by us and the government.

“Between 2011 and 2015, there was no recruitment until last year and they have been trained and deployed to Commands.

“This year, we got approval to recruit 6000 for the rank and file to add to the recruitment we have.  If you look at it, statistics wise, Nigeria Police forces loses 9028 officer every year through retirement, sickness and death and dismissal.

“Obviously, there is need for us to conduct recruitment to fill the vacancies and like I said, the wastages is over 9028 and there is need for replacement and that is what we are struggling with presently.”

“The federal government approved 6000 recruitment of rank and file in the police force. We are working out the modalities and I’m definitely sure, in a month, we are going to conduct that recruitment.”

The IGP who expressed optimism that in few months’ time, the Police Trust Fund Bill which is before the national assembly would be passed added that the passage of the bill would make the Force carry out their duties effectively.

On illegal firearms, he said the Force would soon construct public armoury to store recovered firearms as stated in Firearms Act.

He said: “We want to check the abuse of firearms all over the country. If you check the firearms Act, one of its provisions is public armoury in each Command where the illegal weapons recovered are stored and I’m sure all over the country, no Command has public armoury.

“Public armoury has not been constructed and these are issues that we need to address. We have to see how we can construct the armoury where we would store illegal arms and ammunitions from various citizens across the country.”

Published in Headliners
Thursday, 22 February 2018 01:53

By Doyin Okupe: Herdsmen: What’s going on?

In the last few days, I have sat back to reflect on the perplexing matter of the so called Fulani Herdsmen attacks nationwide. As an opposition politician it is a veritable political tool that if craftily manipulated and orchestrated in a sustained manner, is enough to send this Government packing in 2019. Just like Lai Mohammed and his team of propangandists hanged the Jonathan administration employing the Boko Haram insurgency and the dubious chibok girls affairs. I am not a fan of President Buhari and i certainly do not wish the APC well. So it is not in my intrest to assist either to get out of an insolvable and potentially dangerous political quagmire.

But this is our country and our fatherland.  It must not always be an irresponsible and desperate struggle for power all the time at the expense of national cohesion and survival.

Something, to my mind, just does not add up on this Fulani herdsmen attacks. Classically, it has become ubiquitous. It comes up randomly anywhere and everywhere. Benue, Taraba, adamawa, plataeu,kaduna, zamfara, enugu, anambra, Edo , Ogun, ekiti, kwara etc etc.

The style is as confounding as the viciousness that is typical of the orgy of these attacks. A strange accompanying phenomenon is the associated arson of farmlands and houses. The questions are: if the struggle is about feeding cattle, why burn farms and houses thereafter? How come this pattern is consistent everywhere. is there a script or operational guideline? How do the herdsmen benefit from these mayhem?

My take: the government itself initially believed these acts were committed by the fulani herdsmen in their attempt to secure the lives of their herds. Obviously the government sympathised wrongly with the herdsmen and this was responsible for the initial poor official response to the attacks.However, the DSS, in its early brief to the government, included a vital information ignored by virtually all of us due to the overwhelming emotion brought about by the numbers of people butchered and the dastard nature of the attacks. The preconcieved notion of the bias of the administration in favour of the Fulanis did not help matters. The DSS had suggested the infiltration of the country by agents and converts of the terrorist group ISIS.

In my opinion, the operative signature and character  profile of the terrorists, we had named fulani herdsmen , fit no other group in the world but the ISIS. Typically, the attacks are mindless, brutally vicious with no clear cut defined or obvious benefit to the attackers!!!. It is a fact that towards the twightlight of the operative effectiveness of the Boko Haram insurgents, this new group ISIS, had emerged as a separate clearly defined entity within the Boko Haram Camp. As the number and strength of the Boko Haram became severely degraded, the ISIS components have crystalised  and adopted a more diffuse operational strategy, which is what the nation is currently witnessing.

I also believe that those in government have finally come to terms with this unfortunate reality, but in order not to create national panic, have kept this to themselves. Hence the various military operations announced by the army covering the entire nation. While I appreciate the efforts of government not wanting to create panic, in this type of situation citizens watch and vigilance is extremely important. It is better we are well informed  and multiple local based channels of communications be quickly established to assist the security agencies. It is my belief that these facts be made known to the public so as to douse the ethnic tensions and ill feelings pervading the polity presently. Personally, I believe we are in a state of national apprehension and this is not the fault of any government.  The government needs to open up and shed the image of entrenched nepotism if we must all fight this together in a non-partisan manner. By the grace of the omnipotent God, any group or groups that rises against Nigeria and its citizens shall fail and be destroyed in the mighty name of Jesus.

  • Dr. Okupe is a former presidential spokesman
Published in News & Stories

THERE is growing concern about the critical challenge of citizens under the age of 18 voting in elections in the country. Electoral umpires and politicians in many jurisdictions are usually accused of orchestrating a litany of irregularities during and/or after elections. But an irregularity that borders on underage voting like the one that happened during the recent local council election in Kano State is a patently premeditated one that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) will be hard put to wash its hands off.  INEC is the author of the voter register and the custodian of the certified electorate, which means that no one who does not have prior certification by the electoral body should be able to vote in any elections. In other words, voting by children in any election can only arise from prior compromise of the fidelity of the voter register, wittingly or even coercively. This is a shame because the situation/circumstance that gives rise to a faulty foundation will ultimately result in the collapse of whatever superstructure that is put on it. This is a critical issue that INEC will need to address very comprehensively preferably in the off-season of elections.

The February 10 local council election in Kano State that once again brought the malaise of underage voters into national focus has come and gone. The election has been lost and purportedly won but the national outrage triggered by the alleged open participation of child voters in the elections has yet to abate. Perhaps, the preponderance of condemnation that attended the shameful and embarrassing electoral irregularity did not stem from the quest for a credible  local government election in Kano State alone, but largely from the fear of underage voting in the 2019 general election. After all, it is a well established pattern in the country that results of local council elections usually go the way of the ruling parties in the states, irrespective of their popularity among the populace in terms of the delivery of the dividends of democracy. Thus, judging by the unenviable standard in the land, there is nothing unusual in the outcome of the council election in Kano State.

What is untoward and of great concern is the obvious ineligibility by reason of age of some of the electorate that allegedly helped the ruling party to achieve its landslide victory, especially because of its implications for the 2019 general election. This is a veritable apprehension since no State Independent Electoral Commission (SIEC) can conduct any election using a voter register other than the one supplied to it by INEC. Yes, INEC has dissociated itself from the underage voting in Kano State on the grounds that it did not conduct the election but only supplied the voter register. INEC may wash its hands off any other form of malpractice in that election but it definitely has questions to answer on the issue of underage voting because its voter register was used. It is, nonetheless, heartening that the electoral umpire has reportedly shifted ground and finally taken steps to launch an inquiry into the alleged irregularity, rather than papering over it like it did during and after the 2015 general election.

During the 2015 general election, the nation was treated to a similarly embarrassing spectacle, not only on the social media but also on national television,  of children queuing up to vote in some states, especially in the North-West. Unfortunately, the incident failed to attract universal denunciation as the one at issue, and INEC maintained stoic silence while the feeble protestations of the then ruling party was drowned by the vociferous support of those who were poised to benefit from the infamy. And since INEC has failed or neglected to purge its voter register of this dirt after the 2015 election, the recent Kano State episode is an indication that the chickens have come home to roost.

INEC needs to up its game and becomes more vigilant. The excuse that underage voters were registered because of threats to the lives of registration officers is untenable. The electoral body should have ensured that its officials were posted to areas they were familiar with and not an unfamiliar terrain where they risked being threatened and even killed for not compromising on their duties. If INEC officials were indeed railroaded into accommodating patently ineligible persons in the voter register, then there is a question mark on the fidelity of the register.  And we ask the questions as to what INEC has been doing about the registration of such underage voters and why it has kept silent on this grave matter before now.

The unscrupulous politicians and political parties that are the beneficiaries of the deficient and compromised system should not be expected to speak up against the anomaly they orchestrated in the first place. It is INEC that should brace up and design creative strategies to obviate the impairment of its constitutional responsibilities by those who are unwilling to operate within the ambit of the electoral law.

Published in Parliament

The West has left us with the template for economic growth and worldwide domination: the franchise system or the selling and use of patents, symbols etc. in short, branding. McDonald, Pepsi Coke, Coca-Cola, 7UP, KFC, Dominos are brands well known which people buy, so also is General Electric, Toyota, etc. Now they have developed to technologies for communications, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Uber, etc. all depending on our own fascination and should I say closeness and obsession with the use of the smartphones, the owners of these technologies rely on a simple fact, that algorithm was the answer to all problems. If the problem exists, there must be an algorithm to solve it. The West developed this, at great cost to themselves – loss of the traditional jobs of Post and Telegraphs, shorthand typists etc. As at today, the three richest men in the U.S. are all from the technology of communications – Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Bezos, who today are richer than 60% of all U.S. citizens combined.

Is there a lesson for Africa here? We would hope to produce an Africa Bill Gates or an Africa Zuckerberg or an African Steve Jobs and an African Bezos. But if you looked at the system these technology giants have built, they have built-in branding into their systems. It is true you may want to use a different operating system instead of Microsoft word, office, cloud, but it would cost you. These giants depend on small payments per usage of their products but have enough power to force the banks, government and everybody else to use their systems etc.

It is tedious to go on about Africa having 75% of the world’s minerals if Africa is unable, like Japan, without minerals, to build a strong economy. If the computer was a once purchased item and therefore does not depend on their operating systems to work that business would be out of date soon. Its strength is its novelty adaptability, flexibility and the promise of even greater things to come – artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, robotics – all good for war and peace: although this makes for an uncertain future. Worse still Africa has no role to play in this development beyond being a voracious consumer.

The minerals in Africa are buried deep underground. The West and China send different machines to dig for it, scoop it etc. carry it away for development into the various components of life in the world. The genius of McDonald is that each time you eat McDonald anywhere in the world, someone in the company makes money in the U.S. Ditto for KFC etc.

Africa must find ways to encourage the West that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. The West and China mines and scoop earth, Copper, Columbite, Magnesium, Calcite and other forms of rare earth, uranium, aluminum, gold, diamonds etc. out of Africa. They sell these manufactured items from these goods back to us. Let us imagine a bright African who was able to franchise copper – every time an item having copper in it is used, a penny is given to the African country from which it was mined. All the electric wires used in the world would now pay something to sustain the people it originated from. At first, though this seems a crackpot idea, our new geniuses tell us that nothing is impossible; they can find a suitable algorithm to change this aspect of commerce as they have changed banking, communications, airlines, and planes etc. We must ask the right questions to get the right answers. If we start by thinking that it cannot be done, then it would not be. If Microsoft worried about the millions of shorthand typists it put out of business it would never have developed its operating system.

No smartphone can work without Calcite which is mined now in a number of places in Africa. Our goal should be that each time a phone is used those places get a few cents. These principles could be applied to other African exports since we pay each time a Radiation instrument is used in Africa, each time a car is driven- spare parts to the outlets etc. that is a kind of branding. Globalisation cannot simply mean the selling of any product you make to anywhere in the world that is willing to pay. As it works now, it is to the disadvantage of the non-Western or non-industrialised countries

There are instances where usage is the base of the currency that vendors use. Any airline that flies over the space of Nigeria pays Nigeria good money for the privilege. When our planes fly over Europe and the U.S., the same happens despite the so-called open skies agreement. That our ministers of Aviation and NCAA staff have regularly raided these coffers is not the point here. Money is paid to us as in McDonald’s as in Google for access and usage.

This is not traditional economic theory. My economist friends insist that we make our minerals here into products which the West wants to buy rather than insists on a rentier economy. Such a view does not take into account the overwhelming structural power of the West on almost all our lives, the meaning of education, the processes for creation of values etc. What are we afraid of?

As the West progresses in the use of fossil fuels itself, the base of its industrial revolution and power is now threatened. Engine designs that lower fuel consumption or even eliminate it are on the horizon. No one in Nigeria has produced any sensible lines on what to do when this inability hits on. It is said that gas and fuel have about 3000 uses – they produced over 3000 items. My Nigerian conservative economist friend says research institutions, the universities etc. can begin to make these products for sale to the West. There is merit in this argument but some of it is like inventing the wheel.

Nevertheless, the problem is the scale and where to find money, scientists, technicians, and algorithms to take us to the next level?

Published in Parliament

Writing about the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and its leadership is one and the same thing. EFCC is its leadership and the leadership of the commission is the commission. Dissecting the leadership of Mr. Ibrahim Magu at the EFCC is an enterprise that is akin to wielding a double-edged sword. If one is not careful about presenting the facts of any particular matter or issue, one runs the risk of being accused of either managing the reputation of the commission and its leadership or doing a hatchet job for corrupt politicians and compromised public officials in order to discredit the commission and its leadership.

Nevertheless, one should be readily vindicated if the narratives are evidence-based, in which case the principle of res ipsa loquitur (the fact speaks for itself) will come in handy as a prima facie (clear from a first impression or sufficient in law to establish a case or fact in the evidence) defence. Having made this short introductory remark, we would like to state from the outset that the anti-corruption war being waged by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, which started off on a promising note in June 2015, has largely suffered from self-inflicted injuries.

The war has been more of a hotchpotch of poor investigations and prosecutions resulting in serial losses of top corruption cases in almost three years of an administration that has demonised officials of the immediate past government as corrupt. The EFCC has not only been losing high-profile cases but the entire gamut of the Nigeria’s anti-corruption architecture is also being badly managed both at the administrative and prosecutorial flanks by Magu, the unconfirmed acting chairman of the EFCC.

If there is any glaring failure of the EFCC that is deserving of a case study, it was its desperation to nail the governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, at all cost. The commission has lost all its cases against the governor. Its bid to freeze the personal account of Fayose has failed up to the Court of Appeal. Unfortunately for the commission, and in what appears to be the biggest restriction against its shenanigan of always breathing down on state governors and government, a Federal High Court has ruled it has no powers to investigate state finances without the approval of the State Houses of Assembly. This is one case that will most likely get to the Supreme Court.

The Court, sitting in Ado Ekiti, said the EFCC lacks the power to probe states finances without a report of an indictment from State Houses of Assembly. Justice Taiwo O. Taiwo, gave the ruling in a suit filed by the Ekiti State Government against the EFCC, the Inspector General of Police, the Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, the Clerk of the House and 13 others.

The ruling: The first defendant (EFCC) is bound to operate within the constitution and cannot operate like the lord of the manor. Its statutory duty is not a license to contravene the Constitution. I can’t see how the statutory functions of EFCC can extend to a state in a federation under any guise to the extent that the eight to 18 defendants (banks) will be directed to submit bank details.

Most worrisome is how Magu had unintelligently handled confidential information in the prosecution of financial crimes. In what has become an obsession and desperation to nail people under investigation in the court of public opinion using media propaganda, sensitive and confidential information and documents were through arranged channels often shared with a select group of media. This and other developments have begun to affect the country globally to the extent that the Egmont Group is set to expel Nigeria’s Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) by March 2018. The group, a global network of 152 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), had at its 24th plenary in Macao, SAR, China, in July 2017, suspended Nigeria by consensus for bad practices.

The Egmont Group said: The heads of FIU made a decision, by consensus, to suspend the membership status of the NFIU, Nigeria, following repeated failures on the part of the FIU to address concerns regarding the protection of confidential information, specifically related to the status of suspicious transaction report (STR) details and information derived from international exchanges, as well as concerns on the legal basis and clarity of the NFIU’s independence from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The measures will remain in force until immediate corrective actions are implemented.

The president must quickly reorganise the entire anti-corruption architecture of his government otherwise the expulsion of Nigeria from the Egmont Group will make nonsense of his recent beatification as Africa’s anti-corruption champion. However, such reorganisation cannot exclude the removal of Magu as the chairman of the EFCC. Fortunately for the president, a Federal High Court has given him a leeway to get a new man for the job.

The court validated the legislative and legal rights of the Senate to accept or reject a nominee for that office. Magu has been rejected twice by the Senate. Justice John Tsoho held that: On the strength of these authorities, therefore, the expression subject to should be understood to simply mean depending on. Accordingly, the import of section 2(3) of the EFCC Act is that the appointment of a chairman made by the president is dependent on confirmation by the senate. The 1st defendant (senate) can, therefore, reject a statutory appointment of a chairman of the EFCC made by the president, if there is good basis for doing so. Aside the crass incompetence displayed by Magu during a televised senate screening in December 2016, the loss of some celebrated cases was a setback of sorts that made former President Olusegun Obasanjo to advise the EFCC to engage staunch, `ogbologbo (tough and brilliant) lawyers inside that will do the work. He also harped on thorough investigations. President Buhari’s friend, Pastor Tunde Bakare, said in his 2018 state of the nation address on January 14 that the loss of four high-profile corruption cases in ninety-six hours in April 2017 was due to the ineffectiveness of the corruption war.

According to Bakare, the ineffectiveness of the anti-corruption war is seen in the loss of crucial corruption cases. For instance, in April 2017, the Federal Government lost four high profile corruption cases in 96 hours. These losses are in addition to bizarre developments such as the failure of the government to confirm a substantive chairman for the EFCC, despite the fact that the same political party controls both the executive and the legislature, not to mention the public showdown between EFCC and Department of State Services (DSS) officials, or the opposition of the Director-General of the DSS to the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the EFCC.

The shambolic execution of the anti-corruption war is a clog in the wheel of progress. As long as the leadership of the commission is propelled by the desire to satisfy the caprices of the president by deploying the commission in pursuit of political vendetta, so long will the anti-corruption fight be a mere charade. What is, therefore, needed is to rejig the leadership of the commission and appoint a chair that is not problematic or morally encumbered who will restructure and retool the administrative and prosecutorial machinery of the commission for a new paradigm and vista in a utilitarian anti-corruption war. The truth is that the EFCC leadership, as presently constituted, does not engender public confidence in the anti-graft crusade.

• Ojeifo and Atoye, public affairs commentators, contributed this piece from Abuja.

Published in Parliament

It is now appropriate, indeed imperative, for the Nigerian Left to present its own manifesto to the country. This should be in form of a people’s manifesto, a people’s charter of demands in a situation of national emergency. A people’s manifesto at this point in our history is not a dissertation-like programme of social transformation, the type of thing any Left formation should be able to produce in 24 hours. Rather, it should be a clear and concise statement of not only what the Left believes should be done to reprieve the nation from a threatening catastrophe, but also a statement of what – in alliance with other socio-political forces – the Left can mobilise the Nigerian people to do.

To put the matter differently, a people’s manifesto at this time is first and foremost a Nigerian Left’s manifesto in the ordinary sense of the word: a “public declaration of intentions, motives, or views” or a “public statement of policy or opinion.” Yes; but beyond this, a people’s manifesto is a people’s charter of demands presented to the Nigerian state and governments by the Nigerian Left. A people’s manifesto has this double character because although it can be used for an election, it is not election-bound.

This opening declaration should, however, not be misunderstood as implying that without an explicitly Left intervention, the country is doomed. No. Nigeria can still be reprieved- as it was reprieved in 2015 and- before that – in 1993 and at some other critical points in the country’s post-civil war history. What my proposition should be understood as implying is that if the country continues in its present course a reprieve from catastrophe will again be a temporary or false one. And a temporary or false reprieve will, again, make the nation’s fundamental problems more acute and complex when they explode again in a conjuncture – as will surely happen again. The problems will then be much more difficult to resolve in the context and framework of a single country.

This article is however not the people’s manifesto as advocated. It is rather the initiation of a discussion on its contents, nature, parameters and politics. An illustration will also be provided.

A Nigerian people’s manifesto drafted and presented by the Nigerian Left should not begin with a catalogue of what a Nigerian state or the incumbent or future government should do for the people. Rather, it should begin with a self-introduction of the movement, organization or platform presenting the manifesto. There are at least three reasons for this. In the first place, the Nigerian masses have, for decades, been recipients and victims of deception from personages and entities in power or seeking power. The people are therefore increasingly cynical. In the second place, the Nigerian Left has a strong and enviable record of involvement in popular struggle and patriotic selfless service which it should be proud to present to the public.

In the third place, we know that in this era, it is not only speech-writers that can be hired; manifesto – writers are also hired. In other words, manifesto-writing has been professionalized. Just put the money down and say what type of manifesto you want and the scale of lies you wish to be included, and the job will be done. Although there are always differences between fake manifestoes – however beautifully written – and genuine manifestoes, most readers may not be patient enough to spot the inconsistencies and incongruities in fake declarations.

I wish to propose that the difference between a people’s manifesto drafted and presented by the Left and other manifestoes cannot be found in the “lists of contents,” a comparison of what the authors and publishers promise to deliver to the people: roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, airports, electricity, jobs, “stomach infrastructure”, etc, etc. The difference lies in the “totality” or “packaging” which shows whether the manifesto is a revolutionary and popular-democratic declaration or a pack of lies, deceptions and illusions. On the one hand, the “totality” or “packaging” indicates not only what will be done but also how it will be done, with what resources it will be done, where the resources will come from, and when exactly it will be done. For, even if you swear by all the deities known and unknown, that you will run from Lagos to Calabar in three hours I will be a bastard to believe you.
On the other hand, in this period of extended emergency, the “packaging” or “totality” unambiguously answers the question: Whose desperate needs are being articulated and planned for: those of the Nigerian masses or those of exploiters, predators and state-robbers who always present themselves as “the nation”? To put the matter more bluntly, does the manifesto unambiguously indicate plans to immediately redeploy the nation’s resources in favour of the hungry, the endangered and the forgotten?

An appropriate “table of contents” for a people’s manifesto in this particular period of extended national emergency in the lives of the Nigerian masses may be structured in several ways. For instance, it may have the following eight-point structure: Who are we (that is, the authors – the Nigerian Left)?; The country we now have; The country we wish to have and are committed to fighting for; Fundamental human rights; Directive principles of state policy; Social transformation; National unity, federalism and popular-democratic restructuring; and Immediate steps (on pressing needs and current crises).

Back to history. The Nigerian Left is one of the oldest ideological tendencies in Nigerian politics because the Left grew out directly from organised anti-colonial and labour struggles – both of which started in the early 1930s. By the eve of independence in 1960, popular democracy and socialism had become the clear aim of the Left.

As early as May 1961, a Leftist group in Lagos, organised by Gogo Chu Nzeribe, Peter Ayodele Curtis-Joseph, Tanko Yakassai, M.O. Johnson, J.B. K. Thomas and a few others, had, in an extended public declaration, described itself as the “organisation of workers, women, farmers and farm labourers, peasants, artisans, teachers and intellectuals, small businessmen and women, professionals, lawyers, youths, students, the unemployed, the maimed, the deformed …” This was a clear ideological selection which the authors justified this way: “These are the people who know misfortune and therefore are capable of waging limitless and courageous struggles until victory is won.” Left out of this long list was the “indigenous Nigerian capitalist and feudal class that had emerged as the virtual successors to the British colonialists.” The group pledged to “organise, unite and lead the peoples of Nigeria in a relentless and uncompromising fight against capitalism and capitalist exploitation of the Nigerian peoples”.

Significantly, these young Nigerians opposed regionalism and declared their commitment to “one undivided Nigeria, under unitary and centralised government.” And, consistently, they declared their belief in the creation of a “Union of African States” and “one common nationality for all Africans.”

The revolutionary Lagos group – let us call them so here – advocated a 40-hour week for all workers, full employment, unemployment benefits, social security, worker-participation in management, special allowances for “all labour that is especially risky or dirty, adequate minimum wage, free medical treatment, free education, paid maternity leave, paid rest-time during nursing period ….” Putting itself forward as a vanguard in post-colonial nation-building, the group concluded its public declaration by repeating that it was formed to “lead the peoples of Nigeria in their just struggles for peace, friendship, national reconstruction, a better future, democracy and the triumph of socialism.”

That was the Nigerian Left about 57 years ago, just six months after independence. A contemporary people’s manifesto can proceed from here by indicating what has changed, what has remained and what has emerged.

Published in News & Stories

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was, the other day, reported to have sent to the National Judicial Council (NJC), a petition against three judges. According to the report, the petition is on alleged corruption in the temple of justice. EFCC is prosecuting the three judges at the Court of Appeal. In one of the three cases, the court is reported to have ruled that EFCC lacks the power to investigate and prosecute serving judicial officers, except where such judicial officers have been dismissed by the NJC. Therefore, EFCC’s petition to NJC is to enable the NJC to perform its statutory role regarding the allegations of corruption against the judges. It is an attempt to follow due process in the prosecution of serving judicial officers and to forestall similar judgment in the outstanding two cases in court. Fair enough.

It is worrisome that since its establishment in 2002, over 15 years ago, the EFCC is yet to understand, appreciate and follow due process towards ensuring success of its prosecution of judicial officers suspected to have been involved in financial and economic crimes or corruption. This either signifies lack of depth and inexperience of officers of the Commission or a deliberate attempt to cause unnecessary mischief. Thus, the human capacity and quality in the Commission is questionable especially if there is also a legal team on its pay-roll that ought to provide legal advice prior to the Commission dragging suspects to court.

It is embarrassing that it was only at the Court of Appeal that EFCC found out it did not have the requisite powers to investigate and prosecute serving judicial officers. If only due diligence and legal opinion had been undertaken, EFCC would have saved itself the embarrassment of putting the ‘cart before the horse.’ Indeed, EFCC’s belated or second-thought petition to NJC would not have arisen as it would have, in the first instance, petitioned the Council and waited for its decision before taking further steps, including proceeding to the law court. Such due diligence would also have saved this nation scarce financial and other costs arising from the failed prosecution. There is hardly any doubt that EFCC, having run into this avoidable situation has, however, succeeded in learning, after many years of its existence, how not to treat any case involving a serving judicial officer in this country. It is a veritable lesson the Commission must internalise so as to prevent a re-occurrence.

Now that it has made a u-turn and sent its petition to the NJC, it has become the responsibility of the judicial council to consider the petition and make its decision known. It is in the interest of the Council to do everything humanly and legally within its powers not to delay consideration of and decision on the petition. This will win the trust of more than a few citizens who perceive or indeed, believe that the Council unduly delays petitions sent to it against judicial officers. Even, in some cases, the NJC has been accused of either frustrating petitions or protecting officers of the law under its jurisdiction. This latest petition by EFCC is therefore, one opportunity for the NJC to prove its critics wrong especially given that this is a case of corruption against which this nation has taken up arms. The NJC will also be contributing towards the efficacy of the national and global war against corruption, if it handles the petition expeditiously.

Notwithstanding what must have been stated since the searchlight on the activities of judicial officers debuted in 2016/2017, it is worth emphasizing that, it is more than a national shame and embarrassment for some judges in this country to be among individuals corruption allegations are being leveled against. It becomes even worse when such allegations are substantiated through the court of law. While it is the individual culprit that bears the burden of shame and loss of the respect associated with the very exalted office of a judge, the situation robs off negatively on the image and reputation of the entire judiciary and that of the country. If a judge is proved to have been corrupt, the last hope of the common man is dashed, irredeemably. If there are corrupt judicial officers, where else shall the people look for integrity and credibility, for justice and succour? This is why it is important that corruption allegations against judicial officers must be thoroughly and quickly investigated and where incontrovertible evidence supports, prosecution must be diligently and flawlessly proceeded with, of course, following due process. And if the suspect is convicted, the strictest punishment must be imposed and enforced. That will not only serve as a lesson but most importantly, a deterrent.

Although the laws of the land have provided various forms of sanctions, it has become necessary to propose a consideration for inclusion in the law such penalties as derobing, cancellation/withdrawal of academic and professional certificates, delisting from the register of legal professionals, prohibition (for life) from practising law under any guise and withdrawal of any awards, such as chieftaincy and so on.

It is, however, imperative that the country reconsiders very seriously all the mechanisms and frameworks necessary to ensure that the country’s judicial officers imbibe and uphold zero tolerance for any form of corruption. Such mechanisms must be activated and monitored to be functional all the time and not some time. That way, corruption among judicial officers is likely to cease to be prevalent in this nation.

Published in Parliament

Five Nigerian police officers who were accused of killing Boko Haram’s founder Mohammed Yusuf while in their custody have been reinstated, a police oversight body said on Monday.

The officers were charged with committing a terrorist act and unlawfully killing the Islamist group’s spiritual leader during days of unrest in the northeast city of Maiduguri in July 2009.

The clashes, in which about 800 Boko Haram followers were killed, prompted an escalation in violence that has since left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million more homeless.

A judge in Abuja in late December 2015 acquitted the police on the grounds the prosecution could not establish a case against them. The ruling attracted little publicity at the time.

A spokesman for the Police Service Commission, Ikechukwu Ani, confirmed a report in the Daily Trust newspaper that the officers were now back on the beat.

“It is true. They have all been reinstated. The Police Service Commission acted upon a memo sent to it by the inspector general of police,” he told AFP.

“The memo was accompanied with the court orders that they should be reinstated. The court acquitted them of all the charges and we have no choice but to obey the orders of court.”

Amaechi Nwaokolo, a Nigeria security analyst at the Roman Institute for International Studies in Abuja, said the acquittal and reinstatement was “a source of concern”.

Boko Haram has long used the fact that no-one has been prosecuted or convicted for Yusuf’s death as a reason for its armed struggle, he argued.

“This development will further give Boko Haram a tool for recruitment and radicalisation of its ranks by using it to show the lack of justice it has been preaching,” he said.

“Extra-judicial killings by state security apparatus give terrorist groups the needed tool and justification to recruit others and carry out terrorist acts as retaliation.

“It was the killing of Yusuf that led to the escalation of the violence and the degeneration of the conflict to the level we have today.”

Nigeria’s security services have been repeatedly accused of abuses against civilians during the insurgency, including arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial killing.

Many civilians have been held for years without access to lawyers or being brought to court.

Last week, 475 were released from custody after it was found there was not enough evidence to prosecute them, at mass trials of suspects at a military facility in central Niger state.

A total of 468 others were freed last October. Taken together, they account for more than half of those on trial.

Published in News & Stories

The special press statement of former President Olusegun Obasanjo urging President Muhammadu Buhari not to run in 2019 drew more flaks yesterday. At a news conference, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, a former Nasarawa State governor urged Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to pull the brake to avoid a self-inflicted injury and personal tragedy of slipping into irrelevance.

In early February this year, former President Olusegun Obasanjo published an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari titled: The way out: A clarion call for coalition for Nigeria movement. In it, he raised three fundamental issues.

One, he called on the President to forget his re-election ambition -an ambition which he has yet to declare in 2019 because of his failure on many fronts.

Two, he expressed his loss of faith in the capacity of our two biggest parties, APC (All Progressives Congress) and PDP (Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to drive the nation’s development.

Three, he advocated the formation of Coalition for Nigeria, a movement according to him, “that will drive Nigeria up and forward.”

Two weeks or so later, former President Ibrahim Babangida’s media aide, Kassim Afegbua, issued a statement on his behalf in which he claimed that the general too advised the President to bury his ambition for a second term in office because of his alleged failures and because the nation needed a digital and not an analogue leader.

The general promptly denied authorising the statement. Both Afegbua’s statement and Babangida’s are still wrapped in controversy. Afegbua insists his statement remains authentic.

In his own signed statement titled: “My Counsel to the nation”, the former president advised the political parties to play by the rules and the government to be proactive in matters of security challenges.

Perhaps, we should read his denial between the lines. While I am prepared to give Gen. Babangida the benefit of doubt for now, I would like to point out that he and his aide appear to have been encouraged to issue their separate statements by Chief Obasanjo’s letter. It is as if they wanted to take advantage of this to say what they had been itching to say about the president all along. I wish to remind the general that although men have short memories; history has a long memory. We can trace nearly all our present economic and political problems to his transition programme. We cannot forget SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) that sapped the economy, or the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election for which the nation is still paying a stiff price. It is not always advisable to be holier-than-thou.

l have listened to and read the various responses to Obasanjo’s letter. I am encouraged by those responses because they point to our willingness to engage in a national dialogue, be it organised or informal, on matters that affect our country and our collective interests.

I can think of no single Nigerian who does not want our country to make the great leap from a struggling third world nation to a first world nation.

We are all in a hurry for our country to make that leap. Nigerians have never been found wanting in offering informed suggestions on what should be the focus of our political, economic and social development such that we could meld the multiplicity of tongues into a modern nation in which, to borrow from the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “we are judged by the contents of the mind and the brain and not by tribes and religions. Nation-building remains a work in progress in all countries. This is often slow and frustrating when the process itself impinges on our individual ambition.”

I believe that it was in this same spirit that Chief Obasanjo issued the letter. It would be uncharitable to ascribe anything other than the purest of patriotic motives to his recent outing. As former military head of state and as a civilian president, Chief Obasanjo is a respected and illustrious son of our soil. He would be morally remiss should he choose to keep quiet when he sees things going wrong in the land.

For a total of eleven and half years in power, he too struggled with the daunting challenges of our national development. He knows the challenges of ruling a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation faced with the crises of under-development.

I would like to believe that he is in a better position than any of us to appreciate the difficulties that anyone in Aso Rock faces today. I believe he, more than the rest of us, should have some sympathy for anyone grappling with the historically depressed economy and the complex dynamics of national development and progress.

I decided to dialogue with the movers and the shakers in our news media this morning/afternoon on the issues raised by the former president. I am not here to defend President Buhari.

He is quite capable of, and in a better position, to defend himself much better than me. I have initiated this press dialogue for two reasons.

The first is to underline my belief in the power of dialogue as a veritable instrument through which we can freely contribute to the resolution of our problems and address our challenges.

Human societies are best served with’ the aggregation of ideas that shape their focus. The late president, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, once put this very well when he said it was “better to jaw-jaw than to war-war”.

Two, I too, being a humble political leader in my own right, as a two-term governor of my state, Nasarawa, and as a ranking senator of the Federal Republic, I have as large a stake as anyone else in the progress and the development of our nation at all levels. I, too, cannot keep quiet when I see attempts by anyone or a group of persons to undermine the integrity of the Office of the President, the integrity of our government and the integrity of our political system. I have earlier said it would be unfair not to accept that Chief Obasanjo was motivated by the good of the country. In his letter, he said, “Some may ask what does Obasanjo want again?” He proceeded to answer the question in the third person thus: “Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians…”

Was he entirely motivated by that noble sentiment? I find that hard to believe. Motives are not always as honourable or as altruistic as one might be made to believe, particularly when such a man as this is so highly placed that we tend to place him above the shenanigans of petty politics. I found it difficult to completely ignore what appears to me like the dark motives hovering over his action because I see it as a behavioural pattern that began with his 2014 letter to the then President Goodluck Jonathan, titled: “Before it is too late”. It seems to me he believes that that letter alone cost Dr. Jonathan the presidency. So, if he is fatigued by President Buhari, he can resort to the same weapon with probably the same consequences. It is a long shot.

No one can deny him the right to criticise a sitting president but, his method leaves much to be desired. He cannot, therefore, escape the charge of impure motive and that he took this step, not to try and set things right for the sake of the nation but to promote Obasanjo for the sake of Obasanjo.

Being a former president, he has an unimpeded access to the president and can, therefore, seek to influence him in the privacy of the seat of power. Indeed, in the early years of the Buhari administration, Chief Obasanjo was a frequent presence in Aso Rock. I believe he frequented the seat of power in support of the administration. I now wonder why he suddenly decided to turn a friend into an enemy and rubbish everything the President has done so far in a little over two and half years.

In a civilised political culture, it is taboo for former presidents to openly take a sitting president to the cleaners. Our former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has faithfully kept to this time-honoured culture of a former ruler not washing the dirty linens of a current ruler rather gleefully in the public. So, have former President Shehu Shagari and former head of state, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar.

The implications for the polity of a former president regaling the public with a litany of the failures of a sitting president is a calculated and unholy effort to destroy him politically.

The question is, if Chief Obasanjo meant well for Buhari, his administration and Nigeria, why did he not choose the option of quietly offering his advice to the president? In taking his case to the rowdy market place of sensationalism, he clearly intended to score cheap political points at the expense of the President. He intended to undermine the Buhari administration, subject him to public ridicule and impugn his moral strength and integrity to lead the nation.

As he must have obviously expected, his statement was intended to heat and is heating up the polity and causing confusion at this critical time when the myriads of our national challenges commend themselves to our statesmen and women for sober reflections rather than indulgence in crass sensationalism. It is a disservice to the country.

No one, not even Buhari’s most rabid supporters, would be unfair to themselves enough to suggest that everything is right with the administration. It is true that the government has not met the expectations of the generality of Nigerians. But, it is not for lack of capacity or the unwillingness on the part of the President to respond to the needs of the people and those of the country. I know that we invested high expectations on the Buhari administration but is it fair and realistic for us to expect the administration to solve all the problems it inherited in less than three years? Human and resources management towards achieving a desired result is not amenable to the waving of a magic wand.

No administration is a total success and none is a total failure. Chief Obasanjo cannot honestly claim that he ran a perfect and totally successful administration because he did not.

Every administration grapples with problems thrown at it by circumstances beyond its control. President Buhari inherited an economy that was unsteady on its feet. He also inherited the security problems such as Boko Haram, armed robberies and kidnappings.

Yes, I agree, that under his watch these problems should grow less, not more. But the solution to problems such as these is a slow and agonising process. He has no powers to simply make them disappear overnight.

The President was fully aware of these problems and challenges when he sought the consent of the electorate in 2015.

He did so in the hope that with the support and the goodwill of all Nigerians, he could tackle them. I know he has not given up on that. I do not think he intends to leave a bleeding, disunited nation and disarticulated socio-economic development at the end of his tenure.

He seems to be overwhelmed by the problems because while problems rain down, solutions to them take time to be effective. I think the President, in the circumstances, deserves support and encouragement rather than antagonism from a constituency that should give him that support and encouragement as he seeks to address these and other problems in his own way.

I do not intend to comment on all of Obasanjo’s letter seriatim, I will deal with three of his allegations, namely: the president’s alleged clannishness, his management of the economy and his anti-corruption war.

Before I do so, let me say at this point that I am worried by the antics of Chief Obasanjo and his penchant for promoting himself as the only competent Nigerian leader. Since he left office on October 1, 1979, to local and international applause Chief Obasanjo has systematically sought to undermine every federal administration after him.

He has today set up himself as the moral conscience of the nation. He believes he has acquired the wisdom of King Solomon and has consequently imposed on himself the right to decide who rules us and how we should be ruled.

Perhaps, part of the reason is that before leaving office in 2007, his party, the PDP, conferred on him the titles of “Maker of modern Nigeria and father of the nation”. Such titles do have a heady way of making a man seeing his head bedecked in the halos of self- righteousness.

There is a process for changing our governments through the instrumentality of elections. Chief Obasanjo, one of the architects of that process and a beneficiary to boot, ought to support that process and let the people decide who they want to rule them. It is not for him to decide for the people or the President.

No one should arrogate to himself eternal verities in the administration of his country. It is his consuming ambition to have his hands on the levers of power under all our presidents. When he loses that grip, he turns against the incumbent in office. He undermined Gen. Babangida’s economic programme – SAP, with his statement that SAP should have a human face and the milk of human kindness. He denigrated Gen. Babangida by advising people to whom the former president says good morning to check their wrist watches to make sure it is morning.

The Constitution of the Federal Republic obliges the president to compose the executive council of the federation in a manner that reflects the federal character. I do not see that the council is dominated by people from Katsina, the President’s home state.

Nor do I see that the major ministries such as finance, power and steel, housing, transport are held by people from that state or his part of the country. All these ministries are held by competent men and women from the southern parts of the country. What does this say about Buhari’s clannishness?

I am aware of criticisms that the President appointed only northerners as heads of his security agencies. There may be some merit in a national spread but a president reserves the right to fill such positions with those who command his implicit trust and confidence. That is neither unconstitutional nor a moral crime.

The management of the economy has always been a frustrating experience but gallant efforts have been made at critical times to reposition the national economy. SAP was one of such efforts intended to structurally reform the base of the economy.

The late Gen. Sani Abacha’s Vision 10-10 and 20-20 was initiated for the same purpose. So was Chief Obasanjo’s own NEEDS. If these efforts had succeeded in the past, President Buhari would have had an easy ride on the management of the economy today. The recession, for instance, was not Buhari’s making; nor can the security challenges be laid at his door.

Poor management of the economy in the recent past birthed the recession. I cannot think of any steps the President has taken with deleterious effects on the economy. And to put a fine point on it, the minister of finance and the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) are not from Katsina State.

President Buhari knows only too well that if he does not get the economy right, he would have a tough time trying to get anything else right. He is struggling with that challenge with my personal sympathies.

Chief Obasanjo touts himself as the champion of the anti-corruption war. It is fair to give him some credit for waging the war with the setting up of EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission). It was the right step towards caging the monster that has wrecked immeasurable havoc on the country. But, as laudable as that was, Chief Obasanjo soon turned the commission into an attack dog against his known and suspected political enemies or detractors. He used it to undermine elected governors in Plateau, Oyo, Bayelsa and Anambra states. The lawmakers in those states were induced or forced by the commission at the behest of Chief Obasanjo to remove their governors from office in a manner that insulted our constitutional government.

In each of those cases, a handful of legislators, sitting either in a hotel outside the states or in a private house removed the governors from office. We must thank their Lordships Justice Niki Tobi of blessed memory and Justice James Ogebe for stepping this egregious abuse of legislative powers when they, as chairmen of the appeal court panels sitting in Ibadan over Ladoja’s appeal against his unconstitutional removal from office, quashed his removal and affirmed that the court was the primary custodian of the constitution; not the president. That ended Chief Obasanjo’s apparent reign of presidential terror tactics against the state governors.

Chief Obasanjo said that President Buhari is selective in his anti-corruption war. I agree with him because if the President were not selective, Chief Obasanjo himself would be in the dock today on trial on charges of corruption arising from the corrupt practices in the pursuit of his third term gambit in the National Assembly in 2006.

Today, he denies that he ever nursed such ambition. And being a man much favoured by  God, he has repeatedly said that if he had wanted it and asked the almighty for it, he would have given him  the third term.

He knows as well as I, and other leading members of the PDP, that he badly wanted it and initiated the process of constitutional amendment. He bribed each member of the National Assembly who signed to support the amendment, with the whopping sum of N50 million to make the constitutional amendment scale through.

The fresh, mint money was taken in its original boxes presumably from the vaults of the CBN and distributed among the legislators. The money was not his and it was not appropriated by the National Assembly as required by law. I, therefore, agree that in failing to make the former president account for that money. President Buhari is waging his anti-corruption war selectively.

Nor, should we forget that President Buhari has also not bothered to interrogate Obasanjo’s role in the Haliburton scandal for which some Americans are cooling their heels in jail.

Perhaps, President Buhari might look into the Siemens affairs in which the Obasanjo administration was indicted and for which people were on trial. What became of the trial?

I worked closely with Chief Obasanjo in his eight years in office as president when l was governor of Nasarawa State. I found many things to admire in him. I admire his patriotism and his hard work. But, he systematically sabotaged his legacy by bending the system to his personal service and promotion.

I do not admire his single-minded determination to promote himself as the strongest and the most incorruptible leader Nigeria has ever had. He waged his anti-corruption war in a manner intended to rubbish all our revered institutions such as the court and the National Assembly and leave him as the only Nigerian without palm oil on his hands.

His lack of democratic temperament and his refusal to honour the mother of all our laws, the 1999 Constitution as well as the constitution of the PDP, birthed the culture of impunity in our country.

He had no respect for the rule of law and, therefore disobeyed court orders at will. This once prompted the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr. Justice Muhammadu Uwais, to say that a government that did not obey the courts was a bad government.

In his eight years in office, Chief Obasanjo did not run a constitutional government, partly because he had no patience with the niceties of democracy and partly because he believed the law should serve him, and not he the law.

At almost every turn, he undermined the various pillars of constitutional government. For instance, contrary to the provisions of the constitution, he imposed a state of emergency on Plateau and Ekiti states.

He had no powers to do so but since he saw himself as both the law and the last strongman standing in our country, he assumed unchallengeable powers. The courts quaked over his constitutional rampage. Our democracy is passing through a wrenching experience of constitutional government today because at the end of his eight years in power, Chief Obasanjo left our democracy in a lurch.

He was like a wrecking ball. In 2007, he alone decided his successor in office contrary to the rules of the game. He imposed governorship candidates of the party too in 2003.

You would recall that the PDP gave Chief Obasanjo its platform for eight years from 1999 to 2003. Yet, when the party began to have problems in 2014, Chief Obasanjo jumped ship and publicly tore his party card into pieces. He owes whatever he is today to the party. I thought a man made by the party should sacrifice his time and effort to save it from imploding. We wonder if ingratitude has a better definition than that. But, with Chief Obasanjo, ingratitude has a different meaning, obviously.

His Coalition for Nigeria Movement (CNM) is a red herring across the path of our constitutional government. He is free to form a political party and pursue his ambition of being the power behind the throne but such a national movement would achieve no discernible purpose in the economic management and the social administration of the country.

I believe that Chief Obasanjo is too high and too big in the estimation of the people to permit himself the continued sickening indulgence in political skullduggery.

I believe that the Nigerian people and the Nigerian state have been most kind to him. Chief Obasanjo has a moral obligation to make the country succeed in solving its myriads of problems.

That, I believe, is one way he can give back to the country that has given him so much. As a friend, I wish to advise the former president to pull back from the dangerous path of rubbishing all presidents that came into office after him. Bringing everyone down is not a patriotic duty. I fear that if he continues along this path, he would, sooner than later over reach himself and begin the inevitable descent into national nuisance and irrelevance. That would be a self-inflicted wound and a personal tragedy.

Published in Politics
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