Eight missing campaign promises By Mahmud Jega

First published in Daily Trust
Nov 26, 2018

I read three times the speech that President Muhammadu Buhari delivered on Sunday last week at the launching of his 2019 campaign program, titled Next Level. For good measure I also read three times Atiku Abubakar’s campaign platform titled Get Nigeria Working Again, which he delivered online nine days ago. They are good programs, both of them, and we thank them for the catchy, if somewhat slippery titles. When one or the other candidate wins the election next year, we may have difficulty putting our finger on what he actually promised.
Taking Nigeria to the Next Level is a problematic promise because there is no consensus on where Nigeria is right now, much less where it ought to go. There is room for confusion as to whether the Next Level is for better or for worse. Some Nigerians actually want us to go back to the Last Level, not the Next Level, with respect to such things as value of currency, societal values, internal peace and security, civil service values, youths’ orientation, teachers’ commitment to duty, integrity of judges, selflessness of policemen, truthfulness of husbands, fidelity of wives, spirituality of clerics and honesty of traders.

Get Nigeria Working Again is also a problematic promise. There is no consensus on whether Nigeria was working before. Getting Nigeria to work again could be interpreted by some to include a return to free-wheeling on the public till, free reign of insurgents and militants, free reign of subsidy merchants and forex round trippers, serial crashing of the Super Eagles out of major tournaments, as well as pell-mell fleeing of young Nigerians to Europe via the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea. All those represented elements of Nigeria working at different points in time.
Next Level and Getting Nigeria Working Again are sweet music in the ears of APC and PDP supporters respectively, but they are less precise than the slogans of Second Republic political parties. NPN’s Food and Shelter, UPN’s Four Cardinal Programs, PRP’s General Program and GNPP’s Politics Without Bitterness were easier to comprehend than these two programs. Never mind that all the Second Republic programs faltered at the level of implementation. For example, GNPP’s politics was quite bitter. The late Alhaji Yusuf Dantsoho once told me a story that when he defected from GNPP to NPN in 1982, Uncle Waziri Ibrahim sent thugs to retrieve a Mercedes car that he gave him in 1978.

There could be a catchier, yet easier to verify campaign slogan. During the 1928 American presidential election campaign, the Republican Party’s slogan was, “A chicken in every pot, a car in every garage.” This slogan was easily verifiable; all that a voter had to do two years into Roosevelt’s rule was to peep in his pot and see whether there was a chicken, then peep in his garage and see whether there was a car. Two years from today when a Buhari voter or an Atiku voter looks out through the window, can he determine whether we have moved to the next level or whether the country is working again?
Anyway, fulfilment of promise will come much later but before we get there, there are eight issues that I did not see featuring in either President Buhari’s program or former Vice President Atiku’s. The first one is power supply. Even though Buhari’s program spoke about marching away from mono-economy and Atiku’s program spoke about wealth creation, neither candidate dwelt on power supply, the fulcrum of modern economies. On reflection, I didn’t blame them because power supply is one of the most intractable issues in Nigerian governance. The late President Yar’adua once promised to declare an emergency in the sector but never got around to it, even when Obasanjo spent $16 billion in the sector “without commensurate results,” as his successor said. The Federal Government has set more target dates than anyone can count to improve power supply but for many decades we were stuck at 4,000 megawatts. Maybe that is why the two major candidates are reluctant to make promises in the power sector that will most likely come to naught.
Ten million almajirai [the figure was recently revised upwards to 12 million] are the weakest youthful link in the Nigerian socio-economic and cultural equation. Yet, they did not receive even a passing mention in either major candidate’s program. Almajirai make the UN’s Sustainable Goals unrealizable. Their presence denies us the optimal use of millions of young brains; they are cannon fodder for communal warriors and insurgents; and it forces us to spend millions on public enlightenment programs on things that going to school would have taken care of.
Environmental protection was another missing issue. Gully erosion in the East, desert encroachment in the North, oil spillage in Niger Delta, deforestation in the West, tidal erosion in coastal areas, air pollution in the cities, and the concomitant disappearance of donkeys, vultures, pigeons, antelopes, doves, bustards and large fish from our grasslands, valleys, forests, skies and rivers all failed to make it into the campaign programs.
Even though we are sandwiched between sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile Francophone neighbours; marooned in the world’s poorest continent; stuck in Africa’s sleepy western half; hemmed in by vigorous continental rivals; largely ignored by our Middle Eastern and Asian contemporaries; overtaken by our former Central and South East Asian mates; unable to join the ranks of BRICS and transform them into BRINCS; pulled down by old colonial powers; dribbled around by EU, OPEC and Commonwealth and then kicked around by the world’s lone superpower, foreign relations somehow failed to feature in the platform of either candidate.
Neither major candidate made illegal migration to Europe a part of his program. During my primary school days I read a book about the Latin American “wetbacks” that swam across the Rio Grande [river] from Mexico into the US. I thought that was a dangerous undertaking, until West African youths crossing the Sahara Desert came along. If they manage to survive desert storms, trackless paths, intense heat and thirst, and assuming that they manage to cross Libya without becoming slaves, and if they are lucky that unscrupulous human traffickers do not dupe them, then they must still cross the Mediterranean Sea in a dinghy. It makes the 1943 Anglo-American landing in Sicily look like a picnic.
Internally, another migration is taking place, with our youths migrating from reading books to Facebooking. Everywhere you look, people have their heads down calling, texting, browsing, chatting, pinging, twitting and selfie-ing. Few people visit the Local Government Reading Rooms or the State and National Libraries anymore. Although Education officials often moan “the collapse of reading culture,” our universities are awarding First Class degrees in record numbers. Teachers of the Facebook Age apparently have a digital marking scheme. Yet, neither major candidate spared a thought for this internal migration, which has more debilitating potential than Trans-Saharan migration.
Two years ago an energetic movement called Not Too Young To Run stormed this country and for a time it looked like youths were about to climb on top of the political pile. They even got the president to endorse a bill to lower the age for which one could seek high office. As these idealistic youths soon found out, Not Too Old To Run is more like it. Next time they would seek a law to clamp an upper limit to the age by which one can seek high office.
I did not see a mention on either platform of the days when the oil wells run dry, which we understand is not too far away. Even before the wells run dry, the Whiteman could migrate from hydrocarbons to renewable energy, in much the same way that he migrated from horse-drawn carriage to trolleys to steam engines to coal-fired railways to cars to turboprop planes to jet engines to space ships, all within one hundred and fifty years. What is our plan for that eventuality?

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Body double: I’m not Jubril, I’m the real me – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari reacted for the first time on Sunday to rumours that he is not the real person elected by Nigerians but a look-alike double from Sudan, known as Jubril.
He declared: ‘‘It’s real me, I assure you. I will soon celebrate my 76th birthday and I will still go strong.’’
President Muhammadu Buhari was speaking in Krakow, Poland, when he met Nigerians living in the country.
For sometime, the media space has been awash with claims that the Nigerian President is an impostor.
However, Buhari has reaffirmed his authentic identity, describing the authors of the confusion about him as ‘‘ignorant and irreligious.’’
‘‘A lot of people hoped that I died during my ill health. Some even reached out to the Vice President to consider them to be his deputy because they assumed I was dead. That embarrassed him a lot and of course, he visited me when I was in London convalescing… It’s real me; I assure you,’’ he declared.

Minimum wage: We’re losing patience with Fed Govt – NLC warns

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) on Sunday described the Federal Government’s silence on the N30,000 minimum wage proposal as provocative, stressing that it expected President Muhammadu Buhari to have sent a draft bill to the National Assembly weeks after report on the minimum wage was submitted to him.
Organised labour said it would not wait till eternity for the government on the issue.
In an interview, the General Secretary of the NLC, Mr Peter Ozo-Eson, said members of the union were becoming restless with the way the government had handled the issue, adding that unless government acted fast, the union might meet again to review government’s position and take necessary action to press home its demand.
But he did not say when the leadership of the union would likely meet.
Ozo-Eson said, “The latest about the issue of the minimum wage is clear. We expect that since the Presidency had already received our report, the President should have drafted an executive bill to the National Assembly on it so that they can begin to legislate on it.
“That has not been done even though we expect that it should have been done already. We cannot continue to wait forever.
“The next step as I said is for the President to transmit a draft bill to the National Assembly. The FG’s delay on the issue is provocative, our members are becoming restless and the FG must act fast on our report.
“If the delay continues, our next step will be made public after we meet again to review the steps taken so far.” – Punch.

Police deploy 2000 personnel to fight Boko Haram

The Nigerian Police Force has deepened its role in the anti-terrorism war in the north east, with the deployment of 2000 men to join Operation Lafiya Dole.
The men are made up of Police Mobile Force (PMF) and Counter Terrorism Units (CTU) Personnel of the Force and the Sniffer Dog Sections.
The men, who are already on ground for the past few days, will be engaged in military duties, said the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
The Nigeria Police Force is fully committed to the fight against insurgency and will do all it takes in collaboration with the Military to bring a quick end to Boko Haram insurgency and crisis in the North East,” according to a statement by Jimoh Moshood, police spokesman.
“This new deployment is consistent with Section 4 of the Police Act and Regulations which specifies the general duties of the Nigeria Police Force”, he said.
The deployment is also to support the strength of the Military to defeat the Boko Haram Insurgency, Moshood said.
Until the fresh deployment of additional men, the Nigeria Police Force had in Borno State, 2961 policemen. There is also a Mobile Squadron also based in the state.
In neighbouring Yobe, the police stationed 1638 men under 26 mobile force units and there is another mobile Force squadron.
There are 18 mobile Force units in Adamawa, comprising 1134 men Units, in addition to the Police Mobile Force (PMF) Squadron.
“The Counter Terrorism Units of the Force has deployments of over One Thousand, Two Hundred and Fifty (1,250) specially trained Counter Terrorism Police personnel. The Police Anti-Bomb Squad has about Three Hundred (300) personnel while over Hundred Sniffer Dogs are working with the Military in the fight against Insurgency in the North East.
“It is of significant note that the Police Mobile Force (PMF) Personnel, Counter Terrorism Units (CTU), Anti-Bomb Squad (EOD), Sniffer Dog Sections, the Federal Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) and conventional Police personnel have been fighting along with the Military in the front line against Boko Haram insurgency and also providing security for restoration of law and order in the North East, security for all the liberated towns and villages in the North-East, escort of Foreign and Local Humanitarian workers and relief materials, protection of IDP camps and security of public and private infrastructures.
“The Police Air-wing Surveillance Helicopters and crews are also deployed to support most of the operations of Operation Lafiya Dole

presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has unveiled a national competition that will allow Nigerians interrogate his policy document.

presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has unveiled a national competition that will allow Nigerians interrogate his policy document.
A statement from the Atiku Presidential Campaign revealed that the competition tagged ‘Voice of the People Competition’, kicks off on Sunday and will end on December 24.
According to the statement, the former vice president had during the unveiling of his policy document in November said, “I want these policies to be our policies – yours and mine. I want to hear your ideas to get Nigeria working again. So, I will give the opportunity to anyone in Nigeria to have their say on national television.”
“The first time in the world that a presidential candidate will be calling for a national debate on his/her policy action plan. This is the world’s first!” the campaign group said.
Atiku launched the competition earlier today via a video broadcast on his Facebook Page.
The contest would see six Nigerians given a one-minute slot on national television to say what they think needed to be done to help “get Nigeria working again”.
“Contributors are to state their names and location and one winner will be announced from each of all the six geo-political zones of Nigeria who will have the opportunity to have their recording played in a national telecast between January 1 to 6, 2019,” the statement said.
“Any Nigeria can enter the competition by simply recording a one-minute video and posting it on their respective Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account by December 24. Competitors are requested to add to their post the hashtag, #LetsGetNigeriaWorkingAgain and the state where they reside. Interested individuals can post a video selfie or any other form of video – the only limit is your imagination.”
The statement disclosed that the entries would be reviewed by a panel led by Senator Ben Murray-Bruce which would select one winner from each geo-political zone.
It added that one key criterion for the winners would be the number of engagements their entry generates while contributors must be Nigerians and agree to terms and conditions that their entry video could be used in any manner by the PDP Campaign Organisation in all media.
The statement read further, “Other terms and conditions include: accepting the verdict of the judges to determine the winning videos; not paying for votes or boost entry via any unfair avenues; accepting that their photograph and image may be used for all promotional materials during and after the competition has ended; agreeing that entries must conform to the submission dates as prescribed by the promoters of the competition; accepting that all information provided is accurate and correct and any false information will lead to the disqualification of such entry; acceptance to travel to any location as may be required by the promoters of the competition in promoting the winners. The cost of travel will be provided by the promoters of the competition.
“The judging criteria will be based on the following: the originality of the idea to help Get Nigeria Working Again and how feasible it would be to implement; the clarity of how the idea is communicated; the creativity of the video and the number of engagements in social media the video has generated.

Youths set 2023 retirement deadline for old politicians

The National Youth Council of Nigeria, NYCN, has given old politicians up to 2023 to retire from politics and give room for younger ones.
The Council urged the old politicians to rather give room to their children and grandchildren to participate in elections.
The Deputy President of NYCN, Amb. Innocent Nduanya, gave the advice in an interview which held at the ongoing National Youth and Merit award summit in Abuja.
Nduanya noted that money politics was the major challenge facing the nation and the menace had prevented the youths who make up to 80 per cent of the population from active politics.
He added that the high cost of nomination forms, campaigns and most recently, the problem of vote buying have further compound the problems of the youths.
Nduanya said that NYCN under the leadership of their President Bello Shagari has set up machineries capable of changing the current trend and narratives in the country.
“NYCN has embark on a campaign to sensitise and encouraging the youths to consider themselves as critical stakeholders in governance of the country and they should therefore contest all elective positions.
“The council would provide the necessary support and logistics to the electorate in favour of any youth aspirant; we cannot afford to be left out from the global trend where youths are taking over leadership positions in their respective countries.
“If the major political parties continue to gang up and deny qualified youths from contesting on their platforms by way of imposing exorbitant nomination fee, then NYCN may register a political party to provide an alternative platform for the teeming youths to achieve their ambition,’’ Nduanya said.

UNIPORT alumni confirm Jonathan’s doctorate degree as ex-president replies detractors

The University of Port Harcourt (UNIORT) Alumni Association has denied media report that former president Goodluck Jonathan was parading a fake doctorate degree he claimed to have obtained from the university decades ago.
The former students of UNIORT confirmed that Jonathan duly enrolled into the school and diligently finished his academic works that earned him the doctorate degree.
National President of the association, Chris Adokeme, in a statement in Abuja, at the weekend, challenged anyone in doubt to visit the school to confirm with the school authorities or consult previous statements to get details.
He said: “UNIPORT had explained in different fora that former president Jonathan got his doctorate degree in Zoology in 1995, after he obtained Master of Science degree in Hydrobiology and Fisheries in 1985 and a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology in 1981.”
Adokeme suspected that some unnamed politicians might have begun another round of media campaign, like in 2015, to possibly tamper with the credibility of the former president, particularly as 2019 election draws closer.
He, however, challenged the columnist, Olatunji Dare, to unearth academic sleaze of many Nigerian leaders with questionable academic attainment and not the doctorate degree of Jonathan, that could be traced.
Meanwhile, Ikechukwu Eze, the Media Adviser to Dr. Jonathan, has responded to the article casting aspersions on the former president’s academic qualifications.
A press release by the media aide made to THECITIZEN on Sunday, stated as follows:
Our attention has been drawn to an article written by a newspaper columnist Dr. Olatunji Dare in which he hid behind innuendo to criticize former President Jonathan’s new book and cast aspersions on his doctorate degree.
Writing in his column of Tuesday November 27, in the Nation newspaper, Dare in a piece entitled ‘Matters Miscellaneous’, weighed in on the prevailing robust media reviews of Jonathan’s new book ‘My Transition Hours’.
In his intervention, he chose to go with the opinion of the cynical minority that had typically assumed a dim mien, even before reading the book.
Coincidentally, the popular writer let down his guard by allowing himself to fall into the same unscholarly trap