The spirit of error” in Nigerian politics By Reuben Abati

About this period, four years ago to be precise I had gone to visit a notable politician and a member of the Peoples Democratic Party. Politics was very much in the air then as is the case now, and my host was neck-deep in it all. He was a major grassroots politician and a man of experience who brought into party politics so much enthusiasm. I observed him at very close quarters and it was right to conclude that he was one of President Goodluck Jonathan’s unwavering supporters. Publicly, he gave the impression that he had held down his state, and even a substantial part of his region for both the party and the President.
He reportedly ran a strong grassroots political structure which included traditional rulers, students, market women, religious leaders and the ordinary people who on election day were expected to vote en masse for the ruling party and put the then emergent and assertive All Progressives Congress and its leaders to shame.
During election season, there are persons like that in every political party. They are the people on the field. They take reports to Abuja, give feedback to the party at the national level and shuttle between their states and Abuja. They attend every major campaign. They say the right things. They pump up party leaders with adrenaline. When they do a calculation of the party’s chances and how happy the electorate are with the leadership, you would feel like celebrating even before the polls. The really talented ones among them are for the want of a better term, charmers or perhaps illusionists. This particular politician, who shall remain nameless, is experienced and talented.
We got talking. He asked me: “Reuben, what do you think of the PDP’s chances in the 2015 elections?” I told him everything looked good and that the Party will retain its majority status in power. I reeled off the achievements of the Jonathan administration. The APC Challenge? I dismissed the APC as a party of propagandists. “Those people? They will win in a few states, no doubt but they can’t take the Presidency…” When you are around politicians and you listen to them everyday, you are very likely to believe them and even begin to sound like them. Loyalty is also important, but this was not just about loyalty. I felt the President’s good performance deserved to be rewarded by the Nigerian people.
“I don’t see us winning”, my host responded. I was shocked. I almost fell off my seat. I wasn’t too sure that I heard him well. I asked what he meant by that. The party primaries had been concluded. Turn-out at campaigns was beginning to build up. The state Governors were all upbeat, or so it seemed. The traffic of politicians to-ing and fro-ing the Villa was so much there were hold-ups at the gate.
“We are going to lose”, my host repeated.
“How?”
“I will tell you”, he said. “I have been in politics for years, and I have learnt to study the art very well. I can tell you that five months before any election, you can easily tell if your party is going to win or not. It is not even a matter of analysis. As a politician, you will know – from what the people say, from listening carefully to your followers, from watching the body language of the international community, and by just generally looking beyond the façade. I don’t see us winning.”
“But the ruling party looks good to me or am I missing something?”
“Yes, you are,” he affirmed.
He then proceeded to offer a state by state analysis of the party, painting a picture of grievances over party primaries, the imposition of candidates by the party’s National Working Committee, a growing pattern of deceit, the ethnic and religious division between the North and the South, and how the PDP had lost many of its faithful members. He went on:
“I don’t deceive myself. Many of those Governors you see who are promising heaven and earth, you will see that when the time comes, they will not deliver. There are many aggrieved persons staying back in the party who will not lift a finger to help the party. The people who have been badly treated during the primaries, and they have been ignored, nobody is listening to them, they will claim to be working for the party, they may even collect money but from what I see, it is only if a miracle happens.”
“This is serious”, I said. “But sir, why don’t you take this up at the highest levels, since you are convinced that the enemies are within”.
“I won’t call them enemies. I think it is something even more serious. When people join political parties in Nigeria, they expect to gain something in return. They want to be rewarded. They may follow a leader but you have to settle them. I think the party and the government have been overtaken by the spirit of error.”
“Spirit of error?”
“Yes, spirit of error. I have been around long enough to know when a political party begins to fail and when it begins to lose the people, and even its own members. That is where we are, everybody is just making mistakes.”
A few weeks later, I saw the same man, back-slapping at party campaigns, hailing the President and other party leaders. I was confused. Obviously, I thought the spirit of error had disappeared and there was renewed hope for the party. I called the man aside out of curiousity: “Sir, what happened? Is there hope now?”
“I am a politician,” he said. “Every politician is an optimist. It is not over until it is over.” I didn’t get a chance to ask him again about the spirit of error. But his prediction turned out to be prophetic.
I believe that history is about to repeat itself in Nigerian politics. The ruling party, the All Progressives Congress is exactly where the Peoples Democratic Party was in 2014/2015. APC leaders are making exactly the same mistakes. The PDP which appears to have learnt some lessons, is suddenly a re-energized party and with the emergence of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as its standard bearer and Peter Obi as running mate, the same Nigerian people who thought the PDP was bad are now turning around to say the PDP should be forgiven. All sleeping cells of the PDP across the country are suddenly awake. The umbrella is up again, the rope that tied the broom together is loosened.
The success of the PDP in the last few months does not necessarily owe itself to any ingenuous strategy on the part of the leaders of the party, however, but more to the many unforced errors, and own goals, by the ruling party and its government. The government at the centre has lost the plot. When these days, its foot-soldiers and spokespersons argue that members of the PDP are corrupt, the quick response by even the worst critics of the opposition party, PDP, is that they can’t see any difference between the APC and the PDP.
Some even insist that the PDP is better. In three years, the APC has frittered away its goodwill. The same international agencies and platforms that used to promote the administration have turned their back on it. Internally, the party has been overtaken by all kinds of little Hitlers who have no qualms imposing their will on others and trampling upon the letters of democracy. This much was put on embarrassing display during the recent Gubernatorial elections in Osun, and the party’s primaries across the country, but notably in Lagos, Osun, Rivers, Delta, Imo, Zamfara, Ogun, Oyo and so on. In 2014, five Governors walked away from the PDP. In 2018, many leaders of the APC have also taken a walk. The PDP told its disaffected members – “good riddance.” The APC is also singing the same song in 2018.
In 2014/15, the APC’s selling point was President Muhammadu Buhari. He was promoted as a nationalist, man of integrity and a reformed democrat. He promised to fight corruption and the people hailed him. They were tired of the PDP. They wanted change. Many believed in him as the messiah who will turn Nigeria around. Close to four years later, President Buhari is now at that point where most Nigerian leaders find themselves, covered by that standard, unscientific excuse: “the good man who is surrounded by bad people, bad advisers and bad politicians.” The economy under his watch is slow and unproductive. In three months the country’s debt profile has jumped from N22. 4 triilion to $73.21 billion and the country wants to borrow more. His administration usually blames the previous administration. Many Nigerians no longer consider that a good strategy. They are similarly skeptical about the war against corruption.
This last point is well illustrated by the recent announcement of a plan to effectuate Executive Order No 6, under which the government proposes to place a travel ban on some yet unnamed and undisclosed Nigerians. Under the Order, the government seeks to stop persons indicted for corruption from travelling abroad, and to attach their properties. The argument by government spokespersons that they are relying on a judgement by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Abuja Federal High Court has been exposed for what it is: a lie, a ruse, an attempt to misinterpret the court, knowing that the judge is not likely to engage in a market-place explanation of its own ruling. That was the same thing they did at the 2018 NBA Conference, when they said the rule of law could be violated and that the Supreme Court had given them the right to do so in the Asari Dokubo case. This is not good for the state of our law.
The Court was clear: the Attorney General of the Federation can apply Executive Order No 6, only through the instrumentality of a Court Order. By by-passing the Court, the Executive arm seeks to be the judge, the jury and the executioner in its own case. It usurps the roles of the judiciary and the legislature, and serves notice of a return to dictatorship. The Order as proposed has been correctly described as a reincarnation of the notorious Decree 2 of 1984 and a violation of Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution.
The newspapers published a list of 50 names but the Executive has since announced that it has not published any list, but the people concerned know themselves. How? The combined effect of this opaqueness is that the government has imposed a regime of fear on the people. A secret watch list which can be applied at will is an act of intimidation against the Nigerian people. It is reckless and unwise, because political intimidation is the worst, most brazen form of rigging! In an election season, it is scary. As a strategy, it makes no sense. At a time when the President and his party need the people’s votes, an open subversion of the rule of law is not a good method of votes solicitation. Whoever chose this time to take Nigeria back to 1984, has only strengthened the resolve of those who are already whispering that a second term for President Buhari would translate into misery for Nigerians. Executive Order No. 6, rather than further advance the anti-corruption war, has merely promoted fear and intimidation as instruments of governance. This is one more major error by the Buhari government. I may see the need to visit that senior politician again to give me the benefit of what old men see sitting down, which younger men may not see even when they are standing.
The Persecution of Ike Ekweremadu
While writing the piece above, I kept receiving on my phone what’s app messages attacking Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu. I am sure other Nigerians would have received the same hate-message either on whatsapp or through other media. Ekweremadu is pointedly accused of being the brain behind the Igbo drama over whether or not Peter Obi is the fit and proper person for the position of running mate to Atiku Abubakar, on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). While other Nigerians have settled that matter and concluded that Peter Obi is in order, and that Igbos deserve to be Vice President of Nigeria and even President in due course, the Igbo elite, playing well-known stereotypical politics, are trying to create a little self-serving show of their own. They don’t need it. They should look at the bigger picture, and stop behaving like a child that lost a promised candy.
The persecution of Ekweremadu is unfair and undeserved. Ekweremadu, yes, has been council chairman, Secretary to the Government of Enugu State, a Senator since 2003 former Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, and two-term Deputy Senate president, and one of the persons on the Atiku shortlist. He deserves to be celebrated and not be used as a scapegoat for the discomfort of other persons who lost out in the race. Ekweremadu himself has said that he is in support of Peter Obi. So, who are the agent-provocateurs out there in the East? Ekweremadu was for a while the last man standing for the PDP and Ndigbo. He is paying a heavy price for this. He has been brutalized.
The ruling party attacked him with the police and the EFCC. He was accused of having properties. They are charging him from one court to another. His emergence as Deputy Senate President and his loyalty to Senate President Bukola Saraki made them unhappy. When the PDP seemed to have completely lost its bearing, Ike Ekweremadu stood firm. He deserves recognition for this. The political jobbers who are trying to set him and Peter Obi on a collision course even before the 2019 elections are enemies of Ndigbo. The urgent task before the Igbo elite is to seek those who are trying to divide them, the mercenaries among them, and the need to protect the larger Igbo interest. Both Ike Ekweremadu and Peter Obi deserve the support of the Igbo elite, not a squabble of the villagers.

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Ambode: A Bull in a China Shop

If after watching Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s world press conference, which concluded a few minutes ago and you still did not think he is unworthy of a second chance, then, you are corruptly limited in your understanding of the inherent issues that are standing imposingly against this churlish governor.

Let’s start with his demeanor. It was very ungubernatorial. There is no debating that. His utterances were totally uncouth, childish and boorish. He left even the undiscerning without any jot of doubt that he is what he currently is: a bull in a china shop – evidently frustrated.

For the short period that the news conference lasted, coupled with the fact that the question and answer session might have been ‘arranged’ as it is always the style, I was glued to the screen observing only his countenance and the environmental nuances and all I saw was a man very well determined to destroy whatever it was that he met in the party and the government in the name of a second term, which is not a right but privilege.

Of course, it clearly does appear that he is unable to distinguish between right and privilege and by crossing the line of decency whilst struggling to make his warped points, thus unrestrainedly throwing impossible darts at his opponent, says a lot about who he truly is. He has been misconstrued all along. Whoever prepped him for that session is a disaster in public relations and image management.

Imagine a governor saying an opponent from the same party, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, was once at a rehab? The same Ambode alleged to have a case file at a psychiatric centre during the 2014 campaigns and the entire party formation rallied round him? But he had the indecency of reckless abandon to land such a hard punch.

He didn’t stop there. He also regaled us with the story how Sanwo-Olu once spent fake dollars in the US and was arrested. But how come he was quick to forget he allegedly defaulted in the payment of a mortgage, aside other immoral details of his escapades that were considered unbefitting of a governorship candidate but ‘killed’ for his ambition to thrive?

For me, Ambode just confirmed a saying in Yoruba that where a family still savours a modicum of peace, do not celebrate; it is only so because the one child in that family with questionable paternity is yet to attain puberty. So, Ambode is willing to watch APC die, because the party that gave him the opportunity to be governor, when he was the least qualified asks him to stand down this second term?

Put differently the fact that Ambode is the sitting governor of Lagos State, he is on every count at a disadvantage in this battle and those with him are sure losers. Lest he forgets, the party can on account of this poorly conceived press conference expel him and that would be the end. What would follow is an impeachment and heaven would not fall.

Whichever way, he has brazenly declared a war on the party and should not expect the party not to fight back. Running to Abuja is in itself an error. Abuja didn’t make him governor. If he had expected that those who made him governor the first time would listen to Abuja to grant him re-election, then, he is both a joker and a learner.

It is common knowledge that Abuja can barely stand his benefactor, Bola Tinubu, the man who did not know him from anywhere before making him governor. So, conceding such a sensitive decision to them would mean, Ambode wouldn’t need to check with his estranged benefactor again on anything. He would simply bypass him and take orders from Abuja since he owes his second term to them. Honestly, he has proven to be unworthy of that seat, let alone, secure a re-election.

That press conference was meant to be his ace. He had a rare opportunity to not only secure more public sympathy, but reset the mood in the APC. But he blew it all and set the stage for a battle he had long lost. He is naturally a terrible person. He just proved me right.

Everything about his disposition justifies this position. He is an ungrateful lot and innately dreadful. His desperation is akin to that of the anti-Christ and has taken a step that would destroy everything he ever stood for. Never again would the name – Ambode – resonate in the annals of the body polity. Too petty to be called governor.

Importantly, the person to pick the greatest lesson here is Asiwaju Tinubu. Perhaps, Babatude Fashola’s words on marble: ‘May our loyalty never be tested’ would begin to convey instructive meanings to him. He did not know Ambode from anywhere, but he bought into his idea just because one of his trusted allies, Prince Eludoyin, recommended him.

Today, even the said Prince Eludoyin is no longer in talking terms with him. Ambode must be a helplessly terrible lot. Yet, for a man he could not vouch for, Tinubu left those who had been with him since 1999 and went for a total stranger. Good for him!

Pray he comes out of this unhurt, he must have learnt his lessons the hardest way. Please, make no mistake – Ambode has gone on this offensive, because he probably has something with which he plans to finish off Tinubu and co as he forges ahead in this battle. He doesn’t plan to go down alone. He intends to drag one or two persons with him.

Therefore, the days ahead promise to be interesting, and even more so, this current Lagos drama offers a rare lesson in political godfatherism. I know Ambode has so many hidden supports unknown to the Tinubu group, including Abuja and some former governors and their allies alike, but I also know for sure that this is one battle Ambode cannot win and I can hedge my biggest bet ever.

He is not even anywhere close to the inner caucus that ordinarily delivers the most intricate political assignments in the state. Indeed, Ambode does not know or cannot explain how he even emerged governor of the state. Some people delivered that job and that is the ace that Tinubu and his clique have over him.

Sadly, Ambode is too deceived by his current place of advantage to know that he is not an asset. Even if he quits the APC and leaves for another party, a character like him with awful attitudinal disposition is not what anyone or party can put forward as a poster face. His rebellion will only heighten the stakes and increase the frenzy of intrigues in the state; it would change nothing about the status quo, ultimately.

Even if Asiwaju’s empire would be rested eventually, it is not now let alone an even worse character like Ambode with utterly defective human relations that would orchestrate that! The earlier he knows this, the better. But then, we shall wait to see how you’d pull this off tomorrow, Governor Ambode, since you see not your palpable failings but overrated stellar performance amidst this crass elevation of mediocrity.

Why I am Against Ambode by Bola Ahmed Tinubu

GOVERNORSHIP PRIMARY STATEMENT

30th September, 2018

Tomorrow, our party and the people of Lagos will have an encounter with destiny. We shall hold our governorship primary.

With the holding of direct primaries to elect governorship candidates in Lagos and other states, the APC takes a groundbreaking step toward greater internal democracy and progressive governance for the benefit of all people.

While our party is young, it has grown fast and has travelled far in a short time. This speaks well of the character of you, the party’s rank-and-file members.

What, in other nations, has taken political parties generations to achieve, we have done in a few brief years. No other party in Nigeria dare attempt what we have already dedicated ourselves to do.

I thank and commend all APC members and all Lagosians who have lent their support to this historic and humane mission upon which our party has embarked.

We are democrats in the truest sense of the word. As such, we forever search for what is good and right for the people. With this ideal as our guide, tomorrow’s primary cannot be shaded by selfish ambition or the perceived personal grievance between this or that person. Something much greater waits in the balance. What is at stake is nothing less than the future of the people of this state and how we can best maximise our collective destiny.

By resort to direct primaries, the party places the people’s future soundly in their hands. As democracy would have it, you shall be the authors of the party’s nomination and hopefully our next state government.

I trust in the wisdom of the people and will abide it. However, as a leader of the party and as a former governor of our beloved and excellent Lagos, I would be remiss if I did not make a few observations regarding the primary.

My goal is and shall always be a better Lagos. To this objective, I have dedicated the greater part of my public life. Roughly 20 years ago, a corps of dedicated and patriotic Lagosians, put aside personal interests and rivalries, to put their minds and best ideas together for the good of the state. Out of this collaborative effort, was born a master plan for economic development that would improve the daily lives of our people.

Bestowed on me was the honour of a lifetime when I was elected to be your governor in 1999. My administration faithfully implemented that plan. The government of my immediate successor, Tunde Fashola, also honoured this enlightened plan.

Where state government remained true to that blueprint, positive things happened. During my tenure and Governor Fashola’s, Lagos state recorded improvements in all aspects of our collective existence, from public health to public sanitation, from education to social services, from the administration of justice to the cleaning of storm and sewage drains. Businesses, large and small, invested, hired millions of workers and thrived.

All Lagosians were to fully participate and justly benefit from the social dividends and improvements wrought by this plan. From the common labourer, to business leaders, to professionals and our industrious civil service. We all were to be partners in a monumental but joint enterprise. None was to be alienated. None was to be left out. And none were to be pushed aside. This is especially true for those who contributed so much to our development, whether as a business leader who has invested heavily in Lagos, the homeowner who struggles to pay his fair share of taxes or as someone employed in the hard work of keeping our streets and byways clean so that others may go about their daily tasks unimpeded.

I make no pretence that the master plan is perfect. It can always be fine-tuned. However, whenever a government departed from this plan without compelling reason, the state and its people have borne the painful consequence of the improper departure.

To ignore this blueprint for progress in order to replace it with ad-hoc schemes of a materially inferior quality contravenes the spirit of progressive governance and of our party. Such narrowness of perspective does not bring us closer to our appointed destination; it takes us farther from that destiny.

For reasons unknown to me and most Lagosians, we have experienced such deviations from enlightened governance recently.

This trend is that which most concerns me as the primary nears. We must arrest this trend before irreparable harm is committed against the people and their future. For the record, let it be known that I shall vote in this primary because I see it as one of extreme import to our state and our party. Just as I shall vote, I equally urge all party members to do so.

We must vote in a manner that returns Lagos to its better path, the one that promises a just chance for all to enjoy the fruits of our prosperity. We must always pursue our goal of a Lagos energised by creative dynamism, tolerance of others, and guided by a leadership capable of extending a collegial hand to all stakeholders, far and wide.

I am encouraged by the emergence of a candidate in this primary who has served the state in senior positions in my administration, the Fashola administration and even in the current one. While possessing a wealth of experience and exposure, he is a young man endowed with superlative vision and commitment. Most importantly, he understands the importance of the blueprint for development. He esteems it as a reliable and well-conceived vehicle for the future development of the state. He also knows the value of reaching out and working with others in order to maximize development and provide people the best leadership possible.

With people like him at the helm, the state will write the proper history for itself.

When the final word is given let it be said that we want all Lagosians to look to the future with the hope and optimism that our best days remain before us and not behind us.

We walk into this primary strong and confidently believing in the right course we are to take. We shall emerge from this primary even stronger and more confident that we have taken that course by returning Lagos and our party to their finest path.

Signed:
Aswiaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Dr Adesina Fagbenro-Byron emerges KOWA Party Presidential Candidate

For immediate release to your media partners and online

PRESS RELEASE 30 September 2108
Dr Adesina Fagbenro-Byron emerges KOWA Party Presidential Candidate

KOWA Party takes great pleasure in announcing that Dr Adesina Fagbenro-Byron (SFB) emerged victorious as Kowa Party’s Presidential Candidate from the party’s National Convention and Presidential Primary that took place on Saturday 29th September, 2018 from 11am to 5pm at The Alexis Hotel, Obafemi Awolowo Way, Jabi Upstairs, Abuja.

He surmounted vigorous competition from his fellow presidential aspirants, Professor (Mrs) Remi Sonaiya, who was the party’s presidential flag bearer at the 2015 elections, and veteran actor, Mr Ayo Lijadu, who ran a very strategic national grassroots recruitment campaign.

KOWA Party subjected its aspirants to a rigorous process. They were formally screened including security clearance. Then they submitted to a written examination on Friday 28th September answering multiple choice questions posed by experts from diverse fields, and writing an essay on a topic of national interest. Finally, they participated in a Presidential Debate ‪at noon‬ during the convention on Saturday 29th September moderated by Mr Soji Apampa, the founder of Integrity Group. The aspirants were also given a final opportunity to appeal for votes.

Their profiles has been circulated to all party members by sms and email prior to the commencement of paper balloting at the National Convention.

KOWA Party adopted a multi-channel voting system for its national primary. In keeping with our spirit of inclusiveness, the party used a combination of paper, online and sms voting so that all of its members, even those in rural areas could participate, including those without smart phones and who could not travel to the state convention centers that the party set up in 28 states. Indeed some members who were unwell were still able to cast their votes from their sick beds.

The online voting system was first successfully piloted at our Lagos State Congress in May 2018 and was witnessed by INEC.

KOWA Party prides itself as being the credible alternative to the traditional political parties. The party’s slogan is “Together, we make a difference” and it aims to avoid the traps that have bedevilled the big parties in Nigeria and cling strongly to its founding principles of transparency, inclusiveness, people-centred development and meritocracy. Its aspirants run based on their state of residence, not their state of origin. Women, Youth and People Living with Disabilities are not considered token or minority members, they are welcomed and embraced as full members and officers of the party at National and State levels, and are well represented at decision-making levels.

Fans of KOWA party were carried along by members of the Youth Caucus via the party’s social media handles @KOWA_Ngr and @KowaParty

We heartily congratulate our Presidential flag bearer, SFB on his win.

National Publicity Secretary
Kowa Party

Buhari, Northern Elites And Lots Of Nonsense In Nigeria By Ola’ Idowu

And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment.” (Quran 9:34b)

Almost four years into the Buhari’s administration and Nigerians are still left bemoaning if the current government has any clue what it was voted into office to do, or if they have any idea what needs changing. One thing stands clear, Nigerians have never asked Buhari to do the spectacular (by transforming Nigeria into Singapore, Dubai or whatever in four years) but to just do the basic and simple things that would show he understands what it takes to run a country especially one like Nigeria bedeviled with mostly unpatriotic elites.
Northern elites singled out considering they have occupied, and still occupy virtually every political, military and elite position ever created in this country since Independence and have contributed the most to its destruction. Their Southern counterparts have not fared any better in their joint quest of destroying the nation, but many of them presently are new elites who only came on the political scene at the return to civilian rule in 1999, compared to many Northern elites who have perpetually been on the scene of things since at least the 1970s. One of such new political elite is former President Goodluck Jonathan and it’s amusing that this administration has spent the better part of its tenure blaming him for all the ills of this country, when we’ve had previous governments before him who have systematically destroyed the nation. Jonathan is just unfortunately, a product of a failed system and all its malfeasance manifestation we’ve been running for at least three decades or more now.
One of such governments was that of the former military dictator and tyrant, Retired General Ibrahim Babangida who single-handed, destroyed the nation’s monetary system and the effect of which has kept Nigeria underdeveloped and poor. Just this February, Nigeria was declared the country with the most extremely poor people by the World Poverty clock in Austria with over 90 million people (half of its guesstimated population) living below $1.90 per day – UN standard is below $2 per day- way more than India who have eight times our population and yet we still pretend we have a country or we don’t know what the issues really are. You would have to go all the way back to the destruction he (IBB) started in 1986 and continued by all governments after him including this present one (except Abacha in a little way), because Nigeria’s MONETARY SYSTEM is at the crux of this article and until we stop deluding ourselves that Nigeria can ever begin to solve its problem without changing its monetary system, we would be getting nowhere anytime soon. How to go about changing the Monetary system was the subject of an article I wrote close to two years ago and published on this medium and you can read it here: http://saharareporters.com/2016/11/30/time-end-fake-recession-and-change-system-ola’-idowu
Two years after, we still battling with the same issues and Buhari as President pretends he’s incapable of understanding a matter as basic and simple as this, but would rather pat himself on the back for exiting a contrived recession due to economic sabotage by Northern elites who through forex hoarding ensured an artificial scarcity of forex right from the beginning of this administration to starve the economy of the oxygen it needs (forex) and cause a total red economy – collapse of government- through sabotage of oil production – the second leg of the economic sabotage- perpetuated by their Southern collaborators that saw the nation go into a contrived recession. Baffling to see a government that came in on an anti-corruption ticket and was supposedly said to be strong on matters of national security, sit down still and unconcerned while the nation has been racked by economic sabotage for the past three years. It says a lot about how the president takes seriously his job and demonstrates the lot of nonsense Nigerians go through in the name of belonging to a country.
Such nonsense includes what I term “Prophetic Governance” that has been used as official policy statements for this government without any solid, standard and people first intellectual work been done to change the country. Relying on annual December prophecies from a litany of prophets in Nigeria now, has been the hallmark of this government and what they quote from as official policy statements. You’ve heard statements like “Nigerians would start enjoying power supply by December 2017”- Minister declares; “Inflation to come down to single digits by middle 2018” – CBN Governor says etc and all sorts of wishful thinking. 2018 is about to end, still no light, water, infrastructure, proper healthcare, social care, education and housing system, let alone full and maximum employment for Nigerians and the rate this government is going there is absolutely no sign that would happen anytime soon no matter the amount of prophecies they clutch on to deceive themselves. Expect this government to issue more deadbeat rhetoric and promises. All the govt. is concerned about is what is called rhetoric and news counter-measures not proper governance let alone changing the country. Like they say, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again like we’ve done with our Monetary system in the last 32 years since IBB destroyed it in 1986 and expect a different outcome for this nation, more so when we’ve been under severe economic sabotage like we’ve had in the last three years and counting.
The buck however falls on Buhari’s table and it would be unfortunate if he continues to allow himself to be deceived. The truth of the matter is this government has failed beyond any reasonable measure and the facts are there for everyone to see. When Jonathan was there as president, the naira exchanged to the dollar for between N160-180/$1 and many Nigerians agreed it wasn’t good enough, as life was hard and they needed change. How on earth can it then be good at between N305-N360/$1 let alone patting yourself on the head in the Independence day speech on October 1st of last year, you made as president celebrating your government bringing it down from N500 to its current price? It has to rank as one of the worst speech ever read to Nigerians in recent years asides from the part of the speech that talks about freedom. Could you be reminded President Buhari, that at N4/$1 many Nigerians in the 1980s considered it atrocious. How on earth can you or anyone in your government then sit pretty and congratulate yourself for a mess of an economy we have now? It would be advisable to change the monetary system and get Nigeria moving rather than the stationary motion the nation is caught in at present.
Look at the issue of healthcare, you were away for more than 10 months last year attending to your health and your son has also been to Germany for months to recover from an accident caused by an extreme activity he was involved in all paid for by the nation, while the people languish and toil. In 1985 when a military coup led by IBB booted you out of power, he said amongst one of their numerous reasons and I quote: ‘The last twenty months have not witnessed any significant changes in the national economy. Contrary to expectations, we have so far been subjected to a steady deterioration in the general standard of living; and intolerable suffering by the ordinary Nigerians have risen higher, scarcity of commodities have increased, hospitals still remain mere consulting clinics…’ part of the speech made by IBB after his successful August 1985 coup at the Flag Staff House on Second Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Over 36 months into your present administration, just as it was in 1985 so it is today. Hospitals still remain mere consulting clinics, contrary to expectations of Nigerians, the people have so far been subjected to a steady deterioration in the general standard of living including healthcare. To be fair the governments before did not invest in healthcare during the oil boom and during the civilian rule in the 80s, while the IBB that came in for eight years after making that speech, even went on and left it deliberately worse. Successive civilian administrations since 1999 have kept on chasing shadows at all levels and still no way out for the people in terms of healthcare needs. But what is surprising is for a former Head of State like you, who has been chumping at the bit to return to office since 2002, and the huge expectations invested in you by Nigerians in 2015, you still doing the same things in that sector and expecting a different outcome. No radical overhaul, no bold policies, no total change in that sector. A conservative figure of $1billion is spent by Nigerians yearly on medical tourism and 80% of that is spent on treatment abroad for Cardiology, Musculoskeletal, Hematology and Oncology diseases but your friend and confidant in Kaduna argues that what Nigeria needs is for state governments to spend more on Primary Healthcare Centres. It’s clear to see PHCs are not the solution to Nigeria’s healthcare needs and even at that in states like Kebbi and Borno, poor Northerners can’t even find the PHCs in their communities as monies allocated for providing one, has been looted by northern elites as per usual.
But you the elites would all travel abroad to meet your health needs whilst the people suffer. Nigeria would thrive when Nigerians thrive according to Bill Gates and PHCs is not the solution. We would need a complete revamp of the nation’s healthcare system to meet the needs of the people in terms of the major diseases that afflict Nigerians, and the solution goes beyond just building new structures or inaugurating so called ultra-modern hospitals. First, we need to design a complete health and social care system plus how it would be funded and made universally accessible for all Nigerians. Considering you haven’t appointed me or consulted with me, I would keep my ideas to myself so it’s not copied by copycats in government. But here is the usual news counter-measures/rhetoric from this government: “We would revamp healthcare system in Nigeria”- Minister says or “FG to make healthcare universal” – Presidency says. That’s it! Buhari’s government has sorted healthcare so you can go to sleep now. Anyways, I would tell you this for free as President – considering the buck stops at your table – change our substandard monetary system. A monetary system that sees the naira constantly devalued by the CBN since 1986 means skilled workers like doctors, nurses, technicians etc would keep leaving the country in a brain drain as inflation, poor wages and economic ills makes life unbearable for them and they go to more stable climes. Add to it the rising cost of healthcare provision either for the people or government as the naira keeps getting killed, then it means we can’t provide modern equipments for healthcare needs of the people, fund research into medical science to save lives or pay wages that can keep up with inflation and weakened naira to keep skilled workers in that sector. The result is persistent strikes like we had in 1984 under your military regime when a certain Dr Isaac Adewole, then President of UCH Association of Resident Doctors told Dotun Onibokun of Television Service of Oyo State (now BCOS): “the government has not provided the wherewithal for use in providing essential services”. Again I repeat at the time it was due to decades of non-investment in that sector after the military interruption of 1966, but since 1986 it has been due to the poor Monetary system we run which ultimately is the system that enables corruption in Nigeria.
Take a look at the education system. Your government still doesn’t have a clue the right way to address that beyond holding summits, conferences, taking photos and busy doing nothing. I have written in an article since November 30, 2016 how to go about tackling the ills in that sector and I’m sure you lot don’t have a clue what needs doing. But again I can tell you for free, you would need to change the monetary system to get us moving on that. Wages of lecturers, teachers and support staff are all affected in that industry due to constant devaluation of the naira that leads to the drain of the best brains, and industrial unrest via strikes. It’s the same reason national labour unions have gone on strike again, as the devaluation of the naira in April 2016 by Vice-President Osinbajo, as seen their wages lose its purchasing power and inflation ravage their incomes. There is so much to be done to revamp our education system and modernise it but you must lay the foundation for it by first changing the monetary system. But here comes the usual news counter-measures: “Buhari would change Nigeria’s education system” – Lai Mohammed says. “Govt releases N20b to ASUU” – Finance Minister says and all sorts of nonsense, that would lead to same failed outcomes. Change the monetary system, and get the nation moving.
The usual petrol scarcity or corrupt fuel subsidy is also as a result of our substandard and backward monetary system. Whether we import or refine our own petrol two major factors affect it regardless; International crude oil price – which we have no control over as it’s an external factor- and Exchange rate – which is fully within our control-. It’s the reason why when crude oil prices went as low as $28, Nigerians felt no benefit at the pumps. This same government with Yemi Osinbajo in charge as Acting President and Ibe Kachikwu as energy minister in April 2016 announced petrol price increases at the pumps citing the devaluation of the Naira from N199/$1 to N290/$1 and now oil prices have moved up to over $70 per barrel the government for re-election reasons is bearing the loss of yet another kind of fuel subsidy except this time the opaqueness and corruption under this government is worse. From consuming 30million litres of petrol per day, Nigerians are now said to be consuming as much as 50 million litres with no evidence to back that up. That is a whooping 20 million litres added as subsidy by this government if NNPC is to be believed and yet you are fighting corruption. Think about it, wouldn’t it be more sensible if we changed the MONETARY System which is within our control such that if for example the exchange rate was N80/$1 and even crude oil prices – an external factor I’ve mentioned earlier- rises above $100 per barrel, the pump price would still be cheaper than petrol imported at N305/360 to the dollar and there would be no need for subsidy payment. Add to it revamping the NNPC and ensuring it takes control of at least 65% of the logistics (mid-stream sector) and distribution (downstream sector) unlike at present where the private sector dominates a vital industry of the nation that has made them a threat to national security and economic growth. The whole silly cliché by pathetic economists in Nigeria about deregulation can then truly work as we did have kept exchange rate strong in favour of the naira. These are commonsense approaches but we pretend we don’t know due to unpatriotism. Most political and economic elites can be grouped into two; those who lack knowledge and thus can be considered incompetent or imbeciles or the ones who know the right thing but are traitors and enemies of the people. Now here comes the rhetoric: “We would end fuel scarcity in Nigeria forever” – Vice President says. Absolute nonsense!! Will you change the monetary system and get the nation moving. What manner of madness is this? How much longer can the people continue to bear the lack of existence of a proper state?
On the environment, most of what is imported into the country as petrol and sold to the people at steep price, is what is called ‘Pet-coke’ – Petroleum Coke -. These are bottom of the barrel leftover from refining crude oils, tar sands and other heavy oils which is sold cheaper by foreign refineries. They contain human health damaging sulfur dioxide which most American or European countries don’t allow in their countries but are sold on to our country. The last Minister for the environment Amina Mohammed announced in 2016 a decrease in the particulate matter (ppm) that would be allowed in the petrol imported into Nigeria, rather than follow through on what matters to the people, she was busy doing a ‘critical assignment’ signing hundreds of documents for illegal export of banned timber. That policy that would save lives including millions of Northerners that voted for you thrown in the bin, for more ‘critical assignment’. Typical of the kind of elites we have particularly northern ones. That aside, to further give you an insight into how bad the economy is under this government, 10,000 units of new cars were sold in the country in 2017 down from a high of 50,000 in 2013 due to low purchasing power – increased inflation and weak exchange rate – high interest rates of as much as 27% for vehicles loans for a country with a population of 180 million people. A country like Iran for example, with lesser population and crippling sanctions, in 2016, had 1.25 million units of new cars sold, yet Nigeria suffering no sanctions – except that of its internal black colonialists posing as its elites – can barely sell 10,000 units of new cars not even anywhere close to South Africa with lesser people and yet we claim we running an economy. To worsen matters, NNPC claims Nigerians consume 50 million liters (of mostly toxic fuel) up from 30 million litres to boost up subsidy figures they claim right under the nose of an anti-corruption government. What we have is a diabolic and corrupt economy not fit for purpose and until we change the Monetary system the nation would perpetually keep drifting to nowhere in particular.
On Security, we could talk about this all day and find your indifference and nonchalance to the plight of Nigerians has encouraged foreign Fulani herdsmen terrorist to kill and maim Nigerians. Your friend in Kaduna has revealed how he paid foreign Fulani herdsmen terrorist to stop killing Nigerians when he came in as Governor – incredible to say the least – but you still act like it’s not an issue or its just farmers/herdsmen clashes. It bears reminding again some of the accusations IBB made against you in his August 1985 speech : “Because the present state of uncertainty, suppression, and stagnation resulted from the perpetration of a small group…..Where some of us thought it appropriate to give a little more time, anticipating a conducive atmosphere that would develop, in which affairs of state would be treated with greater sense of responsibility, it became increasingly clear such expectations could not be fulfilled…..Regrettably, it turned out that Major-General Muhammadu Buhari was too rigid and uncompromising in his attitudes to issues of national significance. Efforts to make him understand that a diverse polity like Nigeria required recognition and appreciation of difference in both cultural and individual perceptions, only served to aggravate these attitudes” – A collection of quotes from IBB’s assessment of Buhari in 1985. This is 33 years after those words were spoken, and despite claiming to be a reformed democrat, you still uncompromising –in a negative way – in your attitude towards issues of national significance and chosen to work with a small group of your kinsmen and nepotistic court. In having no respect for a diverse polity like Nigeria particularly Southerners, you’ve packed major security positions full with your fellow Northern elites and when Southerners complain, you claim they are wailing or haters and it further aggravates your arrogant and chronically sectional attitude towards others who are not from your ethnic nationality. What is wrong with you as a person, that for 33 years you haven’t changed your personality in areas where you clearly are weak and yet want to change Nigeria?
Still on the issue of security, fifth columnists who know how weak and sentimental you are in this regard, have taken advantage of it to bring in foreign Fulani herdsmen terrorists from Mali, Niger, Chad and as far as Senegal to kill Nigerians and cause anarchy, while they rightly guess you did be hesitant to deal with ‘your people’. An emir in Zamfara revealed the porous border in Zurmi where arms and ammunition are freely brought into the country, what have you done about it? I bet if it where somewhere in the South or some other ethnic nationality involved, you did have clamped down on it – which is okay- but when it concerns your own ethnic nationality you act indifferent. When a former colleague of yours -Theophilus Danjuma then says he suspects the army is not neutral in protecting all ethnic nationalities under your leadership as C-in-C you resort to news counter-measures : ‘Danjuma’s statement is a call to anarchy’ – Presidency says rather than deal with the substance of the issue raised.
Boko Haram is beginning to look like a perpetual problem, only because we would not deal with the root cause of the issue. The main ideology behind Boko Haram was borne out of poverty and lack of opportunities as its founder Mohammed Yusuf allegedly tore up his certificate together with other members since they were educated yet unemployed, while you elites, your families, friends and cronies keep frittering away the wealth of the nation. We are not going to root out insecurity until we provide economic security for Nigerians. When you have over 85% of the nation’s population living either in extreme or below the poverty line, with most of them in the North, what you have is a large population of people without hope in life who can easily be radicalised into terrorist activities. Add to it the literacy rate in the north is an average of 30% compared to 70% in the south you find the north is beginning to become a massive drag on the nation’s progress no thanks to its destructive elites. Until we change the monetary system and overhaul the CBN to truly function in its true role, physical security would elude the nation. Add to it we also have to deal with the sponsors of terror, anarchy and insecurity in the country. If so called elites can sit in their gardens grinning, planning mischief and sabotaging the country and we leave them as untouchables then tell me what use is the country we claim to be running?
In the case of Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes, clearly modern animal husbandry – cattle farming or ranching would need to be adopted in northern states to stop herdsmen roaming around or fifth columnists using it as cover to wreck havoc. Cattle owners across the country must all register their names and brands with the federal government and all their cattle branded with the registered initials or names of their owners. So if for example your registered brand is SLS and you own cattle, then all your cattle should be branded with the initials SLS and the herdsmen or cowboys in charge of those cattle registered by their employers as employees. Their employers must have a record of their address or contact details. That way if cattle branded SLS for example destroys a farmer’s crops, he can use the brand on the cattle to trace the registered owner via government’s database and the owner pays compensation for damages. If the herdsmen or cowboys kill a farmer, eye-witnesses can provide information on the branded cattle and the owner traced by law enforcement agents to produce the employee involved. Fulani herdsmen terrorists are not like smoke that can vanish without trace, they are human and with the right knowledge we can stop this menace.
It brings me to the issue of communications. How much surveillance do we place on these elites who feel they are untouchable? Do the security services – many of whom we wrongly attach to provide these ignoble elites protection – provide any intelligence as to the nefarious activities of these elites to the government? Take a look at the recent Facebook/Cambridge Analytica revelations, rather than act as a responsible government interested in its people, and ask Facebook to provide information as to the amount of data it holds on Nigerians and how they were used during the 2015 elections to see if the breached the privacy rights of Nigerians (as guaranteed by Section 37 of the constitution) like serious minded nations have done (India, Germany, New Zealand etc) this unserious government that does not treat issues of national significance with responsibility contrary to expectations of Nigerians, is busy asking the opposition PDP party to explain to it what business it did with the dubious Cambridge firm. It shows the plenty nonsense Nigerians go through as a people, where its government and elites have scant regard for the people. A situation like these further provides the opportunity for the government to push for privacy and data protection of Nigerians. These are the kind of issues a government serious enough should be addressing. Anyways, change the monetary system first and lay the foundation for a New Nigeria.
Do we talk about the budgeting and public finance system and the madness inherent in there? Three years and counting, this government hasn’t been able to get its budgeting right. The same government that promised so called ‘zero budgeting’ is busy quibbling with the national assembly over budget figures. What happened to the jargon speaking zero budget system the government was mouthing about initially? ‘We would start zero budgeting by 2016’ – vice president says, Nonsense! By now we should know the January-December financial year does not work for us and we should be changing it to the April to March 31st financial year to give the National Assembly adequate time to debate and pass it into law. It would also give us ample chance to fund the budget as most of our trading partners – crude oil buying nation – use financial years much closer to the April-March one than the January-December cycle. It also aligns with many multinationals that use such similar financial cycle from their home countries in preparing their audited report and paying tax. An overhaul of our public finance system – after changing the monetary system – would ensure infrastructural projects are truly completed unlike the present way we award these contracts and finance them in a substandard way. This year, there are plans to sell about 10 national assets to raise roughly N300b to fund the budget, what would you sell next year to fund the budget? Clueless government. Here is the news counter-measure: ‘ We would ensure budget caters for capital projects’- Minister says or ‘We plan to invest in infrastructural projects’ – Presidency says. We plan to, we going to, we would inject, we will, we will…and nothing gets done. It’s become a government of parrots and noisemakers. Busy doing nothing, all motions no movement, Nonsense. Will you change the monetary system and get the nation moving.
Financial institutions that are meant to play a part in the nation’s development either through funding the real sector or be used in the public infrastructure financing system, are busy buying Treasury bills and bonds from the CBN making profits from it they don’t feel any sense of obligation to doing genuine businesses, how then do you expect inclusive growth that would deliver Nigerians from poverty and provide them full and maximum employment? Anyone who argues against changing the monetary system or argues for this present monetary system the nation has used for over three decades with resulting needless poverty is nothing but a TRAITOR! Such individual if in public service of the nation, deserves to be hanged as an accursed thing. There is no way Nigeria can thrive and prosper with this MONETARY System, enough of the delusions and self-inflicted harm on the nation by the CBN and people we elect or appoint into public office.
On the political front, despite all the revelations from the Sambo Dasuki probe, this government still hasn’t considered it wise to reform campaign financing in the nation and ensure stricter campaign finance laws to prevent money-bags and so called godfathers hijacking the political process. We’ve seen the same mess repeat itself in the repressive and oppressive Osun state guber elections. As president you’ve been seeking this position since 2003 and even cried on national TV, one would have thought you had clear ideas what to do to modernise the political, economic and social lives of Nigerians but all we get is news counter-measures. The usual news counter-measures to counter the obvious lack of direction, clarity of vision from this government and ineptitude. Talk of judicial activism to help stop corruption at all levels and social injustices- which is the duty of the federal government as stated in the constitution – you wouldn’t find this government involved. Rather your appointed Attorney-General is either bringing an alleged pension funds thief into government or allegedly involved in the re-looting of recovered funds from late Sani Abacha. States like Lagos state have passed iniquitous Land Use taxes which emasculates the functions of the Local Councils, your job as the Federal government is to help residents of the state challenge such infringements of the constitution as local councils are the ones mandated to collect such property taxes, but Federal government is nowhere to be found. The same across many other states where local council elections have not been held contrary to Supreme Court judgment and the government at the centre should be involved in getting them to obey the constitution or get the Supreme Court to stop the funding of states with such aberrations in their local council. There is also the issue of pensions for ex-governors. A state like Bauchi were a lot of northerners there consistently vote for you since 2003, has about nine individuals – former governors and deputies – carting home over 5% of the state’s yearly budget as pension for a poor state that contributes nothing to the Federation account. But left to you, your job as president is to speak to the poor folks in that state in Hausa on national TV to win votes, while the elites loot the state dry. That’s all you concerned about, winning votes. A federal government that should be at the fore-front in amending the constitution to make INEC conduct local council elections across the federation while State electoral commissions (SIECs) only do the groundwork, so as to restore the integrity of local council elections in the country as that arm of government is been emasculated across the country, is nowhere to be found.
Some of the President’s fellow northern elites are taking advantage of the backwardness in the country to call for restructuring, trying to use a populist route into office like Buhari. I see them as politically dishonest people and hypocrites, because if your restructure Nigeria into a million parts, you would still need a sound monetary system – which would be controlled by the central government – So if we carry on with this backward and substandard monetary system that enables corruption, how would restructure be of any benefit? Political dishonesty and hypocrisy is the number one problem of Nigeria and not corruption. Corruption is just a subset of it. When we tolerate dishonesty, we get criminality. When we allow elected officials tell lies and deceive Nigerians, then they begin to act above the law. Even more dangerous are their chorus of enablers and supporters who defend every lies told by elected officials or political/economic elites on social media or in real life. Political dishonesty is when you cry on national TV and compare Nigeria’s trajectory to that of Somalia as far back as 2011, and then you get elected as president several years later and suddenly everything is fine and according to you “My doctors told me to eat and sleep” – Buhari says. All of a sudden a Nigeria whose trajectory is similar to Somalia now needs no urgent change. The country is now run like a monarchy, where one half of your kingdom is under the control of your nephew and another half given to your uncle, and then we begin to hear “Buhari’s govt hijacked by cabals”- APC chieftain says. Nigerians didn’t vote for this nonsense and for a nation you feared was going down the abyss as far back as 2011 is not one to be presided over without any urgency in actions. Its political dishonesty and hypocrisy when some elites have their birthdays and the presidency is the first to send them best wishes and call them elder statesmen and patriots but when politicking starts, these same individuals are called nation destroyers –which they truly are- Political dishonesty and hypocrisy is when you chant “PDP destroyed Nigeria”- Presidency says, but as it stands, APC is doing exactly the same. Truth is, PDP did not destroy Nigeria, individuals did and we all know them. Same individuals are now decamped to the APC and would continue their destruction of the country. Hypocrisy and dishonesty is when allegedly corrupt individuals we all know are your best friends, the ones appointed by you and campaigning for your reelection. If Nigeria does not kill political dishonesty and hypocrisy, political dishonesty and hypocrisy would kill Nigeria!
Talking of freedom, like you rightly mentioned in your Independence Day speech of last year, freedom is one of the most precious of human desires. Passion for freedom is ingrained in every human breast. If some few individuals, group of people or at best tribal interest in a society arrogate to themselves the enjoyment of a measure of freedom (financial, healthcare, jobs, etc) over other members of the society like we have in Nigeria, what you would get is discrimination, oppression, injustice and tyranny like we’ve witnessed from the elites in this country and in turn it has led to the people seeking freedom either through peaceful or violent means to readjust or redistribute of the fruits of freedom within the society. We have elite classes who have developed their physical bodies but not enough knowledge or well-developed minds. They lack spiritual values and only mouth Islam or go to church just for their political masculinity and to win elections. Their craving is only for food, clothes, cars, material things, women and all sorts of vanities without caring how they acquire such. But for you as President, the buck falls on your table! To set Nigerians free economically, you would need to change the monetary system, anything else and you just wasting the time of Nigerians particularly Southerners and their destinies. I haven’t even mentioned social problems like the drug addiction and abuse of controlled substances like Codeine and Tramadol affecting Nigerian youths now. One of the alleged importers of such opiods, dangerous drugs and even guns is allegedly a certain Dahiru Mangal dubbed the biggest smuggler in West Africa with his route spanning across Nigeria all through West African countries all the way to China. He is fellow northern elite like you from Katsina state but I guess such individuals are untouchable and they can continue destroying the lives of our youths. Same you as Head of State in 1984 who put three Southerners to death retroactively for drug trafficking but won’t do anything about the current massive import of dangerous drugs allegedly by one of your fellow northern elite.
Anyways, do not deny yourself greatness through narrow-mindedness, nonchalance, arrogance (Kano is in my back pocket, all Nigerians love me etc) and go into a dicey election in 2019 with your present torrid performance maybe hoping to rig it to win, like was done in Osun state. Changimg the monetary system can be done –from planning to implementation- in Three (3) months. Stop letting those around you deceive you and turn you into a naked emperor with invisible golden robes until elections comes and you left in shock forever by a resounding loss. Remember you told the vice-president on your campaign trip to Zamfara in 2014 to look at the expectations on the faces of the people and how they expect your government to deliver them from poverty. You have made their condition worse and you should at least have some conscience and possibly some shame and start doing what is right. Social Investment programme (SIP) or whatever nonsense would not deliver them from poverty let’s stop this foolishness. The N5,000 you claim to give to poor people is only worth N2,500 as at 2014 due to the devaluation of the naira, so what nonsense are we talking about? Those poor people have their own monies before the so called SIP. If they had N500 daily for example in 2014 it was worth roughly $3 and enough to consider them living above poverty. With the devaluation of the naira to N305/370 to the dollar the same N500 is now only worth about $1.50 which has thrown them into extreme poverty just because of a foolish government decision. If Social Investment (SIP) is for extremely poor and vulnerable Nigerians and over 90 million Nigerians are now classified as extremely poor, how much of the nonsense SIP are you going to give to that huge number of people to escape poverty? What nonsense is this? There is a total lack of common sense approach to governance. Would you change monetary system and get the nation moving. Nigerians didn’t force you to become President and neither did you force the people to vote for you. You said you could do a job for the people, now that’s what you should be doing not displaying arrogance, nonchalance and indifference to the people. You’ve taken care of your fellow elites enough – N1.9 trillion bail-out funds, billions of dollars in Paris club refund, over $40 billion and counting dished out by the CBN to BDCs or so called interbank market – to stabilize the dollars not the naira – like Santa Claus, paying all sorts of debts to faceless contractors, opaque fuel subsidy payments etc-, it’s time to take care of everyday Nigerians now and you don’t have to throw money at them, simply change the MONETARY SYSTEM. How’s that difficult?
Don’t deny yourself greatness any further and the chance to be the founder of a New Nigeria and the greatest Nigerian leader in its modern history by changing this substandard monetary system we’ve been running for decades. Think about the legacy you want to leave behind, considering if things stay this way whether you use eight or dozen years in office, you would only be remembered as a ‘Waka-pass’ President or leader like the others before you. If you insist on keeping what I call the “IBB state” intact and maintaining status quo by not changing the monetary system to lay a foundation for a New Nigeria, and decide to go into a dicey election in 2019, then I only wish you one word – Goodluck!!!
Ola’ Idowu can be reached via: frenchcoast2@gmail.com , follow on twitter: @frenchcoast2

Abba Kyari By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Sometimes, the pen is reluctant to write, not because there is nothing to say – for there is always something to say – but because of the relationship one has with the subject of discussion. This is natural. Our default setting as animals is to support ours and care less about others.

Civilization contrarily makes the painful demand that we abide by the rules even if it could be against the personal interest of “ourselves or of parents and close relatives.” The few times we answer such a call, we do so with an understandable reluctance, for the body is more a slave of nature than a servant of the intellect.

Testimony

It is with such reluctance that I will ever write on my friend, Abba Kyari. I knew him first in The Buhari Organization in 2002 and we have since maintained a cordial relationship. If there is anything of public interest in my discourse, Abba will surely engage and even contribute to assuage the public demand I would raise. Abba is the ONLY person in this government that I can reach out to on the plight of victims of one atrocity or another.

Abba will answer the call or return it whenever he can but would never neglect it. He will text message and engage in long Whatsapp chat on any matter of public interest despite his tight schedule. And if there is a matter that requires my contribution, he will call me. You may have a different opinion of him but to me, I cannot have a better friend in the corridors of power than him. Only Amina Az-Zubair could match him.

I do not know about his response to appointment and contract seekers. However, on community matters that are the only basis of our association, Abba is unbeatable. He will not only answer the call, listen and promise but also take immediate action, mostly by linking up with the head of the relevant department instantly. For example, his effort in making sure that the victims of Mambilla get the required relief materials timely was exemplary just as was his material support for the 2012 Jos flood victims. Many sent in their donations, but none was even halfway to his.

Secrutiny

Today, this Abba is under public scrutiny on a contract deal in the Presidency. It is one of the hazards of public office which officials in this country can easily slip into. The facts are already there in the public domain. The latest is that VOA Hausa Service has taken it to the grassroots level in its program ciki da gaskiya.

Having gone through the submissions of the complainants that include the brutal handling and detention of a DSP, it is with sadness that I foresee the fall of Abba as we all saw that of Femi Adeosun. On fighting corruption, the government has invested so much political capital, made so many claims and now demanding reward in 2019. When push comes to shove, it must be ready to sacrifice any official in such a glaring matter than add oxygen to the fire of its opponents.

By his nature, the President is deliberate on issues that relate to his appointees and close associates because he is born shy and kind-hearted. As I once said in the early days of the administration, every appointee must understand that he will be on his own as the President will never come to the defence of anyone found wanting. He will rather leave the matter to linger until public pressure pulls down the curtain in the face of the affected official. In the extreme, like in the case of Babachir, he would reluctantly submit to the verdict of a constitutional body. I believe, the conscience of Abba will not allow the matter to reach that extent before doing the needful.

Exit

The effort of the Presidency to protect Abba will only worsen the matter. Silence in a glaring case like this one, is golden, as in the case of Adeosun. If it must say anything, the Presidency must be straight and honest, otherwise, at every turn of the spin, the doctors will be damaging the image of the President more severely than protecting his subordinate. Any candid friend of Abba and the President would rather advise the former to follow Adeosun’s hard but honorable steps and exit quietly, voluntarily, quickly. Sometimes we are forced by circumstance to respond decisively regardless of the outcome, so long as the choice we make is honourable. Abba is at that station, where Kemi was, and so was Brutus in Julius Caesar:

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

The exit of Abba will create a serious vacuum: the absence of a strong lieutenant close to the President. On all occasions when Abba came under public criticism as one of those preventing the President from performing, I have always said that a strong person like him is needed close to the shy principal, someone who can block the thousands of schemes that would rather destroy the presidency in few months.

Buhari will always need an Idiagbon or a Salihijo close to him. It is the law of power. We may find Abba guilty of a corrupt practice, whose purpose may still be in the interest of the regime, odd as it sounds, yes, but we cannot dismiss his competence in shielding the President on many fronts. This point must be noted when appointing the next Chief of Staff; otherwise, my assertion on the vulnerability of the President will be proven right

Yes. If Abba would go, his absence will be felt by the President. Friends like me will lose him in that position too. Two days ago, I received a distress call from some victims. I would have rushed to forward the complaint to Abba as usual perchance the victims find some respite. Instead, I sadly replied that there is nothing I could do. Such vulnerable communities will certainly lose a listening ear up there too. May God be with them in their dark, lonely days.

Farewell

The reader may not be impressed with my submission today. If he understands my veneration for Abba, he would forgive the mild tone of its composition. Rather than tread the inglorious path of manufacturing excuses that has become common among apologetics of this government, I preferred to express the melancholy of bidding farewell the ear that chose to listen and the heart that was always ready to share in the sorrow of victims who only very few of their own were ready to sympathize with. My pen may not be strong to defend the wrong committed by the man who embodies that listening ear and that sympathetic heart, but, surely, neither is it be found wanting in celebrating his good effort.

Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
17 September 2018

Fake news and media integrity By Oliver Ejike Uja

“The art of the reporter should more than anything else be a celebration of the truth … The fundamental obligation of the reporter is to truth”. – Kergal keane
The media play a very important role in any democratic society. It is the duty of the press to educate, inform, and entertain and conscientize the people. This helps in building a politically conscious masses or electorates that can make informed decisions. The press is regarded as the ‘fourth estate of the realm’ principally because of the role in holding government to account. Thomas Jefferson in acknowledging the role of the press said; “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the lather”. This further underscores the place of the media in shaping and building the society. However, for the media to continue playing this role requires commitment to the core principles of journalistic practices as enshrined in the code of ethics of professional journalists. The Code of Ethics for Nigerian Journalists points out “journalism entails a high degree of public trust. To earn and maintain this trust, it is morally imperative for every journalist and every medium to observe the highest professional and ethical standard”. It is this that confers integrity on the media.
Fake news are falsehood, conjectures, pernicious propaganda or half truth which are intentionally passed on as truth and authentic information or stories intended to mislead and achieve sinister objectives or financial gain. Fake news is nothing new in journalism. There was the ‘Yellow Journalism’ with its overtly concocted and sensational stories several decades ago. However, the explosion in social media platforms and how technological companies operate has made the problem pervasive. Dr. Kristen Dembroski outlines the following as attributes of fake news: Purpose – Misled; Spread misinformation; False or propaganda published under the guise of authentic news; Sensationalist; extreme; Fuels passions and prejudices; May provoke violence.
The American presidential election of 2016 made false journalism and fake news blossom and become a treat to the mainstream traditional journalism. Anders Hofseth summed it up saying that “The media of the world may be facing a crisis more serious than a media economy in a freefall, a crisis involving the foundations itself: Trust. Not the trust in the single news piece or the single publication, but the entire idea of editorially controlled news media”. When the audience no longer trusts the information in the media, then the integrity of the media is already undermined. In this situation there is dissonance and they would have to look for multiples sources to validate the authenticity of the information or news. But the audience by nature may not have all the time because they have other things bordering them – jobs to do, dates to keep, meetings to attend, numerous other things occupying their time and mind. This may result in apathy for media contents. Hofseth argues that “by itself, fake news poses little threat beyond the need for increased alertness. But fake news attacks society’s system for information sharing. It’s casting shadows of doubt over the credibility of media, and creating the impression that the media is offering just one of several possible truth, thus making it sort of optional which fact you care to relate to”. This mirrors John Milton’s didactics in his Agreopagitica. But unlike Milton, the situation creates a vacuum because the society’s information system has been dislocated, devalued and news or information becomes what anyone can distill from an event. This is akin to relativism.
Fake news is more rampant in the internet because of the way social media and some news platforms operate. Facebook for example have always denied being a news platform claiming that it is only a technology company. Consequently, the platform is not bound by ethical and professional conduct of the traditional media outlets or organisations. It was only recently after much outcry by the public and industry players that it reluctantly decided to take down or block lots of fake news and dubious materials. Aidan White admonished facebook saying “facebook would do well to stop denying it is a publisher and face up to its responsibility as a news provider”. He further stated that “it needs to recorgnise and apply the principle and standards of journalism and free expression that have guided the work of journalism, editors and publishers”. It is this lack of accountability that has made fake news flood the social media and other websites. Today, millions of people get their news through these platforms. “Integrity, authority, humanity and evidence: Are there better words in the lexicon of journalists? This was the question Lyse Doucet, BBC chief International Correspondent asked in her acceptance speech as she received the 2017 British Journalism Review Charles Wheeler Award for Outstanding Contribution to Broadcast Journalism. Sadly, fake news is just an off shoot of post –truth era where there exists not just ‘Truth’ and ‘lie’ but the third ‘Ambiguity’ where people grope and pick which information they relate to.
The basic danger in fake news is that it makes people doubt almost every news or information and this can be very destabilizing to any society. Think of a situation where people no longer believe in any information coming from the authorities or politicians – it is the beginning of social breakdown. This is a threat to democracy, modern society and reality. In his Agreopagitica, John Milton averred “Though all winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter”. This position is seriously being challenged by the level of fake news in the internet and out there. For Gary Kasparov, “If you can convince people that real news is fake, it becomes easier to convince them that your fake news is real”. He further submits that “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform and push an agenda, it is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate the truth”. This is the major problem since news then teeters dangerously towards relativism. And this is why Stuart Allen believes that “More than a question of semantics, the nature of proper identity to be affirmed by the journalist within a democracy continues to be hotly contested… nowhere have the tacit assumptions informing a collective sense of identity been more openly challenged than by the emergence of the ‘citizen journalism’ movement … citizen journalism has succeeded in rattling the foundations of the craft”
Prompt identification of fake news is one way of ensuring that it does not spread but this may not be that easy. Applying logic and common sense is very essential. When one looks closely and pitches the facts together, one can clearly see the bigger picture. Checking out other credible sources can help to know the status of the story. It is important to check the Uniform Resource Locator (URL), the title and other graphics to know whether it is old information that is being presented in a new context or whether some trusted media sites have been impersonated or faked. African Independent Television (AIT) has been a victim.
Credible media organisations are ready to publish correction and retractions but not fakes. Also, if there are so much inappropriate materials pop ups and other embedded links, it is a red flag. The address and other contacts of the author should be clearly stated and functional and it is very important to check out if the information or story is loaded with strong, emotional or absolute language. Is the language moderate?
Media literacy is a way of battling fake news. This involves the understanding of how the news sources and media work. If the audiences are knowledgeable the problem will be reduced because fake news exits because of money from advert and political patronage. Most platforms that disseminate such stories aims at attracting traffic – number of visits and time spent on the websites.
Seeking out truth and also giving out prompt accurate and truthful information is important. Moreover, news sources must build trust and integrity in order to be believed. For example, in a shooting at the YouTube headquarters in San Bruno, California, U.S, on April 3, 2018, Chief Ed Barberini of the San Bruno Police department was on hand giving press statement on the unfolding situation. This prompt release of relevant information helps in checking speculations and fake news.
Prof. Lai Oso, President Association of Communication Scholars and Professionals of Nigeria (ACSPN) advised that “government needs to be more forth coming in terms of its public communication functions. It is not when things have gone to a very low level that it begins to panic about information; it must be concerned about credible information”. Many reputable social media, online news platforms and blogs are veritable sources of news if managed by credible professionals that adhere to the journalistic code of ethics of accuracy, impartiality, objectivity, truthfulness and public accountability. If fake news are promptly identified and debunked or set straight by the trusted credible media organisations, it will go a long way in checking the pervasiveness and threat of fake news. In this, it not enough to tell the news but also telling what is ‘no news’ as it breaks.
Uja is a Research Officer wrote from Abuja.
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