OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI ON THE STATE OF THE NATION BY TIMI FRANK

Dear Sir,

I write this letter to you, Mr. President, with all sincerity and humility, as it is my very first letter to you since your emergence as President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of our great country, Nigeria.

I would first of all like to use this opportunity to formally apologise to the immediate past President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, for all the tantrums and mistreatment orchestrated by me against his person while he held sway at the helm of affairs of our great country.

Indeed, I and many others may have misunderstood Jonathan’s silence for weakness and thus pushed harder to malign his person and portray him as a weak leader. Having achieved the Change Agenda, it is now crystal clear, that the change we had clamoured for is not the change we got.

While this may have come as a rude shock to some of us who preached the change mantra assiduously, particularly the youth, I am consoled by the fact that, Nigeria shall get to the promise land someday and our generations yet unborn will appreciate the genuine efforts made by those of us who stood on the path of truth, rather than being praise singers sycophants.

Mr. President, I am sure that the current state of our dear country should be a cause of genuine concern, as the symptoms of the ailment you had come to cure seem to have morphed into a killer virus waiting to consume its patient (Nigeria) as the clock ticks away.

The damning assessment of Nigeria under your leadership as released by the United States Department of State in its 2017 country reports on Human Rights, cited impunity as being widespread at all levels of government and lack of transparency by your administration. The report noted that massive corruption by government officials and security agencies is on the rise with most perpetrators being shielded from trial, thus giving room for reckless practices with impunity. The report stated that, “although the law provides for criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity…massive, widespread and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security services.”

Today there is hardship everywhere with the price of fuel now N145 per as against the N85 that it was being sold when you assumed office – the over N1.4trillion already paid by your government as fuel subsidy notwithstanding. You will agree with me, Mr. President, that a report of this magnitude coming from a foreign government should be a cause for serious concern as it posits that your Anti-Corruption Agenda is merely a hoax. Furthermore, your famous slogan of “belonging to everybody and belonging to nobody” has turned out to be a mere Public Relations gimmick, meant to soothe the egos of the spectators that were present at your historic swearing-in-ceremony.

Other assessment cited by the report include the extra judicial killing of IPOB members, Col. Sambo Dasuki’s continuous incarceration, widespread human rights abuses and flagrant disregard for the Rule of Law, under this administration.

You will recall, Mr. President, that a similar report from the Transparency International (TI) was rubbished by your Ministers who claimed the global body was biased in its assessment. Surely, both agencies could not have conspired to tarnish the reputation of your government, as Nigerians can also decipher the high partiality and nepotism being practised by your government, which represents a new low in the history of governance in Nigeria.

I would therefore recommend that your Special Adviser on Media and Publicity should grab a copy of THISDAY Newspaper of Tuesday, 24 April 2018 and perhaps brief you further on the report, in the event that the content of the report has not been brought to your attention.Mr. President, it may also interest you to know that the economy under your watch has been terribly battered, with all the economic indices indicating that we are yet to recover from the recession of 2016, owing to your ill conceived policies as against the rhetoric of the erstwhile administration being responsible for our woes.

The GDP growth before you took over government and three years after being in the saddle of governance attests to woeful failure of government policies while gambling with the nation’s economic gains. The high unemployment and poverty rate as released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) should be a cause of concern to any well-meaning Nigerian, as the masses can barely survive with their current meagre income which leaves them with little or no savings to embark on other meaningful economic ventures to better their lot.

Furthermore sir, I am sure that you’re aware that the level of insecurity in the country now has reached an all time high with an average of at least 50 deaths weekly to the bewilderment of the an already wearied population, whose hopes are dashed on a daily basis. Only last week over 120 persons were kidnapped along the Birnin-Gwari Road in Kaduna State. The farmers/herders crises has continued to claim precious lives as if the nation is in a state of war. Moreover, the statement credited to you that the killer herdsmen were trained by the late Moumar Gadaffi of Libya is most unfortunate as nothing is being done to police the borders in order to prevent them from coming in as well as declaring a state of emergency on these murderous killers.

More so, the statement credited to former Minister of Defence, Gen. T.Y. Danjuma came as another rude shock to Nigerians on the state of our security architecture in the nation, not also forgetting the statements attributed to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, reemphasising, that the government under your watch has failed Nigerians.

Surely, the opinions of your comrades cannot all be a farce, but rather a wakeup call to your administration that all is indeed not well with the nation. This is why I dare say that a re-election bid in the wake of this wanton killings and widespread sacrilege in the land, is definitely not the right thing to do at this time in a country engulfed with so much bloodletting. Permit me to say that as things stand today, Nigeria, under your government, has become increasingly autocratic.

Instead of enhancing freedom and rule of law, our democratic gains are being frittered away under the pretext of fighting corruption. The rights to freedom of speech and association are increasingly being denied. People can no longer freely express themselves without security agencies harassing, accusing, arresting, parading, and prosecuting them like common criminals over spurious allegations.

I dare say that I am by this letter offering myself to pay whatever price it will take for Nigeria to be free once again. I know your goons will soon come after me but I am not bothered a bit. I will continue to speak the truth. I spoke the truth when Jonathan, my kinsman, was in power and I will continue to speak the truth. Be that as it may, the truth is that you have destroyed our democracy so much so that Nigerians are now living in fear.

Under your tenure the rule of law has been replaced with the rule of force. You have injected fear into the society. People who voted for you to save them from corruption and ineptitude have been barred from speaking up against the myriads of evil and wicked acts being perpetrated by officials in your government.

Unfortunately, corruption is in the upward swing under your watch. This is why I had to apologize to Jonathan since events of the last three years have shown the former President was a better leader. People freely expressed themselves under Jonathan’s administration without fear of being branded cultists’ sponsors, gunrunners or aiding murderers. But not so under this administration.

Under Jonathan, Nigerians enjoyed freedom of speech, association and right to hold dissenting views including organizing and partaking in protests against unwelcome government policies. All these are no go areas today. Does it mean Jonathan was a better democrat? It is a fact that no member of the APC which was then in the opposition before 2015 was jailed or harassed for expressing dissent.

However, under this administration, the Senate President is being persecuted, Senator Dino Melaye has been arrested and detained like a common criminal, Senator Matthew Urhroghide had been attached for telling Nigerians that the Federal Government breached the Constitution by paying the sum of $496million for 12 Tucano fighter jets without National Assembly approval; the trial of Senator Isa Misau by the AGF over his face-off with the Inspector General of Police, the persecution of most members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the name of fighting corruption are all examples of intolerance under this administration.

Mr. President, while your fight against corruption is being promoted as gathering steam leading to an award given to you by the African Union (AU) recently, the allegation of illegal award of $25billion contracts leveled against the GMD of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has not been investigated but rather the malfeasance and shoddy dealing in the NNPC has been swept under the carpet because as the substantive Minister of Petroleum Resources any probe of the agency will require that you make some explanations.

This government has shown total disdain for court pronouncements and the enforcement of fundamental human rights of citizens. El-Zakzaky and Dasuki will not be in jail today but for the present rule of force under this government. It is a pity that today democracy and freedom have become scarce. Insecurity continues unabated. Killings take place on a daily basis across the country either by kidnappers, Boko Haram insurgents, herdsmen, and other criminal elements having a free reign around the country. Life has become worthless and uncertain and people cannot speak out for fear of being labeled anti-government by your regime. Besides, instead of heeding the wise counsel of leaders like Obasanjo, IBB, TY. Danjuma, General Gowon, and religious leaders like Bakare and Oyedepo, you have again declared to seek reelection as President. You even boasted in Bauchi that you will be reelected which was akin to saying you will rig yourself back into office. The worse acts of corruption are being perpetuated under your regime, but people are keeping quiet because of fear of reprisals. This cannot continue. You met Democracy and freedom in 2015, when you leave office, there will still be democracy and freedom for the people. Nigeria will not end with you. Before you, others came, but today where are they? Under this regime, the homes of Honourabe Justices were forcefully broken into and ransacked. Many of them were suspended and are currently being prosecuted by agents of the executive. If this is not intimidation of the highest order what is it? Despite immunity conferred in him by the Constitution, the home of the Governor of Akwa Ibom State was raided. The Governor of Rivers State had to approach the courts for an injunction to forestall a similar treatment being meted on him. Is it not curious that Senator Shehu Sani and Dino Melaye have been framed up as being connected to criminal murder suspects just because they politically differ with their state governors? It is not also true that Saraki and the Governor of Kwara State are now being roped into the case of alleged cultists and murder suspects arrested in Ilorin? If this is not harassment, intimidation and humiliation of perceived opponents of your administration, then what is it?

Don’t forget that the Senate led by Saraki has been in a ding-dong with the Inspector General of Police for refusing to honour the legitimate summons of the upper chamber. The plot to once again implicate Saraki in murder activities using alleged cult members earlier arrested in Kwara State is a new low in the antics of this administration to harass, intimidate and humiliate members of the opposition especially those of the defunct New PDP arm of the APC.

The recent attack on the Rivers State Judiciary, the invasion of the Senate and forceful theft of its mace without arrests or word of condemnation by you make the security situation worse and worrisome.

The vehemence with which members of the opposition and the New PDP arm of the APC are being persecuted makes one to wonder why close aides of yours and other high officials in this administration with criminals allegations against them are not equally being prosecuted.

Are you no longer for everybody and belong to nobody? What is good for PDP and New PDP members ought to be good for members of the CPC, ACN, ANPP and a faction of APGA in the APC as well. The reality is that members of the APC are sacred cows that can do no wrong.This growing intolerance, repression and coercion against innocent citizens has led me to the painful resolve to once again offer myself as a sacrificial lamb to pay the price for Nigeria’s total emancipation from the shackles of tyranny being perpetuated by your government.

I therefore, urge all Nigerians to wake up and face the current realities and save Nigeria from total collapse under the jackboots of impunity by this administration. History will not be fair to me if I had championed the campaigns against former President Jonathan and now remain silent in the face of anti-democratic tendencies and sheer impunity.

It is my sincere hope that this letter meets you well. I also hope that my outburst will not be seen from the angle of disrespect, but rather of despair and urgency. I believe it is high time for you, as the President and Commander-In-Chief to arrest the situation and restore peace, security and rule of law in the country and confidence in the people once more.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

With best regards

Comrade Timi Frank

Deputy National Publicity Secretary All Progressives Congress 07033555555

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Full Text : Press Conference “A renewed and reinvigorated African Democratic Congress, ADC.” By Olusegun Obasanjo

Let me start by welcoming and commending the emergence of a renewed and reinvigorated African Democratic Congress, ADC, as a political party. Since the inception of Coalition for Nigeria Movement, CNM, many of the sixty-eight registered political parties had contacted and consulted with the Movement on coming together and working together. The leadership of the Movement, after detailed examination, wide consultation and bearing in mind the orientation, policies and direction of the Movement, have agreed to adopt ADC as its platform to work with others for bringing about desirable change in the Nigeria polity and governance. I congratulate the leadership of the Movement for their decision and their choice. The emergence of ADC is the beginning of hard work to continue to consolidate our democracy and to make development in all its ramifications real, relevant, accessible, popular and reaching out to all Nigerians wherever they may be.
Let me particularly thank and congratulate millions of Nigerians who harkened to my clarion call in my statement of January 23, 2018 that our anger against misgovernance, poor performance, condonation of misconduct, incompetence, destabilising nepotism, cluelessness, denial and scapegoatism, lack of understanding of dynamics of internal politics which have led to greater disunity, inequity, injustice, senseless killings and destruction, must not be like the anger of the cripple but a positive anger coordinated and directed to put an end to the era of impotence and for Nigerians to join hands to seek effective solution through coalition, cooperation and togetherness that will take Nigeria to where God has created it to be. You registered in millions for the Coalition of Nigeria Movement, CNM. Your actions, enthusiasm and commitment, with those of others and other organisations – political parties, civil societies, social and cultural organisations – have made possible the new dawn that the ADC will usher in. With the emergence of ADC as a political party for the Movement and its associates and in line with my clear position which I have often repeated, the first phase of my job is done and I will not be a member of the Party but as I have always done since I quit partisan politics in 2014, I will keep alive and active on Nigerian and African issues and interests and I will be open to offering advice to any individual or organisation for the unity, development and progress of Nigeria and indeed of Africa. I will, of course, continue to exercise my right to freedom of speech where and when I consider necessary in the interest of Nigeria, Africa and humanity. The second phase will involve galvanisation of all like-minded forces for enthronement of new order in Nigeria.
In recommending the CNM to join the ADC, let me give you some points that are of interest. From the beginning, CNM is not a political party but a popular grassroots movement to stimulate the interest and participation of youth and women in particular in bringing about change in democratic dispensation, governance and development in Nigeria in such a way that power addicts will be forced to yield places for new entrants and participants in the power equation in the country. They will sanitise the system. With the ADC, embracing the policy of 30% youth of under 40 and 30% women in all organs of the Party, a significant paradigm shift has been brought about in the power equation. The ADC is a reformed and reinvigorated party, it will embrace all the features and policies which make CNM attractive and a source of hope and inspiration to millions at home and abroad. The ADC welcomes associates, other parties, groups and civil society organisations such as cultural, township unions and social organisations and interests. No former political party, movement, social or cultural organisation should claim the sole ownership of the renewed ADC. In name, it is relatively old but in establishment, organisation, membership, policies, programmes, orientation and focus, it is new. If this is not understood, accepted by all and made the foundation and pillar of the political party, it will be starting on a very shaky foundation and it will soon fall. I will advise others to join this political party platform to usher in a new dawn for Nigeria, but I may not be able to advise anybody to join PDP or APC no matter what window-dressing reformation they may claim. Although PDP would seem to have realised its mistakes of its immediate past of the last eight years or so, its present evolution would, by itself, not give confidence to well-meaning Nigerians who are interested in a new Nigeria in the hands of God that will have leadership, governance, development and values within our culture as its guiding principles with the attributes of honesty, integrity, patriotism, love, unity, industry, incorruptibility, good neighbourliness, faithfulness, trust, courage and love and fear of God held aloft. PDP offered apology without disciplining those who set Nigeria on a course of ruin and some of them are still holding leadership roles in their party. Nigerians may forgive, but Nigerians should never forget; otherwise they will be suffering from amnesia and the same ugliness may raise its head again. APC, as a political party, is still gloating and revelling in its unrepentant misgovernance of Nigeria and taking Nigerians for fools. There is neither remorse nor appreciation of what they are doing wrong. It is all arrant arrogance and insult upon injury for Nigerians. Whatever the leadership may personally claim, most Nigerians know that they, Nigerians, are poorer today than when APC came in and Nigeria is more impoverished with our foreign loan jumping from $3.6 billion to over $18 billion to be paid by the present and future generations of Nigerians. The country is more divided than ever before because the leadership is playing the ethnic and religious game which is very unfortunate. And the country is more insecure and unsafe for everybody. It is a political party with two classes of membership.
Before I leave this point, it is pertinent to make the point that PDP and APC are not actually made of men and women who are totally evil. There are sprinkles of good men and women out there and among them. But as political parties and the government they led or they are leading in the last eleven years, they have failed and failure should neither be hoisted for embracement nor reinforced. What must be done is to take what is best from all to come together on a new alliance platform that will take us to the promised land. There must be basic and fundamental ground for change and for people to change. What is not desirable is to take the leprous hand of either PDP or APC as the instrument to clean Nigeria up. The clean fingers in either of them can and must be grafted to the clean hands of new entrants and participants to move up and move on and that is what I understand the reinvigorated party platform is all about – change, new order and progress.
The party, ADC, as I understand it, is neither based on the immediate past, condemnable records of PDP as a ruling party in Nigeria nor on the present disastrous and distabilising performance of APC. It is a new platform and a new page in our political history. Some of us must hold ourselves as watchmen and watchwomen for the nation without necessarily belonging to any political party as genuinely concerned and interested citizens and statesmen and stateswomen beyond the ambition of office and enticement of grandeur of position or fortune.
Nigerians must keep their eyes wide open, their ears quite attentive, their minds very clear, their hands very clean and must not remain dumb in the face of atrocities and impunities of the governors against the governed. Those who govern us at all levels must be made to realise that it is our collective rights and sovereignty that they hold in trust for us and to be used for the good of all of us and with all of us having interest and having a stake in how we are governed. It is our God-given right and we must not allow the abuse of it. In the past, we have laid back and we have been taken for a ride. How did we allow Nigeria to be run by K34 without a murmur? Of course, that was followed by the running of Nigeria by Ijaw nation with four women and now by kith and kin and we are still jubilant in the face of atrocities, insecurity, disasters and degradation politically, economically and socially. When I was in school, tolerating what we have tolerated in the past twelve years with our tails within our legs like frightened dogs, we would be asking if we are collectively mesmerised and we needed to go to ‘aro’ for mental or psychological examination.
Some have asked cynically and skeptically if there would ever be change. I can understand their cynicism and skepticism. If we are doing the same thing and we expect a different result, we would be fooling ourselves. As I said earlier, I believe that what we are having is new with some paradigm shift in power equation involving youth and women. The grassroots involvement which CNM has advocated must be maintained consistently. Inclusiveness must take care of over 25 million Nigerians living with disability so that they can make meaningful contribution to societal discourse and development. They must be made part of popular participation. Elitism must be drastically reduced. All the political parties that have emerged since the present dispensation in 1999 have been too elitist, and have gradually lost internal democracy, leaving room for corruption and dictatorship. The greatest lacuna in political party administration in Nigeria since the present dispensation is the ownership of the political party through regular contribution of the members of the party for the upkeep of the party. Worse still is what PDP has now accepted as part of its failure and disappointment of the nation which is looting government treasury to finance individual and party elections. Unfortunately, APC has followed suit. To curb corruption, primary elections should cease to be by delegates but by all card-carrying and financial members of the party within their constituencies. This will save lives as many people have died by being shepherded to a central location as delegates to vote at primaries. It also introduced corruption into the system. At one of the PDP primaries within the last eight years, one candidate distributed $10,000 per delegate, the one who distributed $15,000 per delegate won the primary. It was not necessarily on merit but certainly, dollar talked.
Concluding my point on corruption in politics particularly at the primary elections level, there must be strict control of campaign funding and transparent accounting by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of all funds contributed and all funds utilised by individuals and political parties for campaigns. I was shocked when an insider in the PDP told me that the amount of money the party used for 2015 elections would be in the neighbourhood of $3 billion. It was all directly or indirectly from the government treasury.
The change we expect to be forthcoming, realistic and effective, will have to come from all of us – citizens, political parties, executive, legislature, judiciary and electoral organisations. We must stop the blame game and must all realise that Nigeria will be as good as we all make it to be – a good, effective, efficient, performing, equitable, fair, just, peaceful, secure, prosperous, united, wholesome and God-fearing country. I stand on the platform that change is possible and human beings are agents of change and we have seen that in our country both for good and for ill. I remain positive and optimistic. If we believe we can, we will. Political parties must do their own with a country-centered and value-laden philosophy, orientation and service. We should have one INEC for all elections at local government, State and national levels. We have all seen the ridiculous phenomena of local government elections conducted by States’ so-called INEC being always almost completely won by the ruling party in the State. We all know it is a sham. The National Assembly must rid itself of corruption; and it can do it. It must also make its remuneration relevant to Nigerian economic and social reality. It can also do it. Then it must make laws and amend the Constitution to have one INEC for all elections in the country, strict and scrupulous funding and accounting of all electoral campaigns and all elections. The INEC must be given power to supervise, control and regulate campaign funds and funds and contribution to political parties. The National Assembly must amend the Constitution to allow Nigerians in diaspora with current Nigerian passports to vote in all Nigerian elections at Nigerian Embassies abroad. The National Assembly should also legislate 30% youth of under 40 and 30% women into all organs of political parties and into all institutions of governments. It should be a great step forward.
The Executive which emerges on the platform of one political party must avoid ‘winners take all’ especially in utilising the best brains available in running the affairs of the country. While the government of the day must be run essentially by the political party that wins the election, there must be consultation and cooperation especially on national issues of unity, economy, security and foreign affairs. There must also be minimum acceptable national position on these issues and which will also allow members of other parties that are good enough to be utilised by the government without necessarily running a government of so-called national unity. Rather, all governments should be government of national common interest.
If we get the platform right, we will get the system right particularly in running the government which should be participatory and all-encompassing, not exclusive, discriminatory but talent-hungry and talent-targeting for the good of the country. Governance must not be myopic, restrictive and limited to circle of tribe, friends and blood relations but open-armed, transparent, open-minded, accommodating and seeking for the best wherever the best can be found to achieve the best for the country. We must all be guided and inspired by Nigerian Dream which must be inclusive, elevating and giving hope, great future and conquering spirit to all Nigerians.
In all situations, let us stand for good leadership, good governance, all-round development and enduring and authentic values within our culture. If we get it all right, our demography will be an asset and not a liability nor indeed a disaster. What is more, our democracy will move from strength to strength dynamically, inclusively, workingly, prosperously, equitably, communally and satisfactorily for all, by all and with all. When democracy goes symbiotically with development as they should, a happy, wholesome, united and inclusive society emerges which is secure, formidable, prosperous and respected within the comity of nations. That is God’s plan for Nigeria which Nigerians must make manifest. There is only one reason for where we are now, it is leadership failure.
My points are borne out of my experience, learning, knowledge and interaction with others. Let us use these ideas as the basis for discussing and debating the course for advancing democracy and development on a sustainable trajectory for Nigeria founded on good leadership and good governance with welfare, well-being and progress of all.
Once again, I congratulate all members of Coalition for Nigeria Movement, all the political parties and civil society organisations that have adopted ADC as a political party platform to move Nigeria up and forward and I wish them success for now and the future. The eyes of the nation and the world are on you to show that with people and organisation of like mind, a real difference is possible and you will make it. I wish you well. But always remember that Nigeria belongs to you as it belongs to those in power. If you fail to use the potent weapon democracy offers you and that is your vote, then you have yourselves to blame. You can move on to the next stage in the democratic advance for change, unity, security, stability, good governance, prosperity and progress. So may it be for Nigeria.

Olusegun Obasanjo
May 10, 2018

Full Text : Press Conference “A renewed and reinvigorated African Democratic Congress, ADC.” By Olusegun Obasanjo

Let me start by welcoming and commending the emergence of a renewed and reinvigorated African Democratic Congress, ADC, as a political party. Since the inception of Coalition for Nigeria Movement, CNM, many of the sixty-eight registered political parties had contacted and consulted with the Movement on coming together and working together. The leadership of the Movement, after detailed examination, wide consultation and bearing in mind the orientation, policies and direction of the Movement, have agreed to adopt ADC as its platform to work with others for bringing about desirable change in the Nigeria polity and governance. I congratulate the leadership of the Movement for their decision and their choice. The emergence of ADC is the beginning of hard work to continue to consolidate our democracy and to make development in all its ramifications real, relevant, accessible, popular and reaching out to all Nigerians wherever they may be.
Let me particularly thank and congratulate millions of Nigerians who harkened to my clarion call in my statement of January 23, 2018 that our anger against misgovernance, poor performance, condonation of misconduct, incompetence, destabilising nepotism, cluelessness, denial and scapegoatism, lack of understanding of dynamics of internal politics which have led to greater disunity, inequity, injustice, senseless killings and destruction, must not be like the anger of the cripple but a positive anger coordinated and directed to put an end to the era of impotence and for Nigerians to join hands to seek effective solution through coalition, cooperation and togetherness that will take Nigeria to where God has created it to be. You registered in millions for the Coalition of Nigeria Movement, CNM. Your actions, enthusiasm and commitment, with those of others and other organisations – political parties, civil societies, social and cultural organisations – have made possible the new dawn that the ADC will usher in. With the emergence of ADC as a political party for the Movement and its associates and in line with my clear position which I have often repeated, the first phase of my job is done and I will not be a member of the Party but as I have always done since I quit partisan politics in 2014, I will keep alive and active on Nigerian and African issues and interests and I will be open to offering advice to any individual or organisation for the unity, development and progress of Nigeria and indeed of Africa. I will, of course, continue to exercise my right to freedom of speech where and when I consider necessary in the interest of Nigeria, Africa and humanity. The second phase will involve galvanisation of all like-minded forces for enthronement of new order in Nigeria.
In recommending the CNM to join the ADC, let me give you some points that are of interest. From the beginning, CNM is not a political party but a popular grassroots movement to stimulate the interest and participation of youth and women in particular in bringing about change in democratic dispensation, governance and development in Nigeria in such a way that power addicts will be forced to yield places for new entrants and participants in the power equation in the country. They will sanitise the system. With the ADC, embracing the policy of 30% youth of under 40 and 30% women in all organs of the Party, a significant paradigm shift has been brought about in the power equation. The ADC is a reformed and reinvigorated party, it will embrace all the features and policies which make CNM attractive and a source of hope and inspiration to millions at home and abroad. The ADC welcomes associates, other parties, groups and civil society organisations such as cultural, township unions and social organisations and interests. No former political party, movement, social or cultural organisation should claim the sole ownership of the renewed ADC. In name, it is relatively old but in establishment, organisation, membership, policies, programmes, orientation and focus, it is new. If this is not understood, accepted by all and made the foundation and pillar of the political party, it will be starting on a very shaky foundation and it will soon fall. I will advise others to join this political party platform to usher in a new dawn for Nigeria, but I may not be able to advise anybody to join PDP or APC no matter what window-dressing reformation they may claim. Although PDP would seem to have realised its mistakes of its immediate past of the last eight years or so, its present evolution would, by itself, not give confidence to well-meaning Nigerians who are interested in a new Nigeria in the hands of God that will have leadership, governance, development and values within our culture as its guiding principles with the attributes of honesty, integrity, patriotism, love, unity, industry, incorruptibility, good neighbourliness, faithfulness, trust, courage and love and fear of God held aloft. PDP offered apology without disciplining those who set Nigeria on a course of ruin and some of them are still holding leadership roles in their party. Nigerians may forgive, but Nigerians should never forget; otherwise they will be suffering from amnesia and the same ugliness may raise its head again. APC, as a political party, is still gloating and revelling in its unrepentant misgovernance of Nigeria and taking Nigerians for fools. There is neither remorse nor appreciation of what they are doing wrong. It is all arrant arrogance and insult upon injury for Nigerians. Whatever the leadership may personally claim, most Nigerians know that they, Nigerians, are poorer today than when APC came in and Nigeria is more impoverished with our foreign loan jumping from $3.6 billion to over $18 billion to be paid by the present and future generations of Nigerians. The country is more divided than ever before because the leadership is playing the ethnic and religious game which is very unfortunate. And the country is more insecure and unsafe for everybody. It is a political party with two classes of membership.
Before I leave this point, it is pertinent to make the point that PDP and APC are not actually made of men and women who are totally evil. There are sprinkles of good men and women out there and among them. But as political parties and the government they led or they are leading in the last eleven years, they have failed and failure should neither be hoisted for embracement nor reinforced. What must be done is to take what is best from all to come together on a new alliance platform that will take us to the promised land. There must be basic and fundamental ground for change and for people to change. What is not desirable is to take the leprous hand of either PDP or APC as the instrument to clean Nigeria up. The clean fingers in either of them can and must be grafted to the clean hands of new entrants and participants to move up and move on and that is what I understand the reinvigorated party platform is all about – change, new order and progress.
The party, ADC, as I understand it, is neither based on the immediate past, condemnable records of PDP as a ruling party in Nigeria nor on the present disastrous and distabilising performance of APC. It is a new platform and a new page in our political history. Some of us must hold ourselves as watchmen and watchwomen for the nation without necessarily belonging to any political party as genuinely concerned and interested citizens and statesmen and stateswomen beyond the ambition of office and enticement of grandeur of position or fortune.
Nigerians must keep their eyes wide open, their ears quite attentive, their minds very clear, their hands very clean and must not remain dumb in the face of atrocities and impunities of the governors against the governed. Those who govern us at all levels must be made to realise that it is our collective rights and sovereignty that they hold in trust for us and to be used for the good of all of us and with all of us having interest and having a stake in how we are governed. It is our God-given right and we must not allow the abuse of it. In the past, we have laid back and we have been taken for a ride. How did we allow Nigeria to be run by K34 without a murmur? Of course, that was followed by the running of Nigeria by Ijaw nation with four women and now by kith and kin and we are still jubilant in the face of atrocities, insecurity, disasters and degradation politically, economically and socially. When I was in school, tolerating what we have tolerated in the past twelve years with our tails within our legs like frightened dogs, we would be asking if we are collectively mesmerised and we needed to go to ‘aro’ for mental or psychological examination.
Some have asked cynically and skeptically if there would ever be change. I can understand their cynicism and skepticism. If we are doing the same thing and we expect a different result, we would be fooling ourselves. As I said earlier, I believe that what we are having is new with some paradigm shift in power equation involving youth and women. The grassroots involvement which CNM has advocated must be maintained consistently. Inclusiveness must take care of over 25 million Nigerians living with disability so that they can make meaningful contribution to societal discourse and development. They must be made part of popular participation. Elitism must be drastically reduced. All the political parties that have emerged since the present dispensation in 1999 have been too elitist, and have gradually lost internal democracy, leaving room for corruption and dictatorship. The greatest lacuna in political party administration in Nigeria since the present dispensation is the ownership of the political party through regular contribution of the members of the party for the upkeep of the party. Worse still is what PDP has now accepted as part of its failure and disappointment of the nation which is looting government treasury to finance individual and party elections. Unfortunately, APC has followed suit. To curb corruption, primary elections should cease to be by delegates but by all card-carrying and financial members of the party within their constituencies. This will save lives as many people have died by being shepherded to a central location as delegates to vote at primaries. It also introduced corruption into the system. At one of the PDP primaries within the last eight years, one candidate distributed $10,000 per delegate, the one who distributed $15,000 per delegate won the primary. It was not necessarily on merit but certainly, dollar talked.
Concluding my point on corruption in politics particularly at the primary elections level, there must be strict control of campaign funding and transparent accounting by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, of all funds contributed and all funds utilised by individuals and political parties for campaigns. I was shocked when an insider in the PDP told me that the amount of money the party used for 2015 elections would be in the neighbourhood of $3 billion. It was all directly or indirectly from the government treasury.
The change we expect to be forthcoming, realistic and effective, will have to come from all of us – citizens, political parties, executive, legislature, judiciary and electoral organisations. We must stop the blame game and must all realise that Nigeria will be as good as we all make it to be – a good, effective, efficient, performing, equitable, fair, just, peaceful, secure, prosperous, united, wholesome and God-fearing country. I stand on the platform that change is possible and human beings are agents of change and we have seen that in our country both for good and for ill. I remain positive and optimistic. If we believe we can, we will. Political parties must do their own with a country-centered and value-laden philosophy, orientation and service. We should have one INEC for all elections at local government, State and national levels. We have all seen the ridiculous phenomena of local government elections conducted by States’ so-called INEC being always almost completely won by the ruling party in the State. We all know it is a sham. The National Assembly must rid itself of corruption; and it can do it. It must also make its remuneration relevant to Nigerian economic and social reality. It can also do it. Then it must make laws and amend the Constitution to have one INEC for all elections in the country, strict and scrupulous funding and accounting of all electoral campaigns and all elections. The INEC must be given power to supervise, control and regulate campaign funds and funds and contribution to political parties. The National Assembly must amend the Constitution to allow Nigerians in diaspora with current Nigerian passports to vote in all Nigerian elections at Nigerian Embassies abroad. The National Assembly should also legislate 30% youth of under 40 and 30% women into all organs of political parties and into all institutions of governments. It should be a great step forward.
The Executive which emerges on the platform of one political party must avoid ‘winners take all’ especially in utilising the best brains available in running the affairs of the country. While the government of the day must be run essentially by the political party that wins the election, there must be consultation and cooperation especially on national issues of unity, economy, security and foreign affairs. There must also be minimum acceptable national position on these issues and which will also allow members of other parties that are good enough to be utilised by the government without necessarily running a government of so-called national unity. Rather, all governments should be government of national common interest.
If we get the platform right, we will get the system right particularly in running the government which should be participatory and all-encompassing, not exclusive, discriminatory but talent-hungry and talent-targeting for the good of the country. Governance must not be myopic, restrictive and limited to circle of tribe, friends and blood relations but open-armed, transparent, open-minded, accommodating and seeking for the best wherever the best can be found to achieve the best for the country. We must all be guided and inspired by Nigerian Dream which must be inclusive, elevating and giving hope, great future and conquering spirit to all Nigerians.
In all situations, let us stand for good leadership, good governance, all-round development and enduring and authentic values within our culture. If we get it all right, our demography will be an asset and not a liability nor indeed a disaster. What is more, our democracy will move from strength to strength dynamically, inclusively, workingly, prosperously, equitably, communally and satisfactorily for all, by all and with all. When democracy goes symbiotically with development as they should, a happy, wholesome, united and inclusive society emerges which is secure, formidable, prosperous and respected within the comity of nations. That is God’s plan for Nigeria which Nigerians must make manifest. There is only one reason for where we are now, it is leadership failure.
My points are borne out of my experience, learning, knowledge and interaction with others. Let us use these ideas as the basis for discussing and debating the course for advancing democracy and development on a sustainable trajectory for Nigeria founded on good leadership and good governance with welfare, well-being and progress of all.
Once again, I congratulate all members of Coalition for Nigeria Movement, all the political parties and civil society organisations that have adopted ADC as a political party platform to move Nigeria up and forward and I wish them success for now and the future. The eyes of the nation and the world are on you to show that with people and organisation of like mind, a real difference is possible and you will make it. I wish you well. But always remember that Nigeria belongs to you as it belongs to those in power. If you fail to use the potent weapon democracy offers you and that is your vote, then you have yourselves to blame. You can move on to the next stage in the democratic advance for change, unity, security, stability, good governance, prosperity and progress. So may it be for Nigeria.

Olusegun Obasanjo
May 10, 2018

OPL 245: The most popular oil block By Reuben Abati

The Petroleum Act 1969 (as amended) grants powers to the Ministry of Petroleum, acting through the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) to administer the licensing of oil blocks in the country. These include Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL), Oil Mining Licence (OML) and Oil Exploration Licence (OEL), which allow the awardees, local and foreign, to explore for and develop oil and gas resources within the country. So far, there are 65 OPLs and 99 OMLs. The last round of licensing bids was conducted in 2007. Of the existing awarded oil blocks and marginal fields, the most controversial and the best known is OPL 245, which owes its fame specifically to the allegation of a missing $1.3 billion due to the Federal Government in what is known as the Malabu oil deal.
The main actors in the Settlement Agreement involving OPL 245 continue to insist that no Federal Government money is missing, and that indeed they deserve praise for civic patriotism, for saving the Nigerian Government from embarrassment and imminent loss of money and face, due to its mismanagement of the award process in the first place. Allegations of missing money are often translated into naked truth, in this season, without due reflection, and regard for the facts of the case. This is so, in this instance, because of reports of corruption involving and surrounding the OPL 245 transactions and foreign investors – Shell and ENI, into which the courts in the home jurisdictions of those companies are inquiring. Whereas this has dominated the narrative, it is important that we go beyond the politics of name-calling, victimization, blackmail and harassment that has developed around OPL 245 and focus on the big picture.
The oil and gas industry in Nigeria is opaque; it is one of the most difficult areas of our national life. The award of exploitation and exploration licenses raises questions of transparency and accountability. Section 2 of the Petroleum Act relies on the approval of the Minister of Petroleum for a license to be awarded, and under the military, this was more or less an exclusive prerogative of the Minister of Petroleum. This is in fact why Presidents and Heads of State (Obasanjo, Buhari) hold on to the Petroleum Ministerial portfolio, and when they do not do so, they ensure that whoever is appointed to that position either as Minister or Special Adviser, or by any title whatsoever is directly answerable to them. The oil and gas sector is Nigeria’s honey pot. Whoever is awarded an oil block or marginal field is instantly a multi-billionaire, and that is why the struggle for an oil block is the most desperate struggle among Nigeria’s aspirational elite.
With the introduction of an Indigenous Exploration Policy in the 1990s, meant to ensure indigenous participation in this most strategic sector, Nigeria’s military rulers, awarded oil blocks to themselves, their friends, girlfriends and cronies. It was like another season of the oil boom and every one wanted a part of the national cake. Many of those who were given oil blocks could not even identify a Christmas tree if they ever saw one. Petty traders, hawkers, errand boys and girls and those with access to the corridors of power only needed to ask for help and that could come in the form of the gift of an oil block. Nigerians who got lucky and got such oil blocks only needed to have a foreign technical partner. This indigenization policy may have indeed been well-meaning but it created a special class of rent-collectors who lived off Nigeria. There were complaints about the ethnic extraction of those who enjoyed such privilege.
In 2002, President Olusegun Obasanjo, to moderate concerns about ethnic favouritism, and lack of transparency, introduced an open bidding and competitive process. His government also established the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), an oversight and audit agency, but despite the best intentions, oil and gas transactions remained opaque and the Obasanjo government eventually violated its own principles by resorting to discretionary awards during the 2002/2003 licensing rounds, and the adoption of a problematic policy called “forced marriages”. Forced marriages in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria have often ended in bitter divorces with collateral damages. Thus, consistently, the Nigerian government has been the author of various distortions in the oil and gas sector due to inefficiency, the politicization and personalization of national resources, and the abuse of due process.
The Malabu case provides a good illustration. Malabu, an indigenous oil and gas company, was allocated Block 245 in 1998, other local companies were also similarly allocated oil blocks, which under the Guidelines, they were required to develop in partnership with international Technical Partners. Malabu paid $2m out of the stipulated $20m at the time, and entered into a joint operation agreement with Shell Ultra Deep Limited (SNUD). The company received its operating license in April 2001 but the same license was revoked in July 2001. The Federal Government then curiously invited Exxon Mobil and Shell, Malabu’s technical partner, to bid for the same OPL 245 as contractors in partnership with the NNPC.
Shell won the bid and proceeded to begin work on the oil block. Malabu cried out that its former technical partner, Shell, had acted in bad faith, by conniving with the government to grab OPL 245 for itself. The company then petitioned the House of Representatives which directed the Federal Government to re-award Block 245 to Malabu. Malabu also went to the Federal High Court, Abuja to seek redress. The suit was struck out. Malabu headed for the Court of Appeal. While this was going on, the then Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Edmund Daukoru asked for settlement out of court on behalf of the Federal Government. OPL 245 had become a cause celebre.
Its association with Dan Etete, Abacha’s Minister of Petroleum, and the Federal Government’s argument that Etete awarded the oil block to himself while in office, had resulted in agitations among the people of the Niger Delta who began to ask for an audit of all oil blocks and full disclosure of the ethnic identity of their owners. The people of Odi, Etete’s home-town also protested that President Obasanjo was against the people of Odi. In 1999, President Obasanjo had been accused of ordering a military invasion of Odi following increased protest in the Niger Delta over indigenous rights to the ownership of oil resources. The people of the Niger Delta could not understand why an oil block associated with an Ijaw suddenly became the target of harassment. The delicate politics of oil block allocation was gradually being unveiled.
The Obasanjo government back-tracked and re-awarded Block 245 to Malabu but on the condition that the company would pay the new signature bonus of $210 million less the $2m it paid in 1998. Malabu paid the sum, and withdrew its case from court. But this created another problem. Shell went to arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC, and also filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Abuja. SNUD, having entered into a Production Sharing Contract (PSC) with the NNPC in 2002, had paid $1 million out of the $210 million signature bonus for OPL 245, and kept the balance of $209 million in an Escrow Account with J.P Morgan pending the resolution of the dispute over OPL 245. Shell wanted compensation and damages in excess of US$2 billion. The company further claimed that it had incurred costs de-risking the oil block.
This was yet another problem: the Federal Government received payment from two companies for the same oil block! In addition, whoever gave the approval for the de-risking of OPL 245 despite an on-going litigation that should have provided a basis for lis pendens , further complicated the situation. Every attempt to resolve the matter one way or the other failed. The possession of an oil block is a serious matter. Shell was offered another oil block; it refused. Block 245 has a total estimated value of about 9 billion barrels of crude. The Obasanjo government toyed with the idea of settlement negotiations among the feuding parties, but no concrete resolution was reached, although a Terms of Settlement Framework was eventually adopted in 2006.
This was the situation until 2010 when President Goodluck Jonathan assumed office. Malabu again petitioned the Federal Government. While taking into consideration the cost to the Federal Government of entering into litigation with Shell on one hand, and Malabu on the other, the Jonathan government resolved to enter into a Resolution Agreement with both parties, and resolve all issues amicably. Under this agreement dated April 29, 2011, Malabu resolved that it would waive all claims to OPL 245, after due compensation by the Federal Government. Shell also agreed to withdraw all suits against the Federal Government and to pay, through the Federal Government, the sum of $1.092 billion as full and final settlement of Malabu in relation to its claims on Block 245. Automatically, Block 245 would in that case revert to Shell and the Italian oil company, ENI, Shell’s new partner. In June 2013, the matter was amicably resolved on these terms. Presidential approval was then given to the effect that Malabu Oil and Gas should be paid the sum of $1.092 billion from the Federal Government’s Escrow Account with J.P. Morgan.
In every instance in this case, the Federal Government under President Jonathan acted solely as a mediator – trust between Malabu and Shell having broken down- and as an obligor seeking to resolve the crisis arising from the collection of money by a previous government from two parties for the same oil block. It is important to note that the said $1.092 billion has not even been paid in full to Malabu Oil and Gas, for whereas the Federal Government of Nigeria had given approval that the money be paid, other parties suddenly showed up to make claims on the money: Energy Venture Partners Limited (a British Virgin Island Company), International Legal Consulting (a Russian Company), Pecos Energy Limited and Mohammed Sani. In the event of these developments, Malabu ended up getting a sum of US$801.540 million and an additional US$75 million while a sum of $215 million is retained with the High Court of England pending the determination of proceedings against Malabu in the UK.
The Malabu/Shell crisis has spanned the lives of four administrations: Abacha, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan. The Jonathan administration helped to resolve a lingering crisis and saved the Federal Government of Nigeria from the risk of liability. If the allocation of oil blocks had not been politicized and personalized in the first place, the crisis would not have occurred. This year, the Buhari government is said to be proposing another round of oil blocks licensing; this should provide an opportunity for a rigorous review of the licensing process.
No company should be pre-qualified or favoured; the process must be truly open and competitive. Companies that are unknown to the oil and gas industry and with doubtful capacity should be barred from the process. No license that has been held for up to 20 years should be renewed and no person must be allowed to have multiple licenses either as principal partner or investor. All allocated blocks that have been left unexplored should be withdrawn and re-awarded. The Department of Petroleum Resources should publish a full list of all blocks awarded so far- offshore, deep water, shallow waters and onshore- indicating who owns them- local or foreign. The people have a right to know and all things taken together, the power to allocate oil exploration should licences should not be vested in a person.
This far-reaching reform is important again because it may be contradictory to promote indigenous participation and local content in the oil and gas sector, and at the same time, persecute select beneficiaries on the grounds that a previous government granted them an undue advantage whereas this seems to be the general pattern. Moral questions may be raised about abuse of office or undue influence, but the government that does so must be seen to be fair, just and equitable in doing so, otherwise it would project itself as selective and vindictive. We need to create a template for fairness.
Where the Federal Government can prove cases of bribery, it is up to it to prove its case, and the onus is further on it to prove if indeed the Federal Government has in any way lost any penny belonging to it in the Malabu case. But other OPLs and OMLs must also be investigated. If there are concrete, irrefutable facts, the state should make them available in the public interest. As James Comey argues forcefully in his 2018 memoir:
A Higher Loyalty – Truth, Lies and Leadership, the greatest form of corruption, dishonesty and assault on democracy is when a government and its officials resort to truth-avoidance and the politics of expediency. In such a strategic sector as oil and gas, this would be rather too costly in the long run.

Full text of President Buhari’s speech at White House press conference

It has been a pleasure and honour to visit Washington DC at the kind invitation of President Donald Trump.
Nigeria and the United States share a long history of close and cordial relations, which encompass political, economic, military, social and cultural cooperation. Our two countries maintain a strategic partnership for peace and security, conflict resolution as well as the global fight against terrorism.
We also share common features as secular federal states, practicing a similar democratic model of governance and committed to the universal values of fundamental human rights and freedoms, free enterprise, social justice and the rule of law.
President Trump and his team and myself and the Nigerian team discussed issues related to security, trade, governance, human rights and humanitarian crises.
SECURITY
We congratulated the leaders of North and South Korea on their historic summit and we applaud them for the positive commitment they have made towards the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. President Trump deserves a great deal of credit for his statesmanly role in transforming so dramatically the course of events in that region.
We also congratulated the US government on the important role it played in the defeat of ISIS, although some of the remnants have found their way to the Sahel region. We recognized the strong US support in our fight against terrorism and also appreciated very much the US’ agreement to sell twelve Super Tucano A-29 war planes and weapons to Nigeria to effectively fight terrorism.
To contain the spate of insurgency in Nigeria, the Federal government has adopted a multi-sectoral approach, involving relevant government agencies to address the socio-economic and political dimensions while the Armed Forces of Nigeria assist the civil authority to provide security and maintain law and order.
As part of efforts to address emerging cases of insurgency in the country, the Nigerian Military adopted a non-kinetic counter terrorism/counter insurgency approach code-named “Operation safe corridor”, to de-radicalize, re-habilitate, and re-integrate willingly surrendered Boko-Haram members into the larger society. This programme is currently embarking on a number of projects including: skill acquisition centers and integrated farms; comprising poultry, fish pond and greenhouse farming, among others. A number of international partners, including the International Organization for Migration have contributed to the success of Operation Safe Corridor. We indicated that we would appreciate whatever support we could also get from the US.
We expressed gratitude for US support in the reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in the North East of Nigeria, as well as humanitarian assistance to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), through agencies such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international partners. The USA has been to date the biggest contributor to the humanitarian response and last year gave approximately 500 million US Dollars in cash and in-kind contributions through the United Nations and other inter-governmental organizations. These have mainly supported protection activities, health, food assistance and shelter.
We are doing all we can to secure the release of the remaining abducted school girls from Dapchi and Chibok. In this context, we will continue to welcome US collaboration in intelligence gathering, hostage negotiations and information-sharing.
VIOLENCE BETWEEN HERDSMEN AND FARMERS
The government is taking necessary steps to promote the peaceful co-existence of herdsmen and farmers, by focusing on boosting security and enforcing legislation that will guarantee herders and farmers access to land;
TRADE AND INVESTMENT
I extended sincere congratulations to President Trump and his government on the impressive performance of the US economy under their watch.
Our aim is to diversify our own economy by focusing on agriculture and food security; power and infrastructure. We have cut the importation of rice by about 90% thereby saving a significant amount of money. We very much welcomed increased US investment in the Nigerian economy, especially in the non-oil sector.
Economic relations between Nigeria and the United States are anchored on three major instruments, namely: the Bi-National Commission (BNC), Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) and the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The Bi-National Commission in particular, comprising bilateral political, economic, developmental and humanitarian partnership, is a basic economic framework for engagement between our two countries.
Nigeria’s trade volume with the United States stood at $6.07 billion according to 2016 statistics and comprised $4.176 billion worth of Nigerian exports to the US and $1.894 billion US exports to Nigeria. We urged greater effort to increase these figures substantially.
GOVERNANCE AND ANTI-CORRUPTION
We thanked the US government very much for the cooperation we have received in our effort to recover stolen funds. Our two governments have put the machinery in place for their respective Attorneys-General to collaborate in ensuring the return to Nigeria of over five hundred million United States Dollars ($500m) of looted funds siphoned away in banks around the world. In this connection, we congratulated the US government on launching a Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative which was spearheaded by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering. We hoped that we could continue to count on US support in this area.
HUMAN RIGHTS
The Government of Nigeria remains deeply committed to the principles of human rights as well as the promotion and protection of people’s freedom, even in the process of fighting terror. We commit to ensure that all documented cases of human rights abuses are investigated and those responsible for violations held accountable for their actions.

Restructuring Nigeria: Propositions Summarised, By Edwin Madunagu

The aim here is to summarise my current position on the question of the geopolitical restructuring of Nigeria. I say “current” because as far as I can remember, I started thinking seriously—and then debating and writing—about restructuring from 1986 as a member of the Political Bureau. Today, 32 years later, I am still thinking and writing on the subject. The present piece is implicitly a draft memo on this important political subject to the Nigerian Left. And, for the avoidance of doubt, the category “Nigerian Left” means the aggregate of socialism and popular democracy in Nigeria today.
What I consider my current aggregate position on restructuring of Nigeria is constituted by several propositions articulated and refined over a fairly long period of time. For the purpose of this piece the propositions can be grouped under the following five broad headings: The impossibility of purely ethnic separation; redeployment and redistribution of national resources; levels of exercise of power and responsibility; principles of triple balancing; and popular-democratic restructuring at a glance. The propositions are not of the same status. Some of them are issues which the Nigerian Left should struggle to have inserted in the Constitution of Nigeria, while others are those that the Left should insert in its programmes, manifestoes and occasional platforms. I shall now take the groups of propositions one after the other.
A little over 20 years ago, on December 3, 1997, when General Sani Abacha was still in power, I attended and contributed to a seminar organised in Calabar by the Cross River State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ). The seminar was one of NUJ’s contributions to Abacha’s transition programme after the collapse of Babangida’s experiment. I was asked to speak on the theme “The ethnicity syndrome: How it affects the development of Cross River State”. In the preamble to my contribution I said: “If a 100 kg bag of beans and a 100kg bag of rice are mixed, it will be possible, with patience and perseverance, for a school boy or school girl to separate the grains”. I then went on to say that it would be easier for that unfortunate young person to perform the feat than for any political authority or forces to separate Nigeria into pure ethnic components!
Two years later, on November 4, 1999, my piece, “Impossibility of (pure) ethnic separation” appeared in my column in The Guardian . The article was essentially a review of the late Chief Anthony Enahoro’s proposition on restructuring the federation. But simultaneously the article appeared as a re-statement of my December 3, 1997 proposition. I shall in future return to Chief Enahoro and, in doing so, touch on the coincidence of my position and his on some aspects of geopolitical restructuring. This coincidence led to a series of private meetings between the late nationalist, democrat and federalist and myself in Lagos and Benin between 1992 and 2002.Mind you, I am not saying that Nigeria cannot disintegrate. Of course, the country can disintegrate if it pushes itself or is allowed to be pushed beyond certain limits by those who have the means and the power. Nigeria can disintegrate in a manner worse than that of the former Soviet Union, the former Yugoslavia, the former Czechoslovakia, the Greater Ethiopia (before Eritrea broke off), the Greater Somalia (before the current catastrophe), and Yemen, a bleeding country which has seen separation and unification several times. All I am saying is that if Nigeria disintegrates—as it can disintegrate if the Nigerian Left does not step in—it will not be along ethnic lines.
If Nigeria disintegrates the more powerful war juntas will simply carve up the country—with each component reproducing Nigeria, that is, recreating majorities and minorities, the dominating and the dominated. Please, set up a large map of Nigeria on the wall. First, demarcate and indicate the present 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory; then, in a different colour, demarcate and indicate the present six geopolitical zones; finally, in another colour, demarcate and indicate Nigeria’s ethnic groups. The only requirement I seek from you is elementary knowledge of your own country’s history and politics plus intellectual honesty—including the honesty to seek honest assistance wherever you are stuck or confused. Compatriots, what do you have before you?
The second cluster of propositions relates to class-to-class redeployment and redistribution of national resources or, simply, the restructuring of class appropriations. By this I mean the massive movement of resources from the ruling classes and blocs to the popular masses through people-oriented radical reforms in employment, education, health, housing, transportation, taxation and levies, etc. Class appropriations, by the way, include not only the monies, properties and businesses recovered from “looters” but also proceeds of state and class robberies which may have been covered by obnoxious legalities. The class-to-class redeployment is the sociological and logical complement of horizontal, state-to-state distribution which—as it is now—is essentially a distribution within the ruling classes and blocs and their various segments.
The third cluster is the principle of triple balancing in Nigeria’s geopolitical restructuring. The picture is like this: split each of the South-South and North-Central geopolitical zones into two. This raises the number of geopolitical zones from six to eight. Now, go to Nigeria’s pre-independence geopolitical structure: the three regions—West (plus Lagos), East and North—where the first two regions (plus Lagos) were also regarded as the South. With the new eight-zone structure, the former North and the former South will have four zones each; the former East and former West (plus Lagos) will have two zones each; the South-South and North-Central will, together, have four zones while the “big” groups—the South-West, the South-East, the North-East and the North-West—will together have four zones. So, the North balances the South; the East balances the West; and the historical “minorities” balances the historical “majorities”.The fourth cluster of propositions relates to the levels of responsibility and exercise of power or, in more familiar language, tiers of government. Here we move from the current three tiers to five tiers of government as follows: federal, zonal (between federal and state), state, local government and community (below the local government). Each zone will be constituted by a number of states, while a local government ward will be constituted into one or more communities. At the federal level, the president will be replaced by a presidential council of eight equal members—a member representing a zone—with rotational headship. The zone may or may not be a “government” as such, but minimally it will be a unit for some strategic appointments and location of some strategic industries, state institutions and infrastructures. The communities will be the domain of direct mass involvement in development, social welfare and security.
So, what will this type of restructuring—which we have called “popular-democratic restructuring”—look like when it has been constructed and set in motion? This question summons the fifth cluster of propositions. The answer here is that the picture is fragmentary and tentative. Only discussions can refine it. But the clear features include: Nigeria will remain a federal republic; the current principles of citizenship, fundamental human rights and principles of state policy will be enhanced; the federal government will give up a substantial fraction of its current appropriation to the states and local governments. The states, in turn, will finance the zones and the local governments will finance the communities. Finally—and this is the “magic” of popular democracy—the “cost of governance”, both in relative and absolute terms, will be much less than what it is at present.
Edwin Madunagu, a mathematician and journalist, writes from Calabar, Cross River State.

Premium Times EDITORIAL: When Bill Came Calling, and Spoke Startling Truth To Power

When President Muhammadu Buhari and his advisers agreed to have Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft Corporation, address what was described as an expanded meeting of Nigeria’s Economic Council, they must have thought, among other things, that it was a public relations opportunity too good to miss.
After all, Bill Gates is the most successful anticipatory revolutionary of the digital era. For the uninitiated in many parts of the world, Gate’s Microsoft Corporation it was that once epitomised the computer age through its ubiquitous software applications. Microsoft brought computing to the ordinary person by simplifying the ‘user interface’ in a manner that reduced the most complex undertaking to a new type of simplicity. The erstwhile gentleman geek has become one of the world’s best-known charitable donors since 2006, through the activities of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which promotes good causes in healthcare around the world.
A man of Bill Gates’ standing has the right credentials to muster Mr. Buhari and his presidency into the hall of fame of those much-sought but ill-defined good governance providers. And given that Nigeria is less than a year away from another presidential election in which Mr. Buhari seems likely, rather than less, to be a contender yet again, praise from Mr. Gates could have proven to be an invaluable asset.
However, Mr. Gates seemed less interested in that sort of nonsense. Or simply put, the man is not obsequiousness to power. That should be no surprise. By his own admission, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has committed nearly $1.6 billion into assisting Nigeria with tackling maternal deaths, infant mortality, the spread of polio, etc. in nearly 12 years. He is also promising more to follow.
In the years since he has become interested in Nigeria, Mr. Gates has watched the mesmerising zeal and energy of an ambitious people transform the country into “the biggest economy on the [African] continent…rapidly approaching upper middle-income status, like Brazil, China, and Mexico.”
However, like many who pay serious attention to economic statistics, Mr. Gates has not seen this continuously lauded economic progress reflected in the substance of the everyday life of the ordinary Nigerian. To use his words exactly, “From the point of view of the quality of life, much of Nigeria still looks like a low-income country.”
The Nigerian government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) identifies, “investing in our people” as one of three “strategic objectives”. But the “execution priorities” do not fully reflect people’s needs, prioritising physical capital over human capital.
As Mr. Gates pointed out, “To anchor the economy over the long term, investments in infrastructure and competitiveness must go hand in hand with investments in people. People without roads, ports, and factories can’t flourish. And roads, ports, and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy.”
Fresh as this observation might have sounded, it was what most intelligent Nigerians have said repeatedly since the rise of the number crunchers at the heart of our national government. Clearly, something has gone badly wrong with the management of the economy since October 1979. It was from then that the post-civil war consensus of limited welfarism began to fray at the edges, pressured by the then new but now institutionalised logic of unfettered market forces. Successive military regimes since the 1979-83 federal government made a bad situation worse by signing up to the dicta of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or what is summarised in informed cycles as living by the norms of the Washington Consensus.
According to one academic expert, the dicta work by entrenching a technical policy discourse, in which decisions regarding resource allocation or economic regulation are expressed in an economistic and ‘scientific’ language which appears to be ‘value-neutral’ and therefore beyond the understanding of the ordinary person.
Mr. Gates obviously is not a development expert or an economist in the sense of being a learned man who speaks in abstruse vocabulary. His experience from another world, coupled with his own innate human sympathy seemed enough to tell him that Nigeria’s problem may not be growth per se , but the self-evident lack of social contract in how the country is governed.
As a philosophical idea, social contract is perhaps too complex for the current corps of the country’s governing elite to understand. Simply defined, it means that public affairs, including how resources are managed and allocated, will be conducted for the promotion of public good. A simple test of how public good is promoted in practice is how often do those running the affairs of the state ask themselves such mundane questions as ‘who benefits?’ or ‘who is paying for this and to what end?’, when making their decisions.
If Mr. Gates had made such a delicate philosophical distinction between the pursuit of growth for its own sake and growth as the pursuit of a virtuous economic cycle that is built on public good, he would have been vulnerable to accusations of talking down on his hosts, or worse, of lecturing ‘leaders of a sovereign state’ at worse.
It was a stroke of genius therefore that Mr. Gates instead used the same terrain much-loved by his audience. That is the economic growth and development mantra. You can have as much growth as you like, but what matters most is the quality of life of those for whom the growth is meant to produce better conditions of living. Hear him:
“In upper middle-income countries, the average life expectancy is 75 years. In lower middle-income countries, it’s 68. In low-income countries, it’s 62. In Nigeria, it is lower still: just 53 years. Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth, with the fourth worst maternal mortality rate in the world, ahead of only Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, and Chad. One in three Nigerian children is chronically malnourished.”
That was not all. Whether on education, taxation, agricultural policy, or even fiscal and monetary policy to aid development, Mr. Gates sounded as a man unmoved by the attention of his hosts to fine details. He said:
“Of the 37 million micro, small, and medium enterprises in Nigeria, more than 99 percent are micro. Their lack of access to finance is a leading reason why these businesses can’t grow.” That was indeed an “ouch” moment, given how successive regimes since 1999 have lectured citizens about the virtues of ‘enterprise culture’. How can enterprise culture develop where 99 percent of micro businesses have no access to the capital market?
That last bit was an assault, carefully stated, on both the monetary and fiscal policies on which the country is being run. For years and most recently since the misadventure of a former highly hyped minister of finance in the euphoric years of Olusegun Obasanjo’s last rule, the already entrenched plans of Nigeria’s treasury for a sustainable economic development through marketisation and public spending restraint was raised even higher. The argument is not about whether these policies failed, but that they ought not to have been in the first place. A country that is severely lacking in manpower, has a poor and inadequate infrastructure, an under-skilled if beleaguered public sector and so on, has no business buying into the idea that the state needed shrinking.
It is such logic that Mr. Gates called to question in the manner that he spoke to his hosts. In doing so, Mr. Gates reminded those who are familiar with America’s history of industrialisation of an era when the American businessman was happy to pay higher taxes so that the state could finance not just roads and hospitals, but also schools, colleges and research institutes. As that generation of wealth creators saw it then, these are means of producing the informed and knowledge-savvy workers that would help them build industries and create profit. In that particular American experience, nothing has succeeded in advancing the common good in the 19th century as much as enlightened self-interest. One could say that in the manner he stated his case, Mr. Gates managed to indirectly teach a history lesson that the governing classes in Nigeria needed to learn. Pity they were not given a reading list beforehand. If they had had one, they might have read also that no country struggling to escape into economic and technological modernity has done so where interest rates on business borrowing or any borrowing for that matter starts at a whopping 27 percent.
In a country where the end of politics is all about power for itself, philosophy seems a strange concept. Nigerians owe Mr. Gates a debt of gratitude, in addition to that already owed for his philanthropic work in the country. He spoke truth to power in a language of power’s own choosing. There may be no algorithm for that, but who cares?