​Fayose For President, Dino For Nobel Prize! By SOC Okenwa

The caption for this piece was originally meant to be “Strange Things In A Strange Country” but at the last minute I changed my mind and settled for the above. I decided otherwise because I believed Fayose’s presidential ambition (as laughable as it seems) and Senator Melaye’s recall conundrum presented more appeal and suitability. Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti state and Senator Dino Melaye are two (executive and legislative) reprobates this democracy has thrown up. Standing up to them, exposing their folly and refusing to buy their nauseating political brand remains a duty we owe to our embattled country in defense of her troubled democracy.

Nigeria is a strange country populated by strange fellows. Having lived in a couple of countries outside the shores of ‘Naija’ for over a decade I feel ashamed to say that whenever I had cause to visit home the issues of security and dearth of infrastructures always occupied one’s thoughts. Questions like: how can one navigate the big modern jungle without compromising both his safety and health? How can one cope with the generalized lack of power supply and the consequent noise of generators in and around the neighborhood? Some people risibly call the ownership of the power machine “I better pass my neighbor”. And others simply label it NEPA (Now Expect Power Always). Nigeria boasts of a burgeoning ‘generator generation’! How can one bath with some untreated water and not lose his natural pigmentation? How can one drive around cities, towns, and villages dotted with pot-holed ill-maintained dirty roads and streets? Posers and more posers dominated your thoughts all day long, long before you fly in.

I must confess that ever since President Buhari took over the mantle of leadership two years ago I have not been to Nigeria. But some compatriots who had gone and back were telling us of how things were improving. But they equally reported that some perfidious politicians were still confusing gullible Nigerians telling them that there was the difference between six and half-a-dozen, score and twenty. Nigeria is bound to make more progress if corruption is fought with more vigor and more jobs created for the army of angry, hungry and jobless youths. Besides, the time for a restructuring of our federal system of government is now.

Strange things do happen in Nigeria every now and then. Strange things like the acquittal of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for his proven false declaration of assets by the Code of Conduct Tribunal headed by one Danladi Umar. However, we have been informed of how Saraki had ‘bribed’ his way out with a whopping 2 million Dollars! Saraki is a very smart crook who knows how to get things done or crooked up in his selfish interest. He seems to have learnt a lot from his late father ‘Oloye’ who was a political strategist in his lifetime. We strongly condemn the pro-Saraki verdict reached by the learned men of CCT. And now that the federal government, dissatisfied with the shocking ruling, had filed an appeal we hope that the injustice delivered by the CCT would be corrected soonest.

Strange things like the ‘removal’ or replacement of the Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK) from the secondary school curriculum by the Ministry of Education with Islamic or French language studies. Recently Apostle Johnson Suleman of the Omega Fire Ministry had issued a statement condemning the development and declaring that it was a sure way of Islamizing Nigeria! Though the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) had taken up the matter by engaging the Acting President Osinbajo in their recent visit to the Villa it must be made clear that Nigeria remains a secular state. And therefore any attempt (overt or covert) to foist Islam on her must be resisted by every means possible. Osinbajo must act now before it is too late.

But beyond the CRK suppression from the curriculum, it is baffling that a struggling nation besetted and buffeted with a myriad of problems could have time for trivialities like tinkering with a religious study in school rather than doing something radical to improve the quality of education in our schools. There are cases of youth violence, unemployment, and delinquency waiting to be tackled. Besides, it is our considered view that religion will take us nowhere! Some ‘godless’ societies like China and Japan are recording extraordinary progress but we are content with moving backward with imams, pastors and prayer warriors everywhere!

Strange things like Musliu Obanikoro, former fugitive PDP Minister under GEJ, ‘romancing’ with Asiwaju Tinubu and planning to dump the embattled PDP for the APC ruling party (that is if he had not surreptitiously done so yet as rumours suggested). Today those being chased by the EFCC for looting are finding it very convenient to decamp in order to save their heads but the war on corruption must go on without fear or favour. Obanikoro (or Onikoro) has taken a political shellacking lately so he is desperately pursuing rehabilitation which he knows only Asiwaju can offer. But let Tinubu be careful of such turncoats, such vandals.

Strange things like the recent arrest and parading of the notorious kidnapping kingpin Chukwudubem Onwuamadike alias Evans in Lagos. Before the police cornered him after a gun duel in his Magodo residence Evans had made stupendous wealth through organized armed robbery, drug running and abduction for ransom for years living happily in Lagos without detectives fishing him out. The Nigerian law enforcement agencies need to be more pro-active in intelligence gathering. Bragging about his capture or making noise about same on the television and newspapers is an advertisement of our policing backwardness. Evans was caught but there are other smaller ‘Evans’ out there still kidnapping and evading arrest. So, there is nothing to ‘celebrate’ here please!Strange things like Lekan Fatodu hiring a small crowd of ‘area boys’ and staging a loud obscene demonstration in front of the premises of Saharareporters’ Civic Media Lab in Lagos last weekend. Fatodu was the same fellow that physically attacked the Publisher of SR, Omoyele Sowore, earlier this year on the streets of Ikeja, Lagos. I had labeled him an ‘assassin’ then in an article. He was ranting and blabbing about what he and the thugs he brought along tagged “Fake News” reports of Saharareporters. When I watched the video clip online I concluded that Fatodu had an axe to grind with Sowore. Yet his rabble-rousing would never have any effect on Sowore or Saharareporters. SR has grown beyond Sowore as it were. The website has attracted a wide readership and following. It is a leading online platform where Nigerians and other Africans at home and abroad meet in a beautiful cross-fertilisation of ideas.

Given its whistle-blowing nature, it is beyond censure or censorship. And no government agency or individual can control its content or editorial policy. Therefore, Fatodu and his army of urchins must be told clearly that their “fake news” campaign was dead on arrival. He only succeeded in ridiculing and embarrassing himself on camera.

Strange things like the rogue Senator representing Kogi West constituency in Kogi state, Dino Melaye, writing a book on corruption and publicly presenting same. Dino, the “thug” and “dog” was reported not too long ago to have escaped assassination in his Lokoja home. Before then he and his state governor had been at loggerheads, trading accusations and insults over affairs in the state. The Governor, Yahaya Bello, had called Dino unprintable names and Dino, in turn, had accused the Governor of double voter card registration and maladministration. He even accused Bello of being behind the failed attempt on his useless life and the on-going attempt by his constituency to recall him from the Senate. Indeed it is very obvious that Melaye deserves recalling given numerous scandals and criminal activities trailing him all along.

Dino wants to be Governor of his poor state but Kogi cannot afford to have a character like him at the helm of affairs. Melaye must have written the 600-page book entitled: “Antidotes for Corruption: The Nigerian Story” to register his presence on the national scene as an established author! One literally capable, in his infantile mind, of replicating the monumental feat of Prof. Wole Soyinka as the only African Nobel laureate. However, if he wants really to be another ‘Kongi’ then he must go back to school (preferably Toronto University where ex-Speaker Salisu Buhari ‘graduated’ from) where he would study creative writing and thereafter go for a Ph.D. Dino’s legislative rascality has gone on for too long; that is why one is delighted that something is being done in his constituency to sanction him and take him home.

With many scandals and fraudulent activities as his achievements in the upper legislative chamber and the recall mission in high gear, Melaye cannot pretend any longer that all is well in his daily tweets. Breaking news has it that he has instituted a suit to block the move for his recall. He may well ‘buy’ a Judge soon to issue a perpetual injunction preventing anyone from ever recalling him! He has staggering resources to recruit a Judge who would do his bidding. We are living in a strange country of strange happenings.

His foray into authorship has given us an insight into his literary weakness and limited intelligence. The book itself is for crooks like him. That was why the people that attended the book presentation could best be described as “a gathering of disgusting reprobates”. As Prof Soyinka told Sowore recently during his visit to the Civic Media Lab: “I hope the media when they do their launch, will not be like the launching with which the nation was treated recently in Abuja. I think this nation — you and I — have been slapped in the face by some of the disgusting reprobates that we know in any level of connection with power.”Strange things like Fayose days ago holding a street rally in the state capital on the third year anniversary of his ‘victory’ in the June 21, 2014 governorship election. We all know how Fayose, Jonathan and co rigged the guber poll that produced him as Governor yet Ayo cannot keep quiet. But stranger than that was the Governor declaring that “God” had revealed to him that he would be Nigeria’s President post-Buhari in 2019! The truth is that Fayose was talking balderdash. If he could be President then Abubakar Shekau can equally lay claim to the presidency! Fayose never ceases to amaze sane minds. Someone who still has some outstanding cases of murder, corruption and electoral brigandage hanging on his head could be so bold to re-define hubris by masturbating presidentially? But for him to aspire to the highest office in the land is in itself a study in hubris. His metamorphosis from a danfo driver to the government house in Ado Ekiti is already a ‘landmark’ accomplishment only a political reprobate could pull off!

Yet, Nigeria being Nigeria (where nothing is impossible) Ayo ‘stomach infrastructure’ Fayose may well get away with his audacity of impunity.

SOC Okenwa

soco_abj_2006_rci@hotmail.fr

​(In) Justice In Our Penal System: Evans Vs Corrupt Public Servants By Abiodun Ladepo

Without one of those spoilt, narcissistic Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) who specialize in advocating for white-collar criminals standing by him, Chukwudumeje George Onwuamadike, also known as the celebrity kidnapper Evans, narrated to the media how he kidnapped people. We got to know the entire modus operandi. I bet you, given enough time, he will tell us more…everything from how he selected his targets, to how he studied their lifestyles, how he selected the dates and times for the kidnap operations, reconnoitering and selecting the intended routes, recruiting the right accomplices for the operations, deciding what types of weapons, modes of transportation and signs and signals he shared with his crew for whether to proceed with or abort operations.

Given enough time, Evans will tell us what post-operation meetings (After-Action Review?) looked like. Did they burn vehicles used in the operations? Did they shut off or throw away all the phones they had with them? Did anybody get wounded? Did anybody die? What were the health conditions of the victims? How much were the victims really worth? How were the ransoms collected? What were the sharing formulas? And how were the monies kept or spent without triggering suspicion in the community?

Evans would tell you all these not because he has suddenly been overwhelmed by a sense of contrition, or that the Holy Ghost has taken control of his dark heart and lodged there to cleanse it, or simply out of the goodness of his heart. He has been singing like a canary and will continue to sing like that because he has undergone (and is probably still undergoing) some of the most “creative” interrogation techniques in the whole world. No, I do not know for sure if that went on, or is going on. I just know, by taking a close look at his face, seeing his bloodshot eyes, his swollen red face and overall countenance, that he has faced the kind of interrogation techniques that Musiliu Obanikoro, for instance, did not face while being questioned for alleged corruption.

You probably know a thing or two about “creative” interrogation techniques…those that violate some of the articles of the Geneva Convention to which Nigeria has long been a signatory; those that could cause a country to be seen as a pariah by the rest of the civilized world, and bring the government official violators before the International Court of Justice at The Hague for human rights violations. The “good” thing about those kinds of interrogation techniques is that they make you confess fast and deep. You may even confess to crimes you did not commit!

Now, let me state without any equivocation that I do not think Evans has confessed to crimes he did not commit. In fact, he has confessed and given us proof of his sadistic crimes. There is no question Evans is one of the most depraved and despicable entities to have walked the face of this earth. There is no question he put innocent people through untold anguish by depriving wives of their husbands, children of their fathers; siblings of their siblings and friends of their friends. There is no doubt he robbed people of their hard-earned incomes and stripped them of their dignities in the most heartless and brutal ways, killing some in the process of snatching them against their will. And there is no question the man belongs in a fiery furnace, thrown in there while still alive, and left to immolate until his ashes are completely burnt too.

But just as Evans represents the worst kinds of human beings, so do some of our public servants represent the dregs of our society. The difference though is that rather than vilify the white-collar criminals like we are doing to Evans now, we celebrate them. We rankadede them when they show up in our communities in their bedecked clothes and accouterments. We trot after their sleek SUVs. We hold them in awe, drooling with admiration when their private jets land at our airports. We troop to their mansions to eat the crumbs off their tables. We never challenge them for the crimes they have committed against us…crimes with far more devastating and lasting consequences on us as a nation and as individuals. We can’t challenge them because we can never know with the kind of clarity, lucidity, and forthrightness (albeit forced) that Evans confessed to his sins. We can never know because we will never subject them to “creative” interrogation techniques.

Or will we ever strip Bukola Saraki naked; slap tight handcuffs on his hands, clasp leg-chains on him, and deny him sunlight, food, water, shelter from cold, shelter from heat, shelter from mosquitos? Will we ever subject him to marathon questioning where we get to change interrogators to give them a break but not give him any break in order to sustain weeks-long sessions and any time he dozes off, we beat the living crap out of him? Will we ever introduce a flaming rod to his private part? Will we ever introduce a hammer to his fingers and toes? Will we ever simulate drowning him? Will we ever do any of the above to him while questioning him about the allegations he faces?

When you took a look at Sambo Dasuki’s face, did you see any evidence of “creative” investigation techniques? What about that of Rabiu Kwankwaso? What about Alex Badeh’s face? What about Femi Fani-Kayode’s face? What about Stella Oduah’s face? What about Patience Jonathan’s? What about Adesola Amosu’s? And these are people against whom some of the most “fantastic” corruption allegations in the history of Nigeria have been made. Some of them have never even been arrested, let alone interrogated. Some of them have admitted to stealing (way more than Evans has stolen violently) and have started to return their loot to a government. But we don’t see them as terrible people in the same way we see Evans, even though they may have hurt our very beings beyond repair if some of the crimes against them are ever proven to be true.

Hundreds of women die monthly during childbirth because hospitals do not have the equipment to monitor their and their babies conditions, with funds meant for equipping the hospitals having been embezzled by public servants. We don’t see that as worse than what Evans did because we have not subjected the public servants to the process of atonement, the kind that Evans faced. Boko Haram successfully carved out a “country” for itself in Nigeria’s northeast, butchering thousands of innocent and poor civilians, kidnapping and raping hundreds of young school girls and Nigeria’s military could not defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity because some eminent Nigerians diverted to their pockets funds meant to arm the military. We don’t see that as a crime worthy of the kind of burn-in-a-ferocious-furnace punishment that I recommend above for Evans?

What about those death traps we call roads? What about those coffins we fly as aircraft…with funds for their maintenance having been cornered by the politicians we eulogize? What about our children’s future being taken from them when tertiary education has been priced out of their reaches?

The list is endless. We see and feel every day the litany of crimes committed against our humanity by the people we revere, trust and respect. But we have inoculated ourselves against the sense of justice, proportion and fairness in apportioning punishment to the point that we lynch a hungry man who steals a loaf of bread while saluting the public servant who steals our billions. We subject to public opprobrium and humiliation the common criminal while 50-plus Senators, 100-plus SANs, shameless media advisers, pliant prosecutors who intentionally sabotage their own cases and morally debased judges all conspire to free the highly-placed criminals. The war against corruption will fail unless we have a level playing field…the kind of field on which we played Evans; the kind of playing field that will serve as deterrence for our super-corrupt public servants.

Abiodun Ladepo

Ibadan, Oyo State

Oluyole2@yahoo.com

Borno, Boko Haram and politics By Jamil Abubakar

It may surprise many Nigerians who still hear sporadic nerve-breaking sounds of bomb explosions by Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in parts of Borno state. This shock in Nigerians is reinforced by the insistence of the Nigerian military of defeating terrorism.

Borno used to be the hub of terrorism in Nigeria and even the incident of the abduction of over 270 Chibok school girls by BHTs also occurred in Borno state. Yobe and Adamawa states were also caught up by the fire of terrorism in the Northeast. But Borno is now the lone state where traces of insurgency are still found.

There was a threatening severity of insurgency in the Northeast and other parts of Nigeria before President Buhari appointed a rugged soldier, Lt.Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai as Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS), and leader of the counter-insurgency war. Nigerian soldiers threw in their hearts and soul into the counter-insurgency battle and eventually defeated Boko Haram. Nigerian troop’s defeat of terrorism came in stages.

What led to the final defeat of terrorists in Nigeria first manifested as the repression of their ability to strike recklessly as Nigerian troops squeezed and forced many insurgents to recede; it followed the decimation of terrorists and the final onslaught that marked the defeat of terrorism in Nigeria was the demystification of Sambisa forest, the former BHTs impenetrable and safest haven.

Gen. Buratai’s launch of Operation Crackdown in the Northeast is the last phase of the military’s combat engagement with terrorists. It was contrived purely as clearance operations to flush out remnants’ of Boko Haram insurgents from Nigeria’s border communities where the few survivors hibernated.

Thereafter came peace; Nigerians started enjoying enduring peace from terrorism. But while euphoria of this peace resonates in every part of Nigeria, Borno state or precisely, Maiduguri, the state capital has abruptly ended it. This is the fresh anxiety on the minds of most Nigerians.

The question often asked is why Borno has refused to be completely silenced or severed from the lethal explosions of bombs? The University of Maiduiguri appears to be most hit by this overtly political version of Boko Haram insurgency. Sometimes, a vigilant security nabs terrorists before explosion of the bombs, but sometimes, the agents of evil escape undetected to unleash mayhem on hapless victims.

Overtime, it is often preached that effective security in any clime is everybody’s business. It requires the engagement of both formal and informal agents to break the enigmatic intricacies of insecurity.

Before the ascension of President Muhammadu Buhari to Nigeria’s Presidency Boko Haram insurgency was a force potent enough to decree Nigeria out of existence. Bombs freely exploded everywhere.

Nigerians resident in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) lived under the permanent phobia of terrorists’ attacks, much as in Lagos state or any other big city in Nigeria. Insurgency bombs exploded beyond the Northeast. Terrorists wreaked havoc in Kogi, Niger, Kano Kaduna and everywhere, with foiled attempts in Lagos and other states in the Southwest.

The phenomenon of Boko Haram Terrorism has been extinguished in any other place in Nigeria. But it has resurged in Borno state and its environs again.

This intermittent bomb explosions in Borno state have abstinently refused to abate. It is more baffling when one realizes that suicide bombings are still thriving in the state despite the heavy presence of soldiers or the extreme militarization of Borno, like the recent establishment of the first Nigerian Army University in Biu local government of the state.

Nigerians are aware that the concept of Boko Haram terrorism has different categories. The original Boko Haram insurgents were the religious pundits. And it later expanded tentacles to sprout the business and political off -springs. But the Nigerian army has been able to defeat all the disparate components of terrorism in Nigeria.

While patriotic Nigerians elsewhere actively backed the final purge of insurgents from communities by assisting security agents with information to apprehend remnants of fleeing of terrorists in Lagos, Abuja and other places, it was a contrary experience in Borno state. The people rather sought protection for terrorists, who disguised and mingled with them. Scores have been arrested in Borno for housing fleeing terrorists in the state. It readily confirms the unpreparedness of some bad elements in the state to dump sponsorship of insurgency.

These are obviously the remnants’ of terrorists politicians in the state are exploiting to farther their political ambitions. And this is a fertile time hence the shadows of 2019 partisan politicking are visibly hovering in the air.

But the political wing, obviously sponsored by wealthy politicians has recouped and re-energized, which is currently committing the atrocities on the people. The intention is to scare IDP returnees, keep the villages forlorn and create the impression that terrorism has not been defeated after all.

And within the political wing of Boko Haram terrorism, it has developed a suspected sub-sect of terrorists, who belong to the clan of terrorists’ agents and sympathizers’ feeding fat on the crisis and hate to hear anybody pronounce it as ended. These are agents heavily sponsored by foreign enemies of Nigeria to portray the country as a failed state, even though the Nigerian military has humbled insurgents out of relevance.

The current bombers shattering the peace of parts of Borno state have no identifiable character with the terrorists Nigeria has subdued. They have many targets of gains on their minds and also, angles for a direct federal government negotiation with them. So, they keep cracking the nut with the sporadic suicide bomb explosions.

However, the booming suicide bombs business is just to scare the people and to sustain the tempo for the political wing of BHTs who front for dubious politicians as permutations’ for 2019 elections are gathering momentum. That’s why the bombs will keep detonating from time to time.

An English idiom says, “Heaven help those who help themselves.” Borno people must clearly demarcate the line between peace and terror. The continued sustenance of terrorism just because there is a leader who would be blackmailed and blamed for “forsaking” the security of the citizenry is not sensible enough. The concealed interest of Borno people in terrorism explains why these suicide bombs have kept detonating and the impediment in completely defeating the remnants of Boko Haram in the State.

Boko Haram cannot be eclipsed in Nigeria, including Borno, by the military and suddenly, it resurfaces again. It means there is something that is being veiled somewhere and the world needs to know the truth. But this is charge on security agents to intensify efforts in investigating the arrowheads behind these heinous crimes against humanity to fish out perpetrators’ for appropriate sanctions. They must be coercively compelled to lay down their arms now or pay dearly for their sins in the nearest future.

By Jamil Abubakar

Abubakar writes from GRA, Gombe.

​2019 And The Legend Of Buhari On A Wheelchair By Emmanuel Ugwu

Considering President Muhammadu Buhari’s struggle an unremitting debilitating disease which has kept him out of his office and country indefinitely, should the 74-year -old be on the ballot in 2019?

In an ideal world, this is a non-question. The proposition carries the unmistakable undertones of callousness and mischief. For the obvious reason that President Buhari has been in a protracted state of incapacitation, it is inhuman to speculate in his electability as if he were some blue chip stock.

A certain ‘supporter’ of the president, however, responded as if the question was about a larger-than-life cult figure in a banana republic. Yes, Buhari must run for a second term. The North wants him to run ‘’even on the wheelchair.’’

The doctrinaire Buharist borrowed his response from Mrs. Grace Mugabe. Asked whether her nonagenarian husband would seek to extend his 30-year-old rule over the-food-basket-of-Africa-turned-basket-case-of-the-continent in the next presidential election, the first lady of Zimbabwe replied that her husband, Robert Mugabe, would run by all means, even if he was wheelchair-bound. (The vixen would later venture to promise that if he happened to die before the elections, he would be fielded as a ghost candidate!)

Now, it must be noted that ableism is absolutely unjustifiable. It violates the basic decencies of a civilized society. Physical disability does not diminish a man’s personhood and the physically challenged among us are entitled to the same rights, respect and opportunities enjoyed by all law-abiding members of society.

But Buhari’s re-election candidacy should be out of the question. And this has nothing to do with ableism. It has everything to do with his readiness and fitness to execute the office. So far, the unnamed ailment he suffers from has overwhelmed him to the point of being his preoccupation. The survivalist quest for recovery has rendered him unavailable to lead. Therefore, it goes without saying that he cannot be re-elected to carry on as a foreign-based, absentee president.

It is within the realm of possibility that Buhari can make a stunning health comeback. But he is no spring chicken. The reality of his age and the seriousness of his condition mean that the odds are stacked against him.

With the best medical treatment in the world and the blank check of a compassionate leave, he is still unable to bounce back in quick time. This fact suggests that his recovery is in the lap of the gods and that it is safe to regard him as a will-o’-the-wisp.

Wisdom acknowledges a present truth and constructively adapts to it. The truth of the moment, which only an ostrich’s playmate can miss, is that Buhari cannot be trusted to provide leadership at the highest level in Nigeria. Wisdom whispers that it is foolishness to plan the future around a sick, aging man with an uncertain prospect of recovery.

Let’s face it: Buhari has had his day. At the best of times, he was unable to stamp his interpretation on the role of the president. He dissipated his head of steam on hesitancy and squandered the goodwill he needed to push his agenda. With the best of will in the world, he cannot make a more effective leader out of himself now or in the future.

His sickness has tremendously weakened him as the head of the government of Nigeria and as a person. His ill-health has created the dynamic of codependency between him and his inner circle. He uses them as fig leaf for his privacy and they exploit their proximity to him to prosper as the dead hand of a privileged cabal.

In his absence, ‘Acting President’ Yemi Osinbajo has found himself working to earn brownie points for loyalty. Osinbajo flinches from taking assertive steps. He acts timid to stave off charges of ambition, instead opting to play the underling who ‘regrets’ having to hold down the fort.

He would travel to Katsina and introduce himself to the president’s kinsmen as Buhari’s son. He would not sign the budget until the cabal in London telegraphed permission in the name of the boss. He cannot inaugurate newly confirmed ministers. He cannot deal with the rampaging headhunters. He cannot move against the demented Northern youths threatening to destroy 44 trillion naira Igbo investment in the North. He cannot go beyond the brief to ‘coordinate the affairs of the nation.’

The absent president/acting president arrangement is an awkward and inconvenient theatre. It offshored power and left a well behaved figure head to maintain semblance of constitutional order. The entire administration has, however, shrunk to Osibanjo trying to impress with his loyalty to his principal. Aisha returned from London the other day to thank him for dimming his light while the master was away!

This state of affairs is not what the presidency is for. Sadly, it is most likely to persist in a second Buhari term. President Buhari has to admit that he has had his day. If he manages to weather this tenure, he should be grateful enough to retire. He needs to relieve his frame of the crushing burden of the presidency and to release the nation to progress beyond his infirmity. He needs to experience as much of the lightness of insouciance as the earth can allow.

Buhari needs to head home, whether he winds up on ‘Mugabe’s wheelchair’ or walks on his two legs before 2019. He should not contest in the 2019 elections. He lacks what it takes to run a viable presidential campaign, and more importantly, what it takes to run a country.

Subjecting himself to another campaign is a high risk bet. The rigors of another campaign will exhaust him, drain him and put his very fragile health at the mercy of chance.

I recognize that the shrine of power is never empty of sycophants. Every head of state we have had had an (un)critical mass of flatterers that took on the mission of spreading the gospel that the man of the moment was the only citizen competent to rule Nigeria. Abacha’s people said it of him. Obasanjo’s people said it of him. Jonathan’s people said it of him. And Buhari’s people are saying it of him.

The chairman of All Progressive Congress, John Odigie Oyegun, says the presidential ticket of the party is already spoken for. Buhari will have an automatic ticket. There will be no contest for presidential candidacy.

The president’s spokesman boasts that Buhari’s second term is a foregone conclusion. He has won in advance. He is invincible.

All of this sounds familiar. It is the sort of prideful thinking and arrogant talk that prefaced Jonathan’s doom. Buhari will experience a similar ruin if he permits himself to be suckered into buying the lie of his own invincibility.

He might be well thought of in the North. But the South is not as enamored of him. The wider electorate will not embrace him again without demur.

Buhari’s supporters often wheel out the degradation of Boko Haram and the fight against corruption as his notable achievements that qualify him for re-election. But whatever reduction in bloodshed that was achieved by the diminishing of the capacity of the terrorists to kill and hold territory in the North is being overcompensated for by the bloodsport of the ‘Fulani herdsmen’ in other parts of Nigeria. He has declined to apply state force against them because blood is thicker than water.

His fight against corruption has been discredited by the corruption of his closest aides and his hypocritical intervention as their human shield. He ‘cleared’ Tukur Buratai when the Dubai properties of the modest-salaried Chief of Army Staff were exposed. Buhari also wrote to clear Babachir Lawal after the SGF’s grass-cutting scam blew open. The enlightened demographic notes the double standard of in lavishing deodorant on your corrupt friends and spraying pesticide on your corrupt foes.

The economic recession, caused by a combination of the legacy of greed of the Jonathan administration and the chaotic mismanagement of the fundamentals of the economy by the Buhari administration, has caused countless job losses, spiked hunger and spread misery all over Nigeria. Many Nigerians are worse off today than they were before he took office. And their next vote will reflect their discontent.

The 2019 elections will be a referendum on Buhari and the ‘Change’ mantra of the APC. He is almost certain to lose if he stands. Any Trumpian character that taps into the anger in the land will defeat him.

The idea that the worst of Buhari is better than the best of anyone else is ridiculous. This country of 175 million people has a sprinkling of younger, visionary individuals who can do governance infinitely better than Buhari. Nigeria is not so poor in humanity that only a frail Buhari is qualified to be president.

The last thing Nigeria needs is a president that cannot function. We need an energetic president. A virile president with smart ideas.

And the North needs that kind of president even more. The North is the backwater of Nigeria and seems fated to remain so for the foreseeable future. All that Northerners have benefited from the long rule of their ‘brothers’ is the vicarious feeling of being in power, worsening poverty and burgeoning out-of-school-kids population.

The North may want ‘Buhari on the wheelchair’. But they need a strong president. They need a stronger president more than the other half of the country.

You can reach Emmanuel at immaugwu@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EmmaUgwuTheMan

Dear Acting President Osinbajo, Saraki Is Coming, Act Fast!, By Akin Fadeyi

“Nelson Mandela was an extra ordinary human being. He put a strong “truth and reconciliation” committee together. He was not insulting everyone and anyone. It earned him global respect.

“Leadership matters when you want to heal a divided nation. Donald Trump hurls abusive speeches at every perceived opposition in sight and that has greatly damaged America”.

These were very punchy and incisive comments of Ed Luce, Financial Times‘ chief commentator on Fareed Zakaria GPS on the night of Sunday June 18, 2017.

The opening topic was on why GOP Congressman and Louisiana Rep, Steve Scalise, was shot by an obviously disgruntled 66 year old American who had nursed disgust for Donald Trump’s style of racially divisive politics. James T. Hodgkinson was lurking in dark shadows like an untamed reptile. He struck before anyone could cage him and dealt a great blow not through the injury caused Scalise but actually to the ideals of diversity America once proudly represented.

I have written against Donald Trump before, describing him as a “bad dream for a fragile world”.

But nonetheless, I love Trump because he is down to earth, sometimes recklessly though, but again, you cannot fault his unconventional radicalised Republican brand of politics. Hate him all you like, he has millions of followers who look up to his “rascally” tweets. In a democracy with all its faults, it is figures that still count. Trump seems to have the figures, albeit within a nation now beleaguered by naked hate and prejudice.

Having said this, there are learnings to pick from Fareed’s GPS guests’ stance that a nation is full of divergent political interests, social alignments and cultural leanings; and therefore, you cannot be insensitive to the feelings of the led as a leader.

In terms of Nigeria, I have no doubt the acting president, Yemi Osibajo is probably genuine in his efforts at harmonising various positions in this nation and bridging the divides. The same Sunday on Channels TV, I saw his rapprochement with South-East Leaders. He has been to Cross River; and a few days ago, he hosted the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to a very private meeting at the Villa.
Osinbajo is writing some plausibly good history as a strong believer in a compact Nigeria. Awesome.

But let me give the acting president a piece of advice. David Blankenhorn, activist and president of “Better Angels” does something for America that Osinbajo needs to do in Nigeria. His organisation brings grassroots people together, despite their political differences. His organisation believes people can get angry at each other, debate emotionally against each other, but they must all be heard with a sole focus on nation-building and genuine national healing. He strongly recommends a public square engagement.Another guest on Fareed’s GPS warned against “dehumanising” Steve Scalise’s shooter, James Hodgkinson and painting him totally evil. He describes the shooter as a symbolic representation of certain hurt, frustrated and shattered feelings after Trump shaped America’s political narrative with racial colourations. He wants this hush-tone section of the nation to be heard, understood and brought back to the mainstream.

The acting president, at this stage, cannot engage with elites and leaders alone while assuming that the real agitators are committing heresy. The anger and agitation is down here, Mr. Acting President. I doubt those “leaders” have the ears of the crowd you are trying to rein in. If they did, IPOB would not arise, OPC will not flourish and Arewa Youths would never have issued an ultimatum.

The acting president must necessarily open up strategic and far-reaching processes of honest and robust engagements, where every tribe is allowed to openly express where and how they have been hurt. Where no tribe feels superior to the other. Where citizens will now believe and trust the government. Where leadership is handed to competence and not federal character, but is also well managed within the delicate thresholds of our interests and diversities. Where federal government vacancies are not presumably filled up “already by their children” despite paid advertorials. The government must identify with the genuine youth who want to discuss without angling or positioning themselves for pecuniary gains. Many “youth leaders” seize the microphone and utter gibberish once they have access to the media. The job of identifying the truly aggrieved and the honestly prepared in national discourse must be factored into our engagement template.

The executive, I dare say, must confront our fears and maybe revisit the national confab report which is about to evolve into a nuisance-value boobytrap that ex-President Jonathan inadvertently put in place for this administration.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo must carefully manage how he serves into the hands of the NASS, whose members are now demanding for the consideration of the 2014 confab report, without falling naively for a populist goal about to be scored against the presidency. The presidency has conceded many of these recently.

I am still in doubt over what the underlying motive of our senators are. If it is positive, then that is great for Nigeria. Not a few, though, will be pleasantly surprised. On Channels TV a few days ago, even the then confab chairman, Senator Femi Okunrounmu expressed reservations about the National Assembly’s sudden interest in the report, so soon after Senate president, Bukola Saraki was let off the hook in a no-case submission and acquittal by the Code of Conduct Tribunal, which Professor Itse Sagay has been losing sleep over. For the NASS to now open the books of the confab report, this will be a masterstroke move to “buy-the-public” applause in a political chess game. But hey, who would not like to us to discuss the issues tearing us apart for which we have been living in denial? In-here lies why the National Assembly might trounce the Executive once again, and in a silly manner too. If Saraki organises a national grassroots forum today for these discussions, he would have a huge crowd. The presidency must act fast – they either play this game or glide painfully into public irrelevance.

Overall, we must all mean well for this nation no matter which desk we occupy. Corruption is still a damning monster and it is actually getting brazenly bold. Leaders should visit social media occasionally and find out the huge extent to which the people have lost faith in the government’s anti corruption fight. We must go back to the drawing board and re-strategise. The acting president should read the Chatham House report where a holistic approach involving grassroots behavioural change is recommended as a great tool for tackling corruption.

We must patriotically work towards building a nation where no one sees any other person as inferior. Where Yorubas don’t feel Hausas are “hungry for power” and where Igbos don’t feel “Yorubas can’t be trusted”. I have met fantastic Northerners, civilised Igbos and golden-hearted Yorubas. Those dividing us don’t mean well for us. Their intentions are not beyond their ambitions.

This country is beautiful and holds a promise: But the frank realities confronting us cannot be skirted over. Doing so may damage us irredeemably.

Shall I say, God bless Nigeria? For those who believe there’s some God somewhere; and an ‘amen’ might mean a lot at this critical moment in our nation’s history.

Akin Fadeyi is Convener of the Not In My Country Project.

How Much Of Your Neighbor Do You Really Know : Evans And The Rise Of The Invisible Neighbor By Louis Odion

Mathew Hassan Kukah (MHK) perhaps best framed a key ethical question bogging the contemporary society with collapsing values. To reclaim the moral boundary, the engaging Catholic Bishop once argued that it is no longer enough for the cleric to expressly grant request by a congregant to bless their endeavor out of shared ecumenical spirit without first ascertaining its nature.
To gloss over such little details is to risk donating the ecclesiastical seal to an undertaking likely to fail the integrity test, thus inadvertently allowing the impression to be created that mere sprinkling of “holy water” could confer the same hygiene outlaws usually crave in seeking to have their loot laundered. And in case such “enterprise” turns out to be less than licit, the shepherd stands as condemned as that calculating Pharisee.

Of course, we can take liberty to assume that implied in MHK’s sermon is also a frown at pastors who readily demand and accept gifts of private jets or limousines from their “spiritual children” who, in reality, were no other than those already officially certified as fuel subsidy thieves or vampires sucking crude oil from the nation’s pipelines.

Today, against the backcloth of the fabulous revelations since last Saturday of the exploits of kidnap king, Chukwudi Onuamadike (a.k.a Evans), MHK’s words could not be more pungent.

Until he met his Waterloo, Evans would easily have passed as a celebrity next door. He possessed and flaunted all that are now discounted as the only success indicators by our increasingly materialistic society: big houses at home and abroad, front-row seats at the temple, big cars, big titles, big family often on foreign holidays, etc.

At his upscale estate, neighbors recall he was the perfect resident. He paid his dues promptly even though he avoided community meetings like a plague. Watching him driving by in exotic automobiles or power bike, many must have eyed him with envy, wishing God put them in his shiny shoes.

At the car wash, he would sit inside his wonder-on-wheels with the engine running while the cleaning lasted.

In his village, we read about his step-brother describing him in flattering terms as “nice, kind-hearted guy”.

We also read of fat envelopes donated by him to charity homes and temples of worship.

One account (though unconfirmed) states he was arrested and arraigned in court earlier this year alongside his wife but, predictably, soon bought his way to freedom.

But what many must still find most puzzling is how a man dreaded for sowing fear and terror across the land for years, almost thought invincible as to warrant the police placing big bounty on head, would eventually be found not in a fortress or catacomb, but at a regular tenement.

This could in part be attributed to the dysfunctionality of the three socializing agencies: family, the neighborhood and those sociologists describe as “the significant others”.

That Evans could inhabit Magodo for so long and remain invisible is a reflection of the new reality in our big cities. Everyone is in a hurry. People rush out even before dawn in pursuit of a living. On return at dusk, they are mostly too broken by the pressure at work, agonizing over what awaits them the next day. By weekend, most prefer to remain indoors, lying in bed more or less, trying to recover the breath they lost during the past grueling working days.

In place of old-fashioned hearty chatter in neighborhood recreational parks over drinks, we now find it more convenient to set up WhatsApp conference on the go. Social media platforms are taking the place of the clubs and confraternities of old as the new socializing venues. Phone calls are replacing physical visits. Fawning symbols contrived by computer are now accepted as substitute for the bonhomie of old, that throaty human laughter in real life. Territorial boundaries have collapsed.

So, over time, the big paradox unfolds: neighbors grow into strangers even when social media is supposed to bridge distance. While rapid urbanization is robbing our communities of their soul, technology is increasingly rendering our humanity impersonal.

Only that could explain why no one still seemed to have taken notice of sneaky Evans in Magodo even three years after the police placed a ransom on his head. In the days gone by when intimacy defined the community, Evans would not have been able to hide for so long. Neighbors were each other’s keeper. Suspicion would have easily arisen if anyone chose to step out of line.

Once upon a time, when three or four people were gathered, someone was bound to break the ice soon. But not any more. Today, rather than chat up an acquaintance at a public space, we would rather now spend the time fondling our phone devices – texting or browsing.

In a way, the concept of society has changed. Instagram, Facebook and other cyber platforms constitute the new society. Seamless as access could be, the values are false, the language vile. They have become arena to show off.

It used to be said that when your yam harvest was bountiful, shared communal sense of proportion dictated that the news be hoarded, if not entirely hidden. Today, we all seem in a hurry to even exaggerate our worth on social media as if modesty has become a cardinal sin. We glory in spending what we don’t earn.

It explains why soon it took only few moments after Evans was paraded Monday for pictures of his brood to surface online, oozing opulence. Though the source was not stated, it is most likely to be screen-grab from either Instagram or Facebook entry. Such is the perversion of the new society.

On the other hand, family failure is undoubtedly illustrated in Evans’ evolution from a petty thief to becoming the czar of the underworld. According to reports, his parents knew he was into crime and unwittingly aided and abetted him by keeping silence.

At least, his father reportedly admitted his son once told him he was into drug trafficking. While the mom was said to know of the kidnappings but never gave her blessings.

Planning, conducting reconnaissance and executing kidnaps on Evans’ scale and keeping victims for months, evading security dragnet, definitely require uncommon intelligence. If only Evans deployed his in a positive way.

Parental deficit of the Onuamadikes could be situated in the context of what is now commonly termed the “micro-wave” parenting model. It consists of the abdication of responsibility by the authority figures at home often under the excuse of pursuing daily bread.

When the parents cannot meet the family’s basic needs, they often end up forfeiting their voices all together at home. When a son without visible source of likelihood brings home brand new SUV or undergraduate daughter begins to flaunt the next generation I-phone, how many parents still possess the moral authority to ask questions?

Surely, the bottom of sudden wealth is often very murky indeed.

Overall, more poignant questions certainly await the Onuamadikes. Apart from possible tepid reprimands uttered understandably beyond the earshot of a third party or immersion in the usual “fasting and prayer”, what other concrete steps did they take to really wean their ward off the life of crime early in the day?

A parent who cherishes the family’s good name, is conscious of the inevitability of Karma and un-desirous of eternal shame would not have quickly thrown up their hands in cheap surrender.

Even more abominable is the role of the wife. Evans reportedly confessed that his spouse sometimes cashed the ransom on his behalf. Could he have lied to her on the real nature of his “business”? But it would have been humanly impossible for her to remain in the dark all these years while her hubby rolled in billions without an office address.

The only logical conclusion to make under the circumstance is that she knew about all the secrets trips, the nocturnal calls and why the bales of dollars bore bloodstains. We are then let into the grotesque shadow of Jezebel and Saphira rolled into one. And then, what sort of business could they been telling their children daddy was doing?

Again, what sort of a woman – a mother of five at that! – would happily go to bed with and wake beside a devil like Evans each morning? And she was not scared of having her children trained with such blood money? We can only pray the iniquities of the evil couple don’t come back to haunt the little children who must be treated as innocent in the circumstance.

As for the “significant others”, the guilt list will certainly stretch from the social circuits to the conclave of miracle merchants and allied specialists who partook of Evans’s tainted dollars. He often introduced himself as “international businessman”. Nigerian ambassador to Ghana reportedly attended a shindig once held in his honor in Accra.

Evans also reportedly confessed that he gave fantastic donations in form of offering to churches, thereby implicating pastors in his web of sin. What then remains is for him to name all his spiritual fathers – both orthodox and traditional – who collected dollars in appreciation of “special prayers” or ritual sacrifice to help him either beat police traps or evade arrests all these years.

Then, you can be sure many in cassocks across the west coast will be losing sleep in the times ahead.

This leads us back to MHK’s golden charge. More would certainly be achieved if more and more of our pastors, imams and traditional priests join in helping to enshrine a custom that dishonors wealth which provenance is either suspicious or unknown. No more recognition or glorifying so-called business moguls of no visible merchandise and who purports to run an office without an identifiable address.

Of course, that will only mean massive pay-cut for many self-styled prophets. Recall the story of a popular Lagos-based prosperity pastor implicated in the theft by a church member sometime ago. The latter was found out by his employer in the hospitality industry to have systematically stolen tens of millions of Naira as account clerk.

He later confessed to the police that more than half of his loot was donated to his church either as offering or “seeds”. He said each time the pastor made an altar call for “anyone blessed or expecting miracles” to sow a seed, he was often over-powered by a spirit to give and give.

The bigger shocker came when the implicated pastor was eventually confronted. While not denying receipt of millions and a giant generating set, he categorically ruled out the possibility of a refund even after it became clear the source was unclean.

So, the impression invariably created in public mind could be put roughly as this: were Judas Iscariot to offer ten percent of his infamous 30 shekels of silver to that same pastor, it would be game as well.

Such is the new ethical bind we now have to deal with.

Now, a little quiz for the day: how much of your neighbor do you really know?

​The Celebration Of Corruption By Ozekhome And Co

In their separate reactions to the questionable discharge of Senator Bukola Saraki by the Code of a Conduct Tribunal, the Ekiti state Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose, his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome and former Aviation Minister, Fani-Kayode decided to celebrate corruption and impunity. One thing that is common to the three of them is that they have been indicted in the criminal diversion of public funds by ex-NSA, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.
As Governor Fayose currently enjoys immunity, his protege, Gbenga Agbele is on trial for keeping part of the N2.5billion traced to the lousy governor. To avoid his imminent prosecution the governor is getting ready to ask for an extension of his second term in the Ekiti state house. If has been confirmed that he paid N75million from the N2.5 billion to his counsel, Ozekhome for the defense of Agbele. On his own part, Fani-Kayode is standing with another for N3.4billion from the N23 billion set aside for the 2015 general election by Mrs. Deziani Alison-Madueke.

Since these guys are keeping stolen public funds they cannot see that the Code of Conduct Tribunal did not absolve Saraki of criminality. By upholding Saraki’s “no case” submission the Tribunal said that there was no enough evidence for the accused to enter the witness box to offer any defense. Is Chief Ozekhome interpreting that to mean that Saraki declared his assets? Or that he was not receiving full salary of a sitting governor while he is being paid the full salary of a senator?

Saraki had tried to get the Code of Conduct Tribunal Chairman disqualified because of his indictment by the EFCC that he had once been indicted for collecting bribe from an accused person. Since the Code of Conduct Tribunal has ‘freed’ Saraki he has become an incorruptible judge in the circle of corrupt lawyers like Ozekhome, Femi Fani-Kayode, and other influential crooks.