​Of Arewa Youths, IPOB And Other Messengers From Hell By Peter Claver Oparah

Not a few tongues have wagged since a radical Northern youth group issued an ultimatum to Igbos to leave the North in three months. Not a few ‘patriots’ have risen to condemn that reckless demand and describe it for what it is: a thoughtless demand by ill-advised youths meant to cause further disaffection amongst the fractious entities that make up Nigeria. The ultimatum was reckless, as has often been restated, but then it is a reaction to another thoughtless, indeed mad, agitation by some more thoughtless and partisan Igbo youths since the 2015 electoral defeat of former President Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party.
The reckless Northern youths did not speak in a vacuum. They did not just come out to blab their mouths from nowhere. They did not come out to dance naked in the market square for nothing. Indeed, they came to meet their equally naked Indigenous People of Biafra compatriots in a dance of folly. They were pushed into sounding irresponsible by an equally irresponsible Nnamdi Kanu and his IPOB, who have dangerously played the wild card of bloody disintegration since the PDP, some of whose chieftains unarguably back their irresponsible actions, was shoved out of power. If you are in doubt of this fact, what is the attractant in Biafra that draws such professed Igbo haters like Femi Fani-Kayode and Ayo Fayose to the IPOB nectar? The lingering hate messages that have been promoted to a general art in Nigeria today were pioneered by the duo as they adopted desperate means to see the PDP and Jonathan remain in power beyond 2015. Where were Nnamdi Kanu and his Biafra before the 2015 election? Or was it that Igbos were not marginalized before then?

However, the misguided Northern youths could be accused of having carried their reaction too far, and we would do well in condemning them for that. They should have seen through the plot to know the rotten underbelly of the demand they were responding to and to know that not all Igbos but an unruly, vocal minority were behind the agitation. They would have been better schooled to understand where the issues that tail spinned into the insensate demand for Biafra since the 2015 election started and focused their darts on the wellheads of hate that birthed the Biafran malady instead of putting every Igbo on the spot with their reckless ultimatum.

I will not mince words in condemning what the Northern youths did. Gracefully, Nigerians did not mince words in condemning them. God be thanked, Northern leaders and various opinion leaders in the North did not kiss them, pat them on the back and offer them dubious approval. At least, in the open. If you feel they did otherwise at the back, it is your job to prove. What even infuriated me and many other well-meaning Igbos was that in issuing the ultimatum, these youths did not make any effort to differentiate between the Igbos that saw the irresponsible hectoring of IPOB as a way of reaching back at the Nigerian state for taking away the feeding bottle from their mouths and those that have been genuinely cautioning IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu in their voyage of stupidity. They made no effort to separate the wheat from the chaff and draw a distinction between Igbo that wanted out of Nigeria and those who believe Nigeria best serves the Igbo people as a united entity. Perhaps, the fault is with us Igbos for not speaking loud enough to disown the anarchists that endangered our lives and interests in a clear quest for selfish political interests.

The vindictive Northern youths lumped every Igbo together and threatened to expel them from the North. They made no effort to even leave out innocent Igbos that have lived in the North for decades, who have been enculturated into their system, bore their children, pay their taxes and do their businesses in the North and who have contributed immensely to the progress of the North. To these hooded youths, they all must suffer for the sins of Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB and their backers. This is wrong and translates to playing into the mischievous hands of Kanu, IPOB and their hideous backers.

Whatever prompted the Northern youths to spew such bile in demanding the withdrawal of Igbos from Nigeria, there is nothing to justify that nauseous moratorium. There is nothing that gives credence to the acerbic wordings that were on display when this ultimatum was issued. There is nothing to vindicate the liberalization of the theater of stupidity which the Northern youths sought to display. There is nothing to suggest we had gotten to the bend where rattling of ethnic and sectional saber has replaced the directive principles of state policy in Nigeria. So, in all its ramifications, the demand of a section of Arewa youths met all the negative adjectives that have been used to describe it by cross section of Nigerians and most especially, Northern opinion leaders sans one or two beclouded voices.

But then, we cannot gloss over the factor that brought about the irresponsible outing of Northern youths. The gross act of brigandage and irresponsibility displayed by IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu was the reason. Even as these dangerous excesses have been collapsed into a mantra of agitation for a separate nation called Biafra, it was an overplay of crass irresponsibility. How and when Biafra and such quirky outbursts that were brought to bear on its demand became a toy in the hands of politically-driven and atavistic mongrels is yet unclear. When Biafra became the plaything for all manners of scoundrels and reprobates that were manipulated by fleeing political poetasters is still a subject of conjecture to those who watched the dangerous employment of Biafra for nefarious ends since 2015.

We should be clear on this. Biafra has maintained that forlorn, eerie, melancholic sentiment amongst Igbos since January 1970 when the effort to secede was put down by the Federal authorities. But then, considering the cost of the first botched attempt, it rankles that Biafra, as desirous as it may be to many Igbos, could be employed in the dangerous partisan way it had been employed since 2015. It is unthinkable that political speculators that lost their deposit in the general election of March 2015 should tinker with Biafra in such ways as to lead a bloody uprising that would certainly have exerted much higher toll among Igbo if other Nigerians have taken up the hate challenge and call to war that IPOB and Kanu threw as soon as Jonathan and PDP lost the last election. That is the reason why Igbos who ostensibly invested so much emotion in the Jonathan/PDP victory in the election bought so heavily into the vacuous hate and venom that Kanu/IPOB laundered after the election. The outcome of the election met many Igbos thoroughly disheveled such that buying into Kanu/IPOB’s cheap, irresponsible pranks was so easy. Helped by an army of diaspora economic refugees and cultural savages that invested and lost heavily in the election, Biafra became a very charming talisman to cure the sad effects of the election.

Subsequently, Igbos became purveyors of hate, laboratories of abuse and vendors of impotent swear words who employed the social media as tool to ventilate bile and opprobrium. The pitiable spectacle of Igbos reduced to a bitter, swearing, insulting and hate-vending recluse that flips off at the slightest prodding and the social media became a dangerous vehicle that transported these hate messages to crevices unimaginable. The sorry spectacle of a forlorn, bitter recluse pawing away his anger and frustration on the borderless social media via the fabrication of, oftentimes, silly, childish and despicable rubbish and fake news marked an all-time low for the Igbos that were just needed to manage their loss and plan a comeback after the precarious damage they did to themselves to 2015. With the futility of such harebrained tactics in an emerging world where fake news and insipid propaganda have only a very short time, the Igbos nudged themselves further into mass perdition and these found expression in a chaotic demand for Biafra with no definable border and no agreeable mode of relationship. In fact, what best damns the demand was that it was led by ruffians, motor park touts and okada riders who should ordinarily warm the backseats of any serious drive.

Perhaps the Northern youths would not have reacted the way they did if most Igbo leaders and opinion leaders cautioned the excesses of Kanu and IPOB. They did not. They rather played the ostrich and offered a hidden prop not knowing that they were creating the impression of being behind the anomie. Because Igbo got to the corner where the tail wags the dog, it was very easy for elders, the educated and the professionals to yield place to okada-riding, barely literate ragamuffins who took over the airspace and threatened every voice of reason with a combination of insults, threats and curses. Through a mixture of cowardice and acquiescence and of course, a quaint neighing for native popularity, these elders silently aligned with the miscreants and together, issued fatwa to the few sane voices who cautioned against these malfeasances. The most pitiable in this lot is the body of retired hustlers and political fortune traders and professional rent seekers called Ohaneze and its affiliate groups, which found themselves in a Golgota of sorts as a result of their purblind, partisan roles during the 2015 election. Finding the Biafra mantra of IPOB and Kanu so irresistible to keeping their tribal flanks, Ohaneze and its affiliate unions waxed subtly acquiescing to Kanu’s noxious acts. Biafra became a refuge for the litany of failed politicians and public office holders whose decades of grand failure to Ndigbo while satiating their selfish cravings led Igboland to its present state. Waving the Biafra bandana and sounding off so beautifully about the utopian promises of a Biafra became their favorite preoccupations.

Today, these anarchists have fully embraced the art of forging fake news and distributing same on the social media for the purpose of building eternal fear in the minds of Ndigbo, ignite a larger insurrection and start a war fare as means of realizing their intents. What is, however, surprising is that these gamut of ethnic warmongers were oblivious of the grave danger they were posing to Igbos outside Igboland as well as their investments and well being. This, more than anything else, showed the leadership atrophy and arid vision that afflict Igboland. That we all played deaf to the timeless warning for caution especially given the danger such impetuous recklessness as displayed by Kanu and IPOB posed to the lives and interests of Igbos in all parts of Nigeria shows that the mainstream Igbo problem is leadership atrophy which has left the race so naked as it is today.

With the above scenario, it was easy for the fiendish Northern youths to conclude that Igbos are wholly united with Kanu and IPOB in craving for dismemberment of Nigeria as they alluded in their irresponsible statement. But how wrong they were. What is happening in Igboland is a frantic political project, as recently revealed by Ralph Uwazuruike and has nothing to do with a Biafra where life will be miraculously painless and cozy. It is a deadly project to settle political scores, chicken out of the larger and more intricate Nigerian political space and hew a kingdom for the local oppressors, having battered their political chances in 2015 Nigeria. It has nothing to do with the interest of Ndigbo. It has nothing to do with the marginalization which those frantically backing the IPOB insurrection created and sustained for decades. It has nothing to do with the threatened interests of tens of millions of Igbos who do their business and eek out their livings outside Igboland. It has nothing to do with the wellbeing of Ndigbo who are now being desperately incited to leave their comfort zones for a utopian Biafra that promises to beat the existing Nigerian space in terms of chaos and bedlam, should it come in existence.

In some ways, it is good that the northern youths issued their satanic declaration. More than anything, it is uniting Nigerians to pull together and disavow such similar moratoriums as they issued. But most importantly, it is serving Igbo with the real dangers in encouraging such irresponsible acts as IPOB and Nnamdi Kanu levied since 2015. It forces Igbo leaders out of their nests to see danger when it comes and make efforts to arrest it than get cowed by ruffians and cower away in indifference. I can bet that Nigeria will be more united henceforth to beat down such stupid behaviors that IPOB and the Arewa youths and such other messengers from hell exhibited. Who knows, it might even help strengthen the unity of Nigeria.

Peter Claver Oparah writes from Lagos. You can reach him at peterclaver2000@yahoo.com .

​Open Letter To President Buhari: Please Resign And Let Nigeria Exhale By Abiodun Ladepo

Your Excellency Sir,

There are no better ways to say this: The release of that Eid-el-Fitri message to us through the BBC Hausa outlet, in Hausa language, convinced even those of us who are your diehard supporters that you are no longer sentient; that some people around you are taking advantage of your compromised medical situation to fulfill their own selfish agendas. If you were in charge of all your faculties and firing on all cylinders, you would not have allowed such a message to be used to prove that you were getting better. Because, that audio

message, in which you clearly sounded as if you were struggling to breathe – rushing through the reading of a speech in Hausa (for it was clear that you were not speaking extemporaneously) and generally sounding like a man laboring to put things together – just solidified one thing: that you are not well at all.

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And if you are not well, sir, if you are as sick as you appeared to be the last time we saw you – gaunt and wilting – then as a man I revere for being honorable, patriotic and candid, you need to resign as President of Nigeria and allow Nigeria to move forward. Being unwell is not a thing about which one should be ashamed. What is shameful is forgetting the ephemerality, vainness and transience nature of power, and indeed of life itself by holding on to what you did not bring into this world the day you were born to the detriment of the rest of us. As a devout Muslim, what did you learn about how each of us on earth will go home to our Maker? I am sure you learned that we will all return to Him as ordinary folks…the same way we came.

Another thing that is shameful is this now common thing for our leaders, from the president on down to local leaders, to opt for medical care overseas when we have expert medical personnel and many university teaching hospitals in Nigeria. It is the shame of your administration (and I know you have been there for only two years) and that of all your predecessors that our health sector has been left to degrade to the point that young women routinely die from fibroids surgery and childbirth; that men routinely die from hypertension and prostate cancer, and that while you people spend undisclosed amount of public funds on overseas medical care, we the ordinary folks are left at the mercy of unmotivated medical practitioners who are working in decrepit medical centers, with depleted laboratories and pharmacies.

Before any of your rabid supporters jump all over me sir, for asking you to step aside, please let me remind them that I was the first person to write you after you won the election. In my letter here , which was published before you were sworn in, I exuded hope and goodwill, the kind that all patriotic Nigerians who put our nation above all divisive and destructive strictures felt. I didn’t wait till the #SaiBaba bandwagon came to town before putting my hopes in you, as you can see from this piece that I wrote long before the election.

And I didn’t just write. I was not just an armchair critic or Cybertiger. I put my money where my mouth was. I put my family in the air and we all came to Nigeria all the way from California to do whatever we could to get the Clueless One out of there and get you in. You can imagine our disappointment when the elections were postponed and we had to return to the U.S. without voting for you. But when it was rescheduled, guess who came back to Nigeria and to Ibadan to help elect you: me.

So you should understand sir, why I should expect more from you. As president of 180-plus million people, shrouding the nature of your illness in official secrecy is antiquated. There is no national security interest served by not telling your own people what afflicts you and how badly, especially when you are being treated by foreign doctors in a foreign land! How embarrassed were we when foreign intelligence operatives knew more about the state of Yar’Adua’s health before ours did? It is also grossly disrespectful and condescending to

the people who trooped out in inclement weather to give you their mandate when they are left in the lurch like this. I am in my mid-50s and I know that my body today is not what it was 20 years ago, or even five years ago. But you are 75 (or more)! Who amongst us does not have a septuagenarian in his family? Nigerians are not idiots. So please, you and your acolytes need to stop treating us like we are. We know you are not without an ailment.

Sir, this idea that without you, the war on corruption will be lost is mute. The war is already lost. With you being out of action for the better part of this year…with nobody providing the moral leadership and the heft and authority of a substantive president to wage the war, the enemies have cobbled the nation into a supine position. We have returned to shopping for judges and buying justice like we used to do before you came to power. Between the NASS and the judiciary, Nigeria and Nigerians are being serially dry-raped and tossed violently

between the two. Only a president who knows he is wielding the power of the office in his own name and for his own legacy can stand a chance. With you medically sidelined and chronically so with no obvious light at the end of the tunnel, VP Osinbajo can only tepidly exercise the powers of the office. There is a huge difference between being THE President and being just an Acting President. Nobody should be deceived by the notion that since you handed over to him to act on your behalf, he can go ahead and do everything you can do. I have

heard you and your spokespeople say that yours is “one presidency” and the Vice President, acting on your behalf, can conduct everything like you could. Could he, for instance, unilaterally dissolve the cabinet and send new names to the Senate? Could he unilaterally sack any Service Chief and nominate someone else? I bet he can’t. And the enemies of the nation know this.

By many of your actions and the actions of those by whom you are surrounded, you have almost caused people like me to question whether we had not been conned into electing you! Talk about big time buyer’s remorse! I remember vividly how your detractors warned us about handing over Nigeria at the stage we were in 2015 to an old, sickly dictator who was also nepotistic, ethnocentric and vindictive. Do you remember, sir? Do you remember those who said you were brain-dead? We pilloried them for playing God and wishing bad things on you. But no sooner had you become president than their warnings became our realities. I started getting scared when you took nearly six months to put your cabinet together. To come to terms with my disappointment, I chalked that up to the possibility that you were having difficulty finding smart and energetic people with integrity. And you were looking all around the country for such people. But when you finally came out with your list and it was peopled by mostly mediocre entities, I knew something was wrong. Was this the same Buhari we thought we were electing?

Then you started skewing your appointments to the north in arrogant and flagrant disregard for the complaints of folks from other parts of the country. We all knew you suffered from an ear infection. But we knew it should not have caused you to have been so tone-deaf. The mother of all surprises to me was when you went abroad and remarked there that people (Northerners) who gave you 97% of their votes should expect to be treated better than those (Easterners) who gave you only 5% of theirs. Alarmed by such myopic vindictiveness, I rushed to the press .

Were we dealing with a sectional leader with ignoble and parochial inclinations or were we dealing with an altruistic and patriotic national leader who was too sick to grasp the enormity of the harm being done to the country in his name? I hope the answer is the latter rather than the former. I hope that I have not been ignorantly hailing you and defending you from your most virulent critics. I hope I was right in placing my hopes in you. How could I have not been? The choice was between Goodluck Jonathan and you! Nobody in his right mind would have voted otherwise. So, if the answer is the latter…that you are an altruistic leader who is just too sick to function well, then please do the needful; resign honorably today. Even if you get a

“clean” bill of health this minute from your British doctors and return to Nigeria on your own feet, the damage has already been done. In our psyche, we will always see you as feeble, maybe even vegetative leader being propped up by a cabal. It is more honorable for you to say to us that you are grateful for the privilege we gave you to serve; for reposing our confidence and hopes in you, and that you would retire to private life to rest and recuperate better, but that you stand ready to offer advice as an elder statesman whenever called upon to do so. That would be classy.

And if the time comes that Allah calls you home as He shall one day call each of us, Nigeria will rise as one to give you a befitting goodbye and immortalize you as a national leader who left an indelible mark in the fight against corruption in our country. If we carve a national day for you as holiday, it will not be too much and you will be a legitimate honoree.

So, please find the strength to release your stranglehold on our country and let us breathe. We are waiting to exhale.

Abiodun Ladepo​

Ibadan, Oyo State

Oluyole2@yahoo.com

​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.