Buhari’s Last Chance By Azu Ishiekwene

If the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, is offering advice on what President Muhammadu Buhari must do to rescue his government, then the President should know he has work to do.

The governor, who came to office over six years ago on the ticket of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, has since switched parties. He is currently the official clown of the All Progressives Congress. And with months of unpaid salaries and pensions, and state monuments bearing his family name, there’s enough wreckage to show for his status.

But that’s a digression. His advice to Buhari is on point and infinitely more sensible than the nonsense of his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, who declared a public holiday to mark the President’s return but didn’t know what to do to save even one of the 60 persons that died from an abdominal infection in Kogi the same week.

Buhari has work to do and he has to start from home while the rodents in his office are being apprehended and the cobwebs cleared.

His six minutes national address was a mixed bag. But whatever its defects, he has made enough speeches in the last two years. It’s time to do what he has been saying.

As far as I can remember, Buhari is the first to win a presidential election depending almost entirely on votes from the North and the South West. What he should have done on assumption of office, was to rally the whole country and not give the regrettable impression that he would only be President for the regions that voted for him.

Azubuike Ishiekwene

That posture, compounded by a few skewed appointments in his early days, has fuelled separatist sentiments, especially in the South East, and popularised Nnamdi Kanu’s Biafra rhetoric.

Renaming Buhari “Okechukwu” (a share from God) or even “Onyenzoputa” (savior) will not solve the problem created by his initial faux pas. The government has to start an honest engagement with its citizens, especially groups that have been radicalized by official insensitivity.

The 2014 National Conference report and even reports from previous ones, which Buhari has inexplicably refused to read, would be a good starting point.

As I said in this column last week, Boko Haram appears resurgent and insecurity is assuming new, frightening dimensions. It would be naïve to assume that Boko Haram would be wiped out. The recent deadly attacks by the group suggest that there’s still work to be done.

Buhari cannot afford to take his eyes off the insurgents; nor should the even more difficult task of resettling the victims be ignored anymore.

It’s heartening to know that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had not submitted his committee’s report on the $43 million found at a Lagos residence before the rodents invaded Buhari’s corner.

The Vice President’s committee was supposed to find out how tons of dollars ended up in a private residence and if it was true as the former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, claimed, that he sheltered the money on orders.

That report should be made public, along with the findings of Osinbajo’s committee on the role of the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, in the alleged case of millions of naira set aside for the Presidential Initiative on the North East, which ended up in private pockets.

The war on corruption appears stuck in the mud. But since the President was getting regular briefings in his London sickbay, he’s probably already aware of two court rulings asking his government to publish looted funds recovered since 1999 to date; looted funds recovered on his watch since 2015 and the names of the looters.

Corruption will kill the country if all we do is talk about it or turn a blind eye when the culprits are close to us. Some people close to the President are giving his government a bad name and he knows them.

If the National Assembly is still perceived as a den of corruption, it’s because Buhari has failed to use his leverage as leader of the ruling party to deal with it; and if the judiciary is making mincemeat of anti-corruption cases, it’s because Buhari has retained a minister of justice who is confused, if not incompetent.

If he seriously wants a change, he’ll have to make the right call. And time is not on his side. There’s merit in Okorocha’s advice that he might need to overhaul his cabinet.

Not only does he need to take another look at the Justice Ministry, he might also need to overcome the sentiment that to love a competent minister is to kill him with work: Babatunde Fashola is currently overworked with three ministries. He needs to be where the country can optimise his talent and energy.

In theory, the Ministry of Education should be able to handle the national strike by university teachers, which is in its second week. In practice, however, Buhari cannot afford to outsource the problem, which has lingered on now for eight years.

I recall that when The Interview interviewed Buhari in July 2016, he said one of the reasons why he dumped the National Conference report was that Goodluck Jonathan’s government used the money that ought to have been used to pay lecturers to host “a useless conference.” Now, he’ll find that the matter is a bit more complicated.

Money won’t bury all the problems in the universities, though. Sure, the universities require more resources, but even if we hand over the key to the treasury to them, nothing will change as long as the market continues to think that university graduates are useless and that a good number of lecturers themselves need teachers.

What is required is a comprehensive overhaul of the educational system – the kind that Oby Ezekwesili tried to implement as Education Minister before vested interests fought her to a standstill. Fixing education is a presidential assignment.

It’s good to know that, so far, there are no reports of well-wishers falling over themselves to visit Buhari at home since he returned. They can send him cards with a spray can or two of pesticides for his office use, if they can afford it.

The man has work to do and should be left alone to face it, squarely. 

Ishiekwene is the MD/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview magazine and board member of the Paris-based Global Editors Network 

 

Advertisements

​President Buhari’s Message    The Verdict By Olusegun Adeniyi

Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

After more than 100 days away from the country, President Muhammadu Buhari returned last Saturday to a tumultuous welcome. It was an indication that he still commands the popular appeal that brought him to power despite the glaring failings of his administration. But his address to the nation on Monday fell far short of expectations. First, he started with a wrong salutation. ‘My dear citizens’ does not convey the fact that we (the president and the rest of us) are equal stakeholders in Nigeria. In case he has forgotten, Nigerians are not to him what Britons are to the Queen of England where he has put up residency in recent weeks.
Perhaps, we should not read too much into just one speech. The president may yet surprise us if the style and substance of his leadership change for the better in the coming weeks, though there remains the small task of first chasing away the rodents that have taken over the number one office in our country! However, those writing their own speeches in place ofBuhari’s six-minute address would have to wait until they become president of Nigeria or that of their own little dream enclaves.
Meanwhile, as we wait for the Change we were promised by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), I want to rehash what I wrote on 28th May 2015, a day before the president assumed office. Titled, “A Word for Muhammadu Buhari”, I believe the short intervention is still very much relevant today:
What is perhaps President Buhari’s biggest selling point today is that he comes to office with what is usually described as “Referent Power”. He is generally trusted as a man who would not fiddle with the treasury in a society where integrity in the public arena is very much in short supply. But leading by example does not make Buhari a perfect man, and that is what worries me about the way some of his supporters are going on as if we have just elected a prophet.


Buhari will do this. Buhari will do that. Those are the tales we have been hearing from some time-servers who may not even know the man but are already positioning themselves in the media in a bid to hijack the man and our collective destiny. Yet, the reality of our national condition today is that Buhari can do practically nothing without seeking the patience and understanding of Nigerians. And for that to happen, Buhari must be seen to be human. That means having the courage to admit to mistakes and failings (where they occur) along the way and being bold enough to make course corrections.
As I wish the president-elect well, I want to end my piece with a simple story that will serve Buhari who should be wise enough to dispense with the cult of personality being built around him if he does not want to fail. Concerned that her son was addicted to eating a lot of sugar, a mother sought appointment to see the legendary Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi. When she finally did, with her son in tow, she said: “The whole nation listens to you, please tell my son to stop eating sugar, as it is not good for his health”. Ghandi replied, “I cannot tell him that. But you may bring him back in a few weeks and then I will talk to him.”
Upset and disappointed, the mother took the boy home.Two weeks later, she came back. This time Gandhi looked directly at the boy and said “Son, you should stop eating sugar. It is not good for your health.” The boy nodded his head and made a solemn commitment to heed the admonition. Puzzled, the boy’s mother asked Ghandi, “Why did you send us away two weeks ago when you could have simply told the boy what you just did?”
Gandhi smiled and said:“Two weeks ago, I was eating a lot of sugar myself.”
ENDNOTE: There are several lessons in that simple tale but I will point out just a few. One, Ghandi demonstrated an uncommon capacity for introspection which made him to admit to his own imperfection. Two, Ghandi was not ready to be a hypocrite by preaching to the boy what he himself had not been practicing. Three, Ghandi was ready to make course corrections so that he could, in good conscience, offer an honest advice to the boy. Four, flowing from the foregoing was the recognition by Ghandi that he was accountable to every citizen, young or old. Five, Ghandi had the grace to admit to the boy’s mother that he was but an ordinary man who was prepared to rise above himself when occasions demanded.
I join in thanking God for President Buhari’s health recovery and return to the country even as I wish him all the best in the remaining months of his administration.
MKO Abiola At 80

Were he to be alive, Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola would have marked his 80th birthday today. He was born on 24th August 1937. And without any doubt, today would have been a remarkable day in Lagos, for Abiola was indeed a man of the people. Yet, he is practically forgotten despite the fact that the democracy we currently enjoy can be credited to his sacrifices and that of a few others who challenged the military that had practically held the nation by the jugular. And he paid a very big price for that: He was incarcerated under a most dehumanizing condition, his wife, Kudirat was murdered, his businesses were ruined and eventually, he lost his life.
What that compels is a reflection on the part of those who only remember Abiola on June 12, essentially for political reasons even when they do nothing to advance the cause for which he died. Granting holidays on June 12 every year in a section of the country when Abiola’s appeal was national, is cheap and meaningless. What would be more enduring is to have a befitting centre in Abiola’s name, like that of his friend (now also of blessed memory), Shehu Musa Yar’Adua that stands as a lasting memorial in Abuja. There must also be a compelling book on Abiola that would deal with four notable areas of his life: Politics, business, philanthropy and sports. That is the sort of legacy Abiola deserves and it is possible if there is a commitment to it, especially as we move towards the 20th anniversary of his death which is next year.
Meanwhile, as a State House Correspondent in the early nineties, I was a member of the African Concordmagazine delegation to Jos in April 1993 when Abiola contested the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential primaries and I followed all the political drama from the beginning to the end. In August 1997, as an Assistant Editor at Sunday Concord, I wrote a book to commemorate Abiola’s 60th birthday at a time he was in detention. Titled “Abiola’s Travails”, the publication was partly financed by the then PUNCH Chairman, Chief Ajibola Ogunsola, easily one of the few genuine friends of Abiola and for me a professional mentor.
Although I no longer have a copy of the book, on Tuesday I asked whether Louis Odion (a friend I know to be very meticulous in keeping records) still has his. Not surprisingly, Louis still does and he lent me the copy I autographed for him on 28th August 1997 with a stern warning that I must return it to his library. In future, I may merge the book with ‘Fortress on Quicksand’ (on how and why 23 presidential aspirants were disqualified in November 1992) and ‘The Last 100 Days of Abacha’ since they follow the same thread and rework them before republishing as a single book. But that is not a priority project right now.
In the foreword to “Abiola’s Travails”, Mr Lewis Obi, the then Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of African Concord (now defunct like most other Abiola businesses) wrote: “Abiola was prevented from being president by approximately seven army officers and less than half a dozen politicians who subverted our institutions and committed the worst treason ever committed against the Nigerian state. That a few desperate men could do so demonstrated the fragility of our institutions—from the army, through the political parties to the National Assembly and the judiciary. None of our national institutions could stand the rampage of a few power mongers and, thus, Nigeria was reduced to something slightly worse than a banana republic…Abiola’s travails are actually Nigeria’s travails. He promised the country prosperity. Now the country is the seventh poorest in the world. He promised democracy. Nigeria is today under the grip of a regime regarded in the world as one of the most repressive and lawless. He promised to open up the country. Today, Nigeria is an international outcast. He promised a united country and the voters responded. Today, Nigeria is more divided than it was in 1914.”
It is indeed instructive that those words were written about the Nigeria of 1997!
On 16th January 1993 when he declared his intention to run for the presidency, Abiola said most memorably: “Everywhere you go, you find the African at the bottom of the ladder; some can’t even find the ladder. I will provide that ladder and help them to climb.” He went on to run a most interesting campaign both for the SDP primaries which he won and subsequently the election that was aborted before the result could be announced. There was of course no doubt as to who the victor was.
Aside documenting Abiola’s political struggles from the moment he joined the presidential race to night he was arrested as recounted by Kudirat to how his businesses were ruined and the drama of the court appearances in the treason trial which I witnessed, I also highlighted a few personal indignities he suffered in detention. For instance, on 23 August 1994, Abiola had a scuffle with DSP Lawal Katsina in the office of ACP Felix Ogbaudu while his lawyers watched helplessly. The fight began when Katsina sought to prevent Abiola from taking possession of the newspapers brought by his lawyes on the flimsy excuse that he wanted to screen them for concealed documents. In the process Katsina pushed Abiola who fell down. The police would later issue a silly statement that “it was chief abiolawho assaulted the officer” in the office of an assistant police commissioner!
Since the only opportunities he could speak came during the few court appearances before they were terminated in August 1987, Abiola on one occasion narrated his ordeals: “Up till Saturday morning I was at Bwari police station in a cell. At 2am on Saturday, some people entered the room and without telling me who they were or what their business was, they took everything in my room, including my tooth brush. No answer was given to any of the questions I asked them. Since that time I have been unable to have sleep of any kind. On Saturday evening, I was moved to Kuje police station and there I was locked up in the room until the two occasions when I had visitors and once when I had to spray the room. The environment the police provided is not conducive to any sustenance of life. No amount of medical care would be of any help in that environment. I don’t have access to newspapers or radio. The food provided is good but the environment does not enable one to eat the food. I am terribly concerned for being asked to go back to such a place is like sending me to an early grave.”
On the specific case of his brush with DSP Katsina, Abiola said since the court had granted him rights to newspapers, he saw no reason why he should be denied. “I respect every person that deserves respect but I have paid my dues. I could have forced the newspapers from the hands of the policemen. They cannot beat me up. I am not afraid of death. This is not the type of country I want my children to live in; that is why we must change it. And we will change it,Insha Allah. I have been kept in five places. They took me to Kuje, then Bwari and last night, I slept on bare floor.”
While this is not an attempt to tell the story of that era, there is a way in which what happened to Abiola contributed to the challenge of nationhood that we are facing today and the military should take the blame. In 1998/99, Babangida and his men thought they could right the Abiola wrong by bringing General Olusegun Obasanjo from detention and working by sleight to have him emerge as the president of Nigeria. What they failed to understand is that the bond of trust that had been broken by the manner in which the June 12 crisis was handled would take more than such cynical appeasement of Yoruba people to heal, especially within the context of Nigeria’s ethnic relations. But those are issues that we must deal with another day.
As I therefore conclude this piece in commemoration of Abiola’s 80th posthumous birthday with a reflection on what might have been, for the Twitter generation that may still be wondering about who this Abiola was, let me leave them with the words of Babangida. In January 1988 when Abiola was conferred the title of Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land by the Alafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi, the then military president wrote him a public letter which I reproduce below:
“Dear Generalissimo,

“My family and I heartily rejoice with you today on your installation as the 14th Aare OnaKakanfo of Yorubaland. The symbolism of the title vividly illustrates virtually every aspect of your life history which has been marked so far by one gallant battle after another. Your installation today is therefore a testimony to the inspiring success story of your life.
“You scored your first victory in your infancy being the first among many children of your parents to survive, after whom many others follow. Also, remarkably, you survived various odds not the least of which was grinding poverty to prepare yourself for the many battles ahead. You challenged racial prejudices in high places and won for your fellow citizens and black people, the right to fully realize their potentials in their chosen careers. Your charity and deep concern for the less privileged are now legendary. While congratulating you on today’s richly deserved installation, we pray Allah to continue to guide and guard you in your sincere services to fellow men and to HIM, the almighty.”
M.K.O. Abiola may be long gone, he can never be forgotten!
Ayisha’s Love Win Pius

Pius Adesanmi, who arrived from his Ottawa (Canada) base on Tuesday and goes back tomorrow, will this evening join Ayisha Osori at the Thought Pyramid Art Centre, 18 Libreville Street, off Aminu Kano Crescent in Wuse 2, to discuss her recent book, ‘Love Does Not Win Elections’. The highly revealing and very entertaining book captures Ayisha’s 2014 experience as she sought an elusive Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket to represent AMAC/Bwari constituency at the House of Representatives. The book is a compelling manual for any professional seeking political office in Nigeria or trying to understand how in her words “Nigerians keep getting leaders they say they do not deserve”.The book will also be available for sale at the venue.

Rich Thief, Poor Thieves and A Burglary By Emmanuel Ugwu

In recent past, the Igbos had a way of denouncing a steward or guard who committed the treachery of stealing the very thing he was hired to manage or secure. They called him the proverbial dog that ate the bone hung around its neck.

That barbed censure fits the policemen that burgled the Gwarinpa home of President Goodluck Jonathan. They stole the very goods they were charged to protect. They vandalized the property left in their care, emptying it of all transferable valuables.

Police authorities have dismissed four of the six culpable officers following the guilty verdict of an orderly room trial. Sgt Musa Musa, Sgt John Nanpak, Sgt Ogah Audu, and Sgt Gabriel Ugah lost their job for coveting ‘’furniture sets, beds, electronics, toilet and electrical fittings, doors, and frames’’.  

In true Nigerian fashion, the two most senior officers involved in the crime, Inspectors Lengs Satlakau and Usman Wuduki , were not shunted out of their job with same dispatch. The Police say the proceedings of their orderly room trial had been forwarded up the ladder ”for further action”.

Nevertheless, I am shocked that the case of burglary and stealing made it to the public domain. I would never have imagined Jonathan would run to the police to complain that he was robbed. As the head of the government of Nigeria, he seemed to be constitutionally indifferent to stealing.

Jonathan was defiantly apathetic when his kleptomaniac cronies were looting the House of Lugard, under his watch. A sense of outrage appeared to be alien to his nature. It’s ironic that he felt offended when his private house was sacked.

Going by his statement, the looted house was a ‘’modest four-bedroom duplex.’’ It contained small creature comforts.  Not the ‘’36 Plasma television sets and about 25 refrigerators’’ as speculated.  

It’s hard to figure out why he chose to make the trivial evisceration of his house a national headline? Why did he raise hell…like a pauper rendered weightless, in a crowded bus terminal, by a pickpocket?

Ordinarily, President Jonathan should be one of the last Nigerians to cry about being robbed. He ran a crazy kleptocracy. He presided over a stealing orgy whose intensity and reach anti-graft accountants have been unable to ascertain even after two years of labor. He licensed his aides to loot with impunity as though the overarching objective of his administration was to bankrupt Nigeria.

Ex-President Goodluck JonathanWhen Jonathan’s attitude to corruption was interrogated, he answered that he could not stop the plague. He whipped out a dispiriting Barn Theory to rationalize and legitimize the hollowing out of the national treasury by his sidekicks. He postulated that if you put a barn full of yams in the custody of a goat, the goat would violate duty and obey instinct.

Under Jonathan’s watch, $20 billion of Nigerian oil revenue went missing. The Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, raised the issue with the president. Jonathan fired Sanusi …for daring to blow the whistle.

Under Jonathan’s watch, his Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Allison-Madueke, stole $6 billion. She bought multimillion dollar properties all over Nigeria and the world. She collected enough jewelry to mold the Golden Calf all over again.

In recognition of her high stealing quotient, Jonathan appointed her the head of the finance committee of his second term bid declaration event.

The lady would later go on to attempt to buy the election. She organized a widespread bribery operation that compromised electoral officials and obligated them to inflate the ballot figures of candidate Jonathan and rig him to victory.

Jonathan made the office of the National Security Adviser an annex of the Peoples Democratic Party. He permitted the funds earmarked for resourcing the fight against Boko Haram to be funneled to his political campaign. This caused the well-armed terrorists to take over a significant part of Nigerian territory and hundreds of Nigerian soldiers to die in the unequal war.

By the end of the election, Jonathan and his gang had raped the economy into a crisis.

After he departed office, his wife, Patience Jonathan, was found to have salted away $15 million in her bank accounts. She claimed that the money was savings dedicated to her medical treatment. The fortune couldn’t be reasonably explained by her inheritance or work history…or a jackpot she has never won.

Further moves by state agencies to understand Mrs. Jonathan’s other curious assets saw her complain of being witch-hunted. She recently petitioned the House of Representatives, alleging ‘’persistent, consistent, unwarranted personal and physical attacks” on her by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and other agencies of the federal government. She thought that the security agencies should have left her in peace because she rejoiced in the nickname, ‘’Mama Peace.’’

Her henpecked husband obviously copied her alarmist whining. Goodluck saw the break-in and looting of his house as an opportunity to whip up public sympathy. His ‘leak’ of the burglary to the press was about narcissist victimhood and pity party.

Truth be told, the Jonathan who looted the Nigeria he was elected to govern had no moral right to protest that his private home was spoiled by the policemen assigned to guard it. The policemen merely micro-mirrored the plunder Jonathan perpetrated against Nigeria. He should have been grateful to be served a gracious dose of karma. Those ‘’modest’’ trivia stolen from his home is nothing compared to the staggering portion of the Nigerian patrimony he and his band of looters expropriated.

The policemen who sacked Jonathan’s house are petty thieves. If he felt outraged that they were so unscrupulous as to strip bare a house they were assigned to safeguard, that’s gross self-righteousness. He has no reason to indict people for the same wrongdoing he did on a monumental scale: he looted the treasury the Nigerian people mandated him to administer.

The policemen who abused their trust have been punished with a job loss: it follows that Jonathan, who committed the heinous crime of weaponizing the Nigerian presidency for treasury banditry, should receive a judicial recompense commensurate with his high treason.

Jonathan lived his early life without shoes. He is now a man of wealth. He has many houses. He can replace the stuff stolen from his Gwarinpa address with ease.

Many Nigerians live in reduced circumstances. Jonathan robbed them. He pushed them further below the poverty line.

The poor policemen robbed one rich man. The rich Jonathan robbed one hundred million poor Nigerians. He is the greater thief.

He was relieved of an infinitesimal fragment of his excess possessions. Yet, he was so pained by the loss that he forgot ‘pardon’. The kind he bestowed on the rich thief, his role model, Alamieyeseigha!

Nigerian justice system is rigged against the poor. That’s why the dismissal of the low-ranked rogue policemen was ”immediate” and that of the senior policemen is imminent.

And the punishment of Jonathan will forever be impossible.

 immaugwu@gmail.com

@EmmaUgwuTheMan 

​President is Holding The Country To Ransom By Samson Toromade

President Buhari has been out of work for 115 days out of the 191 days in 2017 alone.

If I was away from work for 64 days, I’d most probably be unemployed.

The duly elected president of the country, Muhammadu Buhari , has been away from the country since May 7, after departing to London for his second medical leave of the year.

Nobody knows what is wrong with the president. Nobody knows where the president really is. Or if he’ll ever be fit enough to resume his duties.

A conspiracy of silence has been woven around the president’s state of health that it’s hard to ignore rumours that it is a dire one.

Recently, Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose , never one to shy away from unguarded remarks, declared that the president has been on a life support machine since June 6.

This spurious claim is just another in a long line of unsubstantiated narratives surrounding the president’s actual state of health.

At some point, the rumour mill was spinning tales about how the president was already dead.

It’s hard to knock out these claims because, with its deafening silence, the president’s team has created a blank canvas for anyone to paint any story.

Ever since the president of the country has holed up in London, he’s had a single direct interaction with the ‘Nigerian’ people: an audio recording that addressed the

Eid-el Fitr celebration by the country’s Muslim population.

This was a problem for a whole lot of reasons.

Only days prior to the emergence of that tape, Sahara Reporters had claimed that the president had suffered from a speech impairment.

If we pretend for a second that this is a nation that doesn’t function abnormally, this is clearly a claim that, if true, could constitutionally render Buhari incompetent to ever resume his duties as president.

So when an audio recording of the president emerged only days later, it was clearly desperately exploiting the occasion to indirectly redirect the discourse, which it did, albeit, poorly.

The dubiousness of the tape aside, Buhari addressed the country on the theme of unity while he spoke exclusively in Hausa, a language that automatically alienates half of the country’s population that isn’t the president’s kin.

This was another powder keg that set tongues wagging at the president’s insensitivity to the Nigerian population, and it is surprising that the tape went through more than one person on the president’s team without a single one saying, “Hey guys, maybe we should take a minute to talk about this.”

The woeful execution of that tape is just another in the president’s long history of throwing distractions into the wind since he was sworn in.

It was recently claimed that the presidential aircraft parked in London to serve the ‘ailing’ president was raking up an outrageous bill for the country’s pocket and constituted wasteful spending on the president’s part.

Just the next day, the president’s spokesman, Garba Shehu , released a statement saying it only cost a fraction of the figure being bandied about and asked that rumour mongers stop being mischievous with the truth.

This writer understands how (some) presidential protocols work and agrees that no matter what it costs, the commander in chief of any country commands that sort privilege for very obvious reasons. That’s not the problem here.

What’s worrisome here is that Buhari’s team decided to reply to this, at best, social media distraction above many other significant issues. This is the same as the audio being a response to claims of the president suffering from speech impairment.

The president’s team can’t seem to be able to allow accusations against the president’s integrity or his health status lie.

However, they have questionably dodged the most important issue of all; what is up with the president’s health.

Buhari’s team has doused every fire that’s come near him since May 7, it stands out that the only one they have neglected to answer is the one that informs the Nigerian people about what exactly is wrong with the president.

Will they be triggered enough to respond to allegations of the president’s perceived wastefulness? Yes.

Will they craftily, and poorly, respond to allegations of the president losing his ability to speak properly? Yes.

But will they be bothered enough to provide a proper insight into what is the actual problem with the president? LOL.

It appears the reason behind this refusal is they believe since Buhari temporarily transferred power to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo , his campaign promise of transparency is suddenly on pause.

When Buhari was elected President of the country, it wasn’t because he was the best person this country could produce to drive it away from Goodluck Jonathan ‘s chaotic administration; Buhari was elected because he was the most realistic candidate to exploit the country’s ethnically-tainted climate and defeat the incumbent at the time.

This is why, when the opposition came around with claims about Buhari’s poor health, nobody listened.

Not because we didn’t believe it or already know it ourselves, but because we were hopeful and ready to gamble on him anyway because the electorate needed to send a clear message at the time.

That our gamble hasn’t paid off is not necessarily something to regret, but it’s hurtful that Buhari’s team is deliberately sidestepping history here and making the same mistakes over and again.

This ill absent president situation undoubtedly draws parallel to late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua ‘s very similar situation that ended in tragedy only seven years ago.

And what makes this particular one even more duplicitous and hypocritical is that President Buhari was one of the most vocal critics at the time, demanding that Yar’adua make his health issues public or vacate the presidency. Life comes at you fast.

The president is 72, no one realistically expected him to be the paragon of complete health; but honesty on his condition would be a nice gesture, if not a presidential protocol.

Even though the handling of this situation, especially with the transfer of power, has been better than Yar’adua’s situation was, it is still not a good spot for the country to be trapped in.

The president has been out of work for 115 days out of the 191 days in 2017. That’s an attendance record no school student will show their parents at home without expecting to be spanked.

The truth is, despite the impressive work that Osinbajo has done in his stint as Acting President, the looming shadow of Buhari is a dark cloud hanging over the progress of the country.

And while the Senate busies itself with idle talks and petty squabbling with the presidency over what power it wields, the average Nigerian wants to log out of this unbearably docile matrix.

The next time, if ever, the president is thinking about recording a voice note, he might want to update us on what the state of his health is.

And this time, maybe do it in a language we all understand.

​President is Holding The Country To Ransom By Samson Toromade

President Buhari has been out of work for 115 days out of the 191 days in 2017 alone.

If I was away from work for 64 days, I’d most probably be unemployed.

The duly elected president of the country, Muhammadu Buhari , has been away from the country since May 7, after departing to London for his second medical leave of the year.

Nobody knows what is wrong with the president. Nobody knows where the president really is. Or if he’ll ever be fit enough to resume his duties.

A conspiracy of silence has been woven around the president’s state of health that it’s hard to ignore rumours that it is a dire one.

Recently, Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose , never one to shy away from unguarded remarks, declared that the president has been on a life support machine since June 6.

This spurious claim is just another in a long line of unsubstantiated narratives surrounding the president’s actual state of health.

At some point, the rumour mill was spinning tales about how the president was already dead.

It’s hard to knock out these claims because, with its deafening silence, the president’s team has created a blank canvas for anyone to paint any story.

Ever since the president of the country has holed up in London, he’s had a single direct interaction with the ‘Nigerian’ people: an audio recording that addressed the

Eid-el Fitr celebration by the country’s Muslim population.

This was a problem for a whole lot of reasons.

Only days prior to the emergence of that tape, Sahara Reporters had claimed that the president had suffered from a speech impairment.

If we pretend for a second that this is a nation that doesn’t function abnormally, this is clearly a claim that, if true, could constitutionally render Buhari incompetent to ever resume his duties as president.

So when an audio recording of the president emerged only days later, it was clearly desperately exploiting the occasion to indirectly redirect the discourse, which it did, albeit, poorly.

The dubiousness of the tape aside, Buhari addressed the country on the theme of unity while he spoke exclusively in Hausa, a language that automatically alienates half of the country’s population that isn’t the president’s kin.

This was another powder keg that set tongues wagging at the president’s insensitivity to the Nigerian population, and it is surprising that the tape went through more than one person on the president’s team without a single one saying, “Hey guys, maybe we should take a minute to talk about this.”

The woeful execution of that tape is just another in the president’s long history of throwing distractions into the wind since he was sworn in.

It was recently claimed that the presidential aircraft parked in London to serve the ‘ailing’ president was raking up an outrageous bill for the country’s pocket and constituted wasteful spending on the president’s part.

Just the next day, the president’s spokesman, Garba Shehu , released a statement saying it only cost a fraction of the figure being bandied about and asked that rumour mongers stop being mischievous with the truth.

This writer understands how (some) presidential protocols work and agrees that no matter what it costs, the commander in chief of any country commands that sort privilege for very obvious reasons. That’s not the problem here.

What’s worrisome here is that Buhari’s team decided to reply to this, at best, social media distraction above many other significant issues. This is the same as the audio being a response to claims of the president suffering from speech impairment.

The president’s team can’t seem to be able to allow accusations against the president’s integrity or his health status lie.

However, they have questionably dodged the most important issue of all; what is up with the president’s health.

Buhari’s team has doused every fire that’s come near him since May 7, it stands out that the only one they have neglected to answer is the one that informs the Nigerian people about what exactly is wrong with the president.

Will they be triggered enough to respond to allegations of the president’s perceived wastefulness? Yes.

Will they craftily, and poorly, respond to allegations of the president losing his ability to speak properly? Yes.

But will they be bothered enough to provide a proper insight into what is the actual problem with the president? LOL.

It appears the reason behind this refusal is they believe since Buhari temporarily transferred power to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo , his campaign promise of transparency is suddenly on pause.

When Buhari was elected President of the country, it wasn’t because he was the best person this country could produce to drive it away from Goodluck Jonathan ‘s chaotic administration; Buhari was elected because he was the most realistic candidate to exploit the country’s ethnically-tainted climate and defeat the incumbent at the time.

This is why, when the opposition came around with claims about Buhari’s poor health, nobody listened.

Not because we didn’t believe it or already know it ourselves, but because we were hopeful and ready to gamble on him anyway because the electorate needed to send a clear message at the time.

That our gamble hasn’t paid off is not necessarily something to regret, but it’s hurtful that Buhari’s team is deliberately sidestepping history here and making the same mistakes over and again.

This ill absent president situation undoubtedly draws parallel to late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua ‘s very similar situation that ended in tragedy only seven years ago.

And what makes this particular one even more duplicitous and hypocritical is that President Buhari was one of the most vocal critics at the time, demanding that Yar’adua make his health issues public or vacate the presidency. Life comes at you fast.

The president is 72, no one realistically expected him to be the paragon of complete health; but honesty on his condition would be a nice gesture, if not a presidential protocol.

Even though the handling of this situation, especially with the transfer of power, has been better than Yar’adua’s situation was, it is still not a good spot for the country to be trapped in.

The president has been out of work for 115 days out of the 191 days in 2017. That’s an attendance record no school student will show their parents at home without expecting to be spanked.

The truth is, despite the impressive work that Osinbajo has done in his stint as Acting President, the looming shadow of Buhari is a dark cloud hanging over the progress of the country.

And while the Senate busies itself with idle talks and petty squabbling with the presidency over what power it wields, the average Nigerian wants to log out of this unbearably docile matrix.

The next time, if ever, the president is thinking about recording a voice note, he might want to update us on what the state of his health is.

And this time, maybe do it in a language we all understand.

​(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

​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