Restructuring Nigeria: Propositions Summarised, By Edwin Madunagu

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

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

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

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

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

Interview: Why Nigeria must develop a book policy to improve education – Namse Udosen

With the advent of the internet and social media, the culture of reading has continued to vanish from the society at a very alarming rate. This poses a very major threat for the education of the younger generation in developing nations.
Much as the internet has made information readily accessible to people, it has also killed in debt scholarly research. Instead of investing time studying from the pages of books, many students today rely heavily on search sites like Google and the rest for information that may not be authentic as not everyone cares to verify the source.
The resultant effect is the falling standards of education and the quality of end products that can hardly compete with their peers from other climes.
One man who is passionate about stemming the tides and returning Nigerians back to the reading culture is,
Namse Peter Udosen.
Born in Lagos in the 80s, He attended Air force Primary school Ikeja and the Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Ibara, Abeokuta as well as the University of Calabar where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Education.
He developed the passion for teaching while working as a volunteer for an Orphan and vulnerable children’s children in Calabar. He has since taught in several schools in Calabar, Katsina and Kaduna. He started the “Reading is Fun” project in Federal Government Girls College, Calabar which was kicked off by the then first lady of Cross River state, Mrs Obioma Imoke.
His passion for children’s literacy and education has led him to run book clubs and children’s workshops in Kaduna. He believes that Nigerian children deserve a better education than they presently receive. He has a vision to develop literacy hubs fusing technology and deployed to rural areas. He is also a promoter of non formal education.
Namse a Masters degree holder in education from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, where he wrote on school plants (facilities) in secondary schools in Kaduna and is presently undergoing research for his PhD in Education in Ahmadu Bello University.
He bares mind on his dreams and the future of education in Nigeria in and exclusive interview with TheNigerian’s Lawrence Audu.
Excerpts:
TNN: What informed your decision to become a writer?
Namse: My dad cultivated the spirit of writing in me from a very young age. He used to make sure we write compositions about places we visited and other things we did as kids.
TNN: In an era where readership continues to drop drastically what is the future of literature in Africa?
Namse: The future of literature in Africa is great. The major problem is that we have not put structures in place to align our school and educational systems with literature
TNN: Would you like to share some of the literary pilgrimages you have gone on?
Namse: I have embarked on quite a lot of literary pilgrimages especially on a developmental front. I have facilitated several children’s writing programs across states in Nigeria. Most remarkable, is my Reading is Fun project that was piloted at Federal government girls college Calabar and had the then first lady Obioma Imoke in attendance.
TNN: What through your experiences are the major challenges of writing today?
Namse: The major challenges for writers today are a lack of well defined book policy in Nigeria and near absence of publishers.
TNN: What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Namse: Traps? I can’t really think of any except maybe trying to make plenty money from your first work
TNN: What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Namse: Authors I am friends with, hmmm. Emeka Okere, Ayi Osori, Anthony Onugba, Steve Ogah. They help by previewing and editing my writing
TNN: How many books have you got to your credit?
Namse: I have one book published but with scores of articles
TNN: What is the most unethical practice prevalent in the publishing industry?
Namse: The most unethical practice I see, is plagiarism. Lifting of people’s ideas without credit
TNN: What is your source of inspiration as a writer?
Namse: My inspiration comes from my job as a teacher and from interactions with people I meet every day
TNN: Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym someday?
Namse: I haven’t considered writing under a pseudonym. It doesn’t appeal to me
TNN: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Namse: I would go for Dove
TNN: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Namse: Hmmm. Can’t think of anything now
TNN: Tell us about your latest work, Fundamental etiquettes
Namse: My book Fundamental Etiquette for Young Nigerians focuses on building right behavior among young people in Nigeria. It was inspired by my observation of social behavior in different areas. One particular annoying behavior is the sloppy and noisy chewing of gum
TNN: What have been the feedbacks you are getting?
Namse: The feed backs have excellent. Parents and students have had amazing things to say about the book. One particular comment that amazed me is a seven year old girl who told me: Uncle, my friends are always using foul language. Please send a copy of your book to them.
TNN: Would you like to share some of the challenges you encountered during and after writing?
Namse: The greatest challenge was financial. I needed money to Pay for the illustrations, editing and layout
TNN: Do you think your aims have been achieved with the fundamental etiquette?
Namse: My aims have not been fully met. I need more schools and libraries to get copies for their students
TNN: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Namse: Yes I read reviews. I believe all reviews are good as they help to improve upon the work
TNN: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Namse: Depends on the type of book. But research is continuous during the writing process. It is more for nonfiction than fiction.
TNN: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Namse: Keep writing no matter how silly it feels
TNN: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Namse: Maybe I would give up hanging out with the guys

Buhari: Four More Years Of Administrative Surrogacy?, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

Buhari, despite his self-induced political inertia and operational impotence has announced he will run again. He is on track to seek re-election for the presidency of Nigeria. Despite his mind-numbing failures and with nothing to show for almost three years in office, except his botched anti-corruption fight, his appointed cabal has propped him up for another run. Despite, spiraling insecurity, unrestrained nepotism and cronyism that have come to define his presidency, despite the fake anti-corruption fight and ill-health, he is set to run again. It is actually happening, before our very eyes. Buhari’s intent to run, is a deft maneuver by his cabal. Of course, there is so much disaffection in the land, a feeling that has swelled the rank of millions of those who want to stop his second coming.
There has been a lot of noise about who is the alternative to Buhari? That is an insult to 170 million Nigerians. We know the power of incumbency. We understand what it means for an anti-development and desperate cabal to stay in power. We know how powerfully they can deploy the federal might to intimidate opponents and rig elections. But we have seen it all before, haven’t we? Whoever is coming on board to challenge Buhari and his cabal, need to know what they are up against. The plan for Buhari to run a second time had been on from day one. With an eye on re-election, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was re-engineered as a conclave for cronies, the nation’s entire security architecture was put in his pocket, but due to no fault of his, the judiciary has evacuated its own consciousness, the opposition has been in disarray and whatever is left of them is struggling to stay awake.
What then may we look for in an election in the Age of Buhari? Given the fissures in his party – the All Progressives Congress (APC), escalating insecurity in the land, questions about Buhari’s deteriorating health and his incurable tribalism, Buhari’s second-term prospects are less than bright. Of course, 2019 is around the corner, but it is not difficult to see how Buhari can lose. The need for fresh faces and a fresh approach to governance in 2019 looms ever larger. Buhari’s insensitivity and the general unease about his administration of Nigeria through surrogacy has activated a portion of the electorate with deep dislike for his sectarianism. Many who supported and campaigned for him are angry at the turn his administration took and the huge disappointment he has been. Who might these new faces be and what might those new approaches be? The opposition might be well advised to skip over aspirants who cannot set our pulses racing. What is needed to challenge Buhari is a younger politician stocked with potentials but without any rapsheet of corruption, on a party platform with a programmatic appeal that will highlight Buhari’s ineptitude. The opposition need to get their acts together. Who are those left in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)? Who are the masquerades behind SDP? Opposition to Buhari should not be about who Fayose or Femi Fani-Kayode is insulting nor where President Obasanjo is tilting. It should not depend on what time of the day it is. Opposition should be the alternative to the killings in Zamfara, the robbery in Offa that left thousands dead, Buhari’s naked sectarianism and slow cooking failures. Opposition should be about popular propositions that will make life easy for the majority of Nigerians.The challenge for the opposition is building a good coalition and creating a populist slogan of opportunity, accountability and responsibility. Nigerians want an easy to understand, coherent economic view and aggressive reforms to make governance better. We all want jobs, education, power, infrastructure, health and security. We want a party who will put forward able candidates, who will eloquently put these ideas in the front and centre. Buhari will have no energy to traverse this country, shake hands, knock on doors, visit churches and mosques in canvassing for votes. While we wish the president good health, drawing voters attention to his health issues and how it has affected governance is fair game. We should make his absence from governance and his self-confessed lack of awareness on issues subjects of concern. Nigeria is too big and consequential in the region, in Africa and indeed the whoke world, to be governed by feckless surrogates.
All a winning candidate needs is a robust economic platform with a vision for government accountability and responsibility. The forces responsible for Buhari’s victory outside the North-West and North-East are fed on development and hypermodernity. Millennials are growing as the largest generation of eligible voters in 2019. They want development NOW and are impatient. What the opposition should look for is a candidate who will split votes in Kano, Sokoto and Maiduguri in that order. With the exception of Niger, the North-Central is up for grabs. The battleground is the South-West and it is ground zero for discontent against Buhari. Buhari can be defeated. What the opposition needs to do now is to start reaching out to every Nigerian, pointing out Buhari’s failures. They should be telling Nigerians that with Buhari, Nigeria is a killing field, but with them, Nigeria will become a safe place to live and thrive in!
Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo

Boko Haram Yet To Be Defeated By Abdulrazaq Hamzat

The terrorist group, Boko Haram is yet to be defeated, degraded or decimated, this is the glaring truth that must be accepted and confronted with all sincerity, so that they can truly be defeated and decimated beyond the rhetoric.

While the group is no longer gaining more grounds like it used to do during the previous administration, they are still very much alive and active. It has in our observation, adopted a different mode of operation, which is no longer about sacking communities or gaining territories, but consolidating its achievement and gaining the heart of the people in the area it has significant influence, a method that seems to be silently working in its favor, as seen in their heroic welcome in Dapchi village, when they returned the abducted Dapchi girls on 21st March, 2018.

Contrary to popular claims that the people were excited because the abducted girls were returned, Foundation for Peace Professionals (FPP) hold the views that, what was seen in Dapchi was not an excitement about the returned girls alone, it is indeed a welcome reception for the terrorist group, by those who willingly or unwillingly align with their ideology.

It is true that significant progress has been made in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency by the current administration. However, we are compelled to observe that in government quest to paint a rosy picture of the progress, it is doing so beyond the reality on ground, thereby beclouding itself from the reality stirring the general public in the face.

In a video widely circulated on social media, excited locals were seen struggling to get close to Boko Haram vehicle in other to touch it like a sort of celebrities and those that did got close was seen touching the terrorists with passion and praying for them to succeed.

“May God assist you in your mission’’ some locals prayed in Hausa language.

In another video posted on Sahara Reporters online media platform, crowd of sympathizers in Dapchi town were seen praising Boko Haram commanders for their efforts and praying for them to succeed in their agenda. The report also said that the group warned parents to desist from taking their children to school.

A careful analysis of that event by Foundation for Peace Professionals (FPP) indicates that the entrance of Boko Haram to Dapchi town with their flag right up is a psychological victory for the group and a blow of Nigeria. It re-enforces the fact that they are still in control in some areas and failure to abide by their directives open the people to their wrath. Who dare listen to the government, when the terrorist group is clearly in charge? Who dare disregard the group in those areas, when they can kidnap and return over 100 people at will? This is contrary to claim of government that Boko Haram has been defeated.

We call on the government to accept the reality of the situation and mobilize all Nigerians behind it in its quest to truly defeating the group and restoring peace and order.

Abdulrazaq Hamzat, writes from the Foundation for Peace Professionals.

Bill Gates said Nothing Wrong By Abimbola Adelakun

aadelakun@punchng.com

After reading the speech Bill Gates delivered in Abuja that supposedly rattled off our leaders, I fail to see what he said that should be deemed controversial. Just to be sure, I read it twice and what I saw is a respectful engagement with Nigerian leaders. Gates came with facts and figures, and he demonstrated competence with his subject matter in a way that suggests that he is not a mere distant observer reading a lacklustre speech prepared by a detached aide. He appeared genuinely concerned about progress of Nigeria, and he magnanimously offered us his expertise and resources to be a partner in the growth and development that has long eluded us.
His observations are spot on, and they strike at the heart of human capital underdevelopment in Nigeria (and most African countries as well). Here is an illustration that buttresses his observations: In October, Gaje Zubairu, a 38-year-old woman from Katsina State gave birth to a set of quadruplets. Since the community she lived had never seen such multiple births before, she was celebrated for her biological feat. The same evening after the birth, one of the kids was snatched by death; Ms. Gaje herself followed some days later.
As the story unfolded, it turned out that the woman never attended ante-natal care while pregnant. Gaje and her husband were illiterate and too poor to understand why it was crucial. Two, she was malnourished throughout the pregnancy. Three, there were no clinics in the community where they lived, and when she developed complications during birth, they lost precious time while trying to get her to the hospital in the city. Four, she had had seven pregnancies before with her previous husband; the quadruplets made it 11 live births. She was also a grandmother of at least three children. Five, while the husband was a peasant farmer in his 40s, he already had four wives and 26 children before the birth of the quadruplets.
This story typifies the many problems of Nigeria: a population that is being rapidly grown without coordination, high level of illiteracy and its attendant baggage of overbreeding, inadequate health facilities, high mortality rates, and religious beliefs and poverty perpetuating poverty cycles. Gaje Zubairu’s story gives a human face to the morbid statistics to the data that Bill Gates reeled out when he criticised Nigeria’s human development index. Gates is someone whose philanthropy has taken him into the rural parts of Africa; places where even our leaders will not deign to go unless it is election time and they seek campaign photo opportunities. We can take it for granted that he knows what he is saying, and we can believe him when he says that he is committed to finding solutions.
After years of bringing powerful white men to Nigeria to say what we would like to hear, it is almost understandable why the one who did not join the rest of his ilk to parrot the mantra of “Africa Rising,” and raises a black power fist to celebrate us leaves our leaders unsettled. In March 2011 and February 2012, former US president, Bill Clinton, alone earned a total of $1.4m for what amounted to two days of speaking gigs in Nigeria. With that kind of amount (which would have been hard for him to earn even in the US), he brought what his audience would like to buy: his white cultural power and political capital. At the stupendous rate at which they bought his speech, he could not have rattled his sponsors or be heavy-handed in his criticisms.
Gates, however, is different from Clinton. According to Gates, he has invested $1.6bn in Nigeria, and when you are the one paying the tab, you have earned the right to make unpleasant observations. Nothing he said should be considered toxic even if the Peoples Democratic Party has now, hysterically, latched on to it to hypocritically heckle the present administration. Gates’ analysis, though refreshing, is not new. Nigerians have been saying what he said about prioritising human development to their leaders for ages. He talked about the high rate of maternal mortality, infant malnourishment and deficiency, lack of data to track progress, falling education and health standards, and overall, how to reverse the retrogression of human development index. Which one of what he said have they not heard before?
With a median age of 17.9 years, Nigeria’s future can do with the Gates’ kind of voice to amplify to our leaders the imperative of urgency in addressing our socio-economic and socio-political issues. The other part of the argument about human development is that we do not have enough resources to commit to our needs and that would also be true even if our leaders do not steal a dime. Nigeria, still reeling from the vertiginous effects of a post-oil price crash, has to deal with the reality of a burgeoning population and stretching her meagre resources to cater for the thousands of humans we produce daily adequately. We are too poor, too corrupt, too analogue to improve our fortunes. In 2017 alone, remittances to Nigeria from overseas amounted to $22bn. The national budget was in the neighbourhood of $24bn. This pattern has been consistent for years; it means that our country is not viable based on revenues we generate.
To add to our issues is the fact that our country has traditionally projected the future based on annual budgets and not a long-term projection that looks ahead for at least 10 years. The unstable nature of our politics conditions us to limit development to what is achievable in four years, a time too short to consolidate meaningful changes. What Nigeria needs to develop human resources includes a visionary plan that looks at what the country looks like now, questions what we want it to look like in another 25 to a hundred years, and designs how to stimulate the conditions necessary to achieve such a future. No, not another party manifesto that makes ambitious and empty promises but a multilateral plan that guides government’s regular conduct. Such a grand design will balance the necessary investment in human and physical development, and also be revisable according to contingencies to achieve the desired outcomes.
The truth stares us in the face: we are birthing many humans, but we do not have strategic development plans to provide for them. We need hospitals. We need health centres. We need to train health services agents and send them into the interiors where people lack birth control and excessively reproducing for want of other idleness. We need schools and more of them, more than ever. When we talk about schools, Nigerian leaders tend to think of universities, and that is why virtually every state wants to build a university. Lately, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, said the state needs 20 universities to accommodate its growing population who need tertiary education. While university education is critical, a far more radical plan would be to provide elementary education that is both available to every child and qualitative as well. In other words, universities are not as urgent as primary schools.
Primary education is the foundation that needs investment, and not because it is not often prioritised, you have some children who get to university level who are barely literate, can hardly think critically, and cannot be said to have been educated in the true sense of the word. Gates was right that we are at a crucial juncture and if played right, our growing population can be our greatest resource. Yes, indeed. Nigeria cannot afford a population of malnourished people with deficient bodies and stunted mental acuity. A country can survive a nuclear bomb attack; no country in the world can survive the menace of a half-bred and half-baked generation.Thursday with Abimbola Adelakun aadelakun@punchng.com
After reading the speech Bill Gates delivered in Abuja that supposedly rattled off our leaders, I fail to see what he said that should be deemed controversial. Just to be sure, I read it twice and what I saw is a respectful engagement with Nigerian leaders. Gates came with facts and figures, and he demonstrated competence with his subject matter in a way that suggests that he is not a mere distant observer reading a lacklustre speech prepared by a detached aide. He appeared genuinely concerned about progress of Nigeria, and he magnanimously offered us his expertise and resources to be a partner in the growth and development that has long eluded us.
His observations are spot on, and they strike at the heart of human capital underdevelopment in Nigeria (and most African countries as well). Here is an illustration that buttresses his observations: In October, Gaje Zubairu, a 38-year-old woman from Katsina State gave birth to a set of quadruplets. Since the community she lived had never seen such multiple births before, she was celebrated for her biological feat. The same evening after the birth, one of the kids was snatched by death; Ms. Gaje herself followed some days later.
As the story unfolded, it turned out that the woman never attended ante-natal care while pregnant. Gaje and her husband were illiterate and too poor to understand why it was crucial. Two, she was malnourished throughout the pregnancy. Three, there were no clinics in the community where they lived, and when she developed complications during birth, they lost precious time while trying to get her to the hospital in the city. Four, she had had seven pregnancies before with her previous husband; the quadruplets made it 11 live births. She was also a grandmother of at least three children. Five, while the husband was a peasant farmer in his 40s, he already had four wives and 26 children before the birth of the quadruplets.
This story typifies the many problems of Nigeria: a population that is being rapidly grown without coordination, high level of illiteracy and its attendant baggage of overbreeding, inadequate health facilities, high mortality rates, and religious beliefs and poverty perpetuating poverty cycles. Gaje Zubairu’s story gives a human face to the morbid statistics to the data that Bill Gates reeled out when he criticised Nigeria’s human development index. Gates is someone whose philanthropy has taken him into the rural parts of Africa; places where even our leaders will not deign to go unless it is election time and they seek campaign photo opportunities. We can take it for granted that he knows what he is saying, and we can believe him when he says that he is committed to finding solutions.
After years of bringing powerful white men to Nigeria to say what we would like to hear, it is almost understandable why the one who did not join the rest of his ilk to parrot the mantra of “Africa Rising,” and raises a black power fist to celebrate us leaves our leaders unsettled. In March 2011 and February 2012, former US president, Bill Clinton, alone earned a total of $1.4m for what amounted to two days of speaking gigs in Nigeria. With that kind of amount (which would have been hard for him to earn even in the US), he brought what his audience would like to buy: his white cultural power and political capital. At the stupendous rate at which they bought his speech, he could not have rattled his sponsors or be heavy-handed in his criticisms.
Gates, however, is different from Clinton. According to Gates, he has invested $1.6bn in Nigeria, and when you are the one paying the tab, you have earned the right to make unpleasant observations. Nothing he said should be considered toxic even if the Peoples Democratic Party has now, hysterically, latched on to it to hypocritically heckle the present administration. Gates’ analysis, though refreshing, is not new. Nigerians have been saying what he said about prioritising human development to their leaders for ages. He talked about the high rate of maternal mortality, infant malnourishment and deficiency, lack of data to track progress, falling education and health standards, and overall, how to reverse the retrogression of human development index. Which one of what he said have they not heard before?
With a median age of 17.9 years, Nigeria’s future can do with the Gates’ kind of voice to amplify to our leaders the imperative of urgency in addressing our socio-economic and socio-political issues. The other part of the argument about human development is that we do not have enough resources to commit to our needs and that would also be true even if our leaders do not steal a dime. Nigeria, still reeling from the vertiginous effects of a post-oil price crash, has to deal with the reality of a burgeoning population and stretching her meagre resources to cater for the thousands of humans we produce daily adequately. We are too poor, too corrupt, too analogue to improve our fortunes. In 2017 alone, remittances to Nigeria from overseas amounted to $22bn. The national budget was in the neighbourhood of $24bn. This pattern has been consistent for years; it means that our country is not viable based on revenues we generate.
To add to our issues is the fact that our country has traditionally projected the future based on annual budgets and not a long-term projection that looks ahead for at least 10 years. The unstable nature of our politics conditions us to limit development to what is achievable in four years, a time too short to consolidate meaningful changes. What Nigeria needs to develop human resources includes a visionary plan that looks at what the country looks like now, questions what we want it to look like in another 25 to a hundred years, and designs how to stimulate the conditions necessary to achieve such a future. No, not another party manifesto that makes ambitious and empty promises but a multilateral plan that guides government’s regular conduct. Such a grand design will balance the necessary investment in human and physical development, and also be revisable according to contingencies to achieve the desired outcomes.
The truth stares us in the face: we are birthing many humans, but we do not have strategic development plans to provide for them. We need hospitals. We need health centres. We need to train health services agents and send them into the interiors where people lack birth control and excessively reproducing for want of other idleness. We need schools and more of them, more than ever. When we talk about schools, Nigerian leaders tend to think of universities, and that is why virtually every state wants to build a university. Lately, the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, said the state needs 20 universities to accommodate its growing population who need tertiary education. While university education is critical, a far more radical plan would be to provide elementary education that is both available to every child and qualitative as well. In other words, universities are not as urgent as primary schools.
Primary education is the foundation that needs investment, and not because it is not often prioritised, you have some children who get to university level who are barely literate, can hardly think critically, and cannot be said to have been educated in the true sense of the word. Gates was right that we are at a crucial juncture and if played right, our growing population can be our greatest resource. Yes, indeed. Nigeria cannot afford a population of malnourished people with deficient bodies and stunted mental acuity. A country can survive a nuclear bomb attack; no country in the world can survive the menace of a half-bred and half-baked generation.