Will Atiku Lead PDP Out Of The Trenches And Return Nigeria To Babylon? By Churchill Okonkwo

When the Lamb of Otuoke that was pounded by the Hurricane from Daura in the 2015 presidential election, recruits the Chameleon from Adamawa (also pounded) for an unfinished battle, you know that the 2019 election will be ugly. In the fullness of time, there will be back-stabbing, chaos, violence, throwing of the kitchen sink politics to distract from real issues and peddling of lies. 

Already, the “smart investor” from Adamawa rather than explain to Nigerians the question mark hanging over his no-show in the US is telling dumb lies about Mr. President. Even though fabrication has long been part of politics, Nigerians should not allow politicians lie to polish their résumés and to cover up misdeeds. In addition to glaring lies, there will be startling exposés when they start trading accusations about who is more corrupt. I am already excited.                                                                                                                  

On fighting corruption, President Buhari has not fully kept his promise, no doubt. But, in Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria will be worse off and pushed down the drain. If Atiku and Jonathan’s men known for acts of corruption with impunity are the only arsenal with which the PDP can use to challenge the troubling corrupt acts in Buhari’s administration, then, we are in trouble. I am left wondering if the wheels of democracy in Nigeria can ever turn without the grease of corruption.                                            

Atiku is not Jonathan’s or PDP first choice. If he was, he would have been their candidate in the 2007, 2011 and 2015 Presidential elections. Atiku’s seemingly upper hand in 2019 stems from the fact that the PDP has been in disarray with its political fortunes declining at such an alarming rate that an emergency life support measure is needed. So, the corrupt political hyenas in PDP have to resuscitate a dilapidated ambulance, Atiku. The bad news for PDP is that Atiku is an emergency ambulance running on dirty diesel and two flat tires. But he is still moving and lethal.

No matter how Goodluck Jonathan, his surrogates, and PDP dress this up, the drafting of Atiku was a measure made out of desperation and fear. Fear that if the corrupt hyenas in PDP do not rise together to challenge the selective crippling effect of EFCC and DSS, they will all be castrated, one after the other. As is stands, corrupt opposition ranking members who have not been castrated have been tamed, forced to defect to APC or on the run.

Here is a small list of corrupt PDP stalwarts so far castrated: Dame Patience Jonathan, Senator Ben Bruce, Sir Emeka Offor, Chief Olisa Metu, Lamido Sule. Those tamed include Shekarau, Apkabio, Kwankwaso, Obanikoro, and Andy Ubah, who were forced to defect, while Mohammed Adoke and Kola Aluko are on the run.  When Atiku felt his back against the wall following the gradual crippling of his economic base starting with the termination of Intels’s contract with NPA, he knows he has to either succumb or rally the depleting troops. He chose the latter.

With Atiku’s recent offensive, one does not have to be a wise man from the east to connect the dots and unearth the overwhelming plot that the undisputed corruption heavyweights are regrouping. What will be left of Nigeria after a full-blown battle for her soul in 2019 with the combined armory of Atiku, Ibori, IBB, and Saraki on one side versus Buhari and his government’s security apparatus on the other will be ugly.

Before then, though, Atiku has much to do – and quickly – to feel the love of his brothers in PDP, a home where he has in the past been treated as a stranger. To spearhead PDP’s comeback, Atiku has to step on the heads of Makaffi, Lamido, Ekweremmadu, and others as well as manage the expected fallout of the battle for the chairmanship election the party at the December 9th Convention. Atiku appears to be stimulated and energized as he moves in to take control.

The first signal that Atiku’s machinery is trying to highjack the party structure was made when the chairmen of PDP in the 19 northern states and the FCT rejected suggestions that the National Chairmanship seat of the party is sub-zoned to South-west. From Atiku’s calculation, this rejection will guarantee the selection of a chairman from the South-south backed by their governors and oil money. Atiku will need this money badly in the run-up to the 2019 election.

Atiku’s hope for the 2019 election will also be aided by the iron-clad confidence and support of the heavyweights behind his ambition. If not anything, he can count on the support of the man he made the Senate President, Saraki, a PDP mole in APC. Atiku is fully aware that Buhari and the corrupt hawks running his government are afraid of opening an unnecessary second front by attacking Saraki head-on. So, that Joker at the Senate will be called to defect at the right time.

He can also count on the support of Chief James Ibori, the only kingmaker who produced governors, senators and state house members from jail in faraway Britain. Recently, Ibori fired a warning shot at Buhari and APC, mocking them for “shedding crocodile tears” for Ekwueme. Don’t be shocked that both Diezani and Dasuki are behind Atiku’s muscle flexing. Dreadful!

There is a saying that the child sent by his father to steal, breaks down the door. Sensing the momentum behind his return, Atiku is moving quickly to take control of the party he helped form. Former President Goodluck Jonathan appears to be buoyed too. He recently hit out at critics of his administration, saying his achievements in government are yet to be matched by his successor. My guess is that he was making reference to Mainagate not matching Dasukigate and Diezanigate. I flinched at the buffoonery of GEJ who apparently is engineering this grand design to return Nigeria to Babylon via Otuoke. Babylon is the land of waste and iniquity. It stinks with corruption.

In Nigerian Babylon, corrupt PDP, reeling under pressure due to its stellar performance in escalating corruption will be back. The surgical, though selective, activities of EFCC will be halted if Atiku wins in 2019. Jonathan’s baggage, including Dasuki and Diezani will return with vengeance and roam free once again. APC crooks currently acting as the saints will return back to their natural habitat to continue raping the now empty national treasury at will. Scary!

With the expected defection of Saraki, the PDP will reclaim the reputation of the largest political party Africa notorious for corruption. The level of looting witnessed in the era when “stealing was not corruption” will be a child’s play. Nigeria will once more be transformed to a political Golgotha of corruption. It’s going to be brutal in the new Nigeria, Atiku’s Babylon.

If you are disgusted with the stinking corruption oozing out from the combination of Daura + Kyari +Malami under Buhari’s administration, imagine, just imagine where the combo of Atiku + Saraki + Ibori + Jonathan + Dasuki and Diezani will take Nigeria. I leave you to slowly reflect on that.

As for my reflection, I am done. I have little, very little respect for both the APC and PDP when it comes to good governance and seriously fighting corruption. At this moment, however, the question on my mind as I observe the realignment of dangerously corrupt political forces behind Atiku is: Will Atiku lead PDP out of the trenches only to return Nigeria to Babylon? Your guess is as good as mine.

You can email Churchill at Churchill.okonkwo@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi

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How Not To Arrest A Spy, By Dele Agekameh


It happened again last week. And all the major newspapers picked up the news. It was a perennial showdown between the operatives of two security agencies – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS). This time, the bone of contention was the attempt by the EFCC to arrest two of the intelligence community’s ex-chiefs – Ita Ekpeyong, former head of the DSS and Ayo Oke, the recently dismissed head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

To say the situation was badly handled would be a gross understatement of the lack of professionalism shown by the agencies involved. According to reports, the standoff led to threats that degenerated into rifles being corked and aimed within the full view of members of the public and pressmen at the scene, who were alarmed and frightened.

In the aftermath of the incident, there are two major issues dominating discourse on the matter; the first is whether due process was followed, which itself brings a sub-question of what due process is, in the circumstances. The second issue dwells on the lack of cooperation between Nigeria’s security agencies.

The apparent disconnect in operational cooperation and lack of general inter-agency courtesy has, on many occasions, led to worse cases of ego-fuelled street brawls in a literal battle for supremacy.

On the issue of due process, the many opinions that have been rendered do not agree on what exactly that would entail in the circumstances of this clash. The majority opinion, however, supports the right of the EFCC to storm the residences of the two ex-security chiefs. The argument for that opinion is that nobody is above the law and the DSS had no business obstructing the EFCC from effecting the arrest of individuals who have no immunity by law.

On the other hand, the opposing views point to a subsisting edict titled: “Instrument No. 1 of 1999”, which shields the DSS from external audit investigation of its financial dealings, making them subject only to presidential review. The order was a proclamation by the outgoing General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s regime on May 23, 1999, a few days before the nation’s transition to civilian rule. The implication is that until this edict is repealed by the National Assembly, the two agencies will always have friction.

At any rate, too much blame cannot be heaped on any of the teams on ground during the incident. The DSS operatives could not have been expected to give up their principals without prior superior order to stand aside. The EFCC should have contemplated this eventuality, warrant or no warrant. The EFCC and police operatives were also given a clear mandate from their headquarters. It is not in the training of any security agency to abandon an order at a whim.Remembering that the operations of the DSS and NIA are covert in nature also dims the right of the EFCC to haul in any operative or ex-operative and ask questions as it deems fit, without an extra layer of authority outside a magistrate’s warrant of arrest. This may account for the ex-security chiefs not honouring invitations to answer questions bothering on their operations.

Ita Ekpeyong of the DSS is wanted by the EFCC in connection with the Dasuki arms cash bazaar, while Ayo Oke is wanted in relation to the Osborne (Ikoyi) cash find. While the Presidency has said it is not stopping the EFCC from carrying out any investigation, any information concerning the use or intended use of the Osborne cash or Dasuki’s cash by these agencies may be protected information that can only be divulged upon clearance from higher authority.

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Even if the EFCC has found personally incriminating evidence against any of the two ex-chiefs, it ought to share and coordinate with their respective agencies. If the EFCC Act does not require this, surely common sense in these matters does, especially when dealing with sensitive information. No spy agency or secret service in the world would willingly submit operatives or ex-operatives to scrutiny without assurances that the inquiry will not touch on its operations.

This leads to the second issue of inter-agency cooperation. While it may not be feasible for security agencies to open their operations wholesale to others to scrutinise for the sake of coordination, there ought to be guidelines for a minimum level of information sharing and circumstances for coordination in operations. Every once in a while, purposes intersect and undue friction can be addressed through ready guidelines and procedures for these situations.

It is widely believed that the lack of collaboration between the United States of America’s Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contributed to the success of the September 11, 2001 terror plot in that country. If our security agencies develop enmity towards each other over little issues, they may drop the ball on potentially severe threats to the country through non-cooperation.

In Nigeria’s case, at least, the problem is deepened by a lack of professional courtesy towards other security agencies. Men of the Nigerian Police Force, for example, are notorious for their disregard of the men of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

The police are, in turn, hounded by the Nigerian military, particularly the army, which regards it as a inferior security force and openly displays its disdain of the police at every opportunity. Lives have been lost through this unnecessary supremacy contests.In this recent DSS and EFCC/police clash, the discourteous mien of the men is further heightened by the perceived personal vendetta of Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC boss, who seems to have an axe to grind with the DSS over his confirmation saga. While one may never know the truth, the bad blood is thick and obvious between Magu’s EFCC and the DSS.

Also related to discourtesy and unprofessionalism is Magu’s tendency to court publicity in the EFCC’s operations. Without being told, a keen observer can guess that the press presence at this recent clash was no coincidence, just as it happened during the Osborne seizure. The tip-off of the press could only have come from one quarter and, as it turned out, they were called to witness the nation being embarrassed, again.

Our security agencies need to be trained on agency interaction and the positives of coordination when necessary. A re-orientation is long overdue and it must begin from the top of the hierarchy of these agencies, where the problem usually originates. Also, guidelines addressing the issues raised by this recent clash need to be explored and determined to prevent these kinds of occurrences in the future.

The law does its best to give guidelines, but it cannot address every possible eventuality; which is why law-making is an on-going process. Circumstances like this are opportunities to modify existing laws to accommodate new scenarios. This is what the Senate ought to be focusing on, not on setting up committees and launching useless probes into matters that the Federal Executive Council or judiciary are better positioned to handle at this juncture.

In a case like this, the position of the attorney general is crucial in keeping sanity within the security agencies. However, the antecedents of Abubakar Malami, the present attorney general, have been even more divisive. Malami, for instance, was involved in the gung-ho raid by the DSS on judges’ residences that led to similar clashes some time ago.

For whatever it is worth, it is doubtful that Magu and Malami enjoy a cordial enough relationship for the former to seek the help of the latter in this matter. The AG’s position with regard to Magu, an appointee of the executive, betrays the same disconnect that leads to clashes like the one that was witnessed in Asokoro last week.

This disconnect summarises the point of this whole piece. When these agencies and their supervisors are working at cross purposes, clashes like this will continue. It is better to make sacrifices now that will help improve inter-agency relations, than to have to deal with the consequences of lack of cooperation later, when it will be too late.

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 “The rise and fall of Robert Gabriel Mugabe”- Reuters

watch Rise and Fall of Mugabe video
Inside State House in Harare, Robert Mugabe was in the tightest spot of his 37-year rule. Tanks were on the streets and troops had occupied the state broadcaster, from where the army had announced it had taken control of Zimbabwe.

Mugabe, 93 years old but still alert, remained defiant. The only leader the country had known since independence was refusing to quit.

At a tense meeting with his military top brass on 16 November, the world’s oldest head of state put his foot down: “Bring me the constitution and tell me what it says,” he ordered military chief Constantino Chiwenga, according to two sources present.

An aide brought a copy of the constitution, which lays out that the president is commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

Chiwenga, dressed in camouflage fatigues, hesitated before replying that Zimbabwe was facing a national crisis that demanded military intervention.

Mugabe retorted that the army was the problem, according to the sources present. Then the beleaguered president indicated that perhaps they could find a solution together.

The meeting marked the start of an extraordinary five-day standoff between Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s supreme law on one side, and the military, his party and Zimbabwe’s people on the other.

The generals wanted Mugabe to go, but they also wanted a peaceful “coup,” one that would not irreparably tarnish the administration aiming to take over, according to multiple military and political sources.

The president finally accepted defeat only after he was sacked by his own Zanu-PF party and faced the ignominy of impeachment. He signed a short letter of resignation to parliament speaker Jacob Mudenda that was read out to lawmakers on 21 November.Mugabe, who had run Zimbabwe since 1980 and overseen its descent into economic ruin while his wife shopped for luxury goods, was gone.

The country erupted into ecstasy. Parliamentarians danced and people poured onto the streets in their tens of thousands to celebrate a political downfall that sent shockwaves across Africa and the world.

To many, the end of Mugabe had been unthinkable only one week before.

Reuters has pieced together the events leading up to Mugabe’s removal, showing that the army’s action was the culmination of months of planning that stretched from Harare to Johannesburg to Beijing.BITTER RIVALRY

Drawing on a trove of intelligence documents from within Mugabe’s feared Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO), Reuters reported in September that the army was backing Emmerson Mnangagwa, then vice president, to succeed Mugabe when the time came.

The report detailed how Mnangagwa, a lifelong friend and former security chief of Mugabe, might cooperate with Mugabe’s political foes in order to revive the economy. It caused furor in Zimbabwe’s media and political circles.

Bitter rivalry intensified between Mnangagwa and Grace, Mugabe’s 52-year-old wife, who also hoped to take over as president and had the backing of a Zanu-PF faction known as G40.

In early October, Mnangagwa said he had been airlifted to a hospital in South Africa after a poisoning attempt in August. He pointed no fingers – but he didn’t need to.

Grace’s swift response was to deny it and accuse her rival of seeking sympathy; she belittled him as nothing but an employee of her husband, according to a report in the state-run Herald newspaper.

As the pressure built, Mugabe became increasingly paranoid about the loyalty of army chief Chiwenga, a career soldier and decorated veteran of Zimbabwe’s 1970s bush-war against white-minority rule.

Mugabe’s spies, who permeated every institution and section of society in Zimbabwe, were warning him the military would not accept Grace as president.

“Mugabe is very worried about a coup,” one intelligence report, dated 23 October, said. “Mugabe was openly told by senior CIOs that the military is not going to easily accept the appointment of Grace. He was warned to be ready for civil war.”

Reuters reviewed the document, and hundreds of other intelligence reports dating back to 2009 before the coup took place. The documents come from within the CIO, but Reuters could not determine for whom they were written. The CIO is split into factions, some pro- and some anti-Mugabe.

In late October, Mugabe summoned Chiwenga to a showdown, according to another of the documents, dated 30 October. It said Mugabe confronted the army chief about his ties to Mnangagwa and told him that going against Grace would cost him his life.

“Chiwenga was warned by Mugabe that it is high time for him to start following. He mentioned to Chiwenga that those fighting his wife are bound to die a painful death,” the intelligence report said.

At the same meeting, Mugabe also ordered Chiwenga to pledge allegiance to Grace. He refused.

“Chiwengwa refused to be intimidated. He stood his ground over his loyalty to Mnangagwa,” the report said.

Reuters put questions about this exchange and other aspects of this article to Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba. In an enigmatic text message dated 23 November, he replied: “Enjoy Reuters copy. Goodnight.”

Two spokesmen for Chiwenga declined to comment.

After another tense meeting with Mugabe on 5 November, Chiwenga left Harare on a pre-arranged official trip and traveled to China, which wields significant influence as a major investor in Zimbabwe.

A day later, Mugabe sacked Mnangagwa as vice president and purged him from Zanu-PF, the liberation movement that Mnangagwa had served since his youth and for which, as a young militant caught bombing a train, he had nearly been executed.

For the generals, Mugabe had gone too far. The military immediately activated a “Code Red” alert, its highest level of preparedness, a military source said.

ASSASSINATION PLOT

Moments after Mnangagwa was ousted on 6 November, the security details assigned to him and his house were withdrawn, according to a statement he issued later. He was told his life was in danger.

“Security personnel, who are friendly to me, warned me that plans were underfoot to eliminate me once arrested and taken to a police station,” Mnangagwa said in a 21 November statement. “It was in my security interest to leave the country immediately.”

From Harare, he managed to escape over the border into neighboring Mozambique, where he caught a plane to China, according to one source familiar with his movements. There he met up with Chiwenga, the source said.

Reuters could not confirm the account, but an intelligence report from 13 November indicates that Mugabe suspected some of his generals of preparing to overthrow him from China.

“A number of generals are now in China ready to plot Mugabe’s ouster with Mnangagwa,” the report said. It was not clear which generals, and whether their travel to China was authorized.

Mugabe’s spies suspected old allies had turned against the aging president. An intelligence report, dated 30 October, said Beijing and Moscow both supported regime change out of frustration at Zimbabwe’s economic implosion under Mugabe.

“China and Russia are after change,” the report said. “They are after change within Zanu-PF as they are sick and tired of Mugabe’s leadership.”

“The two countries are even ready to clandestinely supply arms of war to Mnangagwa to fight Mugabe.”

Neither China’s Defence Ministry nor Foreign Ministry responded to a request for comment. The Foreign Ministry had previously said Chiwenga’s visit was “a normal military exchange mutually agreed upon by China and Zimbabwe.”

Reuters sent written requests for comment to the Kremlin, the Russian Defence Ministry, and the Russian Foreign Ministry. None of them responded.

China has long taken an interest in Zimbabwe, having supported Mugabe’s forces during the liberation struggle. After independence, it developed connections there in mining, security, and construction.

Russia has also had ties to Zimbabwe since the early 1980s, and in 2014 a Russian consortium entered into a partnership to develop a $3 billion platinum mining project in the country.

Chiwenga’s trip to China culminated in him meeting Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan in Beijing on Nov. 10.

Two sources with knowledge of the talks told Reuters that Chiwenga asked if China would agree not to interfere if he took temporary control in Zimbabwe to remove Mugabe from power. Chang assured him Beijing would not get involved and the two also discussed tactics that might be employed during the de facto coup, the sources said.

Reuters could not establish whether Mnangagwa met Chang.Having got wind of the talks in China, Mugabe summoned his still-loyal police commissioner, Augustine Chihuri, and his deputy, Innocent Matibiri, to detain Chiwenga on his return to Harare, government and security sources said.

The pair assembled a squad of 100 police and intelligence agents. But the plot leaked and Chiwenga supporters managed to pull together a counter-team of several hundred special forces soldiers and agents as their commander’s plane approached.

Some were disguised as baggage handlers, their military fatigues and weapons hidden beneath high-visibility jackets and overalls, one security source said.

Realizing they were outnumbered and outgunned, Chihuri’s police team backed down, allowing Chiwenga to touch down without incident, the security source said.

Mugabe’s spokesman did not comment on the incident.

‘VERY ALARMED’
Two days later, Chiwenga and a group of military commanders demanded a meeting with Mugabe at his official State House residence in Harare, an ornate colonial villa complete with stuffed leopards and thick red carpets, according to a government source.

They said they were “very alarmed” at the firing of Mnangagwa and told Mugabe to rein in his wife and her G40 faction, whom they accused of trying to divide the military, according to the government official, who was present at the discussions.

“What do you think should be done?” Mugabe demanded of the soldiers as he sat slumped in an armchair.

The generals asked him to give assurances that they too would not be purged. Mugabe’s response was lukewarm, the government source said. Chiwenga told Mugabe he would be making his concerns about the G40 faction public.

Hours later, Chiwenga summoned reporters to the military’s main barracks near Harare to issue a statement.

“We must remind those behind the current treacherous shenanigans that, when it comes to matters of protecting our revolution, the military will not hesitate to step in,” he said, reading from a prepared text.

The following afternoon, Reuters reported six armored personnel carriers heading toward the headquarters of Mugabe’s Presidential Guard on the outskirts of Harare. It was unclear whose command they were under.

At the time, the city’s residents were on edge but still unsure what it all meant.

THE LINE WENT DEAD

At around 6 pm on 14 November Mugabe’s motorcade headed to his private “Blue Roof” residence, a heavily fortified compound in the capital’s leafy northern suburb of Borrowdale.

Meanwhile, social media buzzed with pictures of armored vehicles driving along roads to Harare, sparking frenzied speculation about a coup.

Increasingly concerned, Grace put in a call shortly after 7 pm to a cabinet minister asking to get WhatsApp and Twitter shut down, according to one source familiar with a recording of the conversation.

The minister, whose identity Reuters is withholding for safety reasons, replied that such a move was the responsibility of state security minister Kembo Mohadi.

“No-one will stand for a coup. It cannot happen,” said Grace, commonly referred to as Amai, which means Mother, according to a source who heard the recording.

Mugabe’s voice is then heard on the line: “As you have heard from Amai, is there anything that can be done?”

The minister gave the same response, about the responsibilities of state security, and the line went dead, the source said.

Mohadi declined to comment.

Two hours later, two armored vehicles rolled into the Pockets Hill headquarters of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), according to ZBC sources.

Dozens of soldiers sealed off the site and stormed into the studios where they accosted staff, snatching their phones and halting programs. State-owned ZBC, widely seen as a mouthpiece for Mugabe, switched to broadcasting pop music videos.

Mugabe’s inner circle, nearly all of them G40 loyalists, had no idea what was underway, according to four sources familiar with their conversations.

Information Minister Simon Khaya Moyo called Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi to ask if he had any information about a possible coup. Sekeramayi said no, but tried to check with military chief Chiwenga.

Chiwenga told Sekeramayi he would get back to him. According to the sources, Chiwenga never did.

Moyo remains in hiding and was unavailable for comment. Sekeramayi declined to comment.

SECURITY DETAIL

As ministers in the G40 faction tried frantically to work out what was going on, Chiwenga’s men closed in on Mugabe’s compound.

According to a source briefed on the situation, Albert Ngulube, a CIO director and head of Mugabe’s security detail, was driving home around 9:30 pm after visiting Mugabe. He met an armored car on Borrowdale Brooke, a side road leading to Mugabe’s house.

When Ngulube confronted the soldiers and threatened to shoot them, they beat him up and detained him, the source said. Ngulube was later released but had suffered head and facial injuries, the source added.

Spokesmen for Chiwenga and Mnangagwa declined to comment. Reuters was unable to contact Ngulube.

Other G40 ministers were also picked up by soldiers. Finance minister Ignatius Chombo was found hiding in a toilet at his house and beaten before being detained at an undisclosed location for more than a week.

On his release on 24 November, he was hospitalized with injuries to his hands, legs and back, his lawyer told Reuters, describing the army’s behavior as “brutal and draconian.”

Soldiers used explosives to blow the front door off the house of Jonathan Moyo, the main brains behind G40, according to video footage of the house seen by Reuters. Others burst through the front gates of the residence of local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere, another key Grace supporter.

Both men managed to escape to Mugabe’s residence. Contacted by Reuters shortly after midnight in the early hours of 15 November, Kasukuwere was audibly stressed. “I can’t talk. I‘m in a meeting,” he said, before hanging up.

For another week, Mugabe clung on to the presidency as Chiwenga and his forces tried to engineer a peaceful, and quasi-legal, exit for the long-serving leader.

But as parliament began impeachment proceedings on 21 November, Mugabe finally gave up. After 37 years in control, during which much of his country fell into poverty, his letter of resignation said he was stepping down out of “concern for the welfare of the people of Zimbabwe.”

ATIKU’S POLITICS AND THE SPECTER OF FAILURE By Umar Ardo, Ph.D

 

Now that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has finally slunk back into the PDP once again, the party that he once helped found and twice futilely helped to kill, all absurd arguments to justify this third missionary journey into the party are been spewed by different characters across the nation’s political landscape. Only recently, the so-called Adamawa State PDP’s leadership and an amorphous group that calls itself Katsina State People’s Democratic Party Elders’ Consultative Forum are reported to have publicly pleaded with the erstwhile Vice President to come back to the PDP. The Katsina group implored him “to forgive former elements within the PDP, who forced him to seek further political relevance and justice in alternative political enclaves and return for a successful rebirth of the PDP.” The so-called elders hailed him as a “political son of Katsina State, who has made indelible contributions to the foundation and development of the PDP.”

 

While I do not here intend to dispute whatever contributions Atiku may have made to the PDP, I however reject the notion that he was maltreated in the party. Nobody treated Atiku unfairly; whatever happened to him in the PDP was the result of his own making! With an avid ambition for power, Atiku took many indecent steps to achieve his political self-interest, and many of these steps came back at him with devastating consequences. As a Vice President, he plotted against his principal by conspiring to unseat the president and take over power in 2003. It was an opened national secret that Atiku did not want Obasanjo to contest a 2nd term and took to so many subterranean antics to stop the president from doing so. Nigerians are not in a hurry to forget how Obasanjo on good ground accused him of conspiring with Ghali Umar Na’abba, a onetime Speaker, to serve him with impeachment notice in August, 2002 after failing to get the president adopt “the Mandela option” – i.e. not to contest a 2nd term and handover to his deputy! No sensible president would simply sit back and watch his deputy run him down the way Atiku tried on Obasanjo. Hence, Obasanjo’s defensive move of taking away PDP from Atiku’s grips and subsequently bludgeoning him against contesting under its platform were the results of Atiku’s own political misdemeanours to his principal and not the other way round.

 

So when he left the party in 2006 and desperately persuaded Bola Tinubu to join him form the AC and contested the presidency under its platform in 2007, Atiku was simply pursuing his own self-ambition. But, perceptively, events were not kind to him in that presidential election as he came a distant 3rd with a mere 2 million votes. Then what happened after he lost that election and lost at the tribunal was shocking. Without telling any of his compatriots in the AC, he sneaked into Abeokuta to beg Obasanjo for reconciliation! Not only Obasanjo did not forgive him, but he further lost the confidence of his AC compatriots who stood by him in his ill-advised fight against Obasanjo. That brought the end of AC, except that Bola Tinubu, being a man of will, foresight and means, restructured it into ACN and forged ahead to build a colossus political empire. And for Atiku, having betrayed his new-found compatriots, he creeped back into the PDP in July, 2010, shortly after the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua, in the hope of pushing out the supposedly weak and inexperienced President Goodluck Jonathan. But again events were not kind to him, for in the December presidential primaries, Atiku managed to scoop a mere 800 against Jonathan’s over 2000 votes.
So when in August 2013 Atiku, along with others, derisively walked out on the PDP at its national convention and subsequently joined the newly formed APC, which he described as his last and final political bus-stop, all those who understand his politics knew that he would still jump ship the moment the APC fails to satisfy his self-interest. Just like his returning to PDP after President Yar’Adua’s death was aimed at displacing the ‘inexperienced Jonathan’, his joining APC was also with the naive plan of using the power of money to defeat ‘poor Buhari’ and gain APC’s presidential nomination. Again, like in the previous two elections, events were not kind to him as he woefully lost the contest to a distant 3rd, after Buhari and Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso – thanks to Bola Tinubu who refused to allow himself be bitten twice by the same insect!

 

But of course the turn of events in all his three self-serving contests were just as they should be – you just don’t rip from where you did not sow! Agreed, politics is said to be a game of interests; but being a matter that directly affects the lives of people in society and determines the future of society itself, politics is indisputably also a game of principles. In playing the game, therefore, one just cannot pursue one’s interests at the expense of its principles. It is a standard universal norm that any political actor who pursues self-serving interest against public interests is acting against set principles of politics; and time has ascertained that such a politician is sure to fail. The politician’s skill or lack of it to distinguish the great disparity between self-interest and principles, and the ability or inability to balance these two elements, is what makes one a good or a bad politician, and consequently what decides the ultimate destiny of one’s politics. Characteristically, over the years, Atiku’s unprincipled politics not only failed to conform to these political dynamics but it also defines him merely as a self-serving politician.  

 

This character trait didn’t start in the presidential villa – it started much earlier! Nigerians can recall that, by his own testimony, Atiku claimed to have joined politics at the behest of late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who he always refers to as his political mentor. Although this claim did not prevent him from abstinently opposing the late General’s immediate younger brother, Umaru, when the latter emerged president, but for the purpose of the present discourse, let’s take him by his words on this. So together with General Yar’Adua, Atiku formed or joined several political associations and political parties, including PF, PDM, SDP and NCPN. In the process of building the NCPN, popularly called the Centre Party, his political mentor was arrested by the General Sani Abacha government, charged with treasonable felony and sentenced to death. While General Yar’Adua was languishing in jail on a commuted sentence of life in prison, Atiku had no qualms in abandoning the Centre Party to join the government-favoured UNCP and be given its Adamawa State governorship ticket. Shortly after, Yar’Adua died in jail.

 

And he has now again crawled back into the PDP with, no doubt, a vein political trajectory to get the party’s presidential nomination. He must have calculated that with the zoning of the party’s presidential candidate to the North, being obscenely wealthy, he will use money to secure its ticket. That may well be so, but it is also clear to all discerning analysts that the man has again not thought through this political gambit. Atiku has once again not only committed another morally repugnant action to advance his self-interest, but by it he also proved himself to be an undependable and unreliable political ally, both to the people he associates with and the political parties he joins. He neither embodies virtues Nigerians can emulate nor holds worthy moral and ethical principles upcoming generations may extol. But like all acts, we all get wiser after the events; he therefore won’t know the folly of his present move until the effects come calling. And, as sure as God made little apples, the universal truth of ‘what is morally wrong cannot be politically right’ will, as before, ultimately become the bane of his political failure. But, as the saying goes, time will be the true judge of all affairs.

Will the Donald Dukes of Nigeria Ever Get a Chance?PEDULUM By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, 

I finally caught up, and had a most productive meeting, with one of my favourite Nigerian leaders, Donald Duke, in Lagos last weekend. I have steadfastly remained his fan long after he left power ten years ago as Governor of Cross River State. Not even his most fastidious and vociferous critic would ever suggest that he did not leave a monumental mark in that fortunate State. It remains a mystery why, and how, Donald Duke, was abandoned, and wasted, by his Party, PDP, and nay Nigeria. I have written endlessly, and campaigned feverishly, that Nigeria desperately, and urgently, needs many leaders in the mould of Donald Duke. So, it was a pleasure not only meeting up with him again but having time to discuss a topic we both fervently and passionately believe in, Nigeria.
I do not know if Donald Duke is a saint, since we seem to be obsessed with seeking, and finding, angels from heaven to lead us, but I’m very certain that Donald Duke would have performed and delivered once more. Successful and progressive nations are not governed by saints but by performers with uncommon vision, zeal and the determination to succeed where others failed. This handsome, charming, charismatic, cosmopolitan, suave, visionary, audacious and cerebral gentleman, has so much to remind us of a Barack Obama. It is one of those cruel ironies that many of those Nigerian youths who shout the loudest about wanting enduring change never remembered to fight for the emergence of the Donald Dukes of this world. They preferred to fight based on ethnicity, religion and raw cash, the very primordial things that have kept us, both, down and extremely backward.
I’m writing this article on a flight from Dubai to London, and there is no better time to get inspired and simultaneously angered about the disgraceful and embarrassing state of things in Nigeria. I have since come to the conclusion that Nigeria is in this peculiar mess because we have consistently and stubbornly continued to do and repeat the same nonsense and rubbish while expecting a miraculous change. Truth be told, a leader can never give or deliver what he does not possess. A leader can only be fired up by the limits of his education, background, worldview, experience and exposure. Age is also a factor, a man who made a mess of important assignments in his prime is not likely to make a success of it when he has become totally weak and dim-witted. It is not his fault but the natural law of diminishing returns. This is the difference between Nelson Mandela and Robert Mugabe. While Mandela surrounded himself with the brightest whiz-kids to shore up whatever shortcomings he had, having been out of circulation for 27 odd years, Mugabe, on the contrary remained the omnipotent and all-knowing leader even in his twilight years. This Messianic complex is dangerously perfidious.
It was with this background in mind that I was truly elated when Donald Duke accepted the invitation to meet me for a private session. The first thing that struck me on his arrival was his very good looks. Also, his confidence and poise. And, of course, as our conversation progressed, his sharp brains and wits. I had no doubt in my mind that Nigeria has been haemorrhaging to death because of our self-immolating lack of respect for the likes of Donald Duke and our preference for enthroning mediocrity. If we made mistakes in the past, must we continue to wallow in our foolhardiness? This was my starting point with Donald Duke.
“Oga, thank you for honouring my invitation at such short notice Sir. You know I have been your self-appointed Campaign Manager all these years. It is so wonderful to have you here finally, one on one…” I stated. “I cannot thank you enough Dele for keeping faith with me without seeing me. I cannot say we’ve been close friends, yet you mentioned me regularly in your column and I’m always wondering what I have done to deserve this honour from you…” he responded.
I told him how much I was fascinated by his incredible work in Cross River State, especially, how Calabar was fast becoming the Dubai of Nigeria. I was not unaware that his critics often lampooned him as wasting resources on building a beautiful State while his people languished in squalid conditions. But I knew such arguments came from people of limited minds and dreams. The living conditions of a people will never improve unless and until leaders learn to create huge dreams and gigantic activities that would ultimately generate jobs and opportunities. Donald Duke looked a bit pensive. “You won’t believe this; I was totally disappointed to hear supposedly knowledgeable people utter such words like ‘na Dubai we go chop’? It is this sort of warped mentality that has kept us where we have found ourselves… Lack of big dreams… Lack of faith in our abilities to build our own big cities and compete against the greatest nations… Nigerians are naturally brilliant, and we have the population to give us the power and influence of China, but we are not ready to change our ways of doing things…” he said, with sorrow in his eyes.
This dovetailed to my most important question: “Will you run the Presidential race?” He paused for a moment, measuring his thoughts and probably his choice of words. “Dele, do you want to hear the truth? I seriously want to run but my party, PDP, would have to decide on many things… Our party is well-positioned to win the next election if we can change our style a bit and beat APC at its own game. We must take advantage and benefit from our experience since 1999. Despite our apparent mistakes, Nigerians can now compare and contrast us with APC. What do we need to win the next elections? We must go to the field with our best candidates. We must learn from how we select our footballers. No one cares where you come from. Can you play well? Pronto. We must show clearly that we are more democratic. Zoning is good, but it has not worked well in Nigeria. The time has come to unleash the best brains from every part of Nigeria. We must galvanise our youths. They will never follow or support us if we can’t show how we are different and far better than APC…”
I told him how much I detest the idea of zoning and the way we’ve all accepted this unconstitutional act, unquestionably and horribly, like victims of mass hypnotism. I do not mind the principle of Federal Character in certain appointments and promotions, but it has no place whatsoever in elective office. Even Federal Character must be based on sound merit. No one should ever be appointed or promoted only because of tribe or religion. No student should be admitted or promoted if he cannot meet minimum requirements. We have now seen the result of promoting mediocrity, hypocrisy and laziness in Kaduna State where Governor Nasir El Rufai has practically guillotined the teaching careers of about 20,000 hopelessly and ridiculously dull teachers.
Zoning is undoubtedly one of the biggest scams in Nigeria. It was forced on us by some control freaks in order to direct and manipulate the system in perpetuity. If we break it down, we’ll see that it has favoured some states and regions more than the others, while some are at serious disadvantage. Nigeria has been led to date by government heads as follows: Tafawa Balewa (Bauchi, Moslem for 6 years) jointly with Nnamdi Azikiwe (Onitsha, Christian for 6 years), Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi (Umuahia, Christian for 6 months), Yakubu Gowon (Lur, Christian for 9 years), Murtala Muhammed (Kano, Moslem for 6 months), Olusegun Obasanjo (Abeokuta, Christian, two stints, for 3 years and 8 years respectively, totalling 11 years), Shehu Shagari (Sokoto, Moslem for 4 years and a few months), Muhammadu Buhari (Katsina, Moslem (two stints, for 20 months and currently 2 and a half years respectively, totalling over 4 years and counting), Ibrahim Babangida (Minna, Moslem for 8 years) Ernest Shonekan (Abeokuta, Christian for almost 3 months) Sani Abacha (Kano, Moslem for almost 5 years), Abdulsalami Abubakar (Minna, Moslem for about one year), Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (Katsina, Moslem for almost three years) and Goodluck Jonathan (Otuoke, Christian for 5 years). More significantly the North has held power for 34 years and shared power as the stronger of two heads for six years, whilst the South has held power for 17 years and shared power as the weaker of two heads for 6 years. Using religion, Christians have held power with 25 years to the Moslems’ 32 years. So much for zoning!
Furthermore, in reality, if zoning was a sincere and precise formula, Buhari should be seen to be completing Yar’Adua’s, and thus, the North’s, second term. After all, Yar’Adua spent three years in office before he died. If APC or PDP fields another Northerner and either manages to win, is that person going to serve one or two terms? Whichever way you look at it, those insisting the North must produce the next President are thus being clever by half. In fact, the South South has the right to insist Jonathan or someone from his zone should come back to complete their own second term. Just imagine such confusion and conundrum!
What is worse, zoning has never been of immense benefit to Nigeria or its utmost beneficiaries. Katsina has produced two Heads of State on three different occasions (Buhari, Yar’Adua and Buhari again). Kano has produced two (Murtala Muhammed and Sani Abacha). Minna has produced two (Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar). Abeokuta has produced two, also on three different occasions (Obasanjo, Shonekan and Obasanjo again). Have their sons turned their cities or States into Eldorado? The answer is a resounding No!
Donald Duke agreed with me that Nigeria needs to be reconfigured and repositioned urgently. We are respected globally for our brilliance, intellect, innovativeness and boundless energy, but we parade some of the worst leaders on planet earth and the global community wonders how and why we allow the dregs of our society to represent us. Duke believes things might change for the better if we don’t give up. He said there are times he feels frustrated about the Nigerian situation but wakes up the next day re-energised seeing the potentials instead of the horrendous challenges and difficulties. He said he would appeal to members of his Party not to waste this unique opportunity because history would not forgive them if Nigeria collapses so miserably.
He elaborated extensively on his vision for Nigeria. He said rebuilding Nigeria is not going to take rocket science but vision, passion and total commitment to the ideals of civilisation. According to him, this cannot be achieved if we keep Nigeria perpetually in the hands of those who play Nigeria like Russian Roulette. For such leaders, there is no hurry or any sense of urgency to develop. Theirs is to attain power by crooked means, warm the seats and quit without any tangible achievement. Nigerians seem comfortable in this ‘game of thrones’ that forces them to accept their bizarre existence as if it were God-ordained. We all complain but still do nothing to correct these foolish anomalies.
How hopeful is he that he, or people of his ilk and pedigree, may emerge in the next dispensation? His response was very calm and sober. “If I can get the ticket of my Party, I’m certain that with the support of our members and the youths of Nigeria yearning for urgent restoration of hope, we shall defeat APC. I’m certain Nigerians are anxiously waiting for a leader with proven record of vigour and excellence. They will come out en masse to vote if they see such a candidate. And I promise to join hands with my Party to free Nigeria permanently from recession, oppression and depression. We know what to do to unlock the potentials of our vibrant youths and we possess the most important gift of all, the trust in our ability to take development to every part of our great country and attract our most fertile minds back home from all over the world. Our international friends are also waiting to support the right leadership when they see one. It would be the dawn of a new era in Nigeria…” I couldn’t help but shout a loud Amen to that, as he stood up to take his exit.
I followed him to his car and I felt proud and privileged knowing that such a leader is available if ever we need him and are ready to avail ourselves of his quality services. The ball is in our court.
Let’s keep the conversation flowing as I search and serve you more leaders soon.
God bless Nigeria

The Sordid Economic Reality of the Buhari Government, By ‘Tope Fasua

We all heard about the director in Kogi State civil service who committed suicide after being owed his remuneration for 11 months. Another civil servant in Kogi was shown on social media weeping over his dead daughter, whose hospital bills he could not afford because he was being owed as well. I received two separate visitors in my office last week who randomly hinted that they think sometimes about killing themselves. One just lost a job, and immediately fell into penury, with no prospect of getting another job or a business going. The other has always suffered from serious financial squeeze as a lady entrepreneur in Nigeria’s brutal business environment. We cannot disparage them or call them weak. Not all of us will be strong in the same way, and so mere preaching to them can only help marginally. The reality is harsh. And it is not just a Kogi State affair, but a countrywide one.

I would have intellectualised the matter, and called for a new economic order; a scenario where the president, state governors, top politicians and our economic managers think honestly and seriously about what is going on, realise that Nigeria is finally on a one-way street to disaster, and make an urgent course-correction. But with the current array of events, I doubt if they can understand or be helped. Most large companies die because their top directors ignore the signals, sleepwalk and party through boom and busts. Anyone who warns them is seen as a spoilsport, or someone complaining because they weren’t included in the largesse. For a country, it’s worse. Our politicians cannot even help themselves. Each one is restricted to his/her own fiefdom. As we can see with all the infighting going on in government today, everyone has their own territories, and a silo mentality is the order of the day. Therefore, there is no one charged with the responsibility of assessing the whole scenario from an eagle-eye perspective and sounding the warning signal. What is more? Even where we can find such person, s/he dares not speak up and tell the leader the truth. For now, even the few honest people in politics and government can only bellyache and keep quiet. They feel so helpless. All of them just live from day to day, go with the flow and keep whatever comes to them from the loot that flows around in their circles.

Debt For What Exactly?

Nigeria is a particularly interesting case study. The IMF and World Bank have warned several times about our rate of borrowing. These institutions usually encourage borrowing, so what is going on is quite odd. We are behaving like drug addicts, with the drug being debts. We want more of it. We need more of it. And if we don’t get some urgently, we are told that we are likely to collapse and die. But how did we get here? The debts we have collected, for which we need new debts to pay accrued interests upon, are impossible to account for in projects. How come the debts haven’t translated to a booming economy and opportunities for more Nigerians? Which new industry has come up in recent times that we can say is employing more Nigerian youth? Which industries are booming presently and which are sustainable into the near future? I hope the government doesn’t believe its own propaganda that says manufacturing is booming? I hope they understand that the boom recorded in agriculture is seasonal in nature?

Entrepreneurs are ready for business. But where is the business? Shops are not selling because there is no cash in the hands of people. Nigeria’s economic recession was as a result of a fall in purchasing power, fueled by the widening of income inequality, simple. The seeds have been sown over the years and it germinated rapidly in the Jonathan era. There is a problem in governance in Nigeria, and that problem is that leaders usually stop having a view of the common majority once they obtain power. There is, therefore, a tendency to plan only for a few people around them, and powerful people with influence who can access them. What this means is that Nigerian leaders are wired only to make the rich get richer, and by extension, the poor, poorer. Their challenge, however, should be how to ensure the income gap is narrowed so as to provide a basis for everyone’s prosperity. The Buhari era and its tight confederal structure has merely exacerbated this crisis and so there is trouble in the land; trouble like never before.

It’s Our Turn To Eat?

Some say things are tight today because we have new kids on the block and a certain section of the country believes this is their own time to ‘eat’. A better explanation may be that Buhari’s anti-corruption strategy got off to a false start, focusing hard on Jonathan’s people in a microscopic fashion, but failing woefully to address the fundamental issues. There is also no moral underpinning to the corruption war. And so those who have found themselves in power and position today, are meaner with the cash flow, and have a very keen sense of self-preservation. They still have bills to pay, lives of luxury that must be lived, new exotic cars that must be bought, mansions that must be built to impress their friends, new wives that must be married, expensive foreign trips and executive education for themselves, and of course children in elite schools abroad that must be catered for. When all these are put in play, the downtrodden can only rue their own fates.

Political Overload

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As much as we love to vilify the military era, there is one advantage it had, and that is the non-proliferation of offices. The military works by command and control, and so it is fairly easy to get things done by fiat. But they soon fell under a spell too, and impunity got the better of them. The top echelon of the military were able to siphon billions of dollars for themselves. Now we have the civilians and it’s a different type of problem. In the first place, a political system such as ours, has way too many politicians in different spheres of influence, all competing for the little resources in the land. We have party leaders, mebers of houses of assembly, the national assembly, ministers, director-generals and other political big men to feed from our tiny budgets and underperforming economy.

The problem is that these politicians have also become quite desperate. The kind of corruption that the military boys noticed in 1966 is nothing compared to what exists today. The type that Buhari and his boys noticed in 1983 among out then reckless politicians is chick feed compared to what happens today. Where people were talking of 10 percent kickbacks, today it is anything like 50 percent, if a contractor is even lucky to find a job. If we explore the psychology of our times, we may discover that things are much worse today because the fabric of our unity as a people is now threadbare. People just don’t care anymore, and government has been a disappointment for not being able to create a moral compass for all to follow. Many people in government are even enemies of the state. Most politicians are tribal warlords. Sometimes it feels like there is a mad rush to quickly liquidate the country, and anyone who is unlucky or too retarded not to grab his/her own share will have himself or herself to blame.The Role of Government In the Economy

Our economy is still largely driven by government. Don’t let anyone deceive you; this is how it is everywhere else. The government – through the instrumentality of tax collection – is the largest entity in any economy, and through its contracting processes pumps money back into the economy and ensures that the wheels are turning. In the USA, 15 percent of the working population is employed by government. By 2013 figures, the UK government employed 25 percent of its entire working population. In Nigeria, the figure is less than five percent by every estimate. It may be unpopular to advocate for more people to be employed by government, because we have been conditioned over time by these same superpowers, to believe that employment in government is an anathema, and that government should not be pivotal to the development of an economy. It is a great miseducation, but we have Google there to help us find out the truth if we would avail ourselves. In order to get different results from what we have today, we have to turn things on their heads for a change. Before we move into the ‘private sector’ mode, we would have to achieve responsibility in government. The point we should pursue is to see how those employed in government can be useful and productive as they are elsewhere.

I will explore that point on another day, but for now we will stick to the current economic situation of a majority of Nigerians.

So, when we consider the pivotal role of government in an economy, we will see clearly where this economy and government are letting down their poor people. Today, like never before, the politicians are out in full force to take everything. Every bid is rigged to favour them and they always lean on ministers and the headship of agencies to get what they want. If you see where a politician is pursuing contracts, you will understand the meaning of aggression. Private sector players now have to go and collect letters from these politicians or they are done for. The politicians will then dictate what each person gets and your guess is as good as mine about who gets the chunk. These politicians even influence private sector contracting, especially in organisations that need favours from them. To this extent, businesses are dying.

As someone who has lived in Abuja since 2001, and done business since 2006, I am certain it never used to be like this.

Meanwhile, the little crumbs that fall from the tables of aggressive politicians are also cornered by the big men in the MDAs. They too have bills to pay; children in Harvard and Oxford need to be catered for. Their pay – especially in core ministries – is rubbish anyway. So this becomes double jeopardy for the private sector hustler, who will ultimately do the job, but get little or nothing therefrom. Also, many private sector players have imbibed the teachings of business schools, and so are trying to perfect their stances as lone wolves. They don’t cooperate. Unfortunately, they are lone wolves in a world of hyenas; it is easy to isolate and maul them and that is what is going on now. In my field, we are unable to even amend prices up from what it used to be in 2004. This means that we are earning perhaps a quarter of what we used to earn then because the value of money has fallen four times. Inflation and devaluation have seen to that. Yet, we are only interested in outsmarting each other. The folly is touching. Even Okada and Keke Napep Riders are smarter. They came together and found a voice. Today, the government accords them more respect than turenci-blowing ‘intellectuals’, as they are always called to meetings and their opinions sought. At those meetings, you will see the lone-wolf consultant in suit and tie, grinning from ear to ear because he just outsmarted his colleagues to win a contract that will be split in half between him and the big man who facilitated it.

So, except the Buhari government urgently dialogues with itself, things will only get worse. More businesses will collapse and more Nigerians will be thrown out of work.Perhaps, I should itemise the issues in closing:

1. There is a serious and deliberate miseducation of the Nigerian mind, and especially those who float to the top and run government, about how economies work and the role of governments in them. But this can be unlearnt if we care.

2. Even if we understand the role governments should play in economies, the problem is that we have already corroded our space with tribalism, nepotism, wanton stealing and a terrible lack of vision, and so government is not going to play the role it has played in successful economies. This means we suffer double-jeopardy.

3. As noted in my last write-up, we also suffer from an affliction whereby the same government – the largest spender in any economy – dreams too small but has high tastes. This means opportunities for everyone is shrunk, while most of the little budget goes on foreign goods.

4. The private sector underperforms without knowing it. We are happy to score cheap points against one another, instead of understanding that a rising tide lifts all boats. The dog-eat-dog approach is going to leave us all bloodied. That is why when you go on the streets, what you see are underfed, savage-looking Nigerians who seem to be waiting for their own opportunities to disrupt and devour. The humanity of the average Nigerian has not been positively affected. We are not producing an improved species of Nigerians en masse.

5. What we have instead is a scenario of widening inequality. The children of the super rich are so rich they don’t know what to do with themselves. The children of the poor are on the other side of the spectrum. We have ignored the warnings of global economists (WEF) that income inequality is the real issue for now.

6. What we are experiencing is not too new. In the mid 1980s, we also saw this – in the era of devaluation. People were laid off from work and the pensions they depended upon became worthless as well. The state and federal government found it tough to pay salaries and many were owed, sometimes for a whole year. When a nation goes into this mode, pulling back becomes very problematic, especially when there are so many people gaming the system.

7. There is a tendency for government to focus on big projects, which it is unlikely to complete within its tenures. On one hand, the World Bank and other agencies have since documented that the majority of corruption in developing countries are perpetrated under the guise of infrastructure projects. Someone also commented that state governors focus on road projects because it is great for kickbacks. This may be true, because this country will not need major road projects if it simply and constantly maintains what we have for now. On the second hand, a focus on large projects mean that a majority of the people are further excluded from the economy. The minister for information, Lai Mohammed, is quoted as saying that people cannot see the work of the government because its projects are large. Someone commented that their size should be the reason for their visibility. Not necessarily. Some very large projects spend much time at the consultancy stage, where huge amounts would have already been paid out. And this does not guarantee their eventual success, much less their usefulness to the people. Their maintenance is another issue altogether. The problem here is the strategy for development that we have adopted. We haven’t built a basis for the self-fungibility of this economy and so are borrowing basically hot money to create these emergency huge projects, like Mambilla power project or even the rail system.The above point taps into two issues – the unoriginality of the administration’s economic strategy and ideas on one hand, and its slow pace of decisions on the other; a factor fed by the president’s absenteeism due to health challenges. We are only now talking about boards of parastatals, 30 whole months after they ought to have been constituted, and barely 450 days before the next elections, according to INEC time tables. Again, given that there is no anomaly in having government as the pivot of the economy, given the experience in advanced countries, this delay is a sin against God and man, and the promise of additional ministers, ill-conceived and unnecessary. The effect has been to shrink the economy, which is what recession and depressions are about. Many economists believe we are effectively in an economic depression. Another effect of this unnecessary and callous delay in ‘settling’ the many wounded political lions and hyenas who helped Buhari in 2015, playing the usual stomach infrastructure politics, is that they unleashed themselves unto the business and contracting space and crowded everyone out using their influence and political power. Today, without equivocation, I can confirm that professionalism and competence hardly counts anymore in our public space. Influence and who you know is the name of the game. Buhari’s era is that of scorched earth economics, where the downtrodden are ground in the dust.

9. We need a new economic order. We need to think for the collective. We cannot keep thumbing our noses and telling people off for being lazy. Even if people are lazy, leaving them in that mode soon catches up with the valiant. The truth is also that if more people in the country had opportunities, the rich will get richer, crime will reduce, Nigerians will be happier, and we will get more respect in the comity of nations.

I interpret my role as an economist/statistician from the rule of averages. It is not to be disputed that no matter how bad an economy is, some people still experience effervescence. Some people may dispute my thesis here. Some who are close to government or close to the action, are making money. I also hear of the millions that young boys spend in bars every night; those boys must be making money somehow, and the owners of those bars and nightclubs are also smiling to the banks. I was, however, shocked when two of my young friends said candidly the other day that they regretted not ‘doing yahoo-yahoo’ while they were in university. Apparently their friends who did are the kingpins today. Also, some point to the painful Buhari ‘reforms’ as having led to the birth of some new home-grown industries. I personally believe that if the leaders hadn’t shown inconsistency and dishonesty themselves, we could have actually been on our way. What we are seeing today is not sustainable and I stand to be corrected. Whatever faith people could have had in the government’s ability to reform, has been greatly eroded by several scandals, including the medical trips abroad, Maina-gate, Baru and Kachikwu-gate, the mismanagement of the Paris club refunds, Babachir-gate, the Jibrin budget-padding scandal, the Misau and IG of Police N12 billion bribe issue, and many more.

Nobody should be fooled into thinking Nigerians are not aware. They are keenly aware of goings-on around them, and are reacting accordingly. No Nigerian would be thinking of playing the mumu and sticking to the straight and narrow when he knows that his leaders are not fully honest, especially when he sees poverty staring at him and breathing hot air down his neck. If the government desires a better country, or at least wants the country to keep surviving at all, it is high time it gets real with itself, deals with our human problem, takes action with respect to income inequality, and reorder this economy urgently.

Again, it’s a game of numbers. I may be entirely wrong. So I ask, what is the experience at your end? Let’s take a poll.

‘Tope Fasua, an Economist, author, blogger and entrepreneur, can be reached through topsyfash@yahoo.com.

Illegal Request Of Morocco To Join The ECOWAS By Femi Falana

It has been confirmed that at the 55th Ordinary Session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which held in Monrovia, Liberia in December 2016, the Authority of Heads of States and Government of the member states of ECOWAS erroneously gave approval in principle to the request of the Kingdom of Morocco to join the sub-regional grouping. However, in view of the legal implications of the request the Authority has directed the ECOWAS Commission to examine the implications of Morocco’s membership of the ECOWAS within the ambit of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS and to submit the results at the next session of the ECOWAS scheduled to hold in Lome, Togo in December, 2017

Having critically reviewed the Revised Treaty and other legal texts of the ECOWAS as well as the relevant legal instruments of the African Union we are of the firm view that Morocco is not legally qualified to join the sub-regional economic union. However, before examining the legality of the request it is germane to expose the false claim that Morocco’s admission would improve the economy of member states of ECOWAS. Despite the so-called Morocco’s strong ties with ECOWAS member state, trade between them remains low as it is less than USD 1 billion a year. This is insignificant as West Africa has a GDP of $345 billion. Even then, the volume of trade is expected to reduce as some of the trade agreements between Morocco and ECOWAS member states are illegal to the extent that they relate to the illegal exploitation of the mineral resources in Western Sahara.

It is worthy to note that both the European Court of Human and a High Court in South Africa have ruled that Morocco lacks the legal capacity to exploit the mineral resources in the occupied territory of Western Sahara. On the basis of such judicial decisions, we have it on good authority that the Polisario Front has concluded arrangements to challenge the agreements signed between Morocco and other countries including the member states of the ECOWAS for the exploitation of the mineral resources located in the occupied territory of Western Sahara.

Before the submission of Morocco’s request for membership of ECOWAS Nigeria and some member states of the economic grouping had raised serious objections to the “EU-ECOWAS Partnership Agreement” designed to allow the industrialised members of the European Union to flood West Africa with manufacture goods and thereby destroy the infantile industries in the member states of ECOWAS. If Morocco is admitted to ECOWAS the European Union would have achieved its objective as it has signed an Association Agreement with Morocco which is similar to the EU-ECOWAS Partnership Agreement in every material particular. In other words, if the request is granted, Morocco will take advantage of the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of people and goods to serve as a gateway for EU goods entering into West Africa and thereby defeat the principal objectives of the ECOWAS.

It is therefore crystal clear that the member states of ECOWAS do not stand to benefit economically from the membership of Morocco in the economic grouping. Even, assuming without conceding that the presence of Morocco in ECOWAS will add economic value to the organization the illegality of the request to be a member state of ECOWAS cannot be justified under the community law. It is worthy to recall that a similar application was rejected by the European Union in 1987 on the ground that Morocco was not considered to be a European country and hence could not join the European Union. In the same vein, the application of Morocco to join the ECOWAS should be rejected on the ground that it is not a State in West Africa.

As far as the community law is concerned Morocco is not qualified to be a member state of the ECOWAS. By virtue of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993, ECOWAS was set up to promote co-operation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa in order to raise the living standards of its peoples and to maintain and enhance economic stability, foster relations among the Member States. The ECOWAS member states are 15 in number and they are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D’voire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

The membership of the ECOWAS is restricted to the States in the West African sub-region and in this regard, the Revised Treaty has defined the “region” as the geographical zone known as West Africa in line with Resolution CM/Res/.464/(XXVI) of the OAU Council of Ministers. It is submitted that since Morocco is not located in West Africa but in North Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea it does not  satisfy the geographical criterion to be a member state of the ECOWAS. In the circumstances, the admission of Morocco will automatically lead to a change of the prerequisites for accession and a comprehensive review of the Revised Treaty and other legal texts of the ECOWAS to reflect the inclusion of the North African country in the economic union.  

Furthermore, according to Article 2.2 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty the members of the Community, hereinafter referred to as the Member States, are the States that ratified the Treaty. It follows that any West African State may apply to become a member of the Community, which requires that the applicant be a State in West Africa whose territory is located at least in part on the geographical space of West Africa. This requirement can be deduced from the 1975 Treaty, which states that the Members of the Community, hereinafter referred to as “Member States ” shall be the States that ratified the Treaty and such other West African States as may accede to it.  Morocco is not qualified to accede to the ECOWAS Revised Treaty as it does not satisfy the geographical criterion as “region” in this case means the geographical zone known as West Africa.

Pursuant to Resolution CM / RES.464 (XXVI) of the Council of Ministers of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union) Africa was divided into five Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The RECs covering these regions signed the Protocol of Relations between the African Economic Community (ECA) and the RECs on 25 February 1998. In September 2006, the African Union initiated the first rationalization of regional integration initiatives by designating ECOWAS as the only strategic framework for regionalization in West Africa. The 1993 revised ECOWAS Treaty respects the regional delimitation.

Morocco is presently a member of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), the REC for the countries in the North African region. The members of AMU have not been able to meet at Summit level since 2008 due to the unending disagreements over Morocco’s continuing illegal occupation of Western Sahara, a member state of the African Union. Even though Morocco has just been admitted to the African Union it has begun to threaten the unity and solidarity of member states by promoting decisive politics. For instance, in 2016, Morocco led several Arab countries to withdraw from the Arab African Summit on account of the participation of Western Sahara. 

In view of the legal obligation imposed on the member states of the African Union by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to recognise the right of colonised peoples to self-determination majority of the member states of the ECOWAS have accorded diplomatic recognition to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, a member state of the African Union. But the Kingdom of Morocco has continued to occupy the territory of SADR. The occupation of the territory of SADR is a gross violation of the Ruling of the International Court of Justice delivered in 1975 wherein it was held that the “materials and information presented to it do not establish any tie of territorial sovereignty between the territory of Western Sahara and the Kingdom of Morocco or the Mauritanian entity.”All member states of ECOWAS have adopted the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance which stipulates that accession to power “must be made through free, fair and transparent elections.” The Protocol emphasizes on separation of powers, and among others the independence of the Judiciary and judges. The Protocol is also clear on the neutrality of the State in all matters relating to religion. In Amouzou Henry & Ors. v. The Republic of Cote d’Ivoire (2004-2009) CCJELR 281 at 297 the Community Court of Justice held that“The commitment to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights is derived from its ratification by each of the ECOWAS Member States, of two fundamental instruments, which are the ECOWAS revised Treaty and the Protocol Relating to Democracy and Good Governance (Art 1).” The system of government in Morocco is monarchical and as such it is not qualified to adopt and ratify the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance.

All member states of the ECOWAS have also ratified the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Community citizens have access to the Community Court of Justice to protect their human enshrined in the African Charter. In Manneh v. Republic of The Gambia (2009) CCJLR (PT 2) 116 at 133 this Honourable Court, while interpreting the provision of Article 9(4) of the Protocol of the Court of Justice as amended opined that it has jurisdiction to hear and determine cases of violations of human rights of community citizens that occur in any of the member states of the ECOWAS. Since Morocco has refused to ratify the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights its citizens cannot access the Community Court to challenge the abuse of their human rights.

The admission of Morocco to ECOWAS will encourage other countries to belong to any REC of their choice in violation of the 2006 Resolution of the African Union. The admission will also dilute the regional integration of the member states and people of West Africa contrary to the letter and spirit of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty. Indeed, as the request of Morocco to join ECOWAS was granted in principle by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS without consultations with relevant stakeholders it has attracted negative reactions from many interest groups. For instance, the Organisation of African Trade Union (OATUU), the Nigeria Labour Congress and a number of other leading civil society organizations and private business groups in West Africa have kicked against the request of Morocco to join the ECOWAS.

In the light of the foregoing, it is indubitably clear that the ECOWAS does not stand to benefit economically from the admission of Morocco as a member state of the economic union. In addition, the request of Morocco to be a member state of the ECOWAS is at variance with the provisions of the Revised Treaty and the other legal texts of the ECOWAS. Therefore, we urge you to use your good offices to prevail on the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of the ECOWAS to reject the illegal request of Morocco to join the economic union. However, it should be pointed out that the rejection of the request for membership is without prejudice to the observer status of Morocco in the ECOWAS.

Femi Falana,

Senior Advocate of Nigeria

and former President, West African Bar Association.