Remembering Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji By Taiwo Alimi, Chris Orji

The image of his lifeless body at the altar of Nigerian football, Lagos National Stadium, has remained fresh on the minds of his family and Nigerians. Repeated efforts to find closure for Okwaraji have become impossible and every year since August 12, 1989, Okwaraji, who would have turned 55 this year, has returned to haunt a nation.
Okwaraji collapsed 10 minutes from the end of a 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Angola. He died from possible complications of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy as an autopsy showed that the then 25-year-old had an enlarged heart and high blood pressure.
Prior to that sad incident, Sam had a blooming career in Europe and made the Green Eagles squad in 1988 and at that year’s African Nations Cup, where he scored one of the fastest goals in the history of the championship against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon. He played well into the final match, which the Eagles lost to Cameroon by a lone goal.
“We can’t close the chapter of Sam’s life until the right things are done,” Patrick Okwaraji, Sam’s older brother and spokesman of the family, succinctly put it.
As family and friends gather to celebrate Sam tomorrow to mark his 30-year memorial, his life and death is a subject of discuss as if it were yesterday.
Sam was different from other kids his age. He was focused and determined to live a life to the full. For Patrick that watched him from infancy, he bore the pain more than others because of this sterling quality right from boyhood.
He said Sam excelled in nearly everything even as a boy. “My brother as a child was very active like every other kid. He was very bright. Beyond the primary and secondary school football that he played and excelled, he also did well in other sports. He was active in boxing, table tennis and football. He was a good goalkeeper and player. He was above most of his peers in terms of vision and that was why he was able to achieve some of the things he achieved at a young age. At the age of 22 he had already achieved his Masters degree and he was always ahead. He was focused. He was a very serious minded person.”
Unlike other kids in Africa whose parents usually have problem with them for choosing football ahead of education, Sam’s family did not need to worry or try stopping him because he was brilliant in all.
“We did not have any problem with him playing football because as he was into football, he was doing well in other areas. His academic work was excellent and his results were great from primary to secondary and up to university level till the incident happened. We had no cause to challenge him on his love for football because it was not as if his engagement was distracting him or giving him some form of hiccup.”
Like Patrick, the pain also runs deep in their mother. She has never remained the same since Sam’s death.
She watched Sam grow to become the family pillar. A strong and promising one at that. Sam started taking care of her and all those around her. His malevolent spirit was infectious and in her son’s death, the whole essence of living disappeared for Sam’s mother too.
When The Nation visited the family house to speak with her, she was indisposed out of ill heart. “Mama has been through a lot. She is not feeling well. She has tried and we want to shield her away from all this. It’s been 30 years.”
Chigozie Sam Okwaraji, Sam’s kid brother, was only 10 when his famous brother died, yet he remembers vividly Sam’s footprint. “I was quite young when he died. But I can’t forget his patriotism because I’ve heard his colleagues in primary and secondary school talk about him. His playmates: Bright Omokaro, Uche Okechukwu, Austin Eguavoen, Samson Siasia and Etim Esin all speak well about him. All the matches he played for his country he bought his own ticket and did not collect match bonuses.”
Teammate Austin Eguavoen and one-time Super Eagles coach, remembers him for his devotion to man and country. “Whenever Sam was coming for any national assignment, he would come with his mother who was staying with him in Europe at that time. And when he was going back they would leave together. He loved her. Then after each match, he would just take his bag and leave camp while the rest of us were waiting for match bonuses.”
Once Sam was asked by one of his teammates why he did that, he simply told them, “I can’t collect money playing for my country.”
Sam’s teammate, Etim Esin, remembers him as being ‘selfless and inspirational’.
“Sam was a great guy. He inspired me. He was ahead of his time. He inspired everyone around him. He called me ‘Maradona’ and advised me to go back to school when we were playing. He did not even know that I would get into trouble. If I had heeded his call then, it would be something to fall back on now.”
Patrick corroborates Etim’s picture of his brother.
“Sam was a king hearted person. Whenever he came back from Europe, he had a habit of moving around his neighbourhood, either in Enugu or Lagos. Like the time he was in Festac, he would always share sport jersey, football and other kits to kids. He would move around with his car and share football kits. He loved showing kindness. For lack of the right word, he was just showing kindness to a lot of kids. It is not easy to forget a person like that.”
Former assistant captain of Flying Eagles, Paul Okoku, calls him a ‘patriot and no nonsense man.’ “When his club attempted to exploit his services to his beloved country and asked him for $45,000 before they could release him to play for Nigeria, he put an end to their demand and subsequently detached himself from their nonsensical hypnosis and went on to play for Nigeria on his terms using his lawyerly instinct. He was a midfield maestro, a fearless tackler who played his heart out at every opportunity he had playing for Nigeria.”
Sam’s highest tribute and praise, yet, has come from an unlikely corner; from the United States of America (U.S.A)-based international multimedia company, Google.
On May 19, 2019, to mark Sam’s 55th posthumous birthday, Google displayed his doodle, (a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepages intended to commemorate holidays, events, achievements, and notable historical figures.) for 48 hours.
Ranking the late Okwaraji by Google among world’s inspirational figures like Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Louis Braille, Ella Fitzgeraard, Rene Magritte and Freddie Mercury, to mention but few, is a vindication that a prophet is not recognised at him home since the recognition was sadly coming from shores outside his fatherland.
To bring closure to his death, the federal government must fulfil all promises pronounced at his grave side, Patrick said.
“At times I feel awkward talking about what Nigerian government needs to do to immortalise him. This has been about 30 years. You recall that Sam was granted a national burial. There were reasons for that. You know what it takes for a country to pronounce a national burial for someone. I can’t remember the number of people who have been granted such honour. Sam was given a national burial, there were reasons for that. So I don’t think the family is in the right position to really address this issue.
“But we see it as an injustice. If you have the cause to accord somebody a national burial and honour, that shows that the person has a legacy worthy of him. He should be immortalised to make impact on the younger ones.
“At 24, Sam had a Masters degree; he was a soccer star and a patriot, a committed individual and a nationalist. What else can you ask for? How do you impact the younger ones? How do you motivate them? It is not the family that would say what should be done to immortalise Sam. It is embarrassing.
“You have to recall that this thing is 30 years. When you look at it from every angle, this is injustice. Something should have been done because at the time he died he was the breadwinner to the family. Aside that promises were made by government to this family. From employment, compensation, immortalisation; none has been done. This is injustice,” Patrick added, his voice rising with every word.
“We must take a cue from Google Incorporated. This is the biggest multimedia organisation in the world placing Sam’s doodle on their search engine. Sam was there for 48 hours with his biography.
“Google is accessed by over two billion people daily. If an organisation like that that is worldwide can deem it fit to honour a man that his country don’t even remember, what more can you say? Sam deserves to be immortalised. Nationalism is dying in this country. Patriotism is dying off. Commitment is dying and some of these things should be hyped to encourage the young Nigerians.”
Etim wants both his state (Imo) and federal government to institute national Under-17 championships in his name. “He loved the kids and this is the kind of things he would have been doing if he was alive.”
Okoku shares near-similar opinion.
“In his honour, the government can and should pioneer a yearly soccer tournament named after Sam and invite his family as the guests of honour to witness the finals and present the trophy to the winning team. In the same vein, it will not be farfetched to initiate and sustain a non-profit (NGO) in his name for treating kids with congestive heart problem for early detection and prevention.
“Finally, a federal road in the capital (Abuja) and his state of origin could be named after him. Make no mistake about this idea as it will have positive effects in the mindset of future players. It will be a motivation to other aspiring footballers to represent Nigeria knowing that, even after death, they will be appreciated beyond ordinary expectations.”
Patrick calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to right the wrong that has been done to Okwaraji and others like him.
“President Buhari is a credible leader with a sense of justice. He is a man of credit. I’m sure that if this should get to him he would act immediately. Thirty years is a long time.”
The first male child of the Okwarajis, who at a point assumed managerial role to his brother in Italy, said these gestures will allow Sam’s ghost to rest, finally.


When soldiers do police work: Disaster By Reuben Abati

If anyone is looking for a perfect illustration and confirmation of the “coming anarchy” in Nigeria, that person needs not look farther than the on-going conflict and crisis of mutual distrust between the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Army. Turn away, for a moment, from Boko Haram (Nigeria is still unable to find a solution to the menace of terrorism), turn away from bandits and kidnappers (it is sad that the state seems to be aiding and abetting criminality and impunity due to its incompetence, negligence, and impotence).
But you can not turn away from the crazy drama being enacted by the Nigeria Police and the Nigeria Army, two strategic security institutions assigned the responsibility of safeguarding lives and property of Nigerians and the sovereignty of the country itself. Both institutions have been in conflict in recent times. I argue that this is disturbing.
It is as follows: Nigerians woke up the other day to hear the sordid tale of how in Jalingo, Taraba state, soldiers from the 93 Battalion in Takum, Taraba state killed three policemen and three civilians, who had gone to arrest a notorious kidnap kingpin, one Alhaji Hamisu Wadume. The three policemen were members of an elite police squad, the Intelligence Response Team (IRT), and they had been involved in many operations in which they distinguished themselves namely the arrest of 22 kidnappers involved in the abduction of Chibok girls, the arrest of Evans, the notorious Lagos-based kidnapper and the rescue of the Magajin Garin Daura, the traditional head of President Buhari’s village who was abducted earlier in the year. These same policemen and their colleagues had been working on the Wadume case. They had investigated him and tracked him down.
With the help of three civilians who volunteered as informants and guide, the police sent the crack team to go after Alhaji Wadume. When they got to Jalingo, the policemen reported at the police state headquarters and documented their mission. They then set out and arrested Alhaji Wadume and put him in handcuffs. The next step was to take him in and interrogate him in line with standard procedure. Mission accomplished? No. In Nigeria, the unexpected is known to happen, nothing is ever certain. Just as the police were busy tracking down the alleged notorious kidnapper, the Army in Taraba reportedly got a distress call reporting that kidnappers had abducted one Alhaji Wadume, and asking the military to come to the rescue. As it turned out, the 93 Battalion sent out a team to rescue Alhaji Wadume. The dispatched soldiers gave the police team the chase.
The police version of the story at this point is that the police men identified themselves and told the soldiers that they were carrying out a legitimate duty, and that Alhaji Wadume who was in handcuffs was the suspect. But instead of the two teams to co-operate and work together, in line with the principle of “esprit de corps”, the soldiers opened fire on the policemen, at close range, killing three of them instantly. They also gunned down the three civilian-informants. By the time the dust settled, the arrested suspect, who had been put in silver ware, disappeared into thin air. The soldiers also vanished, leaving “blood on the grass.”
The police are rightly outraged. They have since issued statements and have gone on a twitter rage, to question the conduct of the Nigeria Army. They are angry that despite the police identification of the slain policemen as officers on lawful duty, the Nigerian Army chooses to refer to them as “suspected kidnappers”.
The police are asking the army to hand over the soldiers who pulled the trigger, effectively marking them out as cop-killers. They have also raised five questions for the Army Headquarters to respond to viz: “Where is the notorious kidnapper, Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume “rescued by the soldiers”?, (2) How could a kidnap suspect properly restrained with handcuffs by the Police escape from the hands of his military rescuers? (3) Why were the Police Operatives shot at close range after they had identified themselves as Police Officers on legitimate duty as evident in the video now in circulation? (4) How and why was Alhaji Hamisu Bala Wadume released by the soldiers? (5) If Alhaji Wadume is a “victim of kidnap” as claimed, and properly rescued by soldiers why was he not taken to the Army base for documentation purposes and debriefing in line with the Standard Operating Procedures in the Nigerian Army?’ These questions are pertinent and there are many more that should be raised.
The Nigerian Army has not been able to respond to any of these questions; their only close-to-intelligent response has been the self-indicting explanation that the whole incident is due to lack of co-ordination and communication between the army and the police. It is sad to hear that. If there is rivalry, conflict, lack of co-ordination and communication among the various law enforcement and security agencies in Nigeria, then the average Nigerian is in serious trouble. The country itself is in danger.
The utter vulnerability of the average Nigerian is show-cased by the fact that whereas the army and the police have been trading brick-bats in the Taraba matter, no mention has been made so far of the identity of the three civilians who were murdered by the soldiers. The police seem to be more concerned about their men. The Army are more concerned about protecting their men too. To compound the situation, whereas a joint investigating panel has been set up, the army and the police are at best working at cross-purposes.
What has happened is unacceptable. Those who argue that the police should not complain because it is Karma at work, the police having a notorious reputation for the kind of brutality that has been inflicted on their men by the Army, are simply unfair. No human being deserves to be killed in such brutal fashion. It is also unacceptable that the three civilian-informants who were murdered have not been part of the story.
In the course of the fight against terror and crime in the country, both the President and the service chiefs have always advised that the battle can only be won if the people themselves assist the security agencies with information. The death of those three informants in the hands of the Nigeria Army will certainly discourage every future informant! In the past, the Nigerian military used to attribute every act of impunity committed by soldiers to a certain “unknown soldier”.
Under military rule, particularly, the unknown soldier could do as he wished. The Nigerian soldier was above the laws of the land. But the times have since changed. The Nigeria Army certainly cannot claim not to know the soldiers who committed murder in Taraba State. As the police have demanded, those men and the officer who gave them unlawful orders, if that was the case, must be named and made to face the full wrath of the law. The six victims of that Taraba massacre and their families deserve justice. In a democracy, an army of occupation, a gun-totting military on the streets of the nation, turning its guns on innocent persons is an aberration, and a threat.
But this is the price Nigerians pay for giving the military police work to do. The military and the police have two completely different training manuals and operational orientation. The primary job of the police is to ensure peace and safety, and to protect and serve. Soldiers are trained by their drill sergeants to shoot and kill the enemy: “One shot, one kill”, at close range. The culture of restraint at the heart of police training is unknown to the military. This is why it is dangerous to involve soldiers in the kind of police work that they have been doing in Nigeria.
In the 70s, Nigerian soldiers lived in the barracks, usually located out of town. When they came to town, they were rare sightings. But that was until soldiers began to mix with civilians and soon got involved in politics. Gradually, Nigerian soldiers began to behave like those they call “bloody civilians”. It was Alozie Ogbugbuaja, a police man who once drew attention to this when he complained that Nigerian soldiers had become “pepper soup drinking soldiers”. The metaphor was so apt; it drew the ire of the state. Ogbugbuaja was punished for his effrontery.
If anybody were to say the same thing today, however, I guess the person will be hailed for saying the truth. Soldiers are now so involved in “pepper soup” work it is terribly ridiculous. The other day, some soldiers assigned to escort money (N400m?) belonging to an officer were accused of having escaped with the money. The said soldiers are still at large. Whoever reported a case of kidnapping to the Army in Taraba, assuming that was true, had no business calling the Army. The call should have been directed to the police.
When Governor Nyesom Wike wanted a notorious criminal called Bobrisky arrested in Rivers State, he didn’t call on the police. He called the Army. In Abia State recently, a soldier reportedly killed a motorcyclist who refused to give him bribe. Once upon a time in this country, nobody would dare offer a soldier a bribe, and no soldier will ask for it. Today, soldiers now mount check-points where they collect tolls like the police.
It is absurd. The excuse that Nigeria is under-policed and therefore the police need to be supported by the military overlooks the difference in the orientation of the two teams. The result is the disaster we are witnessing. During the recent general elections, the Nigerian military was accused of having perpetrated violence in parts of the country. The militarization of open spaces violates Nigeria’s democracy.
In Zaria in 2015, Nigerian soldiers trying to clear the road for their boss gunned down about 348 members of the Shiite movement! Our military should concentrate on their professional duty of protecting Nigeria’s territorial integrity, while the police should focus strictly on their mandate. Isn’t it curious that in the light of the Taraba incident the military is now advising Nigerian soldiers, travelling on pass, to hide from the Police by wearing mufti? Is that the end of police/army collaboration? If the police are overwhelmed by the crisis in the country, and unable to function efficiently, the leadership elite should think more creatively beyond the current resort to hollow rhetoric and ad-hoc measures. More police men can be recruited. Better training and equipment should be provided. Police stations should be rebuilt and made to wear a human look. Bad eggs within the force should be identified and flushed out, honest and hardworking police men and women should be encouraged and supported.
Perhaps the time has come for Nigeria to consider the establishment of a National Guard, to serve as a bridge between the police and the army. Where there is any incident that is beyond the capacity of the police, the National Guard can be called in. In the United States, the National Guard is a cross between the police and the military; its members are basically civilians, but with enough training as both police and soldier.
For a start, the proposed National Guard should not be a regime-protection mechanism, the type that was introduced briefly in 1993. It can be a merger of the National Civil Defence Corps and the vigilante groups in various states, trained differently and empowered. To set up a National Guard in Nigeria however, there must be a thought-driven review of context: who will control the National Guard? How will it be deployed? What kind of Nigeria can accommodate a National Guard: a truly federal system, a restructured Nigeria or a completely new Nigeria?

Job creation is no rocket science by Simon Kolawole

Two matters gripped me at the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Entrepreneur Forum held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, recently. Both strike at the heart of the economic struggles of Nigeria, particularly our current situation. Nigeria, bombarded by youth unemployment and extreme poverty, is clearly in dire straits. The symptoms are manifest in the rising crime wave, either the yahoo-yahoo type or the violent variants as seen in kidnappings, robberies and ritual killings. Stripped of complicated analyses and political theories, the situation is just a natural consequence of the overwhelming unemployment and poverty in the land.
The first thing that hit me was the statement by Mr Koen Doens, the deputy DG of the European Commission, that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 95% of all businesses in the EU — and, overall, 85 percent of the jobs in Europe. It reminded me of our own realities: it is estimated that 90 percent of all the businesses in Nigeria are SMEs, creating more than 80 percent of employment. In a country with 70 percent of the population classified as “extremely poor” and over 20 million people described as unemployed, it is not rocket science for the government to know that SMEs are where to direct its energies if it is serious about tackling extreme poverty and crime.
President Muhammadu Buhari said, during the week, that the N-Power programme has pulled five million Nigerians out of extreme poverty in three years. Many Nigerians have attacked him over his claim. Most of the comments on social media are not flattering. The consensus appears to be that more people have been pushed into extreme poverty, not the other way. I do not have any data to counter Buhari’s claim, but I will argue that it is in our interest to expand the discourse about tackling extreme poverty beyond government programmes, such as N-Power. The SMEs offer the biggest opportunity. Unfortunately, the most traumatised businesses in Nigeria today are the SMEs.
This sharply contrasts with the situation in Europe, where governments do everything to make SMEs flourish. If you set up shop anywhere in Nigeria today, federal, state and council officials will viciously come after you as if you have committed treason and terrorism. Government seems confused about whether to support businesses to grow to a point they can begin to pay taxes or see them as a source of immediate taxes. We can not be saying we want to promote enterprises and be taxing them to death at the same time. Something will give. Sadly, agencies are now used as revenue machines as everybody is seriously talking about growing IGR at all levels.
While this is ordinarily good as we seek to reduce our dependence on oil, we are also stiffing growth and killing dreams with draconian taxes and levies. The big businesses have enough resources to sort themselves out through their staff and consultants, but the SMEs bear the brunt. Start a bakery in FCT, for example. The Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSTIF), the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and at least three units from the Abuja Municipal Council Area (AMAC) will come harassing you regularly to conduct “health checks” at various fees. This function can be performed by just one body!
In addition, AMAC will charge you N25,000 as annual licence for “operating in FCT” and another N34,000 fee for “using a car to distribute bread”. Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and AMAC charge N40,000 each for “fumigation” to be carried out by their appointed fumigators. There is also the AMAC “sanitary inspection” fee of N30,000. AMAC’s department of environment collects N150,000 yearly for inspection. There is the N30,000 AMAC fee for “food and water-related handling”. This is what a bakery owner faces in a country that says it wants to tackle poverty and create jobs. The dissonance is out of this world. We can be better than this.
One open secret that Buhari has to understand, accept and begin to champion is that he can pull 20 million Nigerians out of extreme poverty in the next four years through SMEs. All he needs to do is become their champion. He looks too detached from the society he governs. He should take it upon himself that whatever or whoever is hindering the operations of SMEs would be crushed under his feet. This is where most of the jobs are. This is what can help pull millions out of extreme poverty. Buhari should go to bed tonight telling himself: “I want to be remembered as the president who unleashed the economic potential of the average Nigerian by making life easier for SMEs.”
The second issue I picked at the TEF Entrepreneurship Forum has to do with what Awolowo said on “sexy agriculture”. He adopted the phrase from Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Nigeria’s former minister of agriculture, on how to make agriculture attractive to the youth so that it is no longer seen as a villager’s job. Awolowo highlighted the measures being taken by NEPC to give teeth to agric entrepreneurship. Those who choose to go into agriculture should be able to export their products and earn forex. He said some finished products from Nigeria are already getting certification in Europe, which is the kind of news I love to hear.
Agriculture is still one of the fastest and biggest means of engaging a large number of the youth, and this is in addition to the little matter of food production which is critical to national peace and security. I was encouraged by Awolowo’s pronouncements but I wondered how well the youth are buying into this. Do they even know the opportunities that exist? The first thing that came to my mind was how the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) can be restructured, revamped and funded to make agriculture and other forms of entrepreneurship “sexy” to university graduates. We keep churning out graduates every year without knowing what to do with them.
Attempts by the federal government to stimulate economic development through youth entrepreneurship — as Mr Tony Elumelu, the chairman of UBA Plc, is doing through TEF — will not work well if a winning model is not adopted. One winning feature of the TEF strategy is not just to give grants to young entrepreneurs but also to monitor and mentor them. This will ensure the goals are being achieved and grants can be scaled up for those who are excelling and expanding. The TEF says it has empowered over 7,500 African entrepreneurs from 54 African countries. Many of the entrepreneurs were at the forum to share their success stories. This is very encouraging. It works.
In fairness, the Nigerian government also offers different incentives through the Bank of Industry, the CBN and some MDAs. The only problem is access. Also, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, has commendably laid down measures to make doing business easier for Nigerians but the MDAs are enemies of progress. That is why I am challenging President Buhari: become the champion of SMEs if you want to tackle unemployment, poverty and crime. Take it as a matter of personal mission. Get the states and councils on board. Meet regularly with SME owners and listen to their concerns. Break the yoke.
When Fela died 22 years ago, the world rose in honour of the inimitable Afrobeat musician. I don’t know of any other Nigerian whose death has drawn genuine grieving all over the country like Fela’s. Southerners, northerners, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, minorities, men and women trooped out to bury him. Why? Fela spoke to the problems of ordinary Nigerians. He did not define our problem along “tribe and tongue” lines. He did not propagate a divisive message. It is the politicians and their sidekicks that are pitching us against one another. Fela united us. He constantly gave grief to politicians, some of whom also loved his music, even if not openly. Legend.
Those who want to break up Nigeria are yet to answer my question on how that will settle the century-old war between Tiv and Jukun in Taraba state — which erupted again last week. It is the usual issue of settlers vs indigenes . You are no likely to find opinion leaders make an issue out of this because it does not fit into the trending conspiracy theories about Fulanisation and Islamisation. Tiv and Jukun are predominantly Christians. That also explains why when criminals kidnap or kill Muslims in Zamfara, Katsina and Sokoto, it is just “bandits” and not “Fulani jihadists”. I hope the Middle Belt leaders will take a short break and help broker peace between Tiv and Jukun. Urgent.
Prof Babagana Zulum, the governor of Borno state, made an astonishing discovery last week: there was no doctor on duty when he paid an unscheduled midnight visit to some hospitals in Maiduguri, the state capital. That is what lowly Nigerians have been living with for ages, but government officials hardly visit public hospitals, so they may not be aware. God only knows how many patients die all the time because doctors are not on duty. The irony of it all, of course, is that the doctors would still collect their call allowances despite sleeping and snoring at home. And if the payment is delayed, you can expect a strike that will lead to more patient deaths. Nigeria.
While Nigerians continue to eagerly await the take-off of the Dangote refinery, it was heart-warming to hear Mallam Mele Kyari, the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), assure all promoters of refineries in the country that they would enjoy the same level of support Dangote has from the corporation. There is this impression that once Dangote enters a business, he becomes a monopoly and scares away other potential investors. But we need as many refineries as possible to become self-sufficient and even begin to export petroleum products. Meanwhile, I’m liking the sound of Kyari’s voice and his stated agenda for NNPC. Assuring.

How Political Power Damages the Brain—and How to Reverse it By Farooq A. Kperogi, Ph.D. Twitter: @farooqkperogi

I was one of seven professors who facilitated a leadership training in my university here in Georgia for local government chairmen from a major Nigerian southwestern state. In the course of the training, I adverted to a January 13, 2018 column I wrote about how power literally damages the brains of people who wield it and causes them to be dissociated from reality.

A few of the chairmen at the training initially said they “rejected” what I said “in Jesus’ name.” But the more I expounded the research on the psychology of power, the less resistant they became. In the light of the interest it excited among these local power wielders, I thought I’d share a revised version of the column for the benefit of other people in power.

Almost everyone I know wonders why people in power change radically; why they become so utterly disconnected from reality that they suddenly become completely unrecognizable to people who knew them before they got to power; why they get puffed-up, susceptible to flattery, and intolerant of even the mildest, best-intentioned censure; why they appear possessed by inexplicably malignant forces; and why they are notoriously insensitive and self-absorbed.

Everyone who has ever had a friend in a position of power, especially political power, can attest to the accuracy of the age-old truism that a friend in power is a lost friend. Of course, there are exceptions, but it is precisely the fact of the existence of exceptions that makes this reality poignant. As the saying goes, “the exception proves the rule.”

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Look at all the power brokers in Nigeria—from the president to your ward councilor—and you’ll discover that there is a vast disconnect between who they were before they got to power and who they are now.

Also look at previously arrogant, narcissistic, power-drunk prigs who have been kicked out of the orbit of power for any number of reasons. You’ll discover that they are suddenly normal again. They share our pains, make pious noises, condemn abuse of power, and identify with popular causes. The legendary amnesia of Nigerians causes the past misdeeds of these previous monsters of power to be explained away, lessened, forgiven, and ultimately forgotten. But when they get back to power again, they become the same insensitive beasts of power that they once were.

So what is it about power that makes people such obtuse, self-centered snobs? It turns out that psychologists have been grappling with this puzzle for years and have a clue. Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at the University of California Berkeley, extensively studied the brains of people in power and found that people under the influence of power are neurologically similar to people who suffer traumatic brain injury.

According to the July/August 2017 issue of the Atlantic magazine, people who are victims of traumatic brain injury are “more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.” In other words, like victims of traumatic brain injury, power causes people to lose their capacity for empathy. This is a surprising scientific corroboration of American historian Henry Adams’ popular wisecrack about how power is “a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.”

The findings of Sukhvinder Obhi, a professor of neuroscience at McMaster University, in Ontario, Canada, are even more revealing. Obhi also studies the workings of the human brain. “And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, ‘mirroring,’ that may be a cornerstone of empathy,” the Atlantic reports. “Which gives a neurological basis to what Keltner has termed the ‘power paradox’: Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.”

Take Buhari, for example. Before 2015, he was—or at least appeared to be—empathetic. He supported subsidies for the poor, railed against waste, thought Nigerians deserved to buy petrol at a low price because Nigerian oil was “developed with Nigerian capital,” and so on. He even said foreign medical treatment for elected government officials was immoral and indefensible, and wondered why a Nigerian president would need a fleet of aircraft when even the British Prime Minister didn’t have any.

Nothing but power-induced brain damage, which activates narcissism and loss of empathy, can explain Buhari’s dramatic volte-face now that he’s in power. This fact, psychological researchers say, is worsened by the fact that subordinates tend to flatter people in power, mimic their ways in order to ingratiate themselves with them, and shield them from realities that might cause them psychic discomfort.

“But more important, Keltner says, is the fact that the powerful stop mimicking others,” the Atlanticreports. “Laughing when others laugh or tensing when others tense does more than ingratiate. It helps trigger the same feelings those others are experiencing and provides a window into where they are coming from. Powerful people ‘stop simulating the experience of others,’ Keltner says, which leads to what he calls an ‘empathy deficit.’”

Researchers also found out that excessive praise from subordinates, sycophantic drooling from people seeking favors, control over vast resources they once didn’t have, and all of the staid rituals and performances of power conspire to cause “functional” changes to the brains of people in power. On a social level, it also creates what Lord David Owen, a British neurologist-turned-politician, called the “hubris syndrome” in his 2008 book titled In Sickness and in Power.

Some features of hubris syndrome, Owen points out, are, “manifest contempt for others, loss of contact with reality, restless or reckless actions, and displays of incompetence.” Sounds familiar? You can’t observe Buhari’s governance—or, more correctly, ungovernance—in the last four years and fail to see these features in him.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. Powerful people can, and indeed do, extricate themselves from the psychological snares of power if they so desire. Professor Keltner said one of the most effective psychological strategies for people in power to reconnect with reality and reverse the brain damage of power is to periodically remember moments of powerlessness in their lives—such as when they were victims natural disasters, accidents, poverty, etc.

They should also have what American journalist Louis McHenry Howe once called a “toe holder,” that is, someone who doesn’t fear them, expects no favors from them, and can tell them uncomfortable truths without fear of consequences.

Winston Churchill’s toe holder was his wife, who once wrote a letter to him that read, in part, “I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; & you are not as kind as you used to be.” Was Aisha Buhari performing the role of a toe holder when she publicly upbraided her husband in the past? I doubt it.

Her disagreements with her husband are often opportunistic and self-serving. They are triggered only when her husband’s puppeteers in Aso Rock limit her powers to nominate her cronies for political positions and to dispense favors to friends and family.

Another potent way to reverse power-induced brain damage is to periodically get out of the protected silos of power and solitarily observe the quotidian interactions of everyday folks—their humor, laughter, fights, etc. — without the familiar add-ons of power, such as aides, cameras, security, etc. This helps to stimulate the experiences of others and restore empathy.

This is particularly important in Nigeria because power, at all levels, is almost absolute and unaccountable.

Insecurity: Ominous clouds rumbling across Nigeria By Tatalo Alamu

The subsisting problem of the nation is not about who elected President Buhari or who did not but our perennial inability to fashion some core values out of this ethnic, regional, religious and political maelstrom which will power national goals and aspirations. Without this foundational understanding, there can be no national development or the entrenchment of genuine democratic ethos.Elections are mere mechanisms and rituals for choosing state personnel in countries where there is substantial agreement about the national destiny. In the absence of this agreement, elections become very divisive, with the outcome bitterly contested and with legitimacy and authority becoming very elusive. Without elite consensus there can be no democratic consensus. This is the bane of Nigeria since independence.Unfortunately for this government, perception is often reality. This is the basis of the current tension and disquiet in the nation with affronted southern elite groups training their intellectual and social media fire power on a north which reacts with a sense of siege and growing encirclement. The unease in the land is palpable and God helps the nation in the coming months

Once again ominous clouds are rumbling across Nigeria. The lights are going out and may not return for a long time. It is not yet Christmas, but fireworks and huge firecrackers are abroad, dazzling and dazing in their fearsome intensity. Unlike the ominous clouds of the past, these ones are coming with a big difference. All the contradictions are coming together—political, economic, cultural, regional and spiritual at once. It is a perfect storm in Nigeria.
If there is still anything worth saving about this unfortunate and tormented country, this is the time to pull back from the brink. Unfortunately, never has the country been this badly divided and bitterly polarized. In the absence of genuine statesmen, the space for rational discourse has been taken over by people of doubtful or dubious states of mind and traumatized individuals who cannot care a hoot about the import of their utterances and pronouncements.
Like a malignant demon, the Nigerian tragedy feeds on tragedy and more tragedies. It has now taken the gruesome murder of Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of the revered Afenifere leader, Pa Rueben Fasoranti, to make everybody realize how close the nation is to the brink. The nation has pushed itself to the edge of the precipice.
While separatist howls reverberate across the south, supremacist grunts emanate from the north. Meanwhile, moderate, middle of the road Yoruba patriots are beginning to take an audit of illustrious Yoruba women assassinated in the struggle to rescue Nigeria from the path of perfidy and perdition. The middle ground is beginning to disappear.
This column commiserates with Pa Fasoranti, a fine gentleman and a refined statesman if ever there is any remaining on these shores. Snooper commends the noble forbearance and calm fortitude of a nonagenarian patriot who has borne the brunt of evil governance in post-colonial Nigeria, from unjust detention and torture by the military authorities after the fall of the Second Republic, routine political persecution for his belief and now the brutal dispatch of his beloved daughter.
It is curious that no one has claimed responsibility for this dastardly crime. But the presence of military grade weapons and the professional ruthlessness of execution suggest that Nigeria may be playing host to transnational rogue militias offloaded from the Maghreb and their local mutants waging a combination of economic and spiritual terror. It is the last sigh of the Moors.
The situation has not been helped by the clumsy management of the crisis by the federal authorities who are behaving as if they have something to hide, and the inept attempt at pushback by the police. First, they claimed they have apprehended the culprits only to swiftly retract this. We urge caution and calm at this precarious period when danger signals are flashing for the nation. We also ask our leaders across the political divide against insensitive and provocative utterances.
The subsisting problem of the nation is not about who elected President Buhari or who did not but our perennial inability to fashion some core values out of this ethnic, regional, religious and political maelstrom which will power national goals and aspirations. Without this foundational understanding, there can be no national development or the entrenchment of genuine democratic ethos.
This column has been shouting from the roof top that elections do not resolve national questions. In fact, they often exacerbate them. Last year, we wagered that whoever won the presidential elections under the prevailing circumstances may find Nigeria ungovernable. It is not elections that move a nation forward but elite consensus. Without elite consensus, there can be no democratic consensus.
Elections are mere mechanisms and rituals for choosing state personnel in countries where there is substantial agreement about the national destiny. In the absence of this agreement, elections become very divisive, with the outcome bitterly contested and with legitimacy and authority becoming very elusive. Without elite consensus there can be no democratic consensus. This is the bane of Nigeria since independence.
In the coming months, President Buhari will discover that his messianic self-righteousness notwithstanding, he does not enjoy the mandate to bend Nigeria to the iron will of a primordial vision of the country which canonizes poverty and morbid frugality. The anti-corruption drive would have become a huge joke eliciting nothing but howls of bitter derision and costly sniggering. He will then either retreat further into an ethnic cocoon or become frankly repressive, a situation that will further aggravate the subsisting crisis.
The selective and partisan outbursts of the government on certain national issues even as the loud silence on other germane issues reverberates across the land do not help its case. The Buhari government has been its own worst advocate in the court of public opinion. It is impossible at this precarious point in our national evolution to attempt to impose any hegemony on the nation based on ethnic, religious or regional supremacy without provoking extreme countervailing reactions from other locations of power in the country.
Unfortunately for this government, perception is often reality. This is the basis of the current tension and disquiet in the nation with affronted southern elite groups training their intellectual and social media fire power on a north which reacts with a sense of siege and growing encirclement. The unease in the land is palpable and God helps the nation in the coming months.
The subsisting situation is eerily reminiscent of the last days of General Buhari as a military ruler of Nigeria after the campaign to sanitize the system had unravelled in its primordial naivete with the nation badly polarized and bitterly divided and with what was generally perceived as the authoritarian insensitivity of the Buhari military administration driving the nation to the edge of the cliff.
At that point in time, two civil war heroes, General Alani Akinrinade and the late Brigadier Benjamin Adekunle, began openly canvassing for confederacy in fierce objection to what was seen as the stifling unitarism of the Buhari administration. After openly calling on the Buhari administration to bring to justice the real depredators of the nation, Wole Soyinka, the imminent Nobel laureate, forswore any further dialogue with what he dismissed as a deaf government and then proceeded on a quiet, undeclared self-exile.
In what was regarded by political strategists as a coup de grace, the inevitable General Olusegun Obasanjo, in a widely circulated lecture at the University of Ibadan, lambasted those who think they are the owners of Nigeria, urging them to immediately retrace their footsteps. But the falcon no longer hearkened to the falconer. A few weeks later, the Buhari administration became history.
Thirty four years after the more things change the more they remain the same, as they say. Nigeria seems to be stuck in a historical groove with pretty much the same cast of actors and the same cause celebre but this time cloaked in civilian garb. Obasanjo is back in the trenches against the self-same General Buhari while Soyinka appears to be slowly winging his way to the muddy trough despite the profound personal animus between the two titans.
In the case of General Akinrinade, having fought with troops and without troops and having discovered the major difference, he will not be lightly pressed into battle this time around by anybody. With General Obasanjo, it is elephant and castle once again. The pachyderm from the ancient Owu ravines once again has Aso Rock within the sights of his telescopic rifle. But this time around, the nation should brace itself for the endgame.
To tease out the ironies and contradictions in all this is to be confronted by a recurring Nigerian paradox of power tussle. The trio of Obasanjo, Soyinka and Akinrinade welcomed the Ibrahim Babangida administration with open arms with Akinrinade going on to serve as a minister in the government.
Yet at the end of the day when Babangida annulled the freest and fairest election in the history of the nation, they all turned against him. But in a great irony of history, they all saw hell in the hands of Abacha, Babangida’s real successor. The goggled one impounded Obasanjo who was only lucky not to have been executed while driving the other two into harrowing exile.
With the current animosity towards Buhari from Obasanjo and the growing disenchantment of the Nobel laureate with the administration, the wheel seems to have turned full circle. Yet It ought to be clear by now given the futile back and forth of the last forty years, and the fevered change of state personnel that something more fundamental than mere change of guard is wrong with Nigeria.
There are certain structural contingencies about the way Nigeria is configured which make it impossible to produce an exceptional Nigerian with the visionary dynamism and heroic nationalistic courage to push the nation in the right path. The same structural debility afflicts party formation and an electoral process in which riggers take their turn to rig national consensus depending on the subsisting balance of power.
The nature of heroism lies in its cumulative heft and constant striving at the behest of a nation and not in the odd, system-driven political misjudgement. We should not be too anxious to rubbish our old heroes even where it is obvious that their modus operandi and brand of heroism can no longer recuse Nigeria from pressing catastrophe. Heroes are always age-bound and situation-specific.
Those of our leaders who could always see much further into the future have always warned us that this grand chicanery cannot be sustained forever. It is either the population explosion and the rise of social misfits by their millions put the entire nation in grave jeopardy or the explosion in counter-hegemonic knowledge as a result of globalization fatally imperils the status quo.
In the light of the preceding analysis, it should obvious that General Buhari is not the problem with the nation. The way Nigeria is must be the problem. Any leader emanating from the same perverse structure who is deluded enough to think that he is Nigeria’s magic wand is likely to meet a similarly distressing fate.
We may all have to thank the retired general from Daura for helping to drive the contradictions to their logical conclusion. Unless the current descent into anarchy leads to something radically new, all one can see beyond the horizon are funerary pyres aglow. One must shudder at how many lives have been wasted to sustain the horrific torture chamber that is about to expire.

Breaking News : Full Text of Former President Obasanjo to president Buhari on insecurity and National security

I am constrained to write to you this open letter. I decided to make it an open letter because the issue is very weighty and must be greatly worrisome to all concerned Nigerians and that means all right – thinking Nigerians and those resident in Nigeria . Since the issue is of momentous concern to all well -meaning and all right – thinking Nigerians , it must be of great concern to you , and collective thinking and dialoguing is the best way of finding an appropriate and adequate solution to the problem . The contents of this letter, therefore , should be available to all those who can help in proffering effective solutions for the problem of insecurity in the land .
One of the spinoffs and accelerants is the misinformation and disinformation through the use of fake news . A number of articles , in recent days , have been attributed to me by some people who I believe may be seeking added credence and an attentive audience for their opinions and viewpoints . As you know very well , I will always boldly own what I say and disown what is put into my mouth . But the issue I am addressing here is very serious ; it is the issue of life and death for all of us and for our dear country , Nigeria . This issue can no longer be ignored, treated with nonchalance , swept under the carpet or treated with cuddling glove.
READ ALSO : Obasanjo writes Buhari , says Nigeria reaching a tipping point
The issue is hitting at the foundation of our existence as Nigerians and fast eroding the root of our Nigerian community . I am very much worried and afraid that we are on the precipice and dangerously reaching a tipping point where it may no longer be possible to hold danger at bay . Without being immodest, as a Nigerian who still bears the scar of the Nigerian civil war on my body and with a son who bears the scar of fighting Boko Haram on his body , you can understand , I hope , why I am so concerned . When people are desperate and feel that they cannot have confidence in the ability of government to provide security for their lives and properties, they will take recourse to anything and everything that can guarantee their security individually and collectively .
For over ten years, for four of which you have been the captain of the ship , Boko Haram has menacingly ravaged the land and in spite of government ’s claim of victory over Boko Haram , the potency and the activities of Boko Haram , where they are active , remain undiminished , putting lie to government ’ s claim . The recent explanation of the Chief of Army Staff for non -victory due to lack of commitment and lack of motivation on the part of troops bordering on sabotage speaks for itself . Say what you will , Boko Haram is still a daily issue of insecurity for those who are victimised, killed, maimed , kidnapped , raped , sold into slavery and forced into marriage and for children forcibly recruited into carrying bombs on them to detonate among crowds of people to cause maximum destructions and damage . And Boko Haram will not go away on the basis of sticks alone, carrots must overweigh sticks . How else do you deal with issues such as only about 50 % literacy in North – East with over 70 % unemployment?
Herdsmen / farmers crises and menace started with government treating the issue with cuddling glove instead of hammer . It has festered and spread . Today , it has developed into banditry , kidnapping, armed robbery and killings all over the country . The unfortunate situation is that the criminality is being perceived as a ‘ Fulani’ menace unleashed by Fulani elite in the different parts of the country for a number of reasons but even more , unfortunately, many Nigerians and non -Nigerians who are friends of Nigeria attach vicarious responsibility to you as a Fulani elite and the current captain of the Nigeria ship. Perception may be as potent as reality at times. Whatever may be the grievances of Fulanis , if any , they need to be put out in the open and their grievances , if legitimate , be addressed; and if other ethnic groups have grievances , let them also be brought out in the open and addressed through debate and dialogue .
The main issue , if I may dare say , is poor management or mismanagement of diversity which , on the other hand , is one of our greatest and most important assets . As a result , very onerous cloud is gathering. And rain of destruction , violence, disaster and disunity can only be the outcome . Nothing should be taken for granted , the clock is ticking with the cacophony of dissatisfaction and disaffection everywhere in and outside the country . The Presidency and the Congress in the US have signalled to us to put our house in order . The House of Lords in the UK had debated the Nigerian security situation . We must understand and appreciate the significance , implication and likely consequences of such concerns and deliberations.
No one can stop hate speech, violent agitation and smouldering violent agitation if he fans the embers of hatred, disaffection and violence. It will continue to snowball until it is out of control. A stitch in time saves nine, goes the old wise saying .
With the death of Funke , Chief Fasoranti ’s daughter , some sympathetic Nigerian groups are saying “ enough is enough” . Prof. Anya , a distinguished Nigerian merit Laureate, has this to say “ We can no longer say with certainty that we have a nation ” . Niger -Delta leaders , South -Eastern leaders , Middle – Belt leaders and Northern Elders Forum have not remained quiet. Different ordinary Nigerians at home and abroad are calling for different measures to address or ameliorate the situation . All the calls and cries can only continue to be ignored at the expense of Nigerian unity , if not its continued existence .
To be explicit and without equivocation , Mr . President and General, I am deeply worried about four avoidable calamities :
1 . abandoning Nigeria into the hands of criminals who are all being suspected, rightly or wrongly , as Fulanis and terrorists of Boko Haram type;
2 . spontaneous or planned reprisal attacks against Fulanis which may inadvertently or advertently mushroom into pogrom or Rwanda -type genocide that we did not believe could happen and yet it happened .
3 . similar attacks against any other tribe or ethnic group anywhere in the country initiated by rumours , fears , intimidation and revenge capable of leading to pogrom;
4 . violent uprising beginning from one section of the country and spreading quickly to other areas and leading to dismemberment of the country .
It happened to Yugoslavia not too long ago . If we do not act now , one or all of these scenarios may happen . We must pray and take effective actions at the same time . The initiative is in the hands of the President of the nation , but he cannot do it alone. In my part of the world, if you are sharpening your cutlass and a mad man comes from behind to take the cutlass from you , you need other people ’ s assistance to have your cutlass back without being harmed. The mad men with serious criminal intent and terrorism as core value have taken cutlass of security. The need for assistance to regain control is obviously compelling and must be embraced now .
A couple of weeks ago at a public lecture , I had said, among other things , that :
“ In all these issues of mobilisation for national unity , stability , security, cooperation , development , growth and progress , there is no consensus . Like in the issue of security, government should open up discussion , debate and dialogue as part of consultation at different levels and the outcome of such deliberations should be collated to form inputs into a national conference to come up with the solution that will effectively deal with the issues and lead to rapid development , growth and progress which will give us a wholesome society and enhanced living standard and livelihood in an inclusive and shared society . It will be a national programme . We need unity of purpose and nationally accepted strategic roadmap that will not change with whims and caprices of any government . It must be owned by the citizens, people ’s policy and strategy implemented by the government no matter its colour and leaning .
Some of the groups that I will suggest to be contacted are : traditional rulers , past heads of service ( no matter how competent or incompetent they have been and how much they have contributed to the mess we are in) , past heads of para -military organisations , private sector , civil society , community leaders particularly in the most affected areas , present and past governors, present and past local government leaders , religious leaders , past Heads of State , past intelligence chiefs , past Heads of Civil Service and relevant current and retired diplomats, members of opposition and any groups that may be deemed relevant. ”
The President must be seen to be addressing this issue with utmost seriousness and with maximum dispatch and getting all hands on deck to help . If there is failure, the principal responsibility will be that of the President and no one else . We need cohesion and concentration of effort and maximum force – political , economic , social, psychological and military – to deal successfully with the menace of criminality and terrorism separately and together . Blame game among own forces must be avoided . It is debilitating and only helpful to our adversary . We cannot dither anymore . It is time to confront this threat headlong and in a manner that is holistic , inclusive and purposeful .
For the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians , I pray that God may grant you, as our President , the wisdom, the understanding , the political will and the courage to do what is right when it is right and without fear or favour . May God save , secure , protect and bless Nigeria. May He open to us a window of opportunity that we can still use to prevent the worst happening . As we say in my village , “ May God forbid bad thing” .
July 15 , 2019
Released by
Kehinde Akinyemi
Special Assistant Media.

Who will save Nigeria? By Shaka Momodu

It is no longer news that the All Progressives Congress (APC) has successfully installed its preferred members at the helm of the National Assembly. The victory dance and partying is still on. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry for my beloved country. Nigeria has become a carnival feast for the APC. Who knows when the sun will rise again and break this incantation of darkness that has gripped this land?
There is a general consensus amongst Nigerians that the ruling APC does whatever it wants and does not give a damn about morality, the rule of law, values or tradition. When discussing with people, evaluating developments and situations, they readily tell you, “Ha ha!! APC is not the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) oo!!” “They don’t respect rules at all.” “They do whatever they like unafraid of the consequences unlike the PDP that showed some restraint in the face of opposition from the public.” “It’s either their way or no way!” And to achieve their way, the party is prepared to bring down any institution of state.
Those reactions didn’t just fall from the sky. It is the character portrait defined by the behaviours of party members which have largely shaped the perception of the APC in the last four years. While it campaigned to restore order and morality to governance, it repeatedly posed the greatest danger to such values and ethos that hold society together. The APC blurs the line between good old precious values, as we knew them, and bad behaviour and outright criminality. Previously forbidden behaviour is now the entrenched gold standard to advance one’s political career under the APC. Some of us who thought the PDP was bad are sighing wearily in regret and consternation at the monster that Nigerians have elected (someone said they selected themselves) to replace it.
For some who thought change had come to Nigeria, it’s a rude awakening to the reality we are dealing with. Many were even still languishing in deep denial as the party of change wasted no time to break PDP’s worst records in every area and showed its true colours the moment it tasted power. Come to think of it, what did you expect when a man of doubtful integrity joined forces with his companion in Lagos who has become a parasite on the state he once governed and still “governs” – a controversial and stupendously wealthy politician whose sources of wealth and influence will scandalize an island of vermin, and whose sense of right and wrong is governed by profiteering?
When the full extent of his looting of the state is audited and laid bare, it will arguably trigger an avalanche of mega protests. There will be calls for swift and decisive justice from the people. All those who aided and abetted him will not be spared. A man who should have lost any legitimacy long ago has now found himself more powerful and influential than ever. Every time he opens his mouth on national issues, he offends the moral values of the country and our sensibilities.
Now, they have successfully installed men with criminal tendencies in leadership positions of the people’s parliament.
As the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila is now number four in the political hierarchy in the country. APC chose him despite his not-too-sterling past while in the US. His alleged debarment by the Georgia Supreme Court, after allegedly pleading guilty to charges of professional misconduct, was said to have earned him a 36-month practice suspension. His conduct was repugnant to the American sense of morality, values and code of behaviour. While Gbajabiamila may have been “extremely remorseful for the consequences of his conduct” before the disciplinary authorities that tried him in the US, the party of change that fielded him back home as a lawmaker and promoted him to the position of Speaker had no scruples about the message and implications of having such a flawed character as the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Here again lie the inherent contradictions between the stellar qualities that drive society’s moral code and the vices that constantly strive to shortchange those values.
I am just as crestfallen by the emergence of Senator Omo Agege as the Deputy Senate President. It’s a pity that many of our people stand for nothing. The APC has come to symbolise all that is wrong with Nigeria and Nigerians. Let me refresh your memory. On April 17, 2018, Omo Agege led thugs in a commando-style operation into the hallowed chambers to steal the mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate to protest his six-month suspension from the Senate. It appeared to be a carefully planned attack with security agents unfortunately looking the other way. His thugs stole the mace, the symbol of authority of the Senate. We were later told it was found under a bridge in Abuja. Case closed.
No charges were ever brought against him for the obvious crimes he committed simply because he prides himself on his loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari and as you know, the system is subservient to anyone who claims to be a Buhari supporter. Instead, he was astonishingly rewarded with the number two position in the Senate by the APC leadership. How can we ever explain this to our children?
Orji Uzor Kalu is now a senator. Oh My God! Who did Nigeria offend? Kalu has been on trial for corruption and money laundering charges for over 12 years. He and his lawyers have been using every tactic in the book to frustrate the conclusion of the case. Kalu is mocking the country and its legal system. He is having a good laugh at our expense. And he is succeeding in gaming the system. I am astonished that the judge handling his case gave him the latitude for the shenanigans he is rubbing in our faces. He is either asking for an adjournment to enable him travel to Germany for surgery or to attend to a pressing matter. Few days after he will travel to Buhari’s town of Daura in Katsina to receive a chieftaincy title and shower accolades on the president.
After each worthless title he receives, he assaults our sensibilities by splashing photos of the event in the newspapers. He has stalled his trial by making excuses after excuses not to be in court. What kind of judge tolerates and allows such contempt for his court? He has been strutting around trying to get the attention of the president. He even had the audacity to say the South-east should not expect anything from Buhari since they did not vote for him. Only in Nigeria can this happen. This is the man the party of change gave its platform to become a lawmaker to make laws for people like you and I who have stayed on the straight and narrow path.
The mind-boggling revelations of fleecing and reckless looting of taxpayers’ money coming out of Zamfara, Bauchi and Imo States, hitherto presided over by governors of the “party of change”, leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth. Former Governor Abdulazeez Yari of Zamfara State was alleged to have spent a whopping N251 billion on fictitious contracts. This was a governor who was always in Abuja. His state is the poorest in the country and has the least national common entrance enrollment. Yari brought no development or progress to his people, instead he pauperised them and left the state worse than he met it. He was one of the star governors of the APC until he fell out of favour with the national leadership of the party. Yari has not been “grabbed” by the anti-corruption agencies and charged to court to account for his stewardship.
Former Imo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, who spent more money on the building of worthless statues than on provision of social infrastructure, will remain a blight on Imo State for a long time to come. His emergence as governor is similar to the whirlwind expectations and hope that heralded Buhari to power – where the people thought in him they had found a saviour. Unfortunately, as in Buhari’s case, he was a disaster. A wicked and callous man. He was said to have looted N50 billion worth of property belonging to the state. Until there is a full audit of his tenure, we may not know how much he took and the extent of the damage he wreaked on the state. He has NOT been “grabbed” by the anti-corruption agencies. Instead, he is walking free as a senator.
What do you have to say about Bauchi State where the former governor Mohammed Abubakar was said to have spent N2.3 billion in five months on burials? This is one of such moments that leave you breathless and dumbfounded by a combination of man’s ingenuity and ruthlessness in stealing public funds. The full extent of his management of Bauchi State is yet to be ascertained.
He too has not been “grabbed” by the anti-corruption agencies.
Former Osun State governor, Rauf Aregbesola ran his state aground during his 8-year tenure. He left over 30 months’ salary and pension arrears unpaid. He has NOT been “grabbed” by the anti-corruption agencies to account for his stewardship. Instead, he has relocated to Lagos, interfering in the new administration of Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu. Aregbesola, a certified failure in governance is said to be eyeing ministerial position after mismanaging his state for eight good years. Should he get it, it will be the greatest tragedy ever committed in human resource recruitment.
When you compare all these with the speed with which the EFCC moved against the former Ekiti State governor, Ayo Fayose, then you begin to appreciate the ‘One Nation Two Moralities’ principle of this APC government. The party sure knows how to protect its own.
The discontinuation of the trial of former Gombe State governor, Senator Danjuma Goje through nolle prosequi has not only exposed the insincerity of the anti-corruption sing-song of this government, it has consolidated the fraud and grand deception being perpetrated against the Nigerian people. This sudden disinterest in prosecuting Goje came after he was prevailed upon to step down for Ahmed Lawan in the race for the Senate Presidency. It was rumoured then that the trade-off would be the discontinuation of his corruption and money laundering trial. Few believed it then. But as everything about this government that usually starts as a rumour, it has come to pass.
Instructively, the very same week the government’s anti-graft body, the EFCC was lavishly celebrating the court-ordered forfeiture of jewelry, watches, trinkets, etc. belonging to the former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison Madueke, the federal government entered the nolle prosequi on the Goje’s corruption case. Buhari’s vocal supporters have no problem with such brazen abuse of power and double standard. They have suspended their reasoning ability in matters concerning the president’s shenanigans. Buhari’s government sure knows how to throw those it considers its enemies under the bridge.
Who will save Nigeria from these people?
The party of change and its promoters had shouted from the rooftops claiming superior moral calling in the past. It is vexatious and highly provocative to say the least that they simply spewed pious platitudes about trying to rebuild and reorder our country; even proposing pathways to moral and fiscal rectitude. But what we have seen so far is a party populated by vandals with a destructive heritage and thieving culture. It is an irony of immense proportions that it now poses the greatest danger to Nigeria’s corporate existence.
We are trauma-fatigued by the volume of despairing and seemingly endless stream of bad news we are now daily force-fed by this APC-led government. I can bet my bottom kobo, there will be no respite any time soon. Provocative proposals we had once thought were inconceivable, are proposed daily by this clueless and incompetent government. It is hard to be an optimist in the face of all this.
The president came to power with an ethnic agenda. His character portrait very well forewarned us about the danger he poses to Nigeria’s corporate existence. Some of us warned relentlessly about the dire consequences of electing Buhari but were called names. Those who were more experienced, and far more familiar with the actualities of Buhari’s historical fumbles with the Nigerian state – intellectuals, businessmen, journalists joined the bandwagon of anarchists, feudalists, primitive wealth accumulators, etc. to railroad one of the least qualified persons to the most important position in the country. Since his ascendancy, the country has moved from the promise of hope to the agony of nightmare. Who will save this land from bloodbath flowing everywhere?
It should be recalled that Buhari’s first consideration immediately he was sworn in as president in 2015 was a grazing bill. That action fitted perfectly with the rumoured agenda of the president. When it was shot down, the herdsmen unleashed unprecedented violence on communities across the country, particularly in the North-central zone as the government looked on with perplexing indifference. Then came the idea of cattle colony, it failed also. Sensing that their patron saint was on the ropes, there was a sudden lull in the herdsmen’s reign of terror and the proposal for the cattle colony was put in abeyance as the presidential election approached. Having secured another term of four years through a very flawed election stolen for him by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Buhari in rapid succession reportedly proposed a N100 billion payout to Miyetti Allah to stop the kidnappings and killings and approved a repackaged older product (colony) as Ruga. Buhari knows what he is doing. Those who think they have heard the last of Ruga had better remain vigilant. Buhari is not going to give up until he uses the power of his office to give advantage to his ethnic stock. And for those who sold him to Nigerians as the best thing to happen to this country, I hope they will be courageous enough to take responsibility for the tragedy the country has become.
Who will save Nigeria?
The answer is blowing in the wind.