A native returns By Sam Omatseye On THE NATION

SO, it’s all over. Kayode Fayemi, the donnish fellow with a guttural voice, will now return to the mound he vacated four years ago. Ayo Fayose, the governor as theatre, now retreats either to the shadow of oblivion or ignominy.

And it was a long way coming. Like the words of T.S. Eliot in his poem The Journey of the Magi, “a hard journey” he had of it. Fayemi crouched, sulked, fought over that 2014 poll. He said he was robbed. Some believed, many doubted. The courts acclaimed the winner. The erudite former governor seemed to have collapsed into a sort of ennui.

But still hovering over that dreary dawn were many questions: The electronic evidence of Jonathan’s soldiers in gladiatorial electronic heist. His political minions in a million lying tales. The birth of stomach infrastructure. Fayose as a feathery impresario and a sort of mythical tale of a returnee to power.

Fayemi consoled himself with a ministerial toga, but what consolation. He still felt an ache. Anytime I saw him, I saw the ache in a contrived display of self-confidence, and even defiance, the sense of someone deprived. I remember he explained to me over the phone, a few days after INEC released the results, while Fayose still huffed and puffed. He said he had to concede because he did not want any “killing fields.” The ache I think is still not over. He carries it still until he is done. A big meal was at the table, but he still worked himself over the one he did not finish. Now he has the chance again at the table.

So, while Fayose peacocked and derided him, he answered back, but his voice was somewhat muted. The narrative of stomach infrastructure rose over any rhetoric of his achievements. On my television show on TVC, just before the APC primaries which he gulped handily, I wanted him to go back to his time as governor, the charge of aloofness, of focusing an elite style over what many saw as Fayose’s “common touch.” He was not all that repentant. He had learned his lessons, but he would not sway from his task of obviating poverty.

He is not the type to stop by a market and help women fry garri, or buy bole at the roadside, or utter imprecations at an old, ailing president. He could not do that even if it meant losing an election.

But the ache egged him on for over four years, working the grassroots methodically and in silence, a stealth agenda to clobber the great foe of his political life. The same Fayemi who would stay away had been jolted by the necessity of victory into the humility of grassroots work. Franklyn Delano Roosevelt’s biographers have said that if polio did not paralyse him, he might not have been president. The former U.S. president, often called FDR, was too patrician to understand the common folk. Was that what happened to JKF? Was the earlier defeat an asset for his soul and political trajectory?

But he insists he never lost, and that question remains up till now. How do we agree that he lost all 16 local government areas? But Fayose lost all but four. Yet the difference in numbers were about 20 thousand. What is clear is that what Fayemi had was a victory, not a mandate. That is critical. A mandate is an overwhelming victory. It may not be a landslide, but the difference must be emphatic.

So, a more of the folksy heartbeat should remain with Fayemi as he remounts the throne. Few people have opportunities for redemption. But shall we say, that the great numbers that Fayemi’s opponent, Olusola Eleka, had was a vote for stomach infrastructure? That means, Fayemi must see a median between his lofty philosophy of governance and the quiet rumblings from society’s ether. Some eyewitness accounts of those who thought Eleka prematurely won chanted in Yoruba, “oju ti owo. Oju ti agbara.” Translation: “shame on money. Shame on power.”

Yet, we cannot blind our eyes to a common story from reporters. Both sides turned election into a sort of bazaar. Money sprayed on voters. Some are saying that the people voted for the highest bidder. In Ondo, they called it “di’bo ko se’be” – vote and cook a soup. In Ekiti, the refrain was “see and buy.” If it was a battle for the highest bidder, there was no innocent party. The guilty one was our brand of democracy.

In this age, democracy is still a bourgeois ideology. It lacks the innocence of its beginnings in Athens, a thing lamented by philosopher Hanna Arendt in her classic, The Human Condition. Political scientists say, money is the mother’s milk of politics. So, does it mean that Fayemi won because he outspent Fayose? That may be an oversimplification. But some analysts think, in an ambience of poverty, especially when civil servants had not been paid for many months, money was a great catcher. So, are we practising cash-o-cracy or buy-o-cracy? Maybe it is one tragedy our babyish democracy thrusts on us.

Lincoln, perhaps America’s best, often said his best triumph as president was the Emancipation Proclamation. But he could not get it through Congress without bribing. There was, in spite of Lincoln’s great morality, a Machiavellian impulse. We ought to learn from their beginning, not copy, or console ourselves that filth is permitted with the lucre at this stage of our democracy. If that is the way of politics now, it means the new rigging is not to bully the ballot but sully the mind. To rig, first rig the voter’s mind. That is the definition of rigging at source. No bloodletting. No roughnecks bearing guns.

So, is it possible for Fayemi to ignite the common touch now. The election shows the majority want it the Fayemi way, perhaps with the proviso that he is less lofty, his voice less granite, his eyes in softer hue.

Fayose’s desperation in announcing the result was an act of subversion, not permissible in a democracy. It was an admission that he had lost the argument. He has opened the doors wide for his foes to floor him without a fight. He has governed with the principle of the id as official ID.

Now, Fayemi has a chance to return. It will begin like Jesus’ return to Jerusalem in pomp. But in Shakespeare’s words, “all is well that ends well.” In four years, that is. Will the return of the native look like Thomas Hardy’s novel of that title where the novelist is not sure whether the native’s return ends in a romance or estrangement? Dr. John Kayode Fayemi has the opportunity to write that testament.

Barbaric

The party system in Nigeria is still a baby. Sometimes it appears to have grown into its adolescent years, but it quickly recoils into its cot, squealing and all teary-eyed. Its greatest feature is that it is often undemocratic. But it is undemocratic because of what political scientists call the big man syndrome.

The big man syndrome hails from our feudal makeup in which kings and princes ride over a fawning and helpless people. Capitalism upended it, but in our country and most of Africa, democracy has not rewarded the individual freedom that helps to nourish a modern state.

But there is a reason why we have the big man syndrome. It is the big money syndrome, which arises from a milieu of crude money makers based on rent. When money comes in, choice vanishes. That is something that is going on right now in the so-called party of change as regards the delegates system.

It is one of the landmark actions that Adams Oshiomhole will have to make as the party helmsman as the National Working Committee of the APC meets today (Monday) over whether they should institute direct primaries or go through the indirect one, which is the delegates system. The next test of this action will be the Osun State primaries for the post of governor.

Some members of the NWC say they want the delegates system, while the others want it to be through direct primaries. But at bottom is the question as to what is the system that best represents the tempo and temperament of the party. This idea also refers to other parties, including the PDP. The delegates system, in and of itself, is not philosophically anathema. But it is subject to abuse in a society like ours where the big man takes precedence over choice and conscience.

If it is the democracy of conscience we want, then we should not have a delegates system yet in the country. As a so-called change agent, the APC should not put money over choice. When the primaries are under the delegates system, it becomes not a democracy in this instance. It becomes an oligarchy. A few powerful, tendentious characters corral some men and women who are arbitrarily picked to become deciders of who becomes the party flag bearer for the top office in the state.

So, it is a unilateral aberration. But what problematises it is that the NWC is not clearly mandated to pick a particular formula. This constitutional agnosticism opens the democratic system to fraud. It becomes the decision of a few men, and often in our society, it is the decision not of a few wise men, but a few foolish men. Put more clearly, it is the decision of a few tendentious men, who want to cow the system and crown a man who has not felt the heartbeats of the men and women in the lower rungs of the party.

The APC constitution says in Article 20 (vi) that “without prejudice to Article 20 (ii) and (iii) of this constitution, the National Working Committee shall subject to the approval of the National Executive Committee make rules and regulations for the nomination of candidates through primary elections. All such rules and regulations for the nomination of candidates through primary elections. All such rules, regulations and guidelines shall take into consideration and uphold the principle of federal character, gender balance, geo-political spread and rotation of offices, to as much as possible ensure balance within the constituency covered.”

The letters of these words point to an openness of decision. But the spirit is unimpeachable. It means the decision must not be rigged by a cabal of party bigwigs. It calls for inclusiveness. How inclusive can it be when only a few men, who have held the party’s artificial jugular, decide for the ordinary man and woman who must be their candidates.

If money is the centre of this problem, it has other branches. Since money can be received and the receiver can decide to follow conscience, some party chieftains often decide to tie these delegates to all kinds of oaths. These oaths are often diabolical. In not too long ago, a former governor locked his men in an oath. If you picked the money, you also swore to an occultic oath. This is spiritual blackmail. The delegates, often beholden to this society’s aggressive superstition, cower and obey. We cannot forget the image of the party men in a southwest state carrying calabashes on their heads. Is this a modern democracy, or the democracy of the gods, of the daemons of tradition, of men who have caved in to the spirits of the dead instead of the living.

How do we trust a system to a few men who hail the name of orisha instead of the people when they pick our governors? Some oaths are not less diabolical when the consequence is death by non-supernatural means. The oaths that force the delegates to drink blood of goats, or rams or chicken or, as some have speculated, human blood, also means disobedience is death, or some greater body or psychological harms. The men and women obey because, it is safer to obey than to sacrifice their lives and careers. Democracy suffers and the people mourn.

It means our politics is beholden to cabals of aggressive spiritual content, and contempt for the people. If democracy is a system of popular persuasion, we need the process to be about the people. Not about a few.

The NWC has a chance to pick apart a system of barbaric efficiency, or pick the popular will.

The football hero

As the World Cup ends, it is time to announce Nigeria’s football hero. For me, its not Rohr, nor any of the players like Mikel Obi or Ahmed Musa. The hero probably can no longer kick or identify modern soccer formations. But he is a hero nonetheless. He is former governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio. Reason: he has given us our only claim to glory in soccer today: the stadium in Uyo. Not the one in Abuja, which has now shamefully become a political platform rather than a place for athletic display. Nor our darling National Stadium in Lagos with its great memory of players like Haruna Ilerika.

The hero cannot be Coach Rohr, who did not believe. Months ago, a famous television broadcaster introduced him to me at the airport in Lagos. And I asked him if he did not think we could win the World Cup. He said that was too ambitious. He said some world class teams were too good to beat. He referred to Germany, Brazil, Spain and Argentina. But these teams were routed by Davids who believed. Our Rohr did not believe, so his team did not roar. Croatia, Russia, Sweden, et al, believed. Success is not always about technique. It begins with the heart. Rohr did not instil in our men the heart of a lion.

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Hiccups surrounding new minimum wage – New Telegraph Editorial

As Nigerians savour the peaceful atmosphere between organised labour and the Federal Government, the latter appears to be fanning the embers of crisis by toying with the minimum wage agreement reached between both parties.
When everyone had thought that the battle was gradually coming to an end, the Federal Government has again displayed insincerity on its part over the date of implementation, thereby putting the workers’ movement at alert.
Labour’s position is not new as it had sent signals to government that it would go to battle with it if it continues to undermine the welfare on Nigerian workers. The unions put into perspective what might become of the country if the Federal Government failed to whip itself into line and take Nigerians out of the hardship currently being visited on them through deliberate and inhuman policies.
The deep-seated acrimony expressed is understandably sanctioned and quite appreciated by Nigerian workers, who have suddenly become victims of the change they had craved and voted for over three years.
Yet again, labour was jolted to reality a few days ago when the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stunned the nation with the news that the implementation of the new minimum wage would no longer be possible in September as earlier promised.
Since the announcement, interested parties have publicly denounced the new position, which is contrary to what the minister himself had promised in February. With the constitution of an all-inclusive tripartite committee, interested parties had thought that an end was in sight to the frequent crisis between organised labour and employers.
However, with the minister’s new position, labour appears set to head for the trenches going by the position of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) as recently spelt out by its President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in Geneva at the 2018 edition of International Labour Organisation (ILO) annual meeting.
To keep Nigerian workers on a minimum wage of N18,000 for such a long time, especially in the face of open display of opulence by politicians and those in high echelon of government, is, to say the least, most insensitive.
Apart from the fact that wage increase is a constitutional matter, which ought to be observed by administration once every five year, it is on record that as at the time N18,000 minimum wage was negotiated with the Federal Government, the exchange rate then was about N145 to a dollar compared to today’s N360. Since then, inflation had risen steadily from around 12 per cent to as much as 18.5 per cent before dropping down to 13 per cent.
To imagine that the N18,000 minimum wage fixed over five years ago would still be sustainable is unimaginable. In a society where education is not totally free, access to medical care, accommodation, transportation and other social services are cumbersome and expensive to come by, there is certainly a limit to what N18,000 can do today.
Little wonder official corruption in public offices is growing by the day despite government’s spirited effort at checking the menace. More annoying is the fact that the Federal Government, through the minister, was never in any way forced to make its promise that the implementation of the new wage would commence in the third quarter of this year.
To put an end to doubts and make the process total, the committee was well constituted to include private sector employers, federal and state governments and other relevant bodies. This was to ensure nobody cries foul at the end of the day or lament that he was not a party to the agreement.
Although some observers had shown concerns over some state government’s ability to fulfil their obligation on the new wage considering the huge salary arrears they owe even with N18,000, none of them has, however, complained publicly that the N66,500 new wage proposed by labour is an extra burden they can’t deliver on.
While the expected confrontation between labour and the Federal Government appears to be incubating, it is, however, surprising that up till this moment, the former has not come out to dispute the minister’s position that the September date is actually scheduled for the committee to conclude its assignment before handing it over to government.
While praying for a peaceful resolution among the parties involved, we call on the Federal Government to make the process faster and ensure the new wage is implemented this year.
We also appeal to members of the committee to take care of all the grey areas in the recommendations so as not to give the Federal Government the ground to justify its position. Ultimately, now that the problem of insecurity across the country is waning, efforts should be made not to derail the economy further through industrial action.

Speaking for Mr. President By Yakubu Mohammed

timayakky@yahoo.com, 08055001917 SMS Text Only

When our colleagues who serve as spokesmen for President Muhammadu Buhari write their memoirs, we may have a clearer insight into how they do their work – speaking for the president.
I am referring, of course, to the pair of Femi Adesina, special adviser (media) to the president and Garba Shehu senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity. The two of them, in case you have forgotten, came to their respective jobs well recommended with impeccable credentials. Both of them, at different times, had worked in the media and had risen to the pinnacle of the profession having served as editors and even managing directors of their respective media houses.
And to cap it all, they had at different times served as presidents of the Nigerian Guild of Editors. Garba Shehu had, before coming to the villa, served as media adviser to the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
Though one is not privy to the mandate given to them by their principal, it is safe to guess that they combine the duties of press secretaries with those of media advisers. Not only do they speak for the president, they are supposed to guide their principal or even coach him on public communication.
I am not quite certain whether their job description includes something like public relations or media relations or helping the media, by way of providing background information about the president’s policies and activities for the media to give to the public an informed perspective of the president, his persona and his policies.
But I am not in a position to know how easy or how difficult it has been for them to do these jobs considering that they work for a man who by nature remains relatively taciturn. Hopefully, one day we shall get to know.
But I can guess that, from the impression they give to the public about the affability of the president, being a man of deep reflection and understanding who is not only loyal to those who are loyal to him, but a man who is deeply concerned about this country and the welfare of the people; a man who is famously ascetic and scrupulously honest and decent, it has not been difficult, in my view, for them to do the job of advising him properly and correctly.
Apparently they can only advise him in the areas of the media. But there is no area of his presidential responsibility that is not a matter of public concern and therefore of robust media interest. That means the media advisers cannot wash their hands off how he conducts all his public affairs, his nuances and his body language.
For instance, if I may ask: why is it difficult for the president to match his words with adequate action, especially if he gives his words publicly on issues of public concern? He has said many times that he would not allow corrupt people to buy their ways into public office. But apparently unknown to him, people with not quite a tidy background have found their ways into this administration and he has adopted a see-no evil and hear no evil attitude to it. But for the media, Maina, the fugitive, would have been sitting pretty tight and comfortable today at his desk in the Ministry of Internal Affairs as director.
President Buhari had publicly told one of the NEC meetings of his party that he was going to expand his cabinet to accommodate more ministers in response to the yearnings of party members. He repeated this pledge when a group of Nigerian Catholic bishops paid a visit to him. One year or so later, nothing of the kind has been done.
Last week the Trust newspaper carried an exclusive report of public companies without boards and whose heads are still in acting capacity three years after the take-off of this administration. Without a doubt, this is a drawback on efficient performance on the mandate of these organisations.
When it comes to management of conflicts and crises, there is often an official or presidential aloofness that tends to imperil the search for a quick solution. Take the case of the no-love-lost between the executive arm and the legislative arm of the government, a phenomenon that developed from the inception of the Buhari administration in May 2015.
The conflict has its origin in the way Senate President Bukola Saraki emerged. Clearly the initial aloofness of the president was responsible for it. If, as party leader, he had been decisive, the leadership of the National Assembly would have been agreed upon at the meeting of the party caucus before the inauguration of the Senate.
The fall-out of that disastrous aloofness has not been properly managed till today. It is not because the Senate is perceived to be corrupt that the executive arm is not getting the desired co-operation from its leadership. The rapport that should exist between them is not there when in fact the two arms must share confidences to move forward. Some snobbishness arising from a holier-than- thou attitude can only put a spanner in the works and it is the public good that suffers.
Equally, contradictions especially in policy statements breed lack of confidence. At home and abroad, it is a well- known fact that the hallmark of the Buhari administration is the high premium it has placed on integrity, probity and accountability and its zero tolerance for corruption. Zero tolerance by implication, suggests that there is no circumstance in which any iota of corruption is tolerated.
Appointees of the government should, therefore, be the flag bearers in the fight against corruption. So should those elected on the platform of the ruling party – senators, governors and chief executives of government agencies. If that is the case, President Buhari can’t, therefore, afford to be blind to the iniquities of some the APC governors who do as they wish with public funds as if they are above the law. And he cannot equally be deaf to the cries of those who have been denied their wages for months, some committing suicide to end it all.
Those who accuse the government of being selective in the fight against corruption may have a case if the president, through act of omission or commission, turns a blind eye to corrupt cases around him or in in the states controlled by the ruling party.
The contradictions which engender lack of confidence are not restricted to issues of corruption alone. He has said oftentimes and his vice-president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has re-echoed him, that it is inhuman for politicians to play politics with human life. The abduction of the Chibok and the Dapchi girls is a case in point. But at an unguarded moment, President Buhari ignored his own admonition when he compared his handling of the Dapchi girls with the sloppy way President Goodluck Jonathan handled the abduction of the Chibok girls. That, quite clearly, was playing politics with human tragedy.
And what can be more political than for the president to do the unthinkable by comparing the number of people killed in Plateau State with those killed in Zamfara State or on the Mambilla Plateau as if one life is superior to another and as if the number counts.
Or, what is worse, to have allowed Adesina, his media aide, to reel out, as he did last week, the number of killings that happened during the tenure of his predecessor with the sole purpose of comparing it with the number of Nigerians so far killed during his own tenure as if it is a competition and as if there is a prize to be won for the killings. What these tragic times call for is extreme caution.

Before The Next Massacre By Simon Kolawole (The Cable)

Quote me: the Plateau killings, in which over a hundred defenceless citizens lost their lives, will not be the last. I am not trying to be a prophet — much less a prophet of doom — but the reality of Nigeria is that things hardly change. Internecine killings have been going on consistently for the past 18 years, mostly in northern Nigeria, and there is yet no sign that they are about to end. The Plateau killings are not the first and will not be the last. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that the next massacre is just by the corner elsewhere. Without a realistic conflict management strategy in place, I can sadly assure you that we are just helplessly waiting for the next mayhem.
What sparked off the latest bloodbath in Plateau state? Predictably, truth is the first casualty. People easily take sides and always end up with so many versions of truth that you would be performing a miracle to be able to put your finger on the real thing. The initial story was that herdsmen went on the rampage in Barkin-Ladi, Riyom, Mangu and Jos south local government areas of the state. Why? An account says some herdsmen had been killed and their cattle rustled by Berom youths days earlier, hence a reprisal. Up till now, we are still not sure of the facts. We are left to speculate. My article today assumes that it was a product of the intractable herders/farmers/villagers crisis.
Initially, Mallam Danladi Ciroma, the north-central chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), was widely reported by the media as suggesting that the Plateau attacks were “retaliatory”. He has since denied saying so, but he pointed out that the biggest issue “on ground” in the state is cattle rustling. In January 2018, after the Benue killings, Alhaji Garus Gololo, a leader of Miyetti Allah in the state, told BBC pidgin that the attacks were in retaliation for the stealing of their cows. “As we were relocating to Taraba through Nasarawa state, thieves came to steal 1000 cows from us at the border town of Nengere, so we fought them back,” he said.
There are recurring decimals of “cattle rustling” and “reprisal” in the narratives. We can thus make some general observations based on what is in the open. One, herders are losing their cattle to armed robbers. Two, herders are also losing their lives to these violent rustlers. Three, the security agencies appear overwhelmed and unable to bring the rustlers to justice. Four, the herders embark on revenge missions. Five, the security agencies appear overwhelmed (some even say complicit) whenever the herders exact revenge. Six, the offending herders are also hardly brought to justice. Overall, we have something like a mutually assured destruction (MAD) in our hands.
In every conflict, though, there are remote and immediate causes. Therefore, my one-paragraph summary does not capture all the nuances of the herders/farmers conflict in the north. Things are much deeper. A broad view of the crippling crisis will identify more triggers than “rustling” and “reprisal”. Some analysts have partly blamed the genesis on atrocious geography — desertification and a disappearing Lake Chad — which is increasingly driving herders southwards in search of fresh pasture and inevitably putting them in conflict with farmers and villagers as a result of destructive grazing practices. In addition, the Boko Haram insurgency has pushed them southwards.
That said, we also cannot ignore the fact that the grazing routes created by colonial masters have been ruined over time. The encroachment on these routes by farmers and builders has never been addressed and it is not to be unexpected that one disruption leads to another. Evidently at play is a fierce struggle for scarce resources. So at the base of these herders/farmers confrontations is an economic issue which unfortunately plays into our fault lines and inflame passions. Any analysis of the conflict that does not recognise this as a factor will be most unhelpful, and we cannot begin to think of a permanent resolution in isolation of these economic issues.
Another deadly undertone is that, historically, the north is strongly divided along ethno-religious lines, and these differences are more pronounced in the Middle Belt where the scars of wars from the 18th and 19th centuries are still being nurtured. In states such as Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna and Nasarawa, there is eternal tension between Muslims and Christians. It is very evident in the way people take sides over the herders/farmers issues. The historical fault lines are always activated after each mayhem — even by the most educated and enlightened commentators. It always generates an emotive response devoid of rationality and pragmatism.
It is also indisputable that the anti-grazing laws in Benue and Taraba have become very contentious. The “state police” (vigilante), in enforcing the law, have been accused of extorting the herders, stealing their cows and in some cases killing the herders. The herders then regroup and fight back, with the reprisals turning out to be deadlier than the original “crime”. Their victims are almost always innocent villagers. One fair conclusion we can quickly reach is that the anti-grazing laws cannot on their own resolve the issues at play. I do not know how much of impact assessment the state lawmakers did before passing the legislations. Is it worth the bloodshed? I think not.
But then we are also faced with practical questions. Should any state government fold its arms and allow herders to continue to destroy the farmlands and livelihoods of other people in order to feed their cattle? I think not. No honest human being should answer yes to that question. On the other hand, can any government stop open grazing without alternatives and not provoke repercussions? Will any herder fold his arms and watch his livestock die from lack of water and pasture? Again, I think not. I don’t think any rational person will say that is the way to go. There we see the crux of the matter. Finding a middle ground is what we are always running away from.
There are at least three realities we must face if we are to sincerely address the crisis. One, herders cannot continue to destroy people’s livelihoods without repercussions. Your right to do your business must not encroach on my right to do my own business. Two, herders are human beings and economic agents who cannot be wished away or wiped off the surface of the earth. Anybody who thinks we will stop having herders in Nigeria is daydreaming. Three, and consequently, we must find a balance between the rights of the farmers and the rights of the herders if there is ever going to be peace in the land. Any proposal that ignores these three realities will NOT solve any problem.
In the end, something has to give. Of all the proposals on ground, ranching is the most reasonable and the most appealing to me. But the nomads will have to imbibe a new breeding culture. This will not happen overnight. Teaching an old dog new tricks is a tough task. When you have been doing something the same way for thousands of years, it is a heritage you don’t want to give up. The transition period will be hard. Ranching is a multi-billion naira economy waiting to explode — with enormous benefits. Caution: states should not be forced to provide land for ranching. Only the willing should sign up. We shouldn’t attempt to solve one problem by creating another.
Unfortunately, 2019 elections are around the corner and everything is tainted with politics. This makes crisis resolution pretty difficult. There are those taking advantage of the situation to play dirty politics and will go to any length in their dangerous game. These are the moments that need genuine problem-solving. Political leaders, religious leaders, traditional leaders, intellectuals and the media all need to exercise leadership in these tough times. Let us all remember that there is no medal to be won if we allow our house to be set on fire. We will all bear the brunt. If Nigeria is not at peace, Nigerians cannot be at peace. Comfort for the tree is comfort for the bird.
My parting words are to Buhari. Dear President, someone once said that leadership is not what you do every day; it is how you rise to the occasion when the occasion arises. The insecurity in the land is the biggest test of your leadership so far. Nigeria is bleeding. Mr. President, don’t let it be said that Nigeria bled to death under your watch. Be firm. Be courageous. Be open-minded. Expand your circle of advisers. Seek help wherever you can get it. Do the needful to calm frayed nerves. Re-jig your security set-up if need be. Culprits must be diligently prosecuted. Justice must be done. Another massacre is just around the corner — except we earnestly begin to do things differently.
AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
THE PEACE MAKER
Here is one to shame the bigots in Nigeria. An imam in Plateau state hid over 200 people, including Christians, inside his mosque during the recent killings in the state. He did not discriminate in saving the lives of men, women and children from the killers. He did not separate Muslims from Christians. He acted as a protector to all. This is the Nigeria I love. His identity was not revealed, but God knows him very well and I have no doubt that he will receive his due reward. True religion respects the sanctity of human life. No matter how religious you are, if you don’t respect human life, you are not better than a beast. I hope our Christian and Muslim leaders will learn from this imam. Godliness.
TANKER DEATHS
A fuel tanker broke down, burst into flames and killed nine people on Thursday evening. Many more were injured while scores of vehicles got burnt. The cause? Brake failure, according to reports. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Anytime you come across these fuel tankers, please take a look at their state of health. Many of them don’t have complete tires. Even some tires are worn out, but they keep dragging them on the road. We have the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) which is supposed to enforce safety on our roads, and we also have certification from ministry of transport (MOT) which confirms that these trucks are roadworthy. Innocent people always pay the price. Dreadful.
GALLANT EAGLES
The Super Eagles crashed out of the World Cup on Tuesday after losing 2-1 to Argentina in their final group match — but I was not terribly disappointed. My frustration was that we were so close to securing the needed result when we conceded the killer goal in the 86th minute. Nevertheless, I saw a Nigerian team that played their hearts out and fought gallantly to the last drop of their sweat. I loved it. The story would probably have been different if Jude Ighalo had buried his chance in the 75th minute instead of waiting for an uncertain penalty. But that’s the way life goes. We did not start the World Cup well and we paid the price, but it was a decent outing. Kudos.
AND FINALLY…
A presidential spokesman said on Thursday that there were more wanton killings under PDP governments (between 1999 and 2018) than under the APC administration (from 2015 till now). I don’t know the purpose of the comprehensive list of killings that was released, but I must confess that it was well researched. It was a celebration of tragedies. He seems to be a football fan: he more or less developed a league table with invisible columns for “goals for” and “goals against” to compare and contrast dead bodies under PDP and APC. I have been complaining about unprofessional public communication in Nigeria for a while but this should take the cake. Ridiculous.

June 12, Military Cult And PMB’s Ritual Offering By Louis Odion, FNGE

It is difficult not to read politics to President Muhammadu Buhari’s avowal of June 12 last week. If posthumous awards for MKO and Gani Fawehinmi were truly intended to re-connect the President to the progressive community in an election year, it has turned out a master-stroke indeed, going by the outpouring of goodwill for the general in the past week.
The man likely to be biting his finger this hour discreetly must be Goodluck Janathan. Like many things he attempted in five years, the immediate past president bungled the bid to appropriate some mileage from June 12. His renaming UNILAG “MAU” (or MAU-MAU as traducers cheekily chose to echo in a backhand invocation of Kenya’s notorious coloinial Mau-Mau guerrillas) dried up almost immediately with the ink it was written.
Perhaps, this time, the fakir from Daura was shrewd enough to engage the right medicine man for a better charm. Only that could explain while whereas the Fawehinmi family flung back medal similarly offered posthumously by Jonathan (just the same way Gani had rejected Umar Yar’Adua’s earlier in 2008), Buhari’s has been accepted with both hands in gratitude.
But if we care to look deeper, there is surely a silver lining yet above the cloud of partisan opportunism here. Coming twenty-five years after the fact, the gesture could, in a way, be taken as an act of penance by a penitent member of a military caste that had violated democracy.
As the ululation continues to echo across the nation over Buhari’s proclamation, Ibrahim Babangida must be a sad man today. His melancholy must be compounded by the shame of being finally exposed as nothing but a con man.
Deluded IBB obviously wanted to do what none of his military forebears had done. He coveted eternal power but lacked the courage to come out openly and say so. While attempting to steal MKO’s popular mandate, he not only sold the nation a lie but also sought to cauterize national memory against remembering. Beaten to a corner, the “evil genius” then conceived the devious Interim National Government to wipe the memory of June 12.
The same way OBJ could not be happy that the man, whose huge sacrifice he toiled so hard to deny even as little as a mere mention, is now being festooned with the nation’s highest garland posthumously. Neither could the Ota chicken farmer be amused that Gani who peppered him relentlessly with the worst invectives imaginable as “imperial president” would now be officially addressed as GCON.
Nor could General T Y Danjuma also possibly have any cause to pop champagne at the good tidings. When the old Taraba-born warrior made himself available at one of the early “pro-democracy” summits in Lagos immediately after the annulment, he could barely conceal his impatience for the niceties of democracy. At some point, he was famously quoted as telling off pesky journalists: “Gentlemen, you know I’ve little or no time for all this your long talk about democracy. I’m here simply because I don’t like that man (IBB) there.”
Or can thieving Sani Abacha, memorably dismissed as “intellectual midget trying to bring the nation down to his level” by Professor Wole Soyinka, be mollified for that matter. How depressing it must be for him wherever he is today to hear that MKO chained down for four years till he (the captor) died and who would curiously drop dead exactly a month later after him would now share the honour as fellow GCFR!
Undoubtedly, June 12 annulment was the last act in a concatenation of defilements by two generations of buccaneering generals.
In all its historicity, June 12 was a powerful expression by a nation that would appear to have outgrown the military that had held it down for a decade. By overwhelmingly endorsing a Muslim-Muslim ticket and voting above ethnic cleavages, the people could only be telling the generals the excuse of national fragility they kept retailing for hanging on to power was no longer tenable.
In what must then be a fitting closure to history, it has now taken a general to uproot a lie planted by a fellow general twenty-five years ago. It is in the same spirit that we continue to yearn for a closure to the puzzle over the liquidation by parcel bomb of citizen Dele Giwa 32 years ago when the same general was law-giver. The same way the nation would seek an update on Buhari’s earlier order that the police reopen the murder cases of Bola Ige, Marshal Harry et al during the reign of another general.
Now, let no one downplay the therapeutic benefit of establishing the truth. For that is the first sure step to national healing. Truth may hurt initially, but it heals ultimately.
This moral joint is what is missing in the argument by the likes of former Chief Justice Alfa Belgore who seem obsessed with the letter – rather than the spirit – of law. They had argued that since it is impossible to have MKO and Gani physically present, awarding the honour would be vain.
Not surprising, one Umar Ardo, an OBJ’s barefoot lackey, has floated the laughable idea of going to court to challenge Buhari’s decision.
Though Femi Falana, SAN has done well to shine the light on the portion that might have appeared grey to the nay-sayers, it bears repeating that that is just what the spirit of law could also have envisaged. June 12 is never a speculation. It is a truth. To act or argue otherwise is to continue to dignify the big lie IBB told 25 years ago.
The spirit of fundamentalism is inevitable in those who truly knew June 12 and lived its dark days intimately. I confess my own extremism here, having worked then as a young reporter in Concord Press owned by MKO.
For the nation at large, perhaps what had made the trauma more unbearable was the culture of denial foisted and sustained with state might over the years. That lie first manifested in the specter of Ernest Shonekan who did not consider it dishonorable to seek to exercise power he neither won by ballot or secured by bullet.
When the supremos of the now discredited military finally accepted to relinquish power in 1999, they strategically chose the eve of June 12 to disengage. The culture of denial was sustained by OBJ, ironically the biggest beneficiary of June 12, who now proceeded to indulge in perhaps the worst act of Gregorian incest by proclaiming May 29 (his own inauguration day) as Democracy Day in sheer contempt of the historic day Nigerians truly voted a new nation and in cruel denial of the supreme price paid by MKO and other martyrs.
The Ota-based narcissist probably saw acknowledging June 12 as a favour to MKO, forgetting it was a historic duty to the nation actually violated. What’s more, soon after OBJ took over, the teaching of History was abrogated from our school syllabus, perhaps in order that the young Nigerians would never have the opportunity of knowing such sordid aspects of the nation’s past.
No one put it better than Adams Oshiomhole, labour icon and former Edo governor, in a reaction to Buhari’s offering: “How ironic that over the years, those who emerged the beneficiaries of June 12 would toil real hard to designate their own coronation day falsely as Democracy Day over the moment Nigerians actually voted democracy.”
If nothing at all, with the executive proclamation of June 6, credit must be given to Buhari for somehow bringing integrity back to national award. What further elevates the medals bestowed on MKO and Gani is its exclusivity. This is the first time the administration is awarding national honours since assuming office in 2015. A sharp departure from the past when national medals were dispensed yearly on industrial scale to recipients, many of whom in real life embody anything but honour. So much that at one of such bazaars, President Goodluck Jonathan was left to merely read out names of awardees without handing out commemorative medal or certificate, simply because his people kept updating the list until the last minute!
Later, rumour of a racket began to swirl involving a ranking member of the administration. It was as if “bank alerts” were still pouring in while the brochure was already at the printer’s. In sum, award of national medal must be tied to idea or exertion that truly advances community or country. Only then will it have meaning or value.
As for Baba Gana Kingibe, the fact that he is decorated with GCON being MKO’s running-mate can hardly launder his hands of treachery and perfidy. He has benefited only from the technicality of history. But that will hardly blot the memory of his succumbing to the temptation of the stomach at the defining moment. As revealed by MKO light-heartedly at one of his last public appearances at NIIA, Lagos in June 1994: “When I asked my deputy (Kingibe) what are you doing with the usurper by accepting to be a mere minister, he told me he was hungry. And I said ‘If because of thirst you decide to drink water from the gutter, you’ll only catch cholera’.”
By the way, curiously missing among surviving SDP top brass invited by Aso Rock to the June 12 ceremony was Chief Tony Anenih, ironically the chairman of the winning party. It could not have been an oversight, but an omission borne out of emotional intelligence and due regard for the sensibilities of a nation still haunted by a difficult memory. For the education of Nigerians yet unborn or too young to understand the main issue during that historic decade, Chief Anenih’s moral stamina failed him in the hour of temptation.
Lacking character when it mattered most, Anenih led the colluding faction of SDP leadership that acquiesced to Babangida’s inducement to trade June 12 away. Even while the knife that stabbed MKO in the back politically was still dripping blood, Anenih and co had earnestly begun to position themselves for seats in the ING.
His career of treachery continued when his old political mentor and benefactor, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, later ended up in Abacha’s gulag in 1995 after valiantly spear-heading the lobby at the 1994 Constitutional Conference that fixed January 1996 as exit day for Abacha.
Without hesitation or shame, jobbing Anenih again made himself available to be used to torpedo the popular motion championed by now incarcerated Tafida Katsina, removing the last obstacle to Abacha’s self-succession circus.
So, had renegades like Anenih dared to gatecrash the June 12 memorial yesterday regardless, it would have been entirely surprising if the ghost of doughty MKO did not haunt them around the gallery relentlessly.
All said, it is a lesson in the value of standing for something. The fruit of treachery is always bitter at the end.

LOUIS ODION

Fashion in nudity By Oliver Ejike Uja

A scene was recently created at the gate of one Church located at one of the High brow areas in Abuja recently. A young woman who felt that she was unjustly prevented from accessing the church to worship was furious and trying to school the usher and gate man in her own theology. But the two personnel at the church stood their ground and insisted that they were just doing their job.
The crux of the matter was the appropriateness or otherwise of what she was wearing. The issue of dressing has always been a delicate one through the ages.
The revolution in fashion and clothing industry is absurd considering what, presently, fashion is turning out to be – a celebration of nudity. I will use fashion here to mean clothing fashion and method of dressing which, today, is a multibillion dollar industry.
The notorious wardrobe malfunction incident is not strange to many, but ward ropes have continued to malfunction in the streets, work places and even churches intentionally or unintentionally.
Well, the story and history of fashion is an interesting and complicated one. It is inseparable with history of clothing and civilization which draws from social, cultural and religious exigencies. As one of the basic necessities of life, historians believe that men started to cover themselves using various materials (leaves, wood, hides and skins) as a means of protecting themselves from the elements of the weather and also covering sensitive organs which is what distinguishes human from other creatures.
This striving to cover the body continued to the middle ages when there was tremendous progress in materials and clothing technology. Also clothing or dressing took on cultural and religious significance and the notion of proper covering, decency or ideal dressing developed. It was due to the inadequate clothing (loin cloths) which covered the ‘basic nakedness’ that made the early Europeans that made contact with the African continent think that the people were uncivilized.
Africa has continued to be in a cross road when it comes to appropriateness or otherwise of authentic African fashion or manner of dressing especially in an era of social media where information is just at ones finger tip.
A look around shows how preponderance and pervasive fashion can be –from the ludicrous to the bizarre and the theme is the same – inclination to nudity.
The media and advertiser’s exploitation of sex for marketing purposes have contributed to the abysmal sense of fashion in which decency has been thrown to the dust because of self glorification and unbridled consumerism. The body is seen just as any other commodity. Ladies aspire to be superstars or celebrities and one of the obvious qualifications, unfortunately, is appearing barely nude in the name of fashion. Ladies low-rise jeans that reveal the G-string assaults our sights and a dressing style that developed in the red-light districts and which was only suitable within the precinct of the sex trade, have now become common and even some places of worship are not spared.
Women and girls dressed in cloths cut way above the knee see – through fabrics and poking breast blouses throng these places in sanctimonious show of holiness. I do not want to go into the argument or debate of ‘intent’ or ‘mind/body’ dichotomy but a young lady who ‘dresses to kill’ and walks into a church must be very clear in her intent. I also do not want to go into the debate of “I am comfortable in this” for I have seen a number of people struggling desperately to adjust what they are putting on because it was way too short or it was seriously impeding movement. Where lays the comfort? Could it be in the attention attracted?
One church has a bold inscription “Indecent Dressing Not Allowed in Church Premises” on placards foisted in all the major entrances and doors of the church. This is a testament to how serious the problem has been and how low we have gone in our sense of morality.
Boys and young men are not left out in this culture which has similarity in origin with that of the female. The sagging fag now that leaves boys dropping their trousers almost to knee level exposing their inner pants or boxers originated in jails in the United States of America where belts are prohibited and inmates are usually given large pants that often dropped below their waist. Later sagging took on the colouration of protest cum revolt and eventually American rappers like 50 Cent popularized it.
Besides, it has become fashionable for young men to bare their chest or biceps to show their machismo after months of walk-out or to display tattoos. This fashion is also gaining ground especially among teenagers and young men here in Nigeria.
It is sad that most cherished cultural attires and fashion that are the identity of the various traditional groups in Nigeria today are the worse off for this invasion. Customs and traditions are dynamic but when cultural systems of a people become annihilated in a flash, there is a problem.
More thought provoking is that our fore fathers struggled to cover as much as they could despite their limitations, but today we are struggling to expose as much as we can in spite of all the clothing technologies. Isn’t it crazy? Could it be that our fore fathers in their loin cloths in the early ages were more civilized than us in the 21st century in our bikinis and revealing cloths? Is it a case of history repeating itself?
The German city of Max-Joseph Platz on June 24, 2012 witnessed 1700 stark naked men and women in a chorography of same. The occasion was the replication of scenes from Richard Wagner’s opera ‘The Ring’ for photographer Spencer Tunick. It is more worrisome when some international broadcast organizations aired unedited this spectacle repeatedly as news. Some see this as one of those weird acts in theatre but this has more far reaching implications. It is a dress-rehearsal for ‘nude right activists’ to push for constitutional recognition in future. We are all witnesses of the gay right campaigns and how, today, African countries are being intimidated to pass gay right legislations. Who will be surprised if it is ‘Nude Right Legislations’ tomorrow?
The whole entertainment and show business has become so ‘sexed –up’ and minors are been exposed to what ought to be adult materials too early in life and consequently, the high incident of precocious actions and tendencies among children. The erosion of traditional mode of dressing does not just happen. It is driven by neo- colonial fixation hence a society that believes that traditional outfits is not ‘sophisticated’ but ‘local’.
There is nothing wrong in dressing to suit a particular situation or occasion, but where children are made to believe that proper dressing is western attires only, there is problem; just like increasing number of children in Nigeria cannot speak their indigenous language. This further compounds the problems of loss of identity.
Women and young men parade the streets exposing what they ought to cover and this begins to raise questions on the limits and boundaries of the law in relations to indecent exposure. A decent society is not always one that dances to the whims and caprices of base innovations, but one that thinks of what can be of good to the society as a whole. Freedom, after all, is not sacrosanct. In England and America certain acts prohibit indecent exposures in public places in some states. Freedom is enjoyed in as much as the public good is not harmed.
Uja is a research officer and lives in Abuja.
For reactions and comments Email: ejikolive@gmail.com

Buhari and the June 12 saga By Reuben Abati

There are three aspects – the strategic, the political and the legal – to the Federal Government’s decision to replace May 29 with June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day, and to confer on the late Chief MKO Abiola, the highest honour in the land.
Strategy: Long before now, the Buhari government had needed to review its strategy of engagement with the public, move from blame-passing, propaganda, in-fighting, enemy-seeking approach to a more legacy-driven, result-oriented mode. It is like this: when a government is in decline, and it is losing popularity and goodwill, then it is time to change the narrative. That is precisely what the Buhari government has done with the masterstroke of a special focus on June 12 and Chief MKO Abiola at a time when virtually everyone from the Catholic Church, the opposition, prominent political figures, the media to estranged members of the APC are carrying placards against the government.
When you change the narrative, what you do is to divert attention from the prevailing negative discourse; you find something else for the people to talk about in the hope that this will give the government a breather, and allow it to get back on traction and restore some goodwill. Whoever suggested the June 12 and Abiola move to President Buhari is quite smart and I commend him and the government. But the “changing the narrative” strategy is not a deus ex machina. Its fall-out has to be managed, and government must be in a position to manage the gains or the challenges. This strategy can also prove to be a test of a government’s status. An accident-prone government may even in the long run gain nothing from such a move.
For the Buhari government, however, the June 12 move should change the narrative for a few weeks, except there is another accident on the security or political scene. But whatever happens, President Muhammadu Buhari will be remembered as the Nigerian President who successfully placed the proper historical accent on June 12, and MKO Abiola’s contributions to the restoration of democracy in Nigeria. The Jonathan government, which I served, had tried to do this in 2012 by renaming the University of Lagos after Chief MKO Abiola, but the UNILAG community – resident and alumni – reacted like cry-babies, they considered the name of their university too sacred, and too big for Abiola, and in the face of the overwhelming sentiment, the significance of the gesture was over-politicized.
The political: The politics of June 12 and Chief MKO Abiola has been a recurrent decimal in the debate about how best to remember the struggle that led to the exit of the military on May 29, 1999 and the role played by the pro-democracy coalition. Indeed, since 2000, the pro-democracy coalition and supporters of Chief MKO Abiola have lamented that the eventual beneficiaries of the struggle for democracy were the ones most determined to deny and erase Chief Abiola’s role in that significant moment in Nigerian history. They wanted Federal Government recognition for MKO Abiola. When this did not happen, the states controlled by the then Alliance for Democracy in the South West declared June 12, Democracy Day and a public holiday. In Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, and Ondo, monuments were named after Abiola, his statues were erected, other heroes of the struggle were honoured and every June 12, pro-democracy processions were held in these states.
The celebration of May 29 as Democracy Day has therefore been consistently opposed on the grounds that it is wrong to celebrate the exit of the military but better to commemorate June 12 – the day in 1993 when Nigeria held the freest and fairest election in its history – the Presidential election of that day united Nigerians across ethnic, religious and ideological lines. But as it happened, some military leaders considered Abiola unfit for the office, for their own personal reasons and therefore annulled the election. This brazen assault on the people’s sovereignty resulted in a prolonged protest for the restoration of the people’s mandate, and a nationwide rebellion against military rule. For six years, Nigeria stood at the edge of a precipice.
June 12 is indeed a watershed in Nigerian history. Its formal recognition is symbolic and instructive. This should assuage the pains of the pro-June 12 group, and help to restore the memory of that moment in history and the aftermath. I once wrote about how many young Nigerians born in 1993 or after do not even know who MKO Abiola is. I was asked on one occasion by a young Nigerian: “This MKO Abiola, what about him?” In a country where history is not taught, that is what you get: an emerging generation that does not know Nigeria. With June 12 now part of the country’s calendar, the story will be told, and that turning point in Nigerian history will be recorded permanently for posterity.
The decision to honour Chief MKO Abiola and Chief Gani Fawehinmi post-humously, and Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe with GCFR and GCON is a good move, but the question of legality with regard to Abiola and Fawehinmi has been raised and here we confront the dilemma of a conflict between what is reasonable and what is legal.
The legal aspect: Are the post-humous awards really illegal? I recall that in 2014, the Jonathan administration had tried to honour Chief MKO Abiola and Dr. Ameyo Adadevoh by having their names on the National Honours List. Justice Alfa Belgore, former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) who has now spoken up to declare the post-humous award to Abiola and Fawehinmi, “illegal” was the Chairman of the National Honours Committee at the time. The advice given at the time was that the awards could not be given post-humously, and that the law should not be bent to accommodate political interests. The Jonathan government, with the uproar over the re-naming of the University of Lagos still fresh in the minds of its officials, chose to tread with caution. It is noteworthy that this same issue of legality has again cropped up. By giving post-humous national awards, the Buhari government has now provided us an opportunity to interrogate the law.
The relevant law is the National Honours Act No 5 of 1964 – Section 3(2) thereof reads: “Subject to the next following paragraph of this article, a person shall be appointed to a particular rank of an Order when he receives from the President in person at an investiture held for the purpose:
(a) the insignia appropriate for that rank; and
(b) an instrument under the hand of the President and the public seal of the Federation
declaring him to be appointed to that rank.”
The operative phrase here is “in person.” Can a dead person be honoured in person? I think not. But it would appear that upon a careful and calm reading of Section 3(3), the President is actually given the power of discretion to vary Section 3(2).
Section 3(3) states: “If in the case of any person it appears to the President expedient to dispense with the requirements of paragraph (2) of this article, he may direct that that person shall be appointed to the rank in question in such a manner as may be specified in the direction.”
With due respect, at issue is this: assuming that post-humous awards do not meet the conditions set out in Section 3(2), can the problem be cured by Section 3(3)? And is there any manifest ambiguity in the provisions or are the words in their ordinary meaning clear enough? Or could the action taken result in any absurdity? Or are there issues of procedure that may have been breached? Do we even have a National Honours Committee in place and if so, what recommendations did that committee make to President Buhari in pursuit of its functions as a clearing house? Any public-spirited person can go to court to test the National Honours Act and raise these issues. It is the duty of the courts to interpret the law, and with our progressive judiciary, I believe they can and should guide us on the true intent of the Honours Act. Ordinarily, a national honour does not harm anyone nor is it likely to injure the country itself.
However, the National Honours Act is overdue for review, and the process of appointing persons to the National Orders needs to be reformed. Should it become necessary to amend the Act, the National Assembly can do so in a week at most. In terms of process, the area of concern is the manner in which successive governments have tended to give out these honours as if they were mere chieftaincy titles or civil service allocations. Section 1(3) of the Act lists the number of awards that may be given every year, but the prescribed total minimum number is so large that every National Honours investiture ceremony ends up looking like a carnival where all kinds of undeserving persons are decorated.
Still on the legal aspect, some persons have drawn attention to Section 2(1) of the Public Holidays Act CAP 40 LFN – while that section of the law gives the President power to appoint any day as public holiday, it does not grant him the powers to unilaterally substitute a day with another as he has done with May 29 and June 12. The Schedule to this Act as it is, recognizes May 29 as Democracy Day, not June 12. The Public Holidays Act would still have to be amended appropriately but since there is no plan to declare June 12, 2018 a public holiday, and the President’s statement in its last paragraph specifically uses the phrase “in future years”, the Federal Government has more than enough time to seek a proper amendment of the Public Holidays Act by the legislature. So, I don’t see a problem here.
All told, the plan to honour the Abiola-Kingibe 1993 Presidential joint ticket and Gani Fawehinmi, the legendary human rights crusader, is imbued with much meaning and significance even if this does not automatically settle the matter about the results of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election. The Federal Government should take some additional steps. First, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be directed to release the results of that election officially and for Chief MKO Abiola and Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe to be recognized strictly as a matter of record as President-elect and Vice-President-elect respectively. The results of that election need to be validly declared to put a closure to the injustice that was committed. This is the more important matter. The major legal issue here, however is that both men can not be accorded recognition as former Heads of State – they never took oath of office, and the Constitution under which they were elected – the 1989 Constitution is no longer in existence. It stands abolished. Since equity does not act in vain, what has been done is at best symbolic.
To further heal the pains of the affected, the Abiola family should be recognized and compensated for his arrest and detention that ultimately led to his demise. On Gani Fawehinmi: I had expressed fears about the likelihood that his family may reject the honour, Chief Fawehinmi having rejected a similar honour while alive. The Federal Government must be relieved that they have accepted the honour.
Chief Gani Fawehinmi is of course most deserving of the highest honours in the land. For more than 40 years, he was in the forefront of the struggle for a better Nigeria. He was committed to the progress and well-being of the ordinary man, the rule of law and human rights as the main pillars of good governance. He pursued this objective through the instrumentality of the law. Of him, President Buhari writes: “…the tireless fighter for human rights and the actualization of the June 12th elections and indeed for Democracy in general, the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN is to be awarded posthumously a GCON.”
I can only add that there are others who were also part of that struggle for the “actualization of June 12” whose contributions were no less important, and pain and suffering no less, who should also be considered for national honour. They even did more for the struggle than Chief Abiola’s running mate, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe who is now being honoured, not for his contributions, I assume, but merely for being part of the ticket! They include Chief Alfred Rewane, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Abraham Adesanya, Professor Wole Soyinka, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Frank Kokori, Col. Abubakar Umar, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, Alao Aka-Bashorun, Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu, Ayo Opadokun, Kudirat Abiola, Chima Ubani, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, US Ambassador Walter Carrignton and all the journalists and media owners who were lied against, harassed, shot, assassinated, or jailed. This list is by no means exhaustive but it is representative enough for the benefit of those who insist on ethnicizing June 12. It was a pan-Nigerian struggle: between good and evil, between heroes and villains, and by the way, I agree that Professor Humphrey Nwosu – the man who presided over the election as National Electoral Commission Chairman – also deserves recognition.
The reading of motives – all that talk about timing, the South-West and 2019 – is beside the point. In the South-West, there were many Yoruba anti-June 12 elements who refused to acknowledge Abiola as the symbol and focal point of the restoration of democracy in Nigeria, and who may still be indifferent today. Timing – it is better late than never. 2019 – there is no strong indication that this would have any significant effect on the voting numbers in 2019.
The Nigerian voter may not be as stupid as we often think he or she is.