El-Rufai’s ‘two-country’ lie By Abimbola Adelakun

Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, spoke at the Northern Youth Summit organised to deliberate on developing northern Nigeria. He painted a picture of Nigeria’s defective growth and development. El-Rufai said two countries presently inhabit the womb of Nigeria and while northern Nigeria ranks the same as war-torn Afghanistan, southern Nigeria is “developing.” His speech was full of other ethnic-tinged howlers, and curiously, that was where he stopped. He did not get to the part where he reflected on the role the elite like him played in the fate of the North.
Truly, the worst-hit states in almost all the measurements of growth and development are in northern Nigeria, and that is not surprising. Years of militant convictions, of religious doctrines and abysmal leadership have birthed a concatenation of poverty, diseases, terror, violence, banditry, drug abuse, and other indices of social breakdown. El-Rufai is right that Nigeria’s weight of poverty, illiteracy and other indices of underdevelopment sag in the North. Whatever hope one has that Nigeria can overcome its challenges is usually dashed by taking just a cursory look at the northern situation. The region has been a quasi-war zone with the North-East a theatre of war since Boko Haram’s 2009 uprising. The North, however, is not monolithic neither is Nigeria’s underdevelopment limited to that region; almost every Nigerian is a victim of Nigeria!
El-Rufai said other things, some of them factual enough. At the same time, we should be careful about a complacent narrative that pits a “backward North” with “developing South.” This dichotomous rhetoric should give us pause. Notice that “developing” is in the present tense? That gives the impression that the South is undergoing some economic rejuvenation and social refurbishment that is being denied the North. Words are powerful, and in a tribalised polity such as ours, they also have policy implications. When those words are uttered by someone like el-Rufai, we need to be circumspect and even paranoid. In 2016, Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, also contrasted the “two countries” inhabiting Nigeria saying, “poverty wears a northern cap,” while the South is “more stable and prosperous.” These look like a chain of spin narratives by political actors to eventually dispossess other longsuffering Nigerians what they have achieved in their region in spite of atrocious Nigerian leadership.
Why is the lamentation about the northern condition coming up at the time general sensibility has it that Nigeria is being Islamised and “Fulanised”? The managers of Nigeria’s affairs have not tackled the perception that undergirds the reality of Fulani hegemony. They have instead doubled down on their clannish proclivities. Now, el-Rufai wants us to believe that southern Nigeria has a comparative advantage over the North? No, there is no “developing South” anywhere; all of us are jointly diminished by the leadership class. Southern Nigeria too suffers from the problem of poverty, ill-literacy, and poor infrastructure.
Nigeria has failed to grow and develop like any other country where the elite are more concerned with state capture for their friends; where rentier mentality informs revenue generation, and the politics of religion subtends policies and projects. From the South to the North, the Nigerian tale is that of poverty, dilapidation, and abject waste of human resources. If el-Rufai had looked well enough, he would have seen that even the South suffers from a chronic lack of infrastructure and resources. Southern Nigeria is at the lowest ebb in the history of modern Nigeria. The only thing that has grown is the population, and at an exponential rate that cannot be sustained by available infrastructure. From schools to hospitals, public infrastructure, and social welfare, southern Nigeria lives on past glory. The federal roads that pass by my childhood home in Ibadan, constructed over 40 years ago, have not received a single tar in more than 20 years. The manufacturing industries that we grew up with are long moribund, and most families today do not have enough to survive let alone boast disposable income. In terms of revenue, Lagos State is the outlier and even what they generate disappears into the sinkhole of corruption and incompetence. The state of their infrastructure does not reflect the level of resources they generate.
So, where did el-Rufai see “developing South”?
We should not get carried away with the misery of the “backward North” benchmarked against the “developing South” and allow el-Rufai to get away with tales that lack introspection. If the North is sinking because of its social troubles, it is because its leaders – including el-Rufai – prefer it that way. There is a reason the northern states fund religious pilgrimages and mass weddings (to boost reproduction) ahead of education and health. Recently, the Buhari administration reversed itself on the purported almajiri ban and none of them was struck by the urgency of the almajiri situation to protest. One even wonders why an administration known for not keeping promises bothered to contradict itself when it could just not back its announcement with action. By merely announcing a ban, the administration must have rattled the elite so much it had to reassure them by publicly backtracking. One can only imagine what the proposed ban did to the political and religious establishments whose privileges are built with the blood and flesh of almajiri children.
After President Goodluck Jonathan lost the election in 2015, former Kano State governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, boasted that it was their almajiri children they mobilised to win the election. As far as Kwankwaso and co are concerned, their wretched of the earth are bred so their thumbs could be harvested. It means nothing to them that those children are one of the reasons Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. They have no plan for neither their present nor their future. They keep their almajiri class unhealthy in both body and mind so they perpetually serve the feudal elite. That is why, despite all the lamentations of el-Rufai, he did not ascribe blame where it belongs.
Finally, let me emphasise that in this season of post-truths, we should be wary of seemingly obvious truths, especially those that proceed from the mouths of politicians. El-Rufai is an influential politician, and he only needs to repeat the myth of a northern region that is disadvantaged compared to its southern counterpart before it becomes a refrain. Before you know it, the propaganda of “developing South” vs. “backward North” will gain so much ground they will launch a policy that will cannibalise the South to divert resources to the northern region.
El-Rufai rightly recognised that the North has a “demographic superiority” over the South. That means they have the political leverage to successfully wangle an agenda that will favour a section of the country against the other. Northern politicians dominate power at the federal level. The southern politicians are bought over, and their most radical response to issues is to nod in acquiescence to “orders from above” like hand-operated toys. It was before our very eyes that President Muhammadu Buhari told the World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, to put the North first in its developmental programmes. That can happen again if they keep up with the rhetoric of “North vs. South.” While we can argue that indeed, the North-East particularly needs some welfare package to level up with the rest of the country after its debilitating wars, we should also not forget that many of the resources that have been sent there in the past ended up in private pockets. Nothing has changed anywhere. El-Rufai and his cohort of politicians need to be informed that there is no “developing South” anywhere. There is only one country – Nigeria – and we have all been jointly disadvantaged by the visionless leadership.

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Rugga and Ranching: The unnecessary Controversy by IkonAllah

IkonAllah

For clear understanding of the issues involved we must first delve into definitions

According to a definition from dictionary.com, Ranching is

“an establishment maintained for raising livestock under range conditions.”

Wikipedia is more in dept:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranch

ranch is an area of land, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of
ranching , the practice of raising grazing
livestock such as cattle or sheep for meat or wool. The word most often applies to livestock-raising operations in Mexico, Africa, the Western United States and Western Canada, though there are ranches in other areas. People who own or operate a ranch are called ranchers , cattlemen , or stock growers . Ranching is also a method used to raise less common livestock such as elk,
American bison or even ostrich , emu , and
alpaca .
Ranches generally consist of large areas, but may be of nearly any size. In the western United States, many ranches are a combination of privately owned land supplemented by grazing leases on land under the control of the federal
Bureau of Land Management or the United States Forest Service . If the ranch includes
arable or irrigated land, the ranch may also engage in a limited amount of farming , raising crops for feeding the animals, such as hay and feed grains.
Ranches that cater exclusively to tourists are called guest ranches or, colloquially , ” dude ranches.” Most working ranches do not cater to guests, though they may allow private hunters or
outfitters onto their property to hunt native wildlife. However, in recent years, a few struggling smaller operations have added some dude ranch features, such as horseback rides, cattle drives or guided hunting, in an attempt to bring in additional income. Ranching is part of the iconography of the ” Wild West ” as seen in
Western movies and rodeos

Further research on Fulani people on wikipedia shows that

Settled Fulani live in villages, towns and cities permanently and have given up nomadic life completely, in favor of an urban one. These processes of settlement, concentration and military conquest led to the existence of organized and long Established communities of Fulani, varying in size from small villages to towns. Today, some major Fulani towns include:
Labé , Pita , Mamou and Dalaba in Guinea, Kaedi ,
Matam and Podor in Senegal and Mauritania,
Bandiagara , Mopti , Dori , Gorom-Gorom and Djibo in Mali and Burkina Faso, on the bend of the Niger, and Birnin Kebbi, Gombe , Yola , Digil ,
Jalingo , Mayo Belwa, Mubi , Maroua ,
Ngaoundere , Girei and Garoua in the countries of Cameroon and Nigeria, in most of these communities, the Fulani are usually perceived as a ruling class .

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fula_peoplehistory and ways of fulani

How did we go from ranches to rugga which both mean the same thing in English and Fulani?

Personally i believe the Federal Government should not dabble into matters that can be handled by states and local Governments because it has enough on its plate with issues like security and defense, creating jobs for our youths through private sector partnership,and formulating policies that will promote economic growth.

The farmer herders conflict is a result of long neglect of simple responsibilities allowed to fester because politics is allowed to determine purely economic issues. Like every business venture livestock farming is not a Government responsibility but special grants can be provided to boost activities because of their economic contribution to GDP.

If Government can intervene in supporting Poultry owners, fish farming and crop production through programs like the central bank anchor borrowers scheme and other programs by former governments like the Cassava initiative by the Goodluck Jonathan and Obasanjo administration, then i see nothing wrong in cattle herders being supported like above stated examples.

What baffled me is why the federal government decided to rename ranches as rugga which is a Fulani word. Consultations and Selling the idea of ranching was ongoing and was reaching some form of acceptance from major stakeholders before we changed the name to Rugga settlement. I believe this singular act has led to the needless controversy overheating the polity with its attendant consequences. The federal Govt should return to status quo ante on ranching by allowing interested states and LGAs interested in ranching to continue to process and provide support where necessary through programs like the Anchor borrowers scheme for farmers which can be expanded to include herders.

Boko Haram: Buratai under attack for blaming soldiers culled from Punch Newspaper NG

Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, on Wednesday came under attack for blaming “inadequate commitment of troops on the front line of the insurgency war” for the resurgence of Boko Haram attacks.
Prominent groups, individuals and political parties expressed shock over the statement by Buratai who said there was inadequate commitment by soldiers involved in the war against insurgents.
Buratai had on Tuesday blamed soldiers at the frontlines for the recent setbacks in the war against Boko Haram.
He had said, “It is unfortunate, but the truth is that almost every setback the Nigerian Army has had in our operations in recent times can be traced to insufficient willingness to perform assigned tasks or simply insufficient commitment to a common national and military course by those at the frontlines.”
But groups and individuals including the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project, the Peoples Democratic Party, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze, and a Second Republic politician, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said President Muhammadu Buhari should sack him and all the service chiefs. They claimed his statement would not only demotivate the troops, it also showed that Buratai lacked the capacity to head the Nigerian Army.
CAS can’t vouch for his troops’ integrity – SERAP
SERAP and the CDHR, in separate interviews with The PUNCH called on Buhari to reconsider the collective public opinion and re-jig the security architecture by replacing the service chiefs.
The SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, while reacting to the army chief’s comment, said, “What I think should happen is that the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has to replace the security chiefs. This is because once a war goes on and you are not able to do what is expected of you, I think you probably need a replacement. New officers with a new set of ideas will be brought on board. This is very important.
“If the commander cannot vouch for the integrity and seriousness of his troops, then I think that commander should be allowed to go.”
His statement is grave – CDHR
Also, the CDHR National President, Malachy Ugwummadu, said, “This is a very grave and authoritative statement coming from no less a security top actor than the army chief. The Buhari administration should look no further in ascertaining the reality of affairs on the ground.
“I believe that Nigeria can no longer suffer under the weight of aggressive attacks. If the army chief is aware and has done very little or nothing to stop it, then it means that the conspiracy is not only in the frontlines but also in the hierarchy of the army leadership itself.”
Sack Buratai, other service chiefs, PDP, CUPP, Yakasai tell Buhari
Similarly, opposition parties including the Peoples Democratic Party, Zenith Labour Party and Coalition of United Political Parties on Wednesday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the service chiefs over renewed Boko Haram attacks, rising kidnapping and banditry as well as the general insecurity in some parts of the country.
The PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Diran Odeyemi, in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja said it was worrisome that after budgeting huge sum of money to tackle Boko Haram and kidnapping, insecurity was still high in the country.
He said, “The leadership of these security outfits need to be questioned…If the head of Daura community could be kidnapped, who else is safe in this country? We are not safe. The United Kingdom just gave a directive to its nationals that Nigeria is not safe for them to visit. This is very unfortunate. We call on Buhari to declare a state of emergency in security and act fast.
“The service chiefs should be sacked with immediate effect. They deserve to be sacked. He should sack all of them.”
Also, the National Chairman of the ZLP, Chief Dan Nwanyanwu, stated that the growing insecurity in some parts of the country was worrisome and alarming.
He said, “Of course, the tenure of the service chiefs has expired and the job has become monotonous for them. There are young military officers who want to prove that they can do something and they must be given the chance.”
He stated that state police should be established to improve security.
The spokesman of CUPP, Mr Imo Ugochinyere, in an interview with one of our correspondents called for the sack of the security chiefs, adding that Buhari should tell Nigerians the truth about his alleged inability to address the security challenges of the country.
He said, “You can see the Chief of Army Staff telling us that the morale of some of the troops is low… First of all, the President should sack those incompetent people who are heading the security agencies.
These people have been heading these agencies for the last three or four years. The first responsibility of any government is the security and welfare of the citizens. Let him sack them first and then declare a state of emergency. Everything is not politics. Tell the nation the truth that this war, you are not winning.”
He has lost control of his troops – ex-Director of DSS
In his view, a former Director of the Department of State Services, Mike Ejiofor, said, “If the army chief actually meant this statement, that means he has lost control of the troops. There must be something responsible. It may be that they no longer have confidence in him and this is very dangerous. Besides, this statement is capable of demoralising the fighting troops. Officers and soldiers are being killed and barracks are being attacked. There must be something fundamentally wrong.
“The President appointed the service chiefs. We can have our opinions. If the man feels they are not doing well, then it is time for a change.”
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Mr. Chuks Ibegbu, said the group feared something was wrong with the war in the North-East.
He said, “The army must be in internal contradiction or tired of the war. Whatever it is, Mr President needs to investigate the challenges facing the army and the root causes.”
Buhari needs a new team – Yakasai
On his part, Yakasai urged the President to admit that his strategies for fighting the Boko Haram insurgency had failed.
Yakasai, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, on Wednesday, said, “It is disheartening to hear from no less a person than the Chief of Army Staff that the army which he commands is to blame for recent losses in the battle field.
“That the head of an army that is the backbone of the fight is making such a statement is disappointing. Before President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015, the Boko Haram insurgency was our main security challenge.
“Today, four years down the line, Boko Haram is still strong despite claims to the contrary by those in government. We have no less than five other active serious security challenges confronting us, instead of reducing, our security challenges have multiplied.
“The President must admit that his strategy has failed and that he needs to return to the drawing board by first, changing his security team-perhaps the new team will come with bright new ideas to deal with the problem.”
Buratai’s statement, an attempt to blame soldiers for his failure – CSO
In the same vein, the Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy flayed Buratai for blaming his troops for the slow pace of the war against insurgency, saying he was merely attempting to shift responsibility for his failure.
The CDND Convener, Arito-Dare Atoye, said it was obvious to Nigerians that the military leadership had no strategy to the insurgency, noting that Buratai had not demonstrated quality leadership.
He stated, “Buratai’s statement is also a disservice to the young male and female military officers who have paid the supreme price simply because their families are still mourning their loss. He is not doing the right thing and the war is not progressing as expected.
“The President should do the needful and change the guard. The current military leadership has run out of ideas. Buratai cannot give to Nigeria what it needs to defeat Boko Haram. He should be allowed to retire, he shouldn’t blame the soldiers for his failures.”
Also, a retired military officer and lawyer, Johnson Oyewole, said Buratai’s statement was uncalled for, adding that it could demoralise the troops, many of whom he said, had lost their lives to insurgency.
Oyewole said, “President Buhari should ensure that sophisticated weapons are supplied to the officers and soldiers to boost their morale. Their welfare should also be looked into; the N49,000 salary being paid to private soldiers is grossly inadequate.”
Pay attention to troops’ welfare, ACF tells Army chief
However, the pan-northern socio-political organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, said for the fight against the Boko Haram to succeed, the welfare of troops must not be toyed with by military authorities.
Although the forum acknowledged that the statement was an honest assessment by Buratai because he knew them (the troops) better, it noted that factors such as troops’ welfare should be adequately taken care of.
This, the ACF said, would motivate the soldiers to perform better.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Alhaji Muhammad Ibrahim-Biu, told one of our correspondents that with adequate welfare coupled with professionalism and patriotism, troops’ performance on the battlefield would be enhanced.
He said, “The statement credited to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, that “apathy among young generation of soldiers has caused recent setbacks in the fight against insurgency is in my opinion an honest assessment by the Chief of Army Staff who knows the soldiers better.
“It is in realisation of this that the Army organised a transformational leadership workshop to enhance officers and troops’ professionalism and efficiency.
“However, factors like adequate equipment, troops’ welfare and logistics are necessary ingredients in addition to professionalism and patriotism which the Army should pay attention to for effective performance.” – Punch.

June 12 is at the soul of our democratic struggle; a threshold in our national life by Atiku Abubakar Gcon

. #DemocracyDay
The significance of the celebration of June 12, 1993, Presidential Election is a reminder of our history to becoming a democratic country. On this day twenty-six years ago, Nigeria voted for democracy against the jackboot notion of oppressive totalitarianism.
The collective decision by Nigerians to elect democracy on that day was not to aggrandize the political elite or to replace the military dictatorship with civilian autocracy. No! The choice of democracy was to restore power to the people.
Suffice it to state that the idea of June 12 is not merely to declare it as a Democracy Day – much as celebratory and commendable it might seem. The idea behind the event of June 12, 1993, embodies something much bigger than that.
It is not enough to declare June 12 a Democracy Day when the government of the day is disrespectful of the rule of law and wantonly disregards court orders on issues that border on fundamental human rights.
It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when the ordinary people of Nigeria still don’t have the freedom to find a better life from the suffocating grip of poverty, when Nigeria is now the global headquarters of extreme poverty.
It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when a disproportionate number of citizens are not sure of where their next meal will come from and when the sanctity of their lives is not guaranteed.
It is not enough to declare June 12 a work-free day when freedom of the press, and of speech, fundamentals of democracy is being assailed.
As a compatriot who stood shoulder to shoulder with the icon of the June 12 struggle, Chief MKO Abiola of blessed memory, I know first-hand that the choice of HOPE as his campaign slogan wasn’t merely a populist tokenism.
He didn’t mean to deceive Nigerians with a hope he could not deliver upon. And, today, the minimum requirement for any June 12 convert is to demand of them wherever they may be – either in government or in private lives – to deliver on the promises they made to the people.
It is therefore unacceptable that an administration which had an opportunity of 4 years to deliver the promise of change to Nigerians, not only reneged on that promise but propelled the country into a near-comatose state will lay claims to being a true friend of June 12 struggle.
To be a lover of June 12 is to believe in the common good of the people. June 12 is about the political leadership having the focus to retool the Nigerian economy.
It is about having the skills to create wealth and jobs for the teeming mass of unemployed. It is not about the inclination for shared pains; it is about shared prosperity.
As we celebrate yet another episode of the June 12 struggle, the desire for hope is more preponderant today much as it was twenty-six years ago. So, for all true lovers of democracy, let us keep the HOPE alive.

June 12: The Truth that Sets Democracy Free in Our Land by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Jagaban

In the statement the APC leader said observing May 29 as Democracy Day delinks the country’s democratic experience since 1999 from the protracted and bitter struggle against military dictatorship from June 12, 1993, till the exit of the military in 1999.

“Without those who stoutly stood on June 12 and sacrificed life, limb, freedom, economic ruin, psychological devastation and more in the battle against tyranny, there would most certainly not have been any May 29, 1999, handover to commemorate.

“Nigerians do not take the democracy we enjoy today for granted or do anything to threaten its existence because it was not won on a peaceful and comfortable “platter of gold.

“The power of truth to set men free from the limiting chains of falsehood and limiting superstitions is one of the most poignant spiritual verities that has proven to be valid across time and space over the last two millennia.

“In the realm of politics, the most fundamental truth that man has discovered is that power can be the handmaiden of progress and accelerated development only if it flows from the will of the electorate as determined in regular, free, fair and credible elections.

“This is why, in spite of its many flaws and failings, man is yet to invent a form of government superior to democracy – the famed government of the people, by the people and for the people.

“It is thus understandable and indeed justified that Nigerians are elated that the country has recorded 20 years of unbroken democratic rule since 1999.

“Today, we commemorate the country’s emergent democracy in a way that is certainly more spiritually fulfilling and psychologically satisfying than has ever been the case since 1999.

“For, thanks to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the assent of the National Assembly, we are for the first time today celebrating our democracy as a nation on a historic day, June 12, which coincides with the day that the seed of today’s democratic sprouting was sown 26 years ago.

“What we had been commemorating on May 29th of every year since the democratic restoration of 1999 has been the day of the handover of power from the military regime to the elected civilian administration.

“Observing May 29 as democracy day delinks the country’s democratic experience since 1999 from the protracted and bitter struggle against military dictatorship from June 12, 1993, till the forced exit of the military in 1999.

“Without those who stoutly stood on June 12 and sacrificed life, limb, freedom, economic ruin, psychological devastation and more in the battle against tyranny, there would most certainly not have been any May 29, 1999, handover to commemorate.

“The democracy we enjoy today was not won on a peaceful and comfortable “platter of gold”.
‘’It was not gifted to Nigerians by a benevolent military regime. It is the product of the sweat, tears, blood, pain, toil and anguish of millions of Nigerians. That is why we can never afford to take it for granted or do anything to threaten its existence.

“June 12 must serve as a continual reminder to Nigerians on the imperative of pursuing the cause of justice in all spheres of our lives at all times as a necessary condition for peace, prosperity and progress.

‘’As we kick off from today the annual celebration of June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day, let us renew our commitment to utilizing democracy as a vehicle for eliminating poverty in our land as well as providing prosperity and life more abundant for the teeming millions of our people.

“It was indeed his deep aversion to poverty and the avoidable suffering of the majority of our people that compelled Chief MKO Abiola to contest Nigeria’s presidency and thus his campaign slogan was “Farewell to Poverty”. The problem of poverty remains primal and fundamental in our land today.

‘’Indeed, at the root of the severe existential challenges, which confront the country today such as religious extremism, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, cultism, ritual killing, armed, robbery, communal violence and herdsmen/farmers clashes among other is the protracted economic crisis that has worsened poverty, unemployment and inequality in Nigeria over the last four decades.

“It is indeed incumbent on us all, particularly those in positions of authority at all levels, to vigorously support President Muhammadu Buhari administration as it invests massively and on an unprecedented scale in the renewal and expansion of infrastructure as well as its various social intervention programmes aimed at uplifting the vast majority of our people out of dehumanizing poverty, political instability and insecurity.

“We must take concerted efforts to banish poverty from Nigeria. To rid Nigeria of poverty is indeed a task that must be done. As the historic restoration of June 12 to its proper place by the Buhari administration sets democracy free to soar in our land, let us rededicate ourselves to the challenge of utilizing democracy to set Nigeria free from poverty.

“God bless our fatherland”

MR PRESIDENT, MAY WE DISCUSS YOUR CABINET? By Simon Kolawole

Your Excellency,

I want to seize this opportunity to wish you the best of the Ramadan season as you prepare to be inaugurated for your second term in office. May the lessons of Ramadan — especially the aspects of sacrifice and service to God and humankind — guide your next steps as the leader of this potentially great country called Nigeria. I have many complaints about your first four years in office, some of which I have written about in this space, but I would rather let the past be gone and hope for a new chapter as you renew your mandate on May 29. But I also have many things to say ahead of the next four years, some of which I will be writing about in the coming weeks.

Can we first talk about your ministers, Mr President? Before I proceed, I have a sad story to tell you. I was a fierce supporter of the candidature of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo at the dawn of this democratic era in 1999. I campaigned for him in my little corner, believing that he had the capacity and the goodwill to take Nigeria to the right place. I believed he was not corrupt, and was further energised by his promise to fight graft if he was elected into office. I was also fascinated that he could keep the military guys in check so that we would consolidate our new experience of democracy. I voted for him even though my political sympathies were elsewhere.

On his inauguration at the Eagle Square on May 29, 1999, Obasanjo delivered a powerful speech, promising to fight corruption. At some point he stamped his foot on the platform to demonstrate his determination. He said it would no longer be “business as usual”. Good God, I was over the moon! I said finally, Nigeria was going somewhere after the devastating years of Gen. Sani Abacha. To tell the truth, Your Excellency, police officers stopped collecting their N20 tribute from commercial bus drivers at checkpoints. Civil servants started resuming work at 8am. Everybody seemed to take Obasanjo seriously. It definitely looked like the dawn of a new era. But it was short-lived.

As soon as Obasanjo appointed his first cabinet and named Chief Tony Anenih as the minister of works, my heart broke into pieces. That singular gesture proved to me that Obasanjo was joking about fighting corruption. At that point, I gave up on Obasanjo. It was not about Anenih per se, but I tend to analyse people’s intentions by their actions. It was a foreboding signal. If Obasanjo had made Anenih special adviser on political affairs or minister of cooperation in Africa, I would not have minded. But ministry of works is too central for any government to use for political patronage, so I immediately understood Obasanjo’s direction. It was a sad story. It broke my spirit.

Now, Mr President, let me say here that I will pre-judge your second term by the ministerial appointments you make after your inauguration. First, I have asked my fasting Muslim friends to help pray that we would not wait for another six months for a cabinet and they have assured me that they would spare no “rakat” in doing that. You are aware your delay in naming a cabinet in 2015 did no favours to the economy. I would even say we are yet to recover from the damage this inflicted on the system. That period was so critical to the repair of many economic fundamentals that would later shape the exchange rate and worsen inflation, unemployment and poverty.

Mr President, I will now be straightforward: if you retain certain ministers, I will finally give up on your government. I have seen enough reasons to lose faith but there is this never-say-die spirit that keeps me hoping even when it does not make sense. That is in my DNA. I have, however, been gravely worried that most of the ministers have been saying quietly that they are returning. In fact, I am told more than half of your cabinet will be re-appointed. I hope this is a joke, Mr President. Tell me it’s a joke, Mr President. Assure me, Mr President, that this is a joke. This is a cabinet you should have dissolved years ago! How on earth would they be retained? Say it ain’t so, Mr President.

Your Excellency, if you retain Mallam Abubakar Malami as your minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, I will finally give up on you. It will show that you are not getting the memo or there is something you are not telling us. One of the most important cabinet positions in a civilised society is that of the attorney-general. In fact, that is the only ministerial position mentioned in the constitution. The position is too critical and too powerful to be toyed with. A president will never get sound and frank legal advice if the attorney-general prostrates to greet him. The position requires a cerebral and principled appointee. I will leave it at that.

Mr President, if you appoint election losers as ministers, then I will surrender. One of them is Senator Abiola Ajimobi, the “constituted authority” in Oyo state who lost his bid to return to the senate after spending eight years as governor. Tell me he is not on your list, Mr President. Of course, we know Alhaji Adebayo Shittu will not return as minister. Or will he? No, Mr President, you won’t do that to Nigeria. Neither would you reward Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari with a ministerial appointment after his election as a senator from Zamfara west was annulled by the Supreme Court. I know you have the power to appoint whoever you want, but use that power wisely.

I hope, Your Excellency, that we are not going to see Chief Audu Ogbeh in your cabinet again. If you love him so much, you can send him as ambassador to Thailand so that he can go and regale Thais with his tale that the Asian country is experiencing increasing unemployment because of the “rice revolution” in Nigeria. Ogbeh is very good at embarrassing the country at the slightest opportunity. I hope never to see Solomon Dalung at FEC meetings again, and this has nothing to do with his beret. To cut a long list short, Mr President, if you return more than five ministers, you will be sending a depressing message to Nigerians about your direction in the next four years.

Beyond the issue of individuals to be appointed, Your Excellency, is the need to bring in relevant people into the cabinet to meet the glaring skill deficiency. I cannot believe that you have never appointed an advanced and experienced economist as minister since you came to office. I just cannot believe it — not at a time of our worst economic crisis in decades. We have a ministerial team full of lawyers and not one economist. I don’t understand. This is a great opportunity for you to address the glaring deficiencies in your appointments. It also affords you a golden chance to correct the lopsidedness against some sections, including women and youth.

Mr President, what is keeping your administration going is not the performance of your team but rather the enduring faith in you and the hope that you will eventually come good. But you are as good as the people you assemble to assist you. If he you had IOUs in the first term, you have either discharged them or they have expired. It is now time to prove the growing army of critics and doubters wrong and to reassure the enduring believers that you are on top of your game. You need a brand new team of those whose competence is not in doubt and those who have fire in their bellies. Trust me, Mr President: most of your ministers are fatigued and have nothing more to offer.

If you are bent on doing favours, there are some ministerial slots you cannot afford to joke with. I list them: finance, education, health, defence, petroleum, power, attorney-general, works and interior. Long after you have left the stage, those are the things Nigerians will remember you for. A strong economic team (in which there are indeed economists), a revamped education system, a fit health sector, an infrastructural revolution, an efficient petroleum sector and massively improved internal security will change the fortune of Nigerians if you make them your priorities. All ministers are important, but some are more important than the others.

Finally, Mr President, you must now take your cabinet more seriously. Your “non interference” philosophy, which you take as a strength, is actually a weakness. It is your government. You cannot afford to be aloof! Where is monitoring and evaluation? It would make sense if you fire ministers once in a while. The joke in town is that you are the best employer of labour: you never fire anyone, no matter how woefully they perform! Non-interference has given many ministers the cover to be doing things at odds with the advertised values of your administration, secure in the faith that no one is watching and no one will be punished. Not good, Mr President, not good.

Lest I forget, Mr President, can we have a new way of doing things at the federal executive council? All I hear every Wednesday is that a contract has been awarded to buy dustbins for Damaturu or clear the drainage in Akungba. That is a bit disgusting. Governance is serious business. There should be more to FEC than contract awards. They should be discussing serious policy issues. Let Nigerians look forward to ministerial briefings that will give them confidence that the country is in safe hands and that a great future is loading. All these contract talks are banal. It has been so since 1999. We need a new direction, Your Excellency. Enough of these meaningless routines!

*Meanwhile, until my next letter, please accept, Mr President, the assurances of my best wishes*.

BEING THE TEXT OF AN INAUGURAL SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY RT. HON. AHMADU UMARU FINTIRI ON THE OCCASION OF HIS SWEARING-IN AS GOVERNOR OF ADAMAWA STATE HELD AT THE MAHMUD RIBADU SQUARE ON 29TH MAY, 2019.

HOPE RESTORED:

PROTOCOLS

Permit me to express my profound gratitude to God and to the people of Adamawa State who have made it possible for me to come back as your governor for the next four years.
This historic event taking place today embodies and highlights the heroic sacrifice of patriots and a celebration of the triumph of the will of an embattled and battling people, loudly expressed through the last election.
As a Government of popular consent I am mindful of the honour and the responsibility this has bestowed on me I hereby affirm and declare that hope has been restored, and true change has come to Adamawa State. Let us embrace, as I solemnly pledge to provide the leadership that is required to make this change work for the good of all.
It will be a change that will balance policy and politics; a change that will eschew might over right and treat all citizens as equals; a transformational change that will harness the vast human potentials of the people into attaining and enjoying the dividends of Democracy which have so far eluded them.
A change where security of lives and property of citizens will not be negotiated or compromised.
In doing so, we must put behind us the twisted narratives of the past and break out from our self-imposed limitations realizing that each and every one is a repository of potentials waiting to be tapped and dreams waiting to be actualized.
Politics is over and the stage is now set for the extra ordinary job of making Adamawa State work again.
I am conscious of the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead but someone once said that “the task ahead of us can never be greater than the power that lies within us”.
This means that nothing can stop the momentum of a determined people with a purpose to accomplish.
Today is therefore a call to action in the face of the tremendous support needed to make change a reality for everyone.
How well we respond to this call will determine how far we will go in meeting the expectations.
The journey to Dougirei House has been a long one for me and victory could not have been possible without your support. Those who followed my journey will know the hurdles, the accusations, my incarceration but God Almighty is the ultimate planner who gives power to whom He wills. I did not get this far because I am the best politician or better than the other contestants; I was simply chosen by the Almighty Creator to be your Governor once more.
With your support no mountain will be too high to climb or problem too difficult to surmount. After all, a leader is only as good as the people he leads. As a people, we need each other to progress more than ever before. God has deposited on each of us, a unique personality and talent our diversity should be our greatest strength not weakness.
I do not claim to have all the answers, therefore each and every one who desires to have a say in how the State is governed is welcome to do so but to do so constructively.
On my watch, security of lives and prosperity shall be the primary responsibility of Government, while the rights of citizens justice, equity, merit, competence and diligence shall prevail.
In this regards, let me sound a note of warning to the Local Cult group currently terrorizing our neighbourhood not to test our resolve but to shape up or ship out. The so called Shilla cult group have two weeks to reform as this Government comes to power after which the full complement of the Law will be unleashed against them and other criminals terrorizing our State.
This dispensation shall habour no scared cows neither will we be bullied or intimidated by disgruntled elements seeking to derail the wheels of State craft.
We shall be fair but firm, resolute but considerate.
Never again shall the divide-and-rule policy of the inglorious past determine the deployment of public resources and services.
We shall improve the lot of Adamawa State workers and pensioners and free them from the fear of victimization, the pangs of injustice and abuses; all the direct results of bad governance and wrong decisions. What happened in 2014 was a child play and nothing compared to what will happen now. Payment of salaries, pension and gratuity on time shall be routine as will be yearly increment and promotions.
We shall strive to build a robust harmonious government / labour relationship based on the trust and experiences accumulated over the years.
My fellow citizens, progress in government will not come the day after, just as greater height is not attained by sudden flight, except by the determination, drive and the character for getting things right. My aspiration for Adamawa State is to be listed among the comity of best States not just in Nigeria but the world. My dream is to restore it to its original name and glory as the State of Beauty and Hospitality.
The central message is, think progress, think development, put Adamawa first. Hopefully, we will set the pace and become the standard by which others measure themselves. This is achieveable with your support. I challenge all from today to contribute your quota, no matter how little, towards achieving this development of our dear state. I invite all citizens / residents alike, my dearest Talakawas, our elders, Royal fathers and stakeholders in the Adamawa project to come together to lay a solid foundation that will stand the test of time because this is the only place we have, we have no option but to make it work.
It is heartwarming to see that the people have embraced our eleven point agenda to begin building the new Adamawa State for which they have loudly made their voices heard.
I am glad to assure you that this leadership will be about adding value to the lives of people not taking away from them. Transparency shall be our watchword, fairness and accountability, the new mantra. Never again shall Government be run as a personal estate of a single individual. The fear of God not the fear of man shall be the guiding light of our government; a government that shall do right to all manner of people without fear or favour, affection or ill-will, as the oath of office which we have subscribed to outlines.
We will gradually and systematically implement and sustain our eleven point agenda until Adamawa State shades its toga of a pariah State, a State in which anything goes.
In this dispensation, there will be no quick fixes, short-cuts or actions inspired by fiat but a knowledge driven socially accountable Governance based on global best practices.
Our inability to see ourselves as members of one big family has been the bane of our growth.
We have every right to be proud of who we are as citizens of Adamawa State whose contribution to the political stability of the country at large has long been acknowledged.
Regrettably, a State founded on lofty ideals and hope borne of equal opportunities and real prosperity has been brought down on its knees, gasping for a breath of “Fresh Air”. I therefore invite all sons and daughters of the State who are making their marks in all spheres of human endeavour within and outside the shores of this country, to rally round and support this New Direction Agenda.
I invite each and every citizen who has something to offer to come back home, so that together we can work for the greater Adamawa State of our dreams.
I am sure you all know that it is not so much about how rich our State is, it is about how well we can apply the resources we have to meet the needs of our people.
In this regard, the growing youth population is our greatest asset. We shall harness the strength and creative energies of the youth into a winning formula.
This is not going to be easy given the number of frustrated and shortchanged army of unemployed youth but this is a task our government is committed to accomplish.
We will also work urgently on resuscitating the Health sector and break the jinxs of Educational excellence by investing in Teacher’s welfare, Training and infrastructure. We will revive Primary Health Care for children, empower our women and grant the easy access to effective medical services.
My fellow citizens these programmes I have so far outlined are not just paper work. They are the objectives we are passionate about and the indices to hold us to account. They are also a means of making our pact with the people very clear.
We challenge the electorate to judge us based on extent to which we have fulfilled this pact. Be rest assured that we will strive to give a good account of ourselves, live by our words and not promise what we cannot deliver.
Finally, as we depart forth, let us be prepared to roll-up our sleeves for the job of building a State that works for everyone, a State in which everywhere and everybody is involved and nowhere is left out.
May the same God who was with us throughout the struggle for this mandate remain with us as we commence the quest to take Adamawa to the promise land.
Thank you and God bless.