Illegal Request Of Morocco To Join The ECOWAS By Femi Falana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Femi Falana,

Senior Advocate of Nigeria

and former President, West African Bar Association.

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Buhari and the Leadership Deficit, By Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú

He jinxed his presidency right from the podium after he was sworn in. He declared: “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”. Since that May 29th, 2015, it has been an avalanche of bungles, failures, and questionable decisions. Many are so distinctive as to merit special acknowledgement, like the herdsmen menace, where the killing fields of Plateau and Benue tells the story. Even the anti-corruption fight has been a mighty bungle. Buhari has made himself an administrator of contemptuous silence. He has proven it to us once again, that leaders are not created equal; that someone holds a position of leadership, does not mean he should. Below is his scorecard, two years into his presidency.

What Was Buhari’s Vision?

Buhari had no vision, he had a mission. His mission was to become the president of Nigeria again. He did and that was it! Nigerians invested their hopes and aspirations in him after being battered by years of neglect and Jonathan’s assault on their psyche; these confused Buhari further and complicated his Messianic complex. In his confusion, aided by his surprising unpreparedness, he made himself the vision. That is, Buhari the ascetic and Lord of integrity. Critics may wish to point to his anti-corruption fight. No! For Buhari, that is a goal. It was his thing. A goal is different from a vision. A vision is long ranging; a plan for the future, executed in the present with imagination and wisdom. Does his anti-corruption fight fit this definition? The answer is no! He has no vision. If he has, he did not sell it. He did not get our buy-in. We gave our buy-in, even when we did not understand the vision. If it was a vision at all in his own mind, it is poor in quality, tunneled and inarticulate, and that was how it became a goal. To some of us, his months of prevarication in selecting his ministers and the eventual ‘more of the same’ list, spoke to us. Leaders without vision always fail. A poor, tunneled, and inarticulate vision cannot inspire a nation, motivate performance, or create sustainable value. Poor vision, tunnel vision, inarticulate vision, or a non-existent vision will cause a leader to fail, as we are beginning to see. As if under a spell, Buhari appointed his political enemies to positions of value where they could blunt and bungle his plans. His justice department is nothing to write home about. Corruption cases are prosecuted to fail. There is no alignment between his appointees around a clear and achievable goal.

Past Performance Is Not a Certain Indicator of Future Performance

As humans, we take a long-term track record of success as reliable indicators of performance. So it was with us and Buhari. We placed so much on his integrity and strict short stint as military head of state without giving enough weight to other contributing factors. If we did, “President” Abba Kyari would not have been a surprise. President Buhari confirmed the stock broker’s cliché; past performance is not always a certain indicator of future performance.

Lack of Curiosity

Our president has a disabling lack of curiosity. Perhaps, we should expect that from an old man but we have seen great leaders who took their countries out of the doldrums despite their age. The best leaders in the world know they don’t have to be the smartest but they must be willing to learn quickly; they are profoundly aware of how much they do not know but are ready to learn. President Buhari is not curious about the pains, challenges and problems of this country. He seem totally unaware of the huge problems of governance in a nation characterised by escalating poverty, an exploding population, unemployment, lack of infrastructure and disease. Our president lacks intellectual curiosity. He is not growing, and leaders who are not growing cannot lead a growing country successfully.

The King of Contemptuous Silence

These are tough times! A president must communicate his plans to those who elected him at all times. He must take his case to the Nigerian people. Communication is more pertinent at times like this, as a balm to soothe throbbing wounds. The president does not speak. He does not communicate. He is the silent king and the king of contemptuous silence. His communications team members are insufferable arrogant men whose language is condescension. Up till now, there is not a word about the president’s illness. No one in the adminstration is communicating effectively in constituencies across the country. All they throw at us are vapid statements that betrays a dearth of good thinkers and listeners, who know when to dial it up, down, or put it off. In Buhari’s presidency, there exists a crisis of leadership and communications

General Without Troops

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A leader must be careful who s/he lets through the front door. The reason behind this is not far fetched. People bring their traits, attitudes, and work ethics along with them. President Buhari chose people who brought contagion to his administration. Last week, APC political leaders in the South-West fired the first salvo of an open political field in 2019. A political grenade, that was, to watchers of politics. It is shameful that a man who did well as brigadier general, has now become a general without troops. A powerful coalition was put together for him to win the presidency. He won and shredded it by acquiescence and nonchalance in a rare combo. He handed his mandate to President Abba Kyari and Chancellor Mamman Daura. Where was Abba Kyari when we were working hard, campaigning for Buhari? Unfortunately, Buhari’s proclivity for provincialism made him appoint those who disdain his life of integrity and asceticism to the detriment of those who worked hard for his victory. He destroyed the coalition that brought him to power. The party is in disarray, unfunded, with vultures circling it, waiting for its eventual death. It is a blight and an indictment that many people within his own party are warming up to contest the party primaries with him. A good party leader should run by unanimous adoption.

On this 17th day of October 2017, the only pass mark I am willing to give President Buhari is returning relative peace and quiet to the North-East. Two years on, we are yet to see the courageous leadership we thought a man of his age, training and experience would bring to governance. We elected him, hoping he will have the courage to break from the norm; we thought he would challenge the status quo; we believed, rather naively, that he would seek new opportunities, make the tough decisions, stand for every Nigerian rather than his section of the country, and remain true to his core values of honesty and integrity. He hasn’t done any of these. These are stuff for courageous leaders. Courage is having the conviction to do the right thing when it would have been fine to do things right. Buhari is not even going things right. He is haphazard. Without courage, leadership is a farce.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo

​Co-Relation between Democracy, Poverty and Insurgency in  Nigeria By Umar Ardo, Ph.D

                                          
The popular saying of the South American priest that “the poor cannot sleep because they are hungry and the rich cannot sleep because the poor are awake” has a menacingly poignant relevance to the current insecurity, insurgency and separatist tendencies in Nigeria. Ever since the return of democratic rule in 1999, the country has witnessed upsurge in civil strives and outright armed insurgencies to the point that today we can assert, most unfortunately, that our country is uncertain. From the multiple ethnic militias, ravaging armed banditries, Niger Delta militants, the Boko Haram insurgency to the current IPOB/Biafra separatist movement, Nigeria has had no semblance of peace ever since. Not that the country had enjoyed absolute peace before, but the severity and intensity of the current insecurity and separatist tendencies in virtually all parts of the country is way out of all proportions to anything we saw since the end of the civil war in 1970. Nigerians today have become so wild against each other that the sanctity of human life has completely lost its essence amongst us. To kill one another, and to call for more killings of one another, have now become the vogue of our daily way of life. Whether the reasons for these genocidal murders are political, religious, economic, environmental, settler/indigence squabble, etc., we as a people have proven to the whole wide world that we have not grown beyond the instinct of wild animals.  What a great pity! What a shame!!
In contrast, since 1999, Nigerians are being promised and assured of good life by our politicians seeking public offices. Under the generic parlance of “dividends of democracy”, we are being promised high standard of living – i.e. assured peace, security, education, healthcare, power, clean potable water, economic prosperity, political rights and freedom, transparency and honesty in leadership, etc. Understandably, yearning for such ‘high standard of living’, Nigerians trusted their political class, joined ranks to fight for the entrenchment of democracy and embraced their politicians. In other words, we elected our politicians into public offices in the hope that they will bring forth positive changes to our lives. How so disappointed Nigerians today have become!
While the ‘democratic constitution’ of the county, buoyed by international human rights environment, has brought in liberty, rights and freedom to individuals and groups in the country, the entrenched governments, both of the past PDP’s and the present APC’s, woefully failed to bring to fruition the promised ‘high standard of living’ expected by to the citizenry. On the contrary, what citizens got was large scale and wide spread of poverty and hardship across the land, chiefly brought about by poor or failed public policies, high level of corruption and dishonesty on the part of the very politicians elected into public offices, election and electoral malpractices by practitioners, a compromised and insincere judiciary, among many other vices in public service. Furthermore, in so short a time, there emerged a glaring disparity in the earnings and living standards amongst citizens never seen before in the history of economic and social mobility anywhere in the world; such that today in Nigeria less that 2% of Nigerians (most of whom are the very politicians we elected) own and control over 98% of the national wealth, while more than 98% of the citizens struggle daily to survive on less than 2% of the country’s resources. Worse of all, as these policies are seen being facilitated, driven and implemented by the political class over the years, naturally there is today no love lost between the people and politicians. Here then lies the real source of our social insecurity, armed insurgencies and separatist tendencies across the country.
As rightly maintained by Ted Gurr, a world renowned Criminologist, “when expectations go up and realities go down, men rebel”. For all the facts have shown that the insurgencies in the country, whether militants and militias in the South, the internecine ethnic fratricide in the Middle Belt, the Boko Haram in the North or the Biafran agitation in the East, are basically the results of failed expectations of improved living standard by Nigerians under democratic rule. Contrasting the personal and collective freedom and liberty of citizens ushered in through constitutional democracy with the failed promises and expectations of economic and social improvements of the standard of living of the citizens, one then sees clearly the seeds of crises being sown in our society. Add the polarization and great disparity of wealth among citizens, the overt and insensitive corruption by public servants, the increasing widespread of poverty and deprivation within the vast majority of the people, the extreme forms of election frauds by incumbent leaders, etc., relations between the government and the governed invariably have to come under severe stress. As it turned out to be, because our local civic cultures are unable to withstand the stresses and strains of these social, economic and political pressures, these naturally breed disappointment, despair and despise. It then takes very little for civil resistance to go virulent. Here then again lies the proper explanation of the various insurgencies and separatism ravaging our country today. Hence it makes no sense to debate whether these are ethnic, political, socioeconomic or religious. The answer is they are all of the above.  
To resolve these problems, the government must try to understand their fundamental underpinnings, rather than allow unwarranted sentiments of fringe groups of politicians, or even main stream interest groups, like the irredentist ethnic, sectional or religious sects, to poison the atmosphere with wild and virulent claims and accusations. The fundamental challenge is for the government to resolve the two most critical elements to these separatist tendencies – i.e. the economic, political and social elements. On the economic level, the government must find ways and means of decentralizing economic opportunities and national resources in such a way as to bridge this unacceptable wide gap between the rich and the poor amongst our citizens. On the political side, the government must freely open the political space, institute credible electoral process both at the party and general levels, by creating level playing fields in politics where incumbents do not invariably win all elections anyhow, shun winner-takes-all tendency governance and make government an all-inclusive affair. On the social side, the government must strengthen public authorities in all aspects of life by enforcing all laws, rules and regulations. No person or authority must circumvent any law or regulation, micro or macro; thus engraining public obedience and enhancing societal orderliness. Applying these measures would invariably help prevent system breakdown.
Without us getting such economic policies, democratic tenets and social practices in place at the community, Local Government, State and Federal levels we cannot halt and prevent individual and group revolts against the establishment. Not that over the years successive regimes did not come up with policies aimed at achieving these objectives; certainly efforts were made in the past, but they all came to naught. The reason for these failures is simple – inapt policies and strategies were applied, hence failing to give us the results we expect. For us to succeed as a nation will depend on the policies and strategies the government ultimately adopts in pursuit of the desired collective objectives. We therefore need not only appropriate policy options on these three prongs but we also need the right strategy in conceiving and applying such policies. These, undoubtedly, are the plausible ways to resolve the current security and separatist challenges, mitigate the calls for restructuring and achieve national unity, stability and development for our country.  
Note: This edited post was first published in May, 2013.

NNPC Serial Contract Scams: Kachikwu And His Naive Letter To Buhari By Ifeanyi Izeze

How else can one describe the letter of lamentation by the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, to President Muhammadu Buhari on the contracts scam and the serial misdemeanor of the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Maikanti Baru, if not to say it was not only childish but outrightly naive? Is there anything in government that makes even our brightest minds think and act like dullards once they join the cult? What made Kachikwu think the NNPC boss had been acting unilaterally without the full backing and approval of the substantive Petroleum Minister who also doubles as the President of the Federal Republic? Who was supposed to receive this letter and appropriately advise the President? Is it not the Chief of Staff, the same man that removed Kachikwu and installed Baru as the NNPC helmsman? So what was the rationale in taking the case to this same man?

Let’s look at it: in what looked like deterioration of the supremacy tussle between the Minister of State for Petroleum and the NNPC Group Managing Director, the minister wrote a letter to President Buhari accusing the NNPC boss of flagrant violation of due process in the award of contracts and acts of insubordination.

In the letter, titled ‘Re: Matters of insubordination and lack of adherence to due process by the GMD NNPC – Dr. Baru,’ written on August 30, 2017, with reference number HMS/MPR/001/VOL.1/100, Kachikwu alleged that the NNPC boss had repeatedly sidelined and disrespected the board of the national oil firm, which is chaired by the minister of state.

Listing his prayers to the President, the minister noted among other things that “we save NNPC and the oil industry from collapse arising from the above non-transparent practices and empower the board you inaugurated to do the needful.”

He continued, “That you save the office of the minister of state from further humiliation and disrespect by compelling all parastatals to submit to oversight regulatory mandate and proper supervision which I am supposed to manage on your behalf.”

Did Kachikwu need a reminding to have known that the moment Buhari relieved him of the Chief Executive Officer  position of the NNPC and appointed Baru, and then appointed the NNPC Board of Directors with his Chief of Staff as member, that he has been made completely useless and a mere rubber stamp figure in the entire setup?

To Ibe Kachikwu, good morning! Are you just realizing you’re just a figurehead? Are you just realizing your brain was being picked by the “real Minister of Petroleum” who not only has a different mindset but also running a completely different agenda from whatever good intention you think you have for both NNPC and the nation’s entire oil and gas sector? Are you just realizing that the party you are working for is a massive fraud and that the corruption perpetrated by this government is likely to be unmatched in our short history of democratic experiment? Diokpaanm, if you’re just waking up, then “a very good morning” to you. The tragedy of your situation is that “chi ewegea eshishe jikpudoi!”

Most Nigerians’ reactions to the Kachikwu’s disclosure actually fell short of informed understanding of where the real problem lies. Without mincing words, the NNPC issue is one of the fallouts of the dangers of an authoritative and, worse still, an incapacitated President doubling as minister of a critical sector like petroleum. The other military General in our democratic history, General Olusegun Obasanjo, tried the same concept of doubling as the petroleum minister in his first tenure; however, the glaring difference is that he totally relied on a seasoned technocrat, Dr Rilwanu Lukman. But even at that what did we get? Serial complicity in awards of lucrative oil contracts including ownership structure of OPL 245 (Malabu), Right of First Refusal contracts and Oil for Infrastructure frauds with Chinese and Indian companies amongst others!

Look at it: The Group Managing Director of NNPC got Ministerial approval (from the President in his capacity as the substantive Minister) for each of those mega billion dollars contracts. The question we should ask is: Did whosoever that approved the contracts not know that the NNPC boss did not follow due process to run the contracts that required Board Approval through the NNPC Board?

Whether it was the President or the Chief of Staff that approved the contracts is immaterial in our peculiar case, as our President has operated so far on absentee basis for the better part of his two years in office due to his health challenge though there’s no way Abba Kyari could have acted on such matters without getting the President’s approval.

How did Kachikwu come to conclude that he can successfully accuse the Honorable Minister of Petroleum Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (who also doubles as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria) of approving contracts without following due process? You see where the naivety came in!

Buhari rode on our backs into Aso Rock based on the grossly trumpeted high moral ground of integrity, impeccable and incorruptible character. However, from day one, impunity, indiscipline and disregard for authority and due process which are the mothers of all corruption in government have remained his government’s defining characteristics. It is a well known fact that with impunity, the very cardinal pillar of anti-corruption, which is entrenchment of transparency and accountability in conduct of government’s business, has been completely eroded by officials of this government including, President Buhari himself.

Anti-corruption is not about handcuffing the opponents and critics and parading them on televisions. Arrogating powers to an office and disregard for due process is a most virulent form of corruption in the public service. Over $30 billion dollar contracts awarded by Buhari and Baru without the knowledge of NNPC board. Do you know that this amount is the size of our entire foreign reserves if it’s not even bigger?

So what’s the difference between the immediate past Petroleum Minister and the current one (Buhari himself)? Is this not an exact replica of Diezani Alison-Madueke’s “Strategic Alliance Agreement” approvals which she gave without following due process? Why, then, do we demonize Diezani if it is going to be business as usual? What is the essence of NNPC board when all critical decisions at NNPC are taken between Buhari and Baru?

Now, those justifying the unilateral and one-sided appointments of top NNPC management staff completely missed the point. In serious business organizations even in the private sector, there is no way a chief executive officer of an organisation can carry out a full business structure transformation, with appointments of executive directors and chief operating officers without full Board of Director discussions and approvals – not to talk of a directly combustible and political organization like the NNPC.

There are certain appointments above certain levels that require board approval. The GMD is supposed to run them through the board before seeking ministerial approval. It is very clear that the current setup is disjointed because the minister who is supposed to chair of the the board (the President) delegated that responsibility to the Minister of State (Kachikwu). The GMD made the mistake of sidelining Kachikwu. Kachikwu is blowing his whistle against both Buhari and Baru. Forget all the nice grammar in the letter. Kachikwu is accusing Baru of not following due process and Buhari of negligence at the minimum. This is clearly intellect/merit versus mediocrity as usual on one part and whistleblowing on the other part.

Add these stinking incidents to the infinitely delayed actions on Osinbajo’s report on the grass-cutting SGF fraud case and cash-stashing DG-NIA among several others, no one will be left with the conviction that Buhari’s so called anti-corruption war is a hoax.

We may be tempted to give the benefit of doubt on this issue to the President for now as all these scams may be the scheme of the so called “cabal” (or, “the hyenas and the jackals”) while he was ill. However, the response of the President in the next few weeks will determine whether by omission he is culpable. God bless Nigeria!

 

Ifeanyi Izeze writes from Abuja and can be reached at iizeze@yahoo.com

​HOW TO SAVE BUHARI’S FLEDGLING LEADERSHIP    By Umar Ardo, Ph.D 

For the nearly two and half years of being in office, President Buhari’s leadership has been considerably fledging. The president is been continuously challenged from all directions, by even members of his governing party and cabinet. Over this period, his popularity has visibly ebbed and waned; and public support for his government has correspondingly crumbled and dwindled significantly. He has greatly demoralized his supporters who are daily growing disappointed and frustrated, and compatibly energized his opponents who are increasingly becoming vindicated and emboldened. The reason for this unpleasant trend is that his regime has so far failed to make any appreciable impact in the dire developmental needs of the country; and the reason for the failure is evidently borne out of his leadership style.

  

Like President Franklin Roosevelt of the United States 80 years before him, President Buhari ran for office and was elected president on a set of principles, and not on a set of policies. The overriding factor in his campaign was Buhari himself; his assumed integrity, incorruptibility and forthrightness! The entire 2015 presidential campaign was about Buhari; it was Buhari the person– not his policies, nor his programmes, nor even his political party, but Buhari the man – that had received the drumming endorsement of the Nigerian people, particularly the northerners. That is why sagacious political strategists would draw up and hand to him sophisticated electoral blueprint after 3-failed attempts without asking him for something in return. That is why an old woman of over 80 years would sit out in the scorching sun of the northern desert for a whole day just to see Buhari the person and donate her life-long savings towards his election bid without expecting anything back from him. That is why poor wretched wheel barrow pushers, nail cutters, shoe shiners, hewers of woods and fetchers of water, literally the wretched of the earth, would starve themselves to buy cards and donate their meager earnings towards his election without any hope of ever meeting him. And that is why someone would trek from Lagos or Yola to Abuja in joyous celebration of Buhari’s electoral victory without a price tag. 
Now that Buhari has won the contest and sworn-in as president, it was expected Buhari the man would solve the numerous problems of the country; to better the lot of the over 40 million Nigerians who have no employment; solve the problems of the employed but who’s wages cannot feed them through the days of the month; solve the problems of those living in abject poverty across the land, of those who go to bed on empty stomachs; solve the problem of parents who stay awake late into the night thinking of how to feed the family the next day, how to pay the children’s school fees already due and how to settle the landlords their housing rents; solve the problems of those who are frightened by the mere thought of illness either of themselves or members of their families for reason that they cannot afford to pay hospital bills; solve the issue of those people to whom electricity, good roads and portable water are unaffordable luxuries; of children who drop out of schools or go without school all together merely because their parents cannot afford to pay their school fees; of youth who have gone wayward, left their homes, turned to thuggery, crime and drugs, killed or sent to jail while their parents and relatives looked on helplessly; of young girls who, forced by social difficulties, go astray just to earn the extra kobo to help in the upkeep of their households, and parents and relatives look the other way; solve the problems of corruption, terrorism and insurgency in our towns and villages. One can go on and on and on as the issues are uncountable. And these are a mere fraction of the numerous difficulties, agonies and frustrations being faced daily by the vast majority of Nigerians. 
Other than these problems of individual survivals President Buhari is been expected to resolve, there are also along with them daunting challenges threatening the very survival of the nation. In his campaigns, Buhari summed these concerns up into three – insecurity, corruption and economy. In other words, the resolution of these three would resolve both the individuals’ and collective developmental challenges of the nation; to create sense of belonging and forge functional unity to a desperate and despairing nation torn apart by cries of marginalization, agitations and separatist tendencies. These are the problems President Buhari was expected to solve. And he could very well have done so if he had adopted the right approach of running an all-inclusive government. This means he would solve problems not as a person but as a leader of a government. But when Buhari took over power and astonishingly refused to set up a governing team of any sort to formulate and channel solutions to these daunting problems, his actions – or inactions – tended to reinforce a viewpoint that he wanted to solve the problems not as a government but as a person – that he could do it alone even without any set of policies and governing teams in place. Hence, his refusal to appoint key advisers, political and economic; and it took him over six months before he was pressured by public outcry to form even a constitutionally required ministerial cabinet.  
Yet, it is a standard universal norm that no leader leads without a team of advisers. A consultative body representing different viewpoints exposes errors, debunks assumptions and gives alternative policy options, perspectives and strategies. Time has not only ascertained that the collaboration of several minds is more illuminating than the insights of a single man, but history has also proven that a leader who acts solely on his own judgment is sure to fail. That is why governance has always been a collective project and never a one-man-show in any clime. Consultations and taking of advice are therefore composite foundational elements of good leadership. Institutional offices and their functions are therefore vital in the due discharge of governance. Underscoring this point, the 1999 Constitution (as amended) creates at the federal level the Council of Ministers and Offices of Special Advisers for the good purpose of executing the powers and functions due to the Office of the President. The capacity for good and effective leadership therefore starts with the ability of the leader identifying and selecting competent persons to form a governing team. Indeed, the success or failure of a regime rests as much on the ability of the leader as on the competence or otherwise of his team. Whosoever fails in this is doomed to fail in leadership. 
This invariably means that the stability and good governance of the country are dependent on the sound character, right practice and good judgment of the president; while the well-being and quality judgment of the president depend on the knowledge, skill and honesty of his officials. Blessed therefore is the president with truthful, knowledgeable, intelligent and right-doing officials to remind him if he forgets, to assist him if he remembers, to correct him if he is wrong, and to always lay before him the complete facts, circumstances and implications of every issue that may come to him to decide. If the president is able to appoint suitable men, then he is most likely going to succeed, for a good official is like the ornament of the leader; but if he is unable and appoints unsuitable men, or refuses to appoint any at all, then his regime is most likely going to fail. Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, said that when a leader has unsuitable [ignorant] officials, ‘his reign will be like a cloud which passes on without dropping rain’, warning that since what is most important in the polity is the leadership institution, no effort must be spared in getting the right officials to help protect it. Aristotle then compared a leader without ‘competent advisers’ to a man leading a regime in his sleep. The president may well need to heed to Aristotle’s admonition, as ‘good advisers are needed to help the King spare his reign’.
Instructively, in our presidential system of government, all officials are solely appointed by the president. This means that the quality of advice is also solely dependent on the kind of advisers the president assembles to himself. In appointing advisers, the president’s skill or lack of it to distinguish the great disparity that exists between men who are suitable and men who are not itself can decide the ultimate destiny of his regime. To this extent, therefore, President Buhari must necessarily think deeply, consult widely and select carefully in matters regarding the appointment of his officials; and thus when ultimately making these appointments to ensure that only competent and very skillful ones are chosen. So far we have not seen that happening in this regime and that, to me, is the explanation of why President Buhari’s leadership is fledging. And, undoubtedly, it will continue to fledge till it collapses if the necessary changes in approach, attitude and personnel are not immediately effected. Again, to me, this is the only way to save Buhari’s leadership from an inevitable complete collapse.