Full Letter: Obasanjo writes Buhari

THE WAY OUT: A CLARION CALL FOR COALITION FOR NIGERIA MOVEMENT

Special Press Statement By President Olusegun Obasanjo

Since we are still in the month of January, it is appropriate to wish all Nigerians Happy 2018. I am constrained to issue this special statement at this time considering the situation of the country. Some of you may be asking, “What has brought about this special occasion of Obasanjo issuing a Special Statement?” You will be right to ask such a question. But there is a Yoruba saying that ‘when lice abound in your clothes, your fingernails will never be dried of blood’. When I was in the village, to make sure that lice die, you put them between two fingernails and press hard to ensure they die and they always leave blood stains on the fingernails. To ensure you do not have blood on your fingernails, you have to ensure that lice are not harboured anywhere within your vicinity.

The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today. With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’.

Four years ago when my PDP card was torn, I made it abundantly clear that I quit partisan politics for aye but my concern and interest in Nigeria, Africa and indeed in humanity would not wane. Ever since, I have adhered strictly to that position. Since that time, I have devoted quality time to the issue of zero hunger as contained in Goal No. 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. We have set the target that Nigeria with the participating States in the Zero Hunger Forum should reach Zero Hunger goal by 2025 – five years earlier than the UN target date. I am involved in the issue of education in some States and generally in the issue of youth empowerment and employment. I am involved in all these domestically and altruistically to give hope and future to the seemingly hopeless and those in despair. I believe strongly that God has endowed Nigeria so adequately that no Nigerian should be either in want or in despair.

I believe in teamwork and collaborative efforts. At the international level, we have worked with other world leaders to domicile the apparatus for monitoring and encouraging socio-economic progress in Africa in our Presidential Library. The purpose of Africa Progress Group, which is the new name assumed by Africa Progress Panel (APP),is to point out where, when and what works need to be done for the progress of Africa separately and collectively by African leaders and their development partners. I have also gladly accepted the invitation of the UN Secretary-General to be a member of his eighteen-member High-Level Board of Advisers on Mediation. There are other assignments I take up in other fora for Africa and for the international community. For Africa to move forward, Nigeria must be one of the anchor countries, if not the leading anchor country. It means that Nigeria must be good at home to be good outside. No doubt, our situation in the last decade or so had shown that we are not good enough at home; hence we are invariably absent at the table that we should be abroad.

All these led me to take the unusual step of going against my own political Party, PDP, in the last general election to support the opposite side. I saw that action as the best option for Nigeria. As it has been revealed in the last three years or so, that decision and the subsequent collective decision of Nigerians to vote for a change was the right decision for the nation. For me, there was nothing personal, it was all in the best interest of Nigeria and, indeed, in the best interest of Africa and humanity at large. Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard. He has a role to play on the sideline for the good of Nigeria, Africa and humanity and I will see him as a partner in playing such a role nationally and internationally, but not as a horse rider in Nigeria again.

The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again. First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of “any option but Jonathan” (aobj). But my letter to President Jonathan titled: “Before It Is Too Late” was meant for him to act before it was too late. He ignored it and it was too late for him and those who goaded him into ignoring the voice of caution. I know that praise-singers and hired attackers may be raised up against me for verbal or even physical attack but if I can withstand undeserved imprisonment and was ready to shed my blood by standing for Nigeria, I will consider no sacrifice too great to make for the good of Nigeria at any time.No human leader is expected to be personally strong or self-sufficient in all aspects of governance.

I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy but I thought that he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help. Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order. You have to give it what it takes in the short-, medium- and long-term. Then, it would move. I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well.They have knowledge and experience that could be deployed for the good of Nigeria. There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it? Culture of condonation and turning blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands.

I thought President Buhari would fight corruption and insurgency and he must be given some credit for his achievement so far in these two areas although it is not yet uhuru!

The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it. And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some Governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate. The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community.

But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court. This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest. What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action? How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public? The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security. The third is passing the buck. For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70% or so and blaming past governments for it, is to say the least,not accepting one’s own responsibility. Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today. If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in. He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game. Our Constitution is very clear, one of the cardinal responsibilities of the President is the management of the economy of which the value of the naira forms an integral part. Kinship and friendship that place responsibility for governance in the hands of the unelected can only be deleterious to good government and to the nation.

President Buhari’s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian. It is part of our culture. Most Nigerians prayed for him while he was away sick in London for over hundred days and he gave his Deputy sufficient leeway to carry on in his absence. We all thanked God for President Buhari for coming back reasonably hale and hearty and progressing well in his recovery.But whatever may be the state of President Buhari’s health today, he should neither over-push his luck nor over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians for him, no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers, who would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him, there would be no Nigeria say.President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the sideline for the good of the country. His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.

I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service. President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.

I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction. The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria. To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger. If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do? Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.” We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly.

I believe the situation we are in today is akin to what and where we were in at the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999. The nation was tottering. People became hopeless and saw no bright future in the horizon. It was all a dark cloud politically, economically and socially. The price of oil at that time was nine dollars per barrel and we had a debt overhang of about $35 billion. Most people were confused with lack of direction in the country. One of the factors that saved the situation was a near government of national unity that was put in place to navigate us through the dark cloud. We had almost all hands on deck. We used people at home and from the diaspora and we navigated through the dark cloud of those days. At that time, most people were hopelessly groping in the dark. They saw no choice, neither in the left nor in the right, and yet we were not bereft of people at home and from the diaspora that could come together to make Nigeria truly a land flowing with milk and honey. Where we are is a matter of choice but we can choose differently to make a necessary and desirable change, once again.

Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger. But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple. We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves. It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up. This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance. Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding. Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us. They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give. Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving. To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth. Einstein made it clear to us that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the height of folly. Already, Nigerians are committing suicide for the unbearable socio-economic situation they find themselves in. And yet Nigerians love life. We must not continue to reinforce failure and hope that all will be well. It is self-deceit and self-defeat and another aspect of folly.

What has emerged from the opposition has shown no better promise from their antecedents. As the leader of that Party for eight years as President of Nigeria, I can categorically say there is nothing to write home about in their new team. We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement. Change that will give hope and future to all our youth and dignity and full participation to all our women. Our youth should be empowered to deploy their ability to learn, innovate and work energetically at ideas and concepts in which they can make their own original inputs. Youth must be part of the action today and not relegated to leadership of tomorrow which may never come. Change that will mean enhancement of living standard and progress for all. A situation where the elected will accountably govern and every Nigerian will have equal opportunity not based on kinship and friendship but based on free citizenship.

Democracy is sustained and measured not by leaders doing extraordinary things, (invariably, leaders fail to do ordinary things very well), but by citizens rising up to do ordinary things extraordinarily well. Our democracy, development and progress at this juncture require ordinary citizens of Nigeria to do the extraordinary things of changing the course and direction of our lacklustre performance and development. If leadership fails, citizens must not fail and there lies the beauty and importance of democracy. We are challenged by the current situation; we must neither adopt spirit of cowardice nor timidity let alone impotence but must be sustained by courage, determination and commitment to say and do and to persist until we achieve Upliftment for Nigeria. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we believe that our venturing will not be in vain. God of Nigeria has endowed this country adequately and our non-performance cannot be blamed on God but on leadership. God, who has given us what we need and which is potentially there, will give us leadership enablement to actualize our potentiality.

The development and modernization of our country and society must be anchored and sustained on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream. We must have abiding faith in our country and its role and place within the comity of nations. Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck. All hands of men and women of goodwill must be on deck. We need all hands to move our country forward.

We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a Movement. Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request. This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us. Of course, nothing should stop such a Movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections. But if at any stage the Movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring Movement for elections, I will bow out of the Movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position. Coalition for Nigeria must have its headquarters in Abuja.

This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair. Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead. Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.

The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality. What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden. It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.

Some may ask, what does Obasanjo want again? Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians and he will continue to want nothing less. And if we have the best, we will be contented whether where we live is described as palaces or huts by others and we will always give thanks to God.

I, therefore, will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria, CN, taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be. From now on, the Nigeria eagle must continue to soar and fly high. CN, as a Movement, will be new, green, transparent and must remain clean and always active, selflessly so. Members must be ready to make sacrifice for the nation and pay the price of being pioneers and good Nigerians for our country to play the God-assigned role for itself, for its neighbours, for its sub-region of West Africa, for its continent and for humanity in general. For me, the strength and sustainable success of CN will derive largely from the strong commitment of a population that is constantly mobilized to the rallying platform of the fact that going forward together is our best option for building a nation that will occupy its deserved place in the global community. May God continue to lead, guide and protect us.

Amen.

Advertisements

Nigeria: Is this me? By Abdullahi Yunusa 

ProfWills My birth was celebrated with pomp and pageantry. The event was grand in every sense of the word. My arrival was celebrated far and near, in a manner akin to a royal festival of some sort. At my christening, revered Kings, presidents, queens, respected regional, continental and world leaders converged on the beautiful city of Lagos, the land of aquatic splendor to honour me. I was told my visibly elated parents smiled from cheek to cheek as they moved round to welcome well-wishers from all walks of life who defied all odds just to be part of history. Gifts of different sizes, shapes and worth were delivered to my parents. Orators, clergies, celebrities, monarchs and men of means took turns to speak of my greatness and the role I’ve come to play to make the world a better place for humanity. Growing up, I showed signs of greatness. Nations, both within and beyond Africa had enormous confidence in me and looked up to me as the long awaited messiah. Of course, I didn’t let them down. I provided my shoulders for my brothers, close neighbours and others alike to lean on. I deployed both human and material resources to assist countries in need. South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and other nations in Africa couldn’t have have survived both internal and external strifes if I had looked the other way. I was called names like the African giant, Big brother, Head of the black race, Africa’s pride among other beautiful appellations. I did live up to expectations. History books are replete with stories of my greatness. Giant strides by my children in fields such as medicine, law, journalism, engineering, sports, banking and arts are largely responsible for why the world respected me. My son and globally acclaimed literary giant, Professor Wole Soyinka made me and the entire Black race proud when he won the coveted Nobel Prize in Literature. Several of my children recorded great feats across disciplines. Then came the era of doom, gloom and confusion! Gradually, things began to go awry when my children, spread across different parts of the country engaged and promoted anti-development practices like ethnicity, religious bigotry, corruption, indiscipline, nepotism, tribalism and dishonesty. Gradually, the falconer couldn’t hear the falconer. A few of them began to emphasize on the fault-lines inherent in me. Service was no longer for the good of all, but to self and self alone. Regrettably, I watched rather helplessly, as my children killed, maimed and destroyed themselves through coups and counter coups all in the struggle for power and dominance. The situation keeps deteriorating daily, even with civilians incharge of my affairs. After several failed attempts to enthrone democracy, i succeeded in 1999. This is almost two decades since my return to democracy, regrettably the situation has gone from bad to worse. Poverty amidst wealth, leaders without vision, lack of national cohesion, endemic corruption, weak institutions, avoidable deaths, youth restiveness, ethno-religious and political crises and violent communal clashes have pinned me to the ground. Patriotism which used to be my national character has taken the back seat. My children have reduced me to a sleeping giant. I now trail behind less endowed nations in terms of good governance and economic development. I have become butt of silly jokes within and outside Africa. My children make haste to use derogatory words when talking about me. I have been reduced to a nonentity. Serious nations now deride and avoid me like a plague. Sometimes last year one of my aggrieved sons called me a zoo! A foreigner said I was fantastically corrupt! The latest bashing came only last week when a piglike character called me a shithole! I now bleed from injuries inflicted on me by my children. Killings have become so rampant across the land. People now spill blood, mutilate their brothers and kill each other without bathing an eyelid. Amidst all these troubles, my older children have become clueless on what to do. My hope lies not in my older children. They have failed me. Where are my younger children? Where are the youths? You are my hope, strength and future. You must rise in my defense. Resist the temptation to take up arms against each other. Refuse to be used as thugs, assassins and social media attack dogs in the days and months ahead. Take charge of my affairs. I shall rise again. I am Nigeria, neither a zoo nor shithole.


Impunity Repeating Itself By Wole Soyinka

It is happening all over again. History is repeating itself and, alas, within such an agonizingly short span of time. How often must we warn against the enervating lure of appeasement in face of aggression and will to dominate! I do not hesitate to draw attention to Volume III of my INTERVENTION Series,and to the chapter on The Unappeasable Price of Appeasement. There is little to add, but it does appear that even the tragically fulfilled warnings of the past leave no impression on leadership, not even when identical signs of impending cardiac arrest loom over the nation. Boko Haram was still at that stage of putative probes when cries of alarm emerged.Then the fashion ideologues of society deployed their distancing turns of phrase to rationalize what were so obviously discernible as an agenda of ruthless fundamentalism and internal domination. Boko Haram was a product of social inequities, they preached – one even chortled: We stand for justice, so we are all Boko Haram! We warned that – yes indeed – the inequities of society were indeed part of the story, but why do you close your eyes against other, and more critical malfunctions of the human mind, such as theocratic lunacy? Now it is happening again. The nation is being smothered in Vaseline when the diagnosis is so clearly – cancer!

We have been here before – now, ‘before’ is back with a vengeance. President GoodluckJonathan refused to accept that marauders had carried off the nation’s daughters; President Muhammed Buhari and his government – including his Inspector-General of Police – in near identical denial, appear to believe that killer herdsmen who strike again and again at will from one corner of the nation to the other, are merely hot-tempered citizens whose scraps occasionally degenerate into “communal clashes” – I believe I have summarized him accurately. The marauders are naughty children who can be admonished, paternalistically, into good neighbourly conduct. Sometimes of course, the killers were also said be non-Nigerians after all. The contradictions are mind-boggling.

First the active policy of appeasement, then the language of endorsement. El-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, proudly announced that, on assuming office, he had raised a peace committee and successfully traced the herdsmen to locations outside Nigerian borders. He then made payments to them from state coffers to cure them of their homicidal urge which, according to these herdsmen, were reprisals for some ancient history and the loss of cattle through rustling. The public was up in arms against this astonishing revelation. I could only call to mind a statement by the same el-Rufai after a prior election which led to a rampage in parts of the nation, and cost even the lives of National Youth Service Corps members. They were hunted down by aggrieved mobs and even states had to organize rescue missions for their citizens. Countering protests that the nation owed a special duty of protection to her youth, especially those who are co-opted to serve the nation in any capacity, el-Rufai’s comment then was: No life is more important than another. Today, that statement needs to be adjusted, to read perhaps – apologies to George Orwell: “All lives are equal, but a cow’s is more equal than others.”

This seems to be the government view, one that, overtly or by implication, is being amplified through act and pronouncement, through clamorous absence, by this administration. It appears to have infected even my good friend and highly capable Minister, Audu Ogbeh, however insidiously. What else does onemake of his statements in an interview where he generously lays the blame for ongoing killings everywhere but at the feet of the actual perpetrators! His words, as carried by The Nation Newspapers:

“The inability of the government to pay attention to herdsmen and cow farming, unlike other developed countries, contributed to the killings.” The Minister continued:

“Over the years, we have not done much to look seriously into the issue of livestock development in the country….we may have done enough for the rice farmer, the cassava farmer, the maize farmer, the cocoa farmer, but we haven’t done enough for herdsmen, and that inability and omission on our part is resulting in the crisis we are witnessing today”

No, no, not so, Audu! It is true that I called upon the government a week ago to stop passing the buck over the petroleum situation. I assure you however that I never intended that a reverse policy should lead to exonerating – or appearing to exonerate – mass killers, rapists and economic saboteurs – saboteurs, since their conduct subverts the efforts of others to economically secure their own existence, drives other producers off their land in fear and terror. This promises the same plague of starvation that afflicts zones of conflict all over this continent where liberally sown landmines prevent farmers from venturing near their prime source, the farm, often their only source of livelihood, and has created a whole population of amputees. At least, those victims in Angola, Mozambique and other former war theatres, mostly lived to tell the tale. These herdsmen, arrogant and unconscionable, have adopted a scorched-earth policy, so that those other producers – the cassava, cocoa, sorghum, rice etc farmersare brutally expelled from farm and dwelling.

Government neglect? You may not have intended it, but you made it sound like the full story. I applaud the plans of your ministry, I am in a position to know that much thought – and practical steps – have gone into long term plans for bringing about the creation of ‘ranches’, ‘colonies’ – whatever the name – including the special cultivation of fodder for animal feed and so on and on. However, the present national outrage is overimpunity. It rejects the right of any set of people, for whatever reason, to take arms against their fellow men and women, to acknowledge their exploits in boastful and justifying accents and, in effect, promise more of the same as long as their terms and demands are not met. In plain language, they have declared war against the nation, and their weapon is undiluted terror. Why have they been permitted to become a menace to the rest of us? That is the issue!

Permit me to remind you that, early in 2016, an even more hideous massacre was perpetrated by this same Murder Incorporated – that is, a numerical climax to what had been a series across a number of Middle Beltand neighbouringstates, with Benue taking the brunt of the butchery. A peace meeting was called, attended by the state government and security agencies of the nation, including the Inspector General of Police. This group attended – according to reports- with AK47s and other weapons of mass intimidation visible under their garments. They were neither disarmed nor turned back. They freely admitted the killings but justified them by claims that they had lost their cattle to the host community. It is important to emphasize that none of their spokesmen referred to any government neglect, such as refusal to pay subsidy for their cows or failure to accord them the same facilities that had been extended to cassava or millet farmers. Such are the monstrous beginnings of the culture of impunity. We are reaping, yet again, the consequences of such tolerance of the intolerable. Yes, there indeed the government is culpable, definitely guilty of “looking the other way”. Indeed, it must be held complicit.

This question is now current, and justified: just when is terror? I am not aware that IPOB came anywhere close to this homicidal propensity and will to dominance before it was declared a terrorist organization. The international community rightly refused to go along with such an absurdity. For the avoidance of doubt, let me state right here, and yet again, that IPOB leadership is its own worst enemy. It repels public empathy, indeed, I suspect that it deliberately cultivates an obnoxious image, especially among its internet mouthers who make rational discourse impossible. However, as we pointed out at the time, the conduct of that movement, even at its most extreme, could by no means be reckoned as terrorism. By contrast, how do we categorize Myeti? How do we assess a mental state that cannot distinguish between a stolen cow – which is always recoverable – and human life, which is not. Villages have been depopulated far wider than those outside their operational zones can conceive. They swoop on sleeping settlements, kill and strut. They glory in their seeming supremacy. Cocoa farmers do not kill when there is a cocoa blight. Rice farmers, cassava and tomato farmers do not burn. The herdsmen cynically dredge up decades-old affronts – they did at the 2016 Benue“peace meeting” to justify the killings of innocents in the present – These crimes are treated like the norm. Once again, the nation is being massaged by specious rationalisations while the rampage intensifies and the spread spirals out of control. When we open the dailies tomorrow morning, there is certain to have been a new body count, to be followed by the arrogant justification of the Myeti Allah.

The warnings pile up, the distress signals have turned into a prolonged howl of despair and rage. The answer is not to be found in pietistic appeals to victims to avoid ‘hate language’ and divisive attributions. The sustained, killing monologue of the herdsmen is what is at issue. It must be curbed, decisively and without further evasiveness.

Yes, Jonathan only saw ‘ghosts’ when Boko Haram was already excising swathes of territory from the nation space and abducting school pupils. The ghosts of Jonathan seem poised to haunt the tenure of Mohammed Buhari.

The New Year presidential speech – Thisday Newspaper Editorial

President Buhari may disapprove, but there is a dire need to restructure the federation 

The choice of the beginning of a new year to deliver a progress report and map a new policy direction is not so usual. Most New Year speeches usually dwell on homilies and good wishes. But rather curiously, President Muhammadu Buhari chose last Monday, which ordinarily should be to welcome Nigerians into 2018, to literally launch an infrastructure renewal agenda with items that will not be completed in less than another 36-48 months.

While there is nothing wrong about such a not-so-subtle second term bid declaration, it is nonetheless disappointing that there was nothing in the speech on elements that could alleviate the growing hardship within the populace: healthcare delivery; meaningful educational revamp; access to affordable housing; economic strategy that matches the president’s populist pretensions, etc. Easily the most credible point was made on agriculture. But increase in agricultural production without an integral industrial processing strategy will only leave us exporting primary produce to markets we don’t control.

On the whole, therefore, there was not much to inspire in the speech. Yet, there are two aspects to worry about. First, the president dismissed the calls for restructuring the country on the pretext that, “our problems are more to do with process than structure”; and then, his only solution to the problem in the downstream sector which has led to incessant fuel scarcity in recent years is not to deregulate or end the corrupt and grossly inefficient subsidy regime but rather to finger-point and blame marketers, despite what his Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, is saying about the reason for the crisis we face and the choices that have to be made.

On restructuring, President Buhari’s position flies in the face of the position of several prominent Nigerian stakeholders, including the one canvassed last September by the All Progressives Congress (APC) national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu on how the glaring failings of the present arrangement in the country should compel a rethink because, as he said, “it would be better to restructure things to attain the correct balance between our collective purpose on one hand and our separate grassroots realities on the other.”

While the major problem in the system today is more about the absence of good governance at all levels, we must nonetheless acknowledge that we have a serious structural problem. When complemented with mechanism for improving accountability, the proposal being pushed by many critical stakeholders has the potential for strengthening the structural design for good governance and human development in Nigeria.

As we have consistently argued on this page, most of the current 36 states are too small and too under-resourced to be economically viable, such that they depend almost entirely on allocations from the Federation Accounts the bulk of which they expend on salaries and other recurrent expenditures. The counter-veiling mechanisms that ensure some level of accountability at the centre are either non-existent or too weak in these fragmented units and the logical result is that the promise of good governance embedded in the theory of decentralisation is delivered almost always in the breach.

On the fuel subsidy, the current situation harms rather than help the people. What President Buhari and his administration must realise is that as long as the subsidy remains, the incentive for private and public actors to game the system will continue to be there. Also, as long as there is default in subsidy payment, which is not inconceivable given the current state of our finances, supply will be constrained, thus pushing up the pump price many times above the market price, with untold hardship on the populace, especially the poor, as we witnessed during the last Ch ristmas holiday.

In all, last Monday’s speech did not reflect the reality of the Nigerian condition and there is much cause to worry, especially now that President Buhari is seeking a second term.

PLEASE, I BEG YOU…DON’T RUN FOR A SECOND TERM. GO HOME WITH YOUR HONOUR INTACT’ Dele Momodu 

DELE MOMODU WRITES ANOTHER OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUHARI 


*’THOSE POLITICIANS ASKING YOU TO RUN AGAIN ARE DOING SO FOR SELFISH INTERESTS’


‘…Kindly permit me to be as brutally frank as possible. As a stakeholder who made his modest contribution to your emergence as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, I owe you nothing but the truth. I was not a member of your party when I volunteered to support your mission and ambition in 2015. I was elated when Nigerians succeeded in chasing away the profligate and reckless government of the PDP, led by President Goodluck Jonathan. I was one of those who unleashed terror on that government and I subsequently presented you with a compilation of my articles in which I criticised and advised the then President, free of charge. I never expected that our situation could ever get worse under the APC government that almost literally promised heaven and earth. But it has become evident that it is easier to govern by words of mouth than by force of action. 


It is indeed shameful that those like me who supported you so vociferously have become butts of jokes everywhere we go. Sir, I plead with you to ignore your acolytes who may be telling you that all is well in Nigeria. My unequivocal verdict, without any fear of contradiction is that things are VERY BAD. While I will not, in all honesty, totally heap the blame on you, there is no doubt that your government has been LESS THAN COMPETENT. I’m reasonably convinced that you have not availed yourself of the abundant talents it has so pleased God to endow Nigeria with. Rather, you’ve chosen to saddle yourself with hungry lions and deadwoods that you’ve resurrected from penury and oblivion. Leadership should be about managing people and resources. Most of the people you are working with are already retired or tired and with little or nothing new to contribute.


It is grossly unfair that it was very convenient for us to lampoon and scandalise Dr Goodluck Jonathan, yet most of us have remained funereally silent and unreasonably complicit in the evil that the current men of power are perpetrating and perpetuating under your watch. Unknown to you Sir, SOME PEOPLE ARE MERELY USING YOU TO RULE BY PROXY. There is no evidence of discipline in your team, one of the greatest things you preached so fervently about in your first coming as military Head of State. Your acolytes are virtually getting away with murder. Someone, somewhere, sat down with birds of the same feathers, to conjure and compile the most disgraceful list of political appointees ever and yet nothing has happened to those who brought such perfidious insults on our nation. Instead, we are being regaled with tales by the moonlight to gloss over serious maladies in the polity and damning treachery against our nation. No serious apologies. No penitence. Only some foolhardy cockiness from those who will repeat the same nonsense when tomorrow comes.


Your Excellency, it has become very difficult, if not impossible to defend the excessive shortcomings of your government, please, permit my oxymoron Sir. We definitely want you to succeed but it seems some demons are desperately determined to make you fail by all means. The more your administration unravels, the more ridiculously hopeless it seems. You have waltzed from crisis to crisis instead of from glory to glory, as most of us expected. We thought you truly possessed the magic wand and talismanic effect to make all our problems evaporate and vamoose in a jiffy. We did not expect to be regularly mesmerised by IMPOTENT EXCUSES GALORE. 


I sincerely doff my hat to your wonderful wife for her rare and uncommon courage. Regardless of what her detractors may say, she is the only insider who has been trying to say it as it is. Even if some of her critics feel she’s seeking for relevance in your kingdom, it is still within her rights. I’m sure that when the day of reckoning comes, you will remember and appreciate her timely warnings. Without mincing words, what Madam Aisha Buhari has been trying to tell you in clear terms is that this government is swimming in a big foul mess and that you should not be carried away by the FAKE ADULATION and FALSE ADORATION you see all around you.  There is no government in Nigeria that did not enjoy the services of praise-singers who disappeared as soon as the government itself collapsed like a pack of cards. Ask President Jonathan!


I’m aware that your foot-soldiers are already warming up for the next election. I really do not know what they hope to tell and sell to the electorate this time, particularly after THE COLOSSAL FAILURE of the last three years. I do not see how they expect to fund your campaign without resorting to the same type of extravagant jamboree we witnessed in the dying and last days of the PDP’s prodigality. As a result of your decision to contest again, you are being forced by circumstances beyond your control to compromise and capitulate on your known principles. Is it not better, and more profitable, to return home, triumphantly, with your reputation intact than to win a pyrrhic victory with everything you ever stood for wasted on the altar of vainglorious aggrandisement? What guarantees do you have that you will win the next election even if you agree to sell Nigeria to the political gladiators?


Sir, I’m pleading with you in the name of God, the Merciful and all-powerful, that you don’t need two terms, or eight years in power, to prove your greatness. Nelson Mandela spent only one term in power and retired to superlative glory as the world’s most respected and revered and idolised statesman. Robert Mugabe spent about four decades in power, yet he returned home in total infamy and unenviable disgrace. It is a lesson of life that we must all learn, sooner rather than later, that man shall not live by power alone. I know my preaching is not likely to touch you and your hardened supporters but, at the very least, I want it to be on record that I spoke publicly, out of genuine love and concern, while you were being goaded on by those who stand to gain more if you win a re-election next year. For most of those asking you to continue, by fire and by force, it is always about THEIR PERSONAL AGENDA AND SURVIVAL. They know their political careers would come to a shuddering halt and abrupt standstill should you fail in your bid to come back. In their DESPERATION to come back at all costs, they are going to do exactly what PDP did, or even much worse. What moral authority would you then have to justify the continued detention and harassment of some of the PDP operatives accused of wasting government resources on Jonathan’s truncated re-election bid? Who amongst us can in good conscience say in the market place that you won the last election on pure merit and that no substantial government funding went into your campaigns?


This year promises to be an interesting one. You will soon discover how treacherous human beings can be when some of those hailing you today as the authentic messiah begin to show you their true colours. Our country is bleeding dangerously while some over-pampered politicians can only think of winning elections by hook or by crook. The quality of your appointees in recent time points to how DIRECTIONLESS  your government has finally become. In a country overflowing with so many amazing brains and talents, it is incredibly shameful that those are your best representatives for our country. The easiest way for a leader to fail is to continue to attract those much worse than himself. Conversely, the best way to succeed is for a leader to recognise and attract and surround himself with those much better in all aspects of human endeavour. This does not erase or take anything away from the leader but it actually enhances his personality and how he is perceived by everyone. The late sage of blessed memory, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was a veritable example of how a leader can effectively tap into the collective brains of some geniuses and add to his own in a way that makes him appear super-human. 


Nigeria has never been in short supply of whiz kids at home and abroad but Nigeria started dying when our leaders stopped respecting merit and preferred to enthrone mediocrity. The truth is mediocrity begets further mediocrity. The few good leaders in your government have not been able to display their wizardry out of fear and trepidation that some cabal would mark them out and hack them down so ruthlessly. It is a sign of the times, that the courage, astuteness and brilliance that made them stand out in the political crowd has suddenly taken flight and they are now little more than wimps in your insipid government. The bureaucracy in Abuja is enough to suffocate and disorientate any fertile mind. 


If I were in your shoes, I would consider that it is not too late to groom and propel some of the best brains in APC or even those living beyond the shores of Nigeria to succeed me. You do not need to look far in this regard but I will not make any suggestions today, lest it be misinterpreted that I am touting any particular individual as a worthy successor. I’m reasonably convinced that you have worked very hard and seem to have reached your peak. To God be the glory. In a country of nearly 200 million people, God has been too kind to you. Apart from former President Olusegun Obasanjo, no other Nigerian has been given a second chance so miraculously. You will be able to justify this unmerited favour by leaving Nigeria much better than you met it. The only way you can do that in the next remaining year is to SACRIFICE YOUR OWN PERSONAL AMBITION  and hand over the country to proven and tested modern and cosmopolitan technocrats. The world has moved beyond the backwardness that we are being saddled with in Nigeria today. The world expect us to be the true giant and leader of Africa not by words but in deed.


My appeal to you is to urgently do a self-assessment to determine and decide on whether you are what Nigeria needs at this time and age for our country to join the comity of other nations in their march towards technological advancement, political stability, social security and economic prosperity.


With all due respect, Sir, if your answer is yes to the above, you may go ahead and contest but if in all honesty, the answer is no, my prayer is that you will find the courage and selfless spirit to quit the stage while the ovation is loudest. That in itself would be a deserving legacy. I’m watching and waiting for your patriotic decision with bated breath.


Thank you, Mr President, for your usual attention and kind consideration of my latest memo to you, albeit so early in the year.’


Culled from Thisday Backpage

‘Dead’ President And Dead Men in His Cabinet By Erasmus Ikhide

The discovery of dead persons names on President Muhammadu Buhari’s boards’ appointments made last weekend signposted a nation in constant trauma, plagued by inept leadership and a stubbornly disoriented clique that has held Buhari’s Presidency hostage, while the people who are at the receiving end languish in abject penury. We are talking about dead; its meaning and those in President Buhari’s government. Termination or expiration of existence sounds most profound — a dead government, organisation, organism or a person is dead to reasoning; emotion, recognition and feeling — or when leadership can no longer put a face to its name. Literarily speaking, President Buhari has been a dead ‘man’, as much as his presidency. He fails to put a face to his presidency by ensuring that he fulfils all or some of his electoral promises to the mass of Nigerian people. Buhari is ‘dead’ for refusing or failing to fulfil his 2015 Presidential manifesto to revive and reactivate our minimally performing refineries to optimum capacity. 

The president is ‘dead’ for his inability to see through his promise to ensure that the oil industry becomes one of the world leading/cutting edge centres for clean oil and gas technology by producing leading world Oil and Gas technologist, scientists, and owing mega structure installations, drilling, processing, and production facilities and engineers. He is ‘dead’ because Nigerians are yet to see the fulfilment of his promise that these facilities and scientists will be supported with the best services and research facilities. President Buhari is ‘dead’ since the promise to fully develop the oil sector’s capacity to absorb more of the nation’s new graduate in the labour market has not come to fruition. He is ‘dead’ governmentally because he told us that the oil sector will be funded to produce more home-grown, but world-class engineers, scientists, technologist, etc, and nothing has happened. Buhari government is ‘non-existence’ because his pledges to modernise the NNPC and make it the national energy champion has not been actualised. Buhari is ‘dead’ because he vowed to breakup NNPC into more efficient, commercially driven units and strip it of its regulatory powers, so as to enable it to tap into the international capital market, and Nigerians are still waiting three-year down the road.

Mr. Buhari is ‘dead’ since his promise to enforce the government master plan for oil companies to end flaring that pollutes the air and damages the communities and people’s health and ensure that they sell at least half of their gas produced within Nigeria has failed. His presidency might just be alive because he advocated speedy passage of the much-delayed Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and ensure that local content issues are fully addressed. But he is ‘dead’ because he vowed to make Nigeria the world’s leading exporter of Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) through the creation of strategic partnerships. President Buhari is completely ‘dead’ because he promised to stabilise oil price and the same oil price has quadrupled.

This President is ‘dead’ for not initiating policies to ensure that Nigerians are free to live and work in any part of the country by removing state of origin, tribe, ethnic and religious affiliations from documentation requirements in our identification of citizens and replace these with State of Residence and fashion out the appropriate minimal qualification for obtaining such a state of residency, nation-wide in accordance with his party manifesto.

President Buhari is ‘dead’ since he could not put in place a N300bn Regional Growth Fund with an average of N50bn in each geo-political region to encourage private sector enterprise and to support places currently reliant on only the public sector, to migrate to a private sector reality, as he promised. Buhari government is ‘dead’ for not creating a Social Welfare Program of at least Five Thousand Naira (N5000) that will cater for the 25 million poorest and most vulnerable citizens upon the demonstration of children’s enrolment in school, create 5 million jobs and evidence of immunisation to help promote family stability.

This government has ‘expired’ for not providing free antenatal care for pregnant women; free health care for babies and children up to school going age and for the aged; and free treatment for those afflicted with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. The APC government is at its ‘tipping’ point for not creating an Insurance Policy for our Journalists as the nation faces hard times and our Journalists face more dangers; for not establishing zonal world-class sports academics and training institutes and ensure that Nigeria occupies a place of pride in global sports and athletics as it promised.

Buhari cabinet is truly and ethically ‘dead’ for not assisting Nollywood to fully develop into world class movie industry that can compete effectively with Hollywood and Bollywood in due course; guarantee that women are adequately represented in government appointments and provide greater opportunities in education, job creation, and economic empowerment, and for not using the party structures to promote the concept of reserving a minimum number of seats in the States and National Assembly, for women.

This government is in abeyance for its refusal to create shelterbelts in states bordering the Sahara Desert to mitigate and reverse the effects of the expanding desert. There is a ‘carcass’ of government presently since Buhari refused to create 20,000 jobs per state immediately for those with a minimum qualification of secondary school leaving certificate and who participate in technology and vocational training.

President Buhari antigraft war is a mere ‘cadaver’ for not placing the burden of proving innocence in corruption cases on persons with inexplicable wealth. His anti-corruption crusade is a cynical mockery of due process because he refused to pursue legislation expanding forfeiture and seizure of assets laws and procedure with respect to inexplicable wealth, regardless of whether there is a conviction for criminal conduct or not.

The ‘demise’ of President Buhari and his government are loudly amplified by his failure to provide free tertiary education to students pursuing Science and Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), a promise he stoutly made to Nigerian students in 2015, prior to his presidency. His presidency is not ‘alive’ to provide free tertiary education to education majors and stipends prior to their employment as teachers, as contain in his manifesto; create incentives and dedicate special attention to the education of girls, ensure every child attending primary school is properly nourished and ready to learn by providing a Free Meal a Day.

Buhari government is a ‘skeleton’ for not achieving the construction of one million low-cost houses within four years for the poor; stop all travel abroad at government expense for the purpose of medical treatment. In fact, the president has been unexampled in this regard since independence! This government can’t be said to be ‘alive’ for not providing incentives for Nigerian doctors and health practitioners working abroad to return home, to strengthen the health care industry in Nigeria and provide quality care to those who need it, and making sure people at a local level benefit from mining and mineral wealth by vesting all mineral rights in land to states.

Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, former Lagos State Governor and currently the Federal Minister of Power, Works and Housing echoed one of his party’s manifesto when he jabbed at former President Goodluck Jonathan’s wobbling government that “a serious government will fix power problem in six months”. “There is a danger that very soon, we will miss the lesson we have learnt over the years. This is because if a government makes a public commitment, the government must fulfil that promise. Electricity was not discovered yesterday, it is over 100 years old and no excuses will be acceptable from the federal government for not providing electricity.
“We are the only nation that has oil and gas and no electricity to its citizens. Angola and Gabon don’t have the kind of oil we have. There are many countries that do not produce oil and they enjoy electricity. Very soon we will make a choice on the next set of leaders and this will be done through the ballot papers.”

By a twist of fate, Fashola has been made minister over the last two-year and has been aping at electricity generation and has failed woefully. Fashola is one of the ‘dead’ members of President Buhari’s cabinet. He has failed himself and failed Nigerians who he deceived to vote for Buhari. Buhari, Fashola and the likes of Ibe Kachikwu, Maikanti Baru, Mr. Abubakar Malami, Abba Kyari and other cabinet members are not different from the truly dead Senator Francis Okpozo; Rev. Fr. Christopher Utov, DIG Donald Ugbaja (rtd), Garba Attahiru, Umar Dange, Dr. Nabbs Imegwu, Magdalene Kumu and many more to be discovered in the disjointed appointments that took nearly three-year to materialised.

While we await national rebirth of some sort, it is of the essence that we think our way out of the present leadership conundrum offered by the PDP and the APC for nearly two decades, respectively. No nation can make meaningful progress when when her political, civil, economic and spiritual wellbeing is disorderly yoked together by military Fiat without the people’s input. Nations are doomed when the people lazy away in their irresponsibility to call leaders to account and sanction them with a verdict of rejection at elections. President Buhari deserves just that in 2019.

Erasmus, Public Affairs Analyst, writes from Lagos. 
Email: ikhideerasmus@gmail.com
I invite you to follow me on Twitter @ikhide_erasmus1

Full text of Pres. Muhammadu Buhari’s 2018 New Year address

I join my fellow citizens this morning to welcome and celebrate the New Year 2018. This year promises to be pivotal in our quest for CHANGE. 

Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.

The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.

Such unpatriotism will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government’s watch word and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity.

 My address to fellow Nigerians this morning is devoted mainly to informing you about the intense efforts this Administration is putting to address our country’s huge infrastructural deficit.

 We are going to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country. 

 The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

With regards to Railways, we have set ourselves ambitious targets. Already in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.   

 The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy.

Construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021 the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.

 The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.

At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu.  The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.

Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.

Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail”  through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar.  In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.

With respect to the Abuja Capital Light Rail, progress has reached 98% completion, as at 64% completion when we assumed office.  Only test runs remain before start of operations.

This train service will stimulate economic activities in the Federal Capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system.  Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area.  The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change.

Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has been reconstituted and has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. Government is undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.

Twenty five major highways will be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b. The following major highways are to receive special attention:

a.  Oyo – Ogbomosho,

b.  Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu,

c.  Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm,

d.  Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,

e.  Onitsha – Enugu Expressway,

f.    Kaduna Eastern Bypass,

g.  Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road,

h.  Dualization of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road,

i.    Dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.

In addition, Government has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair. Work will soon start and is expected to be completed in 2019.

 More Nigerians across the country are experiencing improved power supply to their homes and businesses.  However, power remains a concern to this government because too many people still do not have regular and reliable supply.

The Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which started in January 2016 has enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise so far N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80% payment for any power delivered to the national grid.

Consequently, generation has now reached 7,000MW. On December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded.

Several moribund projects have been revived.  Repairs of Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.

Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria.  It should be fully operational this year.

The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019.  The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year.

A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is at last taking off.  This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years, but now the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 3,050MW project has been agreed with a Chinese joint venture Company with a financing commitment from the government of China.  Completion is targeted for 2023.

As I mentioned earlier, the Transmission Company of Nigeria can now distribute all the 7,000MW that can be generated.  TCN and the Niger Delta Holding Company have added 1,950MVA of 330 down to 132KV transformer capacity of 10 transmission stations and 2,930MVA of 132 down to 33KV transformer capacity of 42 sub-stations including Ikot Ekpene, Aba, Alagbon, Ajah, Ejigbo, Funtua and Zaria.

  This Administration is working with the privatised distribution Companies to overcome the continuing challenges of distribution.

 These massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment. You will recall that it was not until last year that we got out of the economic recession into which the country had fallen as a consequence of past unsustainable economic policies which projected short-term illusory growth.

The government is slowly stabilizing the economy.

It was in order to change the steady and steep decline that we adopted the more sustainable policies and programmes captured in the Economic Recovery Plan. Diversification efforts have resulted in improved output particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors. The relative exchange rate stability has improved manufacturing sector performance.

 We have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management. The days of business as usual are numbered.

 Two years ago I appealed to people to go back to the land. I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to re-structure the economy. Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious will be on our dishes from now on.  

By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the Organized Private Sector. Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate. 

 In respect of political developments, I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “Restructuring”. No human law or edifice is perfect. Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to changing circumstances and the country’s socio-economic developments. We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities. When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.

 We tried the Parliamentary system: we jettisoned it. Now there are shrill cries for a return to the Parliamentary structure. In older democracies these systems took centuries to evolve so we cannot expect a copied system to fit neatly our purposes. We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose.

 However, there is a strong case for a closer look at the cost of government and for the public services long used to extravagance, waste and corruption to change for the better. I assure you that government is ever receptive to ideas which will improve governance and contribute to the country’s peace and stability.

 As the electioneering season approaches politicians must avoid exploiting ethnicity and religion by linking ethnicity with religion and religion with politics. Such must be avoided at all costs if we are to live in harmony.

In this respect the rest of Nigeria could learn from the South Western States who have successfully internalized religion, ethnicity and politics.

Political discourse should be conducted with civility, decorum and in a constitutional manner. We all have a collective responsibility to strengthen our democracy and entrench the rule of law. We should draw encouragement from the series of bye-elections conducted by INEC last year which were generally violence free and their outcomes adjudged to be free and fair. 

 Before I conclude my address I must reassure my fellow citizens that security of life and property is still top of our government’s agenda. We have since beaten Boko Haram. Isolated attacks still occur, but even the best-policed countries cannot prevent determined criminals from committing terrible acts of terror as we have seen during the past years in Europe, Asia, Middle East, elsewhere in Africa and in America. 

Our government remains determined to protect all Nigerians in line with our election pledge and promises. On behalf of all Nigerians let me offer our thanks to the Armed forces, the Police, other para-military forces and traditional authorities who are working round the clock to ensure that you and I go about our normal business in reasonable safety.  

 Terrorism and urban crimes are world-wide phenomena and our security forces are continuously adapting their responses to changing threats.

 With regard to rampant cases of kidnappings, we are taking immediate short-term measures to combat this new evil creeping into our societies.  Tighter police methods and swift and severe punishment for those proved to be engaged in kidnapping are on the way.

 With respect to Niger Delta, Government is still engaging responsible leadership of the Communities to help in identifying and addressing genuine grievances of the region. Our clean-up programme in collaboration with the United Nations is making satisfactory progress.

 I am grateful to all the Governors and other Political & Community leaders of the Niger Delta States for their part in bringing relative peace to the areas.

 Finally let me again express my heartfelt thanks to all Nigerians who prayed for me during my illness last year. I feel deeply humbled by your prayers and good wishes and I am more determined than ever to serve you to the best of my ability.

 Good morning. And I wish everyone a Happy New Year.