HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S BROADCAST TO THE NATION ON ELECTIONS  FEBRUARY 14, 2019

Fellow Citizens,
On Saturday, February 16, 2019, you will, once again, be called upon to choose the leaders who will pilot the affairs of our great nation for the next four years. This is a constitutional right which should be freely exercised by all eligible voters.
2. I wish therefore to start by assuring all Nigerians that this Government will do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.
3. It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our Government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.
4. And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.
5. Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.
6. I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
7. As Government has a critical role in maintaining the democratic traditions, so do citizens. I therefore urge you all, as good Nigerians, to take a personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhoods during the elections. This is certainly not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interests to drive us to desperation.
8. At this point, I want to make a special appeal to our youth: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence and destruction. The people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections.
9. When you elected me in 2015, it was essentially in consequence of my promise of CHANGE. We committed ourselves to improving security across the country, putting the economy on a sound footing and tackling rampant corruption, which had in many ways become a serious drawback to national development.
10. Our Government spent the last 3 years and 9 months striving faithfully to keep this promise, in spite of very serious revenue shortages caused mainly by a sharp drop in international oil prices and an unexpected rise in the vandalisation of oil installations, which, mercifully have now been curtailed.
11. We nevertheless pressed on in our quest to diversify the economy, create jobs, reduce commodity prices and generally improve the standard of living among our people.
12. The damage that insecurity and corruption have done, over time, to our collective livelihood is incalculable. However, it is pleasing to note that our frontal attack on these twin evils is gaining momentum and bringing about visible progress.
13. The recovery of the economy from recession is complete and Nigeria is back on the path of steady growth.
14. The key to creating more jobs lies in accelerating this momentum of economic growth. Happily, we have succeeded in making the fundamental changes necessary for this acceleration, and we are now beginning to see the efforts bearing fruit.
15. Our ease of doing business policies and programmes are already impacting medium, small and micro industries, as well as Manufacturing, Mining and Agriculture, among other key sectors.
16. Our commitment to critical infrastructure – that is Roads, Rails, Bridges, Airports and Seaports – will create more jobs, improving the efficiency and competitiveness of our industries.
17. Many of these projects are at different stages of completion, and those who use them regularly will attest to the fact that even while construction is ongoing, they are beginning to see reduced travel times. This will ultimately translate to reduced costs and greater convenience, making transportation, and business in particular, much easier.
19. The economic recovery that we promised is well underway, as demonstrated by the recently released statistics. In 2018, the economy grew by 1.93%, with the Fourth Quarter growth being 2.38%, up from 1.81% in the Third Quarter.
20. Remarkably, the strong economic performance was driven by the Non-Oil sector, which grew at 2% as at full year. Indeed, Non-Oil growth rose to 2.7% in the Fourth Quarter of 2018, up from 2.32% in the Third Quarter. These results further underscore our commitment to diversifying the economy away from the past dependence on Oil.
21. Other indicators confirm the economy’s steady recovery. Our monthly food import bill has declined from $664 million in January 2015 to $160 million as at October 2018. Inflation fell from 18.72% in January 2017 to 11.44% in December 2018. Our External Reserves have risen from $23 billion in October 2016 to $43.12 billion as at 7th February 2019.
22. Now that the recession is well behind us, our next task is to redouble our efforts, accelerate the growth and use it to create even more jobs for our people.
23. The Executive Orders, No. 5, and No. 7 issued by me, and the recently approved National Infrastructure Maintenance Policy demonstrate our commitment to accelerated job creation and infrastructure development.
24. We believe that Governments cannot simply proclaim jobs into existence. Job creation will only expand as a result of economic policies that enable the private sector to flourish, and this is the approach our Administration has taken.
25. Executive Order No 5, which Promotes Nigerian Content in Contracts, as well as Science, Engineering and Technology, will preserve and prioritize job creation for our citizens.
26. Executive Order 7, on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, seeks to mobilize private capital and capacity for infrastructure development.
27. It responds to the demands of manufacturing and industrial complexes which wish to construct access roads without waiting for government, so long as they are allowed to recover the cost from taxes they would have paid to government.
28. We expect that this approach will boost industrial expansion and rural development, consequently creating more jobs for our people.
29. Similarly, our recently issued Maintenance Policy targets artisans, carpenters, welders, tailors, painters, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, landscapers and many more Ordinary Nigerians at the base of our economic pyramid who will get regular and large-scale opportunities to improve themselves.
30. It is an economic solution that also brings the relevant artisans and professionals into long term sustainable employment to maintain our Schools, Court Rooms, Hospitals, Police Stations, Federal Secretariats and other Public Buildings.
31. Human Capital Development has also been a key priority for this Administration, which has increased investments in health and education. Innovative measures have been introduced to complement the traditional budgetary allocations to the relevant Ministries.
32. For instance, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority has invested US$21 million in three healthcare projects as a Public Private Partnership with three Federal medical institutions. These include two modern Medical Diagnostic Centres located at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia; as well as one outpatient Cancer Treatment Centre in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos – which I commissioned on 9th February 2019.
33. Of course, our radical commitment to developing Critical Infrastructure is the foundation upon which we will deliver an all embracing national prosperity and a shared commonwealth.
34. There is no country that aspires to greatness without spending massively on its Critical Infrastructure. Rather than the discredited policy of ‘stomach infrastructure’, which could only benefit a few for a little while, we are focused on real infrastructural development for the growth of our economy and the long-term benefit of all Nigerians.
35. When you voted for our message of CHANGE, you invited us to assume office and depart from that bad and most regrettable choice. We have responded by making a choice for real infrastructure of Roads in every State, Housing in 34 States, Power Stations across Nigeria, Rail from Lagos to Kano.
36. The choice that now confronts us is whether we want to continue with real infrastructure development, which is the road to prosperity and jobs or return to the era of ‘stomach infrastructure’.
37. Agricultural Self-Reliance and Food Security is also a choice we made in fulfilment of your mandate for change.
38. Our Presidential Fertiliser Initiative has resulted in savings of US$150 million in foreign exchange due to local sourcing of inputs at 16 Blending Plants. It has also conserved N60 billion in Subsidies as well as supported tens of thousands of farmers and agro-dealers nationwide.
39. Our Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has substantially raised local rice yields from as low as two Metric Tonnes per hectare, to as high as eight Metric Tonnes per hectare.
40. Through this programme, the Central Bank of Nigeria has cumulatively lent over N120 billion to over 720,000 smallholder farmers cultivating 12 commodities across the 36 States and Abuja. Targeted crops and livestock have included cattle, poultry, fish, cassava, soybeans, ground nut, ginger, sorghum, rice, wheat, cotton and maize.
41. As a result, we have seen a remarkable rise in the production of key agricultural commodities. I am pleased to note that in major departmental stores and local markets, there has been a surge in the supply of high quality Nigerian agricultural produce.
42. Behind each of these products, are thousands of industrious Nigerians working in factories and farms across the nation. Our interventions have led to improved wealth and job creation for these Nigerians, particularly in our rural communities.
43. Again, these outcomes have been a major departure from the previous focus on consuming imported food items, which literally exported our children’s jobs to food-exporting nations, whilst depleting our precious foreign exchange reserves. This, of course, caused a closure of our factories while keeping open other peoples’ factories.
44. The choice made by this Administration to assist farmers directly and promote agriculture in every way possible has gone a long way to enhance our food security while enabling us to tackle poverty by feeding over nine million children daily under our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme. It also puts us clearly on the road to becoming a food secure and agriculture exporting nation.
45. Next to Agriculture, we are focusing on Manufacturing Sector. The Purchasing Managers Index, which is the measure of manufacturing activities in an economy has risen for 22 consecutive months as at January this year, indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector.
46. I will conclude by going back to where I started: that our choices have had consequences about employment and cost of living.
47. In making your choice this time, please ask yourself whether, and in what ways, others will do anything different to address the issues of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Security, Good Governance and Fighting Corruption.
48. If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice.
49. Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for Jobs and Prosperity.
50. February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of CHANGE.
51. The road to greater prosperity for Nigeria may be long, but what you can be assured of is a Leadership that is not prepared to sacrifice the future well-being of Nigerians for our own personal or material needs. You can be assured of my commitment to remain focused on working to improve the lives of all Nigerians.
52. Thank you very much for listening. God bless you, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Dele Giwa’s Assassination: The Verdict of History By Olukorede Yishau

​Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammed founded Newswatch alongside the late Dele Giwa, who was killed exactly 30 years ago today. In this piece to mark the day, the trio laid bare the facts of the assassination of one of Nigeria’s finest journalists and editors. They urge the Muhammadu Buhari government to reopen the matter and ensure that the growing scourge of assassinations in the country is guillotined

October 19 this year marks the 30th anniversary of the gory assassination of Dele Giwa, the first Editor-in-Chief of Newswatch, Nigeria’s path-breaking newsmagazine. Dele’s life was cynically shortened by the novel method of a parcel bomb that was delivered to his house at No. 25 Talabi Street, Ikeja, Lagos on Sunday October 19, 1986 at mid-day.

Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge. The matter has continued to be in the laser glare of the public eye. Those who did the dirty job may have thought that killing the famous journalist will be a quick job, quickly done and quickly forgotten. Yes, it was quickly done but obviously not quickly forgotten: thirty years down the road the matter is not dead. It is alive and well and not ready to die any time soon.

However, over the last 15 years or so a man who played a tangential, supervisory role in the matter, Chris Omeben, has been doing his ineffectual best to mislead the public on the matter by playing footsie with the facts. Mr. Omeben, who retired as Deputy Inspector General of Police in 1989, is now the Archbishop of Jesus Families Ministries. He will be 81 years old on October 27 this year.

With a frison of surprise this man has been effing and jeffing apparently championing the cause of his sponsors but his sloppy analysis is not receiving a storm of applause from the public. It is apparent that the public knows that this man is a truth-shredder. While he has the intuitive freedom to lie we have the obligatory duty to put the facts before the public, since he has been pointing accusing fingers in various directions. These include Florence Ita-Giwa, Dele’s ex-wife, Kayode Soyinka, Newswatch London Bureau Chief at the time and Dele’s colleagues, Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammed. His flippant gyration on the matter therefore deserves a multilateral response so that his lies will not be inadvertently validated and the hard-earned reputations of innocent people are not brought down by his swinging axe.

(1) Kayode Soyinka: Kayode Soyinka was the London Bureau Chief of Newswatch. He was in Lagos for an official business and lodged at Dele’s residence. Omeben has sought, vainly, to pin the assassination on him simply because he was in the study together with Dele when the parcel bomb exploded. Omeben says he sent out people to locate him but he could not be found. “We later learnt that he went out of the country through Idi-Iroko.” This is a farrago of lies.

Here are the facts: Kayode was sitting opposite Dele when his son Billy delivered the parcel to his father. When the parcel exploded at Dele’s attempt to open it, Kayode was thrown on the floor. His ears were damaged and he was hospitalised at First Foundation Hospital in Ikeja where Dele was rushed to after the incident. For more than a year Kayode’s ears were dysfunctional.

Mr. Omeben says that Kayode left the room where he and Dele were as soon as Billy Giwa brought in the parcel. He says Kayode stayed out until the parcel exploded. “It was while he was there in an adjacent room that the parcel detonated; the metal partition separating the dining room and the kitchen was destroyed.” Lies! Omeben thinks that since the two men were said to have just had breakfast, the breakfast session was in the dining room. And dining rooms are more often than not near the kitchen. This is pure conjecture. They had their breakfast in the study, not in the dining room and the study was not near the dining room or kitchen.

Kayode was never in hiding. After the bomb explosion which rendered Dele’s residence uninhabitable, Kayode and members of Dele’s family moved into Ray Ekpu’s wing of the building. Dele and Ray lived in this twin duplex. In fact, Kayode was interviewed by several newspapers during the period that he was in Nigeria; he was interviewed by the Police at least twice and he submitted written statements to them; he attended Dele’s burial at Ugbekpe Ekperi in Edo State along with other Newswatch staff.

Mr. Omeben has said that Newswatch directors shielded Kayode from being arrested by the police. This is a lie. Throughout the period of this incident Kayode was available. He was not a fugitive from justice. He was a victim of the dastardly act. If we prevented Kayode from being arrested by the police (and we deny it vehemently) why did the Police not arrest us for obstruction?

If Kayode was considered a suspect in the matter why have the Police not arrested him since then because criminal cases are not time barred? Kayode has come to Nigeria very many times in the past 30 years without the police accosting him. Twice, he contested elections for the governorship of Ogun State, campaigning there for months on each occasion. Why was he not arrested by the Police?

The allegation that Kayode escaped from the country through the NADECO route at Idi Iroko is nonsense. Kayode left Nigeria through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport on British Caledonian Airways accompanied by his wife and children who had to join him in Nigeria when they heard of the incident. This information can be crosschecked with the various authorities at the Murtala Muhammed airport.

Before Kayode left Nigeria on Sunday November 16, 1986 the Police had come the day before, that is Saturday November 15, 1986 asking him to make a statement on his movement between the day of the bomb blast and the time of his discharge from the hospital. He did. But curiously and fully aware that Kayode had left Nigeria the day before the police came on Monday November 17, 1986 to say they had some more questions for Kayode. A letter signed by A. Kaltungo, Deputy Commissioner of Police was delivered to Ray Ekpu. The letter asked Kayode to report to the Police on Wednesday November 19, 1986. Ray replied to the letter that same day informing the police (as if they didn’t know) that Kayode had returned to London. He gave the police Kayode’s London address and phone numbers. It is elementary wisdom that no one could sit in a room where he knew a bomb was going to explode except he is a suicide bomber. And Kayode was not one. He had a wife and children and a flourishing career. His demographics do not fit into a sensible analyst’s silhouette of a suicide bomber.

For every crime there must be a motive. Why would Kayode want to kill his Editor-in-Chief? If he killed Dele he would never have become the next Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. He would have had to kill Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese, Yakubu Mohammed, Soji Akinrinade, Nosa Igiebor, Dele Omotunde, Onome Osifo Whisky and a few other senior editorial staff to get to the Editor-in-Chief’s chair.

It is curious that a policeman who retired as a Deputy Inspector General of Police does not know that a murder allegation does not expire and that even if Kayode lives in London, Interpol could have got him to come to Nigeria and answer for the alleged crime if the Nigeria Police had concrete information on his involvement.

(2) Newswatch Directors: Ray Ekpu, Dan Agbese and Yakubu Mohammed. Mr. Omeben has alleged a couple of times that there was boardroom politics in Newswatch where the board members would want to eliminate themselves. The external board members of Newswatch were all successful businessmen who only invested in Newswatch because we the executive directors – Ray, Dan, Yakubu – were their friends. There was nothing for them to fight for in Newswatch.

But Mr. Omeben has mentioned the three of us a few times by name making allegations or insinuations that tend to give the impression that we were suspects in the case. This is a most uncharitable, wicked and despicable piece of defamation. In the first place, we never had any crisis of notable dimension that could have warranted the existence of a plot to kill our friend and business partner. If we killed Dele what would we get? His Newswatch shares? We have our own. His wife? We have our own. His children? We have our own. The position of Editor-in-Chief? Most unlikely for four reasons: (a) Each of the four of us had been editor of a newspaper or two before we came together so the editorial chair did not offer such an overwhelming attraction for any of us to harbour the thought of physically eliminating our friend and business partner (b) All the four of us were on the same salary and allowances. No one earned higher and no one earned lower than the other. (c) The positions in Newswatch at its inception were determined by Ray and Yakubu. Both of them decided that since Dele and Dan were unfairly treated in their last offices in Concord and New Nigerian, it was wise to assert our confidence in the two of them by offering them the positions of Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director respectively. Ray and Yakubu opted to be called Executive Editors. It was not a mark of anybody’s superiority or inferiority because we all took active part in the editorial activities of the magazine and had equal shares (15 percent) in the company. It was meant to be a confidence booster for the two men. (d) The three of us believe in the inviolability of friendship. We see it as a bank account to which you must continue to make deposits so that it can grow. It is a sacred relationship, a present of unquantifiable value that you must give to yourself. So our world view does not include killing your friend for whatever reason. No reason is good enough for “friend-ticide.” A lot of people ask us what is the magic behind our strong relationship of almost 40 years. The answer: friendship. We retired from Newswatch on May 5, 2011 but we are still together today, why? Friendship.

Since that fateful day of October 19, 1986 our lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, had made every effort, using the mechanism of the courts from High Court to the Supreme Court to bring the suspects to justice. At every turn that resolute and indefatigable fighter was harassed, assaulted, charged to court on trumped up charges so as to kill the matter.

Every effort was made by the Babangida government to kill the magazine and render us jobless by the proscription of the magazine in April 1987 on spurious charges. Our corporate and personal accounts were frozen. We continued to pursue the assassination issue with as much vigour as we could. On September 11, 1987 we wrote a letter to the then Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Muhammahu Gambo, reminding him about the Dele Giwa matter. We never got even the courtesy of a response from Alhaji Gambo. We also appeared at the Oputa panel with Chief Fawehinmi in Lagos and Abuja in pursuit of justice.

Worthy of note is the fact that Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, the investigating Police Officer, had testified at the Oputa panel on July 3, 2001 in Abuja. He told the panel that in his interim report he had recommended that Col. Halilu Akilu and Lt. Col. A.K.Togun should be made available for interrogation and voice identification. He also recommended that their special privileges should be withdrawn so that a search could be conducted in their offices and residences for items of evidential value. The case file was submitted to Mr. Omeben. He never returned the case file to Mr. Tsav, nor did he reassign the case to someone else. He simply sat on the matter until he retired.

Since his retirement Mr. Omeben has been claiming that we had very powerful links in government so we were able to block the investigation. This view is quite flattering but it is patently false. We had no such influence otherwise we would have blocked the proscription of the magazine, our serial detentions for spurious reasons, the freezing of our accounts. Mr. Omeben’s words are aflame with dishonesty. He is evidently a truth shredder who works as an echo chamber of his sponsors. But truth is like pregnancy: you can’t hide it for too long.

During the Oputa panel deliberations in 2001 Ibrahim Babangida, Akilu and Togun went to court and obtained an order restraining the Commission from summoning them to appear before it. Justice Oputa said that the Commission had the power to issue arrest warrants for the trio but decided against this “in the interest of national reconciliation.”

Murder is a criminal matter. Isn’t it curious, therefore, that people who are accused of murder should seek to run away from the opportunity to clear their “good names.” We would have thought they would embrace such an opportunity warmly instead of engaging in legal gymnastics.

However, the panel in its report stated: “As for the case of Dele Giwa we are of the view that beyond the legal technicalities that some of the key witnesses clung to, the federal government should be encouraged to reopen this case for proper investigation.” It stated further: “On General Ibrahim Babangida, we are of the view that there is evidence to suggest that he and the two security chiefs, Brigadier General Halilu Akilu and Col. A.K.Togun are accountable for the death of Dele Giwa by letter bomb. We recommend that this case be reopened for further investigation in the public interest.”

We urge the Buhari government to reopen the matter and ensure that the growing scourge of assassinations in the country is guillotined.

Aisha Buhari And That BBC Interview By Reuben Abati

Public communication is one of the most delicate challenges that people in public life face, either in the corporate or the public sector. Many people suddenly find themselves in high places, and they become a source of news, a potential interview subject, and they get chased around by journalists and other media figures who want a story, in fact, not just a story, but a scoop. I used to explain in communication coaching classes and to the bosses whose media I managed, at one point or the other that they should never feel obliged to say things they do not want to say. No matter how aggressive the journalist may be, they should be careful what they say.

A journalist would make you feel at home, he or she may even reassure you that whatever you don’t want published could be edited out, and that if you don’t feel comfortable with a question, you should feel free to keep quiet. But a good journalist knows how to push you into a corner and get you, through follow up questions, to say things you may not ordinarily want to say. By the time the tape starts rolling, and you are encouraged to feel like a star, and your own tongue starts rolling, you’d be surprised the kind of emphasis, what you consider an innocent remark, would receive when it is published. Point is: journalists, while on duty, are not working for politicians or big men and women; they are working for organizations that need stories that can sell. They want scoops that can make the headlines. That is what makes them journalists: getting the good story, the good comments, the good shots.

After reading the interview granted by First Lady Aisha Buhari on BBC Hausa Service, I was tempted to conclude that this is what may have happened. She could have said the same things in a more delicately phrased manner. I have always held the view that anybody at all in a public position should be sent for media training (including how to deliver speeches, poise, pronunciation skills, even basic grammar lessons) before they are unleashed on a Nigerian public that has learnt to subject the lives of public officials to utmost scrutiny. The Aisha Buhari interview also fell short in this regard. She just gave the BBC Hausa service a scoop, which in my view has done more damage to her husband’s politics than good.

Given the enormous effect that the interview has had on the public, I would have expected that by now, she would perhaps have tactically disowned it, put a spin on it somehow, and make it clear that it is not intended in any way to discredit, or criticize her husband’s administration. But nothing of such has happened. And what does that mean? That the interview was deliberate and that she is standing by every word she said. She has been called the “good lady in the Villa.” She has been praised for being a modern wife who can speak up, and exercise her right to free speech. She has been called fearless and assertive. The only thing I have not heard from some of the hypocritical commentators is that she would be a good Presidential candidate for 2019.

I have also been told that she must have spoken out of frustration and that her public outburst about the existence of a cabal in the Villa, which determines who gets what appointment, to the disadvantage of members of the All Progressives Congress is making APC members who feel left out of the power-sharing process, very unhappy. But her outburst is nothing but a poor understanding of power politics. There will always be cabals around the seat of power. Power is so potent the people around the corridor will never leave it alone to the President.

And if it is true that this cabal or the President has recruited non-APC members into the government, then that is a positive thing, it is also a positive thing that the President does not know many of the people he has appointed. He doesn’t need to know them personally as long as they come from all parts of Nigeria and they are competent men who can get the job done. The First Lady seems to assume that only card-carrying members of the APC should work for the Buhari administration. On a positive note, however, she doesn’t want anybody to hijack her husband’s Presidency and she believes those who are trying to do so do not mean well. But what does that say about her husband?

The First Lady is also of the view that if the present trend continues, she cannot campaign for her husband in 2019 should he decide to seek re-election. She sounded pleased with what is being done to ensure security in the North East, but she gave the impression that she doesn’t think her husband has done enough to merit a second term in 2019. Hear her: “What I fear is the uprising of 15.4 million people”. And consider this: “…Nobody thought it is going to be like this. But now that it is so…Sometimes when one is doing something wrong without him knowing, but when people talk to them, they should listen”. Who is that person doing something wrong and who does not listen?

Altogether, Mrs Aisha Buhari has passed the equivalent of a vote of no confidence in her husband, and the people around him. This is a kind of “home trouble” brought to the public. The biggest challenge a man can face is to have his own wife “fight” him in public. And what has happened is both unprecedented and significant considering that a Hausa-Fulani couple is involved. It is probably the first time a lady in this position would publicly upbraid her husband and his team. Is she furious because she has been scorned, ignored, rendered powerless?

Well, even if we were not privy to other details, she was publicly scorned when her husband sent a volcanic message from Germany that she should go back to her place in the “kitchen, the living room and the other room.” Feminists and critics of misogyny have protested over this, quite rightly too, at a time when women are leading countries and corporations, it is incorrect and insensitive to say that the best place for a First Lady is to be a cook, a living-room-soap opera-watching detainee and a bedroom object. But given the cultural circumstances involved, this may well be the future Aso Villa fate of First Lady Aisha Buhari. She could be marked out as an ambitious woman who wants to share power with her husband, and as a threat to her husband’s politics.

See how much damage has been caused already by the President’s counter-response: The German Chancellor glared at our President when she heard that comment about “the kitchen, the living room and the other room.” She quickly ended their press conference. Angela Merkel is married, and she is Chancellor, but I don’t think her husband would dare tell her she is best fit for the kitchen and the other room. And imagine if Theresa May, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Oby Ezekwesili, Grace Alele-Williams, Omobola Johnson, Chimamanda Adichie, Joke Jacobs… had all been chained down in the “other room”. No wonder, President Buhari’s local opponents are already making big political capital out of his un-Presidential comments, and the German public is shocked that any world leader could be so politically incorrect. The number of jokes and memes that have been designed around this husband-wife exchange are thoroughly amusing. Mrs Buhari has also handed over to critics of this administration, speaking points that would be exploited all the way till 2019, and she may well end up not as a powerful force in the Villa but as a strong voice for women’s rights.

It is possible she may be advised soon to recruit spin-doctors to do damage control, but she may have left that rather late already. On the other hand, there is no amount of damage control that the President’s spin-doctors can sell to anyone. Whatever happens, she is cultivating a reputation as a different kind of First Lady. Since independence, every Nigerian Head of State or President has enjoyed the support of his wife while in office: strong, fanatical support. Mrs Maryam Abacha was so supportive of her husband, while everybody condemned him, and long after his death, she has continued to celebrate his memory. Before her, Mrs Maryam Babangida brought greater colour and celebrity status to the Office of the First Lady and added much value to her husband’s tenure.

Mrs Fati Abubakar was a dignified presence behind her husband, the same with Mrs Margaret Shonekan. President Olusegun Obasanjo had as First Lady, the very elegant and beautiful Stella Obasanjo who mobilized support and goodwill for her husband. Turai Yar’Adua, wife of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was also so devoted to her husband’s cause, she was declared the head of the Aso Rock cabal. No one doubted her determination to protect her husband’s interest during those critical moments. You all know Mrs Patience Jonathan. She was as First Lady, her husband’s most vocal supporter. This brought her at loggerheads with some sections of the public who objected to her prominence and controversial statements, but not once did she or the other First Ladies before her, criticize their husbands in public.

Elsewhere, First Ladies also support their husbands. With all the reported cases of dalliance and cuckoldry during the Bill Clinton Presidency, Hillary Clinton stood by her husband. Michelle Obama has also proven to be a very good role model in this regard. Certain positions require careful grooming. Any form of tension in the home could distract a political leader and make him seem vulnerable in the eyes of the public. Mrs Aisha Buhari may have spoken her mind, but she should not make a habit of assuming the role of a radical, in-house critic, throwing her husband under the wheels. She ought to be thoroughly embarrassed by all the fun being poked at her husband because of that BBC Hausa interview she granted. How this matter is resolved between their kitchen and “the other room” is a family affair into which we cannot dabble.

Intelligence gathering is in recessionBy Tunde Asaju

​You do not need a soothsayer to know that it is not just the economy that’s in recession in Naija, for a long time intelligence and intelligence gathering has been in recession. When an insurgency is unleashed on your nation while security chiefs nap at public functions, grow potbellies and acquire choice properties at home and abroad, there is something wrong. When brigands get their hands on RPGs and other sophisticated weapons and smugglers of chicken and turkey are paraded as economic saboteurs, there is something terribly wrong.

When the military is embedded with corrupt civilians, lose focus, rig elections and plot against peaceful transition just to cover their dirty tracks, there is something terribly wrong. When maltreated footmen disobey the orders of their corrupt superiors and they are court marshaled while the substance of their grievance is swept under the carpet, there is something wrong. When the same senior officers are trigger happy to head multi-million dollar amnesty deals rather than earn medals for gallantry in the field of battle; you know that professional military men are in recession.

Intelligence gathering can never totally eliminate terrorism, but how did we get to that place where we now have a Boko Haram equipped with military grade weapons and armoury while our soldiers have obsolete equipment? How creek brigands overthrow the legitimacy of governments forcing them to negotiate safe passage for our nation’s army? Who has been declared ‘wanted’ for letting in Libyan mercenaries now unleashing sulphuric hell across the land? When would we be briefed on the effectiveness of the presidential order to move the command headquarters to Haramistan? How did the promise to end Boko Haram in three months culminate in ‘technical defeat’? Where does Abubakar Shekau get the magical nine lives of the cat and the capacity to make propaganda videos that ridicule our might as a nation?

What ‘intelligence’ have we gathered from Amina Ali Nkeki, the lone straggler and her ‘husband’ who were picked up in May? How has that intelligence helped in the effort to locate the remaining Chibok girls? Did we just resettle the traumatized straggler and return to the eternal comfort of official trypanosomiasis? Are we, judging by the way we have treated Aisha Yesufu and other #BringBackOurGirls activists eager to silence the agitation for the safe return of lawful citizens in unlawful captivity?

Of course all these are rhetorical questions. We cannot heckle this ‘people’s government’ into giving answers as that tantamount to treason. It is better for government to act as puppets pulling the strings of scandals keeping the gullible entertained than to govern. Bloody civilians should not poke their fly infested noses into the lucrative pie of security votes even when they are casualties of security ineptitude. A lot has changed in the Buratai era that reduces the time he has for his snake farm snakes and Dubai estates to suggest that nothing has changed.

Without prejudice to the ‘intelligence’ that led to the new declaration, there is a new rule in town in which lawful citizens could be declared wanted by whims and caprice. It is the infection of a disease called Erdoganitis, a syndrome that reverses the logic of complicity under which you are guilty until declared innocent. You could be guilty by association until the contrary is proved. Like Erdogan, our army declares three individuals whose locations were known ‘wanted’ without a formal invitation? Twelve hours after the declaration, two of the ‘wanted’ make contacts with the army and are told to relax and wait until the ‘intelligence’ needed to bring them in are gathered.

This is the best demonstration of the efficiency of our intelligence gathering. Just when you think that things have reached rock bottom, you realize that the base is only a superficial cover for a gigantic sinkhole. If we were an accountable nation, those presiding over this international embarrassment would have lots of explaining to do. In Naija, they are waiting for promotion.

I sometimes feel scandalized realizing that I share the same nationality with those who lionize the actions of those whose conduct pauperize the nation fiscally and intellectually. How lower does it get than being a citizen of a country where a state government uses public funds to place birthday adverts for a jailbird conscious that at home and with plea bargaining, he would have been vying for the chairmanship of his party.

I am surprised no one has declared Shehu Sani wanted. Does it have to do with the non-existent immunity of the legislator? What about Modu Sheriff and the governors of haramistan states? This is the logic that destroyed newspaper circulation vans for unsubstantiated claim of being used to smuggle arms. I hope Oby Ezekwesili packs a sanitary bag – she may be on the ‘wanted’ list. It takes national embarrassments like this to know that it’s not just the economy that’s in recession; even intelligence gathering is in recession. Whenever critics feature on the ‘wanted’ list, it would be a worthy badge of professional honour.

​The Millennials’ Orphanage By Modiu Olaguro

As the raging class struggle between actors in the political space reaches unprecedented levels with the coming of the Buhari presidency, the hoi polloi looks in puzzling dreariness and ecstatic bewilderment as the nation is bustled into a cinema, with every member of the cast doing very well to supplant any other in the horror movie Nigeria has become.

On the political turf, the misuse of politics has undoubtedly reduced democracy to a joke, making it no less a bane than other forms of government it pompously scorns at; on the economic angle, one cannot but succumb to the view of Thomas Carlyle. The Ecclefechan-born scion of divinity probably had our economists in mind when he scorned at economics, rubbishing it as a “dismal science.”

Dismal it is, for no discipline deserving of that esteemed name rooted in methodicalness and astuteness affixes a theory of the largest economy in a country with neither a toothpick nor crayon to her name.

State after state, faith after faith, figure after figure, the Nigerian millennial continues her search to understanding the underpinnings of pan-Africanism in the face of cultural ostracism, the motivations for leadership amongst the people in line with their strive to enter modernity, and the justification for the embrace of a brand of governance structure in post-colonial Nigeria bereft of morality, nay ideology, not to mention the lack of a clear-cut, distinctive ethos among contending groups for empire domination.

Having attained consciousness with the “I have no shoe” campaign of Goodluck Jonathan (PhD), the millennial embraced the shoeless man from the creeks of Otuoke as a model of modernity. He views his humble beginnings as a testament to the power of newness and humbleness.

In no time, he realises he had been sold a dummy. The president was nothing of sort. He got to know of his ordinariness as a leader and his penchant for taking what does not belong to him.

This was what prompted his support for the lanky general from the desert of Daura. But with the gross impunity exemplified by the shady recruitment of at least three national institutions, not to mention his tilting of the justice balance in favour of his cronies, the millennia’s faith in the democratic process is cut by half.

This is why the millennial struggles to maintain her sanity in this space of dignified insanity. Or what else could be going on inside the head of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa when he dipped his hands inside the states’ exchequer to extol the virtues of the virtueless gladiator? It was a full page advert of an ideological blank man whose grand larceny made him a candidate of reformation in a white cell.

“Your charisma,” wrote Okowa, a parent. “Broad-based approach to governance and strong leadership credentials are enduring legacies that have continued to inspire other political leaders.”

Unfortunately, the reality of Nigerian democracy mirrors the abominable legacies of the likes of the Odidigborigbo (whatever that means). Seeing the contradictions in celebrating a criminal from the collective purse of his victims, “politics,” says millennial “is not worth my last name.”

Millennial switches to dictatorship.

Having been born during the era of the barrel, Millennial sees the military in their well starched, nicely pressed uniform matching on the streets on a quiet Saturday and immediately fell in love with them. What enticed him the most was the coordination, orderliness, resilience and discipline as they replaced one leg with the other in splendid precision.

Lo, he says, these are the kinds we need to remove my nation from indiscipline and disorder.

Then he asks his parent: Dad, why is Nigeria practising democracy instead of a dictatorship?

Dad: so you wear Moshood without asking how we came about the name?

Son: I never thought of it.

Dad: we gave you that name to remind the world never to allow your admirers lord over men again.

Son: really? How?

Dad: you were born on 12 June 1993, the day the military-led federal government annulled an election Moshood Abiola won. So each time we call you, it reminds us of our vow to preserve and protect democracy, however, low its adherents sink it—and sink in it.

Via personal studies, he came across names like Ibrahim Babangida, Abdussalam Abubakar, David Mark, and T. Y. Danjuma, stupendously rich sons of nobodies whose rise to fame and fortune rest on the castration of their people and killing of their potentials.

Military he says does not deserve my last name.

The millennial turns to religion.

At least a dozen churches and almost an equal number of mosques surround his home. He sees Enoch Adeboye; a mathematician turned overseer; David Oyedepo, the bishop with a jet shop; TB Joshua, the miracle man; and Chukwuemeka Ezeugo, a “white” reverend who competes with Dictator Jammeh in the Olympics of HIV exorcism. Millennial tells himself religion was the answer.

But soon he realises that between the first three was at least seven private jets; and between the last two lay a litany of adherents whose transits to the great beyond was fueled by their recklessness and criminality. The millennial learns that at least $3m goes to maintaining the least of these instruments of flamboyance and found it unacceptable in the face of chronic poverty amongst their adherents—and people.

He learns about Pastor Fatoyinbo of COZA and his penchant for putting Holy Spirit inspired seed into the body of the Marys over the pulpit.

Religion he says, cannot take my last name.

Then he turns to activism.

They are noble men and selfless women who volunteer to make life worth living by struggling to fight on behalf of others, he tells himself. He sees Dino Melaye during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan; Adams Oshiomole during his days as a labour leader; and lately, Femi Fani-Kayode.

On the click of a mouse, he saw the Kogi senator at Bourdillon on a damning expedition of misplaced boldness. Millennial further learnt about his talents of serial battering and closet misogyny. He turns to the short man from Edo only to see him on a mission to truncating democracy via a virtual attempt to plant his shadow in office. Fani must be the tunnel light, he says. But he was to discover the scion of the old Fani-power dynasty was an embodiment of doublespeak and astounding divisiveness, wearing activism each time the feeding bottle was withdrawn. Ayo Fayose was a no go area, his reputation as a libel on the human race was well known.

Disappointed, millennial turns to the stool.

They are the custodians of the African tradition, he cheers. But in no time, he was confronted with a telling tale of collective sellout and subjugation of traditional principles to suffrage spoilers who had subscribed to political banditry. He sees posh cars replace rusted irons and cows used in place of dogs in the appease of Ogun, the Yoruba god of Iron. Millennial notices the traditional staff of office and sees party emblems written all over it in sordid confirmation of the custodian of tradition’s porting to take custody of militants and snatched ballot boxes.

The stool, sneered millennial, is not worthy of my last name.

Having exhausting all options, with politics gone to the dogs, the military advancing decisively on the bar of roguish indiscipline, religion throwing up substandard characters, and the traditional institution falling in the hands of covert sacrilegists, with neither a leader nor elder in sight to look up to for selfless leadership or moral guidance, the Nigerian millennial accepts his fate as an orphan.

The reality has dawned, Nigeria has transmogrified into the millennials’ orphanage.

For bequeathing a society as desecrated as this to us, the older generation has indeed done well—very well.

Modiu Olaguro writes from Badagry.

Email: dprophetpride@gmail.com

Twitter: @ModiuOlaguro

Technical Defeat Of Muhammadu Buhari By Emmanuel Ugwu

It may seem too early to write off the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. He is in the second year of his four year tenure. That amounts to a reasonable mathematical chance to change the narrative and finish well. But if the law of inertia counts for anything, the remainder of Buhari’s time will prove to be the slow motion fulfillment of an ineluctable tragedy. Granted, there is a context to the pervasive misery in Nigeria today. Buhari inherited a scorched earth. He was bequeathed a landscape of ruins. He was bound to face the challenge of building with rubble.
BY EMMANUEL UCHENNA UGWU

AUG 12, 2016

I t may seem too early to write off the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. He is in the second year of his four year tenure. That amounts to a reasonable mathematical chance to change the narrative and finish well. But if the law of inertia counts for anything, the remainder of Buhari’s time will prove to be the slow motion fulfillment of an ineluctable tragedy.

Granted, there is a context to the pervasive misery in Nigeria today. Buhari inherited a scorched earth. He was bequeathed a landscape of ruins. He was bound to face the challenge of building with rubble.

Jonathan had the good fortune of seeing high crude price for the greater part of his 6 years-long tenure. He grossed a steady windfall of petrodollars. But he sanctioned the merciless looting of state funds.

As a candidate, Buhari appeared to recognize that revamping the economy had to be a priority. He made it a go-to talking point. He hammered on it at the hustings, always checking it off with the promise to fight corruption and arrest insecurity.

But in his earliest days in office, the economy was the last thing on his mind. The leisure of globe trotting was first. And he started to work his planes as soon as possible.

When Nigerians, alarmed that the intoxication of power may have made Buhari frivolous, asked him to sit down and work, he plagiarized Obasanjo: My world tour is a necessary charm offensive. Nigeria is a pariah state. I am traveling to reconcile Nigeria with the world!

While he lived in the air, Buhari left Nigeria without direction and without a cabinet. He took six months purporting to look for the beautiful ones. Even in a fiction, that’s too long a period to run an amorphous government after a disruptive election that saw an opposition candidate win.

Naturally, that eternity of vacuum was filled with speculations and rumors. The market place was paralyzed. Investors and businessmen got edgy, confused and afraid.

Because they were made to hedge their bets and wait forever for the new administration enunciate its economic policy, some took their capital elsewhere. The financial system reacted. And an epidemic of job losses began.

Buhari had been advised to take drastic measures in his first days in office. Former British PM Tony Blair -whose autobiography, A Journey: My Political Life , detailed his action-packed first 100 days in office – suggested that Buhari’s first 100 days would define the shape of the rest of his tenure. Blair counseled Buhari to leverage his massive goodwill and abolish fuel subsidy and take hard decisions to spur economic recovery.

Buhari demurred. He said the argument for the removal of fuel subsidy didn’t sound rational. He would not sanction a decision that would the increase inflation and suffering.

When he eventually came around to realize the foolishness of his obstinacy, he had already unleashed the wilder version of the outcome he was trying to avoid so he could retain his popularity.

Same thing he did with the naira. Every voice of reason counseled that it would be prudent to devalue urgently. The artificial value we were purporting to maintain at the expense of our very lean foreign reserve was incongruous with reality. Buhari refused to grant approval.

He cited again the welfare of the masses. He wouldn’t bear to see Nigerians suffer more.

He would later agree to the idea of ‘floating of the naira.’ But before then, market forces had so weakened the naira that his change of mind was a belated adaptation to a fait accompli. His stubbornness and delay did no good other than instigate instability and increase the inflation and suffering beyond what would have obtained if the devaluation had been done promptly.

Until last week , Buhari was adamant that he would not welcome the views of the private sector on the state of the economy. He implied that private sector players were basically selfish. Their opinions would be tainted by avarice. They can’t put profit above patriotism.

The consequence of having a prideful economic ignoramus that would not seek or entertain wise counsel until he sees the worst possible eventuality come in view is that the Nigerian economy has now gone far too bad than is easy to quickly reverse. Of course, this means that the incredible act of surviving as a Nigerian has become a lot harder. In ‘normal’ times, Nigerian life is a story of deprivation. Buhari has made it more so.

The worrisome thing is that Buhari has yet to get the memo. He lives in a bubble. And he is a captive of sycophants that are serenading him with flattery.

For instance, his spokesman, Garba Shehu, recently said Buhari should not be taken to task about the starvation of hundreds of thousands of Nigerian children in IDP camps. Shehu says Boko Haram created the situation. So why should Buhari be the subject of criticism instead of Shekau?

Before this, Buhari’s other spokesman, Femi Adesina, had declaimed in a PUNCH interview that Nigerians were not suffering. He said Nigerians weren’t experiencing the mildest inconvenience. Nigerians owe his principal a lot thanks for their good life!

Taken together, the words of these spokespersons represent a sample of the despicable diet of falsehoods politicians and aides in Buhari’s orbit feed him. And the words also reflect Buhari’s own mindset.

Buhari is averse to taking responsibility for the Nigerian economy. He habitually laments the Jonathan days looting and calls it the sole cause of the present ‘technical’ recession. On the days he wants to inspire hope, he mouths the tired promise that he would ‘diversify’ the economy!

Buhari has effectively resigned. He is unwilling and unable to rouse himself to the business of accomplishing something timeless and memorable. He is secure in a numbing complacency, a feeling of arrival that compels him to relax like a minimally interested observer in his own presidency.

He has squandered his first year. In few months time, he will be two years in office and midway into his term. That halftime will be the real expiration date of his tenure. Beyond that moment, the polity devolves into a dirty fight to replace him.

There is no sign that Buhari aspires to maximize the remaining part of his time. He has no sense of urgency. The most he is doing is actively wishing that crude price rises and yields him abundance. He had not gamed out options to pursue in case of petrodollars drought. And he is not disposed to start now.

He has the preposterous notion that Nigerians will forgive him for the broken economy because he achieved the technical defeat of Boko Haram and permitted the EFCC to recover some chicken change from certain corrupt politicians on the other side of the political divide.

Not all. People in developing countries tend to judge a leader in one way. The extent to which he helped make the meeting of their basic needs easier. Going by that metric and the escalation of human suffering across Nigeria in the past one year, Buhari’s administration is a disaster!

Buhari walked into the highest office in the land without a plan. He didn’t do any homework. He had no sketch of policies as you would expect of a four time presidential candidate; a serious-minded former head of state that had three decades to study his country as a private citizen. He presumed that all things would align for good. The business of governance will take care of itself. All he needed was to win the election and take the oath of office.

Buhari thought so lowly of the position of president of Nigeria and so highly of himself that he rated himself too qualified to ready himself for it!

Buhari believes that luck is destiny. He counts himself unlucky to be the leader of Nigeria at this time. Every day, he laments the oil curse. He solicits pity for having the misfortune of coming to power now.

This is a coded confession of defeat; an acknowledgement that he has no faith in his ability to pivot his administration to positive denouement.

Buhari’s fatalism has convinced him of his own victimhood. He is persuaded that it is beyond his power to cause a meaningful shift. And this is why the hardship in the land is likely to morph into the worst case scenario.

immaugwu@gmail.com

@EmmaUgwuTheMan

​The Theology And Ideology Of Nigerian Violence By Okey Ndibe

Two curious events took place last week. In one, the leadership of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced their choice of Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new head of Boko Haram, the Islamist group that for seven years has rendered Nigeria’s northeast one of the world’s most dangerous locations. It was ISIS’ first public intervention in the affairs of Boko Haram since the Nigerian Islamist group last year declared fealty to ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

BY OKEY NDIBE

AUG 09, 2016

T wo curious events took place last week. In one, the leadership of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) announced their choice of Abu Musab al-Barnawi as the new head of Boko Haram, the Islamist group that for seven years has rendered Nigeria’s northeast one of the world’s most dangerous locations. It was ISIS’ first public intervention in the affairs of Boko Haram since the Nigerian Islamist group last year declared fealty to ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

ISIS’ announcement triggered a swift, defiant statement by Abubakar Shekau, declaring himself still captain of Boko Haram, a jihadist group that abjures western education and values—and seeks to turn Nigeria and a swath of territory in West Africa into a caliphate.

The second event was a reported split within the Niger Delta Avengers, the militant group that has claimed responsibility for bombing crude oil facilities in the Niger Delta, forcing numerous oil firms to significantly scale back their operations. Christening themselves Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, the splinter group said they were renouncing the deployment of violence and endorsing ongoing negotiations between President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Nigeria Delta (MEND).

I was fascinated by the sheer coincidence of the two developments, but coincidence was hardly the most intriguing dimension of the fissuring that took place within a neo-sectarian group, Boko Haram, and a neo-political enterprise, the Niger Delta Avengers.

On the face of it, what we witnessed was a veritable divorce within two organizations whose goals may be different, but whose violent deeds represent two versions of Nigeria’s greatest nightmares.

For me, then, what was even more interesting than the ordinary facts of the splits themselves was to witness the playing out of a sort of theological argument (within Boko Haram) and a species of ideological debate (within the Niger Delta Avengers). The situation in the Niger Delta seems to me to be in its early stages of evolution. In the coming weeks, it will become clearer whether the splinter group—which renamed itself Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA)—is truly motivated by ideas (a desire to end the ecological blight in the oil-rich region and to curb the climate of insecurity), or is actuated by the prospect of securing a share of a government-provided largesse that is in the offing.

For now, I propose to turn my attention solely to the interesting divorce that took place last week between two factions of Boko Haram.

The mercurial Abubakar Shekau had for several years functioned as the voice and face of Boko Haram. Nigerians and others had become familiar with his dark, bearded face, his military-style fatigues, and his jabbing, jeering words, a machine gun draped across his chest. His speeches established his fame and notoriety. He comes across as a man with an acute, if diabolical, sense of drama and moment. Whatever the occasion—whether to show off the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls his group captured and threatened to auction off for a few dollars a person, to gloat over the capture of a major town or the routing of a military barracks—he mixed taunts, quotes from the Quran and sweeping hand gestures. And he often punctuated his verbal antics by releasing a cackle of gunfire into the air.

His blood-soaked career as a jihadist has sometimes transported him to the realm of legend. On at least three occasions, the Nigerian army had announced that he had been killed in combat. Once, the report was that Cameroonian troops had got him. Photos of his supposedly dead body were splashed online. Each time, however, Shekau had posted another video to declare himself alive, to mock his ostensible killers, and to promise more mayhem.

Yet, soon after Boko Haram’s announcement last year that it was affiliating with ISIS, Shekau’s videotaped appearances became rare. Perhaps ISIS had iced the antics for strategic reasons, the better not to give away telltale clues about the location of Boko Haram insurgents. Then came last week’s bombshell, terse announcement that ISIS had chosen al-Barnawi as Boko Haram’s new leader.

For the first time in months, Shekau released an audiotaped message. He reaffirmed himself as the incumbent leader of the Islamist sect. But there was something noticeably different in his voice, a telling absence of exuberance and glee. In clipped, cryptic phrases, he declared that he and his followers had been deceived, had been duped in a clandestine plot. Despite the absence of his signature bounciness of tone, the import of his speech was unmistakable. He was repudiating his group’s loyalty to ISIS.

A day later, the ISIS-backed al-Barnawi issued a lengthy taped retort to his sulking erstwhile compatriot and leader. According to a translated transcript, he declared that Shekau “was boasting that if we attempt to escape from his empire his men would kill us. He is a liar. I am not the only one that left, but eight of us left, all kitchen cabinet members.” He cautioned Shekau against attempting an armed attack on his splinter group, claiming ominously that his group had moles planted deep within Shekau’s circles. He accused his estranged former leader of numerous acts of self-centeredness and grave impulsiveness. He stated that Shekau basked in luxury but was callously indifferent to the agony of starving children. He said Shekau frequently failed to provide Islamist fighters with food and weapons. And then he declared that Shekau had secretly killed numerous Boko Haram members, often on account of unproven or false accusations.

But the most remarkable part of al-Barnawi’s response was its articulation of a theological indictment of Shekau. At the heart of the “theological” dispute was the splinter group’s sense that Shekau had betrayed Islamic tenets by being an equal opportunity killer—dealing death to Muslims and Christians alike.

The ISIS-supported al-Barnawi is so repelled by the killing of fellow Muslims—when there are more than enough infidels to slaughter—that he makes the point again and again: “Just like Allah gave us power to kill infidels, there are those he said we shouldn’t kill without reason.

“In the Quran, Allah forbade Muslims from killing one another…Almighty Allah is against killings of Muslims. Allah is saying better heaven and earth fall than innocent soul of a Muslim, but you have Shekau who likes killing our own people…There are several verses that forbid killing of a fellow Muslim unjustifiably…Shekau is ignorant of the fact that it is forbidden for a Muslim to be killed after being chased out of Islamic Caliphate to a strange land and [when the Muslim] has not taken part in any conspiracy against Muslims. [Shekau] is ignorant and needs to be taught the rudiments of Islam.”

The split between Shekau and al-Barnawi portends potentially significant shifts. Is there a chance that the two sides would fall on each other in a fierce, internecine feud? Or is one side going to quickly vanquish the other—and institute its own modus operandi?

There’s a great challenge and opportunity for mainstream Muslims, those who have declared no overt fatwa on western education. These adherents often stipulate that Islam is founded on peace. It behooves them, then, to make their voices heard in this theological debate between Shekau and al-Barnawi. They must restate that the so-called infidel is every bit as human as any Muslim—and that the taking of any life without just cause is unwarranted and an affront.

Please follow me on twitter @okeyndibe