Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Fighting Or Celebrating Corruption?

By Egwuchukwu Hilary Ejikeme  
This country as it is presently organised does not hold any future, whatsoever, for our children. Never in the history of mankind has so much been owed so many by so few. Even though we were ignorant of it, the battle-line was drawn, ab initio, between the only two quasi-political parties I could distinguish in Nigeria: The very rich versus the poor masses, the leadership as against the people, the Bourgeoisie lined up against the Proletariat.
*President Buhari 
Whether as members of the Armed Forces or the business moguls or the politicians, leadership at once becomes a melting pot of sorts. At the very top, there is no tribe, no religion, no profession, and no division. The rest of us: Police, Army, Air Force, Navy, all other Nigerian workers – public/civil servants, artisans, drivers, petty traders and what not, must rise from our slumber and seek to change and redirect the course of governance for the benefit of our children.
What successive governments have done in Nigeria, including the present Muhammadu Buhari leadership, is to celebrate, rather than fight corruption. The issue of corruption in Nigeria is more fundamental than just inundating the pages of our national dailies and plaguing the air waves with individual cases of brazen misappropriation or looting of public funds. The leadership is only playing to the gallery.
Corruption has become like an alternative source of energy in Nigeria. My friend used to complain a lot about the noise pollution and the attendant fumes of his neighbour’s generating set, but that was until he was able to buy his own generator. Today, my friend’s generator is on, almost right round the clock, regardless of what his neighbours are passing through. That is the case of leadership and corruption in Nigeria. Now former President Olusegun Obasanjo doubled as the President and the Minister of Petroleum: There was then no Nigerian, good or trustworthy enough, to fit into that position. Probably because this continued throughout his eight years in office, our own Buhari, the darling and toast of The Fourth Estate of The Realm, has unwittingly stepped into the same unwieldy shoes. But can two wrongs ever make a right?
Corruption is corruption: Any time or anywhere. When we sacrifice competence and meritocracy at the altar of mediocrity and/or federal character/quota system, it is corruption: Pure and simple. Nigeria is basically designed to fail, from the beginning. No team can ever win a match if it refuses to field its best players.

Aig-Imoukhuede: Ten Years After

By Banji Ojewale
Ten years after we lost Ikpehare Izedomi Aig-Imoukhuede, the prismatic columnist of Vanguard newspaper, we are still grieving and regretting we’ve not gotten a heir, a successor, nay a pupil to step into the great shoes of the master. It is the sign of a sinking age. A hero departs and seems to take with him the stuff of greatness that built him.
(pix:MS)

Although Aig-Imoukhuede borrowed heavily from the biting style of two other legends, Sad Sam (Sam Amuka) and Peter Pan (Peter Enahoro), he added his own: the caustic episodic approach. Every Wednesday in his Sketches column he stood on a tripod- Sad Sam, Peter Pan, and Aig-Imoukhuede –to feast his readers. The outcome was a unique brand. For, whereas Sad Sam and Peter Pan’s columns were not always a story telling affair Imoukhuede’s would every time broach trendy events to pillory society. His writing was airy, reminding you of the ambience that envelopes you when you read the short stories of Guy de Maupassant and Ernest Hemingway.

That was my submission when I paid a tribute to this remarkable columnist on his death a decade ago.  

I wrote then that before he died in Lagos on January 23, 2007, Aig-Imoukhuede had this memorable encounter with the living. Writing in his long running Sketches column in Vanguard of January 24, 2007 he gave no hint of a terminal ailment nor of stalking death right on his doorstep.

Under the title “Money In The Bank”, Imoukhuede identified two counter cultures that he observed were emerging as a result of the Central Bank’s report on alleged injury to the naira. CBN, he claimed, was frowning at those abusing the national currency. It advised them to take to keeping the money in the banks rather than under  their pillows. In other words, they should imbibe the banking culture of transacting business with plastic money.

Tenure Of Church Leaders: Between Obazee And Biblical Uzzah

By Onuoha Ukeh
When the Federal Government, on Tuesday, announced the sack of Executive Secretary, the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FCR), Jim Osayande Obazee, 48 hours after the controversial law on tenure of church leaders became an issue, I remembered the biblical story of Uzzah and the Ark of God. As the Bible recorded, when David and the people of Israel were bringing back the Ark of God, Uzzah was struck dead when he held the Ark, in an attempt to steady it.
*Osinbajo, Buhari and Adeboye 
The Bible stated, in 2 Samuel 6: 7-11:
“And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.
“And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the Ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the Ark of God.
“And David was displeased, because the Lord had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and said, How shall the Ark of the Lord come to me? So David would not remove the Ark of the Lord unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite.  And the Ark of the Lord continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the Lord blessed Obededom, and all his household.”
Having gone back to read the story of the Ark of God and relating it to what happened to Obazee, I am beginning to think that the former FRC boss suffered the fate of Uzzah. Yes, the Ark of God shook, as the oxen moved on. Uzzah, in his wisdom, thought it wise to hold the Ark of God, to prevent it from falling. But God, in anger, struck him dead, for touching the Ark. And God’s reason was that he touched the Ark when it was not his duty to do so. Now, Obazee, as head of FRC, a government agency saddled with the responsibility of regulating the affairs of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and others, had moved to enforce a law on tenure and financial reporting, as it affects the religious sector. His agency had insisted, according to the provisions of the Act, that leaders of churches, who had been in the saddle for 20 years or attained the age of 70 or both should step down. The agency’s insistence caused the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, to relinquish his position in Nigeria, with his appointment of a National Overseer in the country, while he remains the worldwide leader of the RCCG. There was outrage in Christendom. And Obazee was fired. The board of FRC was dissolved. And the controversial code suspended.
Some people have said that Obazee was sacrificed by the Muhammadu Buhari government to save face in a perceived failed attempt to regulate religion. Others have said that he was axed because he overstepped his bounds, as a government agent. Whatever be the case, the issue is that government has retraced its steps. The code has been suspended. And we all can have some peace. However, I must say that there is nothing wrong with government taking interest in the conduct of religious leaders. Religion is a serious matter. It inflames passion and has the tendency of causing crisis, especially when mismanaged. Therefore, a close look at what religious leaders are doing could be the beginning of wisdom.

Robert Mugabe Death Prophecy: Zimbabwe Pastor Arrested

*President Mugabe
Zimbabwean pastor, Patrick Mugadza, announced last week that the 92-year-old Zimbabwean head of state, Robert Mugabe, would die on 17 October this year.
His lawyer, Gift Mtisi, told the BBC that he was relaying a "message from God. Police would have to prove that God didn't say it".
Mr. Mugabe mocks frequent rumours of his death, saying he has been resurrected more often than Jesus Christ, a claim widely regarded as blasphemous.
Mr. Mtisi said his client had initially been charged with undermining the authority of the president, then "criminal nuisance" and finally "insulting people of a certain race or religion".
He said Mr Mugadza was laughing about the charges and would plead not guilty.
"I'm still at pains to find the criminal part of it," Mr. Mtisi told the BBC.
He added the pastor had no regrets about making the prophesy:

"He's admitting to the facts. He says he didn't lie - that's a message from God. Police will have to prove God didn't say it."

Breaking The Anti-Adeboye Code

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
It is unnecessary to boast about the defeat of the contentious corporate governance code of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN). Neither the religious people, especially the Christians who felt affronted by it nor the government and its officials have fought a good fight that requires self-adulation. The only loser is seemingly the Executive Secretary of the FRCN, Jim Obazee. He overreached himself by insisting on the implementation of the code that precipitated the exit of Pastor Enoch Adeboye as the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God. Consequently, Obazee was sacked by the authorities he defied.
*Pastor Adeboye
But the Christians must have a fair share of the blame for waiting for the matter to degenerate to this extent. It is good that the Christians as represented by Adeboye want to be good citizens by obeying the laws of the land and this was why the famous cleric offered to quit. But they should have also used the laws of the land to relentlessly interrogate a policy they found iniquitous. They should not have waited for the government to help them. It is not enough for them to seek redress in the court, lose and give up. They should have gone the whole judicial hog – to the Supreme Court. Even the policy was made when Christians led by Goodluck Jonathan were in power.
Instead of pastors and bishops leveraging the influence of these people to make policies in their favour, they were busy collecting fat offerings in their churches when they came to give testimonies of how God made them to win elections, without hinting at how their so-called electoral victories were preceded by killing, maiming, lying and cheating. It is the same way bad policies are made by the government and clerics watch in acquiescence as their members writhe under them. They watch when teenage girls, especially Christians, are forcibly converted and married off. In the same vein, lawmakers in the National Assembly and other leaders in government, and Christians and their clerics are now keeping quiet when efforts to forcibly take over their land through the grazing bill are being made. After the law is now made, they would now wait for a miracle to deliver them from its baleful implications.
It is to the government’s credit that it took an action that negated the suspicion that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari wants to Islamise the nation. This suspicion existed even though the code was not originated by this government. However, the development has also thrown into sharp relief how the rules of men and not those of the land determine the actions of our government. For it is not likely that if Adeboye were a different person, the government would have quickly roused itself from its now familiar dithering and sacked Obazee as it did. There is the perception that it is because the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah are pastors in The Redeemed Church that the government’s intervention was timeous.
Since the government has proved to be able to muster such a swift response to a controversial issue, it is expected henceforth to react promptly to matters that affect the wellbeing of the citizens. If it had been prompt in its responses, our teenage girls would not be abducted, converted and forced into marriage with the complicity of emirs. There would have been peace in all the parts of the country. The carnage in southern Kaduna and other forms of Fulani herdsmen’s terrorism would not have festered, and the crises in the Niger Delta and the South East would have been resolved. And there would have been restructuring of the polity which is believed to be the panacea to the ills plaguing the nation.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Nigeria: The Zoo In Aso Rock

By Adewunmi Emoruwa
A Miracle can be described as an illogical occurrence that contradicts prevailing conditions or accepted reality.
Nigeria is experiencing harsh times, we are acquainted with the stats. Most recently we are battling with acute cash shortage of the US Dollar and even the Naira, with reasons alluded ranging from restricted forex inflow as a result of rigid monetary policies, plummeting levels of economic activity or several hundreds of millions of dollars held captive, buried in bunkers and soak-aways of the allegedly corrupt.  While consumption, like purchasing power is on the decline, inflation is about the only thing rising in our country. In simple English: Nigeria is broke or one would assume.
‘We are are a resilient nation’ quipped one of the politicians who got us into this mess. S/he will be fine. But is is not just himself or herself alone, a few, privileged, wild, exotic animals (we are not allowed to see) resident in Aso Rock will also be fine.
A Budget line in State House 2017 Budget caught my attention: Over Forty Million (40m) Naira will be spent to feed and cater to the wild animals in the State House. This is Nigeria where most of our citizens are not guaranteed their next meal. This is a country that is supposed to be in a recession.  Haowa Bello, an inspiring young Fulani lady from Adamawa State started her leather/bag manufacturing and goat farm business which is now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars with a loan of just $200, which was about N30,000 around the time. (You can read about it here) [1]  Imagine our government invested $200 (N65,000) in young enterprising Nigerians in the place of maintaining these exotic beasts, it could have created a cluster with over 600 Hauwas and about 2000 new jobs. Not too long ago, world news featured a small, little known Nigerian tannery in Kano that supplies leather to the Italian brands, Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren [2].

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Grace Mugabe 'Grabs More Houses' In $1.3m Diamond Ring Dispute

Frank Chikowore
Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe has allegedly grabbed two more properties from a Lebanese businessman, despite the court ordering her to vacate the three houses that she initially seized in a botched $1.3m diamond ring deal. Harare High Court judge Clement Phiri on December 21 ruled against President Robert Mugabe's controversial wife after she forcefully took ownership of three properties belonging Lebanese tycoon Jamal Ahmed, and gave her 24 hours to pack her bags and allow Ahmed's employees to return to the seized houses.
*Mrs Grace Mugabe
New court papers showed that the First Lady had taken ownership and control of two more houses belonging to Ahmed, who told the court recently that he now feared to return to Zimbabwe after being threatened with harm by Grace's son Russell Goreraza, her son-in-law Simba Chikore and Kennedy Fero. The three were part of Grace's her security personnel.
One of Ahmed's employees, Talent Kasiya, deposed an affidavit at the High Court on January 3, claiming that two more houses belonging to his employer had again been seized. 
"On Sunday December 18 I attended Dungarvan House, Wilson Avenue in Borrowdale, where I saw two men whom I recognised as having been part of the group that had initially come to the Cambridge Road premises. I noticed that the lock at the back entrance of Dungarvan House had in fact been broken and, as there was noone manning the gate, I was able to enter," read part of the affividavit.
Second eviction order 
Ahmed's attorney, Beatrice Mtetwa, confirmed the latest development.

Friday, January 6, 2017

President Mugabe Trips Gulp US$36m

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s globetrotting has seen him splurge US$36 million on foreign and domestic travel in the first 10 months of 2016, piling pressure on a cash-strapped government that is failing to buy painkillers for public hospitals, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
By Taurai Mangudhla
 
*President Mugabe and wife, Grace 
While recurrent expenditure, mostly civil service wages, gobbled 97% of the US$4 billion 2016 National Budget as of September, the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) spent US$34,4 million on foreign trips that have yielded no tangible results for Zimbabweans. OPC spent US$1,2 million on domestic travel, according to figures obtained from the 2017 National Budget.
Mugabe’s trips outweighed expenditure by ministries such as Macro-economic Planning and Investment Promotion, Energy and Power Development, Transport and Infrastructure Development and Industry and Commerce as well as the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
The expenditure came at a time Zimbabwe failed to honour the Abuja Declaration, which states that governments should allocate 15% of the budget to health. Instead, only 9,7% (US$330 million) of the 2016 National Budget was reserved for the sector.
A huge infrastructure gap estimated at US$20 billion has also resulted in poor service delivery.
Former finance minister Tendai Biti criticised Mugabe for piling pressure on Treasury at a time the economy is floundering.
“What kind of a President spends two months outside the country on a holiday when his economy is in a fragile fiscal position?” Biti asked, adding “it’s an indication he is not fit to govern.”
Biti said Mugabe, who now prioritises his trips, was always kept in check by the opposition during the Government of National Unity (GNU) era.
“Post the GNU it is like a dog has been released from a leash,” Biti said.

Grazing Reserves And Southern Kaduna Massacre

By Gbemiga Olakunle
We are watching with breathtaking amazement the level of destruction of lives and property reportedly going on in Southern Kaduna. The conflict in the area has claimed about 808 lives, while about 57 persons suffered life threatening injuries in the hands of suspected Fulani herdsmen. The body language of The Presidency on this situation is troubling. President Muhammadu Buhari has not uttered any word of condemnation on the reported mass killing that can be likened to genocide.

However, the Sultan of Sokoto has reportedly frowned at the wanton destruction of lives and property in the area. The respected traditional ruler and head of the Muslim community in Nigeria, Alhaji Mohammed Sa’ad Abubakar III, has even advised President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Nasir El-Rufai to put an end to the crisis in the area. In his condemnation of the killings, the Sultan declared that fundamental Islamic law forbids the unlawful destruction of lives and property, except for a just cause. While defending his principal, the presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, was also quoted as saying that there is no need for the President to speak on the killings since the Kaduna State Governor, El-Rufai, is on top of the matter as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) of the State.
Rev. Father Paul Jatau has, however, accused the governor of being complacent in his handling of the contentious matter. In fact, the Rev. Father went ahead to allege that it was the refusal of the Southern Kaduna residents to turn their lands into grazing reserves for the Fulani herdsmen that formed the bedrock of the crisis. About 808 human lives are reportedly lost in a particular section of a Federating Unit within the Federal Republic of Nigeria and yet the Presidency has not deemed it fit to utter a single word or condemnation whether it means it or not!
We are talking of human lives here and not those of chickens. Even if such lives belong to other animals, what does it cost the authorities concerned to condemn  such unwarranted destruction in unmistaken terms before going ahead to investigate the matter with a view to getting to its root and stopping it? Since the Sultan of Sokoto and the President of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has strongly condemned the destruction and advised both the President and the Governor of the affected State on what to do, there is no need to further over-flog the matter.

Politicians And The failure of Democracy

By Dan Amor
Without ignoring irony as a characteristic value of a mature literary work- the maintenance of desperate perspectives- I wish to regard it here as also a mode of interconnection, as illuminating discrepancy. Awareness of discrepancy means awareness of at least the two elements required to create a discrepancy. In a non-ironic work such nexus would be lacking, and the texture would be correspondingly thinner. The ironic connection may be between elements close or distant; it may be completed in actional or verbal terms; and it may have different temporal aspects. 
*Nigerian Politicians 
It may complete itself in the present in which it comes into view, either bad a contradiction of terms within that situation or as an overturn of a universal expectancy. Or it may bind past and present or present and future by a reversal of ordinary probability or of specific expectancies created by the term of the plot. And so, the standard dramatic irony in Nigeria today is that of a class of people- a clan of aggrieved individuals made up of expired warlords and frustrated pseudo-democrats- who have captured political power by hook or crook but lack an iota of idea of what to do with it. It is an irony of a character taking an action which does not lead to applause or which leads to a soured applause.

Nigeria has indeed been turned into a paradise for power-starved men who desperately seek power for the sake of it: for ego boosting, lining of their pockets and self aggrandizement. In this most endowed but most troubled Black Country in the world, the fight for power has taken on a particularly unpleasant form. The race for the 2015 general elections had begun with pomp and fanfare as politicians, both the contenders and pretenders alike, jostled for attention and space. For the Presidential race, the list paraded some interesting personalities. But, in terms of ideology and presentation of alternative programmes, Nigerians were yet to see anything different from what had always been on ground. 

What the citizens were confronted with daily were insults and virulent attacks on the personality of the sitting President. Since the emergence of the present civilian dispensation in May 1999, there has been a complete lack of courage and the political will to play the game of politics according to the rules. First, is the complete absence of ideology and clear-cut distinction between one political party and another, and then the absence of issues-oriented debates on the hustings. Indeed, what we have is "bread-and-butter" politics as our politicians lack the necessary reorientation required to bring them into lasting acquaintance with the real essence of party politics and strong democracy. This is a lamentable departure from the halcyon days of ideological divisions.

Gov Okorocha’s Rough Treatment Of Pensioners

By Clement Udegbe

The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they becomeJohann Wolfang Von Goethe.

If someone told Imo pensioners sometime in 2009, that one day, they would be pushed to the wall, and then made to forfeit part of their entitlements, they would say it was unthinkable. But that is exactly what they have been confronted with as we rolled on with the Change Agenda in the state.
*Gov Rochas Okorocha of Imo State
Yes, they wanted Change, but they have got chains as lamented by one of them last October. Since 1999, when this Nigerian new democratic experience started Imo, pensioners were paid their entitlements monthly without any hick ups, till May 2015, when government began to owe them, pension arrears started to build up, and by December 2016, most pensioners were owed 19 months arrears because some money was paid in August 2016. Some were owed for more than 20 months.

By mid last year, government started their dribbling, which we call mago-mago treatment of these retirees. First, without any consultations, or discussions with the pensioners concerned, they reduced the length of time of claim of each pensioner, and announced that those owed for 19 months would be paid only for 11 months, while those owed for 20 months and above would be paid for 12 months.

Government accepted to pay full entitlements to only those who retired at salary grade levels 1-7, the junior cadres. Second, after gauging the body language of these helpless, senior citizens, the state government considered it appropriate to hit the elders below the belt, by taking away a substantial proportion of their entitlements disingenuously.

They came out with a letter of set off addressed to the Accountant General of the state, a sample verbiage of which is reproduced here for understanding:

“I,… a pensioner, having retired on a salary grade level…from… with monthly pension of N85, 204.80; Being owed arrears of pension for 11 months which amounts to N937,252.80 do hereby accept, to collect 40% of the said arrears which amounts to N374,901.12 which represents the total accumulated arrears due to me up to December 2016, as full and final settlement of all other claims of which I am entitled to make against the State Government in respect of the said accumulated Pension Arrears. I voluntarily accept this payment due to economic situation in the country presently. I do hereby release and discharge the Imo State Government and his agents from all past, present, and future liability and from all actions and demands in respect of the said accumulated Pension Arrears.”

The pensioner would sign, thumbprint, and have his Traditional Ruler to sign as his witness, to the set off letter containing his bank details, and stating the name of his SDC Ward Coordinator, an APC creation. After owing them for 19 months, and more for some, many would have died in their thousands and now, those of them who refused to die, must forfeit a good portion of their claims or entitlements as a punishment.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Last Days Robert Mugabe

Zimbabwe is engulfed, and not only by a political crisis. While its leaders fight, its economy is in meltdown.

BY MARTIN FLETCHER

*President Mugabe 

With considerable trepidation, I took the lift to the sixth floor of the ministry of justice in central Harare to interview the minister. It wasn’t just that I lacked the accreditation foreign journalists must obtain to work in Zimbabwe – the interview had been arranged through unofficial back channels. The minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa, also happens to be the vice-president, Robert Mugabe’s notoriously brutal chief enforcer for the past 36 years, and the most feared man in the country. “They don’t call him ‘The Crocodile’ for nothing,” said a Zimbabwean businessman who knows him well. “He never says a word but suddenly he bites. He’s very dangerous.”

But Mnangagwa, still powerfully built at 74, proved courteous enough as we sat in deep leather armchairs in his bright and spacious office. It was not in his interest to be hostile – not at this time. He is determined to succeed Mugabe and he will need Western support to rebuild his shattered country if he does, which is presumably why he gave me an almost unprecedented interview.
Aged 92 and the world’s oldest head of state, Robert Mugabe is fading. He falls asleep in meetings, suffers memory lapses and stumbles on steps.

He delivered the wrong speech at the opening of parliament in September last year and had to deliver the right one to a specially convened session the following day. As long ago as 2008 a WikiLeaks cable from the US ambassador reported that he had terminal prostate cancer, and he frequently flies to Singapore for unspecified medical treatment – blood transfusions, perhaps, or steroid injections. A diplomatic source talked of Mugabe’s “dramatic deterioration in the last two years”, and said: “He could go at any point.”
Mnangagwa did not admit he wants to be president, of course. Given Mugabe’s paranoia, that would have been political suicide. 

On the contrary, he was studiously loyal. When I asked which politician he most admired he immediately replied: “The president.” He refused to discuss the possibility of Mugabe dying. “Under British constitutional law you don’t conceive or desire the demise of Your Majesty. Why would you want to conceive or desire the demise of my president?” he asked. He even denied that he would seek Mugabe’s job when, to borrow the euphemism with which some Zimbabweans refer to the coming cataclysm, “the portrait falls off the wall”.

“I don’t see myself doing that,” he said. Of the decades he had worked with Mugabe, he said, “I was not serving to be president. I was serving my country.”
Nobody will believe Mnangagwa’s denial – certainly not close allies such as Christopher Mutsvangwa, a former Zimbabwean ambassador to China and the leader of the “war veterans” who seized the country’s white-owned farms in the 2000s.
I had met Mutsvangwa a few days earlier in the unlikely setting of a coffee shop in the affluent Harare suburb of Mount Pleasant. It was another encounter between a senior regime figure and a Western journalist of a sort that is becoming increasingly possible in the turbulence of Mugabe’s twilight days. Mutsvangwa told me he was “100 per cent” sure that Mnangagwa would be Zimbabwe’s next president. Indeed, he and other allies of the vice-president are already locked in a vicious struggle over the succession with Mnangagwa’s potential rivals in the ruling Zanu-PF party.

Grace Mugabe, 51, the president’s intensely ambitious and avaricious wife, set things going in late 2014 after her husband made her the head of Zanu-PF’s Women’s League and a member of the party’s Politburo. She persuaded Mugabe to expel the previous vice-president, Joice Mujuru, and her supporters from the party for allegedly plotting against the president. Mujuru – who as a teenage guerrilla during Zimbabwe’s war of independence in the 1970s gave birth in the bush, shot down a helicopter with a rifle and earned the nom de guerre Teurai Ropa (“Spill Blood”) – has now set up an opposition party, Zimbabwe People First (ZPF).

Having disposed of Mujuru, Grace and a group of “Young Turks” known as Generation 40, or G40, then turned their attention to Mnangagwa, seeking to oust him as vice-president and purge his supporters from critical posts in Zanu-PF. Grace made no secret of her ambitions, flying round the country in the presidential helicopter to address “meet the people” rallies. “They say I want to be president. Why not? Am I not Zimbabwean?” she asked. To give herself gravitas, she acquired a PhD from the University of Zimbabwe in three months; the degree was presented to her by the chancellor – her husband.
But Mnangagwa has his own cabal of older party members who fought in the liberation war and despise the G40 “upstarts”, who did not – Mutsvangwa calls them “power-grabbers” and “village head boys”. His so-called Lacoste faction (the clothing company’s emblem is a crocodile) has hit back hard, using Mnangagwa’s control of Zimbabwe’s Anti-Corruption Commission to launch high-profile criminal investigations against G40 leaders. For good measure, Mutsvangwa’s war vets have turned on Mugabe himself. In July they issued a communiqué condemning his “dictatorial tendencies . . . which have slowly devoured the values of the liberation struggle”. In November they sacked him as their patron.

A secret Zanu-PF document passed to me by a reliable source shows how sulphurous the infighting has become. Emanating from Mnangagwa’s camp, it accuses G40 of plotting “political euthanasia” against the party’s founding generation and of “coercing the First Lady into a spirited campaign against VP Mnangagwa”.

The document suggests Mugabe himself created G40 because, behind his “feigned love” for his deputy, he “has always felt threatened by VP Mnangagwa and the prospect of his presidency being outshined by that of his protégé”.
The nine-page document then sets out a detailed plan to destroy G40’s leaders through “brutal character assassination”, fomenting “fights and chaos” within the group, and sowing “seeds of distrust” between G40 and Grace Mugabe.
In short, the party that has governed Zimbabwe since 1980 is sundered as never before. Beneath the bright-blue jacaranda and orange flamboyant trees that shade Harare’s broad avenues, vendors hawk newspapers that gleefully proclaim “Crunch Time For Zanu-PF Factions”, “Zanu-PF Implodes” and “Blood On The Floor”

“They’re at each other’s throats and it’s not unlikely it will end in a violent confrontation,” Ibbo Mandaza, a political analyst in Harare, told me.

But Zimbabwe is engulfed, and not only by a political crisis: while its leaders fight, its economy is in meltdown.

Alleged Corruption: How Not To Save Magu

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
Those who really want President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed in his campaign against corruption must be scandalised by the efforts of his so-called supporters to persuade him to dismiss the allegations of corruption against Ibrahim Magu as merely constituting a self-serving canard that is not worth his attention. The president’s friends do not see the need to investigate the allegations by the Senate that the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is amenable to the patronage of those he is supposed to investigate for corruption and his complicity in other myriad unethical practices that have rendered him ineligible to occupy that high office.
*Ibrahim Magu
These friends and those of Magu have instigated a rash of lobbying activities geared at making the president to re-nominate Magu for confirmation as the EFCC chair. It has been said that the debate on whether to retain Magu or not has split the kitchen cabinet of the president. The Senate is equally split as some senators led by Senate Majority Leader Ali Ndume are trying to persuade their colleagues to rescind their decision not to confirm Magu.
Yet, the issue requires far more than lobbying. For whether the anti-corruption campaign of Buhari retains whatever credibility it still has now or not depends on how the Magu issue is resolved. Thus for the anti-corruption campaign to continue and indeed gain greater verve, the allegations against Magu must not be glossed over. True, the Senate that accused Magu of corruption is perceived to have lost its lustre in a murky cesspool of malfeasance. Its leader, Bukola Saraki is being tried by the Code of Conduct Tribunal for corruption-related cases.
There are other members of the Senate, especially former governors, who are facing cases of corruption. Despite the mounting pressure from the public, the Senate has refused to be transparent in its finances. The fogginess about their salaries and allowances and their extravagant lifestyles conflict with the desperate economic crisis of the nation. But we must resist the temptation to quickly dismiss the senators’ position until their allegations are investigated. It is only after this that we can be sure whether the Senate took their position in furtherance of their own interest or that of the nation. It is hasty to argue that by the Senate’s position, it is evident that corruption is fighting back.
Those who are insisting on saving Magu without investigating the allegations against him are not helping the anti-corruption fight. For even if the president is able to persuade the Senate to make a barefaced volte-face and confirm Magu, this would not help the anti-corruption campaign as long as there are no convincing responses by him to the allegations of corruption. To the extent that Magu on whom unresolved corruption charges are hanging retains his job as the chief prosecutor of the fight against sleaze in public offices, the anti-corruption fight has suffered an intolerable travesty that would only render the nation a butt of crude jokes in the comity of transparent nations. If Magu is found guilty of the charges, Buhari should allow him to face prosecution.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A Final Word To The Cabal In Kaduna

By Fani-Kayode
In reaction to the suggestion that the people of Southern Kaduna should defend themselves from mass murder and genocide given the fact that their state government has refused to protect them a political advisor to Governor Nasir El Rufai wrote the following in an essay titled Kaduna Shall Be Great Again”.
 
*President Buhari and Gov El-Rufai 
He wrote: “The greatest challenge to peace in Kaduna State now is the antics of political jobbers and opportunists who have gone as low as spreading hate speeches, telling communities in Kaduna State to ‘defend themselves.’ This, of course is an unmistakable call on the people of Kaduna State to procure arms and ammunitions and start killing themselves. This is not just very low but extremely dangerous. This call on the citizenry to take the laws into their own hands totally undermines all on-going efforts to achieve lasting peace in Kaduna State.”

Instead of showing remorse for their woeful failures and begging for forgiveness for the sea of innocent blood that has been shed under their watch, the government of Kaduna State is lashing out at all those that have called them out and that are deeply concerned about the carnage that has taken place in Southern Kaduna. The advisor pours scorn on the suggestion that a man should protect his family, loved ones and home from cold-blooded murderers who are attempting to maim and kill them.

He is suggesting that the people of Southern Kaduna should keep quiet, passively fold their arms and happily welcome, with a warm smile, those that have come to rape their wives, slaughter their children, burn their homes, wipe out their faith and take their land. Is that how to make Kaduna great again? Is that how to get back to the glorious days of Abubakar ‘Dangiwa’ Umar, Ahmed Makarfi and Patrick Yakowa when Kaduna had real governors who were balanced, mature, sensitive, caring, gentle, cosmopolitan, inclusive and fair to all regardless of faith, tribe or ethnic nationality?

Is that how to get back to the peaceful days of Kaduna when those of us that play polo used to look forward to going there to play at the annual Kaduna Polo tournament? Is that how to get back to the days when Kaduna was one of the best places to visit in the country? I doubt it very much. The truth is that nothing could be more insensitive, irresponsible, callous and utterly absurd than the Special Advisor’s suggestion.

In any case one wonders just who these “political jobbers and opportunists” are and precisely what these “ongoing efforts to achieve lasting peace in Kaduna” are given the fact that the Kaduna State Government does not appear to give a damn about the fact that thousands of innocent and defenseless people, including women and children, have been butchered during their watch and right under their noses. The Government of Kaduna State is evidently more interested in insulting, undermining, discrediting and threatening with arrest its critics and those that have expressed outrage about what the people of Southern Kaduna are being subjected to than in protecting and saving innocent lives.

Yet since no names were mentioned, for now I will limit myself to responding to Mr. Special Advisor only with the words of Mr. George Makeris of the One Nigeria group who hails from Southern Kaduna himself and whose views reflects the minds and thoughts of many concerned citizens not just in Kaduna but throughout the country.

In a direct response to the Special Advisor he wrote the following: “Picking of arms for self-defense is obviously the last bastion of hope for Southern Kaduna and not its first option since the commencement of these mindless massacres. This last resort became necessary when it becomes glaring that government is not interested in securing and protecting the lives of the people of Southern Kaduna people even though this is against its oath of office. If Government had lived up to it constitutional responsibility and demonstrated unparalleled commitment in curbing the menace, citizens have no business bearing arms. It is the failure of government that makes taking up arms necessary. Even America had to allow its citizens to bear arms when it couldn’t protect them from constant attacks.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

President Mugabe Hospitalised, Rumours Start


The usual rumours that President Robert Mugabe has either been hospitalised or died in the East where he is on annual leave holiday have started making rounds as the 92 year old leader took his annual leave on December and left the country to the Far East.
A Facebook post that has gone viral claim the president fell sick on January 1 2017 and got hospitalised in the Far East.

"Reports coming from the far east is that the president of the republic of Zimbabwe was hospitalized on new year's eve evening after falling on his head and suffering a concussion in the hotel bathroom," reads the post. 

"Sources from the secret service have confirmed it by saying HE is serious but stable in hospital. Their worry is that his mouth has shifted to the side and now it is almost under his ear lob which could be a sign of a severe stroke since he has lost his speech too. Wishing Gushungo a speedy recovery."

Each time Mugabe goes for his annual leave in the East, rumours have been made that he has died. After several of such speculative reports that turned out to be false, the Western now exercises caution before jumping on such a story.

Buhari, Halt The Genocide In Southern Kaduna Now!

By Ayodele Adio
Shortly after reading through Audu Maikori’s narration of the tragedy befalling the beautiful people of southern Kaduna, I was left in a state of limbo as to why the Nigerian state has consistently failed to protect its most vulnerable, why the life of the average Nigerian isn’t worth as much as that of a cow and why the agency of government saddled with the prime responsibility for maintaining internal security has become the lead cast in this ridiculous show of shenanigans? 
 
*Buhari 
One would have thought that the imposition of a 24 hour curfew might give way for the dust to settle, and even if the people of southern Kaduna were not planning a merry Christmas, a peaceful one would surely have sufficed. Sadly, that wasn’t to be as a group of militia herdsmen brazenly decimated a village named Goska, leaving about a dozen people dead and hundreds homeless. Typical of such attacks was the fact that the militia herdsmen met no resistance from any of our security operatives and as I write this piece not a single arrest has been made.

What is more worrisome is that the culprits have been identified as foreigners who have a score to settle with the people of southern Kaduna. How low can we go as a nation? That bandits from neighbouring countries can stroll into our country, spit on our territorial integrity, massacre our people and then demand monetary compensation, only to be insulted by Femi Adesina that the President doesn’t need to speak on the killings as the governor of Kaduna state is already on top of things, as if when his boss sends condolence messages to France and the United states when attacked by terrorists, their own governments aren’t on top of the matter.

The Global terrorism index has the Fulani herdsmen ranked as the 4th most deadliest terror group on earth today having killed thousands of innocent Nigerians. How this constantly fails to attract the urgent attention of Mr. President is completely beyond me, not even a sigh of empathy or a show of solidarity with the people. This is awfully shameful, insensitive and irresponsible from a country that prides itself in being the big brother of black Africa. We seem to be more worried about a group of people going home to their families to spend the Christmas holidays than we are about an armed militia, sacking communities, and wrecking havoc in Kaduna, Nassarawa, Adamawa, Benue, Zamfara, and Enugu.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

For Ndigbo, Time For Real Politics

By Duro Onabule
It has been the case since ancient to modern that politics in South-east Nigeria is muddled. That is if forty years ago can be considered ancient. Afterall, a former British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, is on record that a week is, in politics, a long time. It is barely a week that South-east zone behaved to type with its open display of muddled politics. Muddled in the sense of cutting its nose to spite its face.
*President Buhari and former VP Dr. Ekwueme
South-east zone invited President Muhammadu Buhari to a summit. Or at least, so the zone appeared to have done through Science and Technology Minister, Ogbonnaya Onu. Ideally, such an invitation should have been properly screened to avoid a last-minute or any clash of interests, especially on a date earlier agreed. Among such exigencies that should have been factored into final preparations is the reality that even on any agreed date, their special guest, Muhammadu Buhari, has virtually, no control over unforeseen, equally or if not more important schedule, both at home and especially abroad that might compel preferential attention.
Experienced technocrats among organisers of the summit would acknowledge such possibilities. Like the sudden political/constitutional debacle in the West African nation of The Gambia, which warranted the intervention of concerned West African countries in the ECOWAS group. Nigeria’s participation in such intervention certainly was a decisive factor.
Another unforeseen hitch, which nonetheless, should not have caught the summit organisers napping, was the rascality by a group for a showdown if Buhari ever showed up. It was not clear if that issue was partly why Buhari did not show up but noticeably, the joke was missing in Buhari’s explanation on his eventual absence.
Third on the list of hitches against Buhari’s presence was the convenient excuse that the summit was fixed for Christmas time when South-easterners would be in festive mood. Who should take the blame for that? Surely, not Buhari. Were the summit organisers ignorant of that universal fact when the date was fixed? At the end of the day, Buhari could not show up. Perhaps, there was no loser but if there was, Buhari was not the loser. And the winner? South-east notorious politics of muddle.
It is all the more disturbing because South-east is the least developed in terms of infrastructure not just by the Federal Government but also by the zone’s successive state governors.
One clear reason for the latest politics of muddle is South-east zone’s disregard for one of its own, Science and Technology Minister, Ogbonnaya Onu, moreso for his membership of the ruling APC. It is only wise that even if the man is politically ostracised, must that be along with whatever amenities that could accrue to South-east from the Federal Government through Ogbonnaya Onu? Furthermore, who is nearer to reach Buhari, Minister Ogbonnaya Onu or years of crying in the wilderness? South-east was close to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo. What benefitted South-east therefrom? South-east was similarly close to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan? For what benefit, second Niger Bridge? Or federal roads in South-east?

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Bestiality In Southern Kaduna

By Dan Amor
Irrational impulses are not surprising in the stress and tension that characterize a demented society. In an atmosphere of violence, reason is sometimes abandoned and humanitarian principles forgotten. The inflamed passions of the time lead men to commit atrocities. But the concern here is not with the psychological pathology of those who commit atrocities but rather with what has turned our nation into a slaughterhouse where human beings are daily killed with intimidating alacrity. 

*President Buhari and Gov El-Rufai
Throughout modern history, atrocity propaganda has often mesmerized readers thousands of kilometres from the scene of the crime. Often, the improbability of the actions described suggests that the stories were little more than fantasies concocted for diverse reasons from even more diverse sources.

But the reading public in Nigeria has invariably evinced a morbid absorption with the most nightmarish aspects of this national aberration. It is indeed fashionable to observe that material which should create a moral aversion to the cruelty of our present times often produces a perverse fascination instead. There is, candidly speaking, an alarming rate of mockery killings in Nigeria, especially under the Buhari administration. There are gruesome stories of rapes, mutilations, perversities and child and mother murders. An extremely partisan and sympathetic public is willing to read and believe almost anything, if it were tinged with sadism. It is hard to explain why the change promised Nigerians by Buhari and his yea Sayers has come with enormous burden including death. Much of the savagery connected with our current bloodletting could be explained in the violence inherent in the characters of the buccaneers who have misruled us for all these miserable years.
If truly democracy is preferred to military rule all over the world, why are Nigerians going through this hell of experience in a democratic dispensation? Why is the government turning a blind eye to the holocaust and pornography of violence going on in Southern Kaduna? If Governor Nasir el Rufai of Kaduna state's revelation that: "the Fulani herdsmen who are killing Nigerians are from other West African States", is true, why are his government and the Federal Government allowing militants from other countries free access to slaughter other ethnic nationalities and the Christian communities in Southern Kaduna? Why are Nigerians objects of intimidation, genocidal massacre, annihilation, rape and abysmal extermination in their country? Why is the Federal Government exonerating itself from responsibility and complicity in the bestiality in Southern Kaduna while claiming that the state government is capable of managing the situation in Southern Kaduna? If the marauders are invaders from other countries, why did el Rufai pay them ostensibly to halt the killings?

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