Friday, September 23, 2016

Nigeria: The Crisis Of Buharism

By Tony Afejuku
There is no iota of doubt about it after all: we have ceaselessly experienced a crisis of Buharism since our present president, Buhari, was exalted by us into the presidency of our country.

Glaringly, diurnally it is entering our exalted consciousness and imagination that our pre-election idea or picture of him was one that exalted a man who had (and still has) an exalted impression of himself. But we must make no mistake about it. The man has elegance, but we have come to realize that this elegance that enabled some persons to call him “Mr. Integrity” possesses some veneer that is not well irriguous.

Perhaps I, in my creative imagination, am deficient in my employment of language to characterize the kind of president that we have witnessed since Buharism entered our authoritative lexicon of political thought. In the present writing I am not too certain of the language to employ to depict Buharism. In fact, I am inclined to employ a language that cannot but be deader than Latin: the language called Fula of the Fulani people.

How I wish and itch in vain to speak and write Fula! Let me be uneconomical with words. I itch to understand and express Buhari’s thoughts in Fula, but how deader than Latin is Fula to me! Thus in vain and in vain will I try to understand the great man Buhari and his Fula philosophy of political governance in a democracy and republic such as ours, such as our country’s – our Nigeria’s that always we must hail. Recently I had a lengthy conversation, which spoke volumes, with an octogenarian who is based in the South West of our country.

The octogenarian is fully at breast with our president’s mind-set and the happenings in Aso Rock. Lengthy  conversation He bared and opened ad infinitum his mind on the Buhari presidency. He informed me, among other things, pertinently of how Hadza Bala Usman came on board as the current managing director of our Nigerian Ports Authority.

Those Who Killed (And Are Killing) Nigeria

By Dan Amor
Every real nation state is an historical product. It is, in Marx's celebrated phrase, "the official resume of the antagonism in civil society", but under historically determinate circumstances. As such, it is the product of the historically specific constellation of class relations and social conflicts in which it is implicated. It may, therefore, indeed, it must, if it is not to rest on its monopoly of the means of coercion alone, incorporate within its own structure, the interests not only of the dominant but of the subordinate classes. In this quite specific sense, then, every real nation state has an inherently relative independence, including, as well, the independence to understand the dynamics of its made-made domestic crises. In consequence, therefore, the general characteristics of the Nigerian nation state today may be seen in terms of the enormity of its domestic crises and social contradictions. 

Therefore, those who murdered Nigeria, and are still killing its residues include, but not limited to: a big and comprador bourgeoisie that has abdicated its political aspirations and allied itself to semi-feudal interests; a discontented small and medium bourgeoisie made up of a certain class of professionals and intellectuals, potentially revolutionary, but which hesitates to renew the struggle for its national liberation. There is a sleeping working class which is supposed to be the prime revolutionary force but which cannot define clearly its trade union tasks and political aims. There is a large crowd of youths, the student body that constitute about 60 per cent of the national population, which has abdicated its responsibility of serving as light to the national ideal due largely to intellectual dishonesty, ignorance or docility arising from poverty of ideas. There is also, a peasant mass of small landless factory hands, artisans and motorcycle operators otherwise known as "Okada riders", who need a clear vision of their tasks and a framework within which to organize their own action in unity with the working class. Above all, a group of shameless, opportunistic and sadistic Generals (retired and serving), domestic tyrants and usurpers who, because of their prolonged crime against the people of this country, do not want political power to shift to its rightful owners for fear of being probed. And, of course, a handful of totalitarian Devils called traditional rulers who, having been aware of their gross irrelevance in a democratic society, strive to ally themselves with dictators, expired warlords and anti-democratic elements in power in order to entrench feudal power in the local government councils.

It is in this context that we must examine critically the way forward to the present logjam in the country. It would be recalled that the deepening crises that resulted in the Nigerian Civil War were the aftermath of the cumulative anger of the forces of real change against the reactionary superstructure that was the First Republic. After the bloody civil war, and thanks to the oil boom which provided them with the rare opportunity to line their pockets, the military rulers in collaboration with the agrarian mercantile big bourgeoisie, together with a small sector connected with industry, tied their future more and more to the semi-feudal structure inherited from the colonial system. Because of their quantitative and qualitative weaknesses and the fear of the workers' movement and the surge of the masses, they were, at the beginning, disposed to ally themselves with whatever was acceptable of foreign monopolist capital, then in the process of conversion to a neo-colonialist framework.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Before The Umpteenth 'Herdsmen' Attack

By Emmanuel Ugwu

If a perceptive artist was commissioned to draw a portrait of President Muhammadu Buhari, he would have to think of how to present an image of a conflicted, two-faced commander in chief. Buhari is a hawk and a dove. A lion and a lamb. A war monger and a pacifist.
He is waging wars against cattle rustlers and Niger Delta militants while winking at the prolific mass murderers that parade as ‘herdsmen’. He is fighting to secure Nigerian cattle and oil facilities even as he literally feigns ignorance of a genocidal phenomenon claiming countless Nigerian lives.

The double standard is not as a result of an oversight. Buhari receives daily security briefings. He is constantly updated on the condition of safety of lives and property in Nigeria. He is furnished with processed data on past and present security threats and predictive intelligence on future scenarios. His rich knowledge of the security situation of Nigeria is critical to his ability to fulfill the fundamentals of his job description as the president of the republic.
So, why is Buhari treating the wastage of Nigerians by the ‘herdsmen’ with asymmetric indifference? Why does he condone the killing of Nigerians when he is raging against cattle rustling and pipeline vandalism? Aren’t human lives incomparable, in value, with cattle or crude oil? Shouldn't the protection of endangered human beings come before that of animals and oil?
This question is important because Buhari and his generals categorize every serious security challenge as a battle and create a special military operation to defeat it. They dedicate a new operation to any pattern of criminal behavior that they consider too dangerous to be allowed to wane on its own timetable.
This inclination to resort to military operation is the reflex of a Buhari presidency that feels it is under obligation to use any effective means to de-escalate any spiral of criminality before its perpetrators develop a false sense of invincibility.
Constitutional purists take exception to this new normal of deploying the military to undertake law enforcement assignments that fall under the purview of the Nigerian police. The idealists say that repurposing the military as a quick fix talisman for suppressing domestic crimes is essentially unlawful and potentially risky. They argue that fitting the military into the vacuum of weakness of the Nigerian police, in the long run, could have the effect of orienting the focus of the Nigerian military away from their core mission. They surmise that the perennial distraction of the Nigerian military with police duties may be eroding the professionalism of our armed forces, and therefore, vitiating the readiness of the Nigerian military to defend the country against external aggression.
The Nigerian Army is presently prosecuting two military operations to combat violent crimes that the Buhari administration deems to be beyond the capacity of the Nigerian police to confront. Operation ‘Harbin Kunama’ is addressing the menace of cattle rustling in some parts of the North. Operation ‘Crocodile Smile’ is battling the sabotage of oil installations by militants in the Niger Delta region. But there is no hurricane-name-sounding, operation-scale military response to the runaway terrorism of the ‘herdsmen’.
In July, Buhari flew to Zamfara State to launch Operation Harbin Kunama. Prior to that time, a part of Zamfara state, particularly Dansadau forest, had become the playground of cattle rustlers. Armed gangs resident in that bush were invading villages from and impoverishing people whose wealth is mainly denominated in cattle.
Buhari went to the forest dressed in military uniform. His physical presence and his appearance in combat gear were a message. He wanted to signal that he took the suffering of the victims of cattle rustling seriously, and that he was committed to doing everything within his powers to end the scourge.
At the occasion, Buhari spoke to the heart of the matter. He said that his government viewed cattle rustling as a crime. He warned, in the clearest terms, that the mandate of the operation he came to kickstart was to achieve a complete wipeout of cattle rustlers troubling the people of Zamfara, Katsina, Kebbi and Niger states.

Buhari Needs No Recession Experts

By Paul Onomuakpokpo  
In their tepid search for solutions to the current economic crisis, our political leaders are fixated on two culprits that gnaw at the nation’s wellbeing.
It is either the past that is chastised for not catering for its future or the militancy in the Niger Delta that has driven oil revenue to its nadir.
Our current leaders can keep avoiding culpability for the nation’s economic recession. The danger is that any optimism about overcoming the crisis in a short time may soon evaporate as long as our political leaders fail to recognise that it is not only the past that is sullied by the administration of Goodluck Jonathan and his predecessors that should be blamed, but the present that is anchored on the current administration is equally complicit.
We are on the right path to economic redemption only when we appreciate the fact that the affliction that is the source of the recession is simply that our politics reeks of a crude conflation of national and personal interests by political leaders. Actuated by the credo of politics that negates national interest, politicians pursue purely selfish goals and present them to the citizens as targeted at engendering national transformation.
Thus no matter how potentially workable the recommendations from the citizens for the development of their nation, most political leaders do not have that capacity to accommodate them. And this is why all ideas about development, no matter how ill-bred , must come from their cronies because they would not pose any threat to their interests. Or why have all the great proposals for the development of the nation for over five decades not launched it into the league of the developed?
Now that there is a flurry of suggestions from the citizens as regards how to overcome the recession, our leaders may only take the ones that would not threaten their personal interests. President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to invite experts to help him salvage the economy. Some citizens want him to invite the nation’s best economists to proffer solutions to the economic problems. Some have even canvassed the return of former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The former minister has already said she would not be ready to serve under the Buhari government when she is invited as she wants other people to contribute their own quota to development. Okonjo-Iweala may not even be an acceptable choice having been tainted by her association with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when she served its government. She is still subjected to excoriation for triggering the crisis in the first place by her feckless economic management.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What Does The President Carry In His Pocket?

By Banji Ojewale
There is this apocryphal tale that the president of the United States of America, said to be our planet’s most powerful country, travels carrying a bag that holds the key to war and peace in the world. It is claimed that the briefcase contains the code the US leader may unravel to release the huge atomic arsenal of God’s Own Country in the event of an attack.
*President Buhari
If he’s away from the US and he’s briefed on his hotline, all he does to enable a lethal hit-back is to go for the bag and probably a key in his pocket. But if he wants peace, he simply allows his pocket be at peace.

Early in 2016 however, sitting President Barack Obama spiked this story of one man playing  God, one man who upon a cryptic call thousands of kilometres from Washington, can decide the fate of billions of souls worldwide, can trigger a contest to destroy mankind. He told a YouTube interviewer that all he holds in the trousers pocket are harmless mementoes, none approximating a nuclear lock.

The gay broadcaster Ingrid Nilsen fired the question that laid all bare: what does President Obama carry in his pocket? The US leader dug into his right trouser pocket and out came an assortment of keepsakes: a rosary given to him by Pope Francis, a tiny Buddha, a metal poker chip he said he got from ‘a bald biker with weird mustache’ in 2007,a Coptic Cross from Ethiopia and a Hindu statuette of monkey god.

A strange collection for a head of state to carry! But he says when he feels tired or discouraged as he battles American and global headaches he reaches into the pocket for relief and mental refreshment. According to Obama, they inspire him and help him “get back to work”.

Now after thrilling myself with Obama’s revelation and observing the travels of our own President Muhammadu Buhari, I have begun to wonder what the Nigerian leader also takes along in the trousers under his flowing agbada. Surely Buhari, the leader of the world’s most populous black nation, would have run into numerous people and well-wishers who would deposit some gifts with him after each encounter.

Buhari And Nigeria’s Economic Recession: Matters Arising

By Arthur Nwankwo
There is this anecdote in Igboland about the grasshopper and the bird called “Okpoko”, a mysterious bird reputed for its queer ways. Okpoko is a noisy predatory bird. She rarely catches her preys because her noisy approach always warns her victims in advance and they scamper for safety at her approach. But the grasshopper would not listen and scorned those who warned her.
*Arthur Nwankwo 
Regaling in her illusion that Okpoko would not come, the grasshopper was caught unawares despite the noisy approach of the Okpoko. In the end the grasshopper’s stubbornness and indisposition to hearken to wise counsel would cost her, her life. So today, one would always hear the Igbo say: “Ukpana Okpoko buuru; nti chiri ya” literally meaning “any grasshopper that falls prey to the Okpoko is irredeemably deaf and stubborn”. 
Nigeria is like the stubborn grasshopper. Even with the noisy approach of the Okpoko she does not sense any danger. Her leaders would never listen to informed warnings. I recall that in June this year, I warned that Nigerian’s economy was taking a dangerous turn for the worse. On that occasion, I had alerted Nigerians of the collapsing economy pointing out that sooner than we expected, the economy would go into recession. I recall also that on that occasion, many apologists of this lame-duck Buhari government went to town to label me a prophet of doom; most calling for my head, some even went as far as suggesting that I have misdiagnosed Nigerian’s ailment and therefore offered the wrong therapies.
Interestingly, the Federal Government, after several ostrich evasion in admitting the obvious came out in August to admit that Nigeria’s economy has collapsed. Today the economy is officially in recession. Some days back (August 30th 2016), the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) confirmed that the Nigerian economy has gone into recession. According to the NBS, the economy contracted by 2% in the second quarter and unemployment is also on the rise. Many have lost their jobs in the formal sector as firms have cut staff or folded up altogether. 
This is no longer news. What is rather worrisome is the lethargy and ineptitude of this government in rising up to the challenge. Embarrassingly, Muhammadu Buhari and his co-travelers have repeatedly tried to justify their lack of vision and mission on the past PDP-led Federal Government. This escapist excuse has never, and will never be acceptable essentially because it is the kind of excuse a lousy and slothful man gives for failing to provide food for his family. The Bible clearly states that a man who cannot provide for his family is worse than an infidel (1Timothy 5:8). The federal government is the father of all Nigerians. If as the father, it fails to live up to its expectation but take refuge in an attitude of cold complicity and naïve excuses, it is worse than worse can be. 
Much as I would not absolve the past government of any wrong doing, it will be preposterous to blame it wholesale for the collapse of the Nigerian economy. The truth is that our economy has always been sick. We never cared and today a minor health disorder that could have been contained and nipped in the bud has been allowed to metastasize into a cancerous terminal illness. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Defending Anambra’s Light

By Chuks Iloegbunam
 Anambra State marked its silver jubilee on August 27, 2016, emitting rays of brilliant colours that emphasize the uniqueness of its people as wonderfully crafted by God, continuously demonstrating to the entire world that they are endowed with the dominant infrastructures of greatness, unsurpassed pacesetters in all noble walks of life – the arts, entrepreneurship, leadership, scholarship, the sciences, sports, statesmanship, etc. How apposite that this land of a blessed people has as its slogan the revealing title of Light of the Nation! There isn’t any aspect of national life in which Ndi Anambra do not excel.
*Gov Willie Obiano of Anambra State 
Little wonder that Jubilee Governor Willie Obiano waxed prophetically lyrical in, Please, Let’s Do It Together, his speech to mark the anniversary: “Anambra state will be the food basket of Africa in the next 25 years. In the next 25 years, Anambra will not depend on federal allocation. It will be known as a state that transited to become the Taiwan of Africa. We are number one among states that were created 25 years ago. We pay salaries as and when due. We are the safest state, and we have attracted billions of dollars in investment to the state.”

Yet, Anambra State’s great future, and the fact that its affairs are currently under the controls of a pair of capable hands, belies the palpable dangers that lie ahead. The situation evokes the sort of apprehension that informed the late great poet, Christopher Okigbo’s writing of his 1966 poem entitled “Come Thunder”, the first four lines of which go thus:

Now that the triumphant march has entered the last street corners,
Remember, O dancers, the thunder among the clouds…
Now that laughter, broken in two, hangs tremulous between the teeth,
Remember, O dancers, the lightning beyond the earth…
The smell of blood already floats in the lavender-mist of the afternoon.

What seeks Anambra’s negation? What strives to dim its brilliance and turn the people’s joys into one long, dark night of bewitched recrimination and retrogression? The answer is FALSEHOOD. Deliberately manufactured falsehood! Let’s illustrate.

I recently took a telephone call from an educated friend domiciled in the United States since the 1970s. To my astonishment, he exhibited a rage uncharacteristic of his calm and urbane nature. “Obiano will never have a second term of office,” he bawled, swearing that I had made a fatal mistake by recently accepting appointment as the Anambra State Governor’s Media Director. On and on he railed, his voice rising to a crescendo. When I managed to put in a word edgewise, I reminded him that our friendship mustn’t be confused with the relationship between a cane-wielding village headmaster and a recalcitrant truant. We were basically friends. Could he possibly hold his peace and take a listen? He agreed, having screamed three principal complaints: (1) He had heard that Governor Obiano ordered soldiers to gun down peaceful IPOB demonstrators. (2) He had read from a Nigerian-owned, UK-based online newspaper a July 25, 2016 story entitled How Governor Obiano Embezzled N75b In Two Years. (3) He was despondent at another newspaper report that widows had been “forced from their stalls” and consequently rioted in Onitsha.

I proceeded to provide him with the correct version of things. Although a national daily had so claimed, there never was a women’s riot anywhere in Anambra State including Onitsha. Here are the facts: there is a street market on the main road that issues into Onitsha through the Niger Bridge. It stands on a land owned by Nath Okechukwu, the boss of Interbau, the road construction giant. Chief Okechukwu had ceded the land to a younger sister for temporary business purposes, pending its conversion into his firm’s headquarters. But the sister had leased it to agents who made an instant vegetable market out of the land, collecting “landing” fees and rents without remitting any taxes to government. Every so often vehicles plowed into the market, causing casualties. The place has no toilets, a veritable eyesore.

Nigeria:Why We Are In This Terrible Mess

By Dan Amor
Once upon a time, there was a young country struggling in the comity of nations to find her place in the sun. For in this young country of brave people, it was discovered that freedom is a God-given right. So impressed were the citizens with this belief that they lit a candle to symbolize their freedom. But, in their wisdom, they knew that the flame could not burn alone. So, they lit a second candle to symbolize man's right to govern himself. The third candle was lighted to signify that the rights of the individual were more important than the rights of the State. And finally, they lit a fourth candle to show that government should not do for the people those things which the people should do for themselves.
As the four candles of freedom burned brightly, the young nation prospered. And as they prospered, they grew fat. And as they grew fat, they got lazy. When they got lazy, they asked the government to do things for them which they had been doing for themselves, and one of the candles went out. As government became bigger, the people became smaller, and the government became all important. And the rights of the individual were sacrificed to the all important rights of the State. Then the second candle went out. In their apathy and indifference, they asked those who bear armour to govern them, and the marshals of the commandist clan did, and the third candle went off. In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security, a comfortable life, and they lost all - comfort and security and freedom.

For, you see! When the freedom they wanted most was freedom from responsibility, then Nigerians ceased to be free. The last candle has been extinguished. One could assume, then, that we have it made. Never have any people at any time, anywhere, had it so good. But in our present abundance and luxury in the galaxy of power, something is wrong. People aren't happy. They no longer walk down the streets of our cities smiling or whistling a happy tune. There is discontent, and one can sense the fear of the unknown. Everywhere, the people are grumbling, cursing, jeering and hooting. 

Nigerians are jittery. There seems to be a tarnish on our golden Mecca. We've created a new breed of men and women who can't work but loot, just like we've created a new breed of men and women who crave for power for the sake of it. You had an opportunity to turn the nation to an Eldorado, but you supervised the mindless looting of our national patrimony into private pockets. You wailed and roared and were given the power, but you're seeing it as an opportunity to favour your tribesmen at the expense of others and you're still enmeshed in blame game while the country is bleeding. And, instead of the slogan, "God bless Nigeria", all we now hear is, "Let us go our separate ways". The signs aren't too hard to read. They are the signs of internal decay - the dry rot of apathy and indifference.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Should Change Begin With Me Or Buhari?

By Onyiorah Paschal Chiduluemije  
The foregoing remark credited to and drawn from the speech delivered by President Muhammadu Buhari during the launch of the National Re-orientation Campaign tagged Change Begins With Me, on Thursday, September 8, 2016, is, to say the least, quite unbecoming of the President. Indeed, the man who is now a proverbial tortoise that once upon a time assured all animals at the beginning of their journey, of an existing promised land, like an Eldorado, and only for it (the same tortoise) to announce in the course of the journey, and to the chagrin of all animals, that the so-called promised land which they had all set out to behold and possess was the same as the land they had just left in search of milk and honey (thus obviating the need for their journey).
*President Buhari and Lai Mohammed
But unlike what obtained in the old (and abandoned) land, all animals were now individually saddled with the responsibilities of tracing and accessing the new Kingdom through the different paths apparently leading to it, basically because the main entrance to the promised land was practically unknown. This tale in a nutshell, aptly illustrates the analogous (abrupt) paradigm shift in the APC’s and/or President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘change slogan’ afterthought called Change Begins With Me.

Of course, it is almost unbelievable that the same man who – with hindsight – apparently tricked the electorate into voting him into power with an unmistakable promise of a positive change in the living standard of all, is today squarely pontificating about a clearly diversionary tactic called Change Begins With Me, and, as it were, almost patronising both the hungry and the angry for “failing” to first of all ask themselves what they have done to change their ways before expecting the government to change their lives.
As it were, many an APC supporter would have by now definitely found it extremely difficult to fathom the essence of this seemingly derogatory remark against the people made by no less a person than President Muhammadu Buhari, which, critically viewed, ought not to have arisen in the very first place. And the reason for this thinking is not far-fetched. For one, a campaign promise of change made to the people remains a campaign promise, and so it does not necessarily follow in a thriving democracy that the people must be willing to dance to the tune and/or comply with the dictates, wishful thinking, whims and caprices of their elected representatives, before the latter could be reasonable enough to bring to fruition all that had been promised during the electioneering. Therefore, it makes no sense at all for anybody, be that Mr. President or whoever, to begin to impress it on the masses to alter their ways as a condition precedent for being “entitled” to demand, inter alia, that the APC-led government accomplish its campaign promises. 
Ironically, though, the same President who now appears to be patronising Nigerians and scoffing at their increasing demand for a positive change to take effect as promised by the All Progressives Congress, is yet to repent of his own old ways or, better still, renounce his ethnic and religious preferences and inclination towards people and issues of national importance. Evidently, there is no gainsaying that his glaringly lopsided appointments so far still reek of and speak volumes about facts associated with his unpalatable past.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Buhari Plagiarized Obama In “Change Begins With Me” Speech

By Adeola Akinremi
Plagiarism is not a trivial matter. President Muhammadu Buhari made a terrible mistake last Thursday. He plagiarized President Barack Obama’s speech to launch “Change Begins With Me.”
So you didn’t notice that our president lifted from Obama’s 2008 victory speech and passed it off as if the words were his own? The argument will rage, but the moral problem of plagiarism on a day Mr. President launched a campaign to demand honesty and integrity from the people is what we should concern ourselves with.
*President Buhari with US President Obama
 at the Whitehouse
I’m not a wailing wailer and I don’t like the downfall of any man but I also don’t like to be deceived. The very last thing you should do when you’re launching a campaign like this is to be dishonest with the people.
As Buhari talked down on Nigerians during the launch of the campaign spearheaded by no other person, other than the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, known for his trash-talk, particularly for the opposition, I started following the speech line-by-line. I was alarmed to make the discovery. It was a scandal that escaped the attention of our newspapers. It is one of two things: either people don’t pay particular attention to Buhari’s words or we are a nation of anything goes.
Only in July, Melania Trump, the wife of the Republican White House hopeful, Donald Trump, was caught in the web of plagiarism after she spoke at the Republican National Convention. She plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech. It was a big headline on television screen and national newspapers. Indeed it was a “global” headline. Yes, a prime part of Buhari’s speech to the nation last Thursday to launch a campaign encouraging new culture of transparency, attitudinal change and hard work among Nigerians was plagiarized from America’s President Barack Obama’s 2008 victory speech.
Buhari’s speech during the launch of the “Change Begins With Me”, a new national orientation campaign, contained largely the same sentiment and arrangement of words that President Obama used in his 2008 victory speech after he was elected the first American black president.
The president lifted a whole paragraph from Obama’s speech and passed it off as his own when he said: “We must resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship, pettiness and immaturity that have poisoned our country for so long. Let us summon a new spirit of responsibility, spirit of service, of patriotism and sacrifice, Let us all resolve to pitch in and work hard and look after, not only ourselves but one another, What the current problem has taught us is that we cannot have a thriving army of rent seekers and vested interests, while the majority suffers.”

President Buhari’s Triumphalism

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
Until last week, it might have been dismissed as delusional to think that President Muhammadu Buhari considers the citizens as people he has conquered. But if the body language of the president has failed to magically make available the dividends of democracy to the citizens, it has at least in recent times reinforced the notion of his seeing himself as a conqueror, and thus a blight on our democratic experience.
*President Buhari 
Here are a people who have been brutalised by decades of misrule and who invested so much hope in the  Buhari’s change mantra. Over a year after waiting for the realisation of the promised change, Buhari has unabashedly disavowed it. Passing the buck, Buhari has rather asked the citizens to make the change a reality.
Yet, Buhari and his party members are the only people who know the breadth and length of the change he envisaged. The citizens did not sit down at a table to arrive at a template of his promised change. At best, the president only revealed snippets of the change: a robust economy that would guarantee full employment and a parity of the naira and the dollar, and as a palliative measure for those who are still jobless,  the payment of a stipend of N5,000.
Buhari’s new mantra of change beginning with the citizens is an expression of his sense of triumphalism. The new mantra brims with the hauteur of a president who has not only impenitently abdicated his responsibility, but who is yet to come to terms with his own failure to grapple with the problems he was elected to solve. The citizens could tolerate the president’s incompetence while hoping that with his seeking the advice of those who should know better, he could still fulfill the people’s expectations. But with a mindset that the citizens have been conquered, the president does not need to attach any importance to such advice. Or why would the president tell the people that change begins with them when he is expected to make good his promise? As far as the president is concerned, he has used the change mantra to gain power and those who are interested in its actualisation are free to torment themselves with that triviality.
But the president may not be wrong after all. From his Olympian height, he can only see the citizens he has conquered. The conquest began with his ministers and other aides who are supposed to advise him on the right decisions to take. We must be reminded that the president did not hide his disdain for his would-be ministers. They were only imposed on him by the constitution. And this was why he considered them as noise makers whose contribution to national development could only be consigned to a marginal space compared to that of civil servants in whom he reposes more confidence.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Niger Delta: Buhari’s Unwinnable War

By Ray Ekpu  
The Federal Government of Nigeria is amassing troops, arms and ammunitions in the oil-rich Niger Delta region in readiness for war with the militants who have been destroying oil infrastructure. In the last week of last month, the Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, announced that the military had launched “a precursor operation” to a planned offensive codenamed “Crocodile Smile.” This is aimed at supporting a wider operation codenamed “Operation Delta Safe.”

Most people in the Niger Delta have condemned the activities of these militant groups which are now sprouting like mushrooms and making both sensible and senseless demands. The Niger Delta people have suffered a lot since the discovery of oil in 1956. Their environment has been savagely spoilt. Their fishing waters and farming lands have vanished leaving them impoverished. Strange diseases have emerged that apparently have no cure. The reckless activities of these militants have done considerable damage to the Niger Delta ecosystem apart from the loss of oil revenue to the Federal Government. The Niger Delta leaders are pleading with these militants to give a peace a chance since the Federal Government is offering them the peace reed.
A few weeks ago, Alfred Diete Spiff, a former military governor of the old Rivers State who is now a traditional ruler, had a meeting with Niger Delta leaders in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. A couple of weeks later, Edwin Clark, a former Federal Information Commissioner and a prominent leader in the region, also had a conference in Warri, Delta State, trying to find ways of resolving the matter without bloodshed. On his part, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu, has been touring the region in search of an amicable solution to the conflict.
Since President Muhammadu Buhari has said he is interested in a negotiated settlement of the matter I think the soldiers who are in the creeks of Sapele itching for action should tarry a while. Before hostilities begin, let me warn that this is an unwinnable war. No one will win. The militants will not win and the Federal Government will not win either. Men, women and children will be killed and maimed, property will be destroyed, the environment will be damaged. No oil will be produced because oil companies do not work with soldiers holding guns to their heads. The price of crude oil will go up but Nigeria will not benefit from the rise in price while the fight goes on in the creeks. New refugees will emerge; we will look for food, shelter and medicine for a new set of internally displaced persons (IDPs). We will then go looking for money to rebuild what has been destroyed in an economy that is already suffering from asphyxia. The only winners will be the generals who will be doing arms deals, food supply deals, drug supply deals and the women who will be available, willingly or unwillingly, to comfort the troops during the war. Crocodile, don’t smile yet. Keep your teeth hidden.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Nigeria At An Economic Crossroads

By Ndubuisi Ukah
To say that Nigerians are economically hurting at this moment is no exaggeration; to state that most Nigerians have never had it this economically difficult in their lifetime is not an overstatement; the fact that most Nigerians are out of work and go to bed hungry now is no longer news. The pains are palpable in the voices and faces of everyday Nigerians on the streets and in the work and market places across the land – driven by the current economic recession. And while it’s luring to heap the blame squarely at the doorsteps of fallen crude oil prices, it would be best to put the blame to where it rightly belongs – on our visionless and prodigal leadership class, who instead of building the nation’s future by responsibly planning ahead for times like these, irresponsibly chose to build and nurture an unprecedented corruption industrial complex.

What we are experiencing right now in the country is a practical realisation of the age-long saying that “he who fails to plan, plans to fail”. For decades, the leadership class rather than engaging in the patriotic act of nation-building, has spent most of their time perfecting the shameful act of betrayal of public trust by repeatedly engaging in massive looting of our “easy-to-come” petro dollars, at the callous expense of everyday Nigerians. Stories abound of looting in the billions of dollars of monies earmarked for road construction, Niger Delta development, power rehabilitation, refineries turn-around maintenance, and fight against Boko Haram even as innocent Nigerians, women and children were being raped, abducted and killed by the Boko Haram renegades, etcetera. As such, in the light of the above and other several well-documented gross mismanagement of our national wealth by an irresponsible, greedy and visionless political class, it’s unfortunately, fair to conclude that the current economic recession has been a long time coming.
It’s also fair to acknowledge that all of these frustrations led to the CHANGE vote by the Nigerian people in the last election. The election was simply aimed at making a statement against impunity and business as-usual.
While the current administration has recorded some success in the areas of reducing corruption in public service and curbing the free reign of Boko Haram in the Northeastern part of the country, it’s clear to any objective observer that not much has been done to instill needed confidence in the economy, especially by way of sound fiscal and monetary policies. There doesn’t seem to be a steady hand in-charge of the economy at this time and this doesn’t bode well for the administration after 15 months of coming to power. 
All one hears most of the times on the pages of newspapers are platitudes and pockets of incoherent and reactionary interventions by the apex bank. It is well known that nothing hurts an economy and scares investors and the business community during an economic recession more than equivocation and non-steady economic steering hands. Considering that recessions are not uncommon in nations’ economic lives, one tends to believe that what our economy is suffering more from right now is not simply the recession, but the feeling of hopelessness in the recession. A time as serious as this calls for decisive economic leadership and clarity of direction.
Mr. President, if I were you, I’ll be on national television engaging in question and answer sessions as often as possible, explaining the present economic problem and possible solutions in very simple and clear terms to the Nigerian people. You owe it to them and they rightfully deserve it. The Nigerian people are hurting so much right now and they don’t seem to get the sense that someone is caring, listening and doing something to alleviate their sufferings.
The Nigerian people are a smart people; they get the fact that the problem did not emanate with this administration, but they also understand that things could really get worse if nothing urgent and serious is done right now by the administration to stem this ugly tide.
Mr. President, there has to be that sense of the fierce urgency of now on the economy, just like you’ve demonstrated in the fight against Boko Haram and corruption. This time calls for you to seek help from the best Nigerian economic experts wherever you can find them.

APC: A Mistake Edo State Must Not Make

By Jude Ndukwe
September 28, 2016, is epochal in the history of the great Edo State. It is a date when life beckons on the people to embark on a game-changing and life-amending venture; a time when the people are called out by the Benevolent, the God of second chance, to right the wrong they elevated to a position of authority and immense responsibility eight years ago.
That day is the day when Edo people will finally extricate themselves from the shackles of a searing chain fresh from the hissing fires of a renowned blacksmith and etched in the back of the people with a heart that chooses to be deliberately unmindful of the people’s sufferings. That APC, by the virtue of their worsening abysmal performances everywhere they go, both at the federal and state levels, has since grown into that monstrous party not fitting to replace itself in any election in the name of continuity, is no longer news.

What is news is that they still have the temerity to present themselves for election after all they have done to Nigeria just within one year! Nobody, not even the good people of Edo State would want a continuity of suffering, of human degradation, infrastructural decay, ethnic discrimination and general underdevelopment. These are some of the ‘natural’ traits of the All Progressives Congress which are well known not only to Nigerians but also to the whole world. In other climes, where service to the people is a priority and the elevation of their standard of living is government’s main focus, the party would not be going about insulting the sensibilities of Nigerians by wildly gyrating with so much brazenness as we saw the president’s delegation do in APC’s grand rally in Edo recently.

It is only a government without shame for its widely acknowledged failures and a party without human sympathy for the mega-sufferings it has visited on the people that would embark on such a banal celebration of the destruction of a people and their nation without restraint in so short a time. Since APC took charge of governance, the people can barely live and hardly survive. The hunger in the land is real and the frustration palpable. Nigeria, right under the nose of President Buhari and his gyrators, has slid into its worst recession in history. Millions have lost their jobs as companies after companies, both local and international, keep closing shops due to the economic hardship.

Yet, the price of foodstuff keeps rising while the naira has been adjudged the worst performing currency in the whole wide world after Suriname and Venezuela. What a story! This is after all the grandiose promises of turning the moon into sunlight for Nigerians and creating a state of Eldorado and Utopia for them. However, the Nigerian state has since become the legendary Hobbesian State where life is not only nasty and short but also brutish under the watch of APC. With the free rein of death in the hands of terrorist Fulani herdsmen all over the country, the extra-judicial murders and endless incarceration of citizens even against court orders by state agents, the descent of Nigeria into the Hobbesian state of anomie is confirmed.

Buhari, War And The Niger Delta

By Paul Onomuakpokpo  
It is mystifying that President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen to capriciously shatter the prospect of peace in the Niger Delta through his massive deployment of troops and weapons in the region. The deployment came at a time the agitators for socio-economic justice in the oil-producing region, especially the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA), have agreed to dialogue with the government.
Buhari and Army Chief, Buratai
The agreement came after much hesitation apparently because the agitators understood the remorseless penchant of successive governments to treat the issue of the ecological disaster and economic deprivation spawned by oil exploration in the region with disdain. Despite their doubts, the agitators have expressed their sincerity by suspending the bombing of oil facilities.
Of course, we should have known that Buhari considered war in the region inevitable. For while apparently leaving the option of dialogue open, Buhari has consistently threatened that he would deal with the Niger Delta agitators the way he crushed Boko Haram insurgents. Buhari may have drawn inspiration from the strident calls from some northern leaders for him to bomb agitators like Boko Haram insurgents. By their position, these northern leaders have lumped up the agitation in the Niger Delta in the same cauldron of misguided religious and blood-thirsty ideology of Boko Haram insurgents.
So what is unfolding in the Niger Delta is only a manifestation of a coveted agenda of Buhari that has escaped the veneer of  pretensions to foster peaceful dialogue to resolve the problems of the region. Buhari only wanted the agitators to lay down their weapons so that he could deploy his own in the region.
The fact that the agitators have declared a ceasefire has rendered the option of war patently chauvinistic. What is needed is for the government to continue with the option of dialogue. Buhari’s acceptance of the option of war amounts to blithely glossing over the fact that there are issues in the Niger Delta that need to be responded to appropriately. These are issues of socio-economic injustice in the region. Here are a people whose oil wealth has been used to develop other parts of the country while they have become impoverished. This has been the situation for over five decades.
The nation and its leaders have not deemed it necessary to engage in a comprehensive agenda to improve the environment, except some sporadic and facetious efforts. Now, the oil funds from the region are now being used to search for oil in the northern part of the country. If oil is found there, would the northerners allow people from the Niger Delta to be the prime beneficiaries? Would they allow them to be those that would lead supervisory agencies and dictate the terms for intervention in those areas where oil is produced in the north?

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Dele Cole’s Nonexistent ‘Igbo’ Slaves

By Ochereome Nnanna
On  Tuesday, 30th August 2016, at exactly 10.41am, I received a text from an unidentified frequent sender of messages to my platforms whenever he reads topics that agitate his mind, whether written by me or others.
He wrote: “Greetings. How can Dr. Patrick Dele Cole, in today’s Vanguard Newspaper…assert that the Igbo were slaves of the Ijaw? If, for the purpose of argument, one or two Igbo men were captured, held as slaves, or were sold into slavery in those days, how does that translate to the Igbo (an entire ethnic nationality) becoming slaves to the Ijaw…?”

Dele Cole’s article was entitled: “Nigerians And Their Origin”. He was displaying his rich knowledge of how people, not just in Nigeria but also in different parts of the world, acquired their current ethno-racial identities; how some powerful conquerors like the Jihadist Fulani, “dropped” their language and adopted those of their majority subjects, the Hausa, in order get assimilated and rule over them effectively.

Cole, at the tail end of his very interesting tapestry of sampling, however, made a conclusion I found both curious and contradictory compared to his earlier conclusion about the “Igbo” and “Ijaw” (I am putting these words in inverted commas for a reason that will be explained shortly). According to Cole: “Who are the Hausa-Fulani? The French of Normandy conquered England in 1066 and adopted their language. They were not known as French-English but English…Thus in the North of Nigeria they (Fulani) should be known as Hausa”.

Before I go on, let me correct Cole. The Fulani never dropped their language. Though they adopted the Hausa and other languages in areas they conquered (such as Nupe in Bida and Yoruba in Ilorin) they still maintained their Fulbe language and identity. In fact, former Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, a Fulani royal who hails from Bamaina in Birnin Kudu Local Government of the state, told me he did not “learn” Hausa until he went to school.

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