Friday, March 24, 2017

Uniform Palavar: I Stand With The Senate (1)

By Ochereome Nnanna
 Whe retired Col. Hameed Ali, the Comptroller General of the Customs, CGC, finally yielded to the language and pressure of force and appeared before the Senate on summons on Thursday, 16th March 2017, the only thing I wanted to see on him was his uniform as the overall boss of that organisation.

Once I saw he was still wearing his white kaftan, my gaze went beyond him to the bevy of the Customs top brass, all proudly and smartly outfitted in their grey khaki uniforms and looking resplendent indeed. Some of the “oga madams” (or female officers) seemed to make a meal of the situation, all dolled up in comely (even sexy) make-ups and slanting their caps at rakish angles, as if to say: “to hell with Oga Hameed Ali for insulting the dignity of this uniform”.

Meanwhile, Hameed Ali stood before the Senators like a truant schoolboy physically bundled to the assembly ground to receive his due punishments from the school principal. Receive the punishment he did: he was dismissed with ignominy to go and wear his uniform and come back a week later.

Otherwise, he would face the wrath of 109 Senators with the mandates of millions of Nigerians. The arrogant will always be humiliated, and the proud put to shame. I hear people parrot Ali’s nonsensical claim that no law compels him to wear the uniform. Which law compels Africans to respect their elders? Which law compels us to greet people when we meet them?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Whistleblowing, New Profession?

As a junior crime reporter working with the defunct National Concord Newspaper in the 1980s, I was posted to the police and other security agencies beat. While on the beat, I came across a man whose only job was to extract information about criminals, especially robbers, in Lagos metropolis. He was well known among senior police officers and he was referred to as an “Informant.”

His job was to collate information from robbers, their operational hide-outs and, possibly, their next target. Such information was passed to the state Commissioner of Police and he was adequately  rewarded financially. I gathered that, whenever the police were auctioning recovered vehicles, he was always considered. However, the story changed when one of the robbery gangs received information about his activities with the police; he was trailed to his house in Ajegunle and shot dead before his neighbours. The police never disclosed the story to journalists but investigations revealed the incident.
Informants of those days were rough-looking, some of them turned out to be disenchanted members of robbery gangs. Their reports were mainly to expose robbers for easy apprehension and prosecution, but things have changed, the world has evolved and corruption has taken a devastating stand. This was not the situation prior to Independence.

Gov Nasir el-Rufai In The Wilderness

Governor Nasir el-Rufai  of Kaduna State has just cried out. He came close to a lamentation. Or so it appears. But those who know him are not taken in by the antic. They know that a smart Alec is at work. The Kaduna governor is never known to be quiet. He does not seem to have any humility in him. He is showy and conceited. That is why he has broken loose so soon.
*President Buhari and Gov El-Rufai
Whereas many have taken note of the state of the polity, especially in the light of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ill-health, el-Rufai does not have the patience for such niceties. He must seize the stage and dominate the discourse.
At issue here is the governor’s letter to the president. He was, ostensibly, addressing his godfather. That was the way it appeared. But he addressed Nigerians at the same time. He told President Buhari, his benefactor, that all was not well with their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and, by extension, the government of the day. El-Rufai said those of them who formed the APC and used it to wrest power from the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP) had a dream. They envisioned an Eldorado. They thought that PDP was on the wrong track. They set out, as he imagined, to put the country on the path of good governance. That was the mental flight that the likes of el-Rufai reveled in.

The NCC’s And MTN’s Swindle

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
Despite the hobbling challenges of poor security and infrastructure, it is not uncommon for foreign investors to speak glowingly about the huge opportunities in the Nigerian business environment. They wonder why Nigerians should lend themselves to ruing their citizenship and being subjected to stark poverty when all around them are treasure troves they, foreigners, have braved long distances to explore.

Of course, we cannot legitimately accuse some of these investors of engaging in double speak. Yet the discerning among us are not oblivious of the fact that such a tribute to the boundless opportunities in the country could also serve as a euphemistic way of referring to the ease of making a fortune from the country by circumventing its laws and swindling the citizens.
Yes, it is not only foreign business people that enrich themselves through the violation of the laws of the country to the detriment of the citizens who pay for their services. It is a norm among local businesses to make their customers to pay for services that are not offered or shoddily provided. This is why the citizens have almost become inured to their ordeal at the hands of electricity distribution companies. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Is Nigeria A Tragedy?

By Abike Olajide 
In literature, tragedy does not really connote something tragic but it means a re-evaluation and possible redemption of a given situation. Truly, this is a season of darkness and struggling: No power, no good roads, unemployment and poverty are on the alarming rate. But surely, light will break and relief will fall.
With much natural abundant resources, Nigeria has failed on all indices of life worth living. What went wrong? Leadership deficiency, I can hear you say. Nigeria is wasting God’s resources. The country is now in a mess.
General Yakubu Gowon, despite the oil money available to him, chose to increase workers’ salary rather than use the money to build industries as foundation for a great economy. His action led to inflation that the country is yet to be freed from. 
President Shehu Shagari, a weakling, permitted politicians to loot the country dry. Ibrahim Babangida introduced an economic policy, Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) that inflicted untold hardship on the people. Coupled with this was that Nigeria got exposed to maximum corruption under him.
Do I need to say anything about General Abacha, 18 years after his death, his looted funds are still in different vaults around the globe. Olusegun Obasanjo, in his second coming destroyed the country more than he met it. He paid the country’s debt and those who facilitated it smiled home with hundreds of millions of dollars. On his watch, infrastructural decadence reached its peak. Under him, though, microeconomy was got right, credit line improved but he never touched infrastructure.  At the twilight of his term, he came into the realisation that he had not met the aspiration of Nigerians and thus sought a third term. Of course, he could not get it.

Before Supreme Court Finally Kills PDP

The dizzying pace at which mundane things are elevated to national prominence has since made me lose sense of what is right and what is wrong. So, to keep my sanity, I’ve since concluded that every one is right. All correct, sir!

If you say the economy is in recession, you’re correct. If you prefer to live in denial and insist that there is no recession, you’re also correct. Hameed Ali versus the Senators? Magu versus the Senators? Hospitalised El-Rufai versus convalescing Buhari? All correct!
But there is one thing I have a fairly clear head about. And that is what is the mess the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has brought upon itself.
Now, if there is anything the PDP is very good at – apart from impunity, it is the uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (apologies: Chinua Achebe). Of course, I don’t expect the All Progressives Congress (APC) people to gloat at that, because everything that was wrong with PDP is beginning to appear in APC.
However, the PDP is a master of the art of self-destruct!
When it was in government, it was fighting itself, providing opposition to its own government. And now that it is out of power, it has contrived to produce a most fractious split right down its middle. And even as the simple solution to its problem stares it in the face, it’s looking with eyes wide shut.
It is fixated at a Supreme Court that does not hold any promise of good news.
Yes, soon after the Appeal Court verdict that upheld Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff’s claim to the party’s chairmanship, the Sen. Ahmed Makarfi faction appealed the judgment, and is now expecting a favourable ruling from the apex court.
But, irrespective of whatever direction the pendulum swings at the apex court, the PDP would still be the loser. But we’ll return to that later.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Husband’s Touching Account Of His Wife’s Life

(November 17, 2013)
When I got home that night my wife served dinner, I held her hand and said, I’ve got something to tell you. She sat down and ate quietly. Again I observed the hurt in her eyes.
Suddenly I didn’t know how to open my mouth. But I had to let her know what I was thinking about divorce. I raised the topic calmly. She didn’t seem to be annoyed by my words, instead she asked me softly, why?
(pix: 123RF)
I avoided her question. This made her angry. She threw away the chopsticks and shouted at me, you are not a man! That night, we didn’t talk to each other. She was weeping. I knew she wanted to find out what had happened to our marriage. But I could hardly give her a satisfactory answer; she had lost my heart to Jane. I didn’t love her anymore. I just pitied her!
With a deep sense of guilt, I drafted a divorce agreement which stated that she could own our house, our car, and 30% stake of my company. She glanced at it and then tore it into pieces. The woman who had spent ten years of her life with me had become a stranger. I felt sorry for her wasted time, resources and energy but I could not take back what I had said for I loved Jane so dearly. Finally she cried loudly in front of me, which was what I had expected to see. To me her cry was actually a kind of release. The idea of divorce which had obsessed me for several weeks seemed to be firmer and clearer now.
The next day, I came back home very late and found her writing something at the table. I didn’t have supper but went straight to sleep and fell asleep very fast because I was tired after an eventful day with Jane. When I woke up, she was still there at the table writing. I just did not care so I turned over and was asleep again.
In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Nigeria: Redirecting The Lost Giant

By Fashogbon Moyinoluwa
“When we innovate, we create millions of jobs, we build the companies that lead the world, we are healthier, and we make our lives more productive”, this was written by Bill Gates on accelerating innovation with leadership. Moving Nigeria to the status of a First World nation is a challenge any willing leader should love to take on. Blessed with natural resources and a large population, Nigeria has the potential to compete with other nations of the world in any sector, but we need first to put our home in order by diversifying our economy, and restructuring our institutions to cover up the loopholes that allow for corruption.

To move Nigeria from being a third world country to a first world nation, a leader should in no particular order, invest in education, increase the manufacturing capacity of the nation, remove the hurdles facing entrepreneurs, provide basic infrastructure that propel a nation’s growth, be dedicated to providing statistics and information, promote mining and agriculture, make the environment tourist-friendly, promote the numerous traditions we have in Nigeria and most importantly, invest in and support innovation.
Every sector in present day Nigeria has decayed and the most delicate of all, which is the education sector has suffered the most. Investing in education should be top priority in moving Nigeria to the status of a first world nation. Taking a cue from first world nations like Luxembourg, Singapore, and Switzerland which have 59.6%, 54.7% and 51.3% respectively of people in high-skilled employment, according to the Human Capital Index 2015.
A leader should educate the population to the extent of attaining at least 99% literacy rate and 80% of high-skilled citizens. This can be done by revamping the educational system of the country. Firstly, all the syllabuses in Nigerian schools should be reviewed, especially in the universities, in such a way that they should meet up with the current international standards and subsequently set the standards for syllabuses around the world. Also by improving the researching capacity of our universities and making them more practical oriented than they currently are. Then go ahead to remove the numerous hurdles students face while trying to get into the universities by creating a system whereby students can apply to as many universities as they wish in other to give them more options and reduce the number of high school graduates lurking the streets. An educated population can propel innovation and turn out good leaders, and this combination is what is needed to move Nigeria to the status of a first world country. Innovation makes a country competitive in the global market. 

The Tragedy Of A Presidential Illness

By Dan Agbese
President Muhammadu Buhari is back home and is now at work in Aso Rock. That sentence, a poor reportage of stale news, speaks to our collective relief at seeing the president as usual resplendent in his white baban riga, at his desk.

The enormous relief at his return is still washing over the nation. He was away for 50 days. And for 50 days, this nation was on tenterhooks, consumed by fear, concern and anxiety. And hope was progressively marginalised. Presidential spokesmen positively muddied the waters when they unnecessarily tried quite gallantly but pathetically vainly to deny what was patently undeniable: the fact of the president’s illness.
I join millions of my compatriots in welcoming Buhari back home. It is the Lord’s doing. Or, perhaps, more appropriately in this case, it is Allah’s doing. 
It should not be difficult for Buhari to pick up from where he left off more than 50 days ago as of this writing. He is lucky to have a vice-president who is committed to the ideals of governance they share and did a splendid job of minding the complicated shop by the name of Nigeria. His administration remains on course. Splendid.
The president’s illness was a sad and cruel reminder that illness is no respecter of persons. All mortals, presidents and truck pushers alike, are subject to the grim decision of the Grim Reaper entirely at its own discretion. The president is human; so is the truck pusher. I see the president’s illness as an interruption on his programme of salvaging the country. It shook the nation as much as it shook his own immediate family. Pox on illness.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

VCs, Let Tuition-Free Varsities Stay

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
As the nation contends with slumped economic fortunes that are mainly accruable from oil resources, it makes hefty sense to contemplate fresh ways to source revenues to sustain the operations of institutions. But increasing the cost of university education that would be borne by students and their parents as recently proposed by vice chancellors should not be one of these measures.

By proposing that tuition-free university education should be abolished, the vice chancellors under the aegis of the Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities have only reopened an old debate. It is the right time for the debate because it throws up the imperative to prudently manage resources so that there would be enough to deploy in important areas of the nation amid the recession.
The economic crisis has rendered the government at both the federal and state levels incapable of paying workers and pensioners. Now, there have been lamentations about how the paucity of funds has become a major impediment to the actualisation of the great visions that different levels of government and their officials have for the people. 
Yet it is a wrong time for the debate because the same economic crisis that has reduced the funds available for the government has also impoverished the citizens. Indeed, since the citizens are the more adversely affected, vice chancellors should not expect parents to get money to bear an additional cost of university education. Is it the parents who have been rendered jobless by the closure or relocation of their companies that would pay the tuition? Or is it the parents who receive N18,000 minimum wage that would pay it? Even with the universities operating the so-called tuition-free system now, is it all the citizens whose children are qualified for university education that can afford it?
The idea of stopping the tuition-free policy should be jettisoned simply because of the poor. Remember, most of these vice-chancellors and others who are canvassing the payment of fees in universities enjoyed tuition-free university education. But for this, most of them would not be where they are now. Those in the South West during the government of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo often recall with a high sense of gratitude how his free educational policy made it easy for them to go to school. Yes, the population of university students then was not as much as we have now.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

When Buhari Shamed His Megaphones

By Mike Ozehkome
It  was Izaak Walton (1593 – 1683), an English writer, who once said: “Look to your health: And if you have it, praise God, and value it next to a good conscience; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of; a blessing that money cannot buy.”
Health, it is said, is wealth. And anyone who has been ill from mere headache can relate to the travails of Mr. President in recent weeks.
When the president transmitted his letter to the Senate for vacation to the United Kingdom, little did we know that the subsequent events to follow would raise much ruckus and fuss within the polity.  However, for a minute, let us all sheath our ideological swords and thank God Almighty for the president, his family and Nigerians at large, for  making it possible for the president to return alive; for it could have been, indeed,  worse.  God forbid!
Nigeria is sui generis-on a class of its own. There is hardly any country in the world that is akin to Nigeria. Our ideologies, credos, languages are multifaceted and multidimensional. Truth be told, it would be a Herculean task for any leader to placate the various interests and tendencies of this nation in one breath. This has been the major challenges of previous leaders in this nation, whether military or civilian, including Abacha, Gowon, Murtala, Shagari, Shonekan, Abdulsalam, Yardua, GEJ, OBJ, IBB, et al, however well-intentioned they might have been.
What makes a Southerner happy to be a Nigerian is quite different from what makes a Northerner happy to be a Nigerian. Sometimes, this is caused by ignorance, sometimes by the weakness of the human mind, which loves to categorise. Other times, because of the various vested interests by different groups. One fact is indisputable; uneasy lies the head that wears the crown, particularly in Nigeria, a country with about 388 ethnic groups that speak over 350 languages (Onign Otite); some say over 500.
Sometimes, we forget that our leaders are also human, with their weaknesses, foibles, strengths, fears and anxieties. It would be unfair to gloss over some great things that President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) has done for Nigeria. His has been that of service to his nation, since his youth, when he was born of a Fulani family on 17th December, 1942, in Daura, Katsina State, to his father, Adamu, and mother, Zulaihat. He is the twenty-third child of his father. Buhari was raised by his mother, after his father died when he was about four years old.

President Buhari’s Return

 At last, President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country last week as announced by his Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr. Femi Adesina. His prolonged absence had been a source of intense acrimony in the polity with anti-Buharists insisting that he was either dead or gravely ill, and should resign on account of his incapacitation. His defenders and party members, especially his media team on the other hand, had insisted that he was only resting and taking medical tests. As such, he was expected to   return to the country at any time.
*Buhari and his wife, Aisha, after his return
However, the stridency of the demands of the wailing Buhari naysayers who chose not to be placated with photo-shoots of the president’s “hale and heartiness” in London, soon combined with the rising profile of the then Acting President,  Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, to bring the President back into the country.
And, since the president arrived in the country, there has been an attempt at a restoration of some form of normalcy, with the president even “resuming” and spending three hours in his office on Monday.  No sooner had the President sat on his “presidential seat”, however, than the Internet again went viral on close videos of the President’s gait as he walked from the plane that brought him from London.
The close-up videos, undoubtedly, showed a much-emaciated and limping president, who was still badly in need of medical attention. It is not surprising, then, that Mr. Adesina said that the president would still travel in a matter of weeks for a medical review of his condition.
That is as it should be, as the president appears clearly in no position to take on the challenge of administering a country that is battling a debilitating recession in the midst of ferocious opposition from the former ruling party and some segments of the polity.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Buhari Govt’s Tower Of Babel

By Onuoha Ukeh
When President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated his cabinet,  six months after assuming office, many Nigerians did heave a sign of relief, believing that a government had eventually been formed. With ministers duly assigned portfolios and sworn in, all was set for government to roll and begin to address the myriad of  issues plaguing the country, with the view to catering to the needs of the people. It was a legitimate wish by a people who had high expectations from a government that promised heaven and earth.


Sixteen months after the government was formed, and 22 months after President Buhari took over the reins of governance, I have often asked myself this question: Is this really a government or just an assemblage of people, who are just doing whatever please them, in the name of working for the good governance of Nigeria? I ask this question because what we have as a government appears mainly like a mere party, where those in office operate like islands, doing and saying what they like, while humanity suffers. There is no synergy  whatsoever.  In the government, there are discordant and cacophony of voices.
This week, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, issued a travel advisory on the United States (US). No doubt, feeling that as a presidential aide on foreign affairs, she could talk about foreign policy and issues related to her office, this former federal lawmaker advised Nigerians not to travel to the US for now, if they do not have any compelling business in the North American country. She said her advice became necessary, since Nigerians, who have valid US visas, had been denied entry into the US. In her wisdom, Dabiri-Erewa wanted Nigerians to freeze their trips to the US until the immigration policy of the Donald Trump administration was clear.

Apostle Suleman Writes Keyamo, Demands 1 Billion Naira Damages

*Apostle Suleman

Apostle Johnson Suleman's letter to the Festus Keyamo Chambers is reproduced below: 

Festus  Keyamo  Esq,
Festus Keyamo Chambers
Anthony  Village, Maryland, Lagos.


Allegation Of Professional Misconduct And Unethical Practices.

Sequel to our letter to you dated 6th March, 2017, we have observed with shock and dismay your deliberate and relentless efforts to malign and convict our client, Apostle Johnson Suleman, through media trial.

By your relentless media campaign, you are conducting yourself in a manner inconsistent with S.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct For Legal Practitioners 2007. Instead of gathering your facts and evidence before a court of competent jurisdiction for adjudication you have cleverly resorted to blackmail and intimidation of our client through the media – both traditional and social media. In short, you have threatened and indeed executed your threat of conjuring, manufacturing and synthesizing bogus and unverifiable exhibits in the social media and newspapers, all with a view to poison public opinion against our client and reduce his esteem and reputation in the eye of any reasonable man. Your attitude is also to ambush a fair trial while litigation is anticipated. This is contrary to S.33 of the Rules of Professional Conduct For Legal Practitioners 2007.

In the Punch newspapers of Tuesday, March 7, 2017 Vol. 41 No 21,388 page 10, you were quoted in an interview threatening to “release more bullets.” You said your client under your supervision will be organizing a world press conference and “we will begin to release bullets.”

Furthermore, you grossly and recklessly maligned our client, saying, “these men of God are not what they claim to be, we have a duty to protect the public. Many of them are fake and fraudsters. You will see the video very soon in the next few minutes.” True to your threat of trial publicity stunts, the video clips have flooded the social media networks.

Nigeria, Xenophobia And Afrocentricism

By Dan Amor
In 2005, a new diplomatic law was introduced in South Africa which compelled travelers from Nigeria and a few other countries to meet certain transit visa requirements before stepping into that country. Those other countries include Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone. Other countries affected by the law were India, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Somalia, China, Russia, Ukraine, Pakistan and Kenya. Principally, the anti-visitor law was targeting Nigeria. This shows that xenophobia is an official state policy of the South African government.
*Zuma and Buhari
There is indeed nothing wrong with the idea of an independent country choosing who her visitors should be and who should not. Yet, it is not only a diplomatic shortsightedness but also a demonstration of chronic ingratitude for South Africa not to recognize her benefactors. It also shows, to a large extent, the limpid docility in the mindset of those at the commanding height of that country's diplomacy. Even when one can safely argue that the prolonged period of apartheid in South Africa virtually turned black natives of that country to psychopaths, it is a terrible malaise for black South Africans not to remember those who fought relentlessly for their freedom.
Of course, there is so much to say in the justification for the proclaimed Afrocentric foreign policy thrust of Nigeria. With about 180 million people, Nigeria's population is more than double of that of Egypt - the second most populous country in Africa; twenty-five times that of Benin Republic and thirty-five times that of Togo. This demographic edge is matched by comparatively high economic endowments, with Nigeria being, for instance, the sixth largest exporter of crude in the world. In terms of human capital development, there is no country in Africa that churns out the magnitude of graduates from institutions of higher learning like Nigeria.
It is, perhaps, in realization of this that the country has played a crucial role on the African political stage. For example, Nigeria helped in no small measure in dismantling apartheid in South Africa thereby earning the sobriquet of "a distant frontline state" during the struggle against white minority rule in the entire Southern Africa. She also played a decisive role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which metamorphosed into the African Union (AU) recently, and later the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) of which she continues to be a central player. More recently, Nigeria was the chief architect of the ECOMOG, the military wing of ECOWAS, which has successfully checked military aggression in some countries in the West African sub-region, notably, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

No Prohibition Against Nigerians From Entering The US – US Embassy

From the United States Embassy in Nigeria 

Meawhile, Abike Dabiri-Erewa Repeats Her Travel Advisory…

Olusegun Obasanjo At ‘80′

By Ochereome Nnanna

I have only encountered President Olusegun Obasanjo twice. The first time was in 2001 when his Media Adviser, the late great journalist, Mr. Tunji Oseni, invited me to Aso Villa for the Presidential Media Chat series. The second event was quite dramatic. I visited a friend, Osita Chidoka, in his office in August 2007.
He had just been appointed Corps Marshall of the Federal Roads Safety Commission, FRSC. At lunch time, he asked me to accompany  him to see “someone” at the Hilton, Abuja. When we arrived at the hotel, I became suspicious when we rode the elevator to the topmost floor and Chidoka led me to the end of a hallway with two coated security guards on duty.

It was then that I knew we were seeing a VVIP. After signing us in, Chidoka stood aside as a bespectacled elderly man still wearing shabby bedclothes (at 2.00pm) came out. Everyone in the room stood reverently. He bantered with Chidoka and I took a closer look. It was former President Obasanjo!

Chidoka introduced me: “Baba, this is Ochereome Nnanna of Vanguard…” Obasanjo, who was already about to shake my hands, quickly withdrew it as if I had turned into a cobra. He gave me a hostile stare and walked away. I whispered to Chidoka that I would wait for him downstairs.

All this drama apart, the lesson I took away from the encounter was that, contrary to Obasanjo’s pretensions that he does not read Nigerian newspapers, he does. His reaction to me just proved it. I have never hidden my disdain for the recycling of the military generals who fought the civil war as elected “civilian” presidents.

Why Osinbajo Can’t Undo APC’s Damage

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
With the emergence of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as the Acting President, we seem to have suspended our disbelief. Against all logic, our hopes have soared to stratospheric heights. We wager that Osinbajo holds the magic wand to turn around the beleaguered fortunes of the nation and its citizens. But we need not sally forth at this moment of the nation’s life in exultation at the prospect of better times ahead. What we direly need is introspection. We need that to steel ourselves for the grim reality that would befall us at the end of the four years of the presidency under the All Progressives Congress (APC) – its abysmal failure to improve the citizens’ lot.

To be sure, Osinbajo has the passion to turn things around. He seems to be conscious of the immiseration that the Buhari presidency that was hobbled by paranoia and parochialism inflicted on the citizens. This is why he has launched himself into a miniature shuttle diplomacy that has taken him to the much-disdained south east and south south. But as long as Osinbajo is the acting president, there is a limit to which he can do. Even if Buhari is no longer directly involved in daily governance, there are the power mongers in government who are deluded with the notion of power as their birthright who would drop his name and go to a direction that is different from that of Osinbajo. In fact, there could be cases of willful sabotage of the good plans of the acting president.
We do not deny that there could be genuine citizens in government who would see their service to the nation as paramount. Such people do not mind who their principal is – whether Buhari or Osinbajo. But we must note that most of the appointments were done by Buhari and a bulk of them not on merit but on cronyism and political and religious affiliations. For instance, most of the ministers are bereft of ideas of how to positively impact the citizens’ wellbeing. We are thus confronted with the danger that despite the good intentions of Osinbajo, those appointees who are incompetent cannot help to actualise his vision. Worse still, those corrupt officials who ought to have left the government under Buhari would still be in office. They would pretend to be serving the nation whereas they are busy stealing public funds meant to alleviate the suffering of the citizens. Yet, as only the acting president, Osinbajo cannot sack these appointees of Buhari.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Where Northern Nigeria Fails

By Yakubu Musa
Those of us who read Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson’s Why Nations Fail’,have seen, in the best-selling book, some convincing arguments on how countries of the world can seize the momentums of critical junctures of their histories to achieve economic greatness. Likewise, we have seen, in the same book, how elite’s phobia of Joseph Schumpeter’s “creative destruction” can either stunt growth or completely truncate it.

 Yet, while Why Nations Fail is a book rooted in political economy – from capitalistic perspective – its numerous analogies clearly abound everywhere, in terms of the realities of our dear country, Nigeria.

Although, the parallels one seeks to draw in this piece are much nuanced from what the book presents, it suffices to say that nowhere are its numerous examples more vividly expressed than in the northern part of the country. Since the moment the Union Jack gave way to the green-white-green flag to herald the nation’s independence in 1960, the two major geographical divides in the country have tried to rival each other. Paradoxically, however, it is the north that appears to have been muddling along in this competition– in spite of its comparative numerical strength.
In pre-independence times, there had been a glaring struggle to convince the large portion of the society to embrace western education. The North was, and still is, left to do a catching-up job as a result. The disparity between the two regions in terms of the population of private universities simply speaks volumes. Ditto commercial banks.

For Onukaba (Adinoyi-Ojo)

By Taiwo Obe
The book, Atiku – The Story of Atiku Abubakar, has the author’s name as Ojo Adinoyi. Unless, of course, you were familiar with the author or, and, knew that he was a special aide to the former Nigerian vice-president, you would have thought that it is not the same person as Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo. But then, when he joined The Guardian as a reporter in June 1983 immediately after his National Youth Service Corps primary assignment at Radio Nigeria, Ikoyi, his name was simply Shaibu Ojo. Till date, one of our colleagues at The Guardian still calls him, perhaps jokingly, Shaibu. He had written an article celebrating Nigeria’s rich culture including taking pride in our traditional lines, signing it with “Shaibu Adinoyi-Ojo.” A reader responded wondering why he was bearing an Arabic name, Shuaib (that’s the correct spelling and it means “stream”), advising him to live by example. Trust Shaibu, a principled person, he quickly dropped that name. His father’s name was Shaibu Onukaba. His own middle name was Adinoyi.
*Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo
So, he became Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo. He likes now to be identified as Adinoyi Onukaba Ojo. As that is mouthful, we shall agree here to call him simply Onukaba, which is what I call him. He calls me Taye, which most people who knew me from childhood still call me. Taye, of course, is the abridgement of To aye wo – (I came to) “taste” the world for my twin, Kehinde, who the Yoruba lore says, sent me – which, for convenience, has also been clipped to Taiwo. By the way, Onukaba means hard work and Adinoyi is “father of the multitude.”
Seest thou a man who is diligent in his work, that’s Onukaba. Anyone who is familiar with this wonderful guy – and this is not patronising him – knows that he gives his all to any project he commits to, and, yes, he’s truly someone who bears the burden of many, particularly his kin, some of whom won’t think twice before abusing the privilege.
Onukaba and I bonded almost immediately when we met. He had studied theatre arts at the University of Ibadan and had been taught playwriting by Prof. Femi Osofisan, who was the one who influenced his admission to The Guardian. He was a quintessential reporter. He shunned unethical practices like a plague.
A little digression, please: the other day a visitor in my office overheard a telephone conversation where I was vouching for Onukaba’s incorruptibility. The visitor wondered if he was a Nigerian. Yes, he is and a proud one at that. 

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