Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Game Of Death In Rivers State

By Steve Nwosu

I’m not used to too much prayer, but I must begin today’s piece with a word of prayer. I pray that God Almighty visits the killers of Barr. Ken Atsuwete (and their sponsors) with slow and painful death. Amen!
I pray that the divine punishment for the dastardly act of Monday constitutes the largest chunk of the inheritance, which the killers (and their sponsors) would pass on to their children and their children’s children in the fullness of time. Amen and Amen and Amen!

But, one question kept coming to my mind on Monday, as I tried to make sense of the senseless abduction and murder of the activist lawyer in Port Harcourt: Aren’t we back to a not-too-unfamiliar narrative? For, it would appear, Rivers State relapses into a feast of blood as soon as a new date for the now-jinxed re-run election is within the horizon.
Everything – including kidnapping, armed robbery and, as is in this case, heinous assassination – suddenly begins to take a political coloration. It is either that ‘blood-thirsty’ Governor Nyesom Wike is trying to intimidate opponents with violence (the APC narrative), or Rotimi Amaechi and his APC gang are unleashing mayhem in order to underscore their claim that Rivers State is not safe for any election to hold there.
And now, the murder of Atsuwete perfectly fits the bill: He is not only the lawyer of a former council chairman, who is facing trial in a murder case, but is also representing the 22 council chairmen elected on the platform of the APC and who were sacked by the Wike administration.
Expectedly, the APC says the lawyer’s assassination is the worst politically motivated killing in recent times, while PDP says the APC is politicising criminality and trivialising a serious matter. But while they’re vomiting all the high-sounding nonsense, somebody’s husband, a father, a breadwinner, a community leader, a voice of the voiceless lies stone cold. Dead!
Incidentally, while members of the NBA were holding their conference in Port Harcourt last week, I had fantasised about some hooded goons kidnapping a few prominent (and some not-so-prominent) lawyers – just to underscore the narrative that Rivers State was still not safe. Luckily, it never happened.
But before Wike and his camp could pop champagne, the goons mowed down Atsuwete, casting ominous pall over the proposed end-of-October date for the legislative re-run elections.
Of course, it’s understandable: The ‘insecurity’ narrative is the thin thread on which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has hung its stubborn refusal to conduct outstanding National and State Assembly elections in Rivers State.

Arthur Nwankwo Disowns Pro-Biafra Group

Arthur Nwankwo has vehemently rejected the proposed role bestowed on him by RE-Ipob as a negotiator between the federal govt and Biafran agitators

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Nigeria: Chronicles Of Tragedy And Absurdity

By Okey Ndibe
As a novelist, I frequently experience the sensation that I could never invent imaginative events that, in their tragic or absurd extraordinariness, can stand beside the strangeness of life, as it is lived in Nigeria. Indeed, I follow public events in Nigeria with a certain sense that some grand master of fiction, versed in absurd tragedy, stands just out of sight to shape and orchestrate these events. For me, to read the pages of Nigerian newspapers is often akin to reading the most wrought fabulist fiction. Except that the events one encounters in news reports, bizarre as they may appear, are deeply rooted in and describe the shattering realities of Nigerians’ lives. These are often events that trigger the declaration, “Only in Nigeria…”

Before I get to recent illustrations, I must quickly cite some classic examples that have become so woven into the essential fabric of Nigerian life that they hardly strike Nigerians anymore as odd much less astonishing.
It’s only in Nigeria that God “votes” in elections – and, in fact, casts the decisive vote. So, Nigeria’s election riggers invented the disingenuous mantra that only God gives power. If Candidate B is declared winner of an election, even though everybody knows Candidate A won it handily, all the imposter has to say to settle it all is, “God has given me power.”
It’s only in Nigeria that public officials fatten their bank accounts from funds budgeted for public purposes – and then demand that the people whose lives they have impoverished must fast and pray for better electric power, to be spared death in road accidents or death in ill-equipped hospitals.
It is only in Nigeria that a governor would declare that he has “totally transformed” every sector of his state – and then promptly fly abroad for medical treatment the instant he experiences a headache.
It is only in Nigeria (as happened in Ilorin, capital of Kwara State in January 2009) that a commissioner of police would call a press conference and point to an “arrested” goat, as a robber who turned himself into an animal just as pursuers were about to grab him. Newspapers around the world reported the absurd drama. It is only in Nigeria that the said officer would make such a global ass of a major national institution and retain his job.
Nigeria must be one of the few places in the world – perhaps the only one – where governors are effusively declared “performers” for paying the salaries of state employees. And if these governors happen to invest some funds in the rehabilitation of a few kilometers of roads, why, they are simply canonised.
Nigeria is arguably the world’s most notorious location where a mindless embezzler of public funds is no longer a thief if s/he belongs to the right (ruling) party, the right religion, the right state and the right circles. Nigeria is a country where just about anything is rigged or riggable in favour of the rich and connected where the police would hardly ever disturb the peace of a well-placed suspect, however grave the crime, and where many judges are only too willing (for the right price) to oblige well-heeled suspects and accused every manner of justice-evading legal gymnastics.

Nigerians Are Hungry – Cardinal Okogie Tells Buhari

Open Letter To The President
Dear Mr. President,
Last year, when you assumed office, the chant of “Change,” your campaign slogan, ushered you into the Presidential Villa.  Today, cries of “hunger” could be heard across the length and breadth of our vast country.  
*Cardinal Okogie 
Nigerians hunger, not only for food, but also for good leadership, for peace, security, and justice.  This letter is to appeal to you to do something fast, and, if you are already doing something, to redouble your effort. 
May it not be written on the pages of history that Nigerians died of starvation under your watch.   As President, you are the chief servant of the nation.  I, therefore, urge you to live up to the huge expectation of millions of Nigerians.  A stitch in time saves nine. 
This is the second year of your administration.  
You and your party promised to lead the masses to the Promised Land.   It is not an easy task to lead.  But by campaigning for this office, you offered to take the enormous task of leadership upon yourself. Nigerians are waiting for you to fulfill the promises you made during the campaign.  
They voted you into office because of those promises. The introduction of town hall meetings is a commendable idea.  But in practice, you, not just your ministers, must converse with Nigerians.  You are the President. You must be accountable to them.  The buck stops on your desk.  
Even if your administration has no magic wand at least give some words of encouragement.  On this same score, please instruct your ministers, and insist that they be sincere and polite at those town meetings.  Their sophistry will neither serve you nor Nigerians. 
Mr. President, if you want to leave a credible legacy come 2019, in all sincerity, please retool your administration.  Change is desirable.  But it must be a change for the better.  Let this change be real.  Change is not real when old things that we ought to discard refuse to pass away.
You will need to take a critical look at your cabinet, at the policies and programmes of your administration, and at those who help you to formulate and execute them.  You will need to take a critical look at the manner of appointments you have been making.  
It is true that commonsense dictates that you appoint men and women you can trust.  But if most of the people you trust are from one section of the country and practice the same religion, then you and all of us are living in insecurity. The Nigerian economy has never been in a state as terrible as this. 
You as President are like the pilot of an aircraft flying in turbulence.  Turbulent times bring the best or the worst out of a pilot.  We can no longer blame the turbulence on past administrations.  You know quite well that some of the officials of your administration served in previous dispensations. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Buhari Regime Is A Complete Disaster - Arthur Nwankwo

Former Presidential candidate and Chancellor of the Eastern Mandate Union (EMU), Dr. Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo is not a man of many words. In this interview with LAWRENCE NJOKU, Southeast Bureau Chief, he bares his mind on some nagging issues in the country.
What is your take on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration in the last one year?
The Muhammadu Buhari administration has been a complete disaster. I knew from the outset that his presidency was a tragedy waiting to happen. My conclusions are anchored on observable and incontrovertible facts. The first is Buhari’s penchant for religiously implementing a policy of exclusion. You possibly cannot expect anything good from a man, who expressed the desire to run a segregative administration from the very beginning, based on the voting patterns in the 2015 presidential elections.
For him to say on several occasions that his government would treat differently areas that gave his party 95 percent vote from the areas that gave only five percent indicated that he did not and still does not understand what political contest is all about. As far as I know, the beauty of democracy is located in the freedom of the electorate to make a choice from an array of political contestants. At the end of the contest, whoever emerges the winner sees himself as the leader of all and not only of those that voted for him. Buhari has failed this litmus test of democratic inclusion.
Like I have always said about the Buhari presidency, you don’t give what you don’t have. Any discerning person would have identified the ineptitude of this administration from the content of Muhammadu Buhari’s inaugural address on May 29 2015. It is from such address that a focused leader hints on his vision and policy direction in governance. His inaugural speech was empty. I urge you to pick a copy of that address and go through it again. You will be shocked at how drab and uninspiring it was for such a big occasion. So much noise has been made about a line in that address, which said that, “he belonged to everybody and belonged to nobody.” While many of his apologists sought to convince Nigerians of what he meant by that statement, I warned of the deceit and dictatorial import of that comment.
Today, Buhari has taken Nigeria back by almost 40 years and has proven beyond doubt that he is an ethnic and religious irredentist. The economy has collapsed and with it our collective destiny. Insecurity has not abated and poverty rate has tripled. The picture of things to come is gloomy and frightening. Buhari is, indeed, a colossal failure and his administration is a significant threat to the continued existence of this country as a corporate entity.
Could the reasons you outlined be responsible for the heightened clamour for restructuring of the country?
It is instructive that many Nigerians have come to the realisation that the only way for the survival of the country is through restructuring. This is heartwarming. This is what I have canvassed over the past three decades at great risk to my personal safety.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Jonathan: An Unlikely Avenger

By Amanze Obi
I am fascinated by the brewing effort by the authorities to package and sell our ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan, as an avenger. A section of the media had reported that the former president was involved in the formation and ongoing activities of the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA). The story was not speculative. It was declarative enough. If your imagination, like that of many Nigerians, has been saturated with the oddities that change has inflicted on us, you cannot but see the new image being foisted on Jonathan as comical, and therefore, fascinating. It will provide us with the opportunity to be treated to some more histrionics.
*Jonathan and Buhari
According to the newspapers that carried the ‘scoop’, the story is the product of an intelligence report.  The report claimed that Jonathan started meeting with the avengers before the 2015 general elections.  The militia group, it said, was put in place to respond in prescribed ways should Jonathan lose the elections. One such way was to do what it is doing at moment. The renewed militancy in the Niger Delta region is, therefore, believed to be the product of Jonathan’s loss. That is the story before us.
But we must note that before its recrudescence, militancy has been an issue of concern in the region. The return of civil rule in the country after many years of military interregnum brought with it a new fervour. It provided the citizenry the opportunity to let off steam. The military muzzled free speech. Civil rule was the obverse of that.
It was in the wake of the new order that some elements in the oil-rich Niger Delta, who felt that they were not getting their due from the oil exploration and exploitation in their domain began to raise voices of dissent. They queried the situation where the goose that lays the golden egg is being starved. Their repudiation and rejection of this state of affairs eventuated in the agitation for resource control. That was the political angle to the agitation.
But it also had a military wing. Some angry youths, who do not have the patience for verbal engagements resorted to brute force. Many took to oil bunkering. They needed the proceeds from the crude to line their pockets and feel a sense of belonging. If they could not share in the oil wealth legitimately, they can, at least, help themselves with the crumbs.  It was in this way that some of them seized oil and gas installations and bombed them at will. Those who stood in their way, especially foreign nationals, were taken hostage and freed only when some handsome ransom was paid.
As should be expected, the unwholesome activities of the militants pitted them against the government. But it took ex-president Umaru Yar’Adua’s amnesty programme for some level of sanity to return to the region. The Jonathan administration, being an offshoot of Yar’Adua’s, also enjoyed relative peace from the Niger Delta militants.
But all of that have changed under the Muhammadu Buhari regime, owing largely to the disposition of the president to the Christian South. The president’s actions and inactions, so far, give the impression that he wrested power forcefully from an enemy and, as such, the enemy must be stigmatised and punished. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nigeria As An Amusement Park

By Ikechukwu Amaechi
Nigeria is a huge amusement park. All you need do to have fun is sit back and watch the theatrics of the political gladiators. It is God’s doing, though. Our ability to laugh at our folly and the fact that there are so many clowns out there masquerading as statesmen is, perhaps, the only reason some are still sane.
In the face of the pervasive desolation, any iota of bitterness even against those whose cluelessness dug us into this hole would have been suicidal because, as the legendary global statesman, Nelson Mandela, would say, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
Why should we commit suicide, which is exactly what those who superintend over our affairs want us to do, having tried every other strategy to accomplish the same goal, including the use of cruel economic policies without much success?
Of course, they think we are fools. Far from it, never mind that sometimes we behave in ways that tend to lend credence to their prejudice. But the truth is that they don’t get it, the joke is actually on them.
I had a good laugh every day of last week. The shenanigan that involved the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the courts and the unseen hands of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was the icing on the cake.
As I watched the drama and the movements in and out of courts with injunctions and counter-injunctions, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was all deja vu.
But what really got me reeling with laughter was the alleged attempt by “mischief makers” to add the name of the Edo State APC governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki, to the ever growing list of leaders without certificates or with unverifiable certificates.
Immediately the news broke, my first reaction was, “Oh! My God, not again.” You can then imagine my relief when Obaseki announced to the world that the certificates which he claimed to have lost have, indeed, been found. And guess where? In faraway God’s own country, the United States.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ndigbo, Time To Reconsider Your Ways

By Clement Udegbe
A Yoruba proverb says that one does not keep silent when something bad is going on because a house does not burn and fill the eyes with sleep. I have been having sleepless nights because bad things are going on between the Igbos and their Yoruba brothers in Nigeria. And it troubles the hearts of those who love the peace and friendliness that once existed between these two tribes in Nigeria since after the civil war, which politicians for their very selfish reasons are determined to kill.
In the University of Ife (Now, Obafemi Awolowo University) in the 1970s, we did everything together with Yorubas, from football, student unionism, entertainment, etc. Of particular reference was in the Palmwine Drinkers Club, where they referred to themselves   as “carried fellows”, and non-members like me, as bearing very long tails, irrespective of tribe or circumstances of birth.

We enjoyed our differences and the unity that followed it all. They called us “Okoro”, Aje okuta ma imu omi “, meaning: one who eats stones without drinking water. We called them “Ndi Ofe Nmanu”, meaning: people who eat too much red palm oil. Competition was healthy among us and you got what you deserved. For example, you could drive your ‘campus bus’, or ‘bush meat’ whether she is from Gbagan, Calabar, or any part of the globe, without qualms. Please get explanations from any ex-Ife around you. 

We were all simply Nigerians, and have remained largely so. I did my Operation Feed the Nation as a student in Iperu, a town in Ogun State and my National Service in Lagos. I love Yorubas, and my friends among them love me too. When I started work in 1981, two Yorubas who touched my life in an uncommon way were Chiefs Adeniran Ogunsanya and Harold Shodipo, both of blessed memory. They were completely detribalized men, proud of   their Igbo counterparts in politics.

Chief Ogunsanya proved to me how he loved Dr, Nnamdi Azikiwe, and he actually introduced me to Zik in 1984. A Yoruba Chief and Elder introduced me, an Igbo man, to Owelle Ndigbo. That was those good old days. I keep wondering what   those pan-Nigerian founding fathers of Yoruba land would have done with what is happening today between Igbos and Yorubas in the politics of Lagos State. So many things have started going wrong on between Igbos and Yorubas  that  things are now speedily falling apart. The foundation for Igbo bashing and phobia may have been laid during the tenure of Chief Bola Tinubu as the Governor of Lagos State.

That was when all Igbo core business areas began to be targeted for closure at the least provocation. Alaba International Market in Ojo LGA, the Auto Market at Berger Bus-stop near Mile 2 and the Ladipo Motor Parts Market in Mushin LGA were closed at different times and reopened after a governor from Igbo land came to plead. Former Governor Babatunde Fashola broke the pot and spilled the beans when he deported Igbos in 2013. It was a highly spiritual action which many did not understand. The message was clear –  Igbos are visitors and can be deported in spite of their investments in Lagos State. In 2014, a group of Obas and Chiefs in Ondo State denigrated the Eze Ndigbo title and called for its ban in Ondo State.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Nailing Lagos Land Grabbers

By Banji Ojewale
Some years ago, well known African Philosophy teacher, 80-yearld old Professor Sophie Bosede Oluwole told the world about her anguishing experience at the hands of indigenous land speculators (land grabbers) popularly called omo-onile. She said she had bought a land in Lagos several years earlier. Trouble came when she wanted to develop it.

Her account: "I bought my land 18 years ago. A fellow, who was six years old at the time now comes to me, saying his brother did not give him his own share of the money. I can't understand whether he wanted to take his own share in the womb...Somebody would come and say 'I was not around when you bought the land, pay me my own share.'"
*Governor Ambode of Lagos State
Mamalawo as Professor Oluwole is fondly referred to, lived to tell the story. She was fortunate, unlike others who had more macabre encounters with the omo-onile. Some have been maimed for life. Others have died. Several more have been traumatized after having their land seized and resold without a kobo for compensation. Many more are locked in a cycle of unending court cases over trespass on their land that is taking forever to settle.

Governments that have tolerated these vampires called omo-onile have violated the constitution that says government should protect life and property.
So when last week Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos moved in to roll out a law nailing the nefarious activities of the miscreants, he met not only a popular demand, but also he adhered to the fundamental essence of government. He has continued to receive deafening applause for his action.

The instrument, known as Lagos State Property Protection Law, will make the menace of land grabbing in Lagos a criminal act and a thing of the past. It stipulates a 21-year jail term for convicts. Ambode said: "The need for the law followed the fact that one of the issues that discouraged and hindered the ease of doing business in Lagos in the past had always been the menace of land grabbing." He noted that a lot of would-be property owners encountered untold harassment from the exploitative land grabbers, declaring that the law now marked the end of the road for such people.

Death In EFCC Custody: The Case Of Citizen Nunugwo

By Paul Onomuakpokpo  
With a history of rank sleaze purportedly behind it, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) may not provoke so much sympathy as it writhes in the throes of self-inflicted intrigues and external conspiracies. That is why when its members are hounded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for their complicity in corruption that allegedly besmeared the government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, there is no much outrage by the citizens.
The constant refrain is that they are paying for their sins. After all, they are responsible for the economic pain of the citizens having unconscionably looted the treasury. They are responsible for the prolongation of the war on Boko Haram that has claimed many lives having diverted the funds meant for buying the weapons to fight the insurgents. The citizens do not really bother that these cases are still in court and that we cannot determine the extent of the culpability of the accused yet.
But what we have obviously failed to realise is that the more we uncritically adulate the government and its arbitrariness, the more it degenerates into dictatorship. Now from indiscriminate arrests and incarcerations, the government and its agencies have gone a step further. They have engaged in a wanton liquidation of the citizens. The latest victim of this government’s brutality is citizen Desmond Nunugwo.
We have not been told by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that he was a chieftain of the PDP. Neither have we been told that he was one of those billions of naira have been traced to in the course of the anti-corruption campaign. All we know is that he was only a chief protocol officer to the minister of state for defence. Yet, the EFCC recently detained him in its custody. The family was neither told of the charges against him nor was he taken to court. While waiting for the EFCC to disclose the charges against him, the family only learnt that Nunugwo who was never sick was dead in the custody of the commission six hours after being taken in.

No matter how much the EFCC tries to cover up its tracks, it is glaring that it is complicit in the death of Nunugwo. The EFCC cannot deny its complicity when it has consistently demurred when challenged to undertake an autopsy on Nunugwo two months after his death. The family may be right after all in accusing the police of playing the EFCC’s script as the two agencies have concluded that Nunugwo died naturally. The two agencies reached this conclusion without conducting an autopsy. And this is despite that the hospital where Nunugwo died has expressed its readiness to conduct the autopsy by forwarding the requirements for the exercise to the EFCC and the police.
Since the police have already taken a position, they cannot be entrusted with an investigation into the death of Nunugwo. And despite the promise of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to investigate the case, the government must demonstrate its sincerity by accepting the position of the family that an independent investigator should be given this responsibility.
It must be clear to the citizens that if the family of Nunugwo is left alone to seek justice, the government would only end up frustrating the case. Thus what is needed to secure justice for Nunugwo and prevent similar atrocities is for the civil society and other citizens to rally round the family of the deceased. We must not only insist that justice is done on the case by making the perpetrators of the murder to get their deserved sanctions, we must also ask for compensation for the family of the bereaved. After all, the children that have been deprived of their father need to have education and be cared for like other children. It is because the EFCC like the police and other security agencies are not appropriately sanctioned that they continue to kill innocent citizens for not giving a N50 bribe.

One More State For The South East

By Dan Amor
 To all intents and purposes, the position of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, that at least one more state be created in the South East geo-political zone is most appropriate. In a recent statement, the group renewed its call for a balanced federation for the sake of equity.

Pressing the demand further, the group enthused: “Nobody can say we are asking for too much because we are demanding for the creation of one or two more states in the South East. North East, North Central, South-West and South-South all have six states each. North-West has seven. Why should South East have only five?” In fact, this position is sacrosanct. If the Nigerian state were founded on justice and fairness, the South-East deserves more than five states. The statement credited to the Deputy Senate President and Chairman of the Senate Committee on the review of the Constitution, Ike Ekweremadu that the path to the creation of new states was tedious is unacceptable. The restructuring of this lopsided federation must begin with a new state for the South East geo-political zone.

Indeed, it is glaring that for so long, the ugly phenomenon of injustice has been institutionalized in the country. But for how long must the people continue to endure the unnerving weight of this hydra-headed monster? The quake of apprehension and insecurity enveloping the country is the outcome of several decades of injustice inflicted on certain groups in the country by others. It is now as though the nation is still under colonial bondage whereby almost all the ethnic nationalities are agitating for political autonomy and liberation. The truth is that the North used the military to internally recolonise the country. With what we have been witnessing, it is evident that the communal bond that once held the various component parts together has been rendered taut and things are beginning to fall apart. The obvious is that in today’s Nigeria, there is enormous bad blood amongst the various brother nationals making up the concocted union. Yet, it is most annoying that this embarrassing situation is a deliberate creation by those who think that the entire country is their bona fide property.

Or else, how does one rationalize the process whereby Lagos State which hitherto had nine million population was given only twenty local government areas while Kano State that had a population of six million was given forty-four local governments after Jigawa was carved out of it? Now, with more than twenty million population, Lagos is still officially recognized as having a paltry twenty local councils while Kano has forty-four plus the number of local councils in Jigawa state. It will therefore be sheer pretence and active game of the ostrich to behave as though nothing is wrong with the soul of the nation. Isn’t it imperative that after several years of trying to paper over serious cracks on the nation’s body politic the present administration should recognize the need to heal old national wounds as a prerequisite for the much-needed national reconciliation? Yet, unfortunately, the Buhari administration has even aggravated the situation with his one-sided ethno-religious-induced appointments.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Technical Defeat Of President Buhari

By Emmanuel Ugwu

It may seem too early to write off the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari. He is in the second year of his four year tenure. That amounts to a reasonable mathematical chance to change the narrative and finish well. But if the law of inertia counts for anything, the remainder of Buhari's time will prove to be the slow motion fulfillment of an ineluctable tragedy.
 Granted, there is a context to the pervasive misery in Nigeria today. Buhari inherited a scorched earth. He was bequeathed a landscape of ruins. He was bound to face the challenge of building with rubble.
Jonathan had the good fortune of seeing high crude price for the greater part of his 6 years-long tenure. He grossed a steady windfall of petrodollars. But he sanctioned the merciless looting of state funds.
As a candidate, Buhari appeared to recognize that revamping the economy had to be a priority. He made it a go-to talking point. He hammered on it at the hustings, always checking it off with the promise to fight corruption and arrest insecurity.
But in his earliest days in office, the economy was the last thing on his mind. The leisure of globe trotting was first. And he started to work his planes as soon as possible.
When Nigerians, alarmed that the intoxication of power may have made Buhari frivolous, asked him to sit down and work, he plagiarized Obasanjo: My world tour is a necessary charm offensive. Nigeria is a pariah state. I am traveling to reconcile Nigeria with the world!
While he lived in the air, Buhari left Nigeria without direction and without a cabinet. He took six months purporting to look for the beautiful ones. Even in a fiction, that's too long a period to run an amorphous government after a disruptive election that saw an opposition candidate win.
Naturally, that eternity of vacuum was filled with speculations and rumors. The market place was paralyzed. Investors and businessmen got edgy, confused and afraid.
Because they were made to hedge their bets and wait forever for the new administration enunciate its economic policy, some took their capital elsewhere. The financial system reacted. And an epidemic of job losses began.
Buhari had been advised to take drastic measures in his first days in office. Former British PM Tony Blair -whose autobiography, A Journey: My Political Life, detailed his action-packed first 100 days in office -suggested that Buhari's first 100 days would define the shape of the rest of his tenure. Blair counseled Buhari to leverage his massive goodwill and abolish fuel subsidy and take hard decisions to spur economic recovery.
Buhari demurred. He said the argument for the removal of fuel subsidy didn't sound rational. He would not sanction a decision that would the increase inflation and suffering.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Why Nigerians Are Leaving The Country

By Dan Amor
It sounds very much like an apocryphal tale. But it is true that the joke is once again on the Nigerian society. What I am saying is that Nigeria is constantly losing batches of experts to the larger world. Thousands of highly trained medical doctors and other professionals are daily departing these shores for greener pastures abroad. Even those who summoned the courage to return back home during the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan are heading back abroad.
They are going to join millions of talented Nigerian intellectuals, academics and professionals, who had been driven out of our land by the harsh realities of our current existence. It is not a matter of profound argument or intellectual debate to say that the death of the Nigerian middle class due to equivocation and compromise has long been awaited. Yet, implicit in the very meaning of compromise as a means of harmonizing the best features of opposing values is an element of tension. And it is this unwearied straining after the ideal within the actual rather than any lame begging of issues that imparts so devastating a tone on the social life of our dying middle class. Check our various passport offices, consular offices of other countries in Nigeria and international airports to confirm this. The exodus of Nigerians to other lands in the past six months is frightening. It sends shivers down the spines of most of us who don't have money to move our families to our villages not to talk of traveling abroad.

In fact, it takes a thorough grounding and deep reflection on our belligerent and turbulent social system to appreciate the interplay of the social forces that impinge on the growth of the Nigerian educated elite. But the situation now exerts a critical immediacy and honest evaluation. "We cannot pretend that the profound implication of the exodus of members of the Nigerian middle class to foreign lands have been intellectually confronted except in pious lamentations and official platitudes. For instance, the Ibrahim Babangida task force on brain-drain was another comic relief constituted in 1988 only to signal the official recognition of the menace." Professor Ibidapo Obe who headed the committee even attempted to bamboozle Nigerians into believing that brain drain was a good thing. Whereas, according to Professor Adebayo Williams, the inimitable critic and essayist, "nothing can be more excruciating than the pain of having to abandon one’s patriotic post at a time when national events demand scrutiny and vigilance, yet to remain in Nigeria is to surrender your life to grinding poverty and penal servitude or even death. Hence the compelling need to choose between dying in abject poverty and negating your patriotic obligation by checking out”. Consequently, in 1986, the first batch of Nigerian experts, having felt the suffocation occasioned by a wanton reduction of their wages to mere pittance as a result of the senseless devaluation of the naira, fled to the United States, Saudi Arabia and other Asian Tigers for survival.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Aisha Buhari, Bags And Fleas

By Paul Onomuakpokpo  
A tragic irony that has imperiled our collective well-being and has indeed precipitated the nation’s current political and economic ruination is the readiness of the citizens to brook their leaders’ dereliction of duty while still wishing that they chart an uncommon trajectory of national development.
*Aisha Buhari 
We watch our leaders loot the treasury and appropriate our national resources as the extension of their private estates.  But let some years roll by, then we suffer collective amnesia and we launch into a revisionism that casts  national villains in the mould of heroes to whom  the citizens are eternally obliged.
If the President Muhammadu Buhari presidency fails to break itself from floundering and is unable to positively impact the citizens, there would still be people who would insist that he contributed immeasurably to national development. After all, he detained many public thieves and recovered their loot.  Already, the citizens are being told that they should be patient because the so-called dividends of democracy can only be brought to them after the current government has cleared the unimaginable rot left by its predecessor.
Although the camp of the supporters of Buhari is thinning out having been disillusioned by his ineptness, the citizens who are not amenable to this delusion of waiting  for good governance to manifest but insist on evident performance are easily branded as enemies of the positive change that is launching the country into prosperity. 
And this is why our shock at the lack of direction and the gaudiness of the lifestyles of our leaders at a time there is so much suffering in the land is muted. The list of the manifestations of the hardship is endless: Workers and pensioners have not been paid salaries for months; those who can no longer endure are taking their own lives and children can no longer go to school .Those who are in school abroad who can no longer pay their fees because of the foreign exchange crisis have turned into thieves, prostitutes and beggars. But amidst this, the children of our leaders are schooling overseas. No wonder they do not care that teachers are not paid at home and schools are being shut down. Are these the people we expect to think about how they would improve our education?

Monday, August 8, 2016

Nigerian Economy: The Blind Leading The Blind

By Henry Boyo
A seemingly responsible fiscal plan will become unimplementable, in the modern era, if the underlying monetary indices are out of sync with budget projections. Conversely, the stubborn sustenance of appropriate monetary benchmarks for inflation, cost of funds and exchange rate may still rescue the performance of an otherwise bad budget.
 Buhari For example, if salaries and other incomes double or triple summarily, as happened during the Udoji salary awards of the 70’s, prices will spiral beyond the comfort level of consumers, as the liberal Naira supply chase the relatively modest output of goods and services on offer. Evidently, if inflation rate for example, approaches 20%, as in our present predicament, then we would all have lost a fifth of the purchasing power of our salaries and incomes.   

The dwindling purchasing power caused by inflation will invariably erode consumer demand for goods and services, and also constrain domestic industrial output, while further investment decisions will ultimately be kept on hold. Thus, in addition to a significant loss in real income values and deepening social poverty, an uncontrolled inflationary spiral will severely challenge the implementation of any fiscal plan that does not accommodate the prevailing rate of inflation; for example, the clearly recklessly ambitious 2016 N6tn budget, has become difficult to implement because of reduced revenue and significant Naira devaluation that has increased local production cost and further spurred inflation closer to 20%.

 For the above reasons, Central Banks, in successful economies everywhere, endeavor to sustain strategies that will keep money supply at an equilibrium level that will not push inflation rate beyond say 3-4%, so as to conserve price stability. Similarly, if foreign exchange is in short supply and auctioned in a market where Naira supply is constantly in excess, the local currency will, invariably depreciate in value, and also make all imports (including industrial raw materials) correspondingly more expensive. Furthermore, the competitiveness of local enterprise will become even more seriously challenged, if CBN’s MPC decides to counter inflationary pressures by increasing the rates at which commercial banks borrow from the CBN to as high as 14-16% as per their recent position in July 2016.

The preceding narrative hopefully explains the need for best practice management of money supply to avert the disenabling and distortional consequences of spiraling inflation in the economy. Clearly, horrendous inflation rates above 20% will seriously challenge any attempt to diversify any economy or foster inclusive economic growth. Indeed, if the inflation rate remains untamed, the Naira’s purchasing power will become seriously diminished and the N1000 note may ultimately be worth less than a dollar. Price stability is threatened and the economy will invariably underperform whenever the CBN readily admits its unending engagement in a very costly battle against perceived systemic surplus Naira.

So the critical questions should therefore be, what causes the evidently systemic excess Naira liquidity and why is CBN losing the battle to wrestle inflation to best practice rates below, say 4% and protect our incomes and industries. Naira supply will obviously increase if government continuously prints more Naira or borrows heavily without caution to fund its budget, as clearly demonstrated in the 2016 budget structure. Furthermore, Naira supply also increases inordinately, whenever government’s forex receipts are directly substituted with fresh Naira supply as allocations, while CBN keeps and auctions the dollars. Fortunately, the CBN also has the option to modulate money supply by establishing appropriate cash levels which banks must retain in relation to their assets.

MEND After My Life – Jonathan

Press Release 

Our attention has been drawn to a malicious claim by a shadowy group which calls itself the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers (RNDA) to the effect that many notable Ijaw and other Niger Delta leaders and elders, especially those perceived not to be too close to the powers that be, are the alleged sponsors of the current crises in the Niger Delta.

For the avoidance of doubt, we are fully convinced that such an idiotic claim is too cheap a narrative, a facile contrivance so badly concocted that any discerning mind would easily see through its disingenuous and duplicitous nature.
Since it is not in our place to speak for all those named in the obvious fabrication, we are only intervening to the extent that its hidden intent poses a violent threat to the life of former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, a committed patriot who the Almighty God has given the grace and good health to rededicate his life to the service of humanity, after serving his dear nation as President to the best of his abilities.

We are also not bothered by this baseless accusation, contented that we are not the only ones conversant with Jonathan’s widely-acknowledged sincere disposition to peace, non-violence and better human community.

We are however seized by the feeling of déjà vu occasioned by the resurrection of one dim character masquerading as ‘Cynthia White’, who had in the past served as the spokesperson for a notorious group that had all along shown its hand to be going after the life of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Nigerians could recall that in 2007 when Jonathan emerged as the running mate to the late President Umar’ Yar’Adua in the People’s Democratic Party during that year’s presidential election, this very group invaded Yenogoa with hundreds of militants in an effort to assassinate him. Jonathan was only saved then by the spirited efforts of the combined forces of determined security men, who gallantly repelled the attack.

Let us also not forget that members of this same group later invaded and bombed Jonathan’s compound in Otuoke, Bayelsa State, on a night he was scheduled to attend to an important matter in his country home. He was only saved by the grace of God, who in His infinite mercy created intervening factors that prevented Jonathan from sleeping in his country home that night.

Do we need to remind anybody that the so called Cynthia White is the self declared spokesperson of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), a violent and murderous underground group led by one Henry Orkah, which has not hidden its intention to destroy the former President?

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Nigerians, Time To Hold Our Leaders Accountable

By Remi Oyeyemi
Like millions of other Nigerians, one is very concerned. One is concerned about the subsisting chaos in our social order. One is concerned about the turbulence in our economic condition. One is worried about the glorification of charlatanism in our political landscape. One is disturbed about the morass of our moral mill. The absence of integrity, the discountenance of dignity, the disrespect of reason and disregard of facts all combine to give one serious concerns about Nigeria.
*Remi Oyeyemi
When one traverses the social media, rummages through the newspapers, and listens to real life experiences of Nigerians, one could feel the concern of Nigerians. From discussions with variety of Nigerians, irrespective of the social, economic and political status, the concerns have been evident. One could fathom that Nigerians wanted solutions to the manifesting myriad of problems. One would come away with the fact that Nigerian are fed up with the situation in the country.

But what is not very clear is how ready are Nigerians of all hue and clime to get off the sidelines and be involved in changing the course of their destinies. Their attitude of believing in a messiah to come around and liberate them might not be the best one given what we have witnessed so far. It is becoming increasingly self evident that Nigerians have to stand up and take control of their destiny by getting off the sidelines.

It is one’s belief that time is now for all of us to get off our laptops, drop our pens, stop complaining and get off the sidelines. It is time for all of us to accept the fact that we are the captains of our souls. Not all of us can be president. Not all of us can be senators. Not all of us can be governors. But certainly all of us can be active participants in the political process. Through our participation we would all be able to work together to forge a new destiny for our country, forge a new country for our children and for the posterity.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved”  – William Jennings Bryan  

With our active participation as individuals or as members of groups we would be able to decide on the direction of the country and the type of policies that have to be in place. We would be able to hold our leaders accountable. If someone is a local government chairman and he is not able to declare his assets, we would be able to hold him accountable or force him to leave office.  Any councilor that lives beyond his means could be held accountable. House of Assembly members would be forced to be accountable on their stewardship.

The Senators who collect constituency allowance and spend such on their girlfriends would be made to answer questions. Those who become commissioners and live beyond their incomes would have some explanations to do. The political party operatives would not be allowed to get away with deceit and deception. Party platforms and promises would be seriously adhered to. Presidents or governors would not get into the office and deny their promises made during campaigns.  All these could be possible only through mass participation in the political process.

Mass participation is the heart and soul of democracy. It is the life blood of freedom. It is the best check and balance for governance. Mass participation is the best form of holding elected officers accountable. If our elected officers know that we are all paying attention, they would think twice before they steal our commonwealth or engage in any other form of corruption. If our elected officers know that we are informed and very much aware of the way the process works, they would not be able to hold us to ransom or deceive us.

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