Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Economist And Buhari's 'Change Begins With Me' Campaign

By Lai Mohammed
Our attention has been drawn to a story by The Economist, datelined Lagos and featured in the paper's print edition of Sept. 24th 2016, entitled: ''Nigeria's War Against Indiscipline, Behave Or Be Whipped''.

*President Buhari and Lai Mohammed
Contrary to the newspaper's self-professed belief in ''plain language'', the article in question, from the headline to the body, is a master-piece of embellishment or dressed-up language. It is loaded with innuendos and decidedly pejorative at best, and downright racist at worst.

The Economist wrote that President Buhari wants to ''tame'' Nigerians with the ''Change Begins With Me'' Campaign. For those who are the owners of the English language, the use of that word is unpardonable, the verb ''tame'' suggests that Nigerians are some kind of wild animals that must be domesticated, and the usage reveals the mind-set of the authors of the article: a deliberate put down of a whole people under the guise of criticising a government policy.

The paper, in striving to reach a preconceived conclusion, also insinuated that some 150,000 volunteers are being trained as enforcers of the ''Change Begins With Me'' Campaign. This is not true. In his speech at the launch of the Campaign on September 8th 2016, the President, a globally-acknowledged leader who believes strongly in the rule of law, left no one in doubt that moral suasion, the very antithesis of force, will be employed to achieve attitudinal change among Nigerians. In that speech, the President said: ''I am therefore appealing to all Nigerians to be part of this campaign.'' To the best of our knowledge and, surely the knowledge of those who own the language, the words ''appeal'' and ''enforce'' are not synonymous.

In its rush to discredit the ''Change Begins With Me'' Campaign, The Economist, a widely respected newspaper, fell below its own standards by choosing to be economical with the truth. Enforcement is not part of the strategies to be employed under the Campaign, and nowhere has it been said that the ''moral police'' will be unleashed, as reported by the newspaper. In writing the story, the paper did not even deem it necessary to speak with any official of the government, thus breaching one of the codes of journalism, which is fairness. It chose instead to quote a ''critic'' of Mr. President in a perfunctory manner.

Again, The Economist made the same mistakes that most critics of the ''Change Begins With Me'' Campaign have made: Rushing to comment on a campaign they do not understand. The Campaign had barely been launched when the critics brought out their big guns to shoot it down. In the process, many of them ended up shooting themselves in the foot. Had they tarried a while to allow the government to roll out the details of the campaign, they might have shown more circumspection than they did in their criticism.

Nigeria: Obituary Of A Political Party

By Paul Onomuakpokpo
It was only those who lacked prescience in the heady days of the campaigns for the 2015 elections that failed to realise that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was a contraption waiting to unravel. All that was needed was the appropriate time for the party to suffer an implosion and disrupt its self-valourisation for being different from the much-pilloried People’s Democratic Party (PDP). And now in less than two years after assuming power, the party is in the grip of crises from which recovery may not be possible.
This should have been expected in so far as the APC grew out of a myriad of crises of other parties. These crises have continued to haunt the APC in a way that has rendered its performance since its emergence less than stellar. Of course, no one makes the case that the existence of conflicting interests is aberrant in a democracy with its attendant plurality of perspectives. One moment of such a contest of interests that culminated in discontent was the quest for the chairmanship of the party that led to the exit of Tom Ikimi and his supporters.
But the troubling reality is that these crises have worsened since the APC assumed the reins of power. They have negated all expectations that after the electoral victory, previous differences would be relegated for a common front to tackle national problems. Thus, the only area where the APC could be said to have done well aside from winning the 2015 elections remains in its playing the role of an opposition party. It succeeded in demonising the then government of the PDP and eventually made it unacceptable at the polls.
What has dogged the APC and prevented it from building on its electoral success is a lack of a clear ideological vision that is underpinned by a holistic pursuit of service to the citizens. It is in this ideological vacuum that has festered all shenanigans for the appropriation of the party by its members as a vehicle for realising their selfish goals. In other words, what has marked out the party is its members’ Darwinian struggle for supremacy. In this quest, the disparate members owe no fidelity to the common ethos that binds them together in the party; thus it can be used and dumped as they have done to other political parties. It was this that led to the emergence of Bukola Saraki as Senate President and Yakubu Dogara as House of Representatives Speaker in utter disregard for the desire of some of the party’s leaders.

It is not only the party that its members brutally disregard to pursue their selfish interests. They have also disavowed their own promises to the citizens. But the citizens are not beyond blame; they have had too high expectations from politicians of the Nigerian hue. For despite all the pretensions, these politicians who decamped from the PDP could not be expected to do anything good to improve the lot of the people.
At his inauguration, President Muhammadu Buhari in a moment that was seemingly preceded by a great introspection declared that he belonged to everybody and belonged to nobody. If this were a clear repudiation of all obligations that might have negated national interest, the citizens would have appreciated it. But from the performance of Buhari in the past 16 months, he has been far from proving that he understood the heavy weight of the thoughts he expressed. For it is clear now that far from what he would like the citizens to believe, he is beholden to some interests that conflict with the collective good of the citizens.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Mr. President, There’s Blood On The Dance Floor

By Seyi Olu Awofeso  
Dear President Muhammadu Buhari: One reason the joys of electing you as president abruptly stopped is because there’s now blood on the dance floor. You alone have to decide if to call off the party or mop the dance floor; but either way, you’ll need spatial awareness of why bleeding occurred to spoil the party.
You stoked price vectors to let the inflation genie out of the bottle and then burnt up Nigerians’ cash assets with 68% Naira devaluation starting in the last week of May, after increasing electricity tariff by 45% in March and after  increasing pump price of petrol by 67% few weeks earlier, to send all things up in the air – with nothing settled as yet; not even Nigeria itself, which badly convulsed in feverish price hikes, country-wide, after reeling for long from rocket-propelled grenades fired by hundreds of militias doubly armed with improvised explosives now rampaging all across Nigeria.

As news of Nigeria’s mounting horrors spread, London’s Evening Standard reported it on September 7:  “Western firms can be forgiven for shying away from investing in Buhari’s Nigeria,” the Evening Standard said – with reasons ranging from untrammeled treasury thefts to your having no clearly seen honest resolve to fight corruption. A slew of foreign investors may as well be closing its files on Nigeria. They are reportedly put off by the way things are going awry.
 Schools crumble in Nigeria without books as hospitals lay bare without imported medicines – all of which can’t be bought at the current price exchange rate of N425 to a Dollar versus the much lower April exchange rate of N260 to one Dollar. Workers are being laid off in thousands and the casualties near 4.5 million Nigerians sacked under your 15-month perplexing regime, according to anecdotal evidence.
Those spared mass sackings are pitch-forked to half salary – in defiance of anything contracts law say on the sanctity of existing agreements in an increasingly anomic Nigeria – where, besides routine beheading on the streets from neighbourhood spats, the Court of Appeal in Lagos division then declared a few weeks ago that wearing the Muslim Hijab head-cover is superior, as Islamic Law, and overrides any other law that a state government may enact as ‘school uniform rule.’
A false bottom for this rather zany declarative order was quickly constructed judicially and called ‘fundamental human rights’…in a country contradictorily self-described in its 1999 Constitution as ‘secular.’ In just under 16 months Nigeria now looks eerily strange – like a horror film – to those looking in from outside.
But to be sure, Nigeria was not as much a puzzle or hardscrabble place as this. Nigeria was, contrarily, a fragile and less horrific and much less hopeless place.  So, what happened to CHANGE, President Buhari? That’s the crux. No two broom-wavers on your APC side of the Nigeria’s party politics divide ever understood what CHANGE means from get-go. In retrospect, it would seem like a mere slogan just thrown in to replace absent thought-process inside the party. It could even be worse. For after you won the election on that abstract sloganeering you alone now have the writ to decide what CHANGE means for a whole nation, since your party members were just carried away by the sound of that word and mindlessly ran to town with it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Nigeria At An Anti-Corruption Rally

By Dan Amor
For most dispassionate observers of the Nigerian political scene, the only thing which has destroyed the fabric of this country even more than any conventional war, is corruption. This hydra-headed monster has become Nigeria's middle name. Aside from the untoward image this menace has wrought on the country and the insult and embarrassment it has caused innocent Nigerians abroad, it has inflicted irreparable damage to the basic foundations that held the country together. Corruption has stunted our economic growth, our social and physical infrastructure, our technological and industrial advancement and has decapitated our institutions, which is why our over 40 research institutes are no longer functional because they are headless. 
(pix: AFP)
Even our academic and military establishments and other security agencies cannot in all sincerity be exonerated from the deadly effects of unbridled corruption. The determination of President Muhammadu Buhari to combat corruption and to go after suspects irrespective of their ethnic or political leanings should enlist the sympathy of all well-meaning Nigerians. It is the more reason why even the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which controlled the central government and a greater number of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, until May 29, 2015, recently endorsed the corruption war.

As Nigerians we certainly do not need any soothsayer to tell us that ours is a corrupt country. We see corruption live everyday. We see Mr. Corruption stalk the streets, the roads and the highways across the country. We see Mr. Corruption bid us goodbye at the airports and welcome us back into the country. We Nigerians greet Mr. Corruption at the seaports and border posts as we clear our cargoes into the country. We shake the juicy hands of Mr. Corruption as we savour the winning of a lucrative contract. Truly, Nigeria, which in 1996 was ranked by Transparency International as the second most corrupt country in the world, achieved the utmost when in 1997, it was voted the most corrupt country on the face of the earth. Ever since, the country has had the misfortune of being grouped among the five most corrupt countries in the world. There can never be any stigma as heinous as this in the comity of nations across the world.

Since the current democratic political experiment started in May 1999, all successive governments have had to place anti-corruption war as part of their programmes of action, popularly known as manifestos or agendas. Yet, all had paid lip service to the fight against corruption except the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari which is showing signs of its determination to tackle the monster head on. As can be deduced from the body language and actions of the President himself, Nigerians are now confident that this battle will commence with the resoluteness it deserves. Successive administrations, in spite of their much vaunted hoopla over corruption war, were ironically refuting the claims of the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) that Nigeria was stinking with the evil stench of corruption.

Change Begins With Buhari And APC

By Lucky Ofodu
The recent launch of ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign by the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration goes against the moral etiquette of leadership by example. In his speech at the ceremony, the president shifted the responsibility of his Change agenda to Nigerians instead of the other way round. He seemed to be blaming Nigerians for the mélange of problems facing the country under his watch. He urged the citizens to change their orientation and attitude for the country to get out of its current misfortune.
*President Buhari and Lai Mohammed
In other climes, it is the leadership that sets the standards for the followership. The President’s remarks were hardly surprising. Followers of events since this administration came to be would agree that this government has not for once taken responsibility for anything. All it has been doing is to blame others for its glaring shortcomings; always passing the bulk. The government forgets that a leadership that does not take responsibility is a failed leadership. People are voted into power to solve the problems confronting society. They are expected to dig deep and come up with solutions in order to uplift the lives of the citizenry.

They are not elected to lament and look for those to blame for their lack of performance. Unfortunately, blame game and propaganda have become essential ingredients of governance in Nigeria in the last seventeen months. The problem of Nigeria has not been with the citizens, but those who lead them. So there is need for value orientation and change. And this should be directed at the leaders first of all. This is what Lai Mohammed and the egg heads at the National Orientation Agency should have done instead of turning the campaign on its head. With the wrong attitude with which the Change campaign has started, one can state categorically that it is as good as dead.

Come to think of it, the timing of the ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign is patently wrong. With starvation and unprecedented hardship pervading the land, many Nigerians view this as adding insult to injury. As they say, he who come to equity must come with clean hands. The kind of campaign Nigerians want to see right now is such that would put food on their tables; campaigns geared towards paying the backlog of arrears of salary owed state and local government workers across the country; campaigns that would alleviate the suffering of pensioners; campaigns made up of think-tanks proffering solutions to the country’s economic quagmire; campaigns aimed at alleviating the horror Nigerians are going through right now; not one asking them to be disciplined or that blaming them for government’s ineptitude. The situation has gone beyond political rhetoric and blame game. How do you discipline a starving populace?

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.

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