IKOYIGATE: THE TRAGEDY OF A PROFLIGATE NATION

The Great question which has in all ages, has disturbed mankind and brought on them the great part of those mischiefs which have ruined cities, depopulated countries and disordered the peace of the world, has been not whether there be power in the world…but who should have it?

                                                                                   –John Lock

The Ikoyigate scandal has confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt that Nigeria is being dragged on a leash by wasteful rulers. It is a confirmation of the fact that profligacy has eaten deep into the national fabrics. It has got to the stage that our so-called leaders have lost their sense of sensitivity to the plights of the masses. They sit in their cozy apartments while the masses become destitute trying to eke out a living while doing menial jobs. The money that should be spent on building structures and put the nation in good stead is being spent in meeting the pedestrian needs of our leaders. Worse off, what should have been injected into the economy is stored up in many private vaults scattered all over the country.

Shockingly, this is one out of many. Thousands of yet-to-be discovered vaults filled with filthy lucre which has bled the national economy of its blood is a testament to how greedy some of our leaders are. It is a fact that people on the lowest rung of the economic ladder cannot have access to such amount so it is traceable to the elite and those who have access to the purse string of the national treasury who have held the national economy by the jugular. No excuse is tenable by Buhari-led administration to cover up the real owner of the slush fund. Technology has advanced beyond the rule of the thumb for any government to claim ignorance of the source of such amount. Any attempt by the government not to fish out the owners of the fund will create a smokescreen on its anti-corruption crusade. The fact that looters now bury tranches of their ill-gotten wealth in odd places shows the level of our depravity as a people. Moreover, those who belong to the ruling party should as well come under the searchlight of the anticorruption agency. The fight must not be one-sided. The government is yet to convince the populace that it is not on a witch-hunt mission against its perceived political opponents if the Sarakis and Dogaras of this world still remain on their dignified seats with trapped excrement in-between their anal orifices.

However, the amount accruable to the members of the legislative and executive arms of the government makes them the suspicious owners of the said amount. I stand to be corrected. However, how does one explain the secrecy of their allowances? It is not enough that some people have been suspended (sacked?), they should as well be prosecuted if found guilty. Otherwise, this gravy train continues. And if unchecked, the national security is threatened. This is because when corrupt and mediocre people have access to slush fund, they spend it corruptly; they buy lives and auction the consciences of the society.  Now that election year is fast approaching, stockpiling of arms and ammunition by wicked politicians will now be the order of the day. And this is the more reason why the government must spread its dragnet wide without caring about whose ox is gored. This has gone beyond primordial interest. It is national interest that is at stake if such loots are not recouped. The tragedy will be cataclysmic not even with this our security agents who are poorly equipped in all areas.

Moreover, the future of the unborn generations is frivolously spent. Before the arrival of the ‘akotiletas’ (the prodigal sons and daughters) in government, the Awolowos, the Azikiwes and the Ahmadus spent the meagre resources as premiers in the regions to build men and structures. They planned ahead for the unborn generations. Many social programmes were put in place to make life abundant for Nigerians: qualified and able-bodied were gainfully employed, the youths were properly equipped through the weapon of education, and the infirm were catered for through functional health facilities. Now, right before our eyes, the national patrimony needed to develop the decayed infrastructures is being stashed away in private pockets and vaults while some of the youths have become political thugs at the whims and caprices of our political leaders. The national hospitals have become mortuaries. The roads have become death-traps. The civil servants have been turned to slaves at the mercies of the State Governors. The senior citizens go to bed on empty stomachs while the children that should be properly educated roam the streets. They roam helplessly while their mates in other organised climes are exposed to ideas that can move their countries forward. Our children are already sold to future slavery as a result of the wasteful spending of today’s political leaders. I look into the future and pity the unborn generations who might have nothing to inherit other than the accumulated debt left behind by today’s leaders which they incurred for no other reason than to whet their gluttonous appetite for insatiable greed needed to consume the national cake. They dig the graves of the unborn generations with their teeth!

They have made life to be miserable for an average Nigerian; recessionary economy without any clear-cut clue on how to come out, retrogressive educational structures and outdated curricula and archaic health facilities. The tragedy is that our leaders pretend that all is well as long as it is well with them. Nothing can be further from the truth.

ADETIPE, Adekunle

07062387144

Adetipeadekunle05@gmail.com

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THE DANGEROUS DISCONNECTION

  Those who would sacrifice justice for stability deserve neither justice nor stability                                                                                                       -Benjamin Franklin.

A country where the rudderless, microscopic and privileged few monopolizes positions of leadership be it political or economical never grows to become a nation. Any country that is being ruled by the ideas of the self-centered few in the society cannot develop to her fullest capacity in all ramifications because meritocracy is always sacrificed on the altar of mediocrity. This has been the story of Nigeria right from independence and it gets worse year in, year out. On daily basis, our leaders are disconnected from the ruled. The appointed and the elected public servants become personal- public servants representing their personal and primordial interests. Their germ of discussion centres on personal aggrandizement forgetting that when a society does not work, the people tend to create another society either through the ballot or the barrel. However, in our case the second option tends to have taken over through discontentment in form of insecurity, arson, vandalism, “inkatagate” and tendency towards secession.  No develop (ed or ing) country creates a mental partition between its ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ as ours grows to become a nation. This discrimination is so glaring in every facets of our national life.

First and foremost, the lifestyles of our elected public office holders explain it all. The people elected to hold public offices in trust forget that responsibility is the hallmark of leadership. Immediately they are elected, they live the lifestyles they never lived before the elections. They forget the voters and enrich their pockets with the commonwealth. Everything just changes overnight. No more power outage in their quarters. They do not ply the common roads again. The represented cannot have access to them. They do not drink the public water (where it flows) again. For example, the minister for power, who is supposed to see to the generation of energy so as to meet the domestic and the industrial needs of the citizenry has an official house equipped with ‘big generators’ that run 24 hours daily throughout the year. Now, how does he know that there is power outage? How does he know where the shoe pinches a roadside welder who needs energy to run his machinery? How does he empathize with a roadside barber who cannot operate because there is no energy to power his clippers and neither can he afford a mini-generator? NO WAY because he has another source of energy.

The same story goes for the minister of education or commissioners for education who do not have any of their children schooling in Federal or State Universities so ASUU can go on strike for as long as it pleases since they do not have a stake because they do not have faith in the system and neither are they ready to fix the system. They take the perks attached to being responsible in the office but shirk the responsibilities of the office. The other time, the number one political office holder in the country jetted out of the country for medical treatment abroad despite the number of hospitals in the country. He went there and saw the state of the art medical facilities but cannot make the same available in our hospitals because the elite do not patronize them. On the other hand, the poor cannot afford the bills and those who could are mal-diagnosed! The sick get there but the doctors have gone to their private clinics since the government cannot meet their financial demands and other conditions of service. Who cares as long as the haves are not affected?

On assumption of office, the current minister for transport and aviation said he did not know that railway was still a means of transportation in Nigeria! Do you blame him? No, because he does not make use of such facility. So how can he fix the problems associated with such facility? The gory story continues in every sector of the economy. They are totally disconnected from the realities of the society.

However, they should be reminded of the political calamity that befell the leaders of the MAGREB countries where the populace became dangerous in an attempt to close up the yawning gap between the rulers and the ruled. They took up arms against the government. In the ensuing violence, lives and property were destroyed simply because the people could no longer bear it. This has not happened in Nigeria not because Nigerians (especially the poor masses) are docile but because their elastic limit has not been reached. The signs are all there for our leaders to see if only they could be discerning. When the elastic limit is reached, it will be like a volcanic eruption that will spare nobody.

Furthermore, the issue of financial accountability should not be treated with kid-glove. Leaders are voted into offices so as to be accountable to the voters. Therefore national treasury should not be seen as a private source of funds to meet the needs of our leaders to the exclusion of the led as in the case of lawmakers’ allowances. In the same vein, nobody knows the security votes of our executive governors. The issue generated on the padding of the national budget has been swept under the carpet! Till today, our president has not told us his medical bills when he went for treatment abroad. He is not answerable to us but to himself. However, our leaders should know that suspicion is not far from secrecy. Secrecy disconnects. Suspicion assumes and brings negative reaction. The widening disconnection is maddening and dangerous as nobody can predict what will follow when the people at the disadvantaged extreme try to catch up with the greedy few on the other extreme because there will always be a catch up! No transparent government will not walk the talk. The names of the looters and the recovered loot should be documented for all to see otherwise the people are yet to be fully convinced that this government is different from its predecessor.

Furthermore, there should be a law to the effect that whoever wants to be a public servant should be mandated to use public facilities as any other man on the street. This will bring the necessary connection between the led and the leaders. The mad rush to bleed the national treasury will no longer be there and the country will be much more peaceful.

ADETIPE ADEKUNLE

+234706 238 7144

adetipeadekunle05@gmail.com

 

 

THE INDIGNITY OF LABOUR IN RETIREMENT

They look infirm. They look unattended to. They look unkempt.  They look dejected.  They look haggard.  They look abandoned.  They look hopeless.  And above all they cling to life by the staves which they take as their physical supports. These are the adjectives that best describe the retirees from Nigeria civil service across the three tiers of government.  They go for verification exercise on monthly basis for the stipend they collect as pension, unfortunately, they do not receive their pensions regularly.  This has been the same story all over the country.

I think it is high time that governments started treating them better.  Our senior citizens who had worked their hearts out in serving the country in different capacities should be handsomely rewarded.  Most of these retirees are in their late 70s and cannot even fend for themselves through energy-sapping job because they are superannuated.  And unfortunately, some of them are still breadwinners for their unemployed children in their late 30s.  They all rely on this stipend to live their lives.  The misery faced by these senior citizens in collecting what rightly belongs to them has indignified labour and made a mess of what they actively worked for when in service.  These retirees who should be treated with highest honour and regards in the land have been turned to refugees in their own land by people who embezzled their stipends / pension funds.  The same people are now being honoured by the governments. They feed fat on the beads of sweat that roll down the faces of these retirees while the retirees have beads of tears down their cheeks.  Some even wish them dead!

However, for a country who desires to be counted among the greats in the whole world, proper care should be dispenced to our mothers and fathers who gave their all to the development of the country.  The Holy Bible in Ephesians 6:2-3 says Honour thy father and mother, which is the first commandment with promise) 3that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.  This is the commandment of the Holy Book which should be honoured.  The way a country treats its senior citizens shows the regards it has for its past.  In more developed countries, special social packages are made available to people in this category so as to cater for their vulnerabilities; free health services, decent sheltered accommodation, free transport services and above all, prompt payment of their pensions.  If all these are provided, we have honoured them and their minds will always pray for the country.  When all these programmes are put in place, others who are in service will not be in a race to dip their hands in national till so as to protect their future.  If these packages cannot be made available to our senior citizens, they should neither be denied their basic entitlements.  I have not seen the father or mother of any local government chairman queuing up to collect his / her stipend after his / her active years in service let alone talking of other highly-placed government officials.  If our leaders cannot subject their parents to agonizing treatments as these, they should as well spare our senior citizens of the same.

Moreover, National Assembly should put punitive measures in place against the defaulters.  It has been observed that state governments and the organised private sector are the major defaulters, following their failure to fully adopt and effectively operate the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).  According to a document by National Pension Commissin (Pencom),  “As at the end of the first quarter 2015, 26 state governments had enacted laws on the CPS while the remaining 10 were at the bill stage.  Eight out of the 36 states had commenced remittance of contributions into the Retirement,  Saving Account (RSA) of their employees”.  This is unacceptable and should be punishable.  For how long will the avoidable suffering of these people continue? It seems the state governments do not see this as their responsibility.  It is high time the labour unions across the country came out and stood by these defenceless and hapeless citizens.  This vicious cycle of wickedness should be stopped.  The silence of TUC and NLC is not golden now.  This statistics is appalling and condemnable.

In the same vein, those who embezzled the pension funds (regardless of their social status in the society) should be punished accordingly and the money should be recovered from them.  This will serve as deterrence to other intending looters.  The sweats of these retirees should be wiped away by prompt payment of their pension.  A nation that does not recognize the roles of its senior citizens shows disconnection from its enviable past.  Rather than making them the scum of the earth, our political leaders should rely on their wealth of experience in making the policies that can better the lot of the citizenry.  We cannot discard them with a wave of hand on the excuse that they are old school.  In most developed countries their senior citizens form the meat of the agencies responsible for putting their countries on the path to progress and success.  They do not treat them the way we treat ours.  They are well provided with sheltered accommodation. Efficient and prompt medical facilities are also at their beck and call.  And neither are they segregated in the society.  Reverse is the case in ours; some people (both high and low) who are greedy look for opportunity to swindle them of their little hard -earned money they make them pay through their nose to get their gratuity.  No country prospers this way.

In conclusion, our senior citizens should be paid deserving pension.  Their pension should be reviewed in accordance with the trending economic reality on ground.   It is not a hidden fact that Nigeria as it is, is in the woods economically.  The prices of basic consumables have skyrocketed.  How can a retiree subsist on an irregular monthly pension of N10,000 or even less in an economy where prices of goods go northwards on daily basis.  This should be reviewed upwards with a 4- years in view projection.

If all these are well thought out, our senior citizens will be saved the stress of poor medical attention and loops of regrets that greet their retirement.  Moreover, they will be empowered to contribute their own quota towards the development of the local economy through small and medium enterprises so as to grow the local economy.  Above all, people who are in active service will rest assured that their future is guaranteed and will be more dedicated to service.  Much more importantly the indignity attached to the personality of being a retiree will be wiped off and their servitude will be brought to an end.  Their souls will always pray for the country as well.

Adetipe Adekunle                                                                           +234706 238 7144                                           adetipeadekunle05@gmail.com

Lagos

 

THE NEEDED INFRASTRUCTURES IN NIGERIA’S RAILWAY TRANSPORT SECTOR

Transport is important in any economy as it is responsible for proper distribution of goods and services from location of production to location of consumption. This is really appreciated by developed economies as huge investment is made in transport networks in all phases; security and safety, speed and comfort, timely departures and arrivals et cetera. Of all modern modes of transport, rail transport used to be the slowest. However, in recent times, it has taken a leap from being the slowest means of transport to becoming a competitive means of conveying goods and services in developed economies. It has now taken a centre stage in moving people and freight at neck break speed. It is now cleaner and much more comfortable. It is safer. It is no longer noisy. Above all, it is environmentally friendly. All these attributes can be credited to the innovative savvy of Japanese engineers and scientists who invented ‘Shinkansen’ also known as bullet train. Other advanced economies now take advantage of this new ‘traffic wonder’ to develop their rail transport system. If Nigeria were to become one of the first twenty economies in the world by 2020, I think the government needs to do more in this sector. In fairness to the present government, this sector that was once moribund for years is gradually coming back to existence after the government has expended some lump sum of capital to revive the sector. However, there are still some needed improvements to be carried out in the sector.
Firstly, security of goods and commuters should be guaranteed. The menace of Boko Haram has eaten deep into the very fabric of the country most especially the northern axis. This has cast a cloud of palpable fear in the minds of commuters as nobody knows what the next target of this sect is, not even the intelligence unit of Department for State Security. However, despite our crass level of the sect’s next target, it is known all over the world that, terrorists do carry their nefarious activities in places where there are clusters of commuters; markets, motor parks and airports. This has been demonstrated in the recent attacks launched by the sect. Considering this fact, train termini and railway passenger cars will be potential targets for the sect. The government can take a cue from bombings in Russia’s Volgograd where two deadly attacks in two days in the city left at least sixteen people dead when an explosion hit a trolley bus. In the same vein, the 7th July, 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) where a series of coordinated suicide attacks in Central London sent scores to their early graves is also a good lesson on terrorist attacks. In the said attack, four British Islamist men detonated four bombs- three in quick succession aboard London underground trains across the city and later, a fourth on a double –decker bus in Tavistok Square. As well as the four bombers, 52 civilians were killed and 700 more were injured in the attacks. This can as well happen in our country and it can as well be prevented. In other to prevent this from happening in the sector, government needs to invest on modern security measures for easy and early detection of intended terrorist attacks or any other security breach. The modern railway system uses Communications-Based Train Control (CBTC) as a railway signaling system which makes use of the telecommunications between the train and track equipment for the traffic management and security. By means of the CBTC systems, the exact position of train is known more accurately, this results in a more efficient and safe way to manage the railway traffic. Metros are able to manage headways, while maintaining or improving safety. This modern signalling method quickly relays message about malfunctioning or security breach of a particular railwagon to the station officers so as to detach it from others in other to prevent multiple accidents in event of a terrorist attack. In the same vein, the Nigeria railway Corporation should take precautionary measures to help prevent attacks. These include random searches of passengers and baggage, increased presence of security officers and bomb sniffing dogs, increased video surveillance, use of closed circuit television cameras (cctv cameras) located in trains at nearly all stations, removal or hardening of trash cans so that they cannot hide bombs, perimeter intrusion detections, access control at entrances, views of access control and intrusion alarm points, video analytics to alert officers to potential problems as well as encouraging passengers to report suspicious activity.
Moreover, timely distribution of goods should be a culture. The major advantage of rail transport over other forms of transport lies in its capacity for conveying bulky goods (freight coaches). This has made it a point of call for businessmen who trade in heavy goods. In a situation such as ours where traffic gridlock is a major occurrence on our inter-state highways, the government should invest in networking railway lines across the states in the country. This makes distribution of goods quicker and readily available to the consumers and as well affects other sectors of the economy as the rate at which goods circulate in any economy indicates the liquidity and availability of capital for exchange of goods and services. Most goods get perished before they are transported to their final destination as a result of late departure of freight coaches from their termini. In most cases, manufacturers do make use of trucks and long vehicles to transport their goods. Due to the bad state of roads, this leads to fatal accidents causing loss of lives and property worth millions of naira and at the same time reducing the lifespan of roads. However, if enough fund is judiciously spent in improving the railway sector (with building of ‘Shikansen’ or bullet train that travels at 210km/hr) goods would be easily distributed and readily made available to the consumers. Nigeria is old and rich enough to have railway lines with modern electronic systems. With proper overhauling of the power sector, Nigeria can operate bullet train with electronic interlocking systems, new and modern relay rooms, new train detection system, overhead and track changes and state-of-the-art central operations centre. All these features guarantee timely departure and arrival of trains as well as safety which will in turn have multiplier effects on the local economy; the lifespan of the roads will increase, carnage will drastically reduce on our roads and the cost of production of goods will reduce as raw materials will then be transported at cheaply
Besides, refrigerated wagons should be made available on our railway tracks. In Nigeria, agricultural produce and other perishable goods are moved in unsuitable condition thereby losing their freshness before getting to their destination (in most cases, a distant location). This leads to loss on part of the farmers and it also discourages them from producing large quantity of these farm produce. However, if the government can invest in making refrigerated wagons available on the tracks, these farm produce will be moved in frozen condition. This will not only guarantee the proper storage of these perishable goods, much more, it will make them readily available in their natural pristine state. This will boost the agricultural sector of the economy as more produce will be preserved for the consumption of the populace. This will in turn increase the nutritive value of our diet and as well as saving the children from contacting diseases through the consumption of decayed food. In addition, it will reduce our dependence on foreign foods which contain some toxic preservatives. It will as well increase our foreign earnings as excess farm produce will be exported to other countries as witnessed in the first and second republics.
If implemented, all the above-listed sweeping reforms in the railway sector are not without their attendant positive impacts from which the government and the populace will benefit immensely in terms of complementary yields.
Firstly, intending investors will be attracted to the sector. The public-private partnership in the sector will be made much more effective as more hands who know that their investment will be protected and yield some gains will not hesitate to invest in the sector. By taking needed steps with clear demarcation of responsibilities and less interference from the government, the private investors will manage and maintain the sector for effective use and yields of revenues to the vaults of the government. This will not only guarantee the sustenance of this mode of transport, besides, businessmen operating in haulage industry will have strong confidence to patronise the sector and as well as increase the lifespan of our roads as the long vehicles plying the roads will gradually phase out and make the roads less accident prone.
Furthermore, rate of carnage and inferno on our roads will reduce. Since traffic of trucks, tankers and long vehicles will reduce on our roads, most of the fatal accidents that we witness on our roads on daily basis will reduce and loss of goods will as well reduce as more containerized cargo will be sent using freight coaches on railway tracks.
Secondly, unemployed youths will be gainfully employed. Qualified but unemployed youths in the country will be engaged in the sector as more good hands will then be needed to work in different areas in the sector such as engineering, marketing and ticketing, communication and signalling, customer care, laundry et cetera. This also will reduce the level of social vices in our society as idle hands will be engaged in gainful craft.
In conclusion, judicious investment in the railway sector in the country will modernise the sector as well as pique the interest of the populace in patronising the services offered by the sector. This will go a long way in opening up the local economy to foreign investments as well as running competitive transport sector.
ADETIPE, Adekunle Declaus.
adetipeadekunle05@gmail.com
+2347062387144

LESSONS FROM OSUN AND EKITI STATES GUBERNATORIAL ELECTIONS

The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressman and government officials, but the voters of this country.

                                                                                                                                                             -Franklin D Roosevelt.

The gubernatorial elections held in Ekiti state and The State of Osun on 21st June and 9th July, 2014 respectively, remain eye openers to those, importantly, the political parties and their chieftains who care to learn from history. The lessons that can be gleaned from the political upturn, most especially in Ekiti State, will prepare the political players for better outing in 2015 general elections. No doubt, the two elections were free and fair as attested to by local and international observers. Though tensions were high prior to the elections as a result of some security skirmishes, nevertheless, the electoral authorities did wonderfully well and lived up to expectations. Even though if there were political skulduggery, the bouts of jubilations that greeted the streets across the states when the results were announced indicated that the people of the states voted massively for the eventual winners regardless of their political affiliations. If the electoral umpire had declared the loser in each of the two states as winner, electoral violence might have erupted. The voters had made their choices and they should be duly accorded the respect of the choices they made. In both cases, victory came, not because of the innocence of INEC, or because of the willful integrity of the party at the center. It came because of the vigilance and tenacity of the people. The people voted massively for what they saw and believed. They looked far ahead and drew their conclusions. The results released by the electoral umpire showed the political sophistication of the voters from South West geopolitical zone as they deviated a bit from projected political permutations as witnessed in Ekiti State and also in the massive votes recorded by PDP in Osun State. It should be glaring to both parties the region that neither of them has monopolized political grip on the political loyalty of the people. Rather, the people would always vote based on performances of political office holders and not on what they would want them to believe. This is where the major lesson is for the politicians, when elected into office, do not treat the people with derision, rather, provide for their basic needs; feeding, clothing and shelter. The mandate given to you is not an opportunity to dip your hand into the national vaults and enrich your pocket while the voters continue to suffer your inept leadership. Instead, relate with them and bring yourself down to their level; be simple in your approach. This attitude really worked for Mr Ayodele Fayose in his first term as governor of Ekiti State. He worked his way into the hearts of his people. He was always in their midst; markets, motor parks, restaurants, filling stations, villages et cetera. He did not alienate himself from them even when he was their governor. This same factor also worked for him in the just concluded gubernatorial election held in the State where he won convincingly. In his weekly column in The Nation, 25th July, 2014, Mobolaji Sanusi, while writing on what led to the failure of Mr Kayode Fayemi in the election, wrote under the title ‘Of pepper-soup analyses’ and people’s power that ‘achievements in government can largely be determined not by mainly praises in the newspapers but by stakeholders that are directly affected by such achievements’. He wrote further in the same column under the title Time for Home Truth that ‘Fayose is reportedly popular among the grassroots people while Fayemi is intellectual elite that is far alienated from his people. The same factor also worked for Mr Rauf Aregbesola in Osun State.

Furthermore, the region is not hoodwinked by political propaganda and political harassment of any sort. Prior to the elections, both parties employed so many political gimmicks to sway voters towards the sides of their candidates. However, the voters were resolute in their decision to vote for the best candidates. The voters were harassed and terrified by security personnel and hooded thugs controlled by PDP chieftains, they even went ahead to arrest some APC chieftains, they shot sporadically in the air to scare the voters away, nevertheless, the voters still stood their ground. They still went out to vote for the candidates of their choice. They defied the terror and satisfied their conscience, using the words of Sam Omotseye (in his weekly column in The Nation) in one of his articles, he wrote ‘the virtue of the people spoke. They defied the gun and the minatory ferocity of their presences. The people regaled in their victory’. On the other hand, despite the spreading of political propaganda by one of the parties to incite the voters against the smooth conduct of the elections, the voters behaved politely. They were not cajoled by the unfounded allegations of ‘massive’ rigging alleged against PDP by APC. Otherwise, the states would have witnessed wild, wild west 2. Their stand was reflected in their mood after the declaration of the results; they trooped out to celebrate. This shows that the conscience of the people is harder than the bullet of a gun and that it cannot be nurtured by a tissue of unfounded lies. This is succinctly explained in the weekly column of Dele Momodu, Thisday Newspaper, under the heading ‘Lessons from The State of Osun’ (16th August, 2014) where he wrote ‘No leader has ever succeeded in enslaving Nigerians and no one has been able to subdue the people of South West through the use of coercion. The people are too sophisticated to be dragged on a leash by any leader, no matter how popular and wealthy. This is the reason their leadership changes constantly and rapidly because of their impatience with aspiring slave-drivers’

Moreover, the elections showed that neither APC nor PDP has monopolized political grip over the region. This is where the political complexity of the region lies. As it is, nobody can predict where the bulk votes from the region would swing in 2015 general elections and this is not unconnected with the fact that the people overlook mundane sentiments (religion, propaganda, coercion and harassment) when they vote. Once they identify a candidate who can meet their needs (through his/her laid out programmes) for developments in areas such as education, health, infrastructures, agriculture, they vote for such person. This is the more reason their leadership changes constantly and rapidly. Therefore, any party that thinks it is in control of the political loyalty of the region needs to re-examine its strategies. This can be seen in the results of the two states; In The State of Osun, Senator Iyiola Omisore, the PDP gubernatorial aspirant, garnered considerable, even shockingly close votes from a number of other areas considered APC strongholds; Ifedayo (3,982 to APC’s 4,225), Oriade (10,214 to APC’s 12,523), Orolu (6,786 to APC’s 8,558), Atakumosa West (5,142 to APC’s 6,928), Ila (7,916 to APC’s 10,825), Ayedaade (11,255 to APC’s 12,801), Obokun (8,618 to APC’s 11,696), Egbedore (7,084 to APC’s 10,615), Iwo(15,493 to APC’s 20,827), Ejigbo (12,495 to APC’s 17,700) and even in the areas where PDP thought it held sway, APC made some good showing; Ayedire (7,813 to APC’s 7,724), Isokan (10,028 to APC’s 9,578), Odo-Otin (12,902 to APC’s 11,950), Boluwaduro (5,035 to APC’s 4,891). And in Ekiti State where APC is the party in power, Mr Peter Ayodele Fayose of PDP polled 203,090 votes representing 56% of the total votes while Mr John Kayode Fayemi of APC (the incumbent governor) polled 120,433 votes representing 33.41% of the total votes.

Overall, let me conclude with this statement by Gbogun Gboro, a columnist with The Nation, he wrote on 14th August, 2014 under the heading ‘Nigeria Irreconcilable Cultural Differences’ that ‘whether other Nigerian peoples choose to recognize it or not, brash ,brutal, insensitive, and violent leadership and governance are very strange to the political culture and expectations of Yoruba people’. Congratulations to the governors-elect!

Adetipe Adekunle Declaus.

adetipeadekunle05@gmail.com

+2347062387144.

THE HURDLES BEFORE MAJOR GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI (RTD)

As electioneering geared towards the presidential election holding next year (2015) gather momentum across different political parties in the country, potential candidates that want to take a shot at the plum political office in the land have been reaching out across the length and breadth of the country to make overtures to the political juggernauts in each geopolitical zones of the country as no candidate wants to be left in a political maze. In line with this, there have been some political realignment across different political parties so as to strengthen the political marketability of their candidates. Among the candidates who have their eyes on this exalted political office is Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd). He was once the military head of state of the country and had also served in different leadership positions in running the affairs of the country. While in active service, he was noted for discipline and thereby respected by the rank and file of the military.  While in office, he brought some level of decency to governance. And in all the leadership positions he held, he was not found guilty of any corrupt practice, not even when he served in one of the most corrupt military governments (Sanni Abacha-led government). He distinguished himself.                                                                                                              Buhari was the country’s military head of state from 31st December, 1983-27th August, 1985 until his government was toppled by General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (rtd) in a bloodless military coup d’état on 27th August, 1985. Buhari then decided to live a quiet and spartan life in his home town, Daura Local Government Area of Katsina State. He withdrew into his shell without meddling in the affairs of the government until he was given an appointment (in 1995) by General Sanni Abacha (deceased) to head Petroleum Trust Fund, a body in charge of developmental projects across the country. However, on assumption of office in 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo scrapped PTF and Buhari went back and joined politics. He started mobilizing for the actualization of democratic presidential ambition of his. He contested in 2003 on the platform of APP but lost to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. However, he did not rest on his oars. He vied for the same post on the platform of ANPP but still lost to Alhaji Musa Yar’adua in 2007. In 2011, He formed his own party Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and contested, nevertheless, he was unsuccessful as he lost to Dr Goodluck Jonathan. Despite the electoral failures he recorded against Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last three presidential elections, he still wants to take a shot at the exalted political office, however, unlike in the last three elections, he decided to merge with other opposition parties and formed a mega opposition party, All Progressives Congress (APC) which comprises Congress for Progressive Change, CPC (Buhari’s Party), Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, a breakaway from All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, and New PDP, a splinter group from Peoples Democratic Party. This, he believes will give him the needed platform to actualize his long-desired presidential ambition through the ballot. However, there are some hurdles I believe he needs to cross before he can be given the nod to be the flag-bearer of his party for the coveted office in the land.

Firstly, the G5 coalition and the godfathers. This is the splinter group that broke away from the Peoples Democratic Party due to some political irreconcilable differences which arose within the party and the group decided to pitch its tent with APC. The splinter group comprises Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso, Governor, Kano State, Mr Rotimi Amaechi Chibuike, Governor, Rivers State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, Governor, Kwara State , Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd), the impeached and runaway governor of Adamawa State, and Alhaji Aliyu Magatakarda Wamako, Governor, Sokoto State.  The group was ably led by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Sen Bukola Saraki and others. One of the major reasons why the splinter group left their former political abode (PDP) was because they lost out in the power struggle aimed at having their grips on the party structures in their respective states. As one of the conditions for joining APC, they demanded for the same proviso and the party echelon acquiesced to this demand. This means they now control the officers that will be the delegates at the presidential primary (if there will be any primary) of the party. And as it is, the group has intending presidential candidates who do not support the candidature of Buhari. These intending potential candidates include Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwanso, the leaders of G5. Dr Kwankwanso has the support of Nasir el-rufai and some other young politicians from the north. Their selling point is that Buhari is not politically marketable in the southern axis of the country as he recorded abysmal showing in the area as seen in the previous presidential elections results.  They even have the fears that he may not be accepted by the Christian faithfuls and thereby scupper the chances of the party in the region.

Moreover, the muslim-muslim ticket. For some time now, the rumour mill has it that APC wants to field all faith ticket (muslim-muslim), more disturbing is the fact that the party echelon has not come out openly to refute such claim. This idea has split the members along religious fault lines as Christian faithfuls in its fold have vowed to scuttle such move if the party echelon should tinker with such an idea. Some unconfirmed reports have it that APC leaders like Chief Audu Ogbeh (former national Chairman of PDP) and Sam Isa-Ndaiah, publisher of Leadership newspapers have vowed to resist any such imposition and ready to fight it to the end. If this is true and with the acquiescent silence of the party chieftains on this important matter, this will create the fears in the minds of southerners in the party that the party is out to do the biddings of the northerners who some people say are hell-bent on introducing sharia in all states of the federation. And I do not think this is the time to experiment such an idea not even now that the party works hard to remove the cloak of religious bigotry from its neck. Even the Christian party faithfuls in the party will feel cheated and isolated. Convincing them that their interests will be protected is an uphill task in a clime of political setting where religious interest supersedes national interest. I do not think the party would gamble with such an idea not even when the nation is more than ever before divided along religious inclinations. With this consciousness, Buhari and Tinubu would have to look for a christian candidate to replace either of them on the ticket and I do not see Tinubu dropping his aspiration most especially now that he has the party structure in his grips rather, Buhari will be asked to step down or present a christian candidate of his choice; this will be a hard pill for Buhari to swallow and also another hurdle he must cross.

Furthermore, the inflammatory comments of Buhari. This is another area he has to convince his party members how he will manage his personality if given the presidential ticket most especially in the geopolitical regions dominated by Christians. And it is also another card the ‘group’ opposed to his aspiration will place on the table. Buhari is found of making seditious statements before and after elections even some party members have attributed his electoral failures in the past to these statements. In 2003, as elections drew closer, Buhari called on muslim faithfuls across the country to vote only for the presidential candidate that would defend and uphold the tenets of Islam. He made the call at the closing ceremony of the 16th National Qur’anic Recitation competition held in Gusau, Zamfara State. Prior to 2011 general elections, in 2010, in an interview he granted to the Daily Sun (Sunday, 8th August, 2010), he was asked “ Do you fear for the country, that if we don’t get it right now…..?” The interviewer did not complete the question before Buhari interjected, saying: “There may be no Nigeria…, because I draw parallel with Somalia so many times. Somalia-sation of Nigeria; I am scared about that”. And concerning the forthcoming 2015 general elections,he was quoted saying “God willing, by 2015, something will happen. They either conduct free and fair elections or they go a very disgraceful way. If what happened in 2011 (alleged rigging) should again happen in 2015 by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood”. Going by the experience of what happened in the aftermath of 2011 general elections where youth corps members majorly from the south were slaughtered by the angry northern youths who felt cheated that Buhari was rigged out, some of the party chieftains are reluctant in supporting his aspiration for the fear that it might dwindle the chances of the party at the polls. They claim his candidature will be a hard sell to the people from the south who lost their children to the election violence. It remains how Buhari will sell himself to the party and win the support of his party members to fly the presidential flag.

In conclusion, all the above-listed hurdles must be crossed by Buhari so as to clinch the presidential ticket and at the same time, APC must be ready to go all out and convince the electorate that Buhari is not a religious bigot and neither is he tribalistic  nor parochial  in his political views as widely speculated by his detractors and much more, he needs to at least for now, bridle his tongue. Wish you the best in your political career sir.

THE MISSING PETRODOLLARS

 

The very essence of a free government consists in considering offices as public trusts, bestowed for the good of the country, and not for the benefit of an individual or a party. –John C Calhoun (US Statesman, in his speech delivered on 13th December, 1835).

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Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

The question on the lips of the majority of Nigerians is ‘where is the missing 20 billion dollars?’ And to this question nobody has given a satisfactory answer. Not even the president or the managers of the national vaults. The only person who pointed the attention of the citizenry to the missing dollars was given the boot thereby creating a suspicion that something is amiss. No doubt financial skullduggery has been going on for so long a time in the country’s oil sector oil the economy and no high-ranking public official let the cat out of the bag as Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (the suspended CBN governor) did even though he paid for this act dearly. Though the messenger might have been sent parking, still the message reverberates in our memories. All our attention is now on the president to provide us the necessary information as to the whereabouts of the said amount. This issue goes beyond political or religious inclinations as the integrity of Jonathan-led government is on the line.

The missing amount is a testimony to the grave financial misconduct in the oil sector where Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is being used as the conduit pipe for siphoning the proceeds from the sales of petroleum resources that God has endowed the country with. This is usually done in connivance with the national treasury managers. The sack of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi shows to some extent that he does not belong to the pack. Otherwise, if ours were to be a society with high level of integrity as demanded by positions of leadership, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr. Andrew Yakubu, the Finance Minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala and even the Minister for Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Dieziani Alison-Madueke, would as well be given the boot while a probe panel is set up. Here, the reverse is the case. The cavalier attitude on the part of the concerned authorities gives one the feeling that the issue may be swept under the carpet. This reminds one of the subsidy scam. Those who were indicted in the scam still go about their normal businesses even in the same oil sector. They found willing and compromised accomplice in the country’s judicial system. Or how else does one explain the slow judicial process in bringing the culprits to book?  The hapless masses most especially from the region where petroleum is explored continue to bear the brunt of this criminality: They watch helplessly as the commonwealth is shared greedily by the microscopic few who have gripped the sector by the jugular. They live in squalor and feed on the crumbs while their habitation is lapped up by oil spillage due to carelessness on the part of the companies owned by these cronies. They do not have access to good roads, no availability of potable water and no well equipped hospitals to attend to the ailing health of these people. The funds needed for these projects are stashed away in private accounts abroad by those who have unrestricted access to the national treasury. The public trust reposed in our leaders is derided as they ride on this to bleed the national vaults to enrich their pockets. This had been made known to the public by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and to the discomfort of the government.

Really, whoever comes to equity must come with clean hands. A reliable source has it that the sacked financial chief was also involved in some financial impropriety. By not being consistent with the actual amount, he committed some financial gaucheries unexpected of his exalted office. At least he should have done his calculations very well before coming out to reel the incorrect figures unless he wanted to be a black sheep in the pack. Nevertheless, if on the other hand, Sanusi was absolved of any financial misdemeanor, it shows that his suspension will be generally perceived as a presidential cover-up for the missing petrodollars and also a means of getting back at him for his many ‘sins’ against the government in power; calling attention to issues the authorities would rather conceal, such as the extortionate salaries and allowances legislators appropriated unto themselves under the table, and the opacity of the reporting system on oil export earnings. However, if Sanusi was actually involved in sexing up the financial account of the country as alleged by the President, he should be made to face the music. In fairness to him, however, others must as well be given the boot most especially, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Okonjo Iweala. On this, the editorial of The Guardian on 1st March, 2014 had it that ‘the Federal Ministry of Finance (under the full supervision of Mrs Okonjo Iweala) earns full blame for dereliction of responsibility by condoning over the years, opaque handling and retention by the national oil company, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, of significant amounts of proceeds that ordinarily should have been audited regularly and remitted to the Federation Accounts. Explanations that the unremitted funds were intact and within the system merely confirm willful abandonment of the ministry’s statutory duty of ensuring full collection and remittance of government revenues’.

Moreover, the government needs to be much cleverer in explaining to us why Sanusi is sacrificed and the 20 billion dollars is still missing. And again why only Sanusi? How are we sure that the probe panel that will be set up to look into the case will not be compromised most especially when the Ministers for Petroleum Resources and Finance still hold sway in their respective positions? And if eventually the reports are out and a protégé of the president is indicted or any of his benefactors, will the president be courageous enough to allow the law to take its course?

In the long run, the answers provided to the above questions by President Goodluck Jonathan will go a long way to dispel our doubts about his sincerity to recover the missing petrodollars and as well as showing that the suspension of Sanusi Lamido Sanusi is not a cover-up by the government as regards the whereabouts of the petrodollars or else the citizenry will conclude according to Samuel Johnson who said “where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off”.

Adetipe Adekunle

+2347062387144

Adetipeadekunle05@gmail.com