Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Biafra of My Dreams (Final Part)

There is no doubt that Igbos who survived the civil war will be bothered about the current agitation and demonstrations for Biafra; and it is quite obvious that those who are out in the streets are those who have never experienced war. One can commend them for their 'bravery' but I think they do need to sit back and think more about what they are doing and are asking for; these are my reasons:

  1. Their leader’s base: Nnamdi Kalu is based in the United Kingdom and has always boasted about not having a Nigerian passport. Since he can travel to the US and other parts of the world, he does have a passport and that is most probably the UK passport. He isn't based in Nigeria and perchance his lies eventually lead to war, he most probably wouldn't be in Nigeria not to talk of Eastern Nigeria to fight alongside his brother-agitators. It is also a curious case that most of those who are educated and who support the current agitation for Biafra all appear to stay abroad. Why don't they come home and join the agitation instead of 'safely' carrying placards in the USA, Canada, Thailand, UK and other parts of the world while those in Nigeria get shot at?
  2. A Biafran state after the war: I keep telling people that had Biafra been established by war under Ojukwu, maybe...just maybe...it wouldn't have been the country Biafrans thought it would be. There was every chance that Ojukwu’s Biafra would have been a state under dictatorship with the Ojukwus and/or their cronies being leaders for life...some sort of North Korea or Eritrea if you may. There was also every chance that different warlords would have emerged and the leadership of Biafra would be a constant bone of contention...some sort of Libya or South Sudan if you may. Presently, Biafra has MASSOB and IPOB and there seems to be some friction between the two groups. If there is a Nigerian-Biafran war which ends up with Biafra being created, the war may have just begun as MASSOB, IPOB and some other groups that may emerge could battle over who leads the new Biafra.
  3. The thinking that Biafra will be viable and wealthy: Many pro-Biafrans imagine the prospect of a small oil-rich country; they typically imagine  a Biafra with all the States in the south-south geopolitical zone bar Edo state. However, the truth is that Biafra is an Igbo affair and the majority of those pushing for it are Igbos or have very close ties to the Igbo tribe. Charles Inko-Tariah, the leader of South-south Alliance Project echoed this when he said:
    “we want to make it categorically clear to those behind this wicked and selfish act, especially the so called IPOB that no part or territory of the South-South belongs to the South-East. Rivers State and indeed other South-South States are not Igbos, so don’t involve us in your planned agitation and struggle for Biafran state. We don’t believe in Biafra and their so called Biafra radio, we believe in ourselves as Niger-Deltans, our challenges are peculiar, so stay clear from our land with your so called struggle…”

    Of course, this is just the view of an individual or at most a group of individuals; but I can testify that it is the common view held by south-southerners. I have seen associates and acquaintances from that region attack pro-Biafran agitators and Igbos in general for thinking that the South-south shall be part of Biafra.

    As gullible as these pro-Biafran agitators can be, they cite the support of Asari Dokubo as a pointer that South-south in general is indeed for Biafra. Whilst Asari Dokubo may provide arms if this agitation for a Biafran state leads to war…perchance the Nigerian Government is trounced in the war and decides to let the south-south and south-east become Biafra; I see an Asari Dokubo who would quickly mobilise for a secession of the south-south from Biafra. Why? It would be an easier struggle and because Biafra shall still be perceived as being purely an Igbo affair.

    Furthermore, after the civil war…the struggle for Biafra was not continued until recently. This allowed the Igbos to integrate well with the rest of Nigeria; the result being that most Igbo business men have their big businesses located outside Igbo land; we have Igbos who work for the Nigerian Government; we have Igbos whose livelihood is directly dependent in the ‘union’ called Nigeria; and above all, most of the Igbo elites and educated Igbos do not support the present agitation. This makes it not only difficult for Biafra to come into existence, but also makes it difficult for Biafra to be viable if it does come into existence. Factor in the possibility that there would be strained relationships between Nigeria and the newly established Biafra, then it becomes even more precarious. If the Nigerian Government decides to sack every Biafran under its employ, would the Igbo man who has a federal job meant for Nigerians renounce Nigeria, resign from his job, sit down at home and hope Biafra becomes heaven on earth? If the Nigerian Government decides to make Nigeria an uncomfortable place for Biafrans to own businesses, properties and to live in, would the Igbo business man who has a big industry in Lagos, renounce Nigeria and carry his complex and customers down to the east? What will those Igbos who have various properties across Nigeria do?  Surely, with Igbo states even struggling to pay salaries because of meagre internally generated revenues and reduced subvention from the Federal Government; if a Biafra is created now, I can only imagine it being a country of unemployed and impoverished people. No right thinking Igbo man would want that as a price to pay for a geographical location with the name Biafra...at least not in the present condition.
  4. The thinking that the problems of Ndi-Igbo would automatically be solved: This particular issue cannot be overemphasised. In fact, all I see are pro-Biafran agitators who know not what they are asking for and why...they just want Biafra and to be called Biafrans. There is an Igbo adage that says "onye n'amaghi ebe mmiri bidoro maba ya agaghi ama ebe ono kwusi ima ya". What really is the problem? Why must this Biafran state be established?

    Is the main problem marginalisation by the Northerners and South-westerners in the Nigerian polity? If yes, is such not going on in the states in Igbo-land and what plans are in place to make sure it doesn't continue in Biafra? Is the problem the neglect of Igbo-land by the Nigerian Federal government? If yes, do you not think that Governors of State in Igbo-land have done worse and should be the ones to get stick? Is the problem the fact that Igbos have few top positions in the Nigerian Government? If yes, to what extent did previous Igbo ministers and Senate Presidents change the lots of Ndi-Igbo? What really is/are the problems? And apart from wanting Biafra, what are the solutions to these problems? You just don’t say that because a pot of soup you prepared tastes funny, you want another one…why does it taste funny? And what is the likelihood that the new pot of soup wouldn’t taste funny as well?
The Biafra of my dream

The Biafra I dream of isn’t going to be a State, it is going to be an ideology. It will be an ideology that seeks to solve the problems inherent in the Igbo nation. It shall be an ideology that seeks to enthrone and enforce good leadership in Igbo States, it shall be an ideology that seeks to develop the Igbo nation industrially, it shall be an ideology which ensures that State Governors are held accountable for their stewardship and that Igbo sons and daughters contribute positively to the greater good of the Igbo nation, even as part of Nigeria. 

Imagine a Biafran ideology which could call for civil disobedience in any state where the leaders are not performing; a Biafran ideology that could bring everyone together to fight bad leadership with every legal means; a Biafran ideology that encourages investment in Igbo-land; a Biafran ideology that sees quality education as the currency in Igbo-land; a Biafran ideology that ensures that only credible persons are elected in Igbo-land; a Biafran ideology that looks out for the interests of every Igbo-man in the spirit of “onye aghala nwanne ya”; a Biafran ideology that seeks a confederation other than a state…an ideology that could best be psychological and socio-political. I must state that it isn't going to be your average Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo and wouldn't be easy to achieve, but it is more realistic than a Biafran state.

If this ideology shall yield expected benefits and self-dependence is tested with the Igbo nation as part of a Nigerian confederacy, it shall become easier to tell whether a sovereign state is needed or not and to make sure that every Igbo man has a say in it…I make Scotland in the United Kingdom a point of reference.

And finally, being called ‘Igbo’ is an identity enough, so for those who want 'Biafra' just for identity sakes…I really have nothing to say to you.

The Oracle has Spoken!!

Friday, 13 November 2015

The Biafra of My Dreams (Part 1)

On the 30th of May 1967, the late Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu declared the Republic of Biafra as a secessionist state from Nigeria. This sparked off the Nigerian civil war that lasted from 7th of July 1967 until January of 1970. Fortunately or unfortunately, at the end of the war, Biafra was not to be.  It is no news that Nigeria as it is was born out of the selfish desires of the British for easier control of their interests across the different regions of the country with oil being the most important, and as it were the Nigerian Government was backed militarily by the British in their quest to retain the oil rich Biafran region. The truth is that if Nigeria had no oil, or if the bulk of the oil was found elsewhere but the southern region, or if the southern region had made Shell/BP a better deal than they had with Nigeria, Biafra would have been in existence today.

The agitation for Biafra in Ojukwu’s time was mainly as a result of the massacre of Easterners in the north and by the distrust, unhealthy and often fatal rivalry between soldiers from these regions in the Nigerian Army. It was also relatively easy -for lack of a better word- for the old Biafra to rise because Nigeria then was set-up in regions with each region having a Governor and a set of elites in its consultative assembly. As soon as Ojukwu - being the governor of the eastern region - decided that Biafra should rise, and the elites in the consultative assembly voted for it, the wheels were set in motion. The Eastern region was made up of the present day Rivers, Delta, Akwa-ibom, Cross-river, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra and Enugu states; therefore, Biafra would have been a very viable country. 

Fast forward to this day, Nigeria has been split into 36 states and six geo-political zones: south-west, south-east, south-south, north-west, north-east and north-central. The geopolitical zones were said to have been created in order to bring states with similar culture, ethnic groups and common history together. As plausible as this may seem, it did a huge disservice to the former Eastern Nigeria and to any future talk of a Biafran State. A look at the map of Nigeria as it concerns the geopolitical zones shows the anomaly in the south-east/south-southern region. Whilst the other regions appear to be in geographical lumps, the south-south region almost circled the south-east. The south-eastern region consisting of the Igbos is the smallest in landmass, and apart from that, this zoning has repainted the mental picture of Biafra from that a region of 9 states to that of 5 and from a region of about 3 ethnic groups to that of 1. Biafra has become mainly an Igbo affair.

Ojukwu's argument for a Biafran state was plausible - with the then constant massacre of Ndi-Igbo in the North, the retaliation in the eastern region and the mass migration of Ndi-Igbo from the north, it made sense that for peace to reign these peoples should go their separate ways. Whilst such inter-ethnic violence is not commonplace today, some Igbos feel that they are being politically marginalised and hence the present day agitation for Biafra. But is this plausible? To address this issue, I shall look at the problems of Ndi-Igbo, the practicality of a Biafran State solving these problems, and the way forward.

I can boldly say that the problems of Ndi-Igbo in the present day Nigeria isn't about political posts in the Federal government or lack thereof. A pointer would be considering that the Northern region has produced the most Heads of State and Presidents in Nigeria, yet many States in the Northern region remain very backward. In contrast, an Eastern region that was ravaged by the civil war has somehow managed to shed itself of the dilapidation and destruction following the war even without producing a single head of state since then. Truth be told, it would only be fair that every ethnic group is given a fair chance and opportunity to contribute to the development of Nigeria and anything short of that breeds disunity, however I believe that Ndi-Igbo should be more in pursuit of substance i.e. the development of Ala-Igbo which wouldn't come just by producing the President of Nigeria or occupying juicy positions in the Federal Government. Igbo Governors and elites remain the source of their major problems more than the Federal Government is, so breaking away from Nigeria as a means of solving an in-house problem that would still follow them is very unwise.

Take for instance the issue of marginalisation, even in Igboland as in other parts of Nigeria; Ndi-Igbo are segmented in senatorial zones (the state-level of geopolitical zones) within states and some feel marginalised. Go to Imo State, the Owerri and Okigwe senatorial zones are of the opinion that the Orlu zone has marginalised them in terms of the number of times it has produced Governors and the juicy positions occupied by Ndi-Orlu in Imo State. This problem is inbred, communities fighting over the right to Ezeships; appointments at the State level seemingly lopsided and consisting of some zone than the others; admissions into tertiary institutions being based on States, senatorial zones and Local government Areas (LGA) of origin; and was it not just a few years ago that former Governor Theodore Orji of Abia state sacked every Igbo who wasn't an indigene of Abia State from the Abia State civil service. So, assuming Biafra comes to be, should every State, geopolitical zone, LGA and community start agitating for a breakaway whenever they feel they are being marginalised? Or do those who are agitating for Biafra think these issues would automatically fix themselves?

Additionally, the continued agitation for Biafra in the guise of marginalisation only serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is so because if Ndi-Igbo keep trying to break away because they have not produced a Nigerian President; other parts of the country would keep looking at them with suspicion and therefore keep denying them the chance to produce a President in the fear that an Igbo President would facilitate the establishment of Biafra.

As earlier mentioned, Ojukwu’s agitation for Biafra was not only plausible; it was backed by elite in the eastern region and actively so. Today, Nnamdi Kalu -the leader of the group called the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) - in the face of lack of any reasoned argument for the need to create a Biafran state - had decided to use propaganda to drum up support. In essence, he had decided to lie to none others than the Igbos; he had decided to use the message of hate instead of reason; in essence...he is using deception to persuade gullible Igbos into supporting his group. However, the gullible are usually the uneducated and that is why you would hardly see educated Igbo elite supporting him. Yes there may be some, but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. In the name of supporting Biafra, some people even go as far as ripping their Nigerian passports apart and sharing videos of the act on social media; and yes they get praised for it. I have noticed that almost all the passport-rippers have very poor command of the English language and are definitely the uneducated who have managed to make their way abroad with no intent of coming home. Whilst some Igbo brothers back home will be motivated to fight for Biafra by seeing such videos, those abroad tearing their Nigerian passports and agitating for Biafra wouldn't be home to fight when the war eventually starts; after all they do not have Nigerian passports and to get to the so-called Biafra you will need a Nigerian passport or visa.

That brings me to the issue of war. It is very obvious that no Nigerian president would want a part of Nigeria to secede under his watch; therefore, the creation of Biafra would not happen over a cup of tea, some signatures and a handshake...it would need war. Nnamdi Kalu and his group have been spreading lies about United Nations having a charter which states that if a people have pushed for self-determination after X number of years, they should be allowed to secede from their host country. According to them, this charter gives Biafra the right to self-determination having struggled for over 45 years. This as usual is a blatant lie and was meant to deceive. Just twice did the charter of the United Nations and statute of the International Court of Justice mention the term "self-determination" and it was to dissuade the control of 'smaller/weaker' countries by foreign powers. You can see a copy of the charter here.  IPOB has also lied about the African Union and United Nations having accepted Biafra as a member state of the AU and UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).  Visit here to see the lie; visit here for a list of the AU's ECOSOC members, and here for UN's ECOSOC members. These lies were meant to give unsuspecting Igbos the false hope that Biafra has been recognised internationally and that only Nigeria stands in its way. It tries to misinform Ndi-Igbo that since Biafra already has the support of international bodies, all that is needed is for Nigeria to allow the secession preferably over a cup of tea; and that failure to do so may result to war which Biafra will win since the UN and AU both support them. All lies.

There is no doubt that Igbos who survived the civil war will be bothered about the current agitation and demonstrations for Biafra; and it is quite obvious that those who are out in the streets are those who have never experienced war. One can commend them for their 'bravery' but I think they do need to sit back and think more about what they are doing and are asking for; these are my reasons:

  1. Their leader’s base: Nnamdi Kalu is based in the United Kingdom and has always boasted about not having a Nigerian passport. Since he can travel to the US and other parts of the world, he does have a passport and that is most probably the UK passport. He isn't based in Nigeria and perchance his lies eventually lead to war, he most probably wouldn't be in Nigeria not to talk of Eastern Nigeria to fight alongside his brother-agitators. It is also a curious case that most of those who are educated and who support the current agitation for Biafra all appear to stay abroad. Why don't they come home and join the agitation instead of 'safely' carrying placards in the USA, Canada, Thailand, UK and other parts of the world while those in Nigeria get shot at? 

  2. A Biafran state after the war: I keep telling people that had Biafra been established by war under Ojukwu, maybe...just maybe...it wouldn't have been the country Biafrans thought it would be. There was every chance that Ojukwu’s Biafra would have been a state under dictatorship with the Ojukwus and/or their cronies being leaders for life...some sort of North Korea or Eritrea if you may. There was also every chance that different warlords would have emerged and the leadership of Biafra would be a constant bone of contention...some sort of Libya or South Sudan if you may. Presently, Biafra has MASSOB and IPOB and there seems to be some friction between the two groups. If there is a Nigerian-Biafran war which ends up with Biafra being created, the war may have just begun as MASSOB, IPOB and some other groups that may emerge could battle over who leads the new Biafra.

To be continued...

The Oracle has Spoken!!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Was Robert Clarke (SAN) Right? : A Closer Look at the Nigerian Constitution

I know, I know!! The Oracle seems to be talking too much these days abi? Anyway, in my last divination, I talked about how APC's disrespect of the PDP cost them a say in who became the President and Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate. I also briefly mentioned a number of arguments and opinions about the emergence of Saraki and Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.

One of these arguments was that the elections-ab initio-was unconstitutional; an argument initiated by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria in the person of Robert Clarke on Channels Television. Clarke stated that it was wrong for those who nominated and elected Saraki and Ekweremadu to justify their actions by claiming that the 57 senators-elect present at the time were more than enough to form a quorum in line with the "quorum rule" in the Nigerian constitution. He argued that the "quorum rule" was meant for Senators who have been inaugurated and for the purpose of carrying out normal senate businesses and that it was wrong to be used by mere Senators-elect as an excuse to disenfranchise their colleagues. He further urged the APC to go to court.

Mr. Clarke’s argument resonated widely amongst Nigerians and many see the elections as were conducted at the Senate House on the 9th of June 2015 as unconstitutional...the acceptance of this argument may be because of Mr. Clarke’s  position of authority as a SAN...surely he must know what he is talking about. Although I am not a legal practitioner and I really am not worthy to argue with a highly placed Learned Gentleman in the person of Robert Clarke... this is exactly what I intend to do.  I believe that the Nigerian constitution is for all to read, interpret and seek understanding of. I do personally think that Mr. Clarke has got his interpretation wrong on this occasion and I will say why.

The "quorum rule" can be found in section (54); sub-section (1) of the Nigerian constitution and it states that:

"The quorum of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall be one-third of all the members of the Legislative House concerned".

So in this case, since there are 109 (presently 108) Senators, a quorum can be formed by 36 Senators. Now, whilst those who elected Saraki and Ekweremadu argue that 57 Senators were more than enough to form a quorum, Mr. Clarke argues that the rule says"...members of the senate or house of representatives" and therefore only comes into play when the Senators have been inaugurated. This sounds legit yeah? Well let's see what the same constitution says about the election of senate leaders.

Section (50), sub-section (1), article (a) of the Nigerian constitution states that there shall be:

“A President and a Deputy President of the Senate, who shall be elected by the members of that House from among themselves.”

Now, this section clearly referred to those who shall elect the Senate President and Deputy President as "members of the house" even though they are yet to be inaugurated. The 57 people who were present when Saraki was elected unopposed and 75 people who were there when Ekweremadu was elected were indeed "members of the house". At this very point, it is clear that Clarke's argument cannot hold water because the constitution clearly sees Senators-elect as members of the house prior to their inauguration.

Clarke also claimed that 51 senators-elect were deliberately disenfranchised...it is this particular claim that annoys me about Clarke. Like I said in my previous article, 108 Senators-elect chose a venue, time and date for an event; at the agreed time, some were absent and the scheduled event went ahead as planned. I cannot understand why those who kept to the agreed time should be chastised...common sense tells me that the 51 APC senators disenfranchised themselves and should really be admonished for their folly. Apart from what common sense tells me, you may wonder if it was constitutional for that election to be held when others were away...let's see what the constitution says.

Section (52), sub-section (1) of the Nigerian constitution says:

“Every member of the Senate or the House of Representatives shall, before taking his seat, declare his assets and liabilities as prescribed in this Constitution and subsequently take and subscribe the Oath of Allegiance and the oath of membership as prescribed in the Seventh Schedule to this Constitution before the President of the Senate or, as the case may be, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, but a member may before taking the oaths take part in the election of a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, as the case may be, or a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives”

Now the point of focus is "...but a member may before taking the oaths take part in the election of a President and a Deputy President of the Senate, as the case may be...".Do you notice that the word “may” was used instead of “must”? This section clearly states that participation in the election is optional...Senators can clearly decide not to be there, or decide not to vote even if they were there. Since 51 senators decided to attend another event instead of a pre-agreed event in the Senate house...the 57 who turned up were free to carry on with the events of the day as attendance and participation were optional.

At this point, I plead with Mr. Robert Clarke to drop the sentiments and really study the Nigerian constitution before coming up again on live TV to feed unsuspecting Nigerians with wrong information. I also suggest to you- the Nigerian citizen- to grab yourself a copy of the Nigerian constitution...it not only lets you know what should be allowed and what shouldn't in the Nigerian polity, it also helps you crosscheck the information you get from obviously biased persons as it concerns the laws of the land. God bless Nigeria!

The Oracle has spoken!!

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Respect the Opposition: Lessons from APC's Blunder

Yesterday, the Nigerian Senate elected their principal officers and we saw Senator Bukola Saraki of APC emerging Senate President and Ike Ekweremadu of PDP his deputy.

A lot has been said about this election: some hail the PDP for their political savviness, others say PDP merely saw a chance and took it; some say APC has sown the seed of disintegration amongst themselves, others accuse Saraki as being a traitor; some say that what happened and the current situation of things in the Senate House is healthy for the growth of our Democracy, others say it was illegal for voting to have commenced without the 51 APC Senators-elect who went for a meeting as summoned by President Buhari...they argue that it was wrong to assume that section 54 (1) of the Nigerian constitution was applicable in yesterday's scenario as the Senators were yet to be inaugurated. The said section reads: "The quorum of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall be one-third of all the members of the Legislative House concerned".

Well, I wouldn't delve into these debates now...but I made an important observation and learnt a very important lesson: "never disrespect your opposition". How come? 

Now, prior to the convergence of the Nigerian Senators...the time and "venue" of the event must have been earlier agreed on by all and sundry. By the events of yesterday, it is safe to say the venue was at the National Assembly complex and the time was 10 A.M. because that was when both Senators-elect and staff members of the National Assembly were allowed access into the complex. Reports say that Senators elected on the platform of the APC were to meet President Buhari at the International Conference Centre, Abuja at 9:00 A.M.; 51 of the 59 APC Senators left for this meeting and seemingly put the pre-agreed convergence and inauguration of all Nigerian Senators at the backburner. They were at the International Conference Centre till about 11 A.M. waiting for Buhari who unfortunately never turned up and only left when news of what was happening at the National Assembly reached them. Some say that these 51 APC Senators may have known that with Saraki and his team joining forces with PDP, their candidate (Senator Ahmed Lawan) stood no chance at becoming Senate President hence they chose to stay away from the election or look up to Buhari as their very last hope. But judging from the way they reacted when they got the news and the speed with which they headed back to the National Assembly complex I dare say that:
  1. The APC leadership and Senators-elect must have thought that all 59 members would be at the International Conference Centre for the said meeting with Buhari.
  2. They were audacious enough to think that as Senators from the ruling party, the event scheduled for 10 A.M. at the National Assembly complex would never kick-off till they arrive. They actually never seemed to have bothered about people who may be waiting for them at the National Assembly complex and were ready to wait as long as it takes for Buhari to arrive…they only left when news of proceedings got to them.
  3. Points 1 and 2 above clearly show that the APC leadership and 51 Senators-elect had no iota of respect for the Senators-elect from the PDP whom they expected to "sit and wait" at the hallowed chamber for their "superior" colleagues to arrive before the business of the day commences.
In their folly, they forgot that constitutionally, the Senate Presidency could go to any Senator whether from a majority or minority party. APC actually did risk a PDP Senator-elect emerging as Senate President because they had a greater number of members at the very point of election: 49 against 8. They should also be grateful that Saraki was there to be nominated because if he had gone for that "meeting", PDP would have had no choice than to nominate and vote in a PDP candidate as Senate President...and yeah APC would have needed 72 members to unseat him/her, a number which they lack.

Well...the arguments can tarry, but personally I think it all went wrong for APC yesterday when the 51 Senators-elect and some party leaders chose to disrespect PDP Senators-elect and take them for granted. Some may argue that even if the 51 Senators-elect were present during the election, Saraki would still have won as it would have been 57 against 51. However, they neglect the fact that Saraki was a sole nominee and was unopposed. This was because the PDP had reached an agreement with him and the 8 APC Senators-elect in the Chamber were either for him or for Ahmed Lawan who wasn’t in the Chamber at the time and therefore couldn’t be nominated. There also was no guarantee that if an election was conducted, all 8 APC Senators-elect who skipped the “meeting” would have voted Saraki. A look at what played out as the Deputy Senate President was elected goes further to show that the absence of the 51 senators played a role in APC’s blunder. 

There were 75 Senators-elect in the hallowed chamber when the election for deputy speaker was conducted. Ekweremadu polled 54 votes: theoretically, this should be 49 votes from the PDP and 5 votes from the 8 APC members who didn’t go for the “meeting”. An additional 18 APC members arrived and gave Ali Ndume their votes; 2 APC members out of the 8 who never went for the “meeting” also voted Ndume (20 votes in total); a Senator decided not to vote (can’t tell whom s/he would have voted for). 33 APC members were probably still on their way to the chamber or still at the International Conference Center waiting for Buhari. Assuming they were in the hall, and the abstaining Senator voted for Ndume …Ekweremadu may not have won outrightly and same goes for Saraki. 
I hope they have learnt their lesson and that they remember that PDP has 49 members which is more than enough to form a quorum in the house (36 members needed)...so when next an important event is scheduled in the House, they shouldn't go “gallivanting” as they do not really have a superior status in the Hallowed Chamber.

And for the record...I do like that Tinubu failed to take control of the Leadership of the National Assembly; I now hope that these lawmakers forget the politics and get down to the real reasons for which they were elected. God bless Nigeria.

The Oracle has spoken!!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Post-2015 General Elections: Do Nigerians Now Have A Voice?

I was having a chat with some of my mates on the 30th of March 2015 as the Nigerian Presidential election results were being announced. I must point out that amongst us, there were the pro-Buharist and pro-Jonathans and as expected, there was a whole lot to disagree on. But one commonality was the expectation of violence...most of us had that sense of foreboding even when the results appeared to be heading Buhari's way. The thinking was that down South-south violence will emanate. 

However, I felt differently...I told them that if Buhari wins, there will be no violence because Nigeria's southerners would rarely get violent for political reasons. Yes, there may be pockets of agitations here and there...they will not tarry and will certainly not turn into a full-scale upheaval. I, however, said it wouldn't be so should Buhari lose the election as the Northerners would definitely agitate. Well, it happened as I envisaged... Asari Dokubo and other Southern elements who huffed, puffed and threatened fire and brimstone should Jonathan lose haven’t mustered a word since then. Now, where am I heading with this?

There is this overly optimistic feeling that Nigeria's electoral process has matured to the point where the citizens can decide the outcome of elections. It is very easy to cite as favourable instance the fact that the 2015 election was considerably free and fair and that a sitting President was voted out…fair enough. The sense of improvement is also backed up when one reflects on what elections used to be under Obasanjo ...a do or die affair. However, I am a bit sceptical about sharing in this optimism …not because I’m a pessimist but because I am a realist. I do really wish this to be our turning point and the change we crave for in our electoral process; but in my own opinion, for the electoral process to really change, the judiciary must change, our politicians must change, and the electorate too...and as we all know, none of these has changed. In fact, it is this same electoral process which got GEJ ousted that also got a despised man in the person of Theodore Orji of Abia state elected into the Nigerian Senate, his rascally son into the State House of Assembly and his crony as State Governor. As it concerns unseating the incumbent President (which many Nigerians have taken as sign of Citizen-power) - apart from the disaffection which GEJ's leadership brought - I do believe that three major factors came into play for this to happen; these were: a man, the former President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; tribal underpinnings; and of course the threat of violence. I will discuss these three.

Goodluck Jonathan as a factor

If you may recall, the election that ushered us into the democratic era in 1999 from a Military dispensation was way better than those conducted by OBJ in 2003 and 2007. In 2011, GEJ oversaw an election which was dramatically better than any of those under OBJ...2015 even witnessed improvements. By all indications, if OBJ were in charge during the 2015 general elections, the outcome wouldn't have been the same.

GEJ –as a politician who was seeking re-election- had the power to remove Professor Attahiru Jega as the Chairman of INEC when there were talks of his being biased; he could have appointed someone who would dance to his tune…he didn’t. GEJ as President saw proof that kids were allowed to register and vote in the North yet he didn't pick on that as an excuse to change things in his favour. As the President he experienced accreditation problems with the card-readers, he could have picked on this as an excuse to change things…he didn’t. As the President, he got reports that a large number of people in the Southern region of the country where he expected to get a bulk of his votes from couldn’t get their voters' cards for reasons not of their own making…this was another opportunity to juggle things to his favour and he didn’t. Though I am not encouraging such, but GEJ had a number of “legitimate excuses” to tinker things in his favour…but why didn’t he? It may have been because he wanted to play fair, that's one. Two, he may have been confident of winning despite all. Three, he definitely was aware of the likelihood of violence if he made a wrong move and he kept repeating that his political ambition was not worth the blood of a single Nigerian. In my own opinion, what GEJ did was merely set a good example which other Politicians may or may not copy, he hasn't instituted a fundamentally different system from what we used to know. 

Violence as a factor

You may recall that before the election, there was massive movement away from the North by people who expected some sort of post-electoral violence as has been the norm in previous two elections following Buhari's loss. However, there wasn’t such movement away from the South which was GEJ’s political stronghold. In fact, In Nigeria, political violence seems to be the preserve of the North. Add this Northern culture of post-electoral violence to the fact that it has been in the news that the US predicted Nigeria breaking up by 2015; the facts that APC members have threatened to set up a parallel government if the outcome of the election goes contrary to their expectation; and the fact that the already existing Boko Haram insurgence had stretched the Nigerian Military and security apparatus to their very limit… all you have are the trappings of unrestricted-violence. I am not saying that this will solely be in the North, no ...but it would have started in the North with the South retaliating and maybe a civil war and ethnic bloodshed would have ensued. GEJ knew this and he chose not to take a risk by denying Buhari his victory despite the fact that it may be unmerited. Some may call this cowardice, but I do call it Wisdom because it is mere folly and stupidity to risk the lives of the people you are to govern just because you want to govern them. Take a look at Bashar Hafez al-Assad in Syria...killing his own people because they do not want him as President; even closer home is Burundi with Pierre Nkurunziza refusing the douse the on-going violence by opting out of a bid for an unconstitutional 3rd term in office as President.

Ethic sentiments as a factor

I must say that there were a couple of factors that determined who voted for or against GEJ and Buhari: a minority of Nigerians would have voted for these men because the genuinely liked them and believed that they would make a difference in Nigeria as President. A larger set of people voted one as a "lesser evil" over the other...some voted GEJ not because they felt he had something tangible to offer but because they feared the unknown as it concerned Buhari or because they didn't see Buhari doing better and vice versa. I dare say that the greatest majority voted on ethnic lines as has been the norm over the years.

Nigeria is made up many forms of divisions both abstract and concrete. We have divisions by religion (Christianity and Islam); by regions (North and South); by geopolitical zones (South-west, South-east, South-south, North-west, North-east, and North-central); by the about 250 ethnic groups though most Nigerians identify with or are seen to be more Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa which are the 3 dominant ethnic groups. Then there is the silent but dominant division by “ethnogeopolitical” zones consisting of the Hausa-Fulani North, Yoruba-Edo South-west, Igbo South-east and the Efik-Ibibio-Ijaw South-south. I must point out though that politically and otherwise, there isn't a solid line between the South-east and parts of the South-South.

The ethnogeopolitical zoning makes it easy for the North to unite under a massive political umbrella while the south is in diverse camps; it also could give a false sense of "majority" because the unified North has the capacity to outvote the diversified South on an issue and the result will still be seen as the “voice of the Nigerian majority cutting across ethic barriers”. To help check this is the electoral rule that states that to win a presidential election, the Candidate needs an overall majority and at least 25% of the votes in two-thirds of the states (24 states). Achieving this feat could theoretically be a given for an anointed Northern candidate who potentially has 19 states at his beck and call and will only need 25% of the votes cast in 6 other states + a clear majority to win. It is not this easy for another anointed candidate from one of the Southern sub-regions who may not be the anointed candidate for the other sub-regions.

The Northern might and unity was felt in the 2015 general elections as they massively voted for APC; the Southern diversity was also noticed as the South-western sub-region voted APC while the South-eastern and South-southern sub-regions voted PDP. In fact, I am convinced that for PDP to win the next presidential election, the following conditions must be met:
  1.  APC must fail woefully in the North and thus becomes despised as a regional party: If this happens, PDP must field an alternate anointed Northern candidate to rival Buhari.

  2. The Northern/south-western pally must go sour: If this happens, PDP must field a candidate from any region (Southern region most preferably) that will unite all of the Southern region.

  3. PDP must field someone mercurial enough to unite the South and divide votes in the North...but who could this be?
As unlikely as these may seem, in all of conditions, the North is still an important factor. So before you join the bandwagon of optimists and take your foot off the pedal in the demand for sustainable change ask yourself these:
  1. If GEJ was bent on remaining as President, was there any institution or system strong enough to stop him?

  2. If not for the threat of Northern violence and the knock-on effect it may have on other parts of Nigeria, would GEJ have given up this easily in the face of perceived electoral anomalies?

  3. Post-GEJ, is there a guarantee that persons in the mould of Obasanjo will not ensure that elections go their way?

  4.  Was the outcome of the election really an indication of the wishes of the majority or was it the result of strategic ethnic alliances that gave a false sense of "collective voice"?

  5. What has changed about the registration of fictitious elements and the underage voters? What has changed about ballot stuffing and snatching? What has changed about results manipulation? What has changed about the judicial system which is meant to deal with those involved in electoral malpractices? What has changed about Nigerian Politicians? What has changed about you the voter?
I am happy that Nigeria is at peace and I do wish President Muhammadu Buhari success as he presides over the affairs of Nigeria. However, in my own opinion and as it concerns elections...until winning and concession of defeat are solely outcomes of the ballot and not of threat of violence; until the disposition of the sitting president has no impact on elections; until ethnicity has little or no role to play or until a system is instituted to give equal weighting of votes across ethic barriers; until the electoral system is good enough to prevent, detect and nullify fraud from the point of voters’ registration to announcement of results; until the Judiciary is strong enough to speedily bring to book and punish electoral offenders; until our politicians and electorate ditch the do-or-die attitude and follow the good example which GEJ has set...nothing has changed, it isn't yet uhuru.

The Oracle has spoken!!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

On Ndi-Igbo, APC and the Nigerian Politics

Prior to the Presidential elections, I took time to reflect on the two major contenders - President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu Buhari; to state what I expect from either of the two if elected; and to say why I shall support one instead of the other. Well, that election has come and gone and GMB emerged winner. I congratulate him just as I congratulate GEJ, Jega and all Nigerians who contested and/or voted during that election. I intend to share with you my reflection on all that played out during and after the presidential elections...but today, I shall concentrate on the ‘impact’ of the elections on the Igbos.

The Igbos dominate the south-east geopolitical zone which is made up of five states: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo States. The main regional political party in this zone is the APGA with PPA trying to find its footing. The APGA had been in control of Anambra for 3 consecutive tenures. It was under the APGA that Imo’s present Governor (Rochas Okorocha) was elected before his defection to APC. PPA hasn't really been sleeping; under it, the Present Governor of Abia State (T.A Orji) and the immediate past governor of Imo State (Ikedi Ohakim) were elected before they defected to the PDP. However, the PDP has had relative dominance in this region.

During the Presidential and National Assembly elections on the 28th of March 2015, although there was a significant number of people who voted without tribal and regional sentiments; these factors were the major deciding factors as always. The Northern belt voted for one of their own and the party that best reflected their interests (APC), while the south - especially the south-east - voted for one of theirs and the parties that best reflected their interest (PDP or APGA).

Prior to the election, not one "political analyst" came to prophesy the "political doom" that would befall the Igbos if they failed to vote GMB and/or vote APC contestants for Senate. Fast forward to today, they have come out of their shells to call the Igbos a lot of derogatory names: from stupid, to myopic, to politically naive and what have you...why? Because the south-east voted PDP National Assembly candidates and not one APC contestant won a place.

With hindsight bias, these "political analysts" who are now suddenly so full of wisdom claim that because Igbos were so blinded by hatred for Buhari/persons of Northern extraction, they failed to see the consequences of not electing a single APC candidate into the National Assembly. What are these consequences? According to them: since an Hausa man shall be President; Yoruba Vice President; it was expected that an Ibo shall be Senate President. However, this is not to be because the APC is expected to field the next Senate President having attained a majority status in the senate house with about 62-64 seats out of the available 109. PDP is said to have won between 45-47 seats while the remaining seats went to the Labour, Accord and Social Democratic parties. They argue that without an Igbo man in APC both at the upper and lower chambers, there is no way that an Igbo will head either of the chambers. 

Why Igbos have become the go-to guys when people need to wag their mouths beats me. In the present government, though not by their own making- there is no Yoruba occupying the seat of the President, Vice President, Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker or Deputy Speaker House of Representative and they still haven't gone under or become politically irrelevant. Why would Igbos die if the same happens to them? Why are APC politicians and Foot soldiers painting it as such a sorry situation? What improvement have previous custodians of such positions brought to their tribes as a whole? A person who calls the Igbos idiots for not working towards having their son or Daughter as Senate President is a much bigger idiot for not realising that being a Senate President is to the CV of the individual and not the Tribe from which he comes nor the people whom he represents. As far as I am concerned, each State and Constituency has sent people to the National Assembly to be duly represented and not necessarily to become heads; so as long as APC wouldn't deny the Igbos and people of south-east extraction their seats and contribution at the National Assembly, then all is fine. 

In all honesty, people can really be so stupid. Even Owelle Rochas Okorocha publically termed Igbos as myopic and senseless because APC senatorial candidates were not voted. No other ethnic group or region embarked on the level of "thinking" which Rochas and his kind believe the Igbos should have embarked on in order to vote candidates that will ensure that the Igbo nation remains relevant in Nigerian politics. The Northerners for example simply voted for a Party and or persons of their choice; they never came out to say "let's vote some people into PDP and others into APC so that we remain covered no matter the outcome of the election"; so why must it be the Igbos that will do such? I believe that Rochas and his ilk are either point-blank stupid or delusory. Even if before the election there was such a beautiful “thought” and plot (there wasn't), how on earth was that supposed to be achieved? Hypnotism and mind control? I think the fools should just shut up and live with the fact that ndi Igbo voted the candidates they wanted.

In my opinion, the Igbos have consistently voted on individual basis and for those who they believe will serve their individual interests; they have never allowed the Ibo versions of Oba, Emirs, self-proclaimed statesmen and warlords to dictate their political decisions as is the case to a significant extent in other parts of the country. Even when a top Igbo son in the person of Odimegwu Ojukwu vied for Presidency in a very flawed election under the watch of an obvious devil who now claims he is saint Obasanjo, Igbos were not fully in his support; so if they could neglect Ojukwu and the dominant regional party in 2007…who is Buhari and what is APC? Whether this individualistic characteristic will be to their benefit or detriment in the typical Nigerian context is another topic for discussion; however, it must be pointed out that in this state of individualism, there is unity...a popular voice and choice emerges and that is the what we call DEMOCRACY. the Igbos clearly demonstrate and represent a school of thought and practice which if adopted by other regions of this country will push us closer to true democracy devoid of religious, ethnic and tribal wrangling.

I acknowledge that it is all part of politics that things that ordinarily shouldn’t be said eventually get voiced; however, I think it is gradually turning into a politics of insults against the Igbos. Just yesterday, Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu had threatened any Igbo who votes Jimi Agbaje on Saturday with death by drowning in the lagoon within seven days…why Igbos must be singled out in a cosmopolitan State for such a threat beats me. The electorate in Lagos must surely include the Yorubas, Hausas, Efiks, Tivs, Igbos, etc. who are free to vote any of the contestants in Saturday’s gubernatorial election...so why has the monarch made it excusable for other tribes to vote PDP but a capital punishment if Igbos do?

You see the same trend with Igbos being warned to vote APC gubernatorial candidates down south-east if they don't want to go on a political exile under Buhari/APC's government; this is the recent campaign strategy adopted by Rochas and his fellow APC gubernatorial candidates. Under the guise of “protecting the interest of the Igbo nation and the south-east geopolitical zone” they fight for their own political interests thinking they are dealing with fools. They want Igbos to vote APC in, even if the candidates presented are not trustworthy or the Igbo nation will be in for else a hard time politically...see blackmail naa!! Rochas now appears to have forgotten that APGA was minority in 2011 (still is) when he contested under that political party and won; now in 2015 it has suddenly become taboo to vote someone who doesn't belong to the ruling party. Rochas shall never cease to behave like a common thief.

Well, unless things have changed now...the Igbos, especially in Imo state, do not care about such nonsense. Imolites voted a PPA candidate when PDP was dominant; they voted out a PDP candidate and replaced him with an APGA candidate even with PDP's dominance and I do not see why they wouldn't vote out an underperforming APC candidate in the person of Rochas Okorocha if they wanted to. Heaven hasn’t fallen before now and it wouldn’t fall if no APC candidate is elected governor, Rochas especially.

For people like Eze-ndi-Igbo of Amuwo-oriade in Lagos who promised Oba Akiolu that all Igbos in Lagos will vote for APC on Saturday; for all the Ezes and different versions of Ohaneze-ndi-Igbos who have made promises to one political party or the other that they will get the Igbos to vote in their favour...you all better sharpen your skills at hypnosis and mind-control or wake from your slumber because the Igbo man wouldn't give a hoot what you say; he would vote for whom he wants. In case you have never heard... Igbo enweghi eze. An Igbo man is king to himself and as a King he will make his own decision on the 11th of April 2015 as it concerns who governs him for the next 4 years.

The Oracle has spoken!!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Goodluck Jonathan or Muhammadu Buhari...My Take (Final Part)

 3. Irregular Electric Power and Unemployment

Goodluck Jonathan

Tackling unemployment and irregular electric power is basically an issue of policies backed by strategies; same goes for improving the economy, educational sector, transportation sector, healthcare delivery, etc. Goodluck Jonathan, to his credit, 'restored' the moribund Nigerian Rail system although there is still a long way to go; under his watch our economy is said to be the largest in Africa; this has however been contested by economists who believe that current economic statistics paint a false and glorified picture of Nigeria's true economic state.

Under GEJ, power generation hit 4500 megawatts in 2012 -the highest since 1999; however, latest reports show that just about 3,346 megawatts is generated currently. This is despite having an installed capacity of between 6, 000 to 7,000MW which is by the way too meagre to serve a population of 170 million Nigerians. The generation of power below installed capacity has been ascribed to insufficient transmission of natural gas to the power plants which are 80% reliant on gas. This insufficient transmission has been blamed on inadequate gas pipelines, the vandalism of the little we do have, and the disconnect between the power and gas sectors.

As six new power plants have been built and four about to be completed; power generation capacity is set to increase no matter how minutely. The generation capacity has remained GEJ’s focus even in his campaign so far. However, the truth is even if Nigeria had an optimal number of power plants; we can only be said to be 'potentially able' to generate so-so-so megawatts or even gigawatt until we have adequate transmission of gas to the power plants. The power plants are important, but what really is the importance of a car parked in the garage, not fuelled and not driven?

The provision of constant electric power is linked to generation of employment; this is a fact that is not lost on GEJ. When it comes to alleviating unemployment, perhaps one of GEJ's most memorable campaign lines was the gaffe "we will create jobs and unemployment". Obviously it was a slip of the tongue and he never meant that; but could that be an unfortunate truth? In 2014, World Bank's report on Nigeria's economy revealed that the country is more beleaguered by underemployment than unemployment. Most Nigerians just cannot afford to stay idle and must make a living...this they do mainly by engaging in low productivity and low paying jobs. After all, it is generally believed that half a loaf of bread is better than none; and that there is always a job available depending on what it is you are willing to do. Look around you, you will see that graduate with good results making a living as an Okada or Keke rider when he would have been more valuable in a bank; you shall see that Physics graduate selling curtains in the market; even Dangote in 2013 disclosed that PhD and MBA holders were among applicants who were hoping to be truck drivers in his company.

GEJ introduced a number of projects to check unemployment amongst which are the Agricultural transformation Agenda as supported by the Commercial Agricultural credit scheme which is aimed at creating up to 3.5 million jobs; YouWin aimed at creating 80,000 to 110,000 jobs within 3 years and SURE-P Graduate Internship scheme aimed at absorbing 50,000 graduates who will work as apprentices in select private/public firms with the purpose of developing skills that will lead to self-employment. Despite all these, unemployment rate has risen from 23.9% in 2011 to 25% in 2014. Obviously, GEJ is concerned about the rate of unemployment and has made honest efforts to alleviate the situation; however, these efforts can be best referred to as tiny sips from the ocean of unemployment.


Buhari and his campaign team are not known to shy away from making bogus promises without plans as to how they will be achieved. Although I cannot confirm these, Buhari was said to have promised to ensure that the Nigerian Naira equals the US Dollar in value when he becomes president, and also to stabilise global oil price...though very silly, if he had really said so, no one reported on how he intends achieving them.

To the claims I am sure he did make; Buhari had promised generate 20,000MW within four years if elected President. Going by the discussions I made under GEJ, Buhari will not only have to build more power plants, he would also have to ensure that there is adequate supply of natural gas to these power plants all within 4 years. The sad news is that experts believe that due to the economic climate and insufficient gas pipelines; it may take up to the year 2020 for Nigeria to transmit enough gas that will generate just 9,000 MW as it takes 4-5 years to build a gas pipeline. How Buhari intends to generate 20,000MW in just 4 years is what we do not know. Maybe through harnessing alternative sources of energy like coal, wind and solar…I am not sure.

During his campaign, Buhari promised that under his government, more job opportunities will be provided to both uneducated and educated Nigerians. He did mention the use of Agriculture as means of job creation but how this will defer and work better than what GEJ is presently doing is what he never mentioned. Another popular campaign promise was the revitalisation of Enugu coal through which he will generate over 1,000,000 jobs. All these promises have been made without consideration to how they will be achieved and the financial implication which is very vital considering the fact that we should be activating austerity measures due to the global plummeting of oil price.

The verdict

Presently, Buhari isn't any worse than GEJ was in terms of his campaign promises in 2011. He had promised back then to ensure we had at least 16,000MW by 2013; it is March of 2015 now and we are stuck at 3,346 MW. Right now, GEJ knows better than to make sure bogus claims because those previously made were never achieved. Therefore, if I were to choose between GEJ and Buhari solely based who will be more effective in tackling inadequate power supply and unemployment; I will pick GEJ for his experience which increases the chances that he may improve things within the next four years and not for the fact that I do think he will solve these problems.

Buhari is presently where GEJ was in 2011 and is very naive as his claims have shown. His refusal to engage in a debate and his inability to directly answer questions from the public in a town hall meeting instead of relying on Tinubu and Fashola tell me he has no concrete plans as it concerns bringing change to Nigeria not to talk of plans that may fail. 

Who you should vote for tomorrow

With all due respect to the other contestants whose manifesto and campaign promises I never really got to know about, it is likely that the election will be won between one of GEJ and Buhari. Having followed these men as closely as I could, one thing I am sure about is that neither of them is the best Nigeria can offer; but since I have to choose between them, I will not go for a 78 year old man whom even Fashola his supporter - in all honesty - must believe is too old to lead Nigeria; after all, the same Fashola berated Jimi Agbaje as being too old at 58 to lead Lagos state. Buhari is at the stage where he is almost slurring and rather forgetful that I think the only thing he does remember now is that he wants to be President. This isn't just about who occupies the Aso Rock but also about who represents us in the international community. If Nigeria were a hermit Country like North Korea, then we can afford to field a anyone we wanted, even if he is senile; but for a country with serious international relations, it will rather be too silly to have as President a man that is almost incomprehensible in speech, out of touch with modernity, too forgetful and whose basic academic qualification is in doubt.

There is really nothing new I see Buhari bringing to the table apart from his claim of being an anti-corruption champion which is really debatable going by the fact that he doesn't see Abacha as having looted Nigeria till date and that he is being sponsored and dragged to Aso Rock by none other than Tinubu. In Buhari I see another Mugabe, with the only difference being that whilst Mugabe clings onto power with nothing else to offer, Buhari is desperate to attain power with nothing new to offer. The Aso Rock shouldn't be an old people's home and Buhari should rather crown himself a 'statesman' as Obasanjo and Babangida his ageing colleagues have done.

That Buhari isn't the right man doesn't make GEJ the one either. In my opinion GEJ has been glorified by Buhari; he really does deserve to be voted out especially for the high rate of corruption which I don’t see abating no matter his claims at digitalising the way government carries out and engages in business. However, APC got it all wrong by fielding someone who doesn't deserve to replace GEJ; that we want GEJ out doesn’t mean we have to accept whoever is thrown at us.

We want change, but we must pursue it as citizens of this country. The kind of change we need isn't from GEJ to Buhari nor from PDP to APC...it is a change that comes from within each and everyone of us, a change that makes us really patriotic and passionate about Nigeria and a change that sees us break the shackles that hold us back from being truly a great Nation despite the extant capacity of being just that. If we vote GEJ into power for the next four years, we wouldn't have voted in a Messiah; however we would have avoided the backwardness that I am so sure would have been the case with a man who remembers nothing apart from the fact that he wants to be President.

#VoteWisely #ElectionNotWar #VoteNotFight #OneNigeria

The End.

The Oracle has Spoken!!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Goodluck Jonathan or Muhammadu Buhari...My Take (Part 2)

2. Corruption

Goodluck Jonathan: "Ordinary, common stealing Nigerians will start shouting corruption", "If I arrest all corrupt Nigerians,who will run the government?"...these are rather hilarious quotes attributed to GEJ but which I personally cannot verify as true. However, they are in tandem with GEJ's ideology as it concerns fighting corruption.  GEJ believes that corruption is best fought,not by prosecuting and treating corrupt officials harshly but by making it difficult for them to derail.  To do this, he has touted the use of Information Technology and changes in the way the Government engages in businesses. Examples are the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme which provides direct support to farmers thereby cutting off middlemen who may steal from it and Project Aquila which is an e-loading process of petroleum products that has been introduced in order to prevent the diversion of loaded products by truck drivers. There are also changes in pension schemes and salary disbursements such that sharp practices are curtailed. According to GEJ:

“We have also modernised the system of salary disbursement through technology. This is one of the ways we are fighting corruption in the system. You do not fight it by locking people in Kirikiri and closing down their businesses..."

As an ardent fan of e-government and e-governance, I am totally in agreement with GEJ that Information Technology should be used to change how Government-to-citizens, Government-to-businesses, inter and intra government businesses are run...if properly executed and managed, this wouldn't only save costs in the long run but improve fairness, openness and accountability. However, I disagree with his lack of political will to prosecute government officials and top business men who are found wanting. Even with ICT, people will still try to circumvent the system...the Government shouldn't just reply by making the system more difficult to break through but should also make sure that such criminals are punished. Without any punitive dimension to it, the system becomes a mere game where the winner takes all and the loser only needs to keep trying until luck smiles on him. For instance, it was reported that last December, some civil servants were not paid because the Salary payment system shut down due to fraudulent attempts by some unscrupulous elements for which GEJ apologized. Whilst this is nice as the system prevented fraud, it shouldn't end there. Efforts must be made to identify and prosecute those involved.

Although the problem of corruption did not start with GEJ's administration, it has become very pervasive that it is now resident even at the Presidential Villa if one is to believe the Former President Obasanjo, who himself is not exactly a paragon of sincerity. Obasanjo recounts and I quote:

“A Chinese national once told me that he was taken to Aso Villa and was asked to pay one million US dollars to enable him to see the president. When he refused, he was permanently denied access to the president,even though Nigeria would have benefited from such access.  
Having heard many rumors in the past but now with concrete evidence from a victim, I was incensed enough to bring it to the knowledge of the president, who asked, ‘Who can that be among my staff?’ I replied, ‘You know those responsible for your programmes and visitors.’
That was the last I heard of the issue. On several occasions in the past, and based on Transparency International reports, what I have observed and heard, I have made public comments on Jonathan’s lack of political will to fight corruption. I was called names and pilloried".

I am irked by the fact that GEJ counts as part of his achievements the additional number of Prisons built yet he doesn't think corrupt officials who stole and still steal billions of Naira should be prosecuted and sent to prison...who then are the Prisons for? The hungry boy down the road whose only offense was stealing a loaf of bread? What a joke!!

With Nigeria in a dire state of deeply rooted corruption,via presidential pardon, this same GEJ had the audacity to declare Diepreye Alamieyeseigha - corrupt man extraordinaire - as free from all corrupt practices for which he had been tried, convicted and punished both locally and internationally. As it stands Alamieyeseigha is as corrupt-free as my unborn babies and can actually get involved in governmental activities which prohibits ex-convicts. Talk of Femi Otedola and the bribery issue...the man till date is usually part of GEJ's entourage; talk of Stella Oduah the former Aviation Minister who was let off the hook just by asking her to resign from thepost...she even contested but failed to win the primaries for Anambra North Senatorial Constituency under PDP. What about the case of the ‘missing’ $20Billion which has been swept under the carpet like so many other misdeeds? Are these good signs that GEJ really wants to fight corruption? Are they not rather incentives for close friends and allies to do as they please? 

Some may say that GEJ isn't the Judiciary and neither is he EFCC nor ICPC; some may argue that he has given these establishment and arm of government the leeway to carry out their activities without interference from the Presidency; but we clearly know that such leeway is only possible where the Presidency has no interest. I really don't see things changing if GEJ wins this election as it concerns corruption.

Muhammadu Buhari: Buhari's ideology as it concerns corruption fighting is plain to see: prosecute and jail anyone involved. In fact, one key selling point GMB has is his 'cleanliness' and 'disdain for corruption' which most Nigerians really believe. In my opinion however, the jury is still out on that especially taking into consideration some of his past decisions and present stance on issues. 

I am not a historian I must confess, and presently I have my time split between studies, work and the Shrine. With the elections at hand, I am aware that propaganda has been taken to a whole nother level by members and supporters of the two major political camps...so I am pretty much skeptical about what I read and hear concerning politicians these days...and I have read a lot about GMB. Perhaps some digging around will help me arrive at the truth...but that I simply do not have much time for now.

However, some facts are so glaring that it makes me wonder if Buhari is really that paragon of sincerity he claims and we believe he is.One of these facts include his opinion and insistence that Abacha never stole from Nigeria despite the amount that has been recovered and continues to be recovered over the years. It then means that if he were to become President, any effort to reclaim funds that Abacha stashed in different bank account around the world would be ditched. Ibrahim Babangida is also of this same opinion and has described Abacha as an honest man. Is this some sort of esprit de corps?Are the generals protecting their own at the expense of the glaring truth?Anyway, the same Abacha who was not only corrupt but brutal during his reign received a centenary award from GEJ albeit posthumously.

Again, Buhari has surrounded himself with people who can hardly be described as corruption-free...talk of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar and all those PDP thieves who claim to be saints just because they have joined the APC. Would he use them to get into power then turn round to prosecute them for their corrupt past? My thinking is that these men must have considered this and for them to carry on supporting Buhari nothing dey happen.What about the 53 suitcases saga? His tribalistic fight against corruption which resulted in a coup that saw Alex Ekweme in jail as dethroned Vice President and Shehu Shagari under house arrest as dethroned president? And yeah, the certificategate which is lingering much longer for an honest man who only has to ask the Cambridge University to declare the said results to the shame of his adversaries...why he hasn't done so beats me.

The Verdict: These men both have ideologies that need to work together if corruption is to be tackled head-on. Changing the way Government runs its transactions and provides services to citizens will help block channels through which people steal but the best deterrent will be punishment for those who eventually succeed and are caught. But if they are to stick to their guns,who will I pick? I will Pick Buhari because GEJ...no matter who may disagree with me...is as uncharismatic and as weak as they come.  He may be reasonably clean himself but he allows his aides and members of his government to do as they wish. To me, the sole reliance on the use of ICT is just another excuse from a President who has constantly failed to'punch to his weight'. With Buhari, I cannot see corruption getting any worse than it is now...but leading a country requires much more than fighting corruption unfortunately.

To Be Continued...

The Oracle has Spoken!!