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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Strauss-Khan, Wigwe et al: The problem with the Penis.

Friday, June 3, 2011.
When it comes to how the BBC covers Nigeria, you are allowed to call the news organization a dick. That is the word the Americans prefer to use for the penis. In this case of the BBC, it refers to someone who is inconsiderate. The British has since lost an empire but the BBC still carries on as the mouthpiece of an empire.
But you also have to give it to the BBC. More than any other news organization in the world, the BBC goes into every corner of the globe to bring you the news.

One of such uniquely BBC stories is a recent tale from Bangladesh.

A 40-year-old Bangladeshi woman named Monju Begum recently severed the penis of her neighbor who allegedly attempted to rape her.

The BBC reported that the married mother of three resorted to that extreme measure while she fought off Mozammel Haq Mazi, a neighbor who had been harassing her for months. Mrs. Begum claimed that Mr. Mazi snuck up to her while she was sleeping. The incident took place in the village of Mirzapur, in Jhalakathi, about 124 miles away from the capital, Dhaka.

The women took the time to wrap the penis up in a piece of polythene and took it to Jhalakathi police station as evidence of rape.

(Pause for a second and appreciate the significance of this. If it were in Nigeria, that woman would have been arrested for tampering with the evidence.)

Meanwhile, doctors at the hospital in Barisal, where Mazi was being treated, said that they would not be able to re-attach the penis of the 40-year-old father of five. “We are treating him so that he can urinate normally without a penis,” a hospital spokesman told the BBC.

Mr. Mazi is not going to be as lucky as John Wayne Bobbitt who got his penis re-attached in America.

(Pause again but do not try to visualize any thing. For one, he will not try it again. In fact, he will not bring it out again. But if you must visualize anything, begin by thinking what the penis did when it saw the knife? And going forward, what penises will now do when a woman picks up a knife beside them.)

As it is with stories like this, the woman is not going to have the last word. From his hospital bed, Mr. Mazi told the BBC that Mrs. Begum was making up stories. He alleged that he had a 15-year-old affair with Mrs. Begum. He claimed that he was a victim because he lost a penis, a lover and now risks arrest.

In his version of what happened, he said that Begum became mad when he refused to elope with her to Dhaka. “I refused,” Mr. Mazi told the BBC. “I told her I cannot leave my wife and children, so she took revenge on me.”

Surely, Begum and Mazi will need Judge Judy to settle this one. Whatever be the outcome of the case, Monju Begum has answered an important poser that threatened women have faced for ages. “Disarm all rapists,” has been the cry. Begum’s answer to that was: “It’s not their arm that I’m worried about.”

The story of Mr. Mazi and Monju Begum reminds me of the story of Ambassador Wigwe and his wife. The same kind of tale will play out when the former chief of the IMF, Mr. Dominique Strauss-Khan’s case begins in New York.

As the news of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child with his housekeeper broke out, a woman said to me that the solution to men’s infidelity was to cut off their penises.

I bet you that when we finish perambulating, we will come to that conclusion we all dread: there is a serious problem with the penis -that thing, without a bone, that rises by itself -sometimes, without prompt.

Since the beginning of time, women have been working on the domestication of men. By that, I simply mean civilizing the penis. Or should I say, teaching it proper etiquettes. But it is difficult. One of the reasons why it is tough is that the penis has only one eye. It cannot look up unless someone holds it. Most of the role plays being taught at Penis Domestication workshops escape it.

In the last century, a full scale feminization of men has been going on. But I’m sorry to report that it has not worked. The feminization of men led to the mass production of gay men. Women love gay men, but gay men have not been able to fulfill the role of men in women’s life.

So the experimentation continues.

As women often say, men are still thinking with their penis. And if you are familiar with the penis, you will notice that it has no brain. When you pour cold water on it, it shrinks. What kind of serious equipment reacts that way? When you pour hot water on it, Dick Cheney said, it makes the man reveal a secret. If you punish the penis too much, it throws up. And the moment it throws up, it recoils. A recoiled penis learns nothing.

So what do you expect from the penis?

Maybe we should abandon the fantasy of educating the penis altogether. Let it live in its natural bushy state. The idea that a man can control himself when the penis is in the driving seat has consumed the world for the last 100 years. During this period we have left undone important things we ought to have done.

I’m for cutting off men’s penises.

I believe most men will gladly accept that. If, an only if, such a drastic move will stop the vagina monologue.

Please correct me if I’m right.

Sex and Nigerian Politics.

Friday, June 3, 2011.
The reason Dominique Strauss-Kahn isn’t the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund today, and is highly unlikely to feature in France’s forthcoming presidential elections, is that he’s accused of sexually assaulting a Guinea-born maid at Sofitel, an expensive hotel in New York City.
Apprised of the attack, US law enforcement officers entered a Paris-bound flight, arrested and then booked Mr. Strauss-Kahn. The French presidential prospect has proclaimed his innocence since his arrest, and his lawyers have stated that whatever transpired between him and the Guinean woman was consensual.
Despite these protestations and assertions, the Frenchman handed in his resignation from his IMF post on May 18, a few days after his arrest. He spent a few days in New York’s toughest prison before a judge set very stiff bail conditions. His riches and fame notwithstanding, he has been cast by many legal experts as the underdog in the soon-to-commence trial.
Whether Mr. Strauss-Kahn committed the sex crimes alleged against him, or is the victim of some sinister conspiracy that’s part of the intrigue of French presidential politics – which is what much of the French public believes – isn’t my concern here. On that score, I’m willing to say, let’s wait and see how the trial turns out.
My immediate interest, and the focus of this piece, is the likely outcome of a similar case if a poor hotel maid had accused a famous, wealthy or powerful Nigerian man of groping or raping her. Imagine, for a second, a hotel cleaner going to a Nigerian police station to report that some male member of the federal cabinet had forced her into sex. 
In that event, it’s safe to bet that the man would never have been arrested by the Nigerian police. No Nigerian police officer would have the temerity to step into the first class section of a flight and escort the accused minister out of the plane. First of all, who born dat woman? Second, de policeman dey craze?
Here are the likely scenarios. The assaulted woman’s friends would tell her that the minister’s sexual predation means that God has buttered her bread. A whole minister come like you? Ah, you can get many blessings from him oh! They would tell her to milk the man for as much cash as he’s willing to drop for her. The friends would advise the woman to ask the man if he would help get her – or some other relative – a job in his ministry. Or some contract.
If the woman confided in her relatives, and expressed her intention to report the assault to the police, they would want to know who cursed her with madness. Don’t you know that no man would ever marry you if your shame is revealed? Some relatives would ask her to leave everything to God. The more opportunistic would suggest that she go back to the man, willingly offer him more of what he took by force, and then beg the man to bless her with a contract or two.
Let’s say the woman is crazy enough to take her woe to the police. That would be, quite simply, the gravest mistake of her life. She would be taunted and teased, and then locked up for daring to accuse “a whole minister” of forcing himself on “a nonentity like you.” Her allegation would be deemed proof of sexual fantasy on her part. The police would surmise that she wants something, and she is desperate for it! Chances are that, in detention, she would be turned into a sex slave by an endless relay of male officers.   
If the woman, crazier yet, caused the story of her rape to be published in a newspaper (even though few, if any, Nigerian news editor would pay mind to her grief), the accused minister would wax with righteous indignation, proclaim himself blissfully married and faithful to his wife, accuse some nameless political foes of sponsoring the report “calculated to impugn my good name and reputation.” He’d then marshal the machinery of state power to arrest his female accuser.
Once in detention, the woman would be forced to recant and – to compound her self-debasement – confess that, indeed, she had been put up to it by some of the minister’s enemies. In the meantime, her relatives would buy space in newspapers to apologize to the affronted minister on her behalf. The traditional rulers from the woman’s local government area would drop everything and troop to pay courtesy visits to the minister. These “royal fathers” would plead with the accused to remember that the accuser is like his own daughter, that she’s too young to realize the implications of her fabrications.
At any rate, the last thing that would happen would be that the woman’s narrative of sexual assault is taken seriously, or that the accused minister is ever questioned in any meaningful way. As for prosecuting the alleged perpetrator of a sexual crime – forget about it!
For me, Strauss-Kahn’s experience illuminates the way in which women remain both oppressed and silenced in Nigeria and many other African countries. Yes, the degradation of women still occurs in many countries in the world, including European, Asian and North American ones. This is the kind of shibboleth some Nigerian apologists love. Talk about corruption in Nigeria, and they quickly remind you that there’s also corruption in the US and elsewhere. They never pause to reflect on an important difference, namely, that corrupt elements are caught, tried and jailed in many parts of the world. In Nigeria, by contrast, the most corrupt citizens receive de facto immunity from prosecution. Better than that, they enjoy first dipping rights to national honors and other forms of social recognition.
The same is true when it comes to crimes of sexual predation. That Mr. Strauss-Kahn is a millionaire, popular presidential candidate, author, and IMF boss did not impress the police officers who extricated him from a flight. Would Nigerian law enforcement have led the man out of a plane to answer to charges of raping a Nigerian maid at a Nigerian hotel? Perish the thought!
-Okey Ndibe (okeyndibe@gmail.com)

Forensic Test Will Expose The Fraud of 2011 Polls - Prof. Itse Sagay.

Friday, June 3, 2011.
Professor Itse Sagay
Interview by Abdulfatah Olajide, Kayode Ekundayo & Yunus Abdulhamid, Lagos
These were the welcoming remarks by Professor Itse Sagay when Sunday Trust visited his office in Lagos for this interview: “I have every reason to be worried. Since I made a remark criticizing the last elections especially in the South East and South-south as not being credible, I have not rested.
 I have received calls from people in power asking why I made such remarks. Nigeria is not the safest country in the world and that was why when I saw your huge group, I began to be worried if you are truly a media team.” In this explosive interview, the Delta state born legal luminary who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), though expressed fears for his life but stuck to his guns that elections in the two regions were essentially rigged by what he described as ‘unintelligent riggers’  and ‘barbarians’ who were bent on pleasing President Jonathan with block votes.
 The votes should have been cancelled, he insisted. He spoke on the post-election violence in some northern states, the investigative panel set up by the federal government, the contentious zoning and other issues. Excerpts:
We are taking you up on the same issues you spoke about a few days ago; I mean your criticism of the last elections. Nigerians require more clarifications.
 I am limiting my criticism to the South-East and the South-South basically. The elections in the South-West were almost perfect. In fact, the standard of election in the Yoruba states is equivalent to what you can find in Europe. I voted throughout and I know what I saw. People were so relaxed and we waited for the votes to be counted. Some residents in my area brought large coolers containing drinks for people to drink. Some brought chairs for people to sit on after the accreditation before voting commenced.
Some even brought umbrellas and as they shared the drinks, friendly discussions and laughter filled the air. When it gets to your turn to vote, you simply moved to the polling officer for a ballot paper before you cast your vote. It was like ‘first 20 accredited come over to vote, after then, 21 to 40, etc until the votes were finally counted. It couldn’t be more civilized, more relaxed. But I am sorry, I come from the South-South and so, whatever I say about them, I say about myself. I am not saying it about the ordinary man but the politicians. The desperate politicians of the South-South and the South East are barbarians. And I repeat it; they are barbarians because they did not allow elections to take place smoothly and freely. It is in these two zones, there are exceptions, I must say but basically, it is in those two zones, you see ballot snatching, violence, (party) agents being scaved away and there were fantastic results. It’s a pity I don’t have my data here, but I took the South-South and the South-East and that of the North West, the Middle Belt, that is North Central, was neither here nor there; not good or bad. But the very bad is the South-South and the South-East.
If there had not been violence in the north after the election, it would have been an excellent election but they destroyed all that with the post-election violence. You will notice this pattern in the result: in the South-South and the South-East, where a PDP man is declared the winner, the score hits the sky, the next person will get 5,000 votes. Somebody gets 190,000 in a hotly contested election and the next person to him gets 3,000 to 4,000. That is not natural. It means those figures were allocated and not natural. If you go to the West, like Ogun State. Look at the senatorial contest between Iyabo-Obasanjo and the man who won. The man who won got about 100,000; Iyabo had over 50,000. That makes sense and you know that there was a contest. The other one was even closer; it was like 69,000 to 50,000. You find this replicated in the South-West and the North. At the presidential contest where Buhari won in the North, you find Jonathan fairly close. A range of 1.2 million to 1 million; 900,000 to 300,000. You could see a genuine contest. Go to the South-East like Imo and Abia States, where Jonathan was scoring 1.3 million; the next person was scoring 5,000 to 6,000. That doesn’t make sense. Not only that, when it came to the governorship elections, the governors could not replicate the same figures they produced in the presidential contest. I give you an example. Let us take Imo state now, where Jonathan got over one million votes during the presidential polls. The man who won the governorship election got over 300,000 votes. What happened to the rest of the votes? The same thing in Enugu State. Governor Chime got about 400,000, but during the presidential election, Jonathan got about 800,000.
But it was blamed on voters’ apathy during the governorship polls?
To such an extent, are we going to say that voters are keener on the president who is 700 kilometers away than a governor who decides their fate a few meters away? It is a very serious question. For me, as a citizen, the most important election is the governorship election. I have very little with the president. He is commanding the army, running the railways, in charge of currency, telecommunications, and so on. But the governor is the man who controls the schools my children go to, the hospitals, my general welfare, the roads, he allocates land that I build on; that is the man whose actions directly impact on me. The presidential one is relatively unimportant for the citizen. For the country, very important but for the citizen, it is not so important. If you go to the North, the governorship elections tallies well with that of the president. Let us look at the figures the person who won the governorship (seat) in Kano had. When the governorship election was conducted, Kwankwaso had votes in the region of 1 million. You could see correlation between that and what Buhari scored in Kano – about one million votes. It was the same with Katsina. Come to Lagos, Fashola got 1.5 million and Jonathan got 1.2 million. This are correlations.
There are complaints that elections were rigged for Jonathan in the North.
Yes, but they need to prove that. But that will not detract from the general hypothesis, if I may put it that way. That there is some credibility in the figures from the North. That is what I am saying. The type of rigging in the South-South and South-East was unintelligent rigging. It is a sign of insecurity to go overboard and at the end of the day, you expose yourself. I am very upset because I come from that part of the country.  It is time we really got out of the jungle and join the rest of the civilized world as far as elections are concerned. That is what is driving me in making my statements.
Most election observers both local and international have described the elections as free and fair. In fact, the 2011 elections have been described as the best in the history of Nigeria. What do you say about that?
I know more than all the observers put together from wherever. I have been involved in elections in Nigeria since 1964. When I say involved, I mean involved. I actually campaigned as a student. I was on the field and I have followed elections since then. The best I can say of the 2011 election is that it is better than the 2007 elections. I can’t say more than that. Definitely, the 1999 election, that is the General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s election was even better. Check your data, please - in terms of rejection (of votes) and elections petition. Those elections were accepted. It was only at the presidential level that there was a problem. The 1979 elections were much better than the 2011 elections. Go to the records and check. It was only the two-third of 13 states that was the only argument in that election. Otherwise, it was a perfect election.  But this one, you will see the avalanche of petitions.

What about June 12, 1993?
Ah, June 12 was beautiful. It is the best of all. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and Nigerians participated and conducted the best election. Those two elections, you can set them aside. The 2011 election is not near them. This is what I want everybody, including Jega to accept. Once they accept it, they can now begin to say ‘let us prepare for 2015 and try to eliminate all these (short comings).’ Look at what happened in Imo state. They had to bring how many army divisions from local governments in Imo state to be able to get the results for Imo State. Police, army, customs. I saw every type of uniform from every part of the country for just four local governments. Are we at war? Why are Nigerians not concerned? Everybody say ‘oh, wonderful election.’ That is not good for posterity. It is not fair. If you are not honest enough to point out what is wrong, then we will always continue on the wrong path. Why did he need an army to conduct elections in four local governments? It shows you something is deeply wrong in those two areas.

Do you have data to authenticate some of the things you are saying?
First, take the National Assembly elections. I want to concentrate on the South-South and the South-East. I want you to get the results of the PDP candidates who won senatorial seats from the South-East and South-South, put down their figures. Then, those who came next to them, put down their figures. Then come to the West and the North. Take the results of the ACN senators who won and that of the PDP who followed them. Do same for the north and see the contrast. You will see that in the South-South and South-East, the winners hit the roof; the next person is not in sight.

Is that why you said Professor Jega should have cancelled the elections in the South East and South-South?
That was why I said he is naïve. Naïve, because if I were in his shoes, alarm bells will ring in my head and I will say ‘hold on. This result, though I have no proof of fraud but they look odd to me. I need to examine them further to satisfy myself that they are accurate and honest result.’ That is where the naivete comes in. He just accepted them. I will not accept when I see odd things like that. And I have just told you too if you look at the presidential.
You said your remarks at the University of Lagos criticizing the 2011 elections as not free and fair have elicited unkind responses ever since by powerful people. Don’t you fear for your life?
Definitely, I am. I know I have to be more careful now because Nigerians do not like the truth. That is why the country doesn’t make any progress. Nigerians don’t like the truth. We have to get out of this electoral fraud wilderness, otherwise we will never get anywhere in the world. All the international observers will come and pat us on the back and deceive us; getting home they will be smiling and laughing and saying, ‘look at these foolish people, they can’t conduct elections. We just wanted to make them happy because we like their oil.’ Are these same people not confirming Museveni (of Uganda) who has been rigging election after election and imposing himself on Ugandans? The same West is approving him. So, what are we talking about?
What aspect of the law can those going to the tribunal exploit to argue their case?
What they will do, I don’t need to advise them. There are sharp election tribunal lawyers. And I know what they are going to do. They are going to go for forensic tests. This time, the world is forensic. Just watch out, this is my prophesy; that a lot of forensic experts will be brought into this country and there will be tests on ballot papers and we will see that a lot of multiple voting took place.

If the CPC or ACN were to ask you to handle their case, would you accept?
No, no! I will not handle a case for any party.
Why?
The reason is because I am not too sure of the motives of the CPC. When Buhari lost, he might have lost unfairly, I don’t know, but that is not an excuse for the massive violence that took place in the North. And I have not been impressed by the reaction of the CPC to that violence. I am not impressed at all. It is something they should have condemned unconditionally, and called for the arrest and prosecution of those involved. Rather, they are questioning the constitutionality of the President to set up a probe panel to find out about the facts of this violence. If you have nothing to hide, why do you raise constitutional issues when we are all interested in fishing out the culprits? I am not too comfortable with the CPC. As for the PDP, it is a party I have never liked. It is the PDP culture of greed and avarice, the culture of being predators who feed on Nigeria’s resources that has brought this country back in the last 12 years. So, none of them appeal to me.

What about the ACN?
The ACN appears to have a right orientation towards good governance because they provide service and you can see it on the ground. You can see what Fashola is doing in Lagos. You can see what Oshiomole is doing in Benin. You can see the way Fayemi has gingered development in Ekiti and the place is moving. You can see Osun is overnight attracting people from abroad. I must say there are one or two non-ACN states that have the same enlightened governance. Rivers State under Rotimi Amaechi is one of them. In fact, I would have even thought Amaechi should join the ACN because he is service and development-oriented. Basically, the ACN has the service orientation needed by a nation that wants to get out of the quagmire of underdevelopment and join the states that are enlightened, civilized and developed.
So, you can take their brief?
I don’t think ACN has any problem; definitely if I have ACN’s brief, I will take because I believe in their cause.

Some argument in favour of Jonathan is that even if a free and fair election were held, where there was no ballot box stuffing, as alleged, he still would have won. What is your take?
I agree entirely with that. I think Jonathan would have won. In fact, I am angry with those who have created this problem of unnecessary high votes because it dents the credibility of what the man has achieved. If you look at Jonathan, he had the support of the South- South, South-East, South-West and the North-Central. That was enough for him to have won and I believe he won. But those who thought they could catch his eyes and say ‘President, see how I am packing votes for you’ have now dented the beauty of his victory. I have no doubt we are going to see a lot of wrong votes among those millions that they were counting. He would have won on his steam. And to be fair to him, he had said nobody should rig for him.
Do you think cancellation of votes in the South-South would have led to crisis?
I tell you what I would have done if I were in Jega’s shoes: Any votes that are suspicions, I will not accept. I will do a re-run election in those areas. I would have cancelled them. I know there was some tension in Imo, eventually it was done and everyone is satisfied now. That should have been done in many of the South-South and South-East states.

Does the federal government actually have the constitutional right to constitute an investigative panel into a violence that occurred in states outside the Federal Capital Territory?
There is a judgment of the Supreme Court in which it was held that the Federal Government had no power to institute tribunals in the states. It is not in any list and any matter not in any of the three lists is a state matter. Therefore, the Federal Government’s power to institute tribunals is limited to Abuja. But the way I see the present inquiry is a little bit wider than critics are looking at. Number one, I do not consider it as investigation into a specific state. I consider it as investigations into the violence that Nigerians experienced in various states.  If you want to apply that Supreme Court ruling in absolute terms, you will then require the governors of Bauchi, Nasarawa, Kaduna states and all other individual states to be setting up inquiries. For me, that defeats the whole spirit of the law. As far as the President is not saying I’m setting up inquiries into the violence in Bauchi state, but he is saying it is an inquiry into the violence in various states. That, in my view, comes within the scope of the powers of the Federal Government.
On a moral side, I think it is essential that an inquiry should be conducted into what happened so that this will be the last. We have been having this since 1953. I am a very keen student of Nigeria’s history. When the late Pa Anthony Enahoro moved the motion for independence at Onikan, Lagos, at the House of Representatives, that motion was countered by the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, when he said independence should come as soon as  convenient, rather than 1956 as specifically requested by Enahoro. Lagosians were very angry. When the northern representatives were coming out (of the chambers), they hooted and booed them, calling them all sorts of names. They (members) were angry and when they got home, they related their experience to their people (in the north). So, when next Southerners went to the North to campaign, there was riot in the north. People were killed. That was how riots in the north started and since then, we have had riots in the north almost on a yearly basis. And, of course, we know what happened in 1966 and 1967, and we know what has been happening in Jos. With all that in our mind, I don’t think it is right for any Nigerian to oppose any attempt to identify people behind this in order to find a way of eliminating it and putting an ugly past behind us.

There is this argument that the violence in the north was a popular revolt by the masses who had no confidence in the judiciary?
I don’t agree with that. I think they had made up their mind that this time, it has to be Buhari. They sort of put all their hopes in one person. First, that it has to be a northerner and that northerner has to be Buhari. That did not happen and the disappointment that arose totally took over their reasoning and led to this terrible carnage. What I don’t know is whether it was instigated, whether there are people behind it or it was spontaneous. That I cannot say.

What is your take on zoning of political offices, given that President Jonathan is from the South-South is obviously taking a shot on what was supposed to be the turn of the north?
I am not very keen on zoning, but at the same time, I don’t condemn it because it has a purpose. It allows some positions to go round. Although, there should be a caveat that there should be some merit, some capacity on the part of the person who is nominated.  Specifically on Jonathan taking over, the crisis that arose out of that was a big surprise to me and an eye-opener about the state of affairs in this country. Jonathan was the Vice President to Yar’adua and he served him faithfully. Rather unfortunately or tragically, President Yar’adua died. For me, in any rational society, it will be automatic for the vice President to step into his shoes. The constitution makes it clear. At that stage, you waive zoning aside. This was not on the mind of people when they were distributing the zoning. Nobody made provision for this. How can you tell a sitting president who has not had his own term and was just completing another person’s term to step aside? It doesn’t show regards for the person. It doesn’t show a sense of humanity. It dehumanizes the person.
I felt the demand of Malam Adamu Ciroma and his group was extremely unreasonable, unfair and showed lack of respect for people from other parts of the country. I support Jonathan contesting. He deserved to contest. In a civilized society, his party gives him automatic ticket to contest because he was the Vice President and Acting President before becoming the President. On what basis would you tell such a person to step aside?

Do you expect Jonathan to do just one term or you think he could still contest in 2015?
He has said he will spend only one term. We take him by his word. Honestly, nobody can tie him down because we are all servants and slaves to circumstances and histories. We don’t know what is going to happen in the next four years. Situations can change in such a way that it could become necessary for him to continue or it could be that nothing changes and he has to go away. And we are still going to have crisis because the South-East is not going to lie down and allow it to go to the North. There is still going to be clashes.
Obviously, the South-East did not support the North when it insisted that the PDP zoning agreement be honoured. Do you think the South-East will have anything to stand upon to ask that it should be given its turn?
But they are already saying it, if you are reading the press. Their argument is that they are about the only ones who have not produced a president apart from Aguiyi-Ironsi who was head of state for six months; no South Easterner has been Head of State. That is their argument. It makes sense; this issues of monopoly and domination when the North controlled everything, for almost 50 years. Now, we have to develop to a certain stage where it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t know whether we are there yet, but that is where we have to develop to. In a more developed clime, nobody really cares where you are from. It is the turn of this zone doesn’t arise. In England, if it is a Scot who is the party’s leader, or a Welsh or English, everybody accepts him.
Remember in America when Clinton (from Arkansas) was the president, his vice president -Al-Gore - came from Tennessee, both Southerners.  I am hoping that we will develop to that stage when we will be looking at the candidates and be asking ourselves, ‘who is going to serve the Nigerian interest best?” Not where he comes from. My experience of this where the person comes from is that the people from that region don’t usually benefit anything. They (people) get very angry when the person leaves office, saying; ‘what did you of for us?’

By your assessment, do you think the National Assembly has been doing its job of oversight functions well over the federal government?
I think they have done reasonably well in that regard, but my quarrel with them is whether they were doing it in good faith. The impression I have of the National Assembly is that their oversight responsibility was being used as some clubs over the heads of ministries to get individual advantages rather than as a service to the public. Altogether, the last National Assembly was a very bad one. It was a National Assembly that went there to plunder the resources of this country. That was what they were interested in. The oversight functions were just being used as an excuse to make more money for themselves.
You tell a ministry we want to go on a retreat to review what you have done. Provide a N100 million. They embarrassed a lot of Nigerian representatives abroad. You will see 20 members of a committee traveling by First Class and packing themselves into one institution abroad where there is a Nigerian and saying they have come to exercise their oversight responsibility. Just absolutely squandering Nigeria’s money and achieving nothing. We had a very bad National Assembly that wasted our money. I am glad two-third of them are gone.

Nigeria: How Far...Rev.Father Mathew Hassan Kukah

Saturday, June 4, 2011.
By Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah.
The key to good decision-making is not knowledge. It is understanding….…Malcolm Gladwell

In my essay marking Nigeria’s 50th anniversary last year, I tried to make some projections as to what Nigeria might look like in the next 50 years. I played around with the theme of what I called, Nigeria’s coming power elite, that is, the millions of our children who are in the Diaspora. I was rather enthused by the reactions I got from that piece. Only last week, I had the honour of speaking at the Nigerian Governors Forum in Abuja. In that short presentation, my concern was with posing the question: How did we get here? For a good part of that day, I received several text messages from people. What I sense is that by some inadvertent collusion, we have ended up with no intellectual content to our politics.

When I posed a similar question at one of our monthly Roundtables which I organize in Kaduna, my good friend, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed asked what I thought then was a strange question. Its import only hit me later on. He had asked me rather poignantly, Father, where is here? It is doubtful that Dr Ahmed understood how deep that question was. For, it forced me to think about my own assumptions. Yes, indeed, where is here, or to put it differently, what is here? In other words, like travelers lost, or tired from travel, or at sea, where indeed, is here?  The question as to where is here, can be answered by the sheer ubiquity of our chaos, failure and decay.

My interest in this essay is to highlight some of the issues that I raised very briefly in my presentation at the Governors’ Forum. I believe that we are at a momentous period now in our national history. I believe that more than ever before, we now require a robust intellectual input to steer our democracy on a path that can best reposition Nigeria to face the future with hope and confidence. To do this, I will address ten key issues.

First, Nigeria has to come to terms with why our journey has been so very slow. The corrosive impact of military rule, with its tradition of unaccountability and the corrupt influence of money have left a legacy that the political class has continued to exploit, seeing power as merely an opportunity for theft and self enrichment. Someone wrote of the Congo that given the predatory foundation laid by King Leopold and his Belgian exploiters, it was natural that the only one who qualified to succeed him had to be a Mobutu. Mobutu’s historic despoliation and ruination was a natural progression of the dungeon that Belgian colonialism left behind.

In the absence of a clear cut negotiated settlement to end its rule such as in South Africa, or outright defeat of an older order, such as in Afghanistan, Nigeria’s so called transition to democracy in 1999 was at most a muted fraudulent strategic repositioning by a ruling class that had run out of moral options. The late General Abacha’s denouement had turned out to be an exposition of the last dregs of a stale wine of military rule which had been exposed to hostile elements of corruption. Leaving no tradition of accountability or a blue print for organizing for the Common Good, Nigerian politicians have simply come to see their role as merely the continuation of the same exploitation of their people in a semi legal environment protected by the architecture of a weak state. Beyond planning for its own survival, the Nigerian political class has simply no serious blueprint for a national project. The late Professor Claude Ake in a 1996 essay titled,
Is Africa Democratising, drew attention to this sharp distinction when he argued that: Military rule is not so much the aberration we often call it as the negation of what is uniquely human in the way we relate. The military can never engender Democracy because it is the antithesis of democracy as regards norms, values, purposes and structure. The military addresses the extreme and the extraordinary, while Democracy addresses the routine, the Military values discipline and hierarchy, Democracy values freedom and equality, the method of the Military is violent aggression that of Democracy, persuasion, negotiation and consensus building. After many years of discrediting politics, aggressing and humiliating politicians, virtually everyone is discouraged from politics except those with a neurotic attachment to power, no other means of livelihood or self esteem

The principal challenge that the nation faces therefore is how to open up the political space to allow the energy of ordinary Nigerians to become the creative force for growth and genuine development. Politics and political processes were slowed down because the transition to democracy in Nigeria was already concluded before it started. Whereas the Afrikaners had decided that they would give power to Mr. Nelson Mandela, the black  South Africans were lucky that they had a disciplined organization, the African National Congress, founded way back in 1917. The ANC had institutionalized ideology and discipline which to which the great Nelson Mandela had to submit to in totality. In our case here in Nigeria, although a cabal made up of retired and serving military officers, retired technocrats and politicians of northern extraction had struck a deal to give power to General Obasanjo while he was still in prison, there was no party platform on which he would
land. Factions, fractions and cliques of different and divergent ideological leanings or none at all, responded to this emergency return to civilian rule.

What emerged as the Peoples’ Democratic Party was at best a menu hurriedly designed well after the meal had been served! A motley crowd of men and women brought together with the mission to perpetuate the ravaging and exploitation of the resources of state, saw President Obasanjo’s earlier commitment to transformation suffer severe strain as the old order sought to claim back what it had not really surrendered. The contortions and distortions of 2003 elections bear no repetition but they showed the strain. Bloodied from that fight, President Obasanjo soon began a process that would reverse some of the gains he had already made. He decided to shed his moral claims, took off the gloves and bang, the rofo rofo fight started. The third term agenda sowed the seeds of the national humiliation that was the 2007 elections.  These failures were not evidence of a diseased political elite. They were merely symptoms of a cancer that had not been properly
diagnosed not to talk of recommending a regime of chemotherapy. 

Second, what we have as here, is really the evidence of our failure to have a real transition to democracy. We had missed the basic theoretical philosophy of transitions and forgotten that not all transitions from authoritarianism lead necessarily to transitions to democracy unless the old order has suffered defeat or surrendered to a superior moral high ground gained through negotiation as in South Africa. The squalor, the impact of the pervasive and invidious culture of corruption, the collapse and rut of all physical and social infrastructure, the culture of violence are all before us of evidence that the old order was still stalking us.

In a way, we have all become victims of a weak, gasping and collapsing state, preying on its citizens. In a rather strange kind of way, governance has been about the dog returning to its vomit. Fancy the contradiction expressed in the fact that the failure of policy has become the cure. Let me explain. Does it make sense that all those areas where we have the greatest failures are the areas into which huge resources are being sunk?  Think of the billions of dollars sunk into generating power which we cannot see. Yet, rather than face this failure, we are told constantly that billions are going to be sunk on railways, power and so on.  The lack of roads has become the justification for the perpetuation of the myth that road construction is the excuse for sinking billions of dollars into nonexistent roads. Ditto Education, Health and range illusory options created to justify the persistence of theft as an article of faith. National extortion has become a
tool of governance. The politicians along with their Ministers constantly dip their fingers into the coffers while recycling the proceeds of theft into their pockets and fuelling the Party machinery. It is the cumulative impact of this frustration that found expression in the violence that followed the elections. This is why holding public office is the prelude to political ambitions (Councilor wants to become the Chairman, Chairman of the Council wants to become the Governor, the Governor wants to become the next President and the President decides he does not want to go!) Why should public office not be the prelude to stealing of state resources?

Third, is it likely that we have reached a defining moment, one of the quality of which Malcolm Gladwell, the writer and New Yorker columnist calls, the Tipping point? In the little book by the same title, he says: The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.

Clearly, we can attempt this luxury against the backdrop of two rather superficially plausible propositions. First, we might convince ourselves that we have put military rule behind us. This illusion can be sustained against the backdrop of other realities. One was the decisive and incisive decision in 1999 by Generals Obasanjo and Danjuma to cut off  from the ranks of the military, an elite segment whose appetite for power had been wetted by public office. That singular decision many would argue, has severely constrained the military’s ability to threaten the polity.

Evidence of the fact that we have crossed the Rubicon might be gleaned from the fact that since in many respects, the military has historically been the fighting wing of the northern ruling classes, under normal circumstances, the clouds and fumes around Yar’adua’s health in the last days of his regime would have offered a perfect excuse for a coup. Happily, Nigeria survived.

Again, even the violence that attended the last elections would also have provided a perfect excuse for the military to argue that the civilian government had lost its capacity to contain the violence. But, happily, the circumstances were different. Of course, at a theoretical level, we can argue that the nature of the beneficiaries of a coup or no coup would have also had a say in determining the behaviour of the military and their civilian sponsors, many of who might probably have drowned in the process.
Can we argue that our ability to successfully organize four elections back to back is also indicative of the fact that we have indeed reached a decisive point in which the military now appreciates that its interests are now subordinate to those of the political establishment? If this argument is found to be sufficiently plausible, then it does appear that Nigeria is on the threshold of a new dawn. But, of course, that depends on other factors. The key concern here is the quality of the political actors on the ground and whether indeed, we have a crop of politicians who can turn away from the predatory politics of the last eleven or so years. 

In another biting critique of the Nigerian political ruling class, the late Professor Claude Ake, in a 1993 lecture, summed up the characteristics of the political classes by concluding that: The Nigerian ruling elite survives against all odds. There is no legitimacy to draw on. It has run out of ideas, even bad ones. We are always looking up to someone else, forever searching for good leaders to see us through. The Nigerian state is a negative unity of takers in which collective enterprise is all but impossible. The challenge is for a new crop of  well-informed, modern and patriotic politicians to commence a process of severing this ugly, opportunistic, parasitic virus which encourages a visionless gang who see politics or military rule as business by other names.



Fifth, what are the building blocks that Nigeria needs? The real challenge is how the President and the political class decide on team selection. Here, I do not mean just political office holders and the ruling Party. Clearly, there are two institutions whose roles the President needs to think more clearly. These are traditional rulers and religious bodies. These institutions have become very visible in the political process. As we can see from the persistence of violence, there is need for clarification of the roles that these two key institutions have to play in a democracy. Indeed, the so-called eruption of post elections violence was indicative of the need for a clearer role for the two institutions who should be less visible in a democracy.

There is of course a slight conceptual difficulty. Whereas Muslim traditional rulers collapse the two identities of traditional and religious rulers into one, the same cannot be said of the Christian religious leaders. Within Christianity itself, whereas the Catholic Church maintains a legal and critical distance from partisan party political processes, many Protestant bodies have a slightly different disposition. Some within the ranks of the Pentecostals, especially the one-man Churches, believe that the altar can be transformed or co-opted into a partisan political soapbox. The result is the increasing high profile roles that we have seen recently shown either in direct participation by some Pastors or the enthusiastic and direct embrace of Caesar by which some pastors want to become official Chaplains while their Churches become the Political Party at prayer!
The need to extricate these threads of confusion is important. We saw very clearly in the last elections some worrying trends which, if not properly handled could pose problems for both the government and the religious bodies. Seduced by material benefits, many religious leaders seem ready to play roles that show outright partisanship. Government patronage has the tendency to create further problems especially given that adherents to different faiths hold different political views or no views at all. To be sure, unlike traditional rulers, religious leaders do not get their staff of office from the state. Therefore, they have every opportunity to play a more critical and prophetic role of speaking truth to power and standing up for the weak in society. It is understandable that in our convoluted environment, this role is complex. However, if traditional and religious leaders must play their roles and protect their people from the excesses and temptations
of political manipulation, they must try hard to steer clear of partisanship. The politicians have everything to gain and nothing to lose but the religious or traditional rulers have almost everything to lose and nothing (except the material) to gain. The reader might wonder, since yours sincerely is often accused of being a politician. Well, I consider myself a public intellectual with a duty to interrogate politics and political behaviour as part of the process of nation building. I am political because I am human, but not a politician because I am a Catholic priest!
Sixth, what are the present obstacles to Nigeria’s democratization agenda? I think the first is the Constitution. Clearly, the Constitution as we have it runs the risk of becoming an incubus to national development and integration. It is unfortunate that too many factors have combined to make its necessary amendments so difficult. First and foremost, the members of the National Assembly have shown such a gargantuan appetite for self-interest that most commentators would argue that their primary entry into those hollowed chambers was to become major partners in accessing the loot. From the first set of legislators in 1999 right through to the last session, corruption more than anything else trailed this otherwise august body. The legislators did not fool anyone when they tried to brag their way through the stunning revelations of their bad ways by Mallam Lamido Sanusi, the Central Bank Governor. Indeed, no less a newspaper than Business Day reported
last week that on balance, it has cost the Nigerian people over one billion naira to get a single bill passed in the National Assembly.
Perhaps our real problem is the quality and caliber of men and women who found their way into that Chamber. Or, it might also have to do with the fact that the Party to which they belonged and which was the Party in power had become notoriously blind to charges of corruption in the polity. In responding to the charges contained in the report of the Presidential Advisory Council over the issues of the size of the Cabinet, the President was reported as claiming that his hands were tied by the Constitution. The point here is that the Constitution requires some really surgical operation in areas that can free it to serve our country effectively.  It is hoped that the next Assembly will have the courage to place national interests above those of the members of the Chambers.

Seventh and as a corollary, key issues like the question of Land ownership and citizenship rights require immediate attention. Clearly, the Governors seem to have continued with the bad ways they inherited from the military since the promulgation of the Land Use Decree in 1976. The allocation of choice lands to cronies, friends and associates continues to remain a major ingredient of political patronage. In the peripheries of urban cities, Local Chiefs have climbed into this bandwagon of corruption and, in collusion with government officials, are busy selling lands that do not belong to them. In the process, land speculators and racketeers are constantly swindling innocent citizens. There is need for a radical review and harmonization of Land laws across the country if we are to avoid the dangers of most of our cities becoming glorified ghettos in the future. Again, the crisis over land is closely related to citizenship rights and the rights of Nigerians
to move around in their own country. The problems of the Plateau should have offered us a good opportunity to address these issues, but clearly, the politicians are prepared to continue to play with human lives. These two issues should occupy the attention of both the national and state the Legislatures. But, sadly, since the politicians are the major beneficiaries, it is difficult to see who enough enthusiasm can be injected into this issue. Another area of concern is the overwhelming dependence on the sharing of loot from Abuja especially given that there are no mechanisms for control or transparency in how these resources are used. To facilitate their control, some Governors simply hand pick Speakers and Local Government Chairmen who simply continue to grovel for morsels. The result is a lack of debate or application of resources to the needs of ordinary citizens since the Chairmen are replicating the same tyrannical tendencies.

Eight, there is the issue of national security. Since violence and the insecurity it induced was often the greatest threat to the state, it is not unexpected that political violence became the major excuse for soldiers, the manufacturers and exporters of violence to step in and take over its deployment when it discovered civilians were toying with it. Under the military, security of the Head of State and his government was the major preoccupation and indeed the basis for legitimation. This is why, those within the military who were suspected of threatening the government were often lined up and violently shot as coup plotters. Gradually, the cost of protecting the Head of state became a license for unlimited access to resources.  This is what led to the emergence of various security outfits and Operations which have now become an industry. The culture of security vote emerged and it is now part of our political culture. Today, in our so called democracy,
no citizens are allowed to question or know how much of their budgets go into this security vote. If this is not licensed stealing, I do not know what it is.

But, perhaps what is even worse is that although the culture of security vote has been democratized across the levels of government, we see that while more and more Nigerians are dying by the day from violence, the state Nigerian state is losing its capacity to ensure security of its citizens. Armed bandits, armed youths, and so on are constantly intimidating the Nigerian security agencies. More Nigerians have died in our democracy than at any period in our history outside the civil war. Tragically, both citizens and government have shown an unbelievable degree of apathy with the loss of lives. The circles continue and the state and federal governments simply set up Committees, an exercise in mutual hypocrisy since both the members of the Committee and the government know that nothing will become of their report. If this were not a matter of life and death, perhaps one might be less angry. But, the fact that Nigeria remains one of the most unsecured
parts of the world while billions or naira and millions of dollars are being stolen in the name of security is totally unacceptable. Governments should feel free to vote money for security, but there is no reason why this should be a secret. 

Ninth, there is the challenge of values in our society. The failure of our electoral processes is a symptom of the moral rut that has taken over our country and the entire fabric of our national life. What can one get now in this country that can be called a right as a citizen? Is it Justice, Jobs, personal safety, access to social services covering health and education among others? The fact is that today, the inability of the state to offer services is tied to the deep corruption that has eaten into the Bureaucracy where, over time, bureaucrats decided to abandon their sacred duty to serve and simply decided that the politicians and the soldiers should not be allowed to chop alone. Of course, it is hard to blame individual citizens in an environment where the failure of government has meant that every citizen now has to bloom where they are planted. Those in power have lost the moral right to impose the will of the state since they are the first fault
lines.

Nigerians complain daily that money is being turned into a god. This may be the case, but we need a context for it. For, really, what else is there to do when you do not have a state that can look after you and your family? This is not an excuse but simply to state that the failure of the state has severe implications for everything in the life of our nation. This is why, restoring a moral balance in our society is a matter of great urgency.

In his seminal essay titled, The Talented Tenth, the great Marcus Garvey presented a masterly argument to the effect that like, Abraham and the debate over the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, only the Talented Tenth could reverse the ugly and sad black condition in the United States of America. Among other things, Dr. Garvey argued:  If we make money the object of man-training, we shall develop money-makers but not necessarily men; if we make technical skill the object of education, we may possess artisans but not, in nature, men. Men we shall have only as we make manhood the object of the work of the schools intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it this is the curriculum of that Higher Education which must underlie true life. On this foundation we may build bread winning, skill of hand and quickness of brain, with never a fear lest the child and man mistake the means of living for the
object of life. Today, genuine religion, teaching values and morals has lost grounds to preachers who have fashioned religion to fit the moulds of blind materialism of the moment.

Tenth and finally, we must return to where we started, namely, what is the future for Nigeria? In his little book, The Education of a British Protected Child, Chinua Achebe restates the Igbo proverb which says: If you do not know where the rain began to beat you, you will not know where you began to dry. How apt.

To be sure, we have and we must make much out of the successful elections especially as  the world has commended. However, it will be deceitful for anyone to claim that these elections did not have problem nor can the result be indicative of the fact that we have seen the end of the bad ways of the political class. Their imprimatur is commendable, but in the final analysis, it is what Nigerians feel and how they perceive changes in their lives that is most important. If for the sake of argument, we accept the congratulations for the conduct of the elections, will the political class rise up to the challenge of rebuilding a severely fractured nation like Nigeria?

Dr Jonathan has great challenges ahead, but they are also opportunities for statesmanship and patriotism. He has to simply have a sense of history and what greed has done to his predecessors. Like the Brazilian monkey, many a statesman has held on to the nut of power until the forces of darkness caught up with him. This was what happened to General Abacha.  Some of his predecessors had a chance to make history but allowed blind ambition, poor reading of the direction of the moral wind vane. The result is a tattered legacy (as in President Obasanjo). For a man who has come from nowhere, President Jonathan must decide whether, as I mentioned in my lecture at the Governors’ Forum, he wants to be an orphan or take his place as a prince.

If he wears the toga of an orphan, then, he can reverse the ruination that has made Nigerians vulnerable orphans and set in motion a machinery for creating an inclusive society based on justice and fairness to all. This will help us make up lost time.  If on the other hand, he prefers to function as a prince, then, the footsteps of those who presided over the political funeral of his predecessor will not be far away. You have a four-year mandate. Live by it in case tomorrow does not come.

The President has a chance, but there are too few good men and women left, men and women with enough courage and moral fibre who are willing to sacrifice everything including their political ambitions to do the right thing for Nigeria. There are men and women within and outside the PDP who have destroyed this country and those who have tried to build this country. The President must rein in some of the bad eggs in his Party.  The mad violence was merely a channel for pent up anger and frustration against a system that has remained blatantly unfair especially to the weakest.

There is no doubt that in its present shape and form, the Nigerian state is an anti thesis to development and progress. Held down by ethnic entrepreneurs, there are no winners, only losers. If the President does not free himself from their clutches, they will sink him. They have manipulated the levers of this corrupt contraption called Nigeria and that is why we have come to grief and are living in the shame that is characterized by darkness, squalor and death in the twenty first century. Whether they come wearing the agbada of regionalism, the cap of ethnicity or the beads of religion, the President must look back and see if he can find anything that these shameless chauvinists have done for anyone outside their immediate family and fixers while posing as praetorian guards. If we can build on these elections, we can inspire confidence in the system among our people.

In doing so, we shall end the tragic culture of voting without choosing. Congratulations, Nigeria.

Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah is Monsignor,Parish Priest, St Andrews and Vicar General of Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna

Goodluck Jonathan: Too Much of A Weak President......

Saturday, June 4, 2011.
By Dr. Wumi Akintide 
 
Many would fault my conclusion in this write-up as jumping the gun because they would argue the President needs more time to prove his mettle. I just don't buy that crap. The man has hitherto been too much of a spare tire, which is what Deputy Governors, and Vice Presidents have been reduced to in Nigeria. Vice Presidents are selected in more stable countries for their readiness to be President in a heartbeat should anything happen to their boss. Not so in Nigeria. Dr. Jonathan had been Deputy Governor in Bayelsa, Vice President for nearly three years and acting President who had spent much of his one year in that office fighting for recognition and legitimacy from a powerful segment of the PDP which strongly believe they own Nigeria in perpetuity and that terribly sick Yar Adua, if he was still alive, was entitled to his two terms of 8 years in office even if he was running the country from the Intensive Care Unit of a Hospital in Aso Rock, or Germany or Saudi Arabia, and even if the country was static or totally crippled for the whole period. That is the Party Nigerians voters have again returned to power in Nigeria for another 4 years. If insanity as defined by the Chinese is doing the same thing time and again but expecting a different result, it can be argued that Nigeria is truly insane.
The same faction of the PDP has argued that the presidency has been zoned to the North for 8 years and that Jonathan had no right under the PDP Constitution which they presumed is superior to the Nigerian Constitution to automatically succeed Yar Adua.. That a powerful and vocal segment of the PDP in the North has tried to find a consensus candidate to quietly dislodge Jonathan in the PDP Primaries was one categorical proof of their arrogance and insanity. Their biggest blunder, however, was picking a damaged good in Atiku Abubakar instead of the evil genius who in spite of his political baggage in some quarters in Nigeria had piled up sufficient IOUs, leverage and loyalty to give Goodluck Jonathan a run for his money in the primaries.
   
The South East, the South/South and the South West and the Middle Belt in particular voted massively or allowed the votes to be massively rigged for Jonathan in the just concluded elections not because Jonathan had a fool-proof credibility or track record but just to send a powerful message to the core North that the presidency does not belong to them in perpetuity. The message to the North would have been more skewed or diffused if IBB was a candidate for another party. Neither Buhari nor Ribadu had the leverage to alter that configuration because they both didn’t match up to IBB pound for pound in terms of their personal appeal and charisma, their track record and followership in Nigeria.
 
I continue to believe that IBB in spite of his personal shortcomings as a man and former President had the best chance to change Nigeria but he blew it all because of the greatest blunder of his political life – his decision to annul the best election ever conducted in Nigeria. If he had not robbed MKO of his mandate he would easily have been begged to return from retirement to come rule Nigeria again like the North did to Obasanjo The A4 system of voting IBB’s Government had engineered was still the reason why the just concluded elections are still being toasted in many credible quarters as the least controversial and arguably the best despite some of its glaring limitations and manipulations of voting results in the South/South in particular as brilliantly and courageously revealed by Professor Itse Sagay in his overall assessment of those elections. It was true that Attahiru Jega played a part, but he would never had succeeded like he did without relying on the A4 system as his baseline.

If IBB had run, he could have pointed to a few good things he had done that could have been cited as signature achievements for Nigeria had they been improved upon or more wisely executed or implemented. I can tell you that the controversial Structural Adjustment (SAP) was one of them even though many Nigerians may disagree with that. I submit that it was the implementation that was so badly handled by some elements of the Northern oligarchy and half-baked economists in IBB’s Government who continued to believe and argue that Government should only worry about today, and that God will take care of tomorrow.
There were also few of IBB’s economic advisers from the South East in particular who believed in the Ukpabi Asika’s precept of “Oyun Ube ruru ya ra ra ma” meaning that you have to suck your pear when it is ripe because if you delay just because you want to save the pear for the rainy day, you could well be missing a huge opportunity that may never come your way again.

The SAP as an economic strategy was not as bad as it was bad-mouthed by some Nigerians, but the implementation was deeply and profoundly out of touch with the discipline needed to make it work in a country like Nigeria.  Half the politician who were assigned to implement it did not understand its primary goal. They butchered it in the process. That was why it failed so miserably putting Nigeria in greater jeopardy and stalemate.

I was at the material time the Secretary to the Joint Economic Commission of Nigeria with the rest of the world and I knew, firsthand, what actually transpired. Chief Oluyemi Falae who was one of its architects as the Secretary to Government would confirm this statement if you ask him.

The same IBB had tried to break the logjam of having too many political parties in Nigeria by cutting them down to 2 major parties i.e. the SDP and the NRC. It was a very smart move but IBB rubbished the whole idea when he annulled the election because he did not want to relinquish power. IBB had gathered around himself the best brains he could find in Nigeria and he was willing to pay them and pick their brains to good effect. He brought back Oluyemi Falae from the Merchant Bank to become Secretary to Government and he continued to pay him his salary and allowances at the Bank. He got Professor Omo Omoruyi and some distinguished intellectuals working for him as a think tank at the Institute for Strategic Studies. Those individuals were actually bent on taking Nigeria to a new level of stability and economic buoyancy, if they had been allowed to do their work.
Yes, IBB may have been the chief architect of Corruption in Nigeria but he believed in “live and let live” and his human relation was first class. I can tell you he, IBB would have performed better than Buhari in the elections, and he would have divided up the votes for Jonathan in the South if he had run. In a way you can give the credit for running IBB out of town to Olusegun Obasanjo the only man IBB feared in the Military for some reason I cannot get into in this write-up. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who believed in compromise as much as the late Zik of Africa would not have coasted to victory the way he did in the last election, if IBB had run. There could possibly have been a run off which could have made the whole outcome a pyrrhic victory for Jonathan even if he wins like he finally did.

My position is not new because I am one of the early critics of Jonathan as weak candidates who cannot change the PDP talk less of changing Nigeria. I still hold that belief to be self-evident because morning shows the day as boyhood shows manhood. I have nothing personal against Jonathan. I just think it is awfully hard for a leopard to change its color. He is a finished product of the PDP in many ways. I just went thru Jonathan inaugural speech where he completely missed the road by defining the problem of Corruption in Nigeria as being a systemic one. I say “foul over the bar”, Mr. President. If that is your mind set coming in as a newly minted President, I say you are on to a very weak start because you cannot solve a problem you have totally misdiagnosed. You even stand a chance to make it worse because of your mindset. That is point number one. The second point is your outrageous budget for your inauguration, which is very disappointing and totally out of sync with the reality on the ground as we speak.

Nigeriaworld columnist, Mr. Temple Ubochi, one of your early supporters recently wrote an article titled “Spending more than a billion Naira on Jonathan’s Inauguration” That article has covered everything that need to be said. I cannot improve on it beyond citing it as one more reason why I think Nigerians would be disappointed when they look back, 4 years from today, and they find that little to nothing has changed in Nigeria under Jonathan’s leadership. He is not one to seriously rock the boat for the PDP from all I can see.
  
I welcome the fact that the South West to which I belong has totally rejected the PDP giving it a red card it truly deserves. But I would have been happier if the PDP had lost their majority in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. That would have been a great change in my judgment because the Legislature would have put the President feet to fire by forcing him to keep his promise to the nation. Mr. Ubochi has rightly drawn attention in his brilliant article to the cover-up report on what actually happened to Mr. Jonathan’s convoy in Kampala, Uganda when the President’s car was reportedly stoned by irate protesters demonstrating against the President of Uganda. Even though the Ugandan President later apologized to the Nigerian President for the unfortunate incident, the Jonathan Government had literarily lied to Nigerians about what really happened. If the Jonathan Government is lying about such a little incident, who knows what else they could be lying about? It is a legitimate question to ask.

That kind of cover-up does more harm to the President’s credibility as he settles down running the country. This President must be aware that the whole nation is watching him and paying attention to everything he does. If Nigeria is ever going to move forward, the President must be reminded that the names “Goodluck and “Azikiwe” which he has flaunted many times while going around the country looking for votes and support would amount to nothing, if he is not going to put his own positive stamp on the presidency as the first representative of a minority group in the South to ever win the presidency. He must therefore guard the position jealously and try to make the best out of it for the benefit of generations yet unborn.

I will be very glad if the President can prove me wrong  by doing the right thing and leading Nigeria the right way. He is very lucky that charlatans like Oyinlola and Omisore in Osun, Agagu in Ondo, and former President Obasanjo in Ogun have been so humiliated in their own states in the last election that they can no longer continue to claim to be the wizard of Oz who have delivered the South West to Jonathan in the last election. That honor belongs now to Asaju Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Bisi Akande and Aremo Olusegun Osoba of the ACN. Jonathan should now have more freedom to do things his own way without these individuals micro-managing him.

I also want to cite the most recent article by the great Reuben Abati of the Guardian Newspapers in which he praised the great Emir of Kano for publicly chastising Vice President Sambo for coming late for more than 3 hours to a public event in Kano and thereby making the powerful Emir and his kitchen Cabinet to be late for Jumat Service because they were waiting to receive him. It was a beautiful and courageous article that drew deserved attention to how nothing is likely to change in Nigeria if Jonathan’s tolerance level for this kind of behavior by his VP remains the rule and not the exception In a way I blame Jonathan for not setting a good example for his VP. The Emir of Kano was exactly right to lecture the Vice President on lateness to official appointments.
 
I join Reuben Abati in showering praises on Alhaji Ado Bayero, a former Ambassador of Nigeria and the current Emir of Kano for calling the bluff of the complacent Vice President and damning the consequence.
 
The Emir of Kano and his cousin, the present Governor of our Central Bank Alhaji Sanusi are a breed apart. They are not like your average Nigerian men in power. They are tough like a nail, all of them that I have met during my career in the Federal Service. I am not at all surprised that the Emir had done what he was said to have done. You don’t fool around with the Emir of Kano and any of his cousins like the VP has done
 
 I once served for 3 years from 1979 to 1981 as a member representing Nigeria at the Board of Trustees of CAFRAD (African Training and Research Center for Administration for Development) based in Tangiers, Morocco with one Dr. Kariuki of Kenya and later on Dr. Thomas Kanza of Zaire as Director-general. Another Alhaji Sanusi, a cousin of the Emir of Kano was then the Nigerian Ambassador to Morocco and he was based in Rabat at the time, as I recall. He usually attended the Board meetings with my delegation. I was hell-bent as the chief delegate of Nigeria to ensure that the CAFRAD chairmanship started rotating among member countries just like the OAU. Morocco as a Muslim country had taken it for granted that they could count on Nigeria to support their insistence that the chairmanship be permanently kept by Morocco like it had been for 40 years with no member country complaining.
  
 I went to CAFRAD determined to change that inequity by all means. I was hesitant that Ambassador Sanusi as a Muslim, might not be ready to tell the truth to another Muslim country or offer me all the support I needed.. To my surprise, Ambassador Sanusi not only supported me to the best of his ability, he made it clear to his host Government that the Nigerian delegation was right to sponsor a resolution asking for rotation of the chairmanship of CAFRAD. He let the  CAFRAD management know the Nigerian delegation led by myself a Christian from the South, reserved the right to fight for Nigeria the way I thought fit, and that he was solidly behind me. I would never forget that Kano prince. He should have retired by now. He was a lion and I was very proud of him.
   
That was how Nigeria broke the logjam and CAFRAD started rotating its chairmanship from that year because Nigeria won the tally by a landslide in a secret ballot vote. It was Nigeria’s finest moment and I cherish that achievement till tomorrow. That was how Federal Permanent Secretary Oluyemi Falae of Nigeria ended up becoming the first non-Moroccan Chairman of CAFRAD. The Sanusis of Kano who are all cousins of the current Emir always call a spade a spade regardless of whose horse is gored. Nigerians will recall Alhaji Sanusi of the Central Bank telling the Nigerian Legislature what he alone was bold enough to utter when he told them not too long ago they were spending on themselves more than 25% of the total budget of Nigeria. He was damn right to say that because it was the truth.

No traditional ruler down South, however powerful, would dare display the kind of courage without being victimized one way or the other. I am waiting to see how President Jonathan is going to handle the exchange between his Vice President and the powerful Emir. If the President could not call his VP to order, now the Emir of Kano has done it for him. Music idol Mr. Lagbaja was right when he sang that children who refuse to listen to their parents at home, may have to learn their lesson the hard way from outside. The Vice President would do well to take Mr. Lagbaja’s advice to heart.
 
The new Nigeria we all want to see under President Jonathan is one that should be strikingly different from the one Nigeria was used to under his predecessors. It remains to be seen, however, if Mr. President would have the spine to live up to that expectation.
  I rest my case.
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Buhari,Regionalism......

Thursday, June 16, 2011.
By Uchenna Osigwe 
 
The presidential election held in Nigeria on the 16th of April 2011 has come and gone but the dust raised by that election is yet to settle. Even as we wait for it to settle, or, more likely, for more dust to be raised, we can now look back at what happened before, during and immediately after the election in a more detached way in order to see the role that regionalism, ethnicity, religion and politics played in that election and its aftermath. 
My question is this: Is it possible for the supporters of Jonathan and Buhari to look beyond regionalism, ethnicity, religion and politics and look more dispassionately at what those two figures represent for Nigeria?
Jonathan represents the PDP. The party may call itself a democratic party, but there is nothing democratic about it. All the elections overturned in the country have been those ‘won’ by the party. Each time after rigging elections, they tell us that even if they didn’t rig, they would still have ‘won.’ That hackneyed argument involves too many fallacies the analyses of which will take us too far afield. So let me use an analogy to puncture it: It is like the student who cheats in exams and when caught, says that without the cheating s/he would still have passed. So, if you’re so sure of passing, why cheat in the first place? Except for a few exceptions, the PDP is made up of a bunch of leeches. Everyday we hear how they are stealing billions from the public purse, and this has been going on since their earlier incarnation as NPN. A close look at Jonathan’s budget shows that he has given more money to petroleum subsidies and import waivers than to critical areas like education, power and healthcare. They have simply cornered the country’s wealth and are sharing it among themselves. What the PDP is running looks like a kleptocracy, walks like a kleptocracy and quacks like a kleptocracy. Nigeria is among the highest consumers of private jets in the world, and this in a country with poor or no health care, poor or no education system, where amenities that poorer countries in the world take for granted are simply non-existent. The vision the party has for the country is a retrogressive vision. It has no clear cut principles but makes the rules as it goes. Like unscrupulous business people, all the members of the party look for are opportunities to fill their pockets at the expense of the hapless masses. Nobody represents this opportunism more than Jonathan.
To start with, as a PDP member, their constitution stated that the presidency, as well as other offices should rotate around the different zones in the country. He signed on to that. So why didn’t Jonathan respect the constitution of his party? Would there have been post electoral violence if that zoning was respected? Can we ever take Jonathan on his word? During the campaign he stated repeatedly that he would not serve beyond 2015. But even before his inauguration, he let it be known that a four year-term is too short for a ‘performing president,’ (forgetting that by 2015 he would have been president for five years), even as he stated that his country needs an over bloated cabinet! He promised free and fair election, but we have credible allegations that his party wrote results that have nothing to do with the actual voting. I agree that the election was peaceful. But something can be peaceful and fraudulent. Think of 419! If the elections were free and fair, there was no way it would not have gone to a second round at the very least. PDP entered into a secret deal with some notable politicians in the south west in order to stop Buhari. Notice that the ACN says nothing anymore about the presidential election. The silence of their flag bearer is even more puzzling!
Jonathan promised to fight corruption but there were credible stories that delegates to his party’s primary election were bribed in hard currency, and this was just after he shared the excess crude oil money among the governors allegedly to buy their support. We also know of a case where a bribe (in hard currency) was offered (as transport money) to the SNG group by Jonathan’s aides in Abuja! Pat Utomi accused Jonathan of spending hundreds of billions of public money in his campaign. Right now has not given up in its scheme to get a rubber stamp NASS. OBJ made the mistake of doing that in mid-stream. In the meantime the agents of the PDP planted in the CPC are doing their best to discredit their own party for daring to challenge Jonathan’s election!
One of the first things Jonathan did as president was to round up some of the most retrogressive individuals in the country and give them national honours. One of them is Patricia Etteh, the disgraced former speaker of the lower house. His SGF has serious allegations of corruption surrounding him. His ministers may not be any different.
Now with all these credibility problems surrounding Jonathan, many people still support him based solely on the fact that he is a Christian and a southerner, nothing more, nothing less. Indeed we have heard it said many times that it was God who ordained that he should be president at this time!
Now compare a man whose brief public service has been trailed by allegations of corruption, some well documented, from the time he was governor to now that he is the president, with the man who has been in public service for much longer and has no credible allegation of corruption against him. Add to that the fact that the first has no known political philosophy, no vision to speak of.
Compare that to the fact that the latter has shown what he is capable of doing with political power, and that it was largely for the good of his country, his vision having been put into action with very good results. Consider also the fact that allegations of election rigging have trailed the former, both personally and as a member of a well known election rigging party, while the latter has made no attempt whatsoever to rig elections. Add to that, finally, the fact that the former has been president almost as long as the latter has been president. The difference is clear, isn’t it? But if after all these you still want to claim that Buhari is not good enough to lead the country because he a Moslem or because he is from the north, then how do you escape the charge that you are a religious fanatic and an ethnic bigot?
I’ve never hidden my admiration for Buhari, especially at this point in the history of our nation. But that makes the task I stated above a lot easier for me. I am neither a Moslem nor a northerner. So my support for Buhari is based solely on what he stands for. But let me quickly add that Buhari’s personality and the qualities that endear him to me and millions of other Nigerians have nothing to do with the accidental fact that he happens to be a Moslem and a northerner. He was neither the first northerner nor the first Moslem to lead Nigeria. But the difference between him and the rest is clear.
Even Buhari’s worst enemies know what he stands for. They know that he is a man of integrity. They know he is incorruptible. And most importantly, they know that there will be zero tolerance for corruption (past and present) if he becomes president. He said he would like to know what happened to the 16 billion dollars spent in the last twelve years to give Nigerians more darkness. Jonathan can never say anything like that. Long before Sanusi Lamido Sanusi told a shocked nation that the country spends 25% of its budget on the members of the National Assembly as emoluments, Buhari had already called for a downward review of that jumbo pay. If Buhari were the president, the nation would not have spent billions for the inauguration of the president in a nation where children have no modern classrooms, where the basic amenities that poorer countries in Africa take for granted are lacking. So, when those powerful enemies of Buhari began to advance their straw man argument to paint him as a religious fanatic and an ethnic bigot, they knew exactly what they were doing: warding off a real danger to the protection of their past, present and future loot. And because they were very powerful, they were able to spread their propaganda, what with journalists who were all too willing to help in that unpatriotic mission. Even many reasonable people from the south fell for the subterfuge, especially after the violent bloodshed that followed the presidential election. But was Buhari responsible for that violence? 
During the presidential campaign, Buhari was being blamed for the violence that was being instigated by the PDP wherever he went. Bombs were going off left, right and centre, and many people, including youth corpers, were killed in the bomb blasts. In Gombe state in particular, where the entourage of President Jonathan was stoned during a campaign, and their campaign headquarters his party was vandalized, the governor, Alhaji Danjuma Goje, was quick to blame Buhari’s supporters. Buhari even apologized, saying: ‘‘The governor has made this allegation against my supporters and I must say that we are not violent people but if the allegation has anything to do with any of those who received us, I tender apology for such and I want you to give my apology to the president.’’ Later, another PDP man, namely Alhaji Abubakar Muazu, accused the governor of lying about the incident in order to smear Buhari’s name. Muazu revealed that it was the governor who called Buhari and requested for a courtesy visit. It was a set up! Muazu continued: “The governor lied to the president on the issue of stoning and vandalism. The governor sent his thugs to the office to destroy and finish all the things left in the office.” Muazu also revealed the motive of the governor in planning the attacks: “The governor was only trying to give the impression that there was no security so that the president would give directive to the governor to arrest the CPC people in the state. The governor is doing it because he wants his sons-in-law contesting for the House of Representatives in Gombe Funakye and Kwami federal constituency and Dukku and Nafada federal constituency to have an easy election. He wanted to use the excuse of the attack to arrest the CPC candidates in those constituencies.” Muazu concluded that if the president had acted on that lie, Gombe would have been on fire.
This is quite revealing when one considers what happened after the presidential elections in some parts of the north that literally went on fire. Is it possible that, as El Rufai, a PDP insider, stated in a recent interview, the attack on southerners was instigated by the PDP chieftains who bore the brunt of the attack in the first two days? What I know is that Buhari did not ask anyone to go to the streets, knowing that it could get out of hand. Indeed, he did the exact opposite: He asked his supporters to be law abiding as the party had decided to challenge the elections in the courts. In that statement, Buhari stated that those who were burning churches and mosques were not his supporters. Knowing that no one has been able to point out a lie this man ever told in his long years in public service, I am willing to presume him innocent until proven guilty.
What many people miss about Buhari is that he is not all about fighting corruption. Here is a man with a bold vision for his country, whose word as good as his bond. The example is there for those who want to see. In his 18 months as president, he gave Nigerians a sense of belonging. Education received an attention that no other administration has given to it ever since. Nigerians began to see what it means to behave in a disciplined manner, what it means to live in a clean environment, what it means to have an economy that is worth the name, what it means to make things work. In short, what it means to lead by example. Buhari’s fight against corruption was only one aspect of his vision for the country he loves so much.
Buhari, of course, is not a saint. He is often rigid in his principles. But even this weakness, if weakness it is, is what Nigerians need in a president at this point: a president who says what he does and does what he says.
For Nigeria to claim its rightful place in the comity of nations, she needs a Buhari. It may not necessarily be this General Muhammad Yassim Yinusa Buhari. But it has to be somebody, man or woman, who has inculcated the values that make Buhari what he is.
Give me that and I won’t care where such a president comes from, his or her religion, ethnic affiliation, or age.