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Monday, 29 February 2016

Edo 2016: Ofeimun, Edebiri, Emuan, Esele jostle for space

  • By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu, (Benin City) and Debo Oladimeji, (Lagos) on February 29, 2016 

AHEAD of the Edo State governorship elections, aspirants from the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are positioning themselves for relevance to get the electorates’ attention.
But while more aspirants are springing up from the ruling APC, fewer persons appear to be showing interest from the opposition parties including the PDP. Still others like Odia Ofeimun are yet to indicate which platform they want to use to get to the Dennis Osadebey House.
Chief Solomon Edebiri of the PDP believes that human capacity development and a resuscitation of the industrial sector hold the key to the hearts of the Edo people, while Arch Ilenre Austin Emuan and Comrade Peter Esele of the APC are focusing on an economic blueprint anchored on welfarism; and education, agriculture and culture respectively.
Ofeimun on the other hand wants to modernise Edo through cultural civility and technological proficiency within a period of 40 months.
In an interactive session with journalists, in Lagos, Edebiri said that human capacity development and industialisation have been neglected by successive administration in the state noting that the state lacked the required foundation for growth and development.
According to him, the graph of growth and development has been declining since the end of Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia’s administration stressing that economically virtually all the industries that made the state robust have become moribund.
“Delta Line, Bendel Brewery, Bendel Wood Treatment plant, Bendel Printing press, Afuze sports complex, the Agbede Wareke farms, Bendel Insurance, etc. are dead. As the industries get castrated so our people began to loose their jobs. As they loose their jobs, the resultant effect was that the young ones went into crimes and the young ladies started finding their ways out of the country”, he stated.
Edebiri said he was stepping into the gap to provide the foundation for growth and development of the state. He acknowledged that the state governor did well in the construction of some roads, which would be built on.
“We need a man who is liberal who understands the business of the state, who knows how to run the state as a business entity and turn it around for good. That is where I come in,” he disclosed stressing that he would localize crops in their local government area of advantage along with their identified natural resources to grow the state’s economy.
“The principle of one local government one commercial crop syndrome with each local government area concentrating on the area of advantage will be adopted with the attendant agro-industry established,” he said.
Edebiri promised to de-emphasise taxing the citizens, grow the revenue base of the state to make it an export hub as against the current import hub.
Esele of the APC said he would focus on education, agriculture and culture if he becomes governor
On why going into the race despite rumours that the governor has his preferred candidate, he posited,  “I think the governor has every right to support any candidate of his choice. But I also have my right to contest. It doesn’t have to do with whether the governor has a preferred candidate or not. But again, it is the delegates that will determine who bears the party’s flag. I think we should be open to discussion and ideas to broaden the space. And I think that is the biggest problem.”
“The bottom line, which I think, is a matter of ideas, considering what Oshiomhole has done in the last seven years. It is a matter of telling ourselves the truth; moving beyond ethnic politics and not queuing behind somebody that is not going to add value. It is all about building beyond what we have today. That is why I am into the race today,” he added.
Emuan, a development expert explained that his passion for development generally informed him asking why do nations failed and that this stimulated the interest in international relations that eventually prompted him to join politics.
He said he would democratize development and investment process with 25 years solid economic development plan that will enable Edo State become one of the most industrialised economies and investment destination in Nigeria.
According to him, Edo would be modernise and provided with infrastructure that will offer Edo people wherever they are located in the world to grow themselves economically, adding: “The philosophy of this vision is hinged on co-ownership and participatory democracy.”
He said that he belonged to the neo structuralism ideology where credit is given to welfarism of the state in line with the ideology of the APC. “The only way to go about this thing that I am talking about is to create the Economic blue print of Edo State that is quite peculiar to Edo State. It is a very unique model that will be used to develop Edo economy.”
Besides, Emuan promised to introduce a policy he called vernacular education at the formative stage designed to empower the people to study, learn, innovate and communicate in their language.
His words: “We need to develop the next generation such that they can think, write and innovate and communicate in their own language because culturally if we don’t do that we can go extinct. Any people that loses her language loses their identity.”
Ofeimun who said he was interested in only one term in office, promised that in forty months he would have turned Edo around and laid the foundation for a “Singapore” within the Nigerian nation.
“I am determined to prove that within the particularity of one nationality, Edo, and the fold of a multinational state, Nigeria, it is possible to achieve high feats of modernity, cultural civility and technological proficiency comparable to that of any other country in the world,” he stated.
The renowned poet and polemicist said if he makes it to the office of the governor, he would create money, investible and welfare funds, through aggressive solid minerals, gas and agro-allied industries as well as eliminate punitive taxation, waste, and improper expenditures.

APC chieftains bicker over board appointments

  • By Adamu Abuh, Abuja on February 29, 2016

CHIEFTIANS of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) across the country are at loggerheads over the sharing of positions on the boards of government parastatals and agencies.
The problem, which has the prospect of tearing the party apart, had been on ground even before President Muhammadu Buhari sacked the heads of no fewer than 26 heads of parastatals and agencies of government.
Trouble started after Chief John Odigie-Oyegun leadership of the party mandated chairmen and vice chairmen of the 36 States chapters of the APC to come up with a list of fifty nominees from their respective States that would form the pool of those to be considered for board appointments.
Rather than call a meeting of stakeholders of the party, The Guardian was reliably informed that most of the states chairmen and vice chairmen opted to pick their cronies and relatives as their preferred nominees for board appointments into agencies and parastatals of government.
The situation was further compounded by claims that members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who recently defected to the APC and were keen on getting board appointments, induced some party chieftains with monies in a desperate bid to get on the list of the nominees for boards appointments.
Expectedly, the development led to series of complaints and petitions from aggrieved members of the party from across the country, forcing the presidency, which was piqued over the issue to come to the rescue of the ugly situation.
The source who asked not to be named said: “The truth is that most our party chairmen in the states in conjunction with some states governors settled for their relatives, wives, friends and cronies. The worst side of it was that the mode of selection actually negated the goal of Mr. President who wanted men and women that he could work with to move the country forward.”
However, it was learnt that a committee led by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir Lawal has been constituted to correct noticeable anomalies and hold due consultations with aggrieved members of the party in a bid to arrived at an amicable resolution on the issue.
The committee which comprised Oyegun, the National Secretary of the party, Mr. Mai Mala Buni, and the six zonal vice chairmen of the party have been mandated to meet with the states chairmen, secretaries, factional heads of the party in the states so as to ensure that those deserving of appointments into boards of agencies and parastatals were given due considerations.
States believed to be hit most by the crisis were Kaduna, Kano, Enugu, Imo, Anambra, Lagos, and Oyo States.

With Crisis in PDP, Discordant Interests in APC, Politicians Realigning for New Party

A growing number of politicians are making moves for a realignment of political power in Nigeria towards a new political party, THISDAY has learnt. This is amid crisis in the main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and conflicting interests in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
It was gathered that discussions among politicians from the two leading parties towards the floating of a new party started in earnest some months ago, and it was fast gathering momentum. Insiders said the new political move had the support of some serving governors from both the APC and PDP, key principal officers of the National Assembly, and some aggrieved political leaders across the six geo-political zones. A former senate president, Ken Nnamani, is being prevailed upon to act as the arrow-head of the emerging party, it is gathered.
Nnamani announced his resignation from PDP on February 6, saying, the party had abandoned “the path of its noble vision and values”. He was elected Senate President in 2003. In his statement titled, “PDP, the Burden and My Conscience,” Nnamani said he was fed up with the state of things in the party. But said he was quitting “without any iota of bitterness.”
He stated, “I do not believe I should continue to be a member of the PDP as it is defined today. This is certainly not the party I joined years ago to help change my country. I do not also believe that the PDP, as it is managed today, will provide an opportunity for me to continue to play the politics of principles and values, which I set for myself as a young man on leaving graduate school and working for a large multinational in the United States in the 70s and 80s.”
Nnamani did not announce an intention to join any political party, but he promised to remain politically active.
A former Senate Chief Whip, who chose not to be named, confirmed the emerging political moves. He said, “Go and talk to many political elites across the country today, you will hear and confirm huge frustration among them. Nobody seems to be happy with what is happening in the APC and the PDP. And some of us have come to a conclusion that there is urgent need to have a new and credible platform to save this country.
“You will be shocked to know that the agitation for a new political platform is more pronounced in the North, in spite of the fact that we currently have a sitting president from the North. It shows how frustrated people are in the country today.”
Another enthusiast of the emerging political grouping, who is a prominent leader of APC, also told THISDAY in confidence, “The hope that things will change for the better, with President Muhammadu Buhari in power, is being dashed by the day. As I speak with you today, the soul of the APC is gone. Go to the national secretariat of the party, they will tell you.”
It was learnt that some desperate efforts recently by concerned leaders of APC to iron out things among themselves were frustrated by the political hawks around Buhari, who are already strategising for 2019.
“What you are likely to have in the coming months is a congregation of old PDP members in the APC pulling out to form a formidable political party with some progressive-minded members of the present PDP,” the APC leader said last night in Abuja.
The special caucus meeting held last week by APC was said to be part of the measures to halt the tide of disenchantment, which promises to seriously threaten the ruling party. Very little was achieved by the meeting following the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari, who was unavoidably absent. But another meeting is being contemplated for this week, where aggrieved APC members would be expected to table their grievances before the party and the government.
Many APC members are said to be calling for the removal of the national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, citing poor leadership. It is suspected that the replacement for Odigie-Oyegun would come from the North as part of a grand plan to put the president in a position of comfort as far as party administration is concerned. But that is expected to meet with resistance, as party leaders from other parts of the country are likely to oppose the idea. Generally, many leaders of the party are said to be unhappy with the current status of the party and the government, having been shut out of the decision-making process, despite their commitment to the success of the party.
One of the problems believed to be delaying the manifestation of the idea of a new party, according to the promoters, is the question of the personality around which the party will be built. They want a personality that would sell, like Buhari did, for the APC.
Indications of how the politicians are readjusting towards the eventual formation of a new party are clearer in PDP. The party has lurched from one crisis to the next since it lost the general election to APC last year. The high turnover of PDP national chairmen since the election is symptomatic of the crisis within.
Adamu Muazu resigned under pressure as PDP national chairman on May 20 last year, accused of leading the former ruling party to a devastating defeat at the polls. He was replaced by Haliru Bello, who was appointed acting national chairman on May 25 last year and was sacked on February 10 this year. Bello was succeeded by the PDP deputy national chairman, Uche Secondus, who worked in acting capacity until February 16, when he handed over to the newly-appointed national chairman, Ali Modu Sheriff. Sheriff’s appointment has been enmeshed in controversy.
Though, PDP says it has resolved its leadership crisis following an agreement to let Sheriff run the affairs of the party for three months, until the national convention, when a new national leadership of the party would be elected. There are fears that PDP may come out of the national convention more divided than it went in. This is due to the very huge likelihood of a clash between the PDP governors, who were the main force behind Sheriff’s emergence as national chairman, and other groups and interests in the party that had opposed his choice.
In recent times, some prominent PDP members have resigned from the party without joining other parties, in what is seen as a strategic move to help nurture the expected new political platform. Besides Nnamani, Samuel Ogbemudia and Dalhatu Sarki Tafida have recently left PDP, but did not defect to other parties.
In APC, the National Assembly has been the main theatre of war. Senate President Bukola Saraki and House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara won their positions last June against the wish of the party, in connivance with PDP legislators. Sources say Saraki’s current trial by the Code of Conduct Bureau may prepare the ground for the consolidation of the moves towards a new party. Both Saraki and Dogara belong to a bloc within the party, the New PDP, which believed they needed to be compensated for their contributions to the victory of APC.


Buhari in Quest to Secure Nigeria

His quick, light steps belied his age. The smile on his face, his clear tone and his eagerness to provide details painted a vivid picture of a man at home with himself and the society at large. His wit and quips revealed an often unexposed funny side that were difficult to place with the no-nonsense, carefully cultivated image ascribed to the former military Head of State and All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential aspirant, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari.
However, the irony in Buhari’s character could be deemed a reflection of his transition from a military officer who overthrew a democratically elected government in December 1983, to one who after retirement became an avowed democrat that has sought to rule Nigeria via the ballot, albeit in three unsuccessful attempts.
But for many who have followed Buhari, they would be the first to remind anyone who cares to listen that his democratic conversion occurred after the collapse of the Soviet Union and dismantling of the Berlin Wall. Essentially, it took the collapse of communism and totalitarianism in Eastern Europe for Buhari to take the journey on the road to Damascus like the biblical Apostle Paul.
For some, drawing the similarities between Buhari, a practising Muslim, and Paul who is considered one of the most important figures of the Christian Apostolic Age, may be taboo. But after the THISDAY Board of Editors met with the retired army general last Friday at his home in Abuja, the board came away with the view that Buhari is anything but a religious bigot, as his opponents would have us believe.
Yet, despite Buhari’s best efforts to distance himself from religious extremism, he cannot runaway from the fact that in his three attempts to return as Nigeria’s head of state through the ballot, he has not been able to build political structures that transverse the fault line between the north and the south. Indeed, whilst his following among the masses (better known as the Talakawa) in the north is cult-like, the same cannot be said of his followership in the south.
For the first time in his political career, the general would also have to compete for the ticket of a political party to contest the 2015 presidential election. In the past, Buhari was handed presidential tickets without lifting a finger. To secure a win over four other contestants on the platform of the APC, especially his closest rival former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Buhari has been forced raise the ante by lobbying for delegates’ votes.
Should he win the APC presidential primary and go on to win the 2015 presidential election, Buhari informed the THISDAY Board of Editors that one his primary goals will be the defeat of Boko Haram in the North-east and combating corruption in Nigeria. Indeed, on matters of security, Buhari’s military background and grasp of warfare shone through during his interview with THISDAY.
So did his disdain for corruption, even though he acknowledged that times have changed since his stint as head of state between 1984 and 1985. On the economy, however, Buhari has so much to learn and found it difficult to present a coherent blue print on the economy. The conversation with the THISDAY Board of Editors, nevertheless, was not just limited to matters of security, corruption and the economy. Uncharacteristically, Buhari opened up on a host of other issues.
In thefirst installment of its Presidential Series, THISDAY presents the man and presidential aspirant, Muhammadu Buhari.
Buhari: Nigeria Will Be Secure Under My Leadership
The key issues facing Nigeria obviously are security, corruption and governance. I believe your last beat as a serving general before you became head of state was GOC Jos Military Command. As the then GOC Jos, the current North-east was under your command. Given what is happening today, given the onslaught of Boko Haram, how would you have prosecuted the war differently?
Differently? Certainly something has to be done first to secure that part of the country, which is virtually under Boko Haram.  I have the background information of what happened in the North-east then as the GOC in Jos back in 1982-83. You would recall the Chadian troops made an incursion into Nigerian territory. The United States then asked (former President Shehu) Shagari to help Chadian President (Hissene) Habre because Habre was suspected of being used to destabilise Libya. Oil had not been discovered in Chad then and the country was a bit poor. So the president agreed to provide petroleum products to Chad. All the tankers were lined up and were providing fuel to Chad. And Habre decided at that it time to attack Nigeria and killed our soldiers, took some of our military hardware and I was extremely concerned. I flew into Lagos, saw the Chief of Army Staff, General (Inuwa) Wushishi then, and I moved into Maiduguri. That was the last time, until recently, in whatever form the Chadian troops dared Nigeria. I have also been a governor in that area, the North-east.
The question is how did Boko Haram start, because we have to know how it started before we can effectively get rid of it. Just like how did the Niger Delta militants start in the South-south. Politicians use unemployed youths as vanguards, they called them ‘Ecomog’ in the North-east then. One of their leaders called Yusuf, a young charismatic man, tried to give it a religious tinge but unfortunately the chaps were badly handled by the security forces – a combination of the police and the military. There was a small demonstration by members of the sect on motorcycles over the death of one of them accompanying a corpse and seven of them were shot dead. Of course they were not wearing protective helmets. Now this is an ordinary offence in this country and it was easy to handle. Just arrest the people, take them to a police station and charge them to court the following day and fines could be imposed. But instead, they chose to shoot them.  From there, Boko Haram really started and they have never looked back. And once the police couldn’t handle the situation, according to the Nigerian internal security operations, they handed the matter over to the military. The army commander then did extremely well. The GOC of Third Armoured Division in charge of the command went and looked for Yusuf, got him and handed Yusuf to the police. The police killed Yusuf, his in-law and levelled their houses and since then Boko Haram got out of hand.
What would I do differently? It is to make the military much more effective in their operations. If we get the opportunity, we will make the Nigerian military capable again because if we could go through ECOMOG forces to stabilise troubled zones and go to Darfur and to other places of the world and perform, why can’t we perform at home when our national sovereignty is being threatened?  That is what we will do differently, to make Nigerian military capable again.
The Nigerian military became incapable following a failed coup against your successor, General Babangida. And following the failed coup, the command and control of the army decided, as it were, to disarm the army so that they were not able to take on the political leadership of the military at the time. We heard some of our helicopters were even given out to Congo and other countries, so that the army would not have the weapons. Since then, the army has not been equipped. So is it a question of lack of equipment, a question of will or that of rot over the years?
I think it is a question of the rot over the years, because the most important thing is the intelligence. Having known how the Boko Haram developed, what I would have personally done differently would be to get the Presidents of Cameroun, Chad and Niger together to say, ‘look our borders are porous and that we are not able to effectively protect them and monitor movements of people in and out of our territory, but please make sure that you do not provide training facilities or allow people to be coming into the county.’  The practical possibility of guarding our border from Lake Chad area to Sokoto is nil. If you look at that area, you cannot stop the donkeys, the oxen, the camels and human beings from crossing that border. It is impossible, unless you will line up all the Nigerian population, which is not possible. But firstly you have to reach an agreement with your neighbors. As we talk now, Cameroun seems to be fighting Boko Haram more effectively than Nigeria, from what I read in newspapers. You cannot change the Nigerian military overnight but still, but I think there are trained officers who can train the men and you can get the weapons legally. There are government rules and regulations and as an elected government, the people or countries that normally provide you with weapons will not refuse to provide the weapons because it is an internal operation. We are not attacking anybody, rather we are being attacked. So countries that have been providing us with military hardware will have sympathy for us and provide us with weapons. We do not have to change money in the black market or take it from the vault of the central bank in a hired aircraft and say you are going to buy weapons. This is unusual, very, very unusual as government has legal ways of how to source arms and ammunition. Look at how we fought a serious civil war for 30 months without borrowing a kobo. General Gowon was the head of state then, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the Minister of Finance and deputy chairman of the Federal Executive Council. We fought the civil war without borrowing a kobo. Now you want to chase insurgents after spending what they have spent, they are rushing to the National Assembly for permission to borrow $1 billion, there is a problem of leadership and I think everybody knows it.
But how will you make the US to supply us arms given the accusations against the military and how will you get Cameroun to cooperate more given the crisis over Bakassi and the border demarcation, bearing in mind their refusal to cooperate up till now?
On the question of the US selling arms to us, the US can influence our traditional arms suppliers but the US is probably not a major supplier of arms to Nigeria as far as I can recall – right from independence till now.  But they can influence those that can supply arms to us. As you know, the black market of sourcing military hardware has never been stopped even with international pressure. I think for the weapons we need to fight Boko Haram, a group of people taking arms against the country. I do not think we need weapons of the magnitude people are talking about. Of course, the military was disarmed in order to stabilise democracy. But how can I stabilise the army and get the cooperation of the US to help us and at least to give us the moral support and allow our traditional arms suppliers – France, United Kingdom and Russia – to give facilities for maintaining those weapons like tanks and armoured cars? I believe the US will not stand in the way of a democratic country getting supply of weapons and ammunition to defend itself against internal or even external aggression. As I have said earlier, Cameroun is even fighting Boko Haram more effectively than us. If you would recall that there were some kidnappers that took away the wife of a (vice prime) minister but the Camerounian law enforcement agency got her released.
Given your experience in the military, what can you point to as the problem with the military in challenging Boko Haram?
I think what I can do is appeal to the patriotic sense of the military. The military’s constitutional role is to protect this country from external aggression and I mentioned earlier on, even in internal operations, the police are allowed to come in at the initial stage but once things are bad, then the military has to come in, just as it is happening now in the North-east.  I believe the military would like to preserve a strong Nigeria because if they allow Nigeria to be balkanised, they will be the first to lose their security because I do not see any part of a balkanised Nigeria that will like to get a general or colonel to be in charge, and you don’t talk about pension or even gratuity. So there will be total insecurity if they allow anything to happen to Nigeria. I think the situation needs a leadership that will give the military the backing in terms of sourcing the weapons and ammunition to fight. And Nigeria, no matter how oil prices have fallen, will source enough funds to fight the insurgents.
Do you see corruption in the military as a major problem?
It is a major problem. As I have just mentioned there are ways to source weapons, ammunition and other military hardware; there are rules and regulations; tenders boards at various levels where they examine applications by suppliers; getting the best for the country and then recommending to the government to go and secure it. The issue of putting dollars in an aircraft or handbags or asking one senior officer to go and look for weapons does not arise under the Nigerian laws. This is corruption and I do not blame the military because it is a situation of a fish with rotten head.
Don’t you think that the nature of the warfare, which is asymmetric, in the fight against insurgents also has a lot do with the limited successes the military has recorded? We have a situationwhere you have to seek out terrorists who live in the midst of the people. It is not like fighting with a conventional army?
I agree with you partly, but look at how some of the committed commanders that dealt with the late Yusuf’s case. I talked about intelligence; we have structures of assistance throughout the country. We have ward leaders, district heads and emirs – these people are good sources of intelligence. There is this structure on ground and it still exists. Some parts of Nigeria have been able to ward off Boko Haram. It is not because of government’s effort but people started their own JTF. If Maiduguri people did not organise their own Civilian JTF, the city would have been overrun.
At the initial stage of the insurgency, you were quoted as saying that any attack against Boko Haram was an attack on the North and that while federal government negotiated with the Niger Delta militants it was attacking Boko Haram. So you were now tagged as one of those behind Boko Haram. How would you react to this and what do you think is the place of negotiations in arresting the insurgency?
Yes, I spoke on the radio and gave a press statement. I hope you would take the positive ones as well and not only the negative aspect. I mentioned that they were trying to give it a religious tinge and I came out to say that no religion advocates hacking the innocent and our people can easily understand. Christianity and Islam do not authorise anyone to take the life of any other person. Justice, which needs restraint, is what is supposed to be applied by the strong to the weak. The incident where I made that statement was, if you could recall what happened in Barma and Baga. I think Boko Haram killed a soldier or two and the whole town or part of it was razed, some satellite pictures of it were published. This is not how to do it. What to do was what was done to Yusuf before he was killed. If you recall, the army did not have raze the part of Maiduguri but they went and caught Yusuf and handed him over to the police. This is what the army then was supposed to do and even now. It is not to go on a rampage killing everybody and that was why I made reference to what the late President Yar’Adua did when he invited the militant leaders, sent them presidential jets and they came here in Abuja and they negotiated with him, empowered them and put them back into the society. But that type of army, which was sent to Barma and Baga, they created part of the problems we are in now and now the problems have proved stubborn to be solved. Instead of trying to get the leadership as Yusuf was found, they just went and razed parts of the towns and alienated themselves – the military and law enforcement agencies – from the people rather than getting their sympathy. This is what could be done differently, use intelligence, find out the leaders that are responsible and deal with them.
But that statement led to the feeling in many quarters that you were sympathetic to Boko Haram and that led to the political brickbats between your party the APC and the PDP, and PDP alleging that APC is sympathetic to Boko Haram. Do you regret the statement now or the context in which it was made?
The problem is the failure on your part, the media, to carry out investigative journalism if I may use the word, because when I made the statement it should have been in the context of my position that no religion advocates the hacking of the innocent and that the strong should be sympathetic or show some restraints when dealing with the weak. If it were in that context, then the question of I being sympathetic to Boko Haram would never have arisen.
When I was bombed, what was the reaction of Boko Haram? Did Boko Haram ever put out a statement? It was the government that quickly said that they were not responsible and that was the last we heard about it. Even if it was an unknown Nigerian, I think a proper investigation would have been carried out to find out what happened. How did they get the sophisticated weapon to bomb your headquarters in Abuja and the United Nations building? How did they get to such a sophisticated level of detonating an explosive device just adjacent to my vehicle and see how it pierced the body of the bullet proof vehicle as if it was a piece of paper. I think that we have to really have a capacity for investigating this type of things. So my party and myself have shown enough patriotism that we are not behind any insurgency in or outside Nigeria. The harm it is doing to our economy has not yet been calculated by anybody but I was reliably informed that everyday about 100 articulated vehicles, not even tankers, used to go to Maiduguri and traders from Cameroun, Chad and Niger do business there. At least two million Nigerians, from wheelbarrow pushers to big time shop owners, make their living in the city.  But look at it, these are all being destroyed.
Tell us what happened on that day you were bombed.
I don’t know why you want to listen to a disaster story again. Well, you know Rilwanu Lukman died somewhere in Europe and if you could recall he was my Minister of Power and Steel. So I was told that his body was to be brought the following day. I was told on Tuesday that on Thursday he would be brought home for burial, through Kano Airport where it will then be flown by another aircraft to Zaria. So I decided to drive to Daura, my hometown to be able to come to Kano the following day to receive the body. Luckily, was in a bulletproof vehicle. I was only using it from Kaduna to Abuja and may be Abuja to my hometown because armed robbers are getting more desperate now and they operate 24 hours a day now. A vehicle was trying to overtake us, but my backup vehicle stopped him in Kaduna. But when we came to that market before the overhead bridge, there was confusion in the market located on the right side of the road leading to Zaria. So that driver got an access and quickly drove close to my vehicle. Then the bomber exploded the device and when I came out I saw blood on my trousers and I looked to the right and I saw body parts of people selling second hand clothes, sugar cane on the roadside. I don’t remember the law enforcement agencies ever telling Nigerians how many people were killed there. I shook my head. Some of my operatives quickly came to me. I saw some of them were bleeding. They pushed me to the other side of the road in case there was another bomb. They stopped another vehicle coming, replaced the driver and drove me home. That was what happened. They tried to take the picture of the vehicle and we saw the army when they came. I noticed one person dressed like a woman with a handset contacting some people while beside the armoured car. So I told them, go to the military, show them the picture and tell the soldiers that you too want to interview the man in ladies dress. I do not know why he left his jeans trousers on but he had his wrapper around his body. That was the last I heard about it. Nobody ever bothered to brief me on the outcome of any investigation on the incident.
From all you have said, we are persuaded to believe that the solution to the problems afflicting the country is just about having a good leader. What credentials are you presenting to Nigerians as an alternative to what we have currently?
Yes, I tried to mention one. While I was the GOC in 1982 and Nigeria was giving Chad economic help and instead of the president of the country coming to thank our president for giving him economic support, he just sent his soldiers to kill our soldiers. I had a command then and it was within my area of responsibility. I went and sorted it out. Secondly, you must have known about Maitasine sect. I was the Head of State in 1984. Maitasine, you recall developed from Kano and he was killed during the Second Republic but his followers resurfaced in Burunkutu, again in Borno and Jimeta, Yola. My second in command then, Tunde Idiagbon, was not in the country. I flew into Yola, Gambo Jimeta, I think he was the AIG and Wash Pam were there and that was the last we heard about Maitasine. Really, I do not think the Nigerian military including the law enforcement agencies have absolutely lost their capacity to deal with internal security problems. The leadership seems not to be aggressive and cannot properly lead. And the fundamental problem of Nigeria now is security. Nobody is feeling secure in the country and I think this is the fundamental responsibility of government. So the leadership must make sure that they secure Nigeria and efficiently manage it.
Are you also thinking of doing something to beef up your charisma? Nigeria is a complex entity and needs somebody who is flexible. People say you are stiff.
If I can achieve results with my stiffness, let the stiffness stay. Because when you go and ask ordinary people, when we, myself and Idiagbon, came on board, ordinary people in Kano came out when it was hot, they put the keys of their cars on top of the cars, slept in front of their houses and woke up the following morning. People say time changes, yes, but when people find out that you do not tolerate big thieves not to talk of the small ones, then they will sit up.
Do you subscribe to the view that oil is an issue with regards to this security challenge? What is your position on the role of Chad in the botched ceasefire agreement?
I think Chad knows that Nigeria can certainly secure its borders. I still cannot understand why it took the leadership of this country so long to get those three presidents to sit down and agree. I think even within the framework of ECOWAS such agreements were feasible to make sure that weapons do not cross our borders and that people were not given training facilities. How could Boko Haram abduct 200 schoolgirls of ages of 14 to 18 from their school and we were giving the impression that these girls were in Nigeria? For seven months, the Nigerian government could not get the intelligence of where these girls were in particular and where they were moved. They kept saying they know where the girls are, then what the hell is stopping them from getting the girls out?  Imagine you have got a daughter there, how do you go to bed and how do you wake up for seven months? Your 14-year-old daughter is in the hands of insurgents and your government is making noise and spending money on unnecessary things. I think the whole country ought to have been mobilised to get those girls back alive or their bodies so that their parents can get closure.
Should the Nigerian government negotiate with Boko Haram?
Well, since they are stronger than the government, I think the government should negotiate with Boko Haram. But we did not even negotiate with President Habre of Chad when he tried to come into our country. We tried to solve our problem ourselves. Nigeria is capable, this is my point. I firmly believe that because when we were there with Prof. Gambari as Minister of Foreign Affairs, we had an Afrocentric foreign policy, that is, first Nigeria in our heart and then our immediate neighbours.  If you do not cultivate a good relationship with your neighbours, it will cost you so much in terms of security and the economy. So you have to cultivate a friendship with your neighbours and then it goes on to ECOWAS, Africa and the rest of the world. I think this is a viable policy option. But if your neigbours think you are a nuisance to them, then the economic activities and the cross-border trade suffer. Since colonial rule, when they sat down with rulers and maps and they cut us off; they cut us off in Benin, in Niger, in Chad and Cameroun. We are virtually surrounded by people who are culturally related to Nigerians. So it is quite easy to get our neighbours to sympathise with us and help us check insecurity so that we can stabilise out country and move forward.
The North is backwards in terms of development and the Boko Haram scourge has further compounded it. If elected the president, how do you hope to bridge the gap and reconstruct the economy of the North-east?
First of all it is important to debunk the notion being peddled by Boko Haram that Western education is ungodly. They go into schools and slaughter children both Christian and Muslim children. They go to mosques and explode devices, they also go to the churches and motor parks. So really, it is very easy to disabuse the minds of Nigerians on the wrong notion that Boko Haram is a religious enterprise. They are just simply terrorists. Having reduced them to that, then you can earn the support of the immediate communities for you to flush the insurgents out of the society. I believe that this will not take a long time. Then you discuss with your neighbours to make sure that weapons are not crossing the borders and that there are training facilities for terrorists. As we can see, the Camerounians are very serious about fighting Boko Haram. They are fighting the sect more than we are fighting the insurgency and they are doing it more successfully because they are able to secure their own part of the country from being occupied by Boko Haram. So you have to first get rid of Boko Haram before you can talk about rebuilding the North-east because you cannot do it while the fighting is still going on.
Then we have to go back to General Gowon’s three Rs. We have to assess how much damage to infrastructure has been done and then see how we can re-equip them and help people to get employment and access to goods and services. I think that soldiers and police barracks and their armories must be strengthened to ensure that they are properly secured. Thirdly, I think that the air force has to be made more effective by acquiring more new aircraft and establishing a base in Kano so that the distance to cover is shorter and returning to base is made easier.
Is oil an issue in this insurgency, especially with regard to the role of Chad?
Yes oil has now become an issue because Chad no longer needs us as it used to need us in terms of supporting them because oil has been discovered and developed in commercial quantities and they generate more money now. They can really bypass Nigeria and get what they want. So oil is an issue. It makes a country economically viable, especially because foreign countries investing in Chadian oil will certainly have sympathy for them and they can try to help them to be stable.
Why did Boko Haram prefer you leading their negotiation with federal government at the initials stage?
You know there were problems with the Boko Haram leadership, there were some people that claimed to be leaders of Boko Haram and the sect disowned them. So we have to identify the real leaders of Boko Haram before you can negotiate with them. I do not think the government has identified the leadership. So it is shooting into the dark and this is why I am insisting on intelligence, which means gathering information and making sure that it is correct and you deal with it. Without intelligence you waste too much resources and lives.
In terms of economic policy, the central question right now is oil and the fall in (foreign) reserves and the exchange rate? What direction of economic policy will you take Nigeria if you are elected president?
You see, it is a pity that we have a mono-cultural economy and we all depend on oil. We have agriculture, mining, things that can complement oil in terms of income and employment. I think insecurity cannot be separated from this. The amount of oil lost to the activities of oil bunkers sometimes has put Nigeria in a very serious condition. On the question of reserves, having been in charge of Ministry of Petroleum for over three years, I know that people who invest their capital and knowledge, they know Nigeria has prolific fields but they have moved offshore mainly due to insecurity. Unluckily for Nigeria, the offshore oil fields, most of them are prolific but are expensive to develop. The best way we can persuade investors to come in and invest is to secure the country. Security is still key to economic development. People will just load the barges and tankers on the high sea and come to collect the crude from the terminals and go and empty them because part of the oil proceeds belong to them  (60:40%). But when they are losing, they cannot bring in more resources and technology to establish more reserves in the country. So security is the key, this country has to be secured.
If you are elected president when the country is in great economic deficit, how will you turn things around and secure the economy?
I think that for the navy, air force and the army it is their fundamental constitutional responsibility to secure the country with whatever we have. I believe this country is still strong to make sure that we secure these areas as quickly as we can and re-establish confidence in ourselves, in the world and in our business partners. The capacity to do it rapidly, I am afraid, one has to know the total intelligence, one has to know where we are exactly before you can make a determined move to correct the situation. Really, it is a question of putting whatever we have available in terms of fighting capability to first secure that area, to earn the confidence of investors for them to quickly come back, because they can even organise soft loans for us to stabilise our budget deficits so that we move forward.
So can we deal with security without tackling corruption? When you came to power last time, you were known for your fight against corruption. Today, it’s a different kind of fight. In your party, the APC, there are many people accused of corruption, so how do you first put your house in order and then deal with the hydra-headed issue of corruption?
I think the priority has to be the other way round, we have to put the country in order first. In attempting to put the country in order, it is going to be a terrible situation for whoever wins and I pity whoever succeeds President Jonathan, even if it were to be myself. But this is what we can do; the practical way to tackle corruption is to draw a line, because institutions have been compromised. We cannot go on the way we did in the military in 1983 to fight corruption. This time around, you cannot do it that way because most of the institutions have been compromised. The person you will depend on as the auditor to go and check the CBN, maybe he has got some substantial part of the deal. These are the facts on the ground. So what you do is to persuade them and tell them to help to amend it. You have drawn a line, part of these are in courts and you cannot interfere with the judiciary, no matter how bad you believe the judiciary is. Constitutionally or otherwise, you have to leave the judiciary, you cannot bring better judges and put them on the job over night. It takes generations. So you have to appeal to their conscience and prove to them that you are serious and that cases in the courts that you are interested in them but let the judiciary continue. Cases that have been struck out, the government will move forward but any case that comes up will be handed over to the judiciary. But to say that you are going to investigate, I am afraid that government will not last a quarter because the institutions have been compromised.
So there is no capacity to investigate corruption and what you are proposing is to draw a line going forward?
Yes, to be honest, the capacity is not there because as I said, institutions have been compromised but if you say I am not going to participate in corruption, I am not going to tolerate it from day one, I hope the people will believe it and those that have cases in court have to give way so that people that have not been caught because God help those caught helping themselves then. We can deal with them. But as I said, you cannot go head on as we did under the military.
Essentially to understand you sir, so all these governors who are alleged to be corrupt, all these senators and others, you are drawing the line. Is that amnesty for corruption? Don’t you think that you are also being a victim of your past, that something you did successfully, that because you were criticised, you are now afraid to do it again?
No, I am not afraid. If I was afraid the day they attempted to bomb me, I would not have felt like continuing. But I felt I have done nothing wrong other than telling the truth where I find it serious enough to tell the truth. The important thing is that I mentioned it, you don’t have the capacity to catch the big thieves right now, you don’t have the capacity. You have to do it gradually because, as I said before, all the institutions have been compromised. Do you know that I said it about 18 months ago, I think it was at a book launch where I said in my own area in Nigeria, people hardly go to the police. If they are cheated or something, once they are alive, they say ‘God dey’ and they continue with life because they cannot afford justice, they cannot get it. Virtually the whole country has reached that stage.
How do you reconcile your party’s position to ensure zero tolerance for corruption with the approach you have decided to adopt on corruption?
No, I said that as far as corruption is concerned I will not tolerate it from the day I take charge of governance. But those cases that are in courts, they will continue but as we move forward, cases that come up will be handed over to the judiciary.
The effects of shale oil and the direction of our oil right now, how do you intend to save our mono-cultural economy, given the new world order for oil?
Again, the issue is the security and then the unemployment of restive youths.  Those who go to school cannot get jobs and others cannot go to school. I believe agriculture and solid minerals are the sectors we can move quickly into in dealing with the unemployment of the youths. But then moving forward has to take a lot of thinking and planning and cooperation of the international community to come and invest. We must get our infrastructure back. For instance, power supply. A lot of industries were closed because they cannot afford the diesel, they cannot survive the roadblocks from the ports to their places. You can imagine how many roadblocks are mounted by the military, police, customs and immigration. Everybody is asking for money, whether you are guilty or not guilty. So to secure this country is no joke. It has to be done. That is the bottom line.
Now let’s talk about religion. There is a perception that you are either a fanatic or a fundamentalist. Are you a religious fundamentalist?
Well, what I know is that I am a practising Muslim. I think that those who accuse me of being a fundamentalist ought to have seen which career I came out from. From the day I left school I did not work for a day and I joined the military and consistently the Nigerian military has been 80 per cent Christians. So you find out that your orderly, your cook and sergeant major are Christians and you are a Muslim. And fighting through the civil war, if you could recall the international media was saying the Muslim North versus the Christian South. You remember how it upset General Gowon to the extent that after the civil war when they rushed to help us, he said, ‘I do not need your blood money.’  They refused to understand that Gowon was and is still a Christian and all his commanders were Christians and less than 10 per cent of the military were Muslims. So this perception that I a religious fanatic is what can I call sophisticated disinformation. I cannot disown my religion because of the accusations. People I worked with for more than 20 years and I rose from second lieutenant to general. All the commands and staff that I worked with along the line, most of my associates were Christians, for example when I moved into Maiduguri to sort out the Chad invasion, my number two then was Ugokwe. He is a Chritian  from the South-east. He happened to be my coursemate but because of civil war he lost his seniority and he became my number two. When the Americans provided President Shagari with satellite pictures that I had gone beyond Nigerian border, I received a presidential order to pull out and fall back into Nigeria. I handed over the division to him and went back to Jos.
Do you go to Mecca? When last were you in Mecca?
I did not know you were following me so closely. The last time I was in Mecca was 12 years ago. Somebody asked me this question why was I do not go to Mecca like some others and I told him that I come from a big family in terms of numbers. And with the collapse of education, I have to make bigger contributions to the education of members of my family. Again with the collapse of the health facilities, these are immediate requirements for majority of Nigerian families. So I have less money to go to Mecca because I have to contribute to the education of blood relations.
So should the state fund anybody to Jerusalem or Mecca?
My opinion is no. As far as Islam is concerned, going to Mecca is your personal business.
Religion is also a toxic issue in Nigeria, I understand that there is somebody that you like, who you may make your vice-president but happens to be a Muslim. Will you have a Muslim-Muslim ticket?
Yes these developments are very irritating. I talked about General Gowon and his commanders and his nine years in office. I talked to you about past pairings: (Bashorun  Moshood) Abiola and (Ambassador Babagana) Kingibe and I told you myself and  (Major-General) Tunde Idiagbon – military – and Abiola and Kingibe – civilian. So this surge of religion consciousness, as far I am concerned, is a recent development and it has been taken to a bigger dimension. Let me tell you in 2007, I went to Lagos to meet with religious leaders and one of the biggest Christian religious groups. After an hour of meeting with them, the leader said to me, general, I replied ‘Your Eminence’, and he said, ‘We are not going to accept a Muslim-Muslim ticket.’  I said thank you very much. I respected him because he meant it. But if you ask me, I think Nigerians ought to be less concerned about the issue. I joined partisan politics in April 2002 and by 2003, there were governors, there were senators, but I got the ticket. I picked late Chuba Okadigbo, every Nigerian knew Okadigbo, he was a Roman Catholic and an Igbo and he was brought up politically by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, we were rigged out and we were in court for 30 months, up to the Supreme Court. In 2007, I picked Chief Umeh-Ezeoke, he was an Igbo and Roman Catholic. Again we were rigged out.  In 2011, I picked Tunde Bakare, a pastor. So how more Christian do you want me to go in picking as running mate? I never picked a Muslim as a running mate.
But this time around?
I am not going to tell you. I would do that after the primary. If I win the primary then I will reveal who is my running mate.
But would you consider a Muslim-Muslim ticket?
I said I would not tell you.
There is a school of thought that said your incursion into Chad was in disobedience to the civilian authorities. That you did not wait to get the permission of President Shagari.
The type of training I received up to my commissioning and up to my rank then, major-general, was that you have to be loyal to those that are below you and those above you. How can a country, which America literarily forced us to give petroleum products to, instead of its president flying in to come see our president and thanking him, went and killed our soldiers and you think I will wait for orders. Well, I asked for their understanding, whether they gave me or not I do not know until they asked me to pull out, otherwise I would have lost respect from my soldiers.
I think that most people think that you are not a fundamentalist. But I have seen your children at the airports, they are like my children, they love good things. I do not think that you raised yourself in that fundamentalist way. However the fear is about those around you, that the nature of your support base is driven by clerics. The fear is that if you become president will these clerics not take over the Villa?
I am just a Muslim and those who studied Islam or know more about its tenets know that it is all about justice. But in Nigeria, we are not practicing Sharia, the constitution has set out legal provisions and states that have voted for Sharia have got their courts to some extent. But then in the end, it is the Supreme Court that will decide. So I cannot work out of the constitution of the country. If those clerics are supporting me as you alleged, then perhaps they are supporting me because they feel there will be justice. If you steal, you will have to return it and maybe get some punishment but if you do not steal you will live in peace.
There is this perception that Boko Haram has religious undertones. If elected president, what will be your position be on Sharia?
It is about the constitution. It is the constitution that we agreed to follow as an emerging nation. The 1999 Constitution gives every Nigerian the right of practicing any religion of his or her choice and not to even practice any religion. I had deliberately refused to make comments on what happened in Nassarawa State where some 70 policemen were killed by a militant group and one misguided SSS person came and said that they had pardoned them. I issued a statement that she had no right to do that. The fundamental responsibility of government is to protect the lives and properties of citizens. And Nigerians, by the constitution, can practice any religion they wish to or refuse to practise any.
Now what do you like about President Jonathan?
His smile.
If you look at other four people running with you under the APC, assuming that you choose not to run again, who would you chose to fly the party’s flag at the election?
I think if I am not running, I should leave it to the party to decide. I understand Rochas Okorocha got two forms, one for president and one for governor, I do not know which one he wants. In any case, I think by receiving those two forms he has disqualified himself from the race.  So out of the remaining, Atiku Abubakar, Kwankwaso and Nda-Isaiah, I think I will choose Kwankwaso.  Atiku was the vice-president to President Obasanjo for eight years and you know how they ended up. You know that one more than myself. While in school, I was a class monitor, a prefect, a head boy. From there, a governor, a minister, chairman of PTF and a head of state and so people can refer to something. Kwankwaso has also served as governor for the second time and was Minister of Defence, may be you can refer to something. But Sam is a very difficult one.
What is your economic blue print?
It will be a set of regulations, strategies, policies and a vision on how to stabilise the economy, secure the country and move forward. I think that’s what it is.
The APC presidential primary is coming up this week and you have never gone through a competitive primary. What do you think your chances are in the contest?
Well, that is why I have been going round the country meeting the delegates to seek their understanding and support. There are these reports that some people are spending so much money. But I think Nigerians have suffered enough and I think it is not a question of getting just N50,000 and then you are on your own for the next four years. I think it is a question of thinking seriously among the five of us who will really make an attempt at securing our country and managing it efficiently. I respect the system, so the best way we sell ourselves is to tell the electorate what we can do and leave them to decide based on our previous performance or lack of it and then vote for us. If they make a mistake, then we will suffer, our children will suffer. If they make the right choice and regroup around the right person, then we may salvage our country once more.
You presented yourself to Nigerians in the last three elections but lost although you claimed you were rigged out. What measures have you put in place to ensure that this does not happen again?
What I am suggesting is that Nigerians should stand for a free, fair and credible election, otherwise look at the problem some parties are having anointing candidates before the primaries. The system does not stop parties from having consensus candidates to produce the candidates but the ideal is to go through the primaries and choose who they want to represent them. The bottom line is to have a credible election.


Sunday, 28 February 2016

Saraki Set For A Showdown With Obasanjo - The Nation

Saraki Set For A Showdown With Obasanjo - The Nation

Discussion in 'Political News' started by RemmyAlex, Yesterday at 9:18 PM. Views count: 3115
  1. The nation’s Senate, especially its embattled President, Bukola Saraki is ready for a showdown with former President Olusegun Obasanjo over his recent letter to the national assembly..

    Perhaps, if the wily old fox had tended to the needs of the assorted commercially lucrative birds in his Ota Farm instead of picking his pen to write mendacious letters to those in positions of authority, maybe the lawmakers would not be roaring for a fight at this critical period of our national life.

    But because mischief is second nature to Obasanjo coupled with the nagging urge to display his writing skill after obtaining a degree in Religious Studies from the National Open University, we now have a problem to contend with. For a man whose letters made huge impact, both positive and negative in the runoff to last year’s presidential election, it is doubtful if anyone would have succeeded in persuading the Ebora Owu to lay down his poisoned pen and allow Bukola and his gang of lawbreakers to find a way out of the a pervading, nay putrefying, self-inflicted hypocrisy.

    For, if the truth must be told, there are too many hypocrites fronting as the real deal in the nation’s legislative chambers. Recall that, in the not-so-distant past, one of their colleagues had actually wondered how drug peddlers, certified fraudsters, confirmed criminals and petty robbers found their into becoming powerful members of that ‘distinguished’ gathering? In fact, that senator, a former officer of the law, was forced to withdraw the statement. That was even before former state governor, including those facing criminal trials on corrupt practices, started adopting the hallowed chamber as some sort of retirement facility. Today, a big chunk of these characters have become a sickening plague to the system regardless of their pretentious leaning to party affiliations and ideologies if there is any.

    Read more - The Nation

Aso Rock Lens: Buhari’s padded budget of controversies

Olalekan Adetayo
Olalekan Adetayo
Governments at all levels derive pleasure in christening their annual budgets. Apart from naming them budgets of a particular year, like 2016 Budget, they also come up with catchy words such as Budget of Consolidation, Budget of Emancipation and so on.
Since this present administration came on board based on the change mantra of the ruling All Progressives Congress, it was not a surprise to many that the first budget prepared by the Muhammadu Buhari administration, the 2016 budget, was tagged Budget of Change.
Events have however showed that there are more appropriate descriptions for the document, far from being a budget of change. What about christening it a Budget of Controversies? If not that it will only be meaningful to those who understand Yoruba, one would have considered a Budget of abiku so oloogun deke.In the beginning, not a few Nigerians held the belief that the 2016 Budget held a lot of hope. For instance, the APC had last year explained that it could not begin to implement the social welfare programmes that formed part of its electoral promises to Nigerians because the funds needed were not captured in the budget of that year which was prepared by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Office of the Vice President that supervises the economy has been using every opportunity available to it to inform Nigerians that the money needed for the programme had been captured in the budget proposal currently before the National Assembly.
The making of the budget was as dramatic as the controversies that later trailed it. The government had boasted that it adopted zero-budgeting method as against the previous way of preparing budgets through the envelope system.
Some officials in charge of the budget, I recall, were camped in the old Banquet Hall of the Villa for days while they were busy with the document. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was invited on a Saturday to see and appreciate the kind of efforts the officials were putting into the preparation. During that visit, I saw the officials glued to their laptops like yahoo yahoo guys will do.
Finally on December 21, 2015, the Federal Executive Council approved the 2016 Budget and gave Buhari the go ahead to present same to a joint session of the National Assembly the following day.
I remember vividly that on January 6, 2016 after the first FEC meeting of the year, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, joined her Information and Culture counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to brief reporters about the outcome of the meeting. A question was raised on how the government would ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies do not pad the budget.
Adeosun was very categorical in her response that such could never happen under the present dispensation. “There can be no padding of budget when revenues are so thin and one of the things that I think that the budgeting process is doing is pruning down unnecessary expenditure. Let me also mention that we have set up the efficiency unit that is going to look into how we spend money, look at how we make savings because the money just isn’t there. I don’t think this administration is part of that and secondly I think at this level, I don’t think there can be anything like that,” she had said.
Not long after, the controversies started coming up. It started with the claim that the budget presented by the President had been withdrawn. Later, they said the document was missing in the National Assembly. Again, another story went round that there were more than one versions of the document before the lawmakers. Then the issue of discrepancies in some figures also came up. Expectedly, all these were denied by the authorities.
When the evidence became overwhelming, the government admitted that there were discrepancies in the document and was quick to attribute them to some government officials described as “budget mafia.”
Just last Saturday again, Mohammed said the budget was not padded. “A lot has been said about the budget. Let me make it clear that nobody can ever accuse this government of padding any budget. The total of all ministries put together has not exceeded N6.08 trillion that was submitted. It is factually incorrect to say that the budget was padded,” he said.
But the President disowned the minister on Wednesday when he admitted that the budget was indeed padded. I like Buhari for his frankness. He talks from his heart when he talks and he is always blunt. You may not like his bluntness but this President will say it as it is.
In admitting that the budget was padded, Buhari said the alterations which he described as embarrassing and disappointing made the document being debated in the National Assembly completely different from what was prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. He said since he had been holding public offices, he had never heard about budget padding before this incident that happened under his watch! What else can we say on this matter?
… and Osinbajo’s curious political meeting
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo hosted an unusual meeting on Wednesday. That was the first time that kind of meeting would be held under the present administration. The bigwigs in the ruling APC attended.
They included a leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; the party’s National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yusuf Lasun; Senate Leader, Ali Ndume; Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal; and a former interim chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande.
Others in attendance were the party’s Deputy National Chairman, Segun Oni; Chief Tony Momoh; Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; Imo State Deputy Governor, Eze Madubere; and the Special Adviser to the Vice President on Political Matters, Babafemi Ojudu.
There were many curious things about the meeting. First, the meeting was not on the Vice President’s schedule for the day, at least as of the time his schedule for the week that I sighted was prepared. The second curious thing was that a meeting of such magnitude could be held when Buhari, the leader of the party, was outside the country. Another curious aspect of it was why the meeting was not held at the national headquarters of the party.
It was also curious that the Office of the Vice President attempted to stop journalists from reporting that the meeting held. It was again curious that all participants were advised not to grant press interviews after the session. In fact, Ojudu saw them off one after the other to their cars to ensure that they did not break “the oath of secrecy.”
When it became clear that they must break their silence on the meeting, the Office of the Vice President came up with a two-paragraph statement that was neither here nor there. The statement claimed that the party leaders met on issues affecting the party and the nation. Authors of the statement did not find it fit to mention some of the issues, especially those that affect the nation.
The meeting left a lot of questions unanswered and I am sure the last has not been heard about it.


Sunday, 21 February 2016

Jonathan Presidency Was A Disaster Foretold (1) - Dele Sobowale

“In every community there is a class of people profoundly dangerous to the rest. I don’t mean criminals. For them we have punitive sanctions. I mean the leaders. Invariably, the most dangerous people seek power.”Saul Bellow. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 124.

“Dele how can you Nigerians hand over your country to all those crazy people?” Nigerian-American calling from the US.

An old friend called  from the United States last week. He is a naturalized Nigerian American who had not been in Nigeria since he left about twenty years ago. He had been following the revelations concerning the arms deal and withdrawals of millions of dollars from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, allegedly purely for the PDP campaign.

He went on to inform me, as if I don’t know, that even Nixon’s Watergate scandal, which many still regard as the most shameful event involving an American President was a mere child’s play compared to this. Still thundering, he asked, “You mean the President of Nigeria can actually ask somebody to go to the Central Bank and take money out for distribution to his party members and nobody asked questions until now? No wonder your country is underdeveloped. And, is it true that this Jonathan guy has a Ph.D?”

Feeling thoroughly embarrassed, I meekly answered, “Yes, he has a doctorate in Zoology.” Permit me if the expletive he uttered in response to that declaration is unprintable. I felt ashamed of my Fellow Countrymen, especially all those who made the Goodluck Jonathan presidency possible from 2011 to 2015. Only a totally conscienceless and unpatriotic Nigerian can fail to admit that this disaster will for ever haunt this generation of Nigerians. Posterity will always ask if we ourselves were not crazy to have elected such an individual as our President; they will definitely judge all those who worked for his re-election as insane – even if with benefit of hindsight.

As my caller was ranting on, and calling Nigerians a bunch of unflattering names, I eventually got in a word. “My friend, this disaster was foretold, as early as 2009; followed up in 2010 and repeated in 2011 and 2015.” However, before getting into my “I told you so sermon”, let us pause and identify those who produced the catastrophe called Jonathan Presidency, because if history is ever to do justice to this generation of adult Nigerians, it must single out the major culprits of this monumental calamity.

Step forward Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, ex-President of Nigeria, and dictator of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from 1999-2011. Baba, always full of words, but lacking the wisdom to distinguish between what needs to be said or left unsaid, was the architect of Jonathan’s emergence as Vice-President in 2007. The Americans have always regarded the VP position as a “heart beat from the presidency”; not the “spare tyre” which an uncouth Nigerian called it. And, when Yar’Adua’s heart stopped beating in 2010, Jonathan stepped up to the Presidency. A man whose lean credentials could not have fetched him Head of Department in a decent university, who had never been in charge of anything, never unilaterally achieved any objective, became the President of the largest black country on earth. Never had the job and the new helmsman been more mismatched in recent history. It was akin to sending an ant to go lift a truckload of sugar. It takes what it can for itself.

Wisdom would have dictated that the nation would stomach the obviously unprepared fellow for a year and then through a free and fair election choose someone with a great deal of experience and all the leadership qualities Jonathan lacked or had not developed. But, OBJ, then Chairman of the Board of Trustee of the PDP, would not allow commonsense to prevail. Operating with self-assumed superior sagacity, he hardly allowed Yar’Adua’s body to be laid to rest when he started yelling. “Jonathan, you must run for the Presidency; don’t tell me you won’t run.” Well, Jonathan ran; Obasanjo supported him and he won the election in 2011. As the reports on Jonathan, Obasanjo’s 2011 candidate for President, trickle in, objective observers of “Ebora Owu” must ask: “Where is the commonsense in recommending and pushing a disaster on the people?” Wisdom is obviously lacking in the selection; patriotism is suspect. And, let nobody deny Baba Iyabo’s (and where is Iyabo?) role in the whole of a mess in which we find ourselves.

Among those now gloating over the revelations of grand larceny under GEJ are those “progressives” who once belonged to a political party called Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN. They certainly don’t want to be reminded about their own ignominious role in Jonathan’s victory in 2011. But, the history of this era and this unfortunate episode will be incomplete and falsified if their contribution to our present predicament is left out. Theirs was a purely mercenary one as will be briefly described. The party in 2011, as most people with short memory would recall, had its own Presidential candidate, one unfortunate stalking horse called Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. Ribadu’s was once a highly regarded corruption fighter as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, who had been badly rough-handled by the PDP government – mainly because most of his victims were PDP governors. So, ACN adopted him as their flag-bearer – despite raised eyebrows by people who thought a swindle was in progress.

The way the merchants of ACN dropped Ribadu, a few days to the 2011 elections can best be described in the words of O. Henry, 1862-1910, “It was beautiful and simple as all truly great swindles are.” (VBQ p 239). The party had canvassed for votes for election into various offices and had largely “captured” the South West – until the Presidential Election. Suddenly, supporters started receiving multiple text messages; party workers went from door to door; and, a few days to the election the party faithful were ordered to cast their votes for Jonathan. Poor Ribadu was seating in Yola expecting an avalanche of votes from Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti; Edo also. The man must have thought something was wrong with his eyes and his TV set as the results came in from those ACN strongholds. I was recuperating in a hospital in Abuja when it happened and as AIT brought the results, I had to ask a nurse if I was going mad. Jonathan cleared all ACN states except Osun. Later, we learnt from the OWNER of the party that they sold the votes and Nigeria for N17 billion when Ribadu was considered a loser. So, the South West votes in 2011 also helped GEJ to become President. ACN, please step forward to receive your traitors’ medal…


Forget the conscienceless others. I would like to know how Okonjo-Iweala and Reuben Abati feel now about being associated with GEJ. Were they aware all these things were going on or were they ignorant? I pity them. GEJ covered them with “gold”; now he is splashing them with guilt. The money will end at the grave site; the dishonour for ever.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Why Oba of Benin is Number One

oo4 Oba Erediauwa.jpg - oo4 Oba Erediauwa.jpg
Odia Ofeimun
I am a Republican, not a Royalist. But, in a country in which we have all conceded the coexistence of Republican and Royalist values, it should be considered quite unseemly to watch one set of the interacting values being rough-handled, muddied or treated with improper decorum without feeling a need to intervene on behalf of rectitude.  I have been so challenged since the eruption of the controversy ignited by the Alake of Egbaland, Oba Adedotun Gbadebo, who allowed himself to do a ranking of Yoruba Obas that placed the Oba of Benin as third in the hierarchy.  In one sense, as Chief David Edebiri, the Esogban of Benin, immediately retorted, it is wrong to rank the Oba of Benin among Yoruba Obas because the Oba of Benin is not a Yoruba and therefore cannot be placed on a list of Yoruba Obas. I call it 'in a sense' because the Esogban's position may be disputed on the grounds, as will soon be clear, that there is too much siblinghood  between Yoruba and Benin traditional rulers for the ethnic difference between them to be rendered in cast-iron terms.
The special relationship between Yoruba and Benin obas, not unlike the relationship between Benin and Onitsha kings, or between Lagos and Edo kings, makes it all the more impolitic to do a ranking of the Benin monarchy in Yoruba royal affairs without abiding by certain inter-subjective and shared norms. And let me note, very quickly, that it is the presence of such norms that makes it quite normal for Chief Edebiri  to put the Oba of Benin as Number One without appearing to contradict himself.  In his response to the Alake, Chief Edebiri has argued, quite simply, that the term oba was not used to describe Yoruba kings until the Oba of Benin got there.  This may well be disputed.
Except that it has the merit of being close to verisimilitude when he argues that the king of Ibadan was called Olu, the king of Abeokuta was called Alake, the king of Oyo was called Alafin; only the Benin monarch was Oba. With the backing of glotto-cultural studies, however, we should be able to impute  that the term, oba, is a root word shared by both the Yoruba and the Edo languages and that among the sixteen kings that reigned in Ile-Ife before the arrival of Oduduwa's party, many had oba as prefix to their names. To say this amounts to jumping ahead of the argument a little. But let me add, for those who are not familiar with this piece of anthropology, that Oduduwa, the acknowledged founder-ancestor, the progenitor of the Yoruba nationality, was a stranger who met a historical line of obas in Ile Ife, the last of whom was Obatala, the leader of the Igbo, the autochthons, later deified as god of creativity or creation, sometimes synced with Orunmila, for wisdom. Make your pick.
Let me also add that, from the studies of the Ifa divination system made by several scholars, as imbibed from traditional Ifa devotees, it is those sixteen elders whom Oduduwa met in Ife that provided the sub-structure of Ifa as a formal system of wisdom into which people  could be initiated in the way that we all go to tertiary institutions to learn philosophy, jurisprudence and mathematics. Or mathemagics, if you like. It is of very grave significance in this narrative that we should acknowledge that the Ifa Divination system, before the intervention of Islam, Christianity, and Lord Frederick Lugard's balkanisation and regionalisation of traditional gnosis, was based on the existential patterns or prowess of the sixteen elders, or kings, who formed the planks upon which the wisdom of the people, by ritual accretions, was organised.
Every good student of Ifa should know that in the Edo Divination system of Igwega, two of the sixteen elders have been displaced by Edo personages who are not to be found in the Ife version as designed by Agbonmiregun, the Master, who went from Ekiti to Ile Ife and established the rounded system of Ifa Divination as passed by other masters between the Edo, Nupe, Igala and Yoruba devotees. It can be imagined that, as a matter of ritual, they gathered at Ife, which was quite the centre of their world, for a divination that transcended ethnicities but was based on a common worship of the earth mother, Efa. All the forest peoples, from Dahomey to the Cameroon mountains, across the Nri of Igboland and past Ogoja, were devotees of one form or other of Ifa Divination.
The historian, Ade Obayemi, has imputed that so many concepts in Yoruba Ifa, which some devotees may regard as mumbo jumbo, are actually Nupe terms that proper glotto-cultural analysis and translation could redeem. This partly explains why Benin Kings could induct or abduct and adopt Igbo medicinemen who became part of the common national culture, as Egharevba, the Benin historian vouchsafes. What a linguistic, glotto-cultural analysis tells us is that, in Ile-ife, before the dispersal occasioned by Oduduwa's emergence, the Yoruba language, as one among many in the Kwa language complex, was once the same language with others including Igbo and that they still share common root words beyond the simple ones like Omi and miri.
So if Chief Edebiri's resort to linguistic analysis wont help a resolution of the ranking of the Yoruba obas, what will? I suppose it is the discomfort of trying to answer such a question, and the fear of being wrong-footed in a bid to dabble into what appears to be quite esoteric, that has warded off many of the dignitaries who have been asked by journalists to respond to the controversy. Some of them think it a needless controversy that could detract from more worthwhile issues of the moment. True, there are crying problems that our society needs to face and resolve. Some political entrepreneurs who require a united front in order not to disperse collective energies have been quick to advise against worsening of the already existing inter-ethnic divisions in our midst. Somehow, they do not consider that to ignore the controversy or down play its driven logic, could harden the ranking that has been attempted and, to that extent, make it quite affirmable with the accretion of time. Of course, those who are already convinced of its veracity and have lived in the shadow of its ritualised affirmation, all their lives, would want the ranking to remain as they know it.  Hence, they act bored by the controversy and would therefore wish that we move on quickly to other matters. Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you see it) the controversy won't go away.
At any rate, this is not the first time it has visited or reared its head. The ranking, as it happens, is so deeply rooted in the ethnic unconscious of some people that there is good reason for the palace in Benin City to wish, with each eruption of the controversy, to put the records, or lack of records, straight. It happens to be the case that the ranking of the obas takes on a life of its own within every effort to build a sense of common nationality among Yoruba people. Every bid by the Yoruba to unite under a common leader or in conformity with a presumption of common ancestry, has always yielded one form of such ranking or the other.
It has become part of a modernist or modernising  project which nation-builders escape only when they are able to put the knowledge industry at the centre of their quest. Especially, with the establishment of the Egbe Omo Oduduwa on home ground in 1948, the business of building up such a knowledge industry, creating a formal historiography to get it right, has been part of every bid at nation-building. With bounding successes in research and publications, everything seemed to be going fine before the regression that came with political crisis in the sixties and the virtual abandonment of the enlightenment project that Obafemi Awolowo is still rightly praised for.
Frankly, it has since boiled down to the old saw about putting things in books if you want to hide them from Africans. Otherwise, too many scholars, Yoruba and non-Yoruba, in our midst, unrecognised by a thoroughly philistine, anti-enlightenment elite, have sweated their lives out researching and correcting the whimsical, myth-suffused folklore and the ultra-parochial rendering of the past, that many of our leaders regard as history, with a capital H.  The result is that, with so much cultural illiteracy abounding, we all go mucking around with woolly and crooked thoughts about ourselves and our neighbours to the detriment of social and political projects that could save our part of the world from backwardness and decay. Specific to the ranking of the Yoruba obas: So deeply ingrained is the ranking among not only the Obas, but many Yoruba big wigs!  The palace in Benin City has had to be effusively vigilant, on perpetual watch, as it were, rebutting every indication of a resurgence of the claim.
It happens to be a claim that many, including Professors of History, lacking the requisite cultural literacy have humoured with shrugs and incipient concordance in order not to be wrong-footed by popular opinionating. Surely, being only too willing to wish the sleeping dog of history back to sleep whenever it is roused by controversy, they wittingly or unwittingly, contribute to allowing the already stated position to remain the unspoken but reigning truth of the matter. The implication, even if unintended, is that they withdraw enthusiasm from the need to clear the mushy debris of insupportable folklore that masquerades as history. They contribute  to the death of historical consciousness in our part of the world.
What must be borne in mind in the case of the Alake's recent pronouncement on the ranking of Yoruba obas, is that it happened during a visit by the newly crowned Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, who has been making commendable representations on behalf of Yoruba unity since his elevation to the throne. His definitive un-jinxing of the hiatus between the Ife and Oyo monarchies, by a visit that dammed several decades of distancing, has raised enormous and quite salutary vibes across the country. Much beyond Yorubaland. One wishes that it was actually always the case that we had obas, like him, who would stop distracting their people with arguments about the past that divide rather than bring people together. 
As such, it was to be expected that visits between kings of different communities  swearing descent from a common ancestor would yield some brag, and even some luxuriating in sheer grandiloquence, for the sake of ethnic pride and national self-glorification. Quite understandable.  In such situations, all traditional cultures in the world, seeking to have their day in the sun, have tended always to confer even other-worldly features on their monarchs as a form of self promotion  for  the tribe, nation or race. In particular, new Obas have tended to attract a hyper inflation of oriki  and other panegyrics in order to match the character sketch of  an igbakejiorisa, a virtual divinity.
Such moments in history inspire what, in his essay on The Monarchical Tendency in African Political Culture, Ali Mazrui describes in the context of the quest for aristocratic effect, the personalisation of authority, the sacralisation of authority and the quest for a royal historical identity.  In the case of the Ooni Ogunwusi, until the Alake's 'goof' which the Benin Palace has rebutted, something ethereally all-accommodating, sanguine, and salutary seemed to be attending to his forthright bid for unity wherever he went. Now, clearly, what has been pulled out of the bag by the Alake, even if returned to the bag, can no longer spell in a way that will make all comfortable.
It calls to be taken in hand and dealt with in a manner that will not continue to put the Nigerian Project at the mercy of poorly designed ethnic projects. Indeed, now that the Alake, through his media spokesman, has insisted that his ranking of the obas is bam on the mark, and not retractable, it calls for a serious engagement of the issues beyond reliance on work-a-day folklore. To be sure, his insistence may be quite benign in the context of intra-ethnic muscle-flexing which may cause only mild grating, such as when the Alafin of Oyo haggles with the Ooni over decades, as to who is superior. But when the matter goes inter-cultural, applied in a multi-ethnic situation, it can get truly pernicious, with  grave repercussions; enough to unsettle the balance of respect between neighbours. This is especially so when all the verifiable propositions  to the contrary are dismissed without a second thought; such that the cooping of ethnic self-assurance, on the one hand, is turned into a means of thumbing noses at or down-grading neighbours who, on the other hand, have been no less illustrious from antiquity to the present.
The core issue is that, whether intended or not, the ranking of the obas across ethnic boundaries implies an attempt at a form of suzerainty of one ethnic group or nationality over another. By imputing a vertical ordering of sorts, it puts a dubious historical stamp on sheer fictions that could be truly disorienting. In an age when, as we know, aspiring internal colonialists begin the quest for assimilation or overcoming of others by, first, having  to invent whimsy as a verity of times and tides, it can get quite far reaching. Who needs to be told that such tides must be stemmed before they harden into inscrutable canon! Or, let me put it this way: that as someone with an instinctive intellectual empathy with all ethnic groups craving for self governance, seeking unity in their ranks or working to disperse the succubus of a unitarised federalism that rampages across and assaults our God-given and highly creative diversity, I would seriously invite all Nigerians to abhor the over-parochial presumption that seeks to put others down in the process of crafting a new sense of self for any ethnic nationality.
Who can tell what could be made of a cunningly designed myth of ethnic super-ordinance  as a means of turning the freeborn into a non-citizen in his father's house? This is not just a matter of rhetoric. It raises questions, not to be taken lightly, in the face of a new Ooni, preaching unity of the Yoruba people, at a time when dithering Yoruba elites, annoyingly self-deprecatory in normal times, have been finally goaded by hard times, to reach the point of agreeing to join in forging a united economic front around the Odua Investments; with Lagos joining the fold. It begins to serve as a warning or a threat, however, when a paramount Oba, such as the Alake, claiming fourth position in the hierarchy of Yoruba Obas, chooses to flaunt one myth that has been permanently disputed by a neighbor for as long as it has surfaced. Even for people who do not normally care about such things, it begins to grate, when it is realised that such ranking is based on myths that cannot even bear forensic scrutiny. 
Let's face it: between the Edo and the Yoruba, those who wish that all of us should live by  myths can be seen as strategically roughening up the insuperable distinctiveness of the Edo people within a notion of the siblinghood of their palaces. What they may not realise, and therefore need to be told, is that it gets truly atavistic, when  others claim you as sibling only in order to degrade or down-grade what you are. It has the same kind of feel as the myth which makes a distinction between Hausa Bakwai and Hausa Banza with a peculiar cunning of history built into it. It could be worse when it comes from a very unnecessary wish to assimilate others while negating their interests through a cold indifference to facts, thus turning whimsical mythology into history.
The good part is that, in an age when History is being displaced by so much cant, ignored and muddied by those who prefer to re-invent the past as a means of achieving modern ambitions at other people's expense, there are criteria of ascertainment of knowledge which can be deployed to test the veracity of narratives. No matter how cleverly or high-mindedly such narratives try to overcome what is already known or knowable, the point is that they can be defeated by invoking the awesome wealth of information at the behest of contemporary knowledge industries. I dare say that on this matter of the ranking of the obas, the saving grace is that all the information needed to decide one way or the other can be found in debates that have been going on, for decades, among historians and anthropologists, disquisitions between cultural philosophers and the search for balance between literary critics.
In my book, In Search of Ogun: Soyinka In Spite of Nietzsche, (published in 2014) I have pooled together a number of the strands in order to indicate the necessity for movement away from metaphysical dead ends and the parochial dredge of many of the arguments which over privilege inward-looking ethnic issues rather than their universalistic implications. The point is that ethnic solidarity may be quite a good workshop for developing values that are relevant for wider activism in the promotion of shared human values, but the latter must always be properly minded to obviate the tendency for self-apprehension to be turned into the case of a snake eating its own tail unto death.
I see it as a case for unveiling supposedly esoteric or secret knowledge, making public property of arcane issues of cults and conclaves, such that, for instance, we can appreciate the reality of Yoruba people who may worship a deified Edo personage; Edo people who are devotees of a Yoruba god; and the treason of history which can confront people of different ethnic groups, even enemy nationalities, with the reality of a common ancestor. In Soyinka  In Spite of Nietzsche, I  contend with principles and values that promise astute approaches to  management science and management of society by looking through and beyond positions that are derivable from the gods our ancestors worshipped.
I am concerned that it is because we do not always keep the right perspectives on such matters that, adding the ranking of obas, we run into major altercations. For the purpose of this write-up, my intention is to dwell less on metaphysics and issues of cultural philosophies. I wish to engage current issues by recalling  and engaging one of the many altercations that came to a head in 2004, yielding a big blow-out between Ooni Olubuse and Oba Erediauwa, after the latter's publication of his autobiography, I REMAIN, SIR, YOUR OBEDIENT SERVANT in which he devoted a chapter to 'The Benin-Ife Connection'.
In that particular chapter of the book, Oba Erediauwa questions the veracity of the two versions of the origins of the Benin monarchy that came from Egharevba's authoritative and highly regarded A SHORT HISTORY OF BENIN. In the first edition, Egharevba wrote: "Many many years ago, Odua (Oduduwa) of Uhe (Ile-Ife), the father and progenitor of the Yoruba kings sent his eldest son Obagodo - who took the title of Ogiso - with a large retinue all the way from Uhe to found a Kingdom in this part of the world". 
..."And in the fourth (and now current) edition of the book, the late author wrote: "Many, many years ago, the Binis came all the way from Egypt to found a more secure shelter in this part of the world after a short stay in the Sudan and at Ile-Ife, which the Benin people called Uhe...The rulers or kings were commonly known as "Ogiso" before the arrival of Oduduwa and his party at Ife in Yorubaland, about the 12th century of the Christian era".
Anyone reading the two versions in the first and fourth editions will be tempted to agree with Erediauwa that there were interpolations that amounted to a bias in the narrative. One may not agree with Erediauwa's claim that Egharevba's "Edo ne'kue (Edo-Akure - partly Benin partly Yoruba....) blood in the man manifested itself" or that the editors, "the experts in the Ibadan University contributed to the contradictions". But it is too obvious that something happened to the narrative that is quite out of sync with the authority on display. 
Erediauwa simply avers that "the earliest rulers or kings in what is today Edo or Benin were known as "Ogiso". The first was known as Ogiso Igodo and the last (of the thirty one or so of them) was Ogiso Owodo, the father of Ekaladeran who became known as Oduduwa in Ife. In essence, Oduduwa came after the Ogisos. Not before. According to Erediauwa, the idea of a Benin Prince choosing a title in order to be king did not even begin in Benin History until after Oduduwa's youngest son, Oramiyan, fathered a child, the dumb one, in Benin, who literally gave himself a name when on winning a game of akhue he gave a shout of victory, OWOMIKA,"my hand has struck it", his first intelligible speech. 
The Benin people corrupted the name and it became Eweka. Also, it became tradition, thereafter, for every king-to-be to go to Use, the site of the game of akhue, to choose a name before climbing the throne.  So to say, Egharevba, whom we all owe so much, got it all mixed up.  As Edo traditions have it,  Ogiso Owodo was advised by the oracle to have his son Ekaladeran executed for being the source of the unhappiness in the land during his reign. Unaware that he was being deceived, he sent the public executioner, Oka Odionmwan, to do the job. But the executioner decided to have pity on Ekaladeran and "on reaching the outskirts of the city" let him off. From there the prince wandered into the world, settling alone, first in Ughoton, where the elders gave him hospitality, before he moved to a village on the outskirts of Ile-Ife.
When his Igodo people first learnt of his being alive and went searching for him, they found him living as leader in one of the stranger settlements outside the main bowl of Ife.  'Oke Ora (Ora Hill) between Ile Ife and Ilesha', insists Ade Obayemi. Although Adebanji Akintoye in his A HISTORY OF THE YORUBA PEOPLE, does not attend to the claim that Oduduwa came from Benin, he posits that it was from the settlement outside the Bowl of Ife that Oduduwa moved down into the city with his party to occupy one of the key stranger quarters, pooling them together until he became leader of all the stranger elements. He moved against the autochthons, and seized power.  The seizure of power is acknowledged by all the authorities on Ife history.  It led to the exile of Obatala and his party of autochthons; it led to famine as can be imagined if the earth tillers go on awwol.  Even after the crisis appeared resolved and Obatala returned, he had to function under Oduduwa's authority.
Many of his followers, like Obameri, moved to Oduduwa's side. Diehard supporters of Obatala like Obawinrin who could not take it and continued to fight, were beaten out of the Ife Bowl into Igbo Igbo of the rain forest. As Erediauwa puts it: "It is a historical fact, known I believe to present-day Ife people, that the original settlers whom Ekaladeran (Oduduwa) met moved away from Ife to a place called Ugbo, a very ancient Ilaje town in Okitipupa area. Ife elders, especially the traditional title holders, must know the rest of the Ugbo episode as it affects Ife and Oduduwa because Ife people today perform a ritual festival that re-enacts the events that caused the original settlers including their village head to flee from Ife and Ekaladeran (or Oduduwa) to become the head of the community".
For that matter, it is claimed by some contemporary Nigerian historians that many of the areas which answer Igbo in their names across Yoruba land were redoubts of resistant groups belonging to the Igbo, led by Obatala. Adiele Afigbo, not by any chance a frivolous historian, has argued that the expulsion of the Igbo from Ife was not just myth but history as the movement of Igbo people from the western side of the Niger to the eastern side of the river was a consequence of that fracturing, terrorism, a virtual mfecane, that took place with Oduduwa's overcoming of the indigenes. In the end, both Obatala and Oduduwa were deified and some kind of patching up of the narratives have been attempted by successive generations to hide the fact that there was a grand fissure. But that is where myth comes into its own. Such that on page 57 of his book, Adebanji Akintoye, without dwelling on how it was possible, comes to the conclusion that "It is on the soil of Yorubaland that Oduduwa was born and raised; it is only in that soil that his roots can be found".  We may well shrug. Such an understanding obviously led Ade Ajayi in a Vanguard interview on May 16, 2004, to insist that although more researches still need to be done, "people can’t just wake up one day and say that Oduduwa must have been a Benin Prince that they wanted to execute, ran and ran to a village and you call Ife a village?" Ade Ajayi adds: "Who is the Oba of Benin to come and tell the Yorubas what they should believe about themselves? I think it is very very wrong and impertinent to assume that you know more about the Yoruba people than the Yoruba know about themselves. On what basis? What information could he have? When he says from his studies, what did he study? What books? Is it in the colonial days or before then or it’s the books written by educated Yoruba people of the 19th century?"
What cannot bear scrutiny, because it must crumble, is Egharevba's Obagodo hypothesis which attempts to impose a theory of Yoruba origins on the kings of Igodomigodo in a period that shares parallel sorties with the era of the first sixteen kings of Ife before the arrival of Oduduwa. That era, of which Obatala was the last  of sixteen kings in Ife and  Owodo, the father of Oduduwa,  was the last of thirty one kings in Igodomigodo,  ought to be  properly matched, not confused, if only because it puts in proper perspective the arrival of Oduduwa's son, Oramiyan, and his three lunar months as ruler, that changed the name of the city from Igodomigodo to Benin, before the city was renamed as Edo by the great great grand child, Ogun Ewuare, in the 15th century. 
At any rate, talking serious history, rather than mythologies, no self-respecting historian, in our century,  buys the hoary stuff about the Yoruba progenitor coming from Egypt, Mecca, the Sudan or which ever zone is supposed to provide aristocractic effect or ancient, sacralised, historical identity that affirms greatness of a people. Whether in Johnson's History of the Yoruba, Biobaku's valiant efforts or F. Ade Ajayi's embarrassingly un-researched put-down of Erediauwa's narrative as uninformed, they amount to the purveyance of a Hamitic thesis,  a local variant of which I have called the Obagodo hypothesis, which have been smashed by dedicated Yoruba historians since I. A. Akinjogbin and his co-revolutionary historians.(See CRADLE OF A RACE) They have long moved beyond all the romantic historicism of the earlier foragers in oral traditions. Ade Obayemi, in particular, was among the first radical dissenters from the received myths who realized that Oduduwa could not have come from outside the world of the Niger Benue confluence.
Keen dredgers of the history of Ile Ife like Isola Olomola, reached the same conclusion: Ife was a centre that attracted people from far and wide  before Oduduwa came amongst them and literally scattered the system of cooperative governance under the chairmanship of Obatala who would later be deified as god of creation or creativity, a lover of wine whose devotees are advised against alcohol.
The question no one has answered is how it was possible for Oduduwa to have been born in Yorubaland and still be described as a stranger by all Ife traditions, by Ifa, and those who like Olubushe II, accept the romance that Oduduwa came from Mecca, Egypt, Sudan or from the sky, with a chain.  What cannot be escaped is that not knowing where Oduduwa came from is at the heart of the matter.  Rejecting, instead of researching, what must now be called the Erediauwa thesis which argues that Oduduwa was a Prince of Igodomigodo,  does not  help matters. Once the ranking of the obas in Yorubaland comes into the picture, the issue gets over-loaded. The Erediauwa/Benin story just happens to be the only one available that tells Oduduwa's story with some certitude. Reject it or not, it still does not affect the critical aspect of the narrative which indicates that Oduduwa actually sent his youngest son, Oramiyan, to Igodo whether in response to a distress call or because he saw a vacuum and decided to fill it. Oramiyan's three months in Benin was too full of troubles that he could not resolve. He left in annoyance, damning the people as a people of intrigues and quarrels, Ile-ibinu, which only a child born amongst them could tackle or accommodate. But he left a pregnant woman behind whom Oduduwa had to send procurers and minders for until she delivered. The child turned out dumb and could not speak until that famous game of akhue when he gave a shout of victory that earned him the name, Eweka, which started a dynasty.
What all the traditions, and therefore History, vouchsafes is that Oramiyan, on his return journey made stop overs at various stations but pooled his forces together at Kaltunga/Oyo where he begat the Alafin, and started another dynasty. He eventually returned to Ife and became the king after the death of Oduduwa. Shall we say, he rounded the circle. From Ife back to Ife. What is not denied by any authority is that all the Kings of Benin, Oyo and Ife, thereafter had the same ancestor.  Unless, ethnic pride, sheer narrative mischief and ugly cult disorders enter the picture, how is it possible in the narration of the folklore, myth, or history, to rank the three dynasties and not follow the order in which they were established and acknowledged at Ile Ife! Which odu of Ifa tells us a different story other than the one that accepts the chronology just adumbrated! So, there is no denying it: whether you believe the Ekaladeran story or not, you have to accept that Oduduwa sent his youngest son who thereafter displaced all the older sons, overtook them, and made them invisible to the claims of history. Those who are not Oramiyan's children may well kick and seek another ranking that puts them in the picture. But they have no locus because it is actually Oramiyan's children who built the empires that survived the ravages of history. Among those children, as has always been accepted by ALL AUTHORITIES, the Benin Monarch came first. To do a somersault about it and seek to make Eweka appear like the third in the hierarchy is simply jiggery pokery, rigging, and sheer distortion of History. When Ade Ajayi  says that Oba Erediauwa's "own father used to attend and meet at the conference of Yoruba obas regularly during colonial rule", he is quite right. Ajayi adds, truculently however that Oba Akenzua, Erediauwa's  "own father did not object to this but he (Erediauwa) from his own point of view of politics thinks it is a departure from his own status ....." and  " that Ife monarchy is derived from Benin monarchy".
The truth of the matter is that even if anyone rejects the fact "that Ife Monarchy is derived from Igodo monarchy", it changes nothing about the reality that the Monarchy in Benin City is still Number One among Oduduwa's children. I mean: let it be assumed that Oduduwa came from Egypt, Mecca, Sudan, Ethiopia (where the Oromo Region has a nationality fraction called Oromiyas) or from Orun, as heaven or a place we do not know, with a chain made of iron if not some other metal, it does not change the fact that the dumb one who learnt to talk by naming himself OWOMIKA, 'my hand has stuck it', the first Benin monarch after the Ogisos, was the first child of Oramiyan whose children built the empires that our part of the world remembers.
No question about it: there is the other significant issue that whoever becomes the Ooni of Ife is closest to the Opa Oranyan, and therefore must be deemed the preserver of the family grain, the shrine of nativity. A special place may therefore be reserved for him in the celebration of the family business which monarchy always is, in every culture where it exists. It does not however remove from the eldest child the imprimatur that age provides. At any rate, Edo culture has been, for centuries, a strict upholder of the principle of primogeniture and therefore some remove from parleying with those who have no respect for the firstborn adult male in the matter of monarchical rule. The reality is that whenever the Oba of Benin sat  among Yoruba obas, he knew he was the eldest. He did not have to say it for it to be true. Those who deny him his place may stand on ethnic arrogance, which is hollow. The rest of the world knows that if there are other forms of prowess that can grant suzerainty, superiority or primacy to a king, the Edo king had and has it. In a century when governance is based on democracy by numbers, it may well be argued that the Edo people do not have as much population as the Yoruba to decide the matter. But matters pertaining to monarchies are not resolved by a democracy of numbers. A king is a king because he is the child of who he is. Or if he can impose his will, by rod and staff. If the latter is the tack of those who continue to engage in the ranking of Yoruba obas, the average Edo can then invoke the Edebiri principle which advises that the Oba of Benin is not a Yoruba and therefore cannot be placed on a list of Yoruba Obas.