The Burden of Indivisible Nigeria – 2


The Burden Of Indivisible Nigeria -2

By Taju Tijani

Note: This article was first published in 2013. The message is still very relevant today.

On a daily basis, Nigerians are experiencing disaffection with our political processes. There are contempt for the motivations of elected politicians and appointed public servants. Most Nigerians are tired and uninspired by Abuja public officials. Consider the data: Youth unemployment in Nigeria is 72% (70 million), a yawning aberration! Lack of affordable housing for over 100 million Nigerians. Nil access to medical care by over 150 million Nigerians. This absurd crisis of democratic legitimacy intensifies hourly with every breaking news of fresh corruption, profligacy, impunity, fraud and executive inaction.

Indifference to people suffering is, in my estimation, bad politics. In fact, bad citizenship.  This ongoing crisis, however, has been accentuating and exerting far more strident call for the dissolution of our unity. Why? Our century-long amalgamation or unity is no longer democratically adequate to promote fairness, justice, equity and peaceful co-existence. It had remained the very anti-thesis of all the virtues listed above. Nigerians are tired of a forced marriage that has corruption manifest at its heart and the rampant criminality of excesses of government from the President, Governors, ministers to the special assistants who are like flies in Nigeria.

The status quo in Nigeria had remained serenely untroubled since our independence. They have never been seriously challenged. Possibly, out of our own timidity. The time is now to reject the selfish, venal values of those who run Nigeria. The time to strengthen the primacy of the nation state as a popular notion of global politics is now. Jonathan has no bold agenda to change anything than preserves the status quo and those dark forces agitating for the continuation of our unity instead of our independence from Nigeria as allowed by the constitution.

Jonathan’s political utopia is a pipe dream. There is no way he can deliver Nigeria to the sinless state of paradise. He lacks the vision and the political wisdom to leap that great wall of fear, insecurity and self-centredness to lend support to rational dreamers agitating for separate nations from Nigeria. Nigerians who have been denied, dumb down and damaged are sick and tired of the tawdry pretences of our unity. Out there on the streets, there is a huge sense of disillusion compounded by the daily political pantomime going on in Abuja.

One cannot restate it enough that power in Nigeria is wielded by the rich and strong for the rich and strong. That is why Otedola, Dangote, Adenuga, Uba of our universe have unfettered access to the seat of power than say Ndibe, Adesanmi, Olumhense, etc. We have endured all kinds of looter-leaders for over five decades playing on the inherent illusion of the power one indivisible Nigeria.

But the truth is that unity has spread inequality, despair, corruption and impunity. And the time is now to reject a dysfunctional federal machinery that promotes multiple insecurities among its constituting nationalities. Our political wounds and tribal hatred are multilayered and no longer consigned to the old binary North versus the West or West versus the East. There has been many other polarisations.

Jonathan’s cluelessness is legendary. If he has any vision, he should know that national conference is potentially a seismic event of national reawakening which should lead to dissolution or parting of ways. Bonding Nigerians together in a giant bubble of indivisibility is no longer popular in our society. Unity only covet unfair advantage on few to the detriment of others. We are becoming more aware day by day that our unity is a fraud concocted by few, tiny, incubated elites to perpetually dominate and enslave Nigerians for the few.

We deserve more from the politicians than the few derisory tit-bits tossed our way by our lazy, unthinking and fraud-driven masters of the people. Our unity only promotes hokey pokey game of cabal in which thoroughly mugunised Nigerians are forced to choose every four years what bullet proof cars the thief who leads us must purchase from Cocharis.

It is becoming hard for our entrenched elites to countenance opposite ideas from the narrowly prescribed trench of unity at all cost. Who said? Our unity has not liberated millions of Nigeria from shipping and taking a permanent residency in the Apocalypse. High corruption is woven and institutionalised within our federal system. Ordinary Nigerians will steal N50, 000 naira and a lorry load of mobile police personnel will hone on him like an American drone. But belong to the shameless, avaricious, greed-bedevilled political class and you could steal the entire treasury and end up a recipient of national award.

The thieves who run Nigeria are averse to an active population who are politically enlightened. They prefer mugus and passive zombies. Jonathan knows that there are workable alternatives to our forced unity but he has to work assiduously to hide that truth. Nigerians merely bond together for the sake of survival but tribalism sits at the centre of our heart and dictates our deepest actions. Consider the virus of hatred tearing Yoruba and Igbo apart on discussion forums on the Internet. Consider the deepest agitation of the Boko Haram? The Biafran. The Omo Oduduwa. It is one direction: separate destiny!

Hatred for each other has drained unity of its value, its integrity, its strength, its protective structure, its transparency and its synergy. What we practice is convert the power of federalism and deploy it to pursue impunity and vendetta on perceived enemies as we see in the case of Rotimi Amaechi and Oyinlola Olagunsoye.  Our unity is now a passing meteor, a dry well and a melting vapour.

The rising cry for autonomy, dissolution, separateness or independence is our best hope of meeting the developmental aspirations of our people. The strident agitation for self-determination is the answer to Abuja’s aloofness, remoteness and disconnection from the majority of the public. This is the crisis of political disengagement in an unwieldy federal structure. Our unity does not encourage mass access to politics except for few. That is why APC could undertake a tragi-comedy visit to Babangida and Abubakar to the negligence of the people.

Our unity is going through a decay because our politicians are bad educators. They teach the wrong values – corruption, arrogance, impunity, brutality, revenge, wickedness, stealing – in a space of their uninspiring time in the saddle of political power. Consider the life story of Jonathan. The hope of all Nigerians after his emotion-laded, salacious and disadvantaged shoeless past was that he will do politics differently. But he has proven to be too educated beyond his intelligence. He has become a leader who gives monstrous accommodation to corruption as we see in the rehabilitation of Diepreye Alayemasiegha.

The problem with Jonathan is that he is dull and a conformist. He has a wishbone but what he needs is a backbone. However, we are watching and interested in how the political fabric of the ongoing national conference would be threaded. But there is a political disaster on the way. Jonathan faces a clash of conviction: satisfying the narrow agenda of tiny elites or acceding to the genuine desire of millions of long-suffering Nigerians yearning for their own republic. Biafra is on standby. Oduduwa is on standby. Boko Haram is on standby.

Our unity has not produce austereans in government. Rather it has allowed politicians to indulge their fantasies for opulent living, prestige cars, billion dollar mansions, heart-stopping salaries, private jets, pomp, parties, foreign homes, sexual orgies and blissful philandering. Our federal unity structure has encouraged profligate monoculture. It has encouraged rouges and charlatans. Our federal unity promotes a dysfunctional, obsolete structure that encourages resource cleansing. Self determination by the nationalities will encourage bolder innovations, common touch, faster community development, homogeneity and less hidebound than a united Nigeria of disparage interests and aspirations.

Self determination of the nationalities is the politics of the future and the cure for the haemorrhaging nature of our unity. Therefore, the ongoing national conference is the last rituals for a wobbly unity before its burial. The conference is a way to reawaken from the comic-book obsession which seems to suggest that our unity is not negotiable. In the eyes of our tiny slave masters, Nigeria should remain a mugudom where the genuine aspirations of 170 million people for freedom is forever denied by clowns who could not survive if we go our separate ways.

Well the die is now cast. It is either we stand and be counted or sit and do nothing.  Federal unity that fetishises corruption is as doomed as a sinking Titanic.  Jonathan with pontifical dogmatism has ruled out any alternative to inclusive union. He is the very Judas betraying the nationalities into the hands of thieves, brigands, exploiters, slave masters and plunderers. No persuasive articles or polemical essays have succeeded in dissuading Jonathan from the near-religious belief in the unity of Nigeria to the exclusion of various alternatives.

He cannot puncture this limiting orthodoxy because he has allowed business mogul interests to capture our democratic process. Little wonder they are idolised and live above the law. They have become part of the nexus of power that create policy that favours the rich and their cronies. The interest of the business class has been woven into the fabric of the main political parties either PDP, ACN or APC. Our democracy has been reduced to a cabal of privateers who will forever block the aspirations of the self determination agitators.

Every era produces politicians who seem to sum up the spirit of their age. In our own case, the most perfect example is the complete enthronement of corruption as political culture.  There is a huge contrast between Jonathan’s background and those who surround him. Two thirds of his minsters are billionaires. They are brazenly privileged and wealthy. What would a tiny, rich, selfish, ruling elites do to save Nigerians from the bondage of century of unhappy amalgamation?  Nothing but a guarantee of more monstrous impunity, monstrous corruption, monstrous resource cleansing,  monstrous bondage and monstrous injustice in a failed experiment of unity that has kept us undeveloped for the last 53 years.

 

Ha! Nigeria is self-exploding


Nigeria is becoming a country of tragedies on a daily basis. News from Nigeria gives one a shaming feeling of despair, hopelessness and a troubling anguish. What is really wrong with this disappearing giant of Africa? Pardon me, I used that as a flattery and not in real terms. Nigeria has never been great if we are to measure the indices of greatness strictly. Who can locate Nigeria’s greatness?  In which area has Nigeria excelled the world compared to countries like Dubai, India, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia? Today, Nigeria excels other comparable nations in every dark arts you could name.

We excel in corruption, bribery, treasury looting, over bloated and expensive National Assembly, kidnapping, prostitution, cultism, political rascality and gansterism, injustice, hunger, chaotic bureaucracy, social and political impunity, witchcraft, certificate forgery, divorce, economic sabotage, social media warfare, tribal hatred, social anomie, disunity and secessionist sentiment from the Ndigbo. Which country beats Nigeria in all these aberrations?

In the churches, Nigeria leads Africa in the area of deceiving pastors, apostles, evangelists, reverends, general overseers and deacons. Among the political class are great compromisers, thieves, unpatriotic idiots, looters, greedy bunch, lawless cowards, unfeeling monsters and shameless irritants. Any Nigerian with the smallest amount of decency will feel revolted with all the shenanigans going on almost endlessly among our law makers. Actions that are obviously unpatriotic and blatantly inimical to the good of Nigerians are uploaded daily. Bukola Saraki, a man accused of corruption seats on the exalted chair of President of the Senate. Two third of senators have corruption charges dangling on their head like the sword of Damocles.

Senators are carpet bombing the good intentions of the Executive in pursuant of Saraki’s demonic dream to eventually morph as president of Nigeria. He is working assiduously and setting up dark machinations to cause magomago and topple the Vice President. Could you imagine that man, Bukola Saraki, as the president of Nigeria? Ha…….Nigeria is sinking! There is no sense of shame. No sense of moral revulsion. No more decency and boundary as to what is acceptable and permissible any more.

What is wrong with that nation? What is happening with our brain? What is the problem with our foundation? Who are we? What manner of human is Nigerian? Where did we come from? Why is Nigeria associated with so much evil? So much aberrations, so much rottenness, so much inhumanity against inhumanity, so much wickedness and so much oppression.

Look at the servants of the people. I mean the arrogant set of humanity called politicians. Nigerian politicians are like human hyenas who live nothing for the dawn. They are human lechers, blood suckers, looting machines, oppressors and empty heads. Eighteen years of lootocracy has further reduced Nigeria into a shadow of its former self. We are ridiculed all over the world. Senator Dino Melaye, the insane, chaotic, clownish, uncouth and blatantly opulent Kogi politician has brought disrepute to our politics. The ajekun iya ni oje politician parades himself as an illiterate, imbecile and a completely foolish man. How honourable and distinguished is this senator in all his public actions and utterances? He stockpiles the best cars stolen money can buy. Name it……Lambo, Ferrari, Bentley and Porsche. He tagged them into Dino 1…….Dino 2 and so on. What? In a nation of so much poverty where people could not rub N2,000 together. Who is fooling who?

Ha….Nigeria is self-exploding. Agitation has arrived on our shores. Agitation from dissatisfied and traumatized Nigerians who are sick and tired of the cruelty all around the nation. Nnamdi Kanu is stoking the fire of separation under the flag of Biafra. The Arewa youths are stoking the fire of confrontation and eventual warfare against the Ndigbo. People are openly calling for war, revolution and a return to fiscal federalism. Others are calling for bloody and total scorch earth destruction of all political elites, top military brass and all those who have kept Nigeria in the dark. This agitation is becoming strident because our politicians are stubborn, unfeeling and totally alienated from the feelings of those in the grassroots.

Gari, a popular Nigeria’s staple, is beyond the reach of the common man. But the senators voted for stupendous salaries, bloated allowances, vexatious privileges and too much excesses that can make you weep. Abomination has recently resurfaced to darken further our already polluted landscape. A deranged senator is calling for amnesty for corruption and economic saboteurs. Wao…….Before that, a kidnapping kingpin, Evans, who had been terrorizing Nigerians was arrested and the police lapped up the event as a successful coup to brag about their efficiency and readiness to fight crime.

In Nigeria, cash is being discovered in cemeteries, bunkers, deep freezers, silos, hole in the ground and some have been salted away in safe haven of foreign shores. Where are we going? Nigeria voted President Mohammadu Buhari to came and fight corruption and return Nigeria to the path of honour, decency, respect, integrity and global goodwill. Corruption has been fighting a dirty war back to the aggressors. Judges are colluding with corrupt politicians to stampede on Buhari’s anti-corruption drive and tear that dream into shreds. Now that the general is out of the radar, the lions in the National Assembly are baring their iron teeth to tear down the edifice of the anti-corruption crusade and return Nigeria back to status quo.

Ha…..Nigeria is self-exploding!!! Who will rescue us? Where do we go from here?

 tajutijani@hotmail.com

Tompolo, Vanishing Courage, Rule of Law and Hypocrisy


Tompolo, Vanishing Courage, Rule of Law and Hypocrisy

By Taju Tijani

The legend of brutal valour and courage associated with High Chief Government Ekpemupolo, aka Tompolo, the commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, is now becoming a myth with his Houdini-like disappearance from his stronghold of the creek estuary. Tompolo, the feared demon of the creek and a man of thousand legends has melt away leaving his troops in bewildering shock. This man is a coward. This man is a manipulative genius who used innocent young men to pursue a personal glory. All his irritating bluff and rigid adherence to low life of armed struggle has now blown off to reveal a calculating character from the swamp.

All the restless, emergency airheads who are making the rounds and warming sofas at our television studious as apostles of rule of law are not debating the flagrant abuse of rule of law of the highest criminality of Tompolo, but are damn too quick to label President Mohammadu Buhari as a breacher of rule of law. The airwaves are not jammed with the debate of Tompolo’s hide and seek; the radio stations are not making jingles of the most wanted criminal in Nigeria, our editorials are not dripping with bloody denunciations of a coward whose new status as a billionaire is under scrutiny.

At present, Nigeria is bleeding from a million cuts. From corruption, feudal mindset, political impunity, elite solidarity against change, ethnic jingoism, anti-Buharism and tribal fetters. If Nigerians understood how much of their money was looted and salted away by a tiny, shameless elites of which Tompolo – the boy’s scout – is a new convert, we would launch a full blown air, land and sea search for such a greed-addicted hooligan whose once courageous balls are now deflated by a strange juvenile fear of justice.

Tacky Tompolo, the Ibe-ebidouwei of Ijaw nation (someone who wants the good of Ijaw nation), is said to be revered in his Gbaramatu/Oporoza hideout. There is nothing more sacrilegious than honouring a criminal, which, by extension is the disease of this nation. How can anybody honour a runaway from justice? How can anybody honour a man who is fanning the embers of tribal animosity between the Ijaw and the nation at large? How can we honour a man who is threatening the economic life source of Nigeria? How can a destroying volcano like Tompolo whose speciality is blowing up gas pipe lines be given any honour? How can a war-mongering rascal be given any honour?

Tompolo is a classic case of a nation that has allowed corrupt individuals and their interests capture the moral high ground while the interests of the masses are treated with stupendous contempt. The hypocrisy of the judiciary in the struggle against corruption and those accused of corrupt enrichment is a testament to this orthodoxy.

A fugitive who is running from justice, according to some of our overeducated Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), is not in breach of rule of law but the swamping of Gbaramatu Kingdom with law enforcement officers is regarded as a breach of rule of law. This judiciary hypocrisy is weakening the fight against corruption. Tompolo is shaming himself, his Ijaw nation, our law and government by his condemnable contempt of court summons.

Tompolo’s charge sheet reads like a crook’s manual. He was charged by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) of N34bn fraud. The Federal High Court summons compelled Tompolo to appear before the court to face a 40-count charge of conversion of several millions of naira, dollars and property belonging to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to personal use. The outlaw and untouchable has since jump ship and melted into the sewer. His outlaw followers have been threatening thunder and brimstones if their man is arrested let alone prosecuted.

Mr Government (what irony) can run and hide, but the long arm of the law shall caught up with him someday. He should check the record of fugitives. Someday soon, Tompolo will be looking lost, bedraggled and famished just like known fugitives in the mould of Saddam Hussein and Ghadafi before they were smoked out of their rat holes. Then, the Ibe-ebidouwei of Ijaw nation will have lost all spaces for our compassion and support. His dream of the Republic of Niger Delta through amphibious armed struggle is already capsized. His ugly articulation of a new republic forged through a contested struggle as envisioned by Isaac Adaka Boro has now been wrecked by cowardice, corruption, lawlessness, zero leadership and disastrous disrespect for our judiciary.

What we can conclude about the life of Tompolo follows closely the narrow vision of revolutionary figures like Che Guevara, Leon Trotsky and even Ho Chi Minh, who at best were mere stirrer of mass emotions but dreadful deadwoods in their commitment to the salient purpose of armed struggle. Tompolo failed to realise that  his judicial heist is not a reflex of logic but a reflection of his guilt, fear and future restitution through a long jail term.

tajutijani@hotmail.com

 

Nigeria Budget 2016: Buharinomic Boom or Doom?


Nigeria Budget 2016: Buharinomic Boom or Doom?

The universal euphoria and political triumphalism of President Mohammadu Buhari is entering its most severe storm as he tries to gain more altitude with the Nigerian public. Nowhere will his messianic vision and economic wizardry be tested than in the sepulchre of the 2016 budget. Insinuations from cynics are calling the budget dead on arrival. Budget analysts have disinterred it to the bone and their verdicts are far from flattering. Rather than herald the budget with encomiums, economists see it as a nightmarish mumbo jumbo of phantom figures that is set to push Nigeria into a free fall of monumental debt. Nigeria is on the edge of being held hostage to creditors that may well demand blood in the future and thus bring misery to millions of Nigerians.

The hope of economic regeneration buried in the 2016 budget could not sustain the kind of economic architecture Nigerians desire. The budget attempt to cast in stone parameters for our economic transformation may rather set Nigerians on the lethal path of rebellion as it begins to bite in the months ahead. Whether Nigerians are prepared to walk the long, arduous, painful, belt-tightening, and austerity-driven economic turnaround with Mr President, time will tell. Voices of both liberal and illiberal commentariats ranging from economic pundits, public affairs analysts and just about any arm chair egg heads are not suppressing the temptation to demonise the 2016 budget as a radical document of Buharinomics too densed to be easily upraised.

For a nation that is emerging from the shadows of political, social and economic meltdown, Buharinomics, as crafted into the 2016 budget, would have been the sure way out of our imminent slide into a failed state, but oppositions are resisting and fighting hard to dismiss the 2016 budget as arithmetically dubious. The question then arises, what brought about the 2016 budget with its sub narrative of horror themes? The answer lies in the fact that Nigeria was ravaged by corruption, pandemic looting, political impunity, resource vandalism, infrastructural decay and primordial profligacy in high places.

The 2016 budget voted N1.8 trillion for capital expenditure, representing 30 per cent of the total budget of N6.08 trillion. Giving breakdown of the 2016 capital vote, Mr. Buhari said, “This increased capital expenditure commits significant resources to critical sectors such as Works, Power and Housing – N443.4 billion; Transport – N202.0 billion; Special Intervention Programs – N200.0 billion; Defence – 134.6 billion; and Interior N53.1 billion. He continued, “These investments in infrastructure and security are meant to support our reforms in the Agriculture, Solid Minerals and other core job creating sectors of our economy.” “This is a fulfilment of our promise to align expenditure to our long-term objectives, and a sign of government’s commitment to sustainable development,” he added.

At first glance, the breakdown of the 2016 budget seems like a picture of paradise, with its embedded dream and aspirations. But today, heresy hunters are out to warn the nation of the dangers of running government on a blown economic gasket. It is alleged that Nigeria plans to borrow $5b from multiple sources thus making funding for the budget a real challenge. Federal government has already admitted that local debt servicing gulped a whooping N2.95 trillion in five years. With budget deficit at N2.2 trillion, or 2.16 per cent of GDP based on an estimated benchmark crude oil price of $38 per barrel. The present realities and dynamics in the global oil markets has called for a rethink and preparation for further decline in oil prices.

The Central Bank is proposing to inject the liquidity of commercial banks into the market and a future far-reaching harmonisation of monetary policy. The federal government is benchmarking recovery on heavy taxation. The government will be recruiting and training 500,000 new teachers at a cost of N500 billion. 2016 budget will be increased by 30% based on indiscriminate borrowings. N1.8 trillion to be used to service loans. Meanwhile, N984 billion is to be borrowed locally and N900 billion to be borrowed externally. For every N1 we make, N37 shall be spent to service debts.

The federal government hopes to realize N820 billion from oil that was initially benchmarked at $38 per barrel. As I write, global oil prices have plummeted to about $27.5 and may yet tumble further.

Faced with all the economic demons above, the federal government hopes to cushion the pain on some gnomish palliatives. Among which are the plan to fund some of the budget with recovered looted funds; the goodwill of international investors to invest in Nigeria again, the resuscitation of the coal industry, the harness of bitumen in Ondo state, rebooting of agricultural industries and the recalibration of solid minerals as our new black gold. The on-going public narration of doom and gloom that is trailing the 2016 budget – Budget of Change – may offer a tone of caution, but if the capacity of President Mohammadu Buhari’s social and economic engineering is a by product of messianic genius, time will tell.

tajutijani@hotmail.com

2016 : Buhari And The Anxious Expectations of Nigerians


2016 : Buhari And The Anxious Expectations of Nigerians

By Taju Tijani

The passing away of 2015 did not go away quietly. At the tail end of that year, Nigerians were entertained with a sad comedy of Abuja profligate monoculture of graft and corruption in high places. We read through confessions of how Nigeria’s petrol wealth was squandered to indulge the appetite of few avaricious and greed-driven elite and their systemic stripping of this nation’s money among themselves. The repulsive evil of corruption was exposed and its fall out of class collaboration and collusion astounded our sense of moral indignation and national pride. It was the first time Nigerians will see a sitting president who took on the fight against corruption, not as a lip service, but as an obsessive cause worth dying for.

The mantra of CHANGE which has remained the slogan for the redemption of Nigeria acquired more force, and along its tortuous journey, nationwide support of Nigerians for the evolving vision of President Mohammadu Buhari. However, the overwhelming support for President Buhari from most Western nations, to Ms Christine Lagarde, the IMF Managing Director, to the man in the streets is not without its own condition: get Nigeria out of trouble and calm the anxious expectations of Nigerians with the fierce urgency it requires.

In 2016, Nigerians expect President Buhari to redirect the cause of our nation’s history by reinforcing the fight against corruption; freeing Nigeria from the narrow and selfish agenda of tiny elites, rebuilding our moribund institutions, bring back the abducted Chibok girls, and the total rejuvenation of our social, economic and political paralysis. Nigerians are becoming impatient and the old appetite for theatrical democratic interventions from our politicians are becoming obsolete.

In 2016, the first task before President Mohammadu Buhari is the deepening of our democracy through the recalibration of the virtues of open, integrity-driven, transparent, honest and good governance as the best hope for the future of our democratic survival. These should be the new ideas that must drive leadership in this country. The president has to understand that retreating into the old essentialism of autocracy, secrecy, superficiality and lies will no longer wash with Nigerians especially in the face of the aftermath of the political tension generated by the arrest and re-arrest of former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki and the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and Radio Biafra Director, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.

The government should experiment with progressive innovations in tackling the socio, economic and political problems challenging Nigeria. President Mohammadu Buhari must tackle our large scale infrastructural deficit head on. In any nation, the provision of infrastructure facilitates the happiness of the greatest majority. This nation faces huge infrastructural deficit and this parlous state of play is negatively affecting businesses and more importantly, the humanity of all Nigerians.

 

The 2016 budget voted N1.8 trillion for capital expenditure, representing 30 per cent of the total budget of N6.08 trillion. Last year, the capital vote was 557 billion. In fact, a total of N11 billion was budgeted for the Ministry of Works. Giving breakdown of the 2016 capital vote, Mr. Buhari said, “This increased capital expenditure commits significant resources to critical sectors such as Works, Power and Housing – N443.4 billion; Transport – N202.0 billion; Special Intervention Programs – N200.0 billion; Defence – 134.6 billion; and Interior N53.1 billion. He continued, “These investments in infrastructure and security are meant to support our reforms in the Agriculture, Solid Minerals and other core job creating sectors of our economy.” “This is a fulfilment of our promise to align expenditure to our long-term objectives, and a sign of government’s commitment to sustainable development,” he added.

I applaud the deployment of N1.8trillion for capital expenditure in the 2106 national budget. The first capital project for this administration is the urgent repairs of the sorry state of our roads. Statistics indicate that 18% of the 197,000 km of our road networks are in good shape and the situation is worse in state and local governments thereby hampering agricultural and social developments. Secondly, Nigerians must see visible increase in power generation and distribution which currently stands between 3,500 -3,700 kilowatts. Not forgetting the provision of clean, drinkable water which has not been able to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of 75% coverage for safe and drinkable water. Thirdly, our primary health care system needs to be overhaul with the provision of free health care for all Nigerians.

Fourthly, our economic condition is in the intensive unit. Nigeria became the highest economy in Africa and the 26th in the world but with no visible impact on the common man. Standard of living and cost of living are the twin challenges of majority of Nigerians from all work of life except probably those who stole government money. As we write, global oil prices have plummeted and the consequences of such free fall should give us a sober reflection to diversify from our dependence on oil as the chief mainstay of our economy.

Fifthly, by some divine intervention, Nigeria had one the freest and fairest elections in the history of our democratic evolution. We had our epiphanic moment where the sitting president was ousted by the opposition. However, the inexperience of the ruling party nearly caused chaos in parliament and the consequence of such political hiccup is the permanent loss of patriotism to narrow, selfish party agenda. Above all, Nigerians are demanding for a proactive, effective intelligent gathering and the deployment of highly trained and motivated Army to engage Boko Haram and bring an end to the cyclone of disasters that have blighted the North East.

 

 

 

Agenda Setting For President Buhari’s Ministers


Agenda Setting For President Buhari’s Ministers

By Taju Tijani

At last, President Mohammadu Buhari has brought smiles to the forlorn faces of Nigerians who were once saddened by his cautious and measured style of leadership. By this act of magnanimity, all the invisible and visible tyrannies of our fear, suspicion and impatience have now translated into hope for a better tomorrow. Nigerians can now heave a sigh of relief after months of presidential inaction that had the nation in a coil of despair, regret and measured blend of scepticism on the direction the new administration is headed. This nation is now ready to see action in motion.

President Mohammadu Buhari’s leadership principle of slow and steady diligence to tasks may well prove to be the new catalyst of our collective desire to rapid progress. The president is distinctly proud of his badge of integrity, transparency and honesty and this tripod values have had us under positive spell. The president has been striving to understand Nigeria’s strength and weaknesses but in a unique way that bothers on patience and meditative style of leadership. President Mohammadu Buhari has now rekindled our faith in him and Nigerians can now safely tell their number one man to set forth at dawn and begin the reconstruction Nigeria sorely needs.

He has shown that it is during national emergencies that the furnaces in which the gold of true leadership are tried, tested and purified. Winning election is a task. However, the greatest task is assembling the brightest and the best to implement the collective vision of a new government. Buhari needs the best economists, the best scientists, the best public sector workers, in order to manage a new administration and carry out viable and effective public policies. In Nigeria, through our home grown political abracadabra, Ministerial position has become an elusive concept that, at times, can be vague and ambiguous.

As a result, majority of our appointed ministers start their ministerial assignments without any template, set rules, agenda or formulas to follow. They work only from guidelines and concepts, perceptions and ideas, abstractions and generalities. This is why most of the ministers find the art of governance difficult to master in four years. This is why most ministers in Nigeria slide into the routine of business as usual, then becoming inefficient and eventually morph into a clique of rich people with enough money to fight for either governorship or senatorial seat within the life of their tenure as public servants.

There have been widespread mixed reactions to the assembled team of new ministers. First, in an act of chutzpah, the president has made himself minister of petroleum resources. This action is symbolic and a blanket condemnation of the mismanagement and corruption of our oil sector. President Buhari has shown no timidity in letting the world know that the petroleum ministry needs a man of his own transparency and fiscal prudency. His good intention aside, there is unambiguous and express prohibition provision as  stated in Section 138 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, that effectively precludes the president from appointing himself Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources and, therefore, also disallows him from exercising the substantive power and authority of the referred executive office.

However, we have to say that this seizure of the petroleum ministry may conflict with the many emergencies on his desk. For instance, and in spite of his integrity touch, Nigeria has remained paralyzed in the past few weeks due to fuel shortages. Who do we blame for this? Further, we have ex-Governors in the ministerial team. Babatunde Fashola, the ex-Governor of Lagos State has been saddled with the burden of managing a super ministry of power, housing and works. The aberration of appointing a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) as energy, housing and works minister aside, what, for heaven’s sake is the yardstick used in allocating Fashola these tripod ministry? Is the President relying of Fashola’s pedigree as an efficient, transforming  and performing governor of Lagos State for eight years? Or is President Buhari, in a classic real politick, setting up Fashola for failure. Time will tell.

Other party stalwarts were also given ministries to manage. Chris Ngige, a medical doctor by training is the Labour Minister. Chief Lai Mohammed, as Minister of Information, clinched the ministry that perfectly suits his experience and temperament. Ex-Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, after all the oohs and aahs and the moral revulsion which attended the expose of his documented corruption is the Minister of Transport. Dr. Kayode Fayemi, ex-Governor of Ekiti State is the Minister of Solid Mineral.

Mrs Kemi Adeosun now handles the Finance ministry;  Udo Udoma is in the Ministry of National Planning and Budget and Audu Ogbeh for Agriculture. As far as this nation’s anxiety is concerned, Babatunde Fashola’s ministry is the cynosure of all of our attention. However, collectively the president must set agenda for all of them irrespective of how ‘hot’ a ministry is or not. Part of the agenda setting is delivery of service. All the ministers must deploy fresh, out of the bottle ideas to change the miseries of Nigerians.  Fashola must roll out a new agenda for PHCN and their adjunct partners to ensure that the sector receives his Midas touch as happened to Lagos State.

The Ministers must have objectives and pursue it within timeline. They must be equipped with the ability to generate profit, block leakages and control outcomes in spite of the challenges facing their assigned ministry. Part of the agenda is fiscal prudency in area of managing budget to eliminate waste, bloated staffing and corruption. The president must give them the chance to articulate their vision and be encouraged to realize it without too much official intrusion.

The president has to supervise their performances, set new achievable objectives and re-orientate the ministers away from arrogance, embezzlement and graft. Where Ministers have developed severe disabilities, the president may reassign or if need be, sack erring ones.

Above all, the Ministers must be aware that national assignment is the greatest honour on earth. They have been given trust to uphold. They have been given integrity to uphold in a nation blighted by ignorance, corruption, disease, lack and total mistrust of public figures. The nation can only hope that we have probably entered a new era of Ministerial efficiency, delivery, performance and transparency.

 

Bloody Saturday: Shiite-Military Showdown


 

Bloody Saturday: Shiite-Military Showdown

By Taju Tijani

Although the ember of the deadly exchange of fire between the Nigeria Military and the Shiite sect, Islamic Movement of Nigeria may have died down, accusations and counter accusations are still flying about to determine who really was the aggressor and the victim. The pedestrian rhetoric is laden with emotion, first for the arbitrary military killing of Shiite members, then anger against the sheer arrogance of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria that has constitute itself into an illegal entity challenging the Nigerian State. What we have witnessed in the last few days is the articulation of recurrent, Shiite Islamic schizophrenia, extremism, lawlessness and terrorism-inspired tactics against the Nigerian nation.

The incident would have been written off as another tragic ranting of disgruntled and jobless Northern youths, but to think so would have been fatal especially when the name of Sheikh El-Ibrahim Zakzaky, the tempestuous leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria is linked with the tragic face off. There is dark and doleful fear that the Zaria military confrontation, may, if care is not taken, morph into a full blown terrorist organisation like Boko Haram in Borno, North East of Northern Nigeria.

The narrative of the incident from both sides of the divide seems persuasive of its adherents. Both the Shiites and military sympathisers are feeling so assured of their own rigid positions so much that the altars of truth are being defiled in this unfortunate religious- military tragedy. We were reliably informed that the unfortunate incident started from Friday and went through Saturday. The Chief of Army Staff, from what we heard, was going for an official assignment of graduating recruits at the Nigerian Army Depot, from where he will meet with His Highness (The Emir of Zazzau).

It was said that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) was then prevented from driving through a blocked highway manned by members of the Shiites sect. In a humiliating climb down, it then transpired that the COAS had to come down to introduce himself and pleaded with the leaders of the Shiite movement. It was reported that only when the Shiites leaders resisted his peaceful plea that the incident turned bloody. It was argued that the palpable urgency of the moment, especially when the life of COAS and his entourage were under threat, that the Army had to undertook a pre-emptive rescue manoeuvre that led to tragic loss of innocent lives.

Here, there is a case for soul searching and questions to be answered. First, is the Shiite-led Islamic Movement of Nigeria above the law of the land by holding procession without permit and blocking the highway, thus denying access to innocent citizens? Why would they resist the pleas of the head of the Nigerian Army? What are their religious and political motives? Why would any group in Nigeria hide under the banner of religion to confront and humiliate the Nigerian Army?

Why is the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh El Ibrahim Zakzaky nursing the noxious ambition of creating an Islamic republic in the North West? Is Northern Nigeria becoming a fertile recruiting ground for Islamic extremism to the shameful extent that other faiths have no right to practice their own religion in an atmosphere of peace and harmony? By reinforcing a dangerous religious demarcation, we condemn in very strong terms the act of religious rebelliousness in which the Islamic Movement of Nigeria has consistently terrorizes Zaria and its environs.

Equally condemnable is the link of the organisation with Iran, a country that may want to export its authoritarian, theocratic mode of governance into our domestic affairs. We call on the Federal Government to sanction the Islamic Republic of Iran and warn it from dabbling in the internal affairs of a sovereign Nigeria in the guise of Islam. Also, is the Nigerian Army right in deploying disproportionate force against the sect members? Has it taken leave of the existing frames of engagement when confronted by unarmed civilians? The Army may want to argue that we are in a world of radical insecurity and perpetual religious conflict, would that reason alone justifies this murderous killing that borders on breach of fundamental human rights of the victims?

We sympathises with President Mohammadu Buhari, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, as he faces a clash of convictions: would it have been proper and fit to condemn the Nigerian Military who took action against a sect that one day may clone the manual of Boko Haram and create another theatre of Islamic warfare in the North West?

At a time when this nation is fighting a dangerous, asymmetrical and murderous Boko Haram insurgency, it is therefore a height of insensitivity for the Shiite-led Islamic Movement of Nigeria to be remotely fomenting any kind of public disturbance. Here, a judicial commission of inquiry presided over by a retired Supreme Court justice, should be urgently constituted to look into the matter to forestall any relapse into the North West version of Boko Haram.