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Ethnic versus national loyalties – a worthy read

“Since Independence, we know there used to be a route whereby these cattle rearers use. Cattle rearers are all over the nation, you go to Bayelsa, you see them, you go to Ogun, you see them. If those routes are blocked, what happens? These people are Nigerians, it’s just like you going to block river or shoreline, does that make sense to you? These are the remote causes. But what are the immediate causes? It is the grazing law. These people are Nigerians, we must learn to live together with each other, that is basic. Communities and other people must learn how to accept foreigners within their enclave, finish!”

–Defense Minister, Mansur Dan-Ali, January 25, 2018.

Take a moment to digest this. This is Nigeria’s defense minister, speaking to reporters today after the security council meeting, not the spokesman of Miyetti Allah. He is echoing the official position of the government on the herdsmen issue, a position indistinguishable from that of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore.

The highlights of his rant are, 1) the remote cause of the problem is the “blocking” of grazing routes by farming communities, and 2) the immediate cause is the anti-open grazing laws passed by three states, never mind that the Agatu massacre of 500 villagers by armed herdsmen preceded the Benue law and that the anti-open grazing laws passed by three states were a response to the violence of herdsmen, not the other way round.

Absolutely no blame whatsoever on the armed herdsmen militia. They are the victims, the wronged side, according to Defense Minister Dan-Ali. The solution is not to mobilize the military might of the state to go after the armed herdsmen mass murderers. The solution for them is to urge to farming communities to grant the herdsmen unfettered access to grazing lands in their communities because according to him, “these people (herdsmen) are Nigerians.”

These are the people advising Buhari and shaping his attitude and response (or lack thereof) to the herdsmen violence. No wonder, Buhari told the Benue delegation that visited him to “in the name of God accommodate your countrymen.” That is what he and his inner circle and security team believe to be the problem: the failure of Benue and other states to accommodate the herdsmen. Herdsmen must be “accommodated” for peace to reign.

This is what clannishness can do to a leader. It traps him in a bubble. It creates an incestuous, provincial world that reinforces the leader’s own preexisting parochialism and hubris. Clannishness blinds the leader from a broader reality, causing him to remain completely out of touch with what is really going on. It causes him to value above all else the deceptive but comforting narrative of kinsmen advisers who are moored to ethnic loyalty.
~Moses Ochonu

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Simon, the prophet!

With this write up in 2015, has Simon Kolawole earned the sobriquet “PROPHET”?

“Buhari and the Burden of Expectations

Simon Kolawole Live! THISDAY 25 January 2015

To be honest, I don’t know whether to rejoice or sympathise with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari anytime I read all the sweet comments about him on social media — especially on Twitter. I don’t know any presidential candidate who has been so idolised in recent times — which is an excellent accolade any politician will gladly take. On the one hand, it is good for him. He will not be complaining at all. No politician will complain about such good fortune, especially with only a few weeks to an election. On the other hand, my God! The expectations are sky-high. Incredible. From what I am reading, Buhari is expected to perform nothing short of magic in Aso Rock if he wins the presidential election.

I’ve been there before — as a reckless enthusiast. I had similar expectations about President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999. I voted for him based on his past. But I was totally disappointed less than six months after he came to power. I had thought Obasanjo was going to fight corruption as he had solemnly threatened, only for him to appoint Chief Tony Anenih as Minister of Works. I thought Obasanjo was going to build more refineries as he had promised while reminding us of his exploits in his previous life as head of state, but we continued importing fuel till he left office. I thought Obasanjo was going to address the electricity problem but we were producing megawatts of darkness throughout his tenure.

Buhari’s growing popularity, particularly on the social media, scares me at times. In an attempt to market him, some chaps have gone overboard, designing and spreading beautiful disinformation about him such that even the former head of state has had to come out to clarify one. For instance, there is a message being circulated that Buhari’s daughter is married to an Igboman. Those who invented the rumour had a good intention: they wanted to prove to the world that he is not a bigot. But Buhari, perhaps honest to a fault, has denied it. He said none of his children is married to an Igboman. Interestingly, the rumour was attributed to Obasanjo by one of the broadcasters!

Many quotes are invented and attributed to Obasanjo these days. One says: “I prefer that Buhari becomes president and sends me to jail than for Jonathan to be re-elected and then destroys Nigeria.” This is said to have been written by the former president in his trilogy, “My Watch” — which the originator of the rumour has probably not set his eyes on. How can Obasanjo want to go to jail again? Is it a nightclub? He was jailed for a phantom coup by Gen. Sani Abacha. And he was lucky to come out of Yola prison alive. He narrowly escaped death when a wall collapsed beside him while he was studying the Bible one morning. Why would he want to go to jail again?

There is even another social media rumour that Buhari does not collect his full pension. A Blackberry broadcast I got a while ago said while all former heads of state collect N27 million per month as pension, Buhari rejected the “bogus amount” and asked to be paid only 10% of it. The person who originated the rumour said he personally went to the Ministry of Finance to confirm the figure. But, in fact, the total pension package is N2,909,122.75 per quarter — as confirmed to me by a former head of state. The breakdown: pension, N878,676.20; upkeep, N1,050,000; salaries of personal staff, N845,446.50; telephone, N75,000; and postal services, N60,000. Buhari never rejected any part of it. For goodness sake, it is his legal right. Why would he not collect it?

Good enough, Buhari has not anchored his campaign on any of these phantom stories. He has based his campaign on two promises — to fight corruption and to tackle insecurity. These issues speak directly to the heart of the average Nigerian. Boko Haram has made our lives miserable. What we thought was a mere neighbourhood gathering of some religious zealots some years ago has developed into a massive bomb that is shattering the peace and eating away at our territorial integrity. Buhari, as a retired general, is expected to wipe out Boko Haram if he wins. Also, corruption is, to put it mildly, a pounding headache. As a celebrated man of integrity, Buhari is expected to finish off corruption with one blow to the head.

Unfortunately, many Nigerians could be very fickle. Imagine the nicknames young people would start calling Buhari on Twitter by this time next year if he has not performed some magic — assuming he wins the presidential election. They derided President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua even on his deathbed. President Goodluck Jonathan’s honeymoon lasted for barely six months. The guys that called him “breath of fresh air” started calling him “shoeless and clueless” as soon as he withdrew fuel subsidy in January 2012. I don’t think Jonathan ever recovered from the massive blow the subsidy issue dealt on him.

Buhari’s honeymoon, if he wins, would not last for six months, trust me. One of the confessions of Obasanjo in 1999 was that the world had changed remarkably since 1979 when he left power. As a military man, he could get things done by fiat. As a democrat, he needed to go through the National Assembly to get a simple budget passed. He needed to “lobby” them to make laws for the good of Nigeria. Judges were dragging their feet on corruption cases until he resorted to self-help through the EFCC. These are some of the realities Buhari would also face if he wins. The Nigeria he led in 1985 is not the same today. Getting things done in a democracy is a different ball game altogether.

God help Buhari if, assuming he wins, he is unable to stop Boko Haram’s suicide bombers. God help him if the terrorists continue to grab more villages under his watch. God help him if his government has not created 2.5 million jobs by May 2016 — as promised by his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). God help him if we are still unable to enjoy steady power supply two years into his tenure. God help him if the courts are yet to jail any corrupt politician three years into his tenure. God help him if crude oil prices skyrocket and he has to increase fuel price or pay N1trillion annually on subsidies. He won’t find it funny!

Unfortunately, the reality is that Nigeria will not change overnight. I’m no longer a reckless optimist. There are no shortcuts to solving some of the our deep-seated problems. The road ahead is very rough, particularly as crude oil — the livewire of our economy — continues to tumble, pricewise. Truth be told: no matter who wins the presidential election — whether it is Jonathan or Buhari — there are tough decisions ahead. Tough decisions about the oil industry. Tough decisions about electricity tariffs. Tough decisions about military action against Boko Haram which may come with collateral damage. Tough decisions about downsizing the civil service. Don’t let us deceive ourselves.

Buhari is more realistic than most of his supporters. In an interview with TheCable last year, he said: “Nigerians have to be prepared to suffer for at least five straight years before we can stabilise this country, security wise and economically.” In other words, there are no fertilizers to accelerate the development of Nigeria. I do not blame Nigerians for being impatient. The only thing a hungry man wants to hear is ‘food is ready’, not ‘food will be ready’. But a more realistic expectation is that no matter who is president, we need policy consistency, commitment and funding for at least 10 solid years before we can be anywhere near South Korea or Singapore. Rome was not built in a day. No one man will change or transform Nigeria overnight. Tough truth.”

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A take on OBJ – retweet if you agree!

We grant him more power and influence than he actually has. He is not a thought originator. He is not an ideas innovator. He is more of an amplifier guided by a self promoting opportunism. He watches and studies trends and then latches on to the one his native sense tells him is gathering the greatest social momentum. He then takes a gamble and writes a letter but is always careful to craft the missive in a manner that leaves him with an escape route should the trend he us riding on evaporate.

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Nepotism Smelling All Over Nigeria
“Words of Dr. Junaid Mohammed a northern ethno-religious irredentist.
“Let me say straight away that whether one calls it a cabal or a mafia or power within the presidency under Buhari, whatever you say it is; it is, and a lot worse. First, the most influential person in the presidency today is one Mamman Daura whom as you know, is a nephew of the president. His father was Buhari’s elder brother. In addition, Mamman Daura was the one who single-handedly brought up Abba Kyari, the current chief of staff to the president. In fact, Abba Kyari knows Mamman Daura more than he knows his own father.
“Next, the personal assistant to Buhari himself is the son of Mamman Daura, next is the State Chief of Protocol (SCOP), and is also a son-in-law to Mamman Daura because he is married to Mamman Daura’s daughter. Next, the minister they unilaterally chose, against the interest of the party and against the wishes of Sokoto people, happens to be the daughter of the younger sister of Mamman Daura’s wife. Both of them are daughters of Sultan Dasuki, who was sacked by General Abacha. We have the aide-de-camp to Buhari himself, Colonel Abubakar. He is married to the granddaughter of one of Buhari’s elder sisters. Next we have the woman who represents Kaduna in the Federal Executive Council, she is a cousin to Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai. It is a well known that el-Rufai is one of the closest governors to Muhammadu Buhari.
“Next, we have the Minister for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). The Minister of the FCT is the man called Musa Bello, who used to be the Managing Director of the Northern Nigeria Development Corporation, which used to be the biggest holding company that belonged to all the northern states. His only qualification to be the FCT minister is the fact that his father has been Buhari’s friend over the years. Now, there is a young man called Sabiu Yusuf, nicknamed Tunde – probably because of the late General Tunde Idiagbon. He is another PA to President Buhari. He is also a grandson of another sister of Buhari.
“This is enough to prove to you that this is shamelessly the worst form of nepotism in the history of government in Nigeria. In fact, in the history of Africa, let me make bold to assert that I have never seen any level of nepotism that has equalled or surpassed this in my entire life – I am now in my 67th year. Another thing I also want you to know is that Amina Zakari, who was and is still a national commissioner in the Independent National Electoral Commission representing the entire seven states in the North-west; it is being claimed that Buhari knows nothing about her appointment (before he became the president), it is a lie.
“When President Goodluck Jonathan was reorganising INEC and he was bringing in Prof. Attahiru Jega, he reached out to Buhari and asked him to nominate somebody from the North-west so that, that person would be a national commissioner. Of all the people in the North-west, Buhari decided to nominate his own niece, the daughter of his elder sister – Amina Zakari. She has been there; when Jega left, Buhari was determined to make her the chairman, it was because of the massive backlash that he dropped the idea like hot potatoes. As we are talking today, that woman is a national commissioner which means she is one of the principal members of the election umpire.
“Throughout my reading of history, political science and social sciences generally, I have never heard of any dictator or any tyrant under any system of government whether totalitarian or fascist, appointing his own niece to conduct elections in which he was either a party or going to be a party to; Buhari has done that. The immediate younger brother to Amina Zakari is currently the Minister for Water Resources representing Jigawa State in the same Buhari government. In addition, even though they are from Kazaure, Kazaure is contiguous to Daura. The eldest sister of both of them is now the Commissioner for Education in the All Progressives Congress government in Jigawa State. If this is not nepotism, then I don’t know what nepotism is. For somebody who had the guts and the brutal arrogance to appoint these relations, not bothered about public opinion, about the sense of justice, and about competence, then you can see that he has a very serious question to answer.”

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Is President Buhari Not Aware?


By Abba Mahmood
25 January 2018

There is virtually no part of Nigeria that is peaceful. There is virtually no household that is happy. There is virtually no individual that is not living in fear in Nigeria today. School fees and hospital bills are becoming difficult for most people. Even one square meal is becoming a luxury for most. The value of the Naira against the Dollar is the worst in the history of Nigeria. The cost of fuel, where available, is the highest in the history of this so-called oil producing country. The endurance level of the ordinary people has been stretched to its limit. Is President Buhari not aware of this?

The police are underpaid, undertrained and overstretched. Consequently, the soldiers who are the last line of defence of any nation are now the first, having been drafted to 32 out of the 36 states doing internal security operations. About 70 percent of the federal permanent secretaries were directors of finance who could pay to be promoted to permanent secretaries. They are not trained administrators, consequently, they are not good in either policy formulation or implementation. They are only good in what they know best: making money. Is the president not aware of this?

The verdict out there in the public is that this government, as constituted now with its skewed appointments, is the most provincial, most sectional and most primordial. And no one would have complained if competent ones were appointed, but this team is one of the least competent, thus lacking the capacity to deliver. Thus, an already difficult situation is becoming disastrous, as if reminding us of what Machiavelli said: “the first impression that one gets of a ruler and of his brains is from seeing the men he has about him”. Is the president not aware of this?

If we go down even to our recent history, we know that when Sultan of Sokoto Sir Abubakar III, the father of the current Sultan Saad, was going on his first pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, he left his household in the care of Mr Dike, an Igbo from the South who went to Sokoto in1915. Mr Dike was so trusted that he had access to the Sultan’s bedroom. Dike’s offsprings are still in Sokoto fully integrated. In doing this, Sultan Sir Abubakar III was practicing what his worthy ancestor, Shehu Usman Dan Fodio advised in his book, ‘Bayan Wujub al-Hijra’ where Dan Fodio wrote, “one of the swiftest ways of destroying a state is to give preference to one particular tribe over another, or to show favor to one group of people rather than another, and draw near those who should be kept away and keep away those who should be drawn near.” Is President Buhari not aware of this?

Even the immediate two predecessors of President Buhari, as unexposed to national limelight as they were, tried to have national outlook. Late President Umaru Yar-Adua’s ADC was from Edo state, his Principal Secretary who acted as Chief of Staff when the Office of Chief of Staff was abolished, was from Delta state, his Defence Minister was also from the South, among others, and all his security chiefs were Christians. His successor, President Goodluck Jonathan’s NSA was from Sokoto, Defence Minister from Zamfara, his ADC was from Benue, his Chief Detail was Muslim from Bauchi, while his Principal Private Secretary was a Fulani from Adamawa. They tried to build a national platform as it should be for Presidents. Is the president not aware of this?

In Kano, which is supposed to be the political base of President Buhari, Governor Ganduje is fighting Senator Kwankwaso who not only delivered Kano state one hundred percent to the ruling party in 2015, but came second during the party’s presidential primaries. No one is calling anyone to order and Kano gave Buhari the highest votes. Like Kano, most state branches of the ruling party are in crisis. The All Progressives Congress (APC) controls 24 states, both Houses of the National Assembly and the presidency, yet they seem to accomplish nothing in three years. They are busy fighting each other and the President, as leader of the party, is not giving the required leadership. Is the president not aware of this?

To further compound matters, the appointees of this government are fighting each other as we read in newspapers. Close aides of the President are said to be hardly on speaking terms. Various agencies are working at cross purposes, even undermining presidential authority, with no one calling anyone to order. In any case, most of them are serving their personal interests as they represent no one, but themselves. Most of them were never known to the party or to the people they claim to represent. Consequently, Nigeria is drifting. Is the president not aware of this?

This is usually what happens when Ministers who are recognized by the Constitution are subordinated to the Chief of Staff (CoS), which is not a constitutional office. Buhari has centralized everything to the CoS so much that he appears to have abdicated his presidential responsibilities to his CoS, who now looks like a de facto president, as he controls access to the de jure president. Every government policy or personnel is subordinated to that office, so much that those who voted are feeling shortchanged. Is anyone still wondering why this government is stagnant and this country is static? And is the president not aware of this?

In the same book quoted above, Shehu Dan Fodio wrote: “O leader, you have kept yourself secluded from your subjects, by means of Chamberlains and doors and you have set up high mountains before them, while God’s door is open to petitioners: there is neither Chamberlain nor doorkeeper there. A Kingdom can endure with unbelief, but it cannot endure with injustice.” In the same book, Dan Fodio further wrote that: “the crown of a leader is his integrity, his stronghold is his impartiality and his wealth is (the welfare of) his people. There can be no triumph with transgression, no rule without learning and no leadership with vengeance.” Is the president not aware of this?

President Buhari should know that he has squandered enormous goodwill both in Nigeria and outside since he took over about three years ago. He has disappointed so many people. No one would ever think that he will preside over this tragic mess. If he had done the right things, no one would have been talking of the discredited PDP by now. The three or so people who have caged him can’t deliver even one local government to him politically. Is the president not aware of this?

Because he believes in democracy, he should get ready to give account of his stewardship by next year, if he will contest again. Because he believes in God, he should also prepare to account for his deeds, as all of us will surely do one day, in the hereafter. That is the ultimate accountability we are all waiting for. History is on the side of the oppressed.

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Leadership Nigeria Newspaper,
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