On several occasions, I have had the cause to reflect over the current situation in our dear country. The economic condition seems to be biting harder by the day. Despite claims by relevant authorities to ameliorate the sufferings of the people, the high rate of unemployment, crime and criminality as well as inflation continues to be a source of nightmare for the people.
Nigerians sleep with their stomachs empty. The future appears not promising while the hope that something robust is in the offing seems remote. For these reasons, many people are unhappy, sad, frustrated and full of anger. These signs are seen and clearly manifested as impatience, restlessness and survival instinct that have now assumed frightening proportions. In our residences, everyone is getting rushed-up while doing one thing or the other. Family members struggle and fight over the TV stations to watch, food to eat, clothes to wear, where to sit inside the family vehicle. Everyone tries to outsmart one another even though there is no prize to be won for such meaningless struggle. The psyche of our country men and women has now become so fragile that doing things piecemeal, orderly and in a systematic manner appear to be impossible.
Few examples would suffice: when you decide to drive out of your house, as you try getting into the main road, no one is willing to stop for you. The trafficator means nothing to motorists. You wave to other drivers that you intend moving out, no one recognises you. You are frustrated. Why? People are just too impatient to wait whenever they are behind the wheel, even for few seconds, simply for others to move. Out of desperation, you try to come out by all means. At the end, you force yourself into the road and care less about the motorcycle rider that almost hit at you and the commotion that ensued by one’s recklessness and frustration. By that, one has joined the siege and the impatient fellows!
As you move forward, the potholes are found everywhere such that hardly can you drive up to a short distance without having to cope with the extremely bad portions of the road. Not just few potholes and failed portions, but complete jungle roads that have suffered several years of neglect. As one meanders on the dangerous roads, motorists and other road users are busy creating more confusion for themselves, as they continue to fight over the right of way. Pedestrians are even more daring by the day. They hardly use the footbridges any longer simply because they’ll want to cross-over to the other side in a jiffy. Zebra-crossing signs mean nothing to them. Who would have the time to climb the ladders? Not them. You, who meticulously drive, other motorcyles and vehicles dangerously overtake from you from all sides and directions other than the designated lanes. In the process, you that is carefully driving and toeing the right path is made to feel that you are the lawless person, while those that are flouting the road traffic rules appear to be doing what is right even though the opposite is the case. If there is anything that is grossly abused, it is the way people hoot and blow horns while driving. Commercial drivers over-speed so badly in order to cover as many routes within a short time at the risk of many people’s lives. The same restlessness pervades at filling stations, lube-bay, mechanic workshop and the car wash.
You get to the hospital; you are greeted with a loud noise such that one wonders whether medical workers are trained at all to appreciate the value of serenity, quietness and solemnity of medical centres. Not only do such officers play loud music, watch movies and paying very little attention to the conditions of the sick and those nursing one medical problem or another. When one sits for routine medical evaluation, the readings they record are hardly accurate because the medical personnel carrying out the tasks are too impatient to quickly take wrong readings, while attending to other matters that may not even be important at all. This accounts for why many people continue to administer wrong injections, prescribe or give wrong drugs as well as carry out wrong diagnosis and the aftermath of that; serious calamity.
Religious institutions are the same. Nowadays, sermons are delivered so fast that the congregation is often lost and hardly get the crux of the message. Why is this so? The minister is so much in a hurry that for him/her, receiving feedbacks from the audience is irrelevant. Members of the congregation are also so impatient and restless that no one is really listening to any sermon. Who then is deceiving who? Not a few are busy communicating with their smartphones and getting distracted such that one then wonders why would anyone need to waste his/her time coming to a worship centre in the first instance. People also run to take the holy communion. A junior officer wants to become the boss overnight while a poorly-prepared student wants to pass his/her papers even in flying colours.
Getting good food to eat is now a big problem in our land. Hardly do we get agricultural crops to full attain maturity before harvesting. They are hurriedly harvested and put up for sale. Same experience goes for animal products. At times, I wonder if the birds being used for chicken delicacies are really chickens. Nobody is ready to wait until when the animals are mature and suitable enough for consumption. Everything has to be done in a hurry; whether okay or not, meat is meat. Let’s kill, cook, sell and make money, fast. Cooking is something else, variety of food delicacies are badly cooked and eaten almost in their raw forms. Why? We are too restless to cook well, after all, food seasonings are all over to cover-up the flaws. We continue to eat bad food on a daily basis because they are hurriedly prepared for consumption.
Travelling by air should ordinarily be interesting. Nowadays, it has become a scary experience for many. When I am in the midst of my fellow citizens, who are always in a hurry to obey simple rules of switching-off their mobile appliances before and after landing, as safety measure, this simple directive, is never obeyed. Passengers are usually impatient to switched-on their appliances and communicating while on board, as if something serious would happen, if they are not allowed to use their phones at such short moments. And whenever there are flight delays, murmurings and serious complaints become the usual thing for passengers because they are ever impatient to sound reasoning and even obey instructions of the pilots that ample time should be given to manage the bad weather condition before flying. All manners of insults and abuses rent the air on the need for the flight to continue at all cost, despite warnings that the weather is bad. What is wrong flying under such circumstances? They would always ask.
I am even baffled by the way people behave at solemn outings such as burials that should draw out sense of humility and sober reflections in us at such critical moments. But what do we see? Royally-dressed fellows, who are lurking around for when the service would end and other socials and partying would commence. The more I try to ponder over these issues, the more I get confused. Why have we allowed environmental circumstances to totally control our lives? There is the need to really take things easy in this country. This could largely be responsible for why our life expectancy level is abysmally low. We are continually under the siege as a people. I am very sure of one thing. Nature has a way of moderating events. It has a way of slowing us down, whether we like it or not. This truism is difficult to accept. Why? Simply because we are damn too impatient to come to terms with this reality!
•Kupoluyi writes from Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matchmaking: The best option!
Matchmaking is the first and most credible way of meeting life partners. From the cradle of civilization to date, the nobles, the wealthy and the privileged class members of the society have been more involved in picking life partners for their children especially within their own level or circle. The choice of spouses is very important as the sustenance of their affluence and business empires depend so much on it. Spouses are automatic partakers of destiny, business, estate and the future of one’s lineage. Incidentally, God, the Creator of mankind, actually initiated that process in the Garden of Eden with the first family on earth. God brought Eve to Adam, and Adam instantly admired, loved and got fascinated to Eve. By this action, love at first sight could be real!
There are many ways and places people do meet and strike the chord of relationships. Every avenue of human interaction is a potential opportunity for connecting with missing ‘ribs.’ People meet at worship centres, cinema, parks, beach, in public transport, in the neighbourhood, at wedding, naming and burial ceremonies, through friends, after a rough encounter like argument or quarrel, at sporting events venue, on walkways, in banking halls, at shopping centres, at work or in the course of duty, at eateries, in the markets, at saloons, gyms, filling stations, on flights, at schools, at hospitals, at accident scenes, at police stations, at the airports, at motor parks, at the bus stops, on social media platforms among other places.
In the larger society decades back, parents, most of who were peasants, traders and skilled craftsmen, often determined which families their children would marry from. Customarily, they will investigate the would-be in-laws’ lineage to know if there’s any illness, mental case, premature death, poverty, bareness, marital failure, spiritual issue or social stigma that was common in the family. More often than not, children rarely reject the choice of their parents because they knew parental decision was in their best interest.
Virtually all the marriages worked out by parental arrangement in that glorious era endured. Despite challenges, the marriages survived the odds because the parents were the ‘sureties’ and arbiters at every point of need or crisis. Respect for parents, desired to be responsible couples, fear of stigma in case of divorce, protection of children and family names or reputation were pivotal to the success of marriages at that time.
People at work do introduce their friends and loved ones to those they are convinced will treat them well in relationship or marriage. Spiritual leaders, especially ministers of God are much more involved in the business of matchmaking. Being confidants and reservoirs of secrets to awaiting brides and grooms, it is much easier for pastors to connect people together based on the privileged information they have about such adults most of who are their church members. Similarly, too, many of such marriages do endure.
Neighbours, colleagues, church members and associates are very common nexus for matchmaking. In this jet age, parental involvement has been reduced to zero level. And I want to believe it is one of the reasons value for marriage is waning as occasioned by frequent separation and divorce cases, domestic assaults, infidelity, philandering and reckless home abandonment. All necessary checks on the background of the spouse before marriage is contracted are no longer done. This negligence possibly is responsible for some hard-hitting circumstances that seem to defy logics and human solution.
I’m also aware of some career matchmakers in town. Many of them deal with high profile individuals either in need of momentary sexual satisfaction or life partners. How successful this trade has been especially in getting people connected for marriage I can’t quantify but I’m persuaded it could have indeed helped many; perhaps except those who might be wary of being matched with complete strangers.
Relationship managers, counsellors, coaches and ministers are equally good matchmakers. They are custodians of love-seeking people’s requests. For instance, I have more female subscribers on my Hook Up service than men. The way a relationship counsellor or minister will connect people together will be different from the others mentioned earlier. Some of the roles being played by the parents in the ages past do reflect in a relationship counsellor’s approach.
In addition, social media platforms and dating sites have made connections easier but the seriousness and trustworthiness of the people on the other side are a different matter entirely. In some cases, online mates do appear sharply different from the highly cosmetic and photo-tricked pictures they see on the internet. In that case, ‘please shine your eyes!’
As love-seekers do pray, attend social events and hangout at fun centres hunting for partners, they should not shy away from telling a few trusted persons around them of their need. There are huge benefits in meeting life partners through somebody, especially good people. As the saying in Yoruba that a needle that has tread is never lost; so, any relationship that involves good people from the onset has chances of survival and eventual consummation. The couple will always have someone or people to run to in moments of crisis. Wise guidance through counselling, prayers, frank talks, scolding (sometimes if necessary), pampering and encouragement are never in short supply for the couple. These were the parental functions that steadied the homes of their children in the ages past.
Re: Guys, Your Looks Speak!
Dressing and lifestyle are interwoven. One’s dressing determines who the person actually is in the eyes of the society. This is why people must be guided on what they put on because the society will judge them by how they look. The church that is supposed to speak on moderation for both male and female are not doing it for selfish reasons of losing offerings and other financial supports to the church. Sad! – Chief Emo, Abuja.
Re: The Flipside of Governor’s Home
Wow! This is quite educating, revealing and interesting. Thanks for a job well done. Where can I get the book to buy? It’s a must-read. – Mrs. Smith, Abuja
Re: ‘I Prefer Woman Living with HIV as Wife’
Abstinence still remains the best policy ordained by God, and tests before marriage. HIV may be manageable, but the attendant complications still kill. People rarely die of it. They die of HIV related complications. I wish him well and God’s healing. – Liz, Lagos
The Senate without Dino
“When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not Guilty’ – Theodore Roosevelt
The 9th Senate under Senator Ahmad Lawan has a lot of work on its hand to escape from the warning of the British Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow that a “A legislature cannot be effective while suffering from public scorn”.
The indicator light coming out of the current Senate is not showing that the Nigerian public is going to see a robust parliament this time. Even as they may likely win award in the area of Legislative-Executive harmony, what would be conspicuously missing is going to be that vital ingredients that make parliament seen as the soul and mind of the people and democracy.
When a parliament loses its essence in the guise of maintaining good working relationship with the executive, it would have a lot of struggling to do to impress the populace that it’s delivering in its primary responsibilities of making laws for the good governance of the country as well as standing as a check on the excesses of the Executive arm. No parliament gets accolade for being a butt of the executive.
The proper rating of a democratic system anywhere in the world is based on its parliamentary duties and the electoral process. Where and when these two features are deficient or absent, democracy cannot be said to have been standing on a good foundation. Back in the month of June this year when the executive and the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), were making frantic efforts to impose leadership on the two chambers of the 9th Assembly, parliamentary watchers had forewarned of the far reaching implications, and how such was going to deny the nation of a vibrant legislation. I think the hand writing is beginning to show.
It appears that what we are going to see with the 9th Senate will be garbage-in garbage-out. Whatever the Executive brings goes back to it unscathed. To try to scrutinize any Executive document could be misconstrued as disloyalty and a breach of rules of engagement of the promised Executive/Legislative harmony.
When a parliament especially a major chamber like the Senate carries the apparel of a rubber stamp legislature, everybody is a loser. The Executive will miss the critical and necessary evaluation of its policies that could help stimulate Executive functions. In its absence, the legislature will be biddable, spineless and boring to the public. When an invertebrate parliament exists in a nation, the ultimate loser will be the people.
The first sign of the kind of Senate in offing in this dispensation was seen during the screening of ministers where no serious effort was made to examine the nominees despite the glaring debility in their backgrounds. Added to that is the rush to approve taxes and loan requests from the Executives at federal and states without much interrogations or consideration of its consequences to the already overwhelmed citizens.
The embattled National Chairman of the ruling party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole last week curiously celebrated the non-return of some Senators of the 8th Senate. He claimed that the Senators they stopped were the problems of the 8th Senate and were indeed saboteurs to President Muhammadu Buhari’s humdrum first term.
But not a few are in agreement with Oshiomhole on his groundless assertions. Rather pundits believe that these characters on record contributed significantly in the enviable image of the 8th Senate despite the orchestrated distractions from the Executive that included the prosecution and trial of the then Senate President Bukola Saraki.
Let us just envision the image of the 9th Senate without Senators Dino Melaye and Shehu Sani. The drama that usually comes from Dino that often lightens and recharges the chamber will be missed, ditto the comics from activist Senator Sani with his witty words. Some of Senator Dino’s behaviour outside the Chamber may not be befitting of a distinguished lawmaker but it does not diminish his outstanding contributions in the chamber and to his constituency for which he would be greatly missed.
Already from July to date what we have seen coming out of the red chamber has been a boring near rubber stamp deliberative body that is clearly incapable of galvanizing the Executive and acting as the conscience of the people.
Oshiomhole celebrating exit of these senators forgets the impelling atmosphere and intellectual inputs these characters brought to the last Senate. In this 9th Senate except of course the insightful and intuitive contributions of the native boy and minority leader, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, it has been a drearily and a near lifeless legislature. The hot heads that made it a robust parliament in the last Senate are conspicuously missing. The Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who acted like an encyclopaedia to the 8th Senate although still in the 9th has been AWOL this time for obvious reasons, descending from number two man in the red chamber to just a floor member, naturally comes with some psychological issues and that is perhaps worsened by the senseless and needless act of insubordination by some Biafra agitators at the ill-fated new yam festival in Germany in August this year.
That Dino was forced out of the Senate not for non-performance or constituent’s rejection but just for standing up to the Executive says a much about the democracy we are running. That Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State with an undisputed report of being the worst governor in the country in the last four years was forced on the people in the same election that Dino was forced out, also speaks a lot about our own definition of democracy in this part of the globe. Even more voluminous a concern is the fact that blood was spilled to achieve this by a government that is a huge beneficiary of a rare disposition from President Goodluck Jonathan who left government because he does not believe his ambition is worth the spilling of blood of any Nigerian.
Even as we continue to pretend that all is well with our democracy, truth remains that unless those blood wasted are that of sheep or chicken, all cannot be said to be alright with our polity.
In a country where a President relinquished power because he did not feel his ambition is worth the blood of a single citizen, and the beneficiaries of such gesture wastes human blood in the process of grabbing power, it then means no lesson was picked from that enormous sacrifice.
Even as the ruling party and the Executive arm of government appear to be in a state of thrill over the non-availability of certain Senators in the 9th Senate, the huge task for Senator Lawan-led red chamber is to try and meet up with the expectations of the people as well as captured by the British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn that: “It is the right of a democratically elected parliament to act in defence of our traditional liberties, and everything should be done to keep it that way.”
May it not be the portion of this 9th Senate that in 2023, their image will not be such as the American Senate at a time that the 26th US President Theodore Roosevelt had to poke that: “When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer ‘Present’ or ‘Not Guilty. God help us.
Clipping the wings of Alapere canal
kure is the Ondo State capital. The panegyric of the people runs thus: Akure l’omi meji/O p’ejeji l’Ala/ Ala se bi ere bi ere/Ala d’omi ebo. Translated: Akure has two rivers/It named both Ala/Like play, like play/Ala became rivers you must worship.
In those days, human beings were offered as sacrifice to the gods. So, Akure might have sacrificed two human beings to its two Ala every year. That was double jeopardy. What could have been responsible: Carelessness, carefree attitude or lack of deep thought and reflection? Akure indigenes to the rescue, please!
It could also mean that Akure did not act fast enough to nip a looming disaster in the bud. It allowed the problem to fester until it became a calamity it had to live with. Mercifully – and hopefully – humans are no longer used as sacrifice to the gods in this digital age. The gods themselves must have gone digital and would, if asked, prefer dollars and pound sterling or holiday in Dubai to human sacrifice!
A note of warning is being sounded here today that Lagos State Government must learn from Akure and clip the wings of the Alapere canal before it becomes something else! A decade or so ago, the canal was just a stream. The locals crossed from one side to the other with the help of a plank thrown over it. No more! The Alapere canal is now a river. Boats can sail on it right now.
The problem is caused by the incessant, persistent, and continuous dredging or clearing of the water hyacinth and other debris that clog the canal, leading to the flooding of the areas lining the course of the canal from Agiliti to Alapere and into the Lagos lagoon. Properties and high premium land have been lost and continued to be lost. As the canal widens due to dredging, structures along its course are demolished.
What the authorities ought to do is shrink the canal, line it on both sides with concrete walls, and reclaim all the land it has swallowed up. This is a clear case of canal encroachment on people’s property and not of people-encroachment on the canal. It is the mountain going to Muhammed and not the other way round. The people whose property and structures are demolished now and again as a result suffer double jeopardy. They need help!
I have taken up this issue with the relevant Lagos State authorities and I must appreciate their prompt action. My brother, friend, and professional colleague, Mr. Tunji Bello, who is the Lagos State Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, deserves special commendation. He responded quickly to complaints and gave assurances. He also followed up; making good his promise that something urgent would be done. Last week, the clearing of the Alapere canal was so thoroughly done like no other time in the past. In the event, however, physical structures close to the canal lost a swathe of land to the canal again.
One of my church buildings is by the canal. In the past we had a respectable distance from the canal before it was dredged again and again to become the river that it now is. As the dredging persisted, we lost half of a property we had designated as car park. Then we lost a portion of one of the church buildings. Last week again after another round of dredging, the authorities came again asking for another pound of flesh. But we think we have had enough! Not only that; we think now is the time to apply the final and full solution to the menace of the Alapere canal by putting a stop to its creeping confiscation of people’s property; reclaim the land it has swallowed up; and line it with concrete walls on both sides.
For sure LASG is aware of this solution. I have written to the appropriate authorities in the past on this issue. I have met with engineers of the Ministry of Environment. I wrote to the then governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, through my brother, Mr. Tunji Bello, who was then Secretary to the State Government. I met with His Excellency, Gov. Ambode, who promised to act. Not only would he line the canal with concrete walls, he also promised he would tar Bakare and Ori-Ola streets. I must thank my friends in the government who facilitated the meeting – Tunji; Steve Ayorinde, the then Honourable Commissioner for Information; and the then Chief Press Secretary, Habib Aruna. My brother, Kehinde Bamigbetan, who succeeded Steve, thank you.
Lining the Alapere canal with concrete walls will not come cheap. That is the snag. According to the project drawing I was privileged to view on the laptop of one of the engineers at the Ministry of Environment, the project some 17 years back was estimated to cost over N100 million. You can imagine what the cost will be today. But there are no viable alternatives. The palliatives of dredging and clearing only worsen the problem. Procrastination and delay also only make the project more costly. Better, then, if the bull is seized by the horns. Government can do this project piecemeal. In a matter of three to four years the whole length of the Alapere canal can be effectively lined with concrete walls and this perennial problem can become a thing of the past.
More than enough lives have been lost to flooding along the course of the Alapere canal. Last year, two persons were washed away. Enough havoc has also been wreaked by dirty water, debris, refuse and dangerous reptiles emptied into the community from the canal. The health hazard suffered by the people in the communities concerned is better imagined than felt. Only last Sunday while service was on, a snake making its way from the canal was accosted and killed right under the staircase of my church.
Do we appreciate the gargantuan nature of the task before the government of Mr. Governor – as Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said we should now address him? Of course! Those who should know say Ambode did not touch drainage in the four years that he was in the saddle. That is why, they reason, drainage and flood problems have accumulated to these terrible proportions. Ambode has played his part and has departed, leaving his marks in the areas he chose to. History and posterity will judge everyone. Now the baton is in Sanwo-Olu’s hands and he has started to run his own race. Flood control, opening up of blocked drainages, and removing obstacle to free flow of flood waters are said to be one of his priorities.
In this wise, Mr. Governor has a good combination in his deputy; in Tunji; and in Otunba – or is it Akogun? – Joe Igbokwe. I have full confident in their ability to help Sanwo-Olu get this job done.
Next, Sanwo-Olu must address three issues. One: The day Alapere canal was cleared, it was swept as clean and neat as Grandma had taught me to sweep the floor. You remove your slippers when sweeping the floor and if a grain of sand sticks to the sole of your feet, then, you start all over again. That was what the canal looked like from my vantage position on the staircase of my church. The next day, however, an avalanche of empty bottles and cans of table water and soft drinks, sachets of “pure water” and all manner of refuse had taken over again! It was like no job was done at all the previous day!
Until something is done to the menace of empties, we will find it difficult to solve the problem of drainage blockage and perennial flooding. There are some businesses we must term “silent killers and destroyers”. Their products are harmful to health; and their waste products a nuisance to the environment. Pity, we have no reliable statistics here; otherwise, it may as well be that the cumulative damage that such businesses inflict soars far above their positive contributions.
Two: Vision Scape or PSP, Lagos is yet to arrive at the winning formula for refuse disposal. Until everyone is captured in the configuration and made to pay for refuse disposal; until indiscriminate dumping of refuse is thereby discouraged, the problem of blocked drains and of flooding would not have been solved. Methinks the banning of cart-pushers should be re-visited. They should be the first leg in a chain that will deliver a cleaner Lagos while also providing thousands of jobs if properly galvanised and modernised.
Three: Lagos must now take its IGR to the next level rather than rest on its oars. By international standards, the IGR it boasts of at the moment (as local champion) is mere peanut. It must now begin to think, act, and grow its economy to compare with other mega cities of the world if Lagos is not to move in the direction of a mega slum that stares everyone in the face right now.
Your article of 27th November (What goes round comes around/Between Secondus and Modu Sheriff) moved me. It’s like a movie. Please let me know when you write; I want to follow – 0705 711 7418.
When it all ends…
We gather here today not to mourn but to celebrate a distinguished life, the life of Brigadier-General Mobolaji Johnson, a great patriot, an accomplished administrator, one of the makers of modern Lagos who, sadly, will never share this physical space with us again.
In whatever role we knew him, the first and longest serving military administrator of Lagos State stood out as a special person for his leadership and charismatic personality. If anyone was qualified to be addressed as “an officer and a gentleman”, it was General Johnson. Despite his imposing frame, he was as gentle as a dove. He never threw his weight around, even though he was a man of power. He was a man of authority, but he was never authoritarian. Though a soldier, he never ruled with an iron hand; he was compassionate. Gen. Johnson was a gentleman in the true sense of the word. A prince among soldiers, he had the common touch.
This occasion, despite its somber nature, is an opportunity to sing the praise of this great Lagosian, thank him for his service to our dear state and say a final bye to him. So it is my hope that today’s event will help to reaffirm our resolve to pursue our journey to a Greater Lagos that he envisioned and my administration is committed to delivering.
I thank you all for responding to our invitation to honour a goal-oriented leader who did great things for Lagos State and the nation.
I must also thank the family of our beloved pathfinder for allowing us to honour him. I say this because a funeral is first and foremost a family affair. But in our life’s journey, men and women renounce their personal space to undertake the noble calling of public service. When this happens, many things change, not only in life, but also in death. One of the changes is that their private lives are shared with the public who they serve, and it is often difficult to inter them privately when they fulfil their mortal covenant.
Many people will share with you their experiences about this great man of many parts, Gen. Johnson. They will speak of the great things he did as governor.
It is hard to eulogize any man – to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential essence of a person, his private joy and sorrow, the unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, such as our own Gen. Mobolaji Johnson.
Given the sweep of his life, the scope of his accomplishments, the acclaim that he so rightly earned, it is apt to remember Sir Mobolaji as an iconic figure, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry preoccupations of lesser men. A quintessential manager of resources, Gen. Johnson touched and transformed thousands of lives through his foresight, service and industry. He was a symbol of decency, humility and integrity, fairness and justice.
Our illustrious and now departed son of Lagos was a constant source of support and inspiration to successive governors of Lagos State, especially from 1999 till date.
He was always willing to offer his wise counsel and experience whenever the need arose. Even while it was obvious that his health could not really allow rigorous endeavours, Gen. Johnson was a regular feature at every major Lagos State Government ground breaking event. Such was his unbelievable and unswerving commitment to the cause of Lagos State. How then are we not going to miss him sorely?
As the First Military Governor of Lagos State, he discharged his mandate equitably – with remarkable dignity. His indelible record of service remains intact. The “Centre of Excellence” that we proudly proclaim today is a product of his vision for Lagos State when he conceived several landmark programmes and projects for the newly created state from 1967.
Even in death, the story of the development of Lagos to a model megacity cannot be told without a mention of this unassuming and worthy leader. Some of the impactful projects he executed as governor are still visible.
In the realisation that Lagos State is the most populous and leading state in the federation, Mobolaji Johnson was determined to turn the state into the pride of the nation. The policy thrust of his administration was shaped by his faith in the creative capabilities and boundless energies of the people, especially the masses. Thus, his early days in office clearly showed him as a man who brought resourcefulness, experience and dynamism to the task of solving some of the teething problems of our dear state.
His biography is a story of inspiration.
Mobolaji Johnson was first appointed the Administrator of the Federal Territory of Lagos on January 15, 1966 and later as Military Governor at the creation of the state on May 27, 1967. His regime witnessed an increase in the state’s revenue from N36.7 million to N99.7 million. The increase was largely due to the revenue allocation formula that had just been introduced and increased revenue from crude oil, which was partly shared out to the state governments
Under his leadership, the state government generated the larger proportion of its earnings from Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). According to the government then, the IGR was known as “sources under the control of the Lagos State Government”.
The Mobolaji Johnson administration began the construction of Ikorodu and Mushin General Hospitals. It also modernized the General Hospital, Lagos, by building the new mortuary block, physical medicine department, sewage treatment plant and installation of a standby generator. The administration also commissioned the nurses’ hostel, doctors’ flat at Marina, Isolo and Harvey Road Health Centres.
His administration also built the maternity annex at Onikan Health Centre and an additional ward at Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital. It equally opened five new Government Colleges in each of the five divisions of the state.
The Gen. Johnson administration also introduced the harmonized teachers’ salaries and conditions of service to enhance the status of the profession and commenced the implementation of the Universal Primary Education (UPE).
It also completed projects under the Lagos Water Supply phase 1 Expansion Programme and designed the Owo Water Works as an alternative to Iju Water Works to serve Ojo and environs. Other strides of the administration are: Construction of the Victoria Island Sewage Scheme for Ikoyi, Lagos Island etc.; introduction of the regulations for motorcyclists to wear crash helmets; introduction of Traffic Courts; establishment of Agricultural Extension Works Stations; construction and commissioning of the Government Printing Press at Isheri road in Ikeja; and so on.
Many recollect with nostalgia the young officer who commanded the parade at the Race Course when the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe became Nigeria’s first and only indigenous governor-general in 1960 before she became a republic. On horseback, Gen. Johnson was dashing and professional. He added so much colour to that landmark ceremony.
Mobolaji Johnson began his military career at the Zaria Military Depot in 1958. Two years later, he served as a member of the United Nations Peace Keeping Troops, Congo between 1960 and 1961. He was promoted as 2nd Lieutenant in the Nigeria Army in 1961. He became a Captain in October 1962. He was Deputy Commander, Federal Guards, Commander, Federal Guards, Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster-General Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, Apapa, Lagos, Station Commander, Benin, Midwest (old Bendel State), Second in command, 4th Battalion, Ibadan, among others.
Gen. Johnson, needless to say, earned his epaulettes.
He set Lagos on a course and a race of an unending quest for improvement, innovation and development.
We remain inspired and grateful as we celebrate the life and times of this great man, and more importantly his service to our people, borne out of deep conviction, and executed with grace and without blemish.
We will miss him, even as we keep in our minds the lesson of his enviable life – that hard work pays and the power of vision cannot be blighted by human inadequacies.
In the end, “beauty fades and riches take up wings for themselves and fly away, but the last quality of a human being is character.” Gen. Johnson was a man of character. May The Almighty smoothen his path to eternity and bless his family.
Rest in Peace, Brigadier General Mobolaji Johnson, the people’s General.
God bless Nigeria, God bless Lagos and God bless you all.
•A tribute to the first military administrator of Lagos State, Brigadier General Mobolaji Johnson, by Governor Sanwo-Olu.
Education: Nigeria’s pathway to exiting extreme poverty HQ
e cannot grow Nigeria if we do not invest in education. This is such a notorious fact that it is almost a cliché. When philosophers say that an investment in education yields the most interest, they were stating a truism for which we see ample evidence in Nigeria.
The reason why we have insecurity is because we have poverty, and the reason why we have poverty is because we have illiteracy. It is a cycle that we can only break by educating our people. For the past four years, our education budgets have demonstrated the fact that developing the minds of our people has not been our priority.
Two weeks ago, a friend of mine, Prof. Anya O. Anya, who just happens to be a former Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), revealed that Nigeria has taken more loans in the last three years than she has taken in the 30-year period preceding 2016.
Now, how can we have such a monumental increase in borrowings vis-à-vis an unprecedented reduction in investments in education?
I am a businessman. Perhaps the first lesson one learns in business is that you do not take loans except it is to expand your business. There is no justification for taking out loans to pay salaries; meanwhile, you are not investing in your future generation.
Nigeria’s greatness is not as tied to her elders as it is tied to her youth. That is where our investments should be focused on.
Let me give some facts and figures on the linkages between education and crime and insecurity.
Scandinavia outspends every other part of the world in investing in education, with the Nordic nation of Denmark spending an average of 8% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education. They are followed closely by Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland.
Now, is it a coincidence that in every survey of crime and insecurity released by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) for 2018, these same nations and their region are listed as the safest parts of the world as well as the most crime-free states? I don’t think so. In fact, as someone who has invested heavily in education for decades, I know that this is not a coincidence.
Instead of doing many things and doing them poorly, what I am advocating for is that the Federal Government of Nigeria and the federating units should rather focus on doing one or two things so that we can do them well.
Education is the principal thing. When we get this right, we will get Nigeria right. The easiest way, to make the most significant impact, in the shortest amount of time, is via education.
As proof, I cite the fact that 2014 represented the year Nigeria invested the most in education with a N493 billion allocation (then the equivalent of $3.3 billion) to education, representing 9.94% of the total budget.
The very next year, the trio of the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and CNN Money rated Nigeria as the third fastest-growing economy in the world. Again, I ask, was that a coincidence?
If you think that it is, then how do you explain the fact that Nigeria slid into a recession the same year that our education budget began to drop from their pre-2015 levels? The total percentage of the budget allocated to education in 2014 was 9.94%, which dropped to 6.10% in 2016. It is as clear as night and day.
What did we do right in 2014 to get such a bounce in our economic growth? I have answered that question already. We increased our education budget, and for the first time, it got to almost double digits (9.94% of the entire budget).
What I propose is that the federal, states, and local governments should consider a policy of allocating at least 10% of the total budget appropriations to the education sector. If insanity is doing the same thing and expect different results, it follows that the sane thing to do is that when you get a result that you like, you are challenged to repeat the process, and in fact, improve upon it, so that you can get the same or perhaps improved results.
And the results will come. The effects of education on the economy is not just that education improves the employability of people; it goes beyond that. There is documentary evidence from the Human Development Index that the United Nations publishes annually, that educated people are healthier.
Because they are healthier, the proportion of their income and the income of the government that is spent on treating diseases and sickness reduces, they, therefore, have more disposable income to spend, which boosts the economy. Healthier people are more productive. Because they are more productive, they are less prone to crime. The multiplier effects go on and on.
Why am I saying these to you, graduates and undergraduates of the American University of Nigeria? I am an elder, and so are most of those now directing the affairs of Nigeria. If we are not able to make these changes, then you are challenged to make them, for yourselves and your children, and their children’s children.
Very sadly, we have bequeathed to your generation a Nigeria that is the world headquarters for extreme poverty. The only way we can turn that around is via education. The word coincidence keeps popping up today. Obviously, it cannot be any coincidence that we are also the global capital for out-of-school children, with approximately 13 million Nigerian children out of the formal education system.
Why is it not a coincidence? Because the former global capital for out-of-school children, until Nigeria took over, was India, which also happened to be the previous world headquarters for extreme poverty, again, until Nigeria took over.
If we can find a way to ensure that all Nigerian children leave school with at least basic reading and writing abilities, we would have found a way to end extreme poverty in Nigeria, which is why we must devote the bulk of our resources to education.
And all tiers of government must recognize that there would be more money available to the government, via an improved economy, which means improved taxation, if they invest in education. I have been in this business since the 1980s. For every Naira you invest in educating a child, you add N5 to his life earnings. Tell me which other investment can yield that type of return on investment?
And it should not just be the government. I have been spending some time in Germany because of the Saudi German Hospital investment I am attracting to Nigeria. One thing I found out in Germany is that private-sector corporations and manufacturers have their schools and institutes. Vocational education is so big in Germany and Japan that a lot of the German and Japanese labour force are vocationally educated by the industrial sector, rather than by the government or their parents or themselves.
The German government has cited the system, called the Dual VET system (Vocational Education and Training), as the key to their status as Europe’s dominant industrial power.
Via the Dual VET, millions of German youths spend 50% of their educative time in vocational schools owned by German corporations and spend the other 50% working on the job.
As a matter of fact, more German youths (52%) pass through the Dual VET, than through the conventional education sector.
Why can’t we have this in Nigeria? We do not have enough access to education. That is why Nigerian parents spend $1 billion per annum educating their children abroad, with much of that amount going to Ghana.
The place of the President and Vice President under the Nigerian and America Constitutions (5)
THE VICE PRESIDENT IS NEITHER A SERVANT NOR SLAVE OF THE PRESIDENT (continues)
In parts 1 to 4 of this writes-up, I fervently discussed the importance of the place of the President and Vice President under the Nigerian and American Constitutions and why the Vice President must never be seen as a mere dispensable spare tyre. Today, we shall conclude our discourse on the above topical issue.
Courts in Nigeria, especially the Court of Appeal, have done a great job in elevating the office of the Vice President beyond that of a mere servant or loyalist of the President who can be removed at the pleasure of the President.
In the case of Atiku Abubakar v. Attorney-General, Fed. (2007) 3NWLR (Pt 1022) 601; the Court went further to state quite unequivocally:
”Having regard to the Oath of Allegiance and oath of office stipulated in the Seventh Schedule to the 1999 Constitution and requires to be sworn by the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he does not owe a duty of allegiance and loyalty to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the political party on whose platform he was elected to the office of Vice President. The allegiance of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and he has an unreserved or unalloyed duty to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as required both in his Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance under the Constitution.
“Next to be considered is the question of the Vice President breaching ‘his obligation of one mindedness, loyalty, material trust, confidence and good faith.’ This passage or its variant runs through most of the questions framed for determination of the first defendant’s counter originating summons.
This point was strenuously pressed or pursued by the first defendant supported by the second and sixth defendants, the Inspector General of Police and the Independent National Electoral Commission. None of them directed the attention of the court to any authority, statutory or decided case. I, too, do not know of any authority which creates a supine, single-minded Vice President, indeed a robot. It is respectfully, to my mind not the intention of the Constitution to create a Vice President with no mind of his own. I shudder to imagine what would be the fate of the country in unlikely event of a President dying in office or impeached and the Vice President had to assume office of the President. The only source from which one can glean the person to whom the Vice President, indeed all those who hold their offices under the Constitution owe allegiance and loyalty is the Oaths of Allegiance and the various Oaths of Office contained in Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
‘I have painstakingly reproduced both the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Office of the Vice-President etc and can find nowhere in both Oaths where loyalty and faithfulness and true allegiance is owed to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who in his own right subscribes to the same Oath of Allegiance with the Vice-President and an Oath of office that is essentially identical to that sworn to by the Vice President. I agree that the Vice-President should have an undivided loyalty but that loyalty is due to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not, I repeat not, to Mr. President not Peoples Democratic Party who in any case is a stranger to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If the Vice-President were to have undivided loyalty to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as postulated by the defendants, how does he defend the Constitution which he has sworn to defend in event the President’s interest or desire is in conflict with the Constitution?. It is respectfully my view, that the Vice-President’s allegiance is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and has an unreserved or unalloyed duty to defend the constitution as adumbrated in his Oath of office and the Oath of Allegiance.” Per. Abdullahi P.C.A.
The Nigerian Constitution, like the American presidential system, envisages a single executive of which the President is the Head and in whom the executive powers are vested. Article 11 of the Constitution of the United States, just like section 5(1) of our Constitution, provides that “the executive power shall be vested in a President of the United State.” The principle implies the preclusion of a current vesting of the executive powers in two or more persons of equal authority. The Principle also has the effect that the legislative organ cannot take away from the President or confer on others, functions of a strictly executive nature: See MYERS V. UNITED STATES 272. US 52; Nowak & Rotunde, Constitutional Law, 6th edition paragraph 7.14, page 298; and Nwabueze, Constitutional Democracy in Africa, (Vol. 4) Forms of Government, page 76.
A COMPARISON OF THE ROLE AND FUNCTIONS OF THE VICE PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA AND THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
The Vice President of the United States:
1) Is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The Vice President is also an officer in the legislative branch, as President of the Senate.
2) Article I, Section 3, Clause 4 confers upon the Vice President the title President of the Senate and authorizes him to preside over Senate meetings. In this capacity, the Vice President is charged with maintaining order and decorum, recognizing members to speak, and interpreting the Senate’s rules, practices, and precedent.
3) As President of the Senate, the VP may also preside over most of the impeachment trials of federal officers.
4) The Twelfth Amendment (like the superseded Article II clause) provides that the Vice President, in his capacity as President of the Senate, also presides over counting and presentation of the votes of the Electoral College.
5) Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 stipulates that the Vice President takes over the “powers and duties” of the presidency in the event of a President’s removal, death, resignation, or inability.
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
1) As the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he does not owe a duty of allegiance and loyalty to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or the political party on whose platform he was elected to the office of Vice President.
2) The allegiance of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and he has an unreserved or unalloyed duty to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as required both in his Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance, under the Constitution.
3) The Vice-President shall have an undivided loyalty but that loyalty is only due to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not, I repeat, not, to Mr. President, or to any person, Authority, or political party, which in any case, is a stranger to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
4) The relationship between the President and Vice President, is not that of master and servant as each of them is a deliberate creation of the Constitution and neither of them is an employer of the other.
5) The Vice President is created by the Constitution. His appointment and removal from office are also provided for in the Constitution. They are not determined through the whims and caprices of the President.
Fellow countrymen, let the President and Vice President walk and work together for the benefit of and in the interest of the Nigerian people. Let no cabal or shadowy group (however powerful) sabotage one in preference for the other. The country eventually suffers the consequences of such inappropriate action. May Nigerian leaders uphold the tenets, letters and spirit of our constitutional democracy that we have voluntarily subscribed to. (THE END).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good.” (B. R. Ambedkar).
I thank our overwhelming readers across the globe, for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to next week’s bumper treatise. You have not seen nothing yet.
Griezmann heads back to Atletico in crunch game for Barc
…combines with Messi,Suarez to wreck former club
Antoine Griezmann has had a tough start to life at Barcelona but is finally showing signs of settling in as he prepares for Sunday’s crunch clash at title rivals Atletico Madrid, his first game back at his old club since a bitter split. The French striker was Atletico’s top scorer and talisman for five years and appeared to show his loyalty to the club when he rejected a tempting offer to join Barca in 2018 and pledged his future to the Madrid side in a televised documentary.
But a year later, he joined Barca for 120 million euros (103 million pounds), prompting a legal complaint from Atletico after it emerged the Catalans had negotiated with Griezmann without their (Atletico’s) permission, leading to club being fined a paltry 300 euros. Griezmann might have been wondering if the move had been worth it as he has faced constant criticisms for a slow start at the Camp Nou, scoring five times in 17 appearances. He started on the bench in Wednesday’s Champions League match with Borussia Dortmund but an injury to Ousmane Dembele presented him with a chance which he duly took.
Griezmann dovetailed with strike partners Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi in a flowing attacking display and provided a superb finish to a pass from Messi to round off a 3-1 win and end a run of six games without scoring. The Frenchman’s lack of chemistry with the two South Americans has been a big talking point but the trio are starting to click.
“A lot has been said about the connection, especially when one of them doesn’t score, but the best players always end up understanding each other,” said Barca coach Ernesto Valverde after beating Dortmund. “Luis and Leo understand each other perfectly because they have been playing together for a long time, and with time the three of them will learn to gel even better with each other.” Barca top La Liga on 28 points and have a game in hand on Atletico, who are fourth on 25 and in a dire run of form, winning once in their last six games in all competitions. Real Madrid are second on 28 points and can go clear at the top for at least a day when they visit Alaves on Saturday in the middle of a resurgent run of five wins in seven games, in which they have scored 21 goals.
Guys, your looks speak!
I think we should have a rethink about our mode of dressing which is fast sliding into abnormality. An article written by Amara Blessing Nwosu, a resourceful writer and relationship coach, pointedly addressed the issue being a woman with experience on the subject. Read on:
Iused to be one of such people who felt it didn’t matter what I looked like. I used to believe I could wear whatever I wanted as long as my spouse approved of it. I used to feel I could look crazy outside, but very decent inside. I was one person who used to love going to the extreme when it came to clothes/fashion.
Recently, I was discussing with some of my friends on Facebook, we came to a conclusion that we should be careful about our looks because it says a lot about us. I used to dress in such a way that people who were not close to me saw me as one crazy Lagos girl who was so involved with society life. People who knew me before now know there are changes in Amara. I used to carry my hair pure blonde with my long bright red polished nails and some crazy clothes on me.
The first impression people used to have about me was that of a club girl who was just enjoying her life. But I was a different person, entirely different from what I appeared to be outside. I remember some years back, when I went to help a woman in my estate who had a new baby (I find joy doing this). I was the one cooking, washing, cleaning and going to the market for her. Then one day, the husband came to me while I was cooking and said, “Amara, I never knew you were this humble. I used to see you as a very arrogant and crazy person, but my wife continued telling me how nice you are.” I laughed and then told the man, to his utmost surprise that I have never gone clubbing in my life, I don’t party, I don’t keep too many friends, I rarely visit people, and I don’t take alcohol.
A guy who later became a friend told me how he used to despise me because he saw me as a very arrogant person. He saw me as one spoilt brat who didn’t have anything in her head until the first day we spoke when he saw humility and respect for morals. He said he used to ask his friends why they should always bring someone like Amara to speak during conferences, but that stopped the day his friend forced him to seat and hear me. He said he was there just to prove to them that all Amara knows is fashion.
I am not here to talk about me, but to let us know that when people say we are addressed the way we dress; they are right. I was addressed and perceived as someone entirely different from who I truly was. This is the case with so many of us. We are constantly addressed by how we are perceived and our looks (how we are dressed) create the perception others have of us. I decided to change my looks and I can tell you I have never regretted it.
It was only when I changed my looks that I started attracting the kind of friends I have now. When I used to dress to flow with the fashion world, I attracted friends who were mostly nuisance and idle minds. But my new looks now tells everyone “she is a serious minded lady and responsible.” I am not trying to preach hypocrisy here, but I became a crusader for decency and moderation in our dress code because I have seen what it can do. In the course of my youth training programmes, I have had girls come to me with so many complaints about always attracting the wrong men.
My question has always been who do you call “the wrong man”? If your definition of the wrong man is a man who is not “rich”, I am sorry I can’t help. But if your understanding of “the wrong man” is a man who is not responsible enough and is not as decent as you are; if you are talking about the “yahoo yahoo boys,” if you are talking about drug couriers, if you are talking of a man who sags like a prisoner, then I can help you.
There is something about you that says it all about you. Even when that “good man” accepts you and falls head-over-heels in love with you, the mother rejects you. We are still Africans, I know we live in a modern world and that is why you struggle so much to become more western than the westerner; but the fact remains, we are still in Africa.
During my conference last month, I told the teenagers to always look at the British Royal Family and America’s first family. I first asked how many people would choose being a nation’s first lady or princess instead of being a Hollywood actress, they all chose the former. I then told them to stop imitating Hollywood and Nollywood and start imitating Royalty.
I don’t know why our clergy keep quiet over these things in the church. I know you will tell me it is not my duty to change any man. I agree with you, but what do you do when that person stays in the church for one year and there is no conviction to change? We over do things and this is our greatest problem. You want to dress like the civilized world, I am in support of that, but who are your role models? You keep looking at Beyonce, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga. Why not go for the likes of Oprah, Hilary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Condoleezza?
I know you want to look fashionable, now tell me; have you ever seen the likes of Oprah, Clinton, and Condoleezza wearing ankle chain? You won’t see Obama’s wife wearing two earrings on one ear at the same time. You won’t see her push out her boobs for the whole world to see. You won’t see her wear a see-through clothe comfortably without a camisole inside. This is a true example of Royalty.
Please avoid the temptation of going for something simply because it looks good on your friend; you are two different individuals. It is time we go back to a life of decency. I have learnt a lot from my male friends and I can tell you that men are no longer attracted to women who are very artificial. Avoid the heavy face panel-beating (make-up), men are tired of seeing the false, they want to see the real you. Learn to cover up properly and leave the men guessing.
2023: Memo to the South-East
“If somebody cannot let you be his gateman, how is he going to give you the keys to his house to come and live in the house?” – Senator Enyinna Abaribe
his memo will make better sense to any reader if you avail yourself of the three previous memos in this space addressed to the other three geo-political zones of the country – the South-West, the North and the South-South.
This memo to the South-East is the last of the serial memos to the four critical geo-political regions where the nation’s political games are mostly played.
The essence of the memo was to draw attention of these regions to the policy that has helped to stabilize the nation’s polity since 1999 when the country embraced full democracy, and to also alert on the danger of the guileful attempts by some ambitious politicians in these regions to thwart it by 2023.
The three memos heftily marshalled why this stabilizing policy should not only be respected and encouraged to continue, but should for sake of justice and equity be directed to the South-East, the only vital region that has not had the opportunity.
History witnessed how in 1979 Nigeria military felt the need to return the country to civil rule but the same military in their impatience jumped back from barracks to the political terrain after four years in 1983.
The official reason for this impulsiveness by the military was that the then ruling party, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), in their landslide election victory broke the rules of engagement during the handover. But the real reason was that the powerful political block controlling affairs then from the North was so uncomfortable that the way the NPN was going and the conspicuous influence of the then Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, power could return to the South-East in 1987. This was unthinkable to some powerful political groups in the North who did not only sack the government but took President Shehu Shagari to a guest house and his Vice, Dr. Ekwueme to the prison.
By their thinking then Ekwueme was too powerful and could also be the bigger thief in the administration. However, after roundly investigating him and nothing incriminating was found, the juntas themselves declared that he left the government poorer than how he entered. But even that was not enough to consider him for President probably because of where he came from.
But did Ekwueme relent, the answer is no, he continued in the struggle for a better democratic Nigeria until he and other like minds under the Group of 34 successfully forced the military to make another retreat to the barracks in 1999.
The military formed new political parties and Ekwueme and his group joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a more national outlook although dominated by South-East and South-South and others joined the All Peoples Party (APP) dominated by the North and Alliance for Democracy (AD) dominated by the South-West
The military as the political midwife was at home with a more conservative PDP than the more radical APP and AD. But the same Ekwueme they truncated in 1983 was at the forefront again. Still not comfortable with an Igbo, and the radical Yoruba NADECO group that dominated the other party, the military went in search of a neutral hand from the South. That was how a former military leader Olusegun Obasanjo fresh from prison was made to remember what he forgot at the Villa. It was also convenient for them as Obasanjo was being used as one stone to kill two birds, stop Ekwueme who was visibly at the forefront to clinch the PDP ticket and also calm the nerves of the restive Yoruba bloc over June 12. It was irrelevant to the juntas that Obasanjo was politically unwanted person by his Yoruba kinsmen then. What followed is now in the history book with a power rotation created for stability between North and South. From Obasanjo it returned to the North to Umaru Yar’Adua but got disrupted by his death after two years and restored back in 2015, six years after. After the restoration, by 2023 the North is supposed to complete eight years and power is expected to come down South again possibly for fairness to the area it has never been like the South-East.
This week opened with the major headline news being that the leader of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Musa Liman Kwande, flying the usual kite that the North will vote for a Northerner in 2023 in whichever party that fields them. That statement was a huge political guide to the political parties ahead of 2023. Other rabble rousers like Ango Abdullahi, Junaid Mohammad and Nasir El rufai had in previous times given the hint along the same line, but they still needed to underscore it by coming this way.
In my memo to the North three weeks ago I pointed out to them clearly the danger it portends for them to disrupt the stabilizing factor in our polity. The responses I have gotten from the other memos have one thing in common, that actually the South-East deserves it in the interest of justice but they must go for it as power is never given as Tom Tom is given to children but fought for and obtained after some rigours.
A lot of them also frowned at the pull him down syndrome among the Igbo politicians and the mechanical way they approach their politics. Some said many other things that however have no empirical base. Short of exposing their phobia against Ndigbo a lot of the commentators also expressed fear of Biafra especially in relation to Nnamdi Kanu and his Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
Those looking for excuse to deny Ndigbo the opportunity of contributing to Nigeria’s growth at the highest level politically easily raise the issue of Biafra but in truth to anchor on it to deny them the Presidency of Nigeria is the quickest route to empower the pro Biafra forces. The easiest way to consign Biafra to history where it belongs is to give equal opportunity and sense of belonging to the people and make them begin to realise that a just bigger Nigeria is far more beneficial to a smaller Biafra. To further engrave Biafra in the hearts of every Igbo is to continue to deny them equal opportunity in the current space.
But having made that point clearly, Ndigbo need to carry out a lot of adjustments in their politics. Stooping to conquer is a wise strategy elders drop for their children. There is nothing wrong in joining different political parties, what is really wrong is seeing yourselves as enemies and allowing yourself to be used as instrument to flog your brothers and sisters. If the notion is real that Ndigbo are endowed with enormous talents and creativity and they cannot deploy it in their politics then it does not make any meaning. Tortoise native intelligence made meaning when it was able to finish a race ahead of other faster animals using its ingenuity.
Carrot and stick is needed as a weapon if Ndigbo is to really grab this power. To get power out of a highly swerve Fulani holding it, Ndigbo must be a mix of tortoise and lion. The Yoruba used every means to drum June 12 injustice into the ears of all and it resulted in Obasanjo Presidency. Niger Delta Ijaw got Vice Presidency ahead of Ndigbo through a statement they made to the country through their militancy. They were to become President for six years providentially. It was also through that statement that the Fulani President Yar’Adua had to create Amnesty programme to pacify not to prosecute them. When the North ganged up in 2015 to wrestle power from Jonathan it was total beyond political party affiliations. It would be wrong to see IPOB as obstacle to Igbo Presidency rather it’s a catalyst.
If therefore Ndigbo have no lesson to pick from these instances, and rearrange their politics, they should as well perish the Igbo Presidency project and continue their subservient roles in our polity until providence arrives either with Biafra or a restructured Nigeria. May we see a better Nigeria.
What goes round comes around…
f a writer does not generate hostility, he is dead – Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul, Nobel Laureate in Literature (2001).
In any man that keeps silent in the face of tyranny, the man dies – Prof. Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate in Literature (1986).
Those who vote (in elections) decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything – Maximum Leader Josef Stalin of the now defunct USSR.
Those who fail to learn from history are often condemned to repeating its mistakes – George Santayana.
After the uprising of the 17th June, The Secretary of the Writers’ Union had leaflets distributed in the Stalinalee, stating that the people had forfeited the confidence of the Government and could win it back only by redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier in that case for the Government to dissolve the people and elect another? – Berthold Brecht.
First they came for the Socialists. And I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists. And I did not speak out because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews. And I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me. And there was no one left to speak for me – Pastor Martin Niemoller.
Each of the quotes above speaks to the Nigerian situation. Death for “hate speech” notwithstanding, conscionable people must still speak out because, speak we die; keeping silent we also die. Stalin, were he to live, would marvel that in Nigeria, not even those who count the votes determine the outcome of elections but political thugs backed by partisan military and consenting INEC. In all of this, we pretend not to know that previous democratic experiments got truncated on the twin altar of election malpractices and corruption, both of which are not only rife but also at an unprecedented level, the pontificating of the ruling party notwithstanding. With the way elections go today in Nigeria, the electorate have already been dissolved by government. And those who acquiesce, defend, promote, rationalise and overlook the shenanigans of today because they are beneficiaries or are not yet the victims should know it is turn-by-turn. Their turn will come, by which time there will be no one left to speak out for them. What goes round comes around!
Nigerians generally are not analytical and methodical but flippant and flimsy. Sentiments – and not reason – gauge our actions. We are the people Leopold Sedar Senghor, erstwhile Senegalese president and author of “Negritude”, had in mind when he posited that reason is Hellenic (White/Euro-American) while emotion/sentiment is African/Black. Like Aime Cesaire, you, too, may disagree with Senghor but the facts speak to the point.
Do we have a sense of history? Obasanjo as military Head of State started on-going destruction of public education (witness the 1978 Ali Must Go students’ protests). He handed over power in 1979 knowingly to the worst set of civilians, saying the best candidate may not win in an election. Are they destroying the judiciary today? It started with Richard Akinjide’s 12 two-thirds of 19 states. The Supreme Court gave a judgement but said it should never be cited as precedent! Obasanjo handed the presidency over to Shehu Shagari and NPN. Oh, how they ruined Nigeria!
Lacking a sense of history, we allowed the same Obasanjo back into office in 1999. This was after he had consented to the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Obasanjo went to South Africa to quip that MKO Abiola was not the messiah Nigeria needed. He probably would have headed the Interim National Government but as editor of The PUNCH/Saturday PUNCH at that time, we got wind of the story and slammed it. The wily fox beat a quick retreat only to make a come-back in 1999. Handing over again in 2007, he chose the worst of three sick fellows. He paired him up with a nincompoop who barely knew his right from his left. Again, better candidates were shoved aside. Nigeria almost collapsed as a result of the constitutional crisis engendered by Umaru Yar’Adua’s ill-health and consequent death in office.
Obasanjo foisted Goodluck Jonathan on Nigerians. Between 2007 and 2011 we saw enough of Jonathan to know he did not possess the guts, ability and agility to run the country. Yet, we gave him the nod on sentiments. He wobbled and fumbled till 2015 when the desperadoes hounded him out of office. As bad as Jonathan was, Muhammadu Buhari by his antecedents should not have been an option. Like Obasanjo! We, however, did not, again, do due diligence.
Buhari was a dictator in his first coming. He is a worse dictator now. Buhari had no mind of his own in his first coming, relying on the now late Gen. Tunde Idiagbon whom I described as his brain box. Today the same Buhari relies on a cabal that rule from behind scantily-concealed veil. Religious bigot, ethnic jingoist, clueless and incompetent – everything that Buhari was in 1983/1985 he has been today with renewed vigour and vitality. Our calamity is self-inflicted.
How can PDP/Bayelsans weep that Jonathan dashed his home state to APC? If Jonathan could let the presidency slip through his fingers in 2015, how dare you think losing a mere state would mean anything to him? As our people would say, he who steps on his own dress would not mind shredding another man’s dress. We need to pay more attention to people’s antecedents before entrusting them with positions of responsibility.
Between Secondus and Modu Sheriff…
Recent events must have PDP leaders thinking which of Ali Modu Sherriff (aka PDP’s undertaker), and the incumbent, Uche Secondus (aka “Se ko dun”: Cook PDP well and let it taste good in APC’s mouth), is more of a pain in the arse. Exchanging one for the other, has PDP not jumped from frying pan into fire?
Ex-Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State and sitting Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers reportedly brought Sherriff. They had thought Sheriff’s touted deep pockets and vast connections, especially his insider-knowledge of the ruling APC, would help in the battle to return PDP to power. But shrewd Sheriff had his own game-plan!
PDP leaders thought they had a mule in Sheriff but the ex-governor of Borno was a tiger. You may ride it – but only if you would never disembark. When Sheriff showed his hands and PDP wouldn’t agree, come see battle! PDP climbed down by fire by force but Sheriff the Shylock had his pound of flesh.
Having led the battle to dislodge Sheriff, interim chairman and Kaduna ex-governor Ahmed Makarfi wanted the plum job. Many thought it should go to the South-West instead to balance the party’s zoning formula. Wike and Fayose however decided otherwise. Overnight, the party chairmanship was gifted the South-South. Enter Uche Secondus!
The game-plan was for Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto and Fayose to get the PDP flag and running-mate slots respectively but ex-VP Atiku Abubakar turned the table by winning the PDP ticket. While the losers were still sulking, Atiku rubbed salt in their injury by choosing Peter Obi as running mate. So did the South-West lose on both ends!
Wike and Fayose railroaded Secondus into office but no sooner than Atiku bagged the ticket than Secondus shifted base. He cross-carpeted and became like Atiku’s follow-come; even saying Atiku could single-handedly chose his running mate. Obi was not the consummate politician that his South-East base favoured for the high office of VP. And with the South-West wounded, it was a half-fit PDP that went into the 2019 presidential election. Massive rigging apart, PDP played like a not-fully-fit striker in an el classico. The rest, as they say, is history.
With that and the losses suffered by PDP in the just-concluded Kogi and Bayelsa elections, it is debatable who, between Sheriff and Secondus, has done PDP greater disservice. While the struggle to offload Sheriff lasted, PDP suffered avoidable loses in Edo and Ondo elections.
More importantly, however, PDP has not displayed an understanding of the mechanisms of political parties. Conversely, APC behaves more like a political party. Unlike PDP which behaves as if bereft of party ideology, APC sticks together, even if their ideology is backward, reactionary, anti-people, anti-progress, ultra-conservative and anachronistic. PDP appears more as a group of individualistic power-mongers and office-seekers.
“My country, right or wrong!” cried Carl Schurz (1872) but for PDP, it is “I and I alone”! Little wonder, then, that one of their leaders told me that politics is a game of self-interest!
Wike was right in telling the Amayanabo of Okrika that with the fall of Bayelsa, the enemy has entered PDP’s territory and Rivers will be the next victim. Pastor Martin Niemoller (quoted above) revealed this step-by-step tactic of creeping fascists and remorseless Hitlerites a long time ago. But Santayana (also quoted above) posits you must learn from history before you can avoid its pitfalls. Has PDP, indeed, Nigerians as a people, ever learnt from history? How, then, shall we avoid repeating the same mistakes again and again?
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