Barcelona were desperate to hang on to their prized asset Neymar, with a strong conviction that no one will ever meet the 222 million euros price tag but then PGS popped up, waving the big cheque and completed one of the most outrageously expensive transfers in the history of world football.
Neymar is next to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo; it has been like that for the past four or five years. The Brazilian is a phenomenal attacking jewel who at 25 still has the best of his of years ahead of him but his mentality will be inevitably tested when the whole world will be impatiently waiting to see him justify the whopping sum splashed on him. Tongues have been wagging and jaws dropped since the deal was announced on Thursday, it is ludicrous to believe one man commands a figure as prohibitive as that. Such swaggering figure is a common phenomenon in basketball but no transfer in the history of NBA is as expensive as the money PSG splashed on Neymar. He will reportedly earn 30m euros (£27m) net per year at PSG, or close to 600,000 euros (£540,000) each week after tax.
However, it is instructive to note that, for footballing reasons, it was a good move for Neymar and his new club. The Brazilian had operated under the shadow of Messi since he arrived Europe and it was time for him to chart his own course. He is not the best player in the world, Messi and Ronaldo would still be picked by most to top that list, but if he maintains the upward trajectory of his career it likely won’t be long before he is soccer’s preeminent character. He can’t achieve that in Messi’s exclusive enclave, Neymar has to be the lord elsewhere to conveniently compete.
At PSG, Neymar will be the undisputed No. 1. It’s easy to see why the idea of being the player who, at last, brings PSG to their first Champions League title might appeal. That may enhance his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or, an individual award that dominates the thoughts of gifted young players Aged 17, Neymar scored on his first senior start, took the 2011 Copa Libertadores by storm, leading Santos to their first South American title since 1948 with six goals and collected the 2011 FIFA Puskas Award, given to the player judged to have scored the best goal of the year.
He remains one of the six South Americans to have won both the UEFA Champions League and Copa Libertadores and formed a devastating partnership with Messi and Luiz Suarez to win leaurels for Barcelona. The money for him is outrageous, and he will constantly be on the radar to prove he’s worth every penny.
He said he didn’t move for the money. He said: “I wanted a new challenge. This was about ambition. My heart told me that it was time to sign for Paris St Germain. It was the right time to leave Barcelona and find new challenges. “I was never motivated by money. I thought above all else about the happiness of my family, regardless of money. I regret that some people think this is the case.”
Sanwo-Olu: Eko o ni baje o!
agosians are in a rage and what could be going on right now in the mind of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu? Uneasy, they say, lies the head that wears the crown and the bigger the head, the bigger the headache. It is a dog that has strong backers that kills monkeys. But for Sanwo-Olu, the small rat who killed the big elephant (a sitting Governor Akinwunmi Ambode), the party appears over. You can help someone land a job but cannot perform it for him day-in, day-out. Right now, it would appear Sanwo-Olu is on his own (OYO) as Lagos godfathers reportedly sit on edge right. But I dare to say that it is too early to hang Sanwo-Olu! This was how, about this time four years ago, critics also made for Ambode’s jugular, accusing him of not moving fast enough. I remember weighing in on his side then, insisting, as I do here now for Sanwo-Olu, that it was too early to hang Ambode. The same Ambode went on to perform admirably to the delight of many Lagosians, even though his godfathers later dismissed him as good governor but bad politician. Bad as the situation of Lagos is at the moment, I dare to say – even if this view appears unpopular – that it is too early to give up on Sanwo-Olu.
Lagos is just a part of the whole, even if it mirrors the whole. Lagos is in a mess because the entire country is in a mess. Lagos is in a deeper hole because it is the economic life-wire of the entire country. A worsening economic situation bites harder in a mega city like Lagos than it does in other areas where the cost of living is cheaper and expectations of the better life that sets a city apart are not as pronounced. The rural – urban migration is felt more in Lagos than even in the capital city, Abuja. The myth that jobs are available in Lagos fuels this one-way traffic. Truth, however, is that many of the companies of yore providing the jobs everyone is running after in Lagos have since relocated or closed shop. Many have moved elsewhere where cost of production, especially power supply, is cheaper. Regular power supply and better infrastructure are deciding factors. Many hey-day factories are now worship centres and events centres. The few factories that still operate do so at less than optimal level. Those in employment are losing their job in droves while new jobs are not in the quantum that can cope with the stream of job-seekers. Yet, the deluge of migrants to Lagos continues unabated. And you dare not stop them! Freedom of movement will be waved right in your face! There is no level of infrastructure that can be provided by the meagre resources of Lagos that will be enough for the population surge. Demand has far outstripped supply of just about anything in Lagos – jobs, roads, houses, offices, hospitals, schools, security, power and water supply – just name it!
In the face of this, federal authorities have not helped matters. Muhammadu Buhari, as military dictator decades’ back, for inexplicable reasons cancelled ex-Governor Lateef Jakande’s metroline project, a project that would have helped solve the transportation problems of the city at minimal cost. The cost of doing the same project today is prohibitive. Buhari is yet to explain why he took that hare-brained decision, least of all apologize and atone for his sins. Lagos was also conned when the federal capital moved to Abuja. They promised Lagos would not be left an orphan but would be given special status. They lied! Subsequent governments have not seen the need to give Lagos the pledged special status. Amazing that South-West leaders have also slept on the issue. Lagos deserves a special status like Abuja. Three per cent or more of the federal budget should be allocated to Lagos, just as is done to Abuja. Otherwise, Lagos should be allowed to restrict the movement of every Tom, Dick and Harry into its territory. Lagos is a slum already – every part of it, including the erstwhile highbrow Apapa, Ikoyi, Victoria Island and VGC. They are flocking to Banana Island now but with global warming and the rising level of water worldwide, we shall soon see!
This, however, is not to excuse the fact that Sanwo-Olu must roll up his sleeves. He is said to have declared a state of emergency on the state of Lagos roads and drainages. That is a right step in the right direction but can he bell the cat? It’s like it is up to a decade that Ambode left office! Everything just came crashing down in one fell swoop! All the roads just got bad at one and same time! How come! Adversaries said it is testimony to the kind of “quality” work that Ambode did while in office. Ambode’s contractors did shoddy jobs everywhere, they said. Otherwise, how come he constructed roads yesterday and they all collapsed today, so to say? Ambode will one day have an opportunity to defend his tenure. They say the drains are blocked because the ex-governor paid no attention to them in four years. Will Sanwo-Olu be different? My professional colleagues, Tunji Bello and Joe Igbokwe, are in charge of the Environment and Drainages in the new dispensation. I wish them the very best – but let them please add the concrete lining of the Alapere canal and the pavement of Bakare and Owo-ade streets to the projects I understand the LASG is pencilling down for urgent attention. My brother, Gbenga Omotoso, who is the Honourable Commissioner for Information, told me on Monday that work will start urgently after the rains. When I see the LASG caterpillars and bulldozers at Bakare/Owo-ade and the Alapere canal, I will shout Euruka! But – and this is a very big but – until something is done about empty bottles of soft drinks and table water, as well as the sachets of “pure” water, the problem of blocked drainage will not be solved in Lagos. There is also the menace of the politically-connected who build right on waterways and obstruct canals, especially at Alapere. Who, again, will bells the cat?
Strong-willed leaders are needed to run Lagos. The job to be done is not small. The parlous state of the economy apart, there are other reasons Nigerians are losing their sanity and the rate of suicide is on the rise. At night, you hardly can sleep as a result of blaring loudspeakers of partying people and those on (night) vigil. But what God answers the prayers of those constituting themselves into nuisance unto others? Methinks, there are laws limiting the noise level in Lagos. Can Sanwo-Olu enforce these laws and bring about sanity? Can worship and event centres be forced to adhere to building regulations to help reduce the traffic congestions they cause on our roads? When you are heaving a sigh of relieve that the vigils/partying are ending in the morning and you can now catch some sleep, the blaring of loudspeakers calling so-called faithful to prayers takes over. As government abdicates, everyone is law unto themselves! In those days we used to refer to Ajegunle as the jungle city. Today, Lagos in its entirety is one stretch of unending, undulating jungle. As they say, in Lagos you do not avoid potholes; you select which potholes to sink into!
Before you step out of your home, you need prayers; you need anointing; you need to cover and soak yourself from head to toe in the precious blood of Jesus. Our streets are scary! Jobless youths swarm everywhere. Menacing! Stalking! Searching for “daily bread” – and that could be you if you are not lucky. Rival cult groups whack Lagos mercilessly and ceaselessly! Like Boko Haram in the North-East, some areas of Lagos have become confirmed territories of cult groups. Crime is the most viable business in this country today – after politics. Cultists, ritualists, kidnappers, scammers and bandits are all on the prowl. A new binge is betting. Our youths crowd cafes and betting houses from morning till night. Easy money is the name of the game. No jobs anywhere. Soon, even if jobs become available our youths would no longer be in the mood to work. Get-rich-quick is the name of the new game. Doing nothing; yet, expecting to reap millions and billions. In those days, I played pools while in the secondary school “perming three from five” and “napping sure bankers”. Week-in, week-out I lived the delusion I would “Kill Kora” and make millions. I never did! Willy Ehi Obiyan and Akinlude made money off me with their forecast books; ditto “Face-to-face” with Adebutu Kessington (Baba Ijebu) and his deceased pal, Ayoku. I lost money! I lost time! I wasted four good years of my youth before, eventually, God took control.
Our youths are getting hooked to gambling. They are our future. Ghana is banning betting; shouldn’t we? In your own time, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, Eko on ni baje o! As they say, “O baje ti”!
Are things really getting better?
It is cheering news that Nigerians are getting more and more interested in the affairs of government and how they are being governed. In the social media, the amount of energy some people devote to discussing some inanities and frivolities often baffle my consciousness. Some even quarrel about the mundane, calling out the leadership of the country at every point in time to areas where urgent attention is required. This is the first time in a long while that Nigerian roads would wear these ugly looks, making them impassable and killing Nigerians on a daily basis. The latest carnage on our roads happened in Ehor, Uhonwode Local Government Area of Edo State, on Saturday, 19th October, when seven promising souls were plucked in their prime in an accident involving the Edo State Governor’s advance team and one Audi car. The cause of the accident would have been avoidable if the road was good. A lot of accidents these days are caused by bad state of the roads, as motorists often try to navigate through potholes and bad portion of the roads to make a successful journey.
For three solid days last week, it was a complete breakdown and logjam between Okpella and Auchi at a particular spot that was eaten up by gully erosion and left to fester for a long time now. To compound the already bad situation, two heavy duty trucks that were trying to navigate their exit from that location, were not that lucky. They both fell and their goods covered up the little escape route that smaller vehicles were plying. For three days, it was a complete lockdown. The long queue of trucks was as debilitating as the logjam itself. The intervention of BUA Cement Company, Okpella, provided a temporary relief and created opportunity for those who had been arrested at one spot to ease themselves out. The story remains the same across most roads in Nigeria. The APC-led Federal Government is overwhelmed by the huge challenges confronting us, and the 20% capital estimates in the 2020 budget will further compound an already bad situation. This is one of the reasons why we need to ask the question: Are things really getting better?
The Buhari presidency is one that has brought untold hardship on the people. A simple addition of all the budgets of PDP’s 16 years and APC’s four years explains the huge gap in terms of management of our national resources. In 16 years, PDP’s total budgetary estimates stood at N41 trillion, while within four years of APC, we have hit N40 trillion. This neck-to-neck rat race in terms of budgetary estimates does not explain actual releases, but the poor showing of the APC with respect to capital expenditure has been most worrisome. It doesn’t show a government that is actually prepared to confront the huge challenges head-on. At a time when our infrastructure are suffering from neglect, when most road’s life span has expired, we need to inject new blood into our infrastructural databank to birth new roads while rehabilitating old ones. A 20% capital expenditure that is often time not fully expended is a far cry from what we desire to set the tone for a holistic appraisal of dearth of infrastructure across the land. It is either the Federal Government are too busy with frivolities or that they appear to be at sea, understanding the dynamics that should drive a 21st century economy that is crawling on the canvass.
The volume of economic accidents we have witnessed in the last couple of years is also an issue that should agitate the minds of all of us. Onitsha market got burnt and not a single fire fighter was seen in sight, yet when month ends, salaries are paid to firemen who haven’t worked. In Benin City, along Sapele road, Santana market also got burnt, and fire fighters were nowhere to be seen. Kano market got burnt last year and no remedy came their way. Aside from huge economic loss, what has been the response of government both at the federal and state levels to address the plights of those who were affected by this inferno? When you add up all the ills in the system; kidnapping, armed banditry, armed robbery, Boko Haram, and the general state of insecurity, what you get is a simultaneous equation that has acquired the addictive properties of a quadratic equation, with unfavourable integers. In addition, job losses, unemployment, under-employment and lack of creativity to open up the system for more productive engagements are telling signs of an economy that is in dire straits. The closure of the border against the normative principles of ECOWAS protocol is another time bomb waiting to explode. Only last week, Traders Unions in Ghana concluded plans to boycott made-in-Nigeria goods as a direct response to border closure.
I have read a couple of well thought out articles and opinions on this subject matter but I am yet to be convinced how a country that is import-dependent will suddenly wake up and think that border closure will provide ready answers to smuggling and its associated vices, in a country with porous borders. Again, if we intend to improve imports through our sea ports, by closing down our borders, we ought to interact with our West African neighbours in the spirit of brotherliness to avoid unprecedented actions that make impact negatively on Nigerians. Government may clap its hands for taking a precipitate action in this respect, but small and medium level producers have been counting their losses. And this is no laughing matter. Before the government took this action, it ought to have a stakeholders’ interactive session to interrogate the pros and cons of the idea. That way, government and the stakeholders would arrive at a common ground that would soften the grounds for both parties. The unilateral decision of government to close the borders has its setbacks for those categories of producers who export their products to neighbouring countries and other category of persons who deal on imports from the sub-region.
The market response to the border closure is the reason why government should have engaged stakeholders ab initio. The cost of food items especially rice has skyrocketted. Even staple food items that are locally produced have become essential commodities out of the reach of the masses. While the economy is still in dire straits, insecurity has worsened the situation across the country. Rather than respond in a manner that will enhance value for money, borrowing by this government has become its second nature. Little wonder that N2.48 trillion is being set aside to service debts in the 2020 budget. Are things getting better? Are things really going to get better, when our budgets keep increasing in figures, yet the quality of life keeps dropping? How did we get.to this sorry pass? In 2015, the expectations of Nigeria about a new dawn, were very bright and high. After four years, Nigerians are agonising in their millions with grinding poverty and acute unemployment. While government is talking about cutting cost of government, its action is pointing in the opposite direction. Having told Nigerians that there won’t be anything like Office of the First Lady, in August 2015, a position that is alien to our constitution, President Buhari in October 2019, just announced the appointment of six key positions to that office.
It is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. It is like cutting cost elsewhere to be able to meet up with the running cost of the Office of the First Lady. The promise made by the APC to reduce the presidential fleet, from its bogus 11 airplanes to half the size, has been abandoned. No presidential plane has been sold. Other promises made by the APC in its manifesto have been abandoned. It is like making promises to win election and thereafter discarding the promise because elections have been won and lost. Corps members were promised increase in allowances before the election, till date, government is still vacillating on it. Fuel subsidy was seen to be a fraudulent practice in the days of PDP, today, it has assumed a monumental proportion. The billions budgeted year in, year out has remained a mystery to Nigerians. Our farmlands are deserted because of fear of attack by herdsmen. Nigeria, on a daily basis, comes with one ugly story, too many. At the eve of election, an anti-corruption government suddenly approves N10 billion to Kogi State. Yet, we talk about accountability and lack of funds. It is like arming the governor to buy over the election.
We certainly cannot continue like this. Life is increasingly becoming difficult for the ordinary Nigerian and the earlier government rose to the occasion, the better. Devoting time talking about family squabbles inside the Glass house in the Villa will not put food on the table for the average Nigerian. We need utility-driven policies, initiatives and creativities that would usher in a new regime of ideas and ideals. We need to motivate the citizenry in the right direction to generate the right productive energy to drive governance. All these pretenses decorated with nepotism and hypocrisy are not the narratives that will usher in the new dawn. Certainly not. THINGS ARE TRULY GETTING WORSE.
From Afe to ABUAD: A legacy of leadership
An age-long adage acknowledges the fact that some men are born great, many achieved greatness while some had greatness trusted on them. Interestingly, any keen reader of his enviable story in the last five decades or more, would of course readily admit that Chief Afe Babalola is a unique profile in dramatic trajectory from grass to grace. In other words, ‘Aare’ is an ebullient and iconic personality who did not have the childhood luxury of being born with a silver spoon. He does not even fall in the category of those young men who had fortune smiling on them on a platter of gold. But, today, he is a highly respected professional giant, an award winning technocrat, a renowned legal luminary, a successful business mogul, a superb elederstatesman, a revered community leader, a compassionate and unrelenting philanthropist and, above all, a life coach and mentor to many accomplished gentlemen and ladies of repute.
Born 90 years ago in a humble agrarian family in the ancient city of Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State of Nigeria, Aare Emmanuel Afe Babalola has carved a niche for himself in the lexicon of success and social transformation, even though he did not pass through a formal secondary school education. For a man who only managed to acquire a basic formal education to have risen to the prestigious status of an excellent university administrator and a highly celebrated entrepreneur in the nation’s education sector, it is instructive that the compelling lessons and principles of his greatness should not only be celebrated but must also be emulated, especially by all well-meaning youngsters of this generation.
Afe Babalola had a unique life experience at his tender age which must have shaped his life commitment to industry and generosity. He lost his two parents when he was extremely young. Due to the economic hardship he had to contend with, he braced up for life conquest rather than accepting the tragic twist of fate. The young Afe Babalola made up his mind early enough to face the realities of life with a view to ruling his world as a consummate warrior. His determination to conquer his environment and earn himself an enviable placement among his peers prompted him to pursue his academic studies most diligently and relentlessly to enable him build an excellent, cutting-edge professional career in life, to create wealth in a legitimate manner, to help the needy and to contribute meaningfully to the upliftment of Nigeria and the world at large, such that his name and his lofty legacies might be written in gold on the sand of time.
Aare Afe Babalola attended Emmanuel Primary School, Ado-Ekiti, where he obtained his Standard Six Certificate. He is always proud to say that the very qualitative primary education he had was what served as a strong springboard for his subsequent educational attainments. After working for years as a pupil teacher, Chief Babalola enrolled for the Senior Cambridge School Certificate examination by private study from Wolsey Hall, Oxford. He later obtained the A’level Certificate of London University before he proceeded to London School of Economics and then the University of London where he obtained a second Bachelor’s degree in Law. Chief Afe Babalola was called to the England Bar in 1963. Same year, he became a Member of the Lincoln’s Inn, London.
Armed with the requisite certification to pursue a sprawling and volatile legal career with an informed bias in Constitutional Advocacy and Criminal Justice, Baba Afe started off as a Litigation Officer in the law firm of Olu Ayoola and Co. situated in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, Western Nigeria. However, given his penchant for freedom and the passion to conquer and dominate his professional world without let or hindrance, he established his own legal firm, Afe Babalola and Co. (Emmanuel Chambers) in 1965, while he was barely two years at the Bar. Over the years, by dint of hard work, professional focus and consistency as well as a very unique style of service delivery, Chief Babalola rose to national prominence and became a household phenomenon in the nation’s justice sector, having, at various times, served as an indefatigable and most brilliant Legal Consultant to the federal and state governments, political juggernauts, corporate bodies and several royal families across the nation for the settlement of sundry legal and constitutional disputes of national and international pedigree. To this extent, in 1987, the Legal Privileges and Awards Committee of the Inner Bar deemed it fit to elevate him to the highest rank in the legal profession in Nigeria, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
The most intriguing character of Babalola’s personality is that in spite of his career accomplishments as a prominent legal practitioner, he felt that what could make him a fulfilled man was to have an ample opportunity to contribute morally, financially and educationally to humanity; both through his private philanthropic initiatives and also through government institutions. This was the insatiable passion that former President Olusegun Obasanjo saw in him when he appointed him in 2001 as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University of Lagos. Having performed meritoriously in this enviable public duty for four years, he was reappointed for another term of four years. So, he held the position till 2008 during which he emerged and was decorated as the Best Pro-Chancellor of Nigerian Universities consecutively in 2005 and 2006. He was also a former Chairman of the Committee of Pro-Chancellors of Nigerian Universities.
Today, by the special grace of God, Chief Afe Babalola, the Aare Bamofin of Yoruba land, holds degrees from several universities, including Ekiti State University for the award of Doctor of Letters (LL.D) in 2002; LL.D of the University of London; LL.D of the University of Lagos; LL.D of the University of Jos; LL.D of the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA); LL.D of the Kogi State University. In fact, he was the first African to be conferred with Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) of the University of London in 2015. Given his monumental philanthropic gestures and remarkable contribution to nation building in Nigeria, he was conferred with the prestigious National Award as Officer of the Order of the Federal Republic (OFR) and subsequently as Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Over the years, having been a consistent benefactor to the nation’s education sector, making contributions to the standardization of quality and the provision of enduring, world-class infrastructural facilities such as lecture theaters, auditoriums, faculty buildings, libraries and laboratories; and having garnered extensive skills and copious experience in university administration, Chief Afe Babalola envisioned the need to establish a First Class and up-to-date university to serve as a benchmark in academic standards and facilities for other universities in Nigeria. For this reason, an expansive World-class private institution, the Afe Babalola University, was established in 2009 and is domiciled on a very large expanse of land, precisely 130 hectares, in Chief Afe’s home town, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State. The university offers academic programmes in six Colleges of Natural Sciences, Law, Engineering, Social and Management Sciences, Medicine and Health Sciences as well as Postgraduate Studies. The institution’s College of Engineering is built on about three and half acres of land and is well equipped with sophisticated state-of-the-art facilities from Europe and the Americas and is reputed to be one of the largest in Africa. In the same vein, ABUAD’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences and its Multisystem Teaching Hospital is second to none in Nigeria, given the various medical facilities and the professional expertise with which patients are handled with utmost care.
Shortly after my Senatorial primaries late last year, I visited Chief Afe Babalola in his office within the university premises in company of my wife and some of my political associates to say a big THANK YOU to him for his invaluable fatherly support and for keeping faith with us always and in all ways. After the usual pleasantries, Chief Afe instructed one of his senior staff to take us for an inspection round the Multisystem Hospital and, believe you me, we saw a masterpiece of architecture design, an avalanche of medical infrastructure, some of which can only be found in first class hospitals abroad. A tour of the facilities around the university deeply revealed the in-depth passion, insight and vision of a foremost educationist, a well experienced university administrator and a dynamic and foresighted entrepreneur. To this extent, I wholeheartedly recommend ABUAD Teaching Hospital to the Federal and State Governments, families and individuals in Nigeria. Rather than travelling abroad on medical tourism and encouraging needless capital flights to other climes, let us be proud to patronize our own public and private institutions.
At a prime age of 90, Aare Afe Babalola remains a great pride and an illustrious ambassador of the people of Ekiti State, the Yoruba people of the South-West and Nigeria as whole. Here is an outstanding personality who has not only traversed and conquered different spheres of life but has also proved, in many respects, to be a great asset to his generation and to humanity in general. As we join the world to celebrate his 90th birthday anniversary as well as 10 years of monumental and unprecedented achievements of the prestigious Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) today, I profoundly felicitate with this icon and profusely thank him for making us proud in Ekiti State. I am proud to identify with his remarkable success anywhere in the world as well as the legacy of leadership and foresight his name and the institution called ABUAD have come to represent. It is in recognition of this that other accomplished and well renowned men in history, including our own enigmatic Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, will stand beside Aare Afe today to be conferred with yet another honorary Doctorate degree of ABUAD. May this legacy live on and may the good Lord keep Aare Afe for us to continue to tap from his wealth of knowledge and wisdom as he continues to age with abundant grace.
Senator Michael Opeyemi Bamidele is Chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.
The $9 Billion judgment debt thunder: Is Nigeria in a Cul-de-Sac? (4)
Last week, we continued with our discourse on the legal issues arising from this $9 billion judgment debt. Wherein, we consider some legal concepts. Today, we shall take a look at other concepts as advanced by pro-government Advisors to arrive at a just opinion. Now, let us continue.
This is another argument advanced by pro-government advisors. They claim Nigeria enjoys state immunity against enforcement of such awards.
WHAT IS STATE IMMUNITY
State immunity, or sovereign immunity as it is often referred to, is a principle of international law that has become part of the national law of many states. It derives from the theory of the sovereign equality of states, as a consequence of which one state has no right to judge the actions of another by the standards of its national law. It protects an entity in two ways: by conferring immunity from adjudication (also known as immunity from suit) and by conferring immunity from enforcement and execution.
If a party is immune from adjudication, the court will be prevented from considering claims against that party and awarding a judgement or declaring rights and obligations against it. If a party is immune from enforcement and execution, the court will be prevented from recognizing a foreign judgement or an arbitral award against the immune party and from making and executing orders or injunctions against it.
International attitudes towards state immunity vary. In general, there are two approaches: the absolute doctrine and the restrictive doctrine.
THE ABSOLUTE DOCTRINE OF STATE IMMUNITY
Initially the first and only approach, the absolute doctrine still applies in some jurisdictions, notably China and Hong Kong. Under this doctrine, any proceedings against foreign states are inadmissible unless the state expressly agrees to waive immunity
THE RESTRICTIVE DOCTRINE
The increasing involvement of the states in world trade activities led to the development of a more restrictive approach to the state immunity, where a distinction is now drawn between acts of a sovereign nature and acts of a commercial nature. Under the restrictive approach, immunity is only available in respect of acts resulting from the excessive of a sovereign power. As such, states may not claim immunity in respect of commercial activities or over commercial assets.
Although the restrictive approach is now widely adopted, state immunity continues to be an unsettled area of International Law and the scope of recognised exceptions varies from state to state.
WHY DOES STATE IMMUNITY MATTER?
Put simply, if a state is able to claim immunity from suit or enforcement, it will be difficult for a commercial party to enforce its contractual rights against that state. A successful plea of state immunity (as Nigeria intends to do) will mean that either the courts will refuse to hear the dispute or they will be unable to give effect to any judgment or award made against the state.
Commercial parties always attempt to manage the risks associated with state immunity by obtaining a contractual waiver of immunity. This is an early step by which the state wholly waives and agrees not to claim the immunity it would otherwise be entitled to. However, increasingly, states and state entities are now refusing to abandon their rights to immunity. In many cases, they now insist on positively asserting their right to claim immunity in relevant contractual documents. In such, any party dealing with the state perfectly understands the ponderous consequences of dealing with a state entity which has not expressly waived its immunity.
The key important questions and answers a party should ask when state immunity may become an issue, as applicable under English law, i.e, under the SIA, now follows:
IS IT TRUE THAT THE KING CAN DO NO WRONG? SOME EXCEPTIONS
When state actors invest in private equity funds, they play by different rules. Under the doctrine of “sovereign immunity,” if the relationship sours, governmental investors may be protected from legal recourse in ways that other investors are not.
The doctrine of sovereign immunity is simply about the proposition that the government cannot be sued without its consent – that is, “the King can do no wrong.” Sovereign immunity, though simple in concept, is nuanced in application. It can apply to a wide range of investors, including nation states, state agencies or departments, supranational organisations, and sovereign wealth funds and governmental pension plans. This means that a fund owner may have limited legal recourse against certain “sovereign” investors unless it has taken appropriate precautionary steps at the time of the initial investment. The stakes could be very high.
IMMUNITY FROM SUIT V. IMMUNITY FROM ENFORCEMENT
Sovereign immunity takes two forms: (1) immunity from suit (also known as immunity from jurisdiction or adjudication) and (2) immunity from enforcement. The former prevents the assertion of the claim; the latter prevents even a successful litigant from executing a judgment already delivered.
None of these forms of immunity is actually absolute. Both recognize certain exceptions that permit actions under certain circumstances. Depending on the facts, a litigant may be able to invoke an exception to immunity from suit in a situation where though he could bring and win a case, he may yet be unable to collect his money because none of the exceptions to immunity from enforcement applies.
UNITED STATES LAW V. ENGLISH LAW
For United States, private equity funds and investors, sovereign immunity most often arises under either under U.S. law or under English law (or the law of territories that follow English law, such as the Cayman Islands). Whichever law applies in any particular circumstance will likely be determined by the jurisdiction in which the proceedings are brought, although the law chosen by the parties to govern their agreements may also have a direct impact on the proceedings. Either way, at each step, the key questions are the same: Who or what is entitled to immunity? If immunity exists, does an exception apply?
U.S. LAW: THE FOREIGN SOVEREIGN IMMUNITIES ACT OF 1976
The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 (“FSIA”) governs the rights and immunities of foreign – as opposed to U.S. – states and agencies. Under FSIA, foreign states are immune both from jurisdiction and from enforcement in the U.S., unless an exception applies.
FSIA defines “foreign state” broadly, and extends immunity not just to the sovereign nation state, but also to its political subdivisions, agencies and instrumentalities. “Agencies and instrumentalities” include (i) any separate legal entity (ii) that is (or is majority-owned by) an organ of a foreign state or political subdivision, and (iii) that is created under the laws of that foreign state. The net effect of these broad definitions is that sovereign wealth funds may be entitled to immunity from suit under FSIA.
An otherwise immune state entity can be sued in a U.S. court if the action is based upon a commercial activity with a sufficient nexus to the U.S. Investing in a private equity fund has been recognized as a “commercial activity” under FSIA, and a failure to make a payment in the U.S. may be sufficient to permit the suit.
A state entity can waive its immunity under FSIA either explicitly (e.g., in a side letter) or by implication (e.g., by filing a responsive pleading in an action without raising a defense of sovereign immunity). (To be continued).
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK
“Only one thing can save this country, and that’s to get a handle on this deficit and debt issue.” (Mitch McConnell).
I thank Nigerians 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 treatise.
Battle of the reds at Old Trafford: Mane, Firmino too hot for United
…James, Rashford, Maguire battle for pride
One of the biggest rivalry in English football is that of Manchester United and Liverpool. Both sides are the most successful in the country both at domestic and European levels. The two teams meet at Old Trafford on Sunday. In the past, a Premier League encounter between Manchester United and Liverpool is always crucial title decider in England.
Events have however changed the situation over the years for and against both sides. There was a good spell for Manchester United at some point when they either clinched the league or come second. At the time, Liverpool struggled to make Top Four or settled for Europa place. The reverse is the case in recent time as Jurgen Kloop has turned the Reds to title contend- ers every season while United either settle for Top Four or Europa place.
Manchester United have won the EPL title 20 times while Liverpool have clinched it 18 times. In the all-time head-to-head record between the two teams from 1894 to 2019, United are still having an edge with 88 wins against Liverpool’s 76 while both sides recorded 66 draws. In the past 12 meetings since 2014 till date, United have won five times while Liverpool have only recorded two wins and they both played draw five times.
In the past six meetings, there were four draws and one win each for both sides. On current form, Sunday’s encounter should be a no contest because Liverpool have not dropped one point in their last 18 EPL games. This season alone, Liverpool have won all their eight league games to be on top of the table with eight point difference between them and second placed Manchester City.
Their current run has placed them in pole position to clinch the league this time. Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are fully fit for this encounter while Mohamed Salah is expected to be ready. Alexander Arnold is solid in the defence with the big man, Virgil Van Dijk. The Kloop men look complete and ready for any opposition and this is their best opportunity to humiliate United at home. The reverse is the case for United, experiencing the most ridiculous start to a season in the past 30 years.
The Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men have won only two games and are just two points above the relegation line. Two key players – Paul Pogba and David De Geahave been ruled out due to injury. The team has lost to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford, also lost to Newcastle and West Ham away.
With this spell, United do not have the quality t o ordinarily beat Liverpool but they could raise their game and snatch a draw, just as they did last sea- son at Old Trafford. Three new players Daniel James upfront, Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan Bissaka, are solid defenders but can they stop the rampaging Liverpool’s attack? On a good day, Marcus Rashford and James could stun the visitors but overall, Mane, Firmino, Salah are too much for United, and so it’s advantage Liverpool.
The flipside of governor’s home
The nature of a man is easily detected through his interactions with people and perceptions of issues. Position and wealth are never concealers of weaknesses or character traits. Rather, power, influence and authority are the fermenting catalysts that usually get occupiers of exalted offices intoxicated through unpredictable utterances and behaviours. Incidentally, men with such raw mannerism usually turn out to be more dependable, loyal and responsible husbands.
True to their nature, they are not so romantic when it comes to love play. They rarely entertain prolonged wooing of women as they prefer to go straight to the point whenever or wherever they find love. Regardless of what others might think about their actions and utterances, they’re habitually candid, less tolerant of nuances of diplomacy and pretence. One of such maverick personalities is the immediate past governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi. These descriptions are some of the traits that signpost the character of the neatly mustached-politician, according to his wife, Florence Ajimobi.
The First Lady recalls with nostalgia how her husband proposed to her like a typical “Ibadan man” without the usual allure of romance and mollycoddling. He won her heart because they had been close friends for a while. The charming Ajimobi had never hidden his true nature for once. Being her gist mate, she’d been addicted to his attention, evening walks and doing virtually everything together.
Meanwhile, the common practice with the couple is to table every issue for discussion in order to arrive at the best possible decision. The practice was punctured in 2003 when, against their convention, he simply walked in and announced to bewildered Florence that “I’m going into politics.” Initially she thought it was a huge joke. She responded that she’s not in support, hoping he would table the matter for proper discussion but nay, “he said that’s his decision and there’s no going back on it.” That’s when it dawned on her that she hasn’t known her man enough.
Every great thing, level or status is achievable at a cost. It is rare to toil through to success or greatness without experiencing some challenges or giving up some things for the sake of the target. This is the stark reality of life as evidenced in the testimony of successful people and great achievers. Many of those who pray for positions of authority or influence forget to recognize that there’s a prize to pay. Incidentally, many people hate to suffer denials at their new levels.
The thinking that all is rosy and cozy for people in power and affluent positions is not always true. Some apprehension do accompany such status. What commoners do take for granted is often the envy of the high and the mighty. For instance, many people in leadership positions don’t enjoy privacy like other citizens. Whereas the affluent are envious of the freedom and social life of the common citizen, in the reversed order, the commoner would be praying for, dreaming and hoping of attaining the affluent status knowing it would better his/her lot. The former situation is the graphic description of life in many top political office holders’ homes especially at the state senator’s level upward.
Those at the receiving end of this chequered situation are the immediate family members of the executives. While the people out there are seeing glamour, wealth and perks of office, the family members are enduring circumstantial abandonment, loneliness, living in ‘confinement’, loss of social life, ebbed family life and restricted access to fun. These (and perhaps many more) are the lot of most First Ladies while in office.
According to the immediate past First Lady of Oyo State, Florence Ajimobi, while appreciating God for improved status through service to the people as offered by her husband, Senator Ajimobi, life as a governor’s wife is not what she desires again. Her husband’s two terms as governor was a big ‘loss’ to her family life.
“For eight straight years, I ‘sacrificed’ my friend to politics and public service. Our family life was at the lowest ebb. Meetings, work and politics took him away from me. He was nowhere for me as my husband or father to his children. In fact, the children hardly see him,” she said, adding that what she missed the most was his companionship because they were gist mates from the beginning of their relationship.
She explains that living in Abuja while her husband was a senator remains a dark moment of her marital life. The Abuja experience is not palatable for her at all. In her words: “I was lonely most of the time. My social life was gone. I missed everything a marriage should be. I wouldn’t want a repeat of such experience.”
If, as a senator’s wife she laments loneliness, being a governor’s wife was more challenging. The difference is that she engaged her time with supportive activities as First Lady and she’s within the reach of her people.
Life as First Lady was a harrowing experience for her. “I think eight years is too long. One term of six years should be okay. Our children missed their father because he’s rarely available. Even as his wife, he’s no longer available. Most of the time he came to bed at 3a.m. He would crash into sleep almost immediately tired and fagged out. Usually he would apologise saying ‘madam, I’m tired please.’ “The next moment, he’s deep asleep,” she explains, adding that life in Government House is not as pleasant, satisfying and desirable as people think. Indeed, not all that’s glittering is real gold.
Like the title of a popular television series: “The Rich Also Cry”, but in this case, “The Affluent Also Lament.” A typical governor’s home is sacrificed on the altar of public service. Mrs. Ajimobi was even luckier during her time compared to some of her contemporaries who live like “widows” not because they lack food to eat or money to spend (though some really don’t have enough to spend) but that the basic conjugal need like their husbands’ attention and sex suddenly become a luxury or near unavailable throughout their tenure. We can now understand why some First Ladies are emotionally hostile and harsh!
Florence Ajimobi is a beautiful, intelligent, articulate and confident woman. She oozes dignity with rich connection with her root. She’s not blinded by the perks of office to attract any scandal or demonstrate ostentatious lifestyle that would question her modesty. Despite bottled-up discontent brought about by her status, she stood firmly by her audacious man who kept heaping battles on several fronts for the most part of his tenure.
Whenever you see the glamour of a governor’s wife, remember the sacrifice she’s making for the people even to her own inconvenience. Therefore, women like Mrs. Ajimobi should be celebrated and saluted for the big prize they pay in the public interest. Her book offers more insight into the flipside of life in power as a governor’s wife.
Entitled “My Life Like A Rainbow,” the book contains her thoughts and experiences as a politician’s wife and First Lady. It is an eye-opener for those in public offices especially their spouses. The book demystifies opulence, perceived comfort and class associated with public offices, in particular, those of Senators, Governors and the President.
The politics in the other room
“A lie can travel half way around the World while truth is still putting on its shoes” – Mark Twain
Social media has a lot of minuses but its pluses still exceed, it all depends on where you are when they throw their stones. If you create enabling environment for them to fertilize in your domain, you are likely to find their sugar bitter in your mouth. Just like Nigerian Presidency that had sour tales to tell about social media last week over poor management of information. When you allow a very visible person like the First Lady of a nation to go off the radar for over six weeks without a word, you are indirectly the one throwing bones to the dogs; what the dog does with the bones can only be imagined. Turning round therefore to wonder why the dog is too savage at the bones tantamount to an alarmist who beats drum in the bush and rushes to the village square to ask who is drumming.
For keeping Nigerians in suspense for that long on the whereabouts of the First Lady, the Presidency should have itself to blame for the drama that trailed her exit and eventual return. It’s no mere paper work when it’s said that once you are a leader of a people you lose your privacy. As long as the seat of power is not at peace with itself, what results from it could be unpalatable like avoidable leaks as experienced in the last few weeks from Aso Rock Villa. It would amount to attention diversion to look elsewhere in search of the problems whose origin is right inside the main and the other rooms of the Presidency.
The living room of the First Lady otherwise called the other room or that of her son was thrown open on the Internet last week with her even confirming that truly the viral video on display on the social media was actually hers. From the fallouts, somebody sat somewhere, planned to provoke the First Lady knowing what her reaction would be and through to type she came out as predicted letting lose her temperament as the person recorded it for the public.
In journalism if you scoop a story that is exclusive to you, it can be kept to be released at the appropriate and fitting time and that was exactly what the ‘social media practitioner’ at the Aso Villa did. Many security operatives in Aso Rock were schooled to ensure that journalists more than any other group were prevented from coming close or prying into the first family’s home. But unknown to them that right inside was a more dangerous ‘reporter’ who knows nothing about off-record and can go to any length to destroy their target without factoring the consequences.
Too many security breaches have been recorded as a result of the political infighting in the Presidency. Indecorously, the highly venerated home of number one citizen in the country has been turned into an open battle ground by people who refuse to observe the etiquette of the place. Until recent happenings in the nation’s power base under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari, he used to carry an image of a disciplined, no nonsense character who would not tolerate hogwash behaviour around him. But all that were demystified by the desecration of Aso Rock by family members who probably do not value the environment enough to appreciate and observe the required ethos.
Annoyingly, rather than look inwards for the originators of the mess, the Presidency is trying to gag the social media. But in going forward, we really need to find out who a social media practitioner is? Answer to this question will help those bent on attacking the freedom of journalists as a fallout from this marriage rumour episode. It’s certainly not in doubt that no journalist followed the First Lady to her room to record her screaming of being locked in, the recording as already confirmed was done by a family member who was bent on settling scores and who in this case is the social media practitioner. What social media practitioners outside did were just to help herald a finished story. We all know as Kathleen O’Dell said that “though there’s a grain of truth in every rumour, the worst gossip usually starts with something harmless.”
As a rumour this matter should not have merited a space as a Musing topic this week, but not with its wide implications especially against the backdrop of the government’s hinting of curbing the media.
As a weekly current affairs column that discusses matters arising from the polity, nothing could have been weightier even as a rumour than a 76-year-old President of a country whose 94 million citizens are in the threshold of extreme poverty going for a second wife last Friday and perhaps even more curious was that the lucky bride was going to be one of his newly appointed ministers.
It never sounded believable that a 76-year-old President would take a new wife but since a smell at the basement has a way of getting to the attic nothing could be easily disregarded. As a journalist who was also trained into believing that rumour could be a huge source of story, I knew that nothing would divert any other political discourse for the week. Not with the drama that accompanied it, the alleged protest from the current wife who incidentally is really the second wife since the President’s actual first wife is late. If this rumour had turned real the latest would have been the third wife to the President.
I am going to withhold what I would have said if the President had taken a third wife since it’s going to be conjectural. It’s however good to put on record one significant achievement of that dangerous rumour; it brought home our amiable First Lady Aisha Buhari from her hiding place in United Kingdom.
For over 60 days the irrepressible First Lady had disappeared from the radar as her husband’s second term was being “cooked”. When all those she wanted thrown away from the corridor of power began to return she vamoosed from the scene journeying from Saudi Arabia to Britain officially for prayers and medics respectively. There was no word from the Presidency on her whereabouts leaving room for rumour mongers in the social media to fish on. By the time the rumour peddlers were half way their mission, the First Lady appeared claiming she did not abandon her children and husband.
As she spoke on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, less than 48 hours after the marriage rumour, the mood was mixed with all present on the edge expecting her to be herself and explode. But she was guided as she tried not to multiply the pressure the rumour already heaped on the Presidency; she chose her words cautiously to the surprise of not a few.
However, the revealing exchanges that have trailed the ill-fated marriage and the eventual return of the First Lady only have one thing to prove, that all is not yet glowing in the first family. Very clearly the politics in the other room is fierce, and as a result the room was locked for too long, a costly error that fed rumour hawkers and dented the image of our Presidency as a nation. Were it not Nigeria, if it were in other climes, Presidency would have apologized to Nigerians for degrading their hallowed seat of power? Just thinking aloud.
Sex predators: Is castration the answer?
The increasing cases of rape and defiling of little children in Ekiti require urgent attention. The amendment being sought may include imprisonment and medical castration of offenders, among others not stipulated in the existing law – Erelu Bisi Fayemi, First Lady, Ekiti State.
he human mind works in a mysterious way that confirms that man is more than the Matter that Marxists say it is. Man, truly, has a spiritual essence. A Marxist lecturer, a professor, was driving up North and, out of nowhere, thoughts of a secondary school classmate of his flashed through his mind. Since they left school decades ago, he had had no contact with or had cause to think of this classmate. He quickly perished the thought and continued on his trip. Not long afterwards, his car developed a fault and all efforts by the ubiquitous “road-side mechanics” to kick it back to life failed. He was advised to tow the vehicle to a nearby city where he was assured a mechanic workshop there would fix the problem. Getting there, he filled the job card and was ushered into the Manager’s Officer. Lo and behold, seated right behind the desk was his classmate whose thought had run through his mind a while ago! Was he stunned? Why the thought of this guy a while ago? Happenstance or was that God at work?
Days ago, Peter Abelard’s name suddenly crossed my mind and I immediately began to ruminate on some of his thoughts that I had read decades ago at Ife. I could never have thought that Erelu Bisi Fayemi, wife of the governor of Ekiti State, was going to make the quotes cited above a week after. Thanks for Google; I had no difficulty refreshing my mind on Abelard (1079 – 1142), French, born the eldest son of lesser nobility in La Pallet in Brittany. At one and same time a logician, ethicist, philosopher, and theologian; he was a leading thinker of the middle ages. He has been described as the pre-eminent philosopher of the 12th Century and, perhaps, the greatest logician of the middle ages. He was equally famous as a poet and composer and was ranked one of the most pre-eminent theologians of his day. In all areas, Abelard was brilliant, innovative and controversial. He was described as a genius. He knew it and made no apologies. His vast knowledge, wit, charm and even arrogance drew a generation of Europe’s fine minds in Paris to learn from him.
Philosophically, Abelard is best known as the father of nominalism. For contemporary philosophers, nominalism is most closely associated with the problem of universals but is actually a much broader metaphysical system. Abelard formulated what is now recognised as a central nominalist tenet: Only particulars exist. It is from Abelard’s claim that only words (nomen) are universal that nominalism gets its name. His pride or arrogance triggered a lot of jealousy in others and caused him so much grief and troubles but, perhaps, the greatest disaster of his life was self-inflicted: His love affairs with Heloise. About 1116, Abelard began an affair with Heloise, his student and niece of Fulbert, the canon of Notre Dame. She was to become one of the great minds of the 12th Century in her own right and theirs was the great tragic love story of the middle ages. They fell in love, had a child, secretly married, and exchanged a series of letters that have become the stuff of legends. Unfortunately, they kept their marriage a secret from Fulbert, Heloise’s uncle, who thereafter exercised the traditional right of aggrieved families in such cases and had Abelard castrated. Yes, Abelard got castrated!
The aggrieved parent of a child who was defiled recently demanded the castration of the vile predator. Readers of this column would also have read about my niece whose four-year-old daughter was defiled by the driver of the school bus conveying the toddler to school in Osogbo, Osun State. I would need Erelu Bisi to tell the quote above to Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State. Erelu Bisi should also please enlist her Osun State counterpart into the war against paedophiles and vile sex predators running rampant all over the country – and not only in Ekiti.
Back to Abelard! His foibles, hubris and academic excellence apart, I also far back then took interest in the polemics that set the thoughts of Abelard apart from those of, say, Anselm of Canterbury, St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Thomas of Aquinas. Not one given to unquestioning submission, Abelard posited that he asked questions so he could believe: “The key to wisdom”, he said, “is constant and frequent questioning, for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth…The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth… It is by doubting that we come to investigate, and by investigating that we recognize the truth” Abelard’s “Sic” and “Non” (“Yes” and “No”), a collection of 158 controversial theological questions and compiled writings from authorities, some for “Yes” and some for “No”, posits that readers should be able to dissolve the apparent conflict between authorities and come to understand the answers to the questions posed through rational discussion.
No doubt, Abelard preceded Martin Luther whose 95 theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences pasted on the door of the church in Wittenberg, Saxony and addressed to the Archbishop of Mainz, dated 31st October, 1517, sparked off the Reformation that effectively liberated Christendom. The freedoms, liberties, and fundamental rights that we enjoy today had their roots in ages and personalities past.
Regrettably, these rights are viciously on assault these days by sex predators. Rape is on the increase. Paedophiles are on rage. The impunity of these vicious elements is fuelled by the complicity of the law and duplicity of those in authority. Miffed, Erelu Bisi has advocated more stringent penalties, including castration of the beasts in human skins. I agree no less! Your head is on your neck, Ma’am! Castration as suggested by Erelu Bisi is not new or strangely out of place as Abelard’s example above shows. In the olden days, our palaces in the South-West had a retinue of the castrated called eunuchs, who kept the harem of the Obas. They were castrated so they would not “eat” Kabiyesi’s “yams” kept in their custody. Still, there is the saying that you cannot but find bastards in a big palace! I wouldn’t know whether the practice of eunuchs is still in place in our palaces today.
Society has been viciously assaulted by cases of sex-for-marks in our institutions of higher learning and the stalking of innocent students by predator-lecturers. At one end of the pole are randy and shameless lecturers who, like Abelard, would not mind sleeping with their students, negating the adage that elephants do not eat the grass under their frame. At the other end of the stick, sadly, are indolent, lazy, and indulgent students grovelling for marks and enticing debased lecturers not worthy of their academic gown. Both were there in our days on campus decades ago but operated in hushed voices. Today, however, they do their thing with impunity. When you add this moral laxity to the other paucities that whack the Ivory Tower, we shall have only appearance and no substance left in due course. While it is alright to punish randy lecturers, we will be making a grievous mistake if we allow their consenting liaisons to go scot-free. Except both are brought to book, the scourge will not be extirpated.
On January 15, 2019, the four-year old daughter of my niece was defiled by the driver of the school bus driving her from school. It was her second day in that school and the school – Charleston Group of Schools, Kelebe, Osogbo. My niece had just relocated from Ibadan back to Osogbo and the wife of the proprietor, one Mrs. Eniola Badmus Adeyemi, had been her acquaintance. The accused is one Oyelakin Oluwatomisin. He was arrested and sent to Ilesa prisons. The case, however, has (deliberately?) suffered diligent prosecution, with adjournments ad nauseam. Promises to move the case to the High Court have not been fulfilled. The magistrate had since granted the accused bail and he comes to court with his gang harassing, threatening, intimidating, insulting, taunting, tormenting and traumatising my hapless niece. Surely, it is not “Ileri Oluwa” that vile paedophiles be allowed to roam the streets of Osogbo free. The case comes up again on Monday, 21st October and the victims would wish public-spirited citizens and advocacy groups come to their aid by mounting pressure on the powers-that-be. No matter how highly politically-wired the accused and his godfathers are, justice will be served, God willing!
NFF should look inward to get young players for the Super Eagles rather than scouting for ready-made players from England. NFF wanted to reap where they did not sow! – Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia.
2020: Budget of consolidated suffering
By 2020, Nigeria was projected some 11 years ago to become one of the 20 largest global economies in the world. When the projection was made in 2009 during the tenure of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria was ranked number 30th largest economy in terms of its GDP size. Nigeria, which has been in the wilderness of darkness could only boast of 3,500 megawatts at that time. Till date, despite huge investments in the power sector, we are still oscillating between 4,000 and 6,000 megawatts depending on who is presenting the data. Government apologists are quick to remind us that power generation has increased remarkably in the last two years but the same government has budgeted N9 billion for generators purchase and maintenance in several government agencies. While the Yar’Adua government set up the National Council on Vision 2020 to ensure that the expectations and objectives are followed through, there seems to be less work done to actually realise the gains of this noble agenda.
The National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) was put in place as a launch pad for the actualisation of some of the key targets of this vision. Succeeding governments have come up with one idea or the other to drive the initiative. The energy sector which is key to jump-starting a productive economy has remained in its low ebb, with accusing fingers pointing in the direction of funds misappropriation, regime after regime. Within the last five years, unemployment figures have grown in a geometric proportion while job losses have become the icing on the cake. Whilst the Buhari-led Federal Government declares its avowed commitment to fighting corruption and making a lot of recoveries, the irony is that Nigeria and Nigerians are growing poorer and poorer by the day. Government has continued to complain of declining revenue, even when Professor Itsay Sagay says over N1 trillion was recovered within the last one year as an eloquent testimony to the anti-corruption crusade of the current government. Why the monies recovered are not apparently adding up to the figures remain a subject of curiosity.
Amid a plethora of issues begging for governmental intervention, government spokespersons are insisting that borrowing is the way to go since there is shortfall in national revenue to execute a considerable percentage of its annual budget. By 2020, when it would be 11 solid years since the official endorsement of the Vision 2020, on 1st October, 2009, Nigeria will still be encumbered by series of developmental challenges that have refused to go away. Presently, there is a huge gap in infrastructural development across the country. The roads are in bad shape, rendering mobility and commerce difficult to flourish. The education sector is suffering kwashiorkor as a result of poor funding in the area of infrastructure, learning and research. A paltry N48 billion budget in the 2020 budget year is a far cry from UNESCO benchmark. Given the huge challenges in the education sector, with incessant strike action by trade unions and its affiliate bodies, the education sector is presently traumatised. Added to this is the gloomy economy that has not shown any sign of recovery despite cooked up figures to whet the appetite of those in government as though we are making progress.
As if that is not debilitating enough, the unwholesome activities of kidnappers, armed bandits, armed robbery and other crimes, have had untoward impact on the wellbeing of the populace. The environment of insecurity that has become a perennial slur on the economic landscape has affected investment in remarkable measures. Rather than make a realistic budget estimates that would make us to cut our clothes according to our size, government is making budgetary projection that is almost dead on arrival. The projection of 2.180 mbpd on the oil front is undoubtedly ambitious, especially at a time when OPEC oil quota is hovering around 1.8 to 1.77mbpd. As if that was not enough, the oil price benchmark of $57 dollar per barrel is also uncertain. Rather than generate estimates that would seem positive on the outlook, government ought to set benchmark that would appear plausible and almost predictable. That Iran and the United States are presently in a muscle-flexing altercation which has raised oil price to $60 or $61 per barrel is not enough to sing hallelujah song. In a sector where Nigeria’s influence is not water-tight, over-shooting OPEC quota in budgetary estimation is a joke taken too far.
The minimum wage challenge on the home-front is another pain in the neck of government. The Buhari presidency played politics with workers by agreeing on a N30,000 minimum wage before the elections, ostensibly to shore up support and votes from workers across the country. Rather than implement, governors have been complaining of lack of funds to hit the ground running. Labour is spoiling for strike action to pressurise government to honour its own side of the bargain. There are states that are still owing several months of salaries, some pay negotiated percentage, while others appear helpless in their effort to generate increased internally generated revenue (IGR). With Federal Government’s decision to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT), which will mean more money for the states at the expense of the people, the mere fact that it is an item in the 2020 budget raises more posers to analysts. The VAT law has to be tinkered with if this increment is to take effect, but the constraint according to some analysts is that it is like taxing an already impoverished citizens. It is another way to consolidate their sufferings. When government ought to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, it is making effort to take from the already down and out Nigerians, whose means of livelihood is tellingly affected by por economic realities.
When the Buhari presidency came up with the Social Investment Programmes in 2016 in response to finding quick-fix solution to poverty, suffering and deprivation, and lifting the poorly poor away from poverty, it budgeted N500 billion into the scheme. The following year, the budget remained at N500 billion and it dropped to N350 billion in the succeeding year. In the 2020 budget, it is now pegged at N38 billion, a far cry from its earlier 2016 budget. That means, those Nigerians who have been captured in government’s N5,000 monthly stipend will surely suffer in 2020. It will also mean that the school feeding programme which the government touted to be one of its legacy projects will also suffer. And those who have been captured in that supply chain will also be out of circulation. It is yet to be seen how this budget that proposes 20% capital expenditure, with N2.45 trillion debt servicing can actually launch the country on the path to economic recovery. While government apologists are raking up figures to justify the viability of the 2020 budget, it is left to be seen what investment N100 billion can attract in the defence and security portfolios, under a regime of insurgency and armed banditry. A deficit figure of N2.8 trillion is a clear indication of economic disaster, waiting to happen.
I had thought that with the announcement of the members of the Economic Advisory Council, that the President would create the opportunity for a robust synergy with the Budget and Planning Ministry in critically analysing the budget and taking informed position on it before it was hurriedly presented. This is a time that we need some level of uncommon approach to budgeting to get the figures right as well as the projections than the rush to impress the public on quick submission of budget. The ministers that were recently sworn in, needed time to study the books, make informed contributions before setting out to churn out a budget that could provide the right therapy for the economic ailments that confront us. Aside from the unrealistic nature of the budget, the complaint about lack of resources to fund the budget is another kettle of fish altogether.
Only on 1st October, 2019, the president told an already befuddled nation of N600 billion capital release to carry out capital projects. This is happening at the last quarter of the year. What baffles some observers is not the pronouncement, but that whether the government will be able to reflate the economy with such promised fund. That promised N600 billion represents 22% of the budgeted estimate in the 2019 budget, an indication that the 2020 budget may follow similar pattern of poor funding.
In an era when Nigerians are already groaning under the negative spell of poor budgetary implementation, with over 100 million amongst the world’s poorest, an unrealistic budget will be addition burden on the citizens. Government ought to cut down on its excesses and overheads. There is no justifiable reason why for example, the president will approve six Special Assistants and Special Advisers to an office that is not known to law; office of the First Lady. Government can also cut down on some items like president’s haircut, domestic travels, foreign travels, purchase and maintenance of generators and entertainment in the Villa. A dire situation that we find ourselves requires a serious austerity approach to cut down on wastes. This is the way to go in order to bail out Nigerians from their present economic predicament.
2020 budget proposals
n Tuesday October 8, 2019 President Muhammadu Buhari presented to a joint session of the National Assembly (NASS) the details of the 2020 Budget which is named; ‘Budget of Sustaining Growth and Job Creation.’ The first thing that struck someone is to ask what level of growth we are sustaining. At a projected growth of 2.9 per cent which is still below our purported population growth of about 3 per cent we are still a long way from the desired level of growth which ideally should be in the range of 6 to 9 per cent if commensurate impact is to be made on the prevalent levels of unemployment with the need for rapid poverty alleviation. The aggregate expenditure for the 2020 Budget is now N10.33 trillion at some point in time this total expenditure was almost a moving target.
There are immediately two remarkable takeaways from the budget presentation. One was the good spirit, the banter and camaraderie atmosphere that hallmarked the budget presentation contrary to the rancour, recrimination and bad spirit that was the case last year. In fact one must also quickly add the heckling, shouting, name calling and general demeaning behaviour. The other remarkable development surrounding the presentation of the budget was the timing of the presentation. For the first time in a long while we witnessed budget presentation not in December or early January but actually in October! You would have to pinch yourself to confirm that you are not living in dream land.
The President had repeatedly assured all that cared to listen that he would harmonize the budget year with the calendar year. And he is now all set to deliver on this promise and he pulls this off and we are able to sustain it, we must then put this down as one of the legacies which this President had bequeathed to this country. What happened in the past was very shameful and rather unbecoming for a country the calibre of Nigeria; the reputed largest economy in Africa. In reality there was no ascertainable budget year as budget implementation commenced whenever the budget was approved which in reality was often in the second half of the year which situation not only projected us as unserious but made particularly capital budget implementation a nightmare and largely accounted for the lack of commensurate growth of the economy. Little wonder unemployment became a veritable growth sector with the consequent rise in social crimes.
We are now poised to realise the January to December budget year as all stakeholders have demonstrated their resolve for this to happen leveraging on the existing cordial relationship between the Executive and the Legislature. The NASS has closed plenary sessions to now work in relevant committees to interact with the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for speedily presentation and approval of their respective budgets and so bye to the previous, often heard name calling and posturing with the Legislature claiming that their work was being delayed because government agencies have refused to attend to defend their budgets.
But we have been on record with the recommendation that we could dispense with this unnecessary aspect of the budget approval process. It is a duplication and an abuse of due process for accepted best practice in reporting. Those agencies do not report to the NASS and have prior made their submissions to the Executive which approved them after due defense before inclusion in packaging of the national budget. And the experience has been that this is the window which is seized to arm twist the agencies to make provisions for third parties in their budget. So we invite the President to use his good offices and leverage on the existing cordial relationship to expunge this stage in the budget approval process going forward.
A growth rate of 2.9 per cent has been assumed. Whether this is attainable is in the womb of the future. A growth rate of 2.02% has been reported as recorded in the first half of 2019. With early passage of the budget so implementation could commence early and with the aggressive revenue drive now mounted, there is good expectation that an improvement in growth rate is well on the cards. What remains certain is that we must devise a means to record far higher growth rates close to a range of 6 to 9 per cent if the economy is going to get out of the woods, jobs created and poverty alleviated in not distant future. And this goal is not farfetched with consistent disciplined and focused implementation of the policies and programmes in the budgets. There will also be the need to plug all leakages to minimize misappropriations. The instruction in the budget that all workers must be registered on integrated payroll and personal information is therefore a move in the desired direction.
The assumptions in the budget appear mostly realistic. An oil benchmark of $57 per barrel has been used with a daily production level of 2.18 million barrels per day (mbpd). Oil price we have been informed averaged $67 last year with a daily production level of 1.86 million as at end June 2019. Therefor for this benchmark it is certain that we have erred on the side of caution. It must be recalled that the Executive submission was at $55 dpb and it was the Legislature that hiked the price up to the existing $57 with comments being now made to the effect that this price should be further increased during the review; the legislature should take over the budget from the executive as the allocation to capital expenditure is not adequate to facilitate the level of growth required to jumpstart the economy for the much awaited growth in job opportunities. We caution against such sentiments as it could contaminate the good relationship we have so far celebrated. The responsibility for budget preparation remains exclusively that of the Executive. The foreign exchange rate of N305 to the dollar assumed in the budget is cautionary as this is the base exchange rate and therefore exchange rate above this rate would be a bonus as it generates greater dollar inflows. But with the newly inaugurated Economic Advisory Council, this rate might not survive for too long.
The challenge on the expenditure side of the budget is real. With recurrent expenditure of about 70 per cent of total expenditure, there is not much scope to rapidly grow the economy. It is unfortunate that the relative balance between capital and revenue expenditure with all the gains made to redress these relative rates in favour of capital expenditure in the recent past would now seem to have been lost. The creation of five new ministries; power, aviation, special duties and international affair, police affairs, and humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development definitely has compounded the situation. Also the provision for the new minimum wage and enhancement of the salaries and wages of the Police and armed forces have also added to the problem. The capital budget at N2.14 trillion against a debt service provision of N2.45 trillion higher than the capital budget illustrates the extent of fiscal sustainability dilemma confronting the country. It has also been estimated that above 60% of revenue inflow is now used to service debts and therefore the challenge of growing revenue could not have been more pressing and urgent. It is in this context that the proposed increase in VAT rate must be accommodated by all even if we must note that VAT rates in Nigeria are the lowest when compared with rates elsewhere in the world.
Sectorial capital allocations have presented some challenges. An allocation to education of N48 billion even if there is the consideration of an additional allocation of N112 billion to Universal Basic Education would seem to be inadequate considering the importance of education for the future prosperity of the country. The economy of the future is the one that leverages on automation, robotics and artificial intelligence and no longer on the extractive sector. Also an allocation to the health sector of N46 billion offends all protocols which the country has subscribed to in this respect as it represents a far lower percentage allocation. But we must observe that in these matters there are no quick fixes. We must for now be content with achieving a measure of progress with the implementation of the budget to build on that as we make gradual progress while we offer supplications for the possibility of the realization of the harmonization of the budget and calendar year now staring us on the face.
λDr. Chizea, an economist, writes from Lagos.
Business22 hours ago
Border closure: Importers reroute cargoes from Cotonou to Lagos
News19 hours ago
Diezani’s ally, Aluko, loses N26.63bn property to FG
News6 hours ago
President Court of Appeal: Plateau Group raises alarm over Justice Monica
Politics22 hours ago
Lyon’s kinsmen endorse Diri
Metro and Crime20 hours ago
Kaduna: Three die, 11 rescued in new torture centres
News19 hours ago
FRSC officials beat passenger to death in Edo
Metro and Crime20 hours ago
Grinding machine plucks off teenage student’s testicles
News19 hours ago
FG budgets N600m for National Theatre despite banks’ takeover