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Bayelsa after Dickson: Who picks up the gauntlet?

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Bayelsa after Dickson: Who picks up the gauntlet?

 

Soon Bayelsa will confront a monumental date with destiny. One thing is clear: in the context of developments elsewhere where paradigms are shifting to encompass greater definitions of human progress, Bayelsa’s horizons cannot be circumscribed by the limitations of its past.
Bayelsa over the course of the past eight years is proving that a clear-headed and determined leadership with vision can still brave the odds and make a difference. It is the same audacity of hope which has seen the UAE under Al-Makhtoum turn an arid place in a very short time into the toast of the world in commerce, tourism and excellent governance culture.
Yes, good governance. That is what is now driving the economies of both Ghana and Rwanda and to a lesser extent, that of Kenya. Overall, the defining characteristics of these countries are: thinking, bright and creative leadership, vision, determination and commitment, consistency and discipline. They have all helped to initiate some very forward looking and pragmatic policies and programmes which are consequently changing their stories.
The particular case of Israel is a fascinating one and an inspiration to us in Bayelsa State. Just as Israel is a developmental lodestar in the Middle East and the world at large, having dared impossible conditions, Bayelsa can be similarly driven to become an economic power house not only in Nigeria but in the sub-region and even in the African continent. Here the focus is on innovation to drive development and in the process solve so many of the challenges we face in the state by applying technology and smart policies. Through the Israeli model, I think we can overcome many of our teething challenges specific to the Bayelsa condition, taming poverty through entrepreneurship, startups, light manufacturing, agriculture and agribusiness (rice, cassava, banana, plantain and oil palm), fisheries, energy (gas) and tourism. Through collaboration and partnerships, technology could be used to harness the latent resources in Bayelsa (human and material) and unleash a new economy that could birth the “Bayelsa Economic Miracle”. Of course, innovation in this regard is the driver of productivity, economic growth and development.
It all boils down to leadership, vision and smart policies that are forward looking and disciplined and consistent. This is the model Governor Henry Seriake Dickson has sought to provide in the course of his exemplary leadership and which needs to be consolidated and built upon.
A major challenge in the ambition to leapfrog development is the manpower needed to run the process of innovation and technology and we must necessarily do greater investments in this regard. The Restoration Government in Bayelsa State led by Governor Dickson has laid a solid foundation for this vision of economic revolution through massive investment in education across the state and other legacy infrastructural projects. Henceforth, the state can do more in prioritising maths and science and ICT as the bedrock of innovation.
The Bayelsa Innovation Strategy should address innovation capacity in relation to solutions to local needs and challenges in the specific areas itemized above. So capacities will come from the many students in schools now with the right motivation for learning and constant upgrading of curriculum to emphasise the rudiments of the economic tech age associated with the new vision under consideration in powering a new economy for Bayelsa State. Here, innovation and sustainable growth in the long run will play a central role as we must build local capacities revolving around the right education, skills and human development.
The new economy will also have to be inclusive, in which case many of the youths who never had the opportunity of formal education will go through the Bayelsa Technology and Innovation Centre, a large and modern centre where they will be taught various skills which will necessarily have a relationship with the various segments of specific areas of concentration of economic activities as designed by the realities of the new economy.
This is why we must reject the confining vision which references Bayelsa State as a civil service state. We cannot continue with this mindset as all efforts must now be geared towards production and manufacturing without which no nation or state can claim to be developed. Like we had in Israel in their early stages of development, Bayelsa must begin start-up companies in different areas with the right support from the government, with the private sector as the engine of growth. Our people must shake off the lethargy of waiting for government before they can make impact even as government can serve as key enabler. This was what informed my decision to henceforth embark on routine visits to start up companies in Bayelsa which is part of the ongoing effort by the Dickson-led Restoration Government to recognise and encourage young entrepreneurs in the state. A few days ago, I visited the workshop of a talented young Bayelsan who uses sawdust to fabricate lamp holders and screeding of walls. The support from government will certainly go a long way to enable him realize the full potential for his business.

 

•Iworiso-Markson is the Bayelsa State Commisioner for Information

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The Mandela I know

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The Mandela I know

I make bold to say that I learnt at Mandela’s feet. During one of our meetings, he told me that he wanted Cyril to be his deputy but the party leadership thought otherwise. One thing he told me that he did was that he respected the decision of the party because party is supreme.

 

I imbibed that education and have lived by it in my political pursuits in Nigeria. It may be recalled that recently I made an attempt to contest to become the Deputy President of the Nigerian Senate. I however withdrew from that contest as soon as the party’s decision was conveyed to me. I stood down because having learnt from Mandela the dictates of party supremacy, it would amount to a betrayal of my learning to go against the party’s consensus.

 

I also believe that as an evolving democracy, one with a history of military adventurism with the attendant destruction of political ethos and institutions, Nigeria will fare better if politicians, irrespective of their party affiliations, respect party supremacy.

That way, we will be able to build a political culture that derives its powers from the party manifesto and programmes. Today, South Africans are enjoying apolitical culture that developed out of Mandela’s love for his party, the ANC, and his respect for its decisions.

 

That is what it means to give your people a voice and a future. Shouldn’t we be asking for more ‘Mandelas’ for Africa? When Mandela left his abode in prison and became a president, many expected him to use his official powers as president to enact revenge and payback those who set about to destroy his life and his family.

 

He had it in his powers to do so. He could have used the South African police or military to deal with those who saw him as an enemy because of his guts and imprisoned him. He could have used the South African secret police to eliminate them. It was within his powers to also go after their businesses and asphyxiate them economically. It was also possible that some of those persons had prepared themselves for exile.

 

The world watched as he put out a raging fire and calmed the storm by publicly declaring his forgiveness for past misdeeds against him and against the South African people. Instead, he opted for peaceful co-existence. Ladies and gentleman, we must all know why the world still worship Mandela today and will quite certainly do so for eternity.

 

Nobody would have believed that he would allow his predecessor and erstwhile leader of the apartheid regime, Mr. Pieta Botha to live peacefully and die a natural death in South Africa. Even Botha himself, I’m sure, would be shocked that he was handed such forgiveness. I doubt if there is any other African leader that would have been so large hearted. It goes to show how Mandela lived a practical Christian life. He showed that with forgiveness, you would achieve more than any weapons could.

 

He left us with the understanding that forgiveness frees you to pursue more noble and worthwhile objectives. For this singular act, the world loved him more. He placed South Africa on the global map and the world was attracted Opinion to South Africa. He was awarded the Nobel Prize winner for Peace because of this rare demonstration of love. You will recall that his funeral attracted leaders from all parts of the world.

 

They came in honour of a man who, with a single act, changed the story of South Africa. Ladies and Gentlemen, Africa needs more of his type. Unfortunately, however, Africa of the post-Mandela era does not seem to appreciate the meaning that he brought to life on the continent.

 

Today, Africa is replete with leadership that is neither visionary nor forgiving. From one country to another we are seeing a return of the sort of leadership that irked Mandela. Mandela opted for only a single term in office. He voluntarily opted out of a second tenure.

 

Out of office, he became more powerful and more significant as a global force than he was while in office. With that, he demonstrated that one does not necessarily need an endless term of office to positively impact on his society or to remain relevant.

 

Today, we are seeing African states being gradually torn apart because of one man’s decision to retain power even when his leadership has lost all relevance to his people. We now see a growing tide of nationals rising up to chase their leaders out of power. It tells me that somehow, we have lost the significance of Mandela’s mission in politics.

 

His mission was to liberate and not imprison the people. If leaders in Africa cannot liberate their states and people from oppression, corruption, hunger, poor infrastructure, insecurity, disease, homelessness, poverty of the mind and of the pocket and lack of education, at least, they should not compound these problems.

 

Africans have suffered so much under visionless and oppressive leadership that the people are looking forward to another Mandela to give them hope for tomorrow. Therefore, on this day, my family and l remember Mandela with nostalgia.

 

I remember the times we shared at his home. I remember the warmth, the joy, the reception by his family and I pray that his soul continue to rest peacefully with God. As we begin to implement the Nigerian mandate from the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic, I pledge myself, my family and my constituents to be guided by those eternal principles that Mandela lived by and ultimately bequeathed on humanity.

 

I make a pledge to work for the peace and progress of Nigeria. I pledge to work for the peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians irrespective of their tongue and colour. I make a pledge to work for the common good and greater unity of our country.

 

After all, those are the tenets Mandela lived and died for. And they are the core values he taught everybody that had the fortune encounter him. One of the many admonitions of Mandela that I engraved in my heart is his counsel that “We must strive to be moved by a generosity of spirit that will enable us to outgrow the hatred and conflicts of the past.”

 

Senator Kalu (MON), former Governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, delivered the address last Thursday in Abuja at the commemoration of the 10th year anniversary of “the Nelson Mandela Day” organized by South African High Commission, Abuja in partnership with the University of Abuja at the University Campus, Abuja.

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Why we must act fast on SIWES

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Why we must act fast on SIWES

The Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) has been on the decline for decades now that if drastic measure isn’t taken towards addressing the lingering anomaly, the scheme is liable to go into extinction in no distant time. The SIWES is a skill acquisition initiative designed to expose and prepare students of universities, polytechnics, monotechnics as well as colleges of education for the industrial work situation they are likely to encounter after graduation.

 

This topic is informed by the World Youth Skills Day that was commemorated penultimate week, precisely on 15th July, 2019, which is targeted to boost the existing number of skills found among our teeming youths. SIWES was initiated to be a planned and supervised training programme based on specific learning and career objectives and geared towards developing the occupational competencies of the participants.

 

It is generic, cutting across over 60 programmes in the universities, over 40 in the polytechnics/monotechnics, and about 10 in the colleges of education. It isn’t meant for a particular course of study or discipline, though it was introduced mainly for the sake of technically-inclined ones.

 

Since inception, it is being reckoned to be an innovative phenomenon in human resources development in Nigeria. While some institutions and disciplines permit SIWES’ duration for only three to six months, others go for up to one year.

 

The programme, which permits the affected students to seek for Industrial Training (IT) or Teaching Practice (TP), as the case may be, in any establishment of their choice, has ab initio been a cause of concern to education and economic planners, particularly with respect to graduate employment and impact on the general societal development. On the other hand, there are equally mixed feelings among education stakeholders concerning how much of the programme that is actually helpful to students’ academic performance and job readiness after graduation.

 

Whatever positive impact the SIWES has thus far created on the students’ wellbeing and the society at large, the truth is that the primary purpose for which the programme was implemented has recently been relegated to the background.

 

The prevalence of the inability of SIWES’ participants to secure employment after the programme, or even perform adequately if eventually employed, casts doubt on the continuing relevance of the programme to the contemporary industrial development drive in the Nigerian society.

 

This obvious lapse isn’t unconnected with negligence and/or apathy on the part of the trainees, trainers, concerned institutions, and the government. It’s noteworthy that most of these students dodge the programme.

 

They prefer indulging in activities that would fetch them money to going for the technical knowledge. To this set of individuals, partaking in the industrial programme is simply a waste of time and energy. In view of this misconception, when the programme is meant to take place, you would see them participating in all sorts of inconsequential menial jobs or even gambling and what have you just for the aim of raising some cash.

 

This growing mentality of placing money before knowledge has contributed immensely in endangering the prospect of the laudable programme.

 

Those who bring out time to participate in the programme, are prone to one challenge or the other. It’s worth noting that greater percentage of the trainees is not paid by the establishments in which they are serving, not even stipend. Hence, they would end up making use of their personal funds to service their transportation and accommodation fees.

 

It’s more worrisome to realize that most of these trainees are overused by the firms. Rather than teaching them the needful, the supposed trainers would engage them in unnecessary activities, thereby making them lose interest in the actual training.

 

Worse still, most of the institutions involved don’t show any concern. They do not cough up time to supervise the students in their respective places of assignment. Ridiculously, in most cases, the schools would remain ignorant of where the students are undergoing the training till the duration of the programme elapses.

 

This particular loophole has over the years served as an advantage to those who never participated in the programme. In this case, during the SIWES defence, the affected student or anyone who have dodged the programme would claim to have undergone the training in any establishment of his/her choice, and the supposed supervisor would never bother to ascertain the truth. Inter alia, funding of the SIWES hasn’t been encouraging in recent times.

 

The Industrial Training Fund (ITF) – the body responsible in the dayto- day funding of the initiative – currently appears incapacitated, probably owing to lack of adequate allocation from the government and other financiers. Sometimes, the students would be deprived of the statutory allowance they are entitled to after the programme.

 

Those who were lucky to receive theirs had to wait for a long time. The SIWES is obviously yearning for resuscitation. The present apparent state of moribund experienced by the scheme can only be properly addressed by revisiting the extant Acts that bind it with a view to making amends where need be.

 

Such step would enable every authority involved to start seeing the initiative as a priority towards the anticipated, or perhaps ongoing, economic diversification. The said policy ought to categorically specify what is expected of the trainee, trainer, school, as well as the governments at all levels, as regards the sustenance of the scheme.

 

Similarly, there’s need for an exclusive viable law enforcement agency that would penalize or prosecute any defaulter. It’s indeed high time we revived this technicaloriented initiative whose motive truly means well for nation building. This can only be holistically actualized by changing all the flat tyres that have succeeded in crippling the journey so far. Think about it!

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The Mandela I know

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The Mandela I know

Nelson Mandela was an outstanding champion of human freedom and liberty, an anti-apartheid crusader who sacrificed the best years of his life to secure the emancipation of his people from the degradation and humiliation of inferiority status imposed on them by a wicked, hateful, abominable and lawless regime.

As we all know, Mr. Mandela was not just a revolutionary leader; his record of philanthropic commitment to not only South Africans, but to citizens of many other nations around the world was quite exceptional.

He taught the world the meaning and essence of humility, forgiveness, acceptance, perseverance and tolerance not through precepts but through an incredible force of personal example that probably has no parallel in human history.

As a prisoner at Rhodes Island, Mandela brought to bear on his terrible and negative experience, exemplary and positive qualities of discipline, endurance, patience, hope, fortitude and remarkable stoicism.

The Nobel Prize winner who became the first democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa at the age of 77, he retired after only a single tenure in office in 1999, setting a challenging example to other depraved African leaders who turned their offices into imperial bastions of maladministration, oppression of their own people and corruption. Madiba’s quest for comprehensive emancipation that encompassed political, mental, economic and physical dimensions led him to embark on charitable engagements, raising stupendous sums of money for schools, hospitals, sporting activities for the benefit of the desperately deprived black communities of South Africa.

His hunger for the freedom of South Africa, somehow, became the hunger for the freedom of all irrespective of their tribe, colour and religion. He took on a campaign that set the leadership bar for African leaders and Africa’s leadership.

I am a beneficiary of Mandela’s mentorship. I would say that God specially created the great man to tutor and shape me into responsible, industrious and disciplined man with a commitment to the welfare of my people and to humanity in general.

I recall my personal interactions with him especially during our national struggle to force President Olusegun Obasanjo to drop his plan to amend the constitution of the Federal Republic and secure an extension of his tenure of office. Disturbed by the details, Mandela placed a call to President Obasanjo and told him in clear terms that whatever his plans were, it was neither desirable for Nigeria nor Africa. That intervention, proved strategic to the leadership question in Nigeria at the time leading to elections in 2007. As the say, the rest is history.

As a politician and businessman, I met Mandela on several occasions. I must confess here that he inspired me a lot. He introduced me to the leaders of the great African National Congress (ANC), with whom I have maintained a very robust relationship. Through him, I met with President Thabo Mbeki, who is now a dear friend and a brother. I also met President Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe, former National Secretary of ANC who held sway for six months following the decision of the ruling party to ask President Mbeki to step aside.

Of course, I met Presidents Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa who is now tasked with the responsibility of leading the great vision that Mandela had for South Africa. Nothing can demonstrate the level of intimacy I enjoy with Mandela’s family than the warm treatment I get from the matriarch of the house, Gracia, each time I visited. She always ensured that I lacked for nothing and that I felt at home.

The bridge Madiba built that connected me with South African political gladiators is still sustained till date. I am still a strong member of the ANC family, just as I am still an ally of former and incumbent President of the country.

Only few months ago, I undertook a trip to South Africa and visited the three ex-Presidents. I particularly spent a quality time with my friend, President Mbeki who was then giving cold hands to political activities in his party, ANC. I reminded him of the political philosophy of Madiba. And that did a lot of magic. That sentiments I expressed steered him out of his earlier disposition. He saw the need to join forces with ANC for the campaign. Of course, that decision played a big part in ANC triumphing at the poll.

 

TO BE CONTINUE TOMORROW

 

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Makinde’s asset declaration: Beyond a hollow ritual

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Makinde’s asset declaration: Beyond a hollow ritual

By making public the contents of his asset declaration form submitted at the Oyo State office of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in Ibadan on Monday, July 15, 2019, Governor Seyi Makinde has, on the double, fulfilled one of his many campaign promises.

That action counts for something in the overall appreciation of the bigger picture of keeping fidelity to the social contract; and, that perhaps, explains the accolades that have trailed the act. The philosophy that roused Makinde’s essential motion in the direction of keeping faith with what appears to be a simple promise must be largely humanistic much more than teleological.

The celebrated act epitomizes genuine altruism, not the humdrum jejune play to the gallery by conventional politicians. Makinde’s genre of politics is peculiar. In any case, time will supply the necessary validations.

However, I tend to understand the act more in the context of the overarching zeitgeist that has provoked in many Nigerians derision for corruption in our body-politic. If Makinde’s action was located in the context of the ideas and spirit of the time, I can then relate to it as his contribution to the emergent culture of pragmatic application of home-grown praxis to addressing some of the ills, especially corruption and its variants, which plague us as a people.

What the governor has clearly adopted is a self-sacrificing modus operandi that ordinarily enjoys legal protection. The confidentiality of his asset declaration is constitutionally-guaranteed. Nevertheless, he decided, on his own motion, to declassify the details, thus exposing himself to pro bono publico scrutiny, which many of his colleagues are not willing to do. Although, he has yet to get to the intersection of the second instance wherein he had also hinted that he would be ready to waive his immunity as governor for any alleged criminal infraction that borders on corruption or looting of the treasury of Oyo State on his watch, I believe that with this single-mindedness, the governor will fulfill this other pledge to boot, having kept faith with the first pledge.

This relatively new attitude to governance – of making promises and fulfilling the same – has the potential to promote the spirit of openness and accountability that is imperative to feed the anti-graft war. To be sure, it will help to stimulate self-restraint on the part of Makinde and other public officers, who had earlier subscribed to the idea of making public their assets, whenever they are confronted with the existential temptation to corruptly enrich themselves through abuse of office.

I advisedly use the word “relatively” in the paragraph above because, at the last count, and I stand to be corrected, not more than six public officers had published their assets before now. Former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan (who reluctantly followed Yar’Adua’s footsteps in 2007, but refused to do the same in 2011) published their assets in a pragmatic fashion, providing specific details.

The publications by four others, namely former Governor Gbenga Daniel (in 2007), President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (who reluctantly followed Buhari’s example in 2015; he has yet to follow suit in 2019) and Governor Nasir El-Rufai, of their assets were approximate. Indeed, it was the late Yar’Adua that blazed the trail. He had promised during his electioneering that he would make his assets public.

He did so immediately he stepped in the saddle and the declassification of the assets was the first assignment that his spokesperson, Segun Adeniyi, performed a week or two after assumption of duties.

The scope of the asset declaration that incorporated even the assets of his wife, Turai, did not give room for any doubt – whether reasonable or otherwise. Yar’Adua had shunned the advice by the CCB that the action would put other categories of public office holders under pressure to do the same contrary to their individual conviction to keep details of their assets confidential as provided for by law. Yar’Adua was driv-en by the need to shed the burden of the campaign promise that he made based on the conviction that the war against corruption could not have meaning until those at the helms of affairs began to live by example. It is to Yar’Adua’s eternal credit that he set that critical example for the likes of Buhari and Makinde, et al, to emulate. It was a personal choice.

Makinde has just made that personal choice, without holding back! His N48 billion asset net worth, earned from his chains of elite businesses, straddling engineering and technical services, energy, oil and gas, construction, et al, is staggering and intimidating.

This war chest imposes a duty of care on him to manage the resources of Oyo State prudently as a going concern. My immediate take-away from the compte rendu is that the governor is financially capacitated to overcome the pressure to pillage the commonwealth of Oyo State. In the circumstance, he should deploy the Midas touch with which he turned his businesses into huge success stories in stimulating the sleeping economy of Oyo State and transforming it into one of the most stable state economies in Nigeria within the next four years; and, if he performs creditably, a renewal of mandate by Oyo people will be his just recompense to enable him consolidate on the good work.

This is Makinde’s maiden outing in the public service turf. Therefore, the publication of his assets represents a challenge to the public to put him under constant watch and to raise the alarm if accretion to his assets while in office is traced to abuse of office. He has put himself under pressure, having come clean as a tabula rasa into government from the private sector unlike Daniel, Osinbajo and el-Rufai, for examples, who had been caught up in the intercourse of private and public office engagements. Buhari’s case, however, remains peculiar. Although his life and times have benefited largely from his involvement in public office at different levels, the details of his assets, as declared and made public in 2015 and the ones done in 2019, which his spokesperson, Garba Shehu, said witnessed very minimal or insignificant accretions, would appear to fit perfectly into his socially-conservative, financially-prudent and celebrated Spartan lifestyle. Except for his cattle farm and other farms which commercial or income-generating values have not been declared, Buhari’s sources of income would appear writ large and he makes no bones about his assets.

The sincerity he had invested in the asset declaration in 2015 continues to bind and regulate him. The benefits derivable from this can be located in the credibility and public trust he has built for himself in matters of financial integrity and restrained material acquisition.

The culture of making public, asset declaration, is one of anti-graft war’s veritable enablers. But for Yar’Adua, Buhari and Makinde’s resolve, the argument that asset declaration is a hollow ritual would have gained a firm foothold in our body-politic.

The waiving of constitutional confidentiality, together with publication of personal assets by them, validates the counter-narrative that the exercise is now beyond a hollow ritual. Besides, ask former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and Justice Walter Onnoghen (retd.) and they will concur. In rounding off, I commend Makinde, in particular, for keeping to his campaign promise. He has demonstrated that he can be trusted.

What he has also done is throwing down the gauntlet to all in position of responsibilities to make full disclosures of assets to their people before taking over the management of public finance. Beyond the suggestion of anticipatory declaration in some oppositional quarters, this will enable the relevant bodies to investigate claims, validate and monitor financial transactions in furtherance of trust.

 

  • Ojeifo, an Abuja-based journalist, writes via ojwonderngr@ yahoo.com
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No, Mr. President: Your critics not unpatriotic

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No, Mr. President: Your critics not unpatriotic

F

ormer President Olusegun Obasanjo’s latest “Open Letter” to President Muhammadu Buhari has raised a lot of dust, with the president labelling him and other critics of his administration as “unpatriotic.”

 

The question to ask is: What did Dr. Obasanjo say that other Nigerians, individually and collectively, had not said since the heightened insecurity in the land?

 

He had written about issues in the polity, particularly concerning the governments after his military headship of Nigeria in 1979, and not a few Nigerians, though, found such commentaries as unsavouring and irritating.

 

From the late Presidents Shehu Shagari and Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, to President Goodluck Jonathan, and to Gens. Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha and Abdulsalami Abubakar; Gen. Obasanjo had “meddled” in their governments, such that Abacha had to hang a “coup plot” on his neck, and detained him.

 

Friend or foe, Obasanjo never spared any administration and its leadership. To him, they either toe his line or be fed with the poisoned chalice of his pen and/or tongue.

 

Seeing and viewing himself as imbued with Solomonic wisdom and Messianic fervour, his approach to his successors in office is utter condescension. Hence, his messages, mostly in open letters, have been acidic in content and patronizing in delivery.

 

Obasanjo’s escape of possible death by execution for alleged “coup plotting” didn’t deter him from “riding on the tiger’s back.” And it’s the turn of Gen. Buhari to feel the drip of his pen in three consecutive “letters” within a few months of each other.

 

While previous “leaked” letters detailed alleged failure of Buhari to fulfil his campaign promises, last week’s “open letter” was essentially an invite to a “National Dialogue” on insecurity.

 

As he noted: “Since the issue (insecurity) is of momentous concern to all well-meaning and all right-thinking Nigerians, it must be of great concern to you (Buhari), and collective thinking and dialoguing is the best way of finding an appropriate and adequate solution to the problem.”

 

Even as he conduced his “deep worries” to about “four avoidable calamities,” Obasanjo recognized the president as one of the “well-meaning and right-thinking” Nigerians that should be concerned about the nation’s insecurity.

 

Frightening as his alarm bell was, not many would imagine an Obasanjo tempering his persona, and offering conciliatory counsel to President Buhari, whom he reckons as his subordinate in age, career, political standing, worldview and statesmanship.

 

 

But does this make him, and others “unpatriotic” for criticizing Buhari and his handling of the affairs of Nigeria? Certainly not! What the former president did is what Buhari’s aides may not dare.

 

 

So, instructive here are the immortal words of the reggae maestro, Bob Nester Marley, who exhorts that, “Your worst enemy could be your best friend, and your best friend your worst enemy.”

 

 

Or as a local adage goes, “Only your enemy can tell you that you have mouth odour.” And they don’t mind telling you in public, whereas your friends, even in private, would tell you that your mouth smells like the roses.

 

Simply put, those that President Buhari termed “unpatriotic” (betrayer, collaborator, deserter, renegade, spy or traitor) may actually be the “loyalists” to save him from himself in these times of grave insecurity in the country.

 

No matter the criticisms, so long as they aren’t subversive, we shouldn’t pigeon-hole Nigerians into “patriotic” or “unpatriotic” elements. That would be a situation of “us versus them,” and therefore “enemies of the State.”

 

Our diversity – and our freedom and ability to speak truth to power – is our strength, and the way to harnessing this great asset is through programmes and actions that do not stereotype and stigmatize citizens as non-patriots.

 

In this wise, Obasanjo’s open letter to the president doesn’t belong in the realm of unpatriotic acts. Let his not be a matter of “calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”

 

 

Nonetheless, it’s time President Buhari realized his problem – perception – and how to overcome it. In politics and governance, perception matters. Ordinarily, reality should drive perception. But most times, perception leads, and muddies the reality.

 

 

For allowing perception, or “body language” to define him and his administration, the president has earned many critics, including from the corps of his followers and supporters.

 

 

Rather than looking at the concrete, and tangible things his government is doing to revamp Nigeria’s socio-political and economic morass, the people would rather focus on his body language, as the best barometer for his actions or inaction.

 

 

Take the issue of the herders-farmers clashes. When it was brewing in the early part of the administration, and the victims, mostly the farmers, cried out, the presidency accusingly never issued any condemnation.

 

 

But if the farmers retaliated, the authorities would reportedly give a stern warning against such reprisals. Curiously, security operatives could arrest the farmers for “defending” themselves.

 

 

Besides, what did the president say when a group, claiming to speak for the North, gave a 30-day ultimatum for Southern states to implement the controversial RUGA Settlement initiative, or it would take “action” against the 17 states of the South?

 

 

In any case, the presidency had said that RUGA was the brainchild of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. So, why was it its business, and not that of the ministry, to suspend the programme?

 

Being silent or ambivalent on the issue created the impression that the Northern group had the presidency’s “backing” to issue its threats against the entire Southern Nigeria.

 

 

But unprecedentedly, the presidency expeditiously “revoked” the directive by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) for Fulani herders to leave the South if their safety was no longer guaranteed.

 

 

This should be the stand of President Buhari and his government at all times: Quick and undiluted intervention on all matters. No room for conjectures, speculations and reading of his body language that could be exploited to undermine his intentions.

 

 

Importantly, the president needs to connect, personally, with Nigerians, by leaving the comfort zone of Aso Rock Villa, and pay regular visits to the states, to meet with his constituents – Nigerians – that voted for him twice, for the exalted office.

 

Buhari is president for all Nigerians, and not only for occupants of The Villa, his friends and political associates. He should speak to, and meet frequently with the masses, as no platitudes delivered from the seat of power could suffice for such intimacy that’s capable of engendering rapprochement that Nigeria desires sorely!

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Asue Ighodalo: Exceptional boardroom guru at 60

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We pass through life in stages and there is a rite of passage for each stage. We are born, reach puberty, get married, become old and eventually pass through transition. We also experience baptisms, confirmations, school graduation ceremonies and retirement parties. We pass through times which stand out as moments in which we become that little bit older, bolder and wiser. But as we grow older, we are tempted to think that our best life’s work and fun are behind us. Yet, a new report by Cigna Insurance Services (UK) has just established that life truly begins at 60 and not 40, as the American psychologist Walter Pitkin postulated in 1932.

 

 

As the Chairman of Sterling Bank Plc., Mr. Asue Ighodalo, celebrates the important milestone of a new beginning in life at the age of 60 on Friday, July 19, 2019 a significant part of this rite of passage would be messages of felicitations and congratulations from associates, family and friends across the country and beyond. If the meaning of life at any age can be defined by what is most important to most of us, for Mr. Ighodalo, it will surely be his towering achievements as a boardroom guru. While many of his contemporaries may be looking forward to retirement, it is certain that Ighodalo will continue to find meaning in his many commitments to corporate Nigeria at the boardroom level.

 

 

Obviously, the highly respected former teacher of corporate governance and legal aspects of a director’s duties at the Lagos Business School could not have started his career in the boardroom. Having learned the benefits of hard work, integrity, character, strength and the fear of God from his parents at an early age, Ighodalo set out to be a banker by studying Economics at the University of Ibadan but his father had other ideas for him as a choice of profession. The elder Ighodalo prevailed on him to study law because it is a more “focused profession” and as a dutiful son, the younger Ighodalo agreed and proceeded to the London School of Economics to study after his Economics degree.

 

 

But true to what Sir Richard Branson, the British inventor, author and businessman, said that “There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions – in a way that serves the world and you.” Mr. Asue Ighodalo eventually returned to his first love and is today renowned for his exploits in the banking sector of the Nigerian economy. His core areas of practice are corporate and project finance, securities and capital markets, energy and natural resources, mergers and acquisitions and banking and securitisation. Ighodalo is also a founding partner of Banwo & Ighodalo, a multi-disciplinary firm which provides legal advice on aspects of corporate and commercial Nigerian law.

 

 

More than anything else, Ighodalo not only teaches the qualities which every director must possess to perform optimally in the boardroom, he has brought his considerable experience in corporate governance to bear on the fortunes of the companies where he serves as the chairman. The phenomenal growth of Sterling Bank in recent years and the company’s pioneering efforts in several areas of banking through the introduction of innovative products come to mind.

 

 

For instance, while many banks were unprepared for the latest directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on loan-to-deposit ratio (LDR) for banks, Sterling Bank is among the few ones that have surpassed the 60 per cent minimum LDR directive. The bank recorded an impressive 78.9 per cent LDR, overshooting the new threshold by N148.29 billion after lending N618 billion out of N783.26 billion deposits. The risks associated with the new regulation such as banks underwriting high-risk loans which could lead to further asset quality deterioration and destabilisation of the industry are non-existent for Sterling Bank.

 

 

It should surprise no one that Ighodalo is a boardroom colossus today having undergone extensive training at the hands of some of the best and most accomplished boardroom giants in the annals of corporate Nigeria. Starting his career under the tutelage of the cerebral and meticulous Chief Chris Ogunbanjo who exposed him to the practice of corporate and commercial law at the highest levels, Ighodalo continued his training with Dr. Christopher Kolade, a great Nigerian public servant, diplomat and boardroom guru who he described as his “father” and mentor.

 

 

He was also fortunate to know and associate with Mr. Felix Ohiwerei, formerly of the Nigerian Breweries and the late Chief Adeyemi Lawson, two boardroom giants. Besides, he interacted closely inside and outside the boardroom with Messrs. Fola Adeola and Aliko Dangote and learnt a lot from all of them. In his words, “Learning from the best and having excellent mentors is invaluable.”

 

 

Summarising his thoughts on the duties of company directors, Ighodalo believes that company directors need to pay attention to the risk aspects of board membership, saying they could get into trouble if they breach their duties, or are negligent in the performance of their duties or do something wrong. “Being a director is really serious business which requires diligence, dedication and continuing capacity enhancement,” he said.

 

 

• Okoya, former Editorial Chairman of Financial Standard Newspaper, writes from Lagos

 

 

Today, Ighodalo not only chairs the board of Sterling Bank Plc., he also sits on the boards of public and private companies and NGOs including the Christopher Kolade Foundation, University of Ibadan advancement board, Dangote Flour Mills Plc., FATE Foundation, Main Street Technologies Limited (sponsor of the Main One cable project), the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Union Bank (UK) Plc., Okomu Oil Palm Plc. and Kakawa Discount House.

 

 

Ighodalo is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and currently serves as the vice-chairman of the NBA’s section on business law. He is also a member of the International Bar Association (section on energy and natural resources law), Association of International Petroleum Negotiators, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, commercial law and taxation committee of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chartered Institute of Taxation, the policy and monitoring committee of the National Council on Privatisation, and the Edo State Economic Strategy Team.

 

 

As Ighodalo turned 60 on Friday, he should have a greater sense of fulfilment for having touched the lives of so many people and for being a source of inspiration to thousands of others. He learned at the feet of the masters and has mentored many others in their journey towards greatness. No greater sacrifice is expected of a truly great man. Here is wishing Ighodalo a long and healthy life.

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Udom: A brand not branded

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Udom: A brand not branded

B

y introspection one can assume that 53 years ago when a teacher called Gabriel Nkanang christened his second son Udom, he was inspired by two factors: the fact that that was the surname of his landlord and the meaning of the name.

 

 

The man under whose roof Nkanang and his family lived at the time Udom was born was called Etokawasi Udom. He was a prominent personality in Afaha community, which is in present day Ukanafun Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom. It is not known whether the accommodation was free or paid for. But from continuous servicing of the relationship by the succeeding generation of the two families, it could be deduced that harmony was freely flowing between them. The name of the young Udom must have been Nkanang’s reciprocal gesture and mark of lasting admiration of the older Udom.

 

Udom is masculine name in Akwa Ibom and some parts of Cross River State. It denotes right hand and connotatively implies best, right-hand-man, confidant, cornerstone, favourite, pillar, trust, reliability, and the likes. In polygamous families, where strife of envy poisons blood of members of the family, naming a child Udom may worsen fault lines, especially if given to a person other than first son of the family. But Udom Gabriel Emmanuel is not envied by his siblings. The credit goes more to his father for religiously disciplining himself on the path of monogamy.

 

The governor stands out in his family as he is the only one not using the family name. That launches him to unique club of few famous persons who are popular by their first name other than surnames. In contemporary time, prominent in the category of those with popular first name is the world most celebrated monarch, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor). In Nigeria few names readily come to mind: Gani (Ganiyu Fawehinmi, who, a decade after he passed on, remains Nigeria’s most dogged activist lawyer and social critic); Fela (Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Nigeria’s music legend); and Atiku (Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former Vice President).

 

Given that surname holds sway in many cultures in today’s world, those whose first names are more popular than surnames are exceptional. First name makes one a common being, in that it reinforces bond of commonality, especially among mates in formative stages of life. It makes one hoi polloi. It is uncommon seeing a famous person or those in authority with striking first name.

 

A striking first name evokes personal image of the person while a surname flies the family flag. Those who have rich family names but unable to carve personal niche for themselves often go about dropping family names to get doors opened for them. Surname has imperialistic aura while first name presupposes a person with unimposing demeanour, one that does not put on air.

 

There is a middle-age man in Akwa Ibom that has risen from grass to grace through instinctive entrepreneurial acumen and passion for excellence. He implores his mates not call him his first name any longer because, though he still uses his first name, he reasons that with his relative prominence the name given to him by his parents name has vanished along with hitherto obscurity. Udom is not like that. Even before he got into macro politics everyone from his work place at Victoria Island to church in Surulere called him Udom and still call him so today. Unlike the common trend among topnotch politicians he has no title other than Mr. Though the uninformed and the sycophants would not stop calling him “Executive Governor”, Udom wants to be addressed by the real name of the office he occupies and not with the superfluity.

 

 

In the build up to 2015 general election when Udom launched his campaign to become the fourth elected governor of Akwa Ibom, “Udom is right” was the catchphrase. Moses Ekpo, his deputy, who by virtue of his rousing career in journalism, understands far better how branding could  better the lot of products, was always distinguishing Udom at campaign rallies with admonition to the people that only fools would prefer left to right.

 

 

To Akwa Ibom audience, anywhere in the world, Udom is more catchy than Emmanuel. Reasons because of its nativity and meanings. Even outside Akwa Ibom community, Udom is more popular than Emmanuel because it is a one-syllable word and not tongue-twisted. It instantly connects the governor to his ancestral place, the Akwa Ibom society, which is currently the constituency of his core concentration.

 

Get it correct: there is nothing wrong with having a strong family name, as it is also not without its sterling significances. After all, in most cases those who are famous with first names do not deliberately create that niche. First names in most cases filter through the news media. It is therefore unfortunate that the news media has not taken cognisance of Udom in headlines relating to the governor.

 

Really, regarding his mentioning in the news media, Udom is a brand not branded. In brandings or headlines, keyword is of essence. In the name, Udom Emmanuel, and with regard to the target audience of the governor, the keyword is Udom and not Emmanuel. Also, since simplicity and space also factor into branding the one-syllable word of four characters is more fitting than  “Governor Emmanuel”, Akwa Ibom governor” and “Emmanuel” often used in headlines in the news media.

 

However, this writer does not intend to argue with those who go about marketing the governor at every opening with the tag of “Udom is Right”. But it can asserted that the governor is not always right, just as it is also certain that certain wrongs in the state are yet to be got right. That is why Udom does not have to look at criticism of his government as abuse, as he mentioned while inaugurating his second term cabinet last Thursday, which was precisely the 53rd anniversary of his birth. Critics are contributors to good governance at the opposite end. When constructively done, criticism pays better than praise-singing.

 

While the branding of Udom, the governor, with emphasis on his name is of essence in the media, the brand himself must constantly work to the billings of his name and beneficial to all.

 

Ekanem sent this piece from Lagos through nsikak4media@gmail.com

 

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Gbajabiamila, the lover of Nigerian youths

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Gbajabiamila, the lover of Nigerian youths

T

he Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila is a man close to my heart, and I know he is also close to the hearts of many Nigerians at this moment, especially the youths.

 

Unarguably, the Nigerian youths never had it this good with any Speaker of the House in since the return of democracy in 1999.

 

Though he already approaches his advanced age, 57, the Speaker considers himself as a young man. In fact, he said to his newly appointed media team last Saturday that “I’m a young Speaker with a young media team.”

 

Of all the appointments the Speaker made, including his Chief of Staff (CoS) Alhaji Sanusi Garba Rikiji, majority of them are youths.

 

He first of all appointed 51-year old Rikiji, a former Speaker of the Zamfara State House of Assembly as his Chief of Staff on June 11.

 

The next set of appointments that the Speaker made was that of members of his media team. As part of his belief that Nigeria will sooner or later be led by young people, the Speaker appointed four very young people, out of the 6-member media team.

 

For the avoidance of doubt, the head of the media team and Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi is 46, while myself, the Chief Press Secretary, I am 33. The Special Assistant on Print Media, Dele Anofi, who is the oldest in the media team, is 52.

 

The Special Assistant on Broadcast/Electronic Media, Kunle Somoye is 26, while the man in charge of New Media, Bukola Ogunyemi, is 32, with the Special Assistant on Visual Communication/Official Photographer, Ayo Adeagbo, 25. This is the first in history of this country. The Speaker himself was excited by this team.

 

To show that he knows what he is doing all the time, the Speaker personally conducted searches on each of the members of the media team before appointing them all.

 

But as Nigerians were expressing excitement about the composition of the media team, a bigger excitement that endeared the Speaker more into the hearts of the citizens came on Tuesday, July 16 when the Speaker announced the appointment of additional aides that would assist him in his leadership.

 

 

From the latest appointments, the Special Adviser on Political Matters to the Speaker, Wasiu Olanrewaju-Smart is 33, while the Special Adviser on Special Duties Badmus Olufunmi is 37.

 

The Speaker’s Senior Legislative Aide, Adim Akpapunam, is 24, with 30-year old Hadiza Abubakar Talba as the Special Assistant on Employment and Job Creation, while the Special Assistant on Gender Equality, Fatima Kakuri, is 32.

 

 

Additionally, Tuesday’s appointments indicated that the Special Assistant on Inter-governmental Affairs, Adaku Apugo, is 33, even as the Special Assistant on Policy and Inter-Parliamentary, Princewill Tabia, is 30 years old.

 

The Speaker’s Special Assistant on IDPs, Hamza Baba Ibrahim, is 39 with Ibrahim Alli-Balogun, who is 40, as the Special Assistant on Youth Matters. The Special Assistant on Executive Relations, Hon Ibrahim Mohammed Baba, is 42 years old.

 

The appointments also showed that the Special Assistant on Budget and Finance, Lukman Oyewole Lawal, is 43, while the Special Assistant on Legal Matters, Osazee Melody Ogundijie, is 46.

 

That is not all. The Special Assistant on Members’ Affairs, Dunkwu Nnamdi Chamberlain, is 48. Similarly, the Special Adviser on Administration, Odofin David Seun is 50.

 

The new appointees’ list equally had 47-year old Hon. Ayodeji Joseph as the Special Assistant on Political Matters (South West), and 49-year old Abdulsalam Idowu Kamaldeen as the Special Assistant on Special Needs/Equal Opportunities.

 

With the above appointments, it is glaring that the Rt. Hon. Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila is a true lover of the Nigerian youths. He believes in the competence of the Nigerian youth to handle national issues, especially at the legislative level. Interestingly, all the appointed youths were carefully chosen by the Speaker himself because.

 

Though the appointees above 40 may not be categorised as real youths as such, they are still youth at heart.

 

The development undoubtedly confers on the Speaker the title of ‘The lover of the Nigerian youths.’

 

 

What now remains is for those appointed to justify the confidence reposed in them by the Speaker to deliver on their mandate and assist him in his ‘Nation Building: A Joint Task’ project, which the 9th House of Representatives seeks to pursue vigorously in the next four years.

 

 

Musa Abdullahi Krishi is the Chief Press Secretary to the Speaker, House of Representatives

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Osun State, Supreme Court and stubborn facts

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“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” John Adams, 2nd President of the United States.

 

-Lord Denning in Leonard MacFoy v. United Africa Company Limited 1962 AC 153.

 

“My lords, the issue of jurisdiction is over and above any legal manipulation. There is no doubt that a court of law is fundamentally competent when it is properly constituted. If a court is not properly constituted, when there is a defect in its membership then that court cannot be said to have been properly in place. It lacks jurisdiction to properly adjudicate. Whatever decision it reached is going to be a nullity:

 

 

-Chukwudifu Akunne Oputa, JSC. in Oniah v. Onyia (1989) 1 NWLR (pt. 99) 514.

W

hen political and ideological opponents articulate and voice their opposition to certain developments in the polity, it admirably serves the corporate good when such articulated opposition and criticisms are grounded and founded in the consequential facts backed by a full appreciation of the underlying principles. Otherwise, no public good is done, and the universe of the polity is further polluted, if not poisoned.

 

The anxious quest for such unfounded and ill-conceived criticisms and innuendoes not to pollute the polity informed the writing of this piece.

 

In the 7th July 2019 edition of the Nigerian Tribune newspaper (both print and digital), Mr. Yinka Odumakin, a vocal and well-known political opponent of the All Progressives Congress (APC), put his name to an article titled: “Osun Verdict: Technicality Defeats Justice.” The overarching point of the article is evident from its title, namely that the Supreme Court of Nigeria failed to do substantial justice in the appeal emanating from the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal by allowing a ‘technical point’ raised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, His Excellency, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, to defeat the petition of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate in the September 22 and September 27, 2018 Osun State gubernatorial election, Senator Ademola Adeleke.

 

Mr. Odumakin admittedly wrote beautifully, alluded to fascinating historical events and quoted respected jurists. However, he wrote under a mistaken appreciation of the legal principles involved and the fundamental principles of judicial adjudication. While the Supreme Court does not need a spokesperson to defend its judgements, the insinuation in Mr. Odumakin’s article that the bias of some of the justices made them elevate what he termed as ‘technicality’ above justice, is one that is indeed capable of poisoning the polity by diminishing the faith of political actors and citizens in the judiciary or by suggesting to other political actors that the APC is undeserving of its victory at the polls and at the Supreme Court. Hence, this rejoinder.

 

Of course, the right place to begin is exactly where Mr. Odumakin got it wrong: the supposition that the Supreme Court decided the appeal from the Osun State Election Petition Tribunal on a ‘technical’ ground while ignoring the substance of the case. This is far from correct.

 

Respectable lawyers know so well, and jurists in all commonwealth jurisdictions agree, without exception, that jurisdiction is of fundamental importance to any adjudication process and further that one of the salient ingredients that confer jurisdiction on a judicial body is that it must be properly constituted at all times. Otherwise, it is not a body with vires to conduct a judicial act.

 

In the case of Nwankwo v. Yar’Adua (2010) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1209) p. 518, at p. 560, the Supreme Court restated the time-honoured principle of jurisdiction laid down in the celebrated locus classicus, Madukolu v. Nkemdilim thus:

 

 

“The law is indeed trite that a court is only competent to exercise jurisdiction in respect of any matter where-

 

1. It is properly constituted as regards numbers and qualification of the members and no member is disqualified for one reason or the other.

 

2. The subject matter of the case is within its jurisdiction and there is no feature in the case which prevents the court from exercising its jurisdiction.

 

3. The case comes by due process of the law and upon fulfillment of any condition precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction. See Madukolu & Ors. v. Nkemdilim &Ors.(1962) 2 SCNLR  341.”[Emphasis ours]

 

It is that first ingredient of jurisdiction listed by the Supreme Court that Mr. Odumakin and other ill-informed commentators or opportunistic opponents of the APC fail to appreciate. For the sake of genuinely intrigued members of the public, one should adumbrate on it.

 

It is not only a legal principle of procedural law or a mere ‘technical’ requirement but a foundational principle of justice that a judge or tribunal member is not qualified to write and deliver judgement when he was absent at any of the sessions during which the trial of the matter held. Absence at trial is tantamount to not hearing the case in person. This principle is simply giving life to the commonsense position that, without being at all sessions of the trial of a matter, a judge cannot be regarded as having heard the matter so as to be qualified to write and deliver the judgement in the matter.

 

 

Indeed, this cardinal principle is codified in almost all the laws setting up trial courts in Nigeria, including, for example, section 23 of the Federal High Court Act which provides that: “every proceeding in the Court and all business arising therein shall, so far as is practicable and convenient and subject to the provisions of any enactment or law, be heard and disposed of by a single judge, and all proceedings in an action subsequent to the hearing or trial, down to, and including the final judgment or order, shall so far as is practicable and convenient, be taken before the judge before whom the trial or hearing took place.”

 

 

This is because the trial judge in Nigeria as well as the members of the election petition tribunals are both judges of facts and law. Hence, the requirement for them to be present at the trial in order to be competent to write and deliver judgement. For, how can a judge properly apply the law to the testimonies of witnesses he did not personally see or hear?

 

 

As earlier mentioned, this is not some principle of law invented out of thin air but a principle of justice recognised in all mature legal jurisdictions. In the United States case of the Matter of Whisnant, 71 N.C. App. 439, 441 (1984), Judge Tate presided over a termination of parental rights hearing.  At the close of the hearing he announced his intended order and asked one of the attorneys to “prepare an order with the appropriate findings…reflecting the broad findings that I announced.”  A couple of months later, however, Judge Crotty—not Judge Tate—signed the relevant order, which included detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law.  The Court of Appeals reversed, citing Rule 52 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, which requires a court in a non-jury trial to make written findings of fact and conclusions of law.  Because these findings and conclusions reflect the role of that judge as “both judge and juror,” they cannot be performed by a judge who did not hear the matter. (Emphasis mine).

 

 

Again, the second point that Mr. Odumakin failed to appreciate is the salient difference between the role of an appellate court and that of a trial court. The Osun State Election Petition Tribunal is, to all intents and purposes, a trial court which has the duty to sift through the evidence, listen to witnesses, listen to the oral and written arguments of lawyers and then deliver its judgement based on the evidence evaluated, the witnesses heard and observed and the legal arguments canvassed.

 

 

On the other hand, the role of the appellate court is, generally speaking, to review the proceedings and decisions of the trial court and the role of a higher appellate court is to review the proceeding and decision of the lower appellate court. In other words, an appellate court merely reviews what the trial court has done. It cannot substitute its own views for that of the trial court because it did not evaluate the evidence nor listen to the witnesses. With respect to the instant matter, the question submitted to the Court if Appeal was whether Justice Peter Obiora was competent to deliver the judgement of the tribunal notwithstanding his absence at one of the tribunal sittings.

 

 

Of course, the Court of Appeal could not deliver a judgement beyond the question submitted for its consideration. Similarly, the Supreme Court could not but answer the main question or issue placed before it, namely, whether the Court of Appeal was right in its decision that Justice Peter Obiora was not qualified to deliver the judgement of the tribunal having been absent on one of the days that witnesses appeared before the tribunal.

 

 

I am certain that a better appreciation of the issues would have restrained Mr. Odumakin from penning the July 7, 2019 article published in the Nigerian Tribune.  The only competent body that can conduct gubernatorial elections in Nigeria is the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). INEC is also the only competent authority that may declare results. It is therefore pedestrian to argue that the courts ought to have assumed the powers of INEC, extrapolate figures and arrive at what Mr. Odumakin considers the ‘correct’ result of the Osun State gubernatorial election.A court of law must act within the ambits of the law.

 

 

So, we may end this discourse exactly where we began it: John Adams was right in his observation that facts are stubborn things that cannot be altered by our wishes, inclinations and passions. And yes, the fact that Justice Peter Obiora, who wrote and delivered the judgement of the Osun State Election Tribunal was absent on a day when witnesses appeared before the tribunal, is so stubborn that it cannot be wished away by anyone. It is fact. A fact that goes to the competence of Justice Obiora to carry out the judicial act of writing and delivering the judgement of the tribunal. A fact that essentially denies him of jurisdiction and vires to deliver the judgement. As the erudite Justice Oputa rightly observed: “An act done without jurisdiction is a nullity” and, as the immortal Lord Denning espoused, one“cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there.  It will collapse.”

 

 

Let the Yinka Odumakins of our country know that that is not a mere ‘technical’ point of law. It is a universal and foundational principle of justice.

 

 

Akinyede is a legal practitioner based in Osun State

 

 

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The power of storytelling

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’ve always been fascinated with stories. It’s one of the reasons why in high school I jettisoned physics, chemistry, and math in favour of literature and history. The decision has served me well in my media and communication career.

I realized early on – to quote the poet Muriel Rukeyser – that “the universe is made up of stories, not atoms.”

 

 

The truth is, stories are not loaded with hard data but rather with something more powerful: emotional data. That’s why we remember good stories long after we first hear them.

 

 

Jesus was a master storyteller. At the age of 12, he theologically confounded the teachers in the Temple. But it was his capacity to tell stories that deeply stirred the souls of those who followed him. He wove familiar elements that his audience could  relate to into his stories – pastures, hills, farmers, sheep, oil and lamps, coins, bandits and highway robbers, etc.

 

 

In workshops, seminars, or conferences on public speaking or communication, my advice is always simple. “Don’t complicate your presentation. Tell stories. Your audience will thank and remember you for it.”

 

 

Whether in journalism, public speaking, or business presentations, the most effective speakers tell stories. What sets them apart is an innate understanding of the needs of their audiences. They know how to connect on an emotional and sensory level, rather than a cerebral one. How do they do it? Stories.

 

 

Sports legend and entrepreneur, Magic Johnson, the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos, Virgin Atlantic Founder, Richard Branson, and Kenyan Pan-Africanist lawyer, Patrick Lumumba, distinguish themselves by their amazing storytelling abilities. They connect on a powerful and emotional level when they speak.

 

 

Why are stories important and so powerful?

 

 

Simply because oral tradition has been a part of our DNA for millenia. We are addicted to stories, especially in a digital world of social media dominated by Instagram, twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook. And because stories help bring issues into sharp focus.

 

 

Stories are also important because every single one of us is looking for answers. We connect with appropriate and authentic stories that help us build bonds and bridges. Stories help us recognize that our own experiences are not necessarily unique. Stories help us understand that we are not alone as we navigate this journey called life.

 

 

Good stories should always have three key elements:

 

    *Honesty, authenticity, and vulnerability:* Audiences can tell a fake from a mile away. Your unique life experiences have prepared you well. Tell your stories.

 

 

    *Inspiration:* Life is tough. Your speech or presentation should be a lift and not a burden. Give your audience something to believe in. Inspire them to want to change their world one life at a time.

 

 

    *Clear Lesson:* Before you deliver your speech or presentation, ask yourself, “what is the key takeaway? What’s the lesson I want my audience to leave with? Is it clear and easily understood? Is my logic sequential? Does the story fit the circumstance and needs of the audience? Does it resonate?

 

 

As Plato once said, “those who tell stories rule society.”

 

 

Stories make us laugh. They make us cry. They help change the way we think, perceive and act. They enlighten and provide new insights. They teach values and pass on ancient wisdom. Revolutions have changed nations on account of the narrative-changing power of stories.

 

 

Most importantly, stories transcend the mind and speak deeply to the heart.

 

 

Your authentic story is your power.

 

 

Dr. Victor Oladokun is the Director of Communication and External Relations at the African Development Bank

 

 

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