President Muhammadu Buhari on 29 May, 2019 took oath of office for his second term following his victory at the recent polls. The first tenure tagged ‘Change’ was characterized by some stringent policies including banning of a number of commodities especially agricultural produce to boost local productions. As a result, many businesses suffered. Likewise, all monetary dealings in government MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) strictly followed an unusual procedure of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). Though, corruption hasn’t been totally knocked out, however, there is seemingly encouraging degree of sanity in government circles. Irrefutably, it has not been business as usual.
Nonetheless, by the renewed mandate, President Buhari owes the masses so much in terms of service delivery in the new phase he tagged ‘Next-level’. Expectingly, the first major task is to slash jumbo allowances in the National Assembly. Without it clearly done, no meaningful achievements can take place considering the mass of lawmakers in the government’s payroll. It is grossly awkward and exploitative to allocate to a lawmaker unaccountable monthly-running cost of N13.5million amidst agonizing unemployment ratio and hardships in the society. Sensibly, there’s no basis for a legislator to even earn more remunerations than professors, permanent secretaries or ministers let alone the inexplicably additional monthly-running costs. Without doubt, blocking such leakages or outrageous expenditures is fundamental in conserving funds for government’s meaningful capital projects for the masses.
The Economist; a UK leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs in its July 2013 review of lawmakers’ remunerations globally, reported that Nigeria’s federal lawmakers earn more that their US, UK, German, Brazil and South African counterparts. Meanwhile, according to world poverty clock, Nigeria has more than 40% of its population living in extreme poverty which is much higher than Ghana’s 12%, Zimbabwe’s 26% and South Africa’s 24%. Furthermore, a report by Brookings Institution about a year ago rated Nigeria as the nation with the highest number of extremely poor people. These are inconsistencies. Hence, the excesses in the legislative arm must be checkmated this time.
Next is reform of the electoral system which is critically indispensable. All the electoral malpractices and violence leading to scores of deaths of citizens are traceable to excessively attractive financial benefits attached to political offices. Inadvertently, it has gotten to the point that not one person wants to return to primary vocation after feeling the juicy packages. As panacea to recurring violence during general elections, the government should plan to migrate to digital voting system in conventionality with other countries. If not, the ugly situation may worsen in the next general elections in 2023 due to increased political interests. To put it straightforward, the population is excessive for manual ballot system vis-à-vis security, administration, supervision and logistics alongside financial implications. The banking automated teller machines (ATM) system is a practical model for general elections if voters must vote at designated places.
Instructively, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) could configure the new digital National Identification Number (NIN) card to also serve as voter’s card for digital elections in provided electronic devices. Emphatically, enough of manual or printing-paper voting system with its concomitant vulnerabilities. By migrating to digital voting system, the huge budgets for quadrennial general elections will be curtailed and channeled to significant people-oriented capital projects demanding attentions.
Furthermore, the Executive Order No 7 of 2019 on Road Infrastructural Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme through Public-Private Partnerships must be translated to a reality as soon as possible. By the policy, numerous projects should be running simultaneously across the nation unlike the protracted defective system, thereby creating employment opportunities for citizens.
Equally, the numerous challenges facing education and healthcare sectors should be addressed. This will curtail lavishing of public funds incessantly for overseas patronages by public officeholders. Our public hospitals can be improved to meet international standard. Essentially, government must devote sufficient resources in its fight against illiteracy by ensuring that education is affordable and efficiently reformed to meet contemporary needs. Government’s existing scheme; Open and Distance Learning mode should be substantially, advancingly promoted. This is germane as in most cases, people without education or skills at any slightest pressure become vulnerable; always willing tools to be used as terrorists, kidnappers, political thugs and bandits to measure up.
Another critical issue that cannot be overemphasized is child neglect in the society. Child-Rights Act deserves premium attention. By the number of vulnerable children in the streets, Nigeria is practically, heading towards a tsunami of disasters except addressed. Possibly, government should organize periodic census on children for adequate planning and care as a remedy towards capturing all unregistered children in the society. Interestingly, such actions will systematically help in tackling age cheat that is prevalent in the public sector which has lasted for ages. Obviously, investing in children particularly through child education is fundamental. Any nation with premium value on its children is robotically secured for a thriving future and serene atmosphere. Commendably, pupils’ feeding scheme should gather momentum.
On power, although there are reportedly significant improvements, nonetheless, citizens want nothing else but uninterrupted electricity supply. If it requires review of the previous privatization exercise, needless to waste time. Whatever it will take, the bottom-line is that Nigeria must, in reality, be the giant of Africa by 2023 in all ramifications. Ghana and other African countries determinedly achieved improved electricity. The Next-level must be distinctive with exploits and significant attainments.
By substantial improvements in the healthcare, education, infrastructural development and power sectors, certainly, the economy will automatically be stimulated for citizens to, with ease, afford the bare necessaries of life. With that, insecurity will technically be reduced to the minimum. By meeting these targets, Buhari will write his name in gold while embarking on political retirement in 2023. Meanwhile, congratulations Mr. President and wishing you a remarkable new tenure with giant strides.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). 08173184542-SMS only Https:www.carlumegboro.com
Can a cabal against Aisha Buhari be for President?
I have always assumed that “the cabal” or the kitchen cabinet in any administration exists at the pleasure of the president or the leadership; hence members of this clique owe him and everything that comes with him, unsoiled loyalty.
My assumption was underpinned by some classical examples. In 2010, the kitchen cabinet was Turai Yar’Adua’s bulwark when the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was in a vegetative state. In fact, the first lady was the head of that cabal which went overboard in seeking to hold on to power.
In Taraba State in 2013, a reprise of the Yar’Adua saga happened with Danbaba Suntai, who became impaired after an air crash, and whose wife in cahoots with the cabal in the state puppeteered until the end of his term.
Also, I recall that allusions of “cabal honcho” were made to the late Stella Obasanjo, whom former President Olusegun Obasanjo described as a “sage”.
Really, perhaps in my ignorance, I have never imagined that a cabal will be crossed with someone so close to the president like his wife on this path where sycophancy is an art. The upshots at the presidency have caused a digital switch-over to my analogue thinking.
But can the cabal love the president more than his wife? Can the kitchen cabinet be for the president but against his wife? Does loyalty not come with full compliments? Is disloyalty to the wife of the president, loyalty to the president?
The president and his wife are one by dint of marriage. In fact, she should naturally be his biggest influencer; whispering sweet “nothings and somethings” in his ear during pillow talk.
I have read the interview of Fatima Mamman Daura, daughter of Mamman Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew and confidant, where she admitted leaking a video recording showing Aisha Buhari in a fit of rage, and alleged she attacked them.
I have also read the first lady’s response to the accusations. But how did things go off the deep end, to the point of violence and breaking doors? It is obvious there is internecine acrimony at the presidency.
But does this family feud affect governance? Yes and no. Yes, because the president naturally will be distracted; instead of concentrating on putting out the fire in the country, he will have to spare time quenching the inferno in his ‘parlour’. And no, because governance is already at an abysmal level so what could get worse?
Yet, ‘No one wins when the family feuds’.
This brings me to the concept of the ‘kitchen cabinet’ or ‘cabalism’. Though, it was a term that was first used to describe the collection of unofficial advisers President Andrew Jackson of the United States consulted in parallel to the United States cabinet, ‘the cabal’ in Nigeria is an extraordinary institution.
The cabal is the second “organ” of government; after the executive, then the cabal. The legislature comes next, then the judiciary, in that order.
If I may add again, the kitchen cabinet is the oxygen of the government of the day in Nigeria. It is that unconstitutional organ on which the decisions of the president pivot.
As a matter of fact, citizens can locate the fount of the bad policies that come from the government if they look a bit closer – at the cabal. A government that has no head to bear its own mysteries will be in the thrall of the cabal.
Really, the overwhelming influence of the kitchen cabinet on the government is symptomatic of irresponsible leadership. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo is stewing in his own juice at the presidency for reportedly sacking Lawal Daura as director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS), a principal officer of the cabal whom Mamman Daura brought into the government.
Everything rises and falls on leadership, but in the case of Nigeria, everything rises and falls on the cabal.
λNwabufo writes via @FredrickNwabufo
Fast tracking Ekiti economy for devt
The Fayemi-led administration has taken on the responsibility to resuscitate Ekiti State’s ailing economy, moribund industries, low exports and infrastructural deficit by redirecting its focus from FAAC to agriculture, knowledge economy, commerce, and tourism development.
In this regard, Governor Kayode Fayemi approached development partners and representatives of foreign governments, including China, India, Belarus, the World Bank, European Union Commission and African Development Bank, to bring increased trade, new markets, and sustainable development to Ekiti State.
For instance, the state government is at an advanced stage of discussions with the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) for a sum of $100 million required for the construction of Ekiti Knowledge Zone (EKZ), Special Agriculture Processing Zone (SAPZ), Ado-Akure Road, and Ekiti Agro-Allied Cargo Airport. The proposed fund has a 10-year moratorium and 2% interest.
These projects are crucial to Governor Fayemi’s economic diversification plans and agribusiness investments policy to enhance food security, employment opportunities and empower women and youths in Ekiti State.
To survive and thrive in today’s global economy, Fayemi has turned to knowledge as the primary product in which Ekiti State can trade successfully. These are fields such as teaching, IT, research, technical back-stopping/support, consulting, etc.
The Fayemi-led administration is committed to harnessing the potentials of brilliant minds in the state by accelerating development, skipping less efficient routes and moving directly to more advanced stages such as a knowledge-based economy.
A knowledge-based economy is a system of consumption and production that is based on intellectual capital rather than on physical inputs or natural resources.
With the state’s reputation as being a leader in the production of superior intellectual capital, Ekiti can convincingly position itself as and effectively evolve into a knowledge-based economy. This is the rationale behind the creation of the EKZ.
The EKZ is conceived to be a place where the state can match its global repertoire of academic experts and pioneers with platinum players in the industrial and scientific community, discover, nurture and support creative talents, cross-fertilize revolutionary ideas and produce innovative concepts, products and services that will positively impact the state, nation, sub-Saharan Africa and by extension, make conscious, holistic contributions to the advancement of humanity.
The cargo airport, a support enabler of economic growth, will enable Ekiti State to connect to distant markets and national/global supply chains in a swift and reliable manner. Large quantity of cash crops (cocoa, plantain, oil palm) and staple foods (yam, cassava, maize, rice) from the proposed Special Agriculture Processing Zone (SAPZ) will be transported within and outside the country at record speed to ensure the early-to-market advantage as well as providing mass employment and sustainable economic growth in the state.
In order to enhance farmers’ productivity and transportation of products from the Special Agriculture Processing Zone, the state government has entered into a partnership with the World Bank to undertake rehabilitation and tarring of 1000km of rural roads through the Rural Access to Market Programme (RAMP).
This initiative will aid the reconstruction of farm settlements and provide basic amenities to facilitate cultivation and transportation of products after harvest to the SAPZ. Also, it will connect Ekiti rural communities to urban centres and market places.
One of the largest economic benefits of the Ekiti Agro-Allied cargo connectivity lies in its impact on the long-term performance of livestock and milk production which have high market demand and record increased growth. To this end, Ekiti State Government has entered into a partnership with Promasidor Company for the revitalization of the moribund Ikun Dairy Farm and to utilize its potentials for job creation and local milk production.
This partnership will attract a new investment of $5 million into Ikun Dairy Farm, which will be used to purchase equipment, provide the appropriate herd of cattle, and develop an out-grower scheme for providing feed for the cattle. It is estimated that production will be more than 10,000 litres of milk daily, which will require speedy and reliable mode of transportation for rapid delivery to local markets and exports.
Promasidor Nigeria Limited (PNL) is willing to key into Ekiti State Government’s agricultural schemes to train, employ and educate the youth in the state to build and grow commercial agriculture. When the farm is fully operational, it will create hundreds of jobs directly, and indirectly and also improve the economy of the host community, surrounding communities and Ekiti State at large.
In order to open up new markets and boost exports through the air cargo transport, Fayemi met with the hierarchy of corporate organizations, multinationals and development agencies to invest in modernized agriculture in Ekiti State.
Belarus, for example, is ready to collaborate with Ekiti State to ensure economic development through increased sustainable agricultural practices and food security in Ekiti State.
Belarus manufactures 10% of the world’s tractors and has a very reliable/efficient array of agric equipment/technologies for small, medium/large scale farms. This aligns with Fayemi’s plan to provide agric tools including tractors for small holder/large scale farms in Ekiti State.
Belarus also has the best modern poultry production technology and is willing to partner with Ekiti State Government to establish similar production facility in Ekiti State.
Discussions have been held with India’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Abhay Thakur, on how Ekiti State can take advantage of India-Nigeria Bilateral Relations for trade, investment, and joint venture opportunities.
India is the largest trading partner of Nigeria and Nigeria is India’s largest trading partner in Africa with the bilateral trade touching $11.76 billion from 2017-18. Ekiti State needs development partners for agribusiness and development.
The government of Ekiti State has since approved the clearing of over 1,554 hectares of agricultural land across five local government areas (Oye, Irepodun/Ifelodun, Emure, Ido-Osi and Ilejemeje) to open up the axis for farming and fulfil its readiness to partner with multilateral donors in developing agriculture in the state.
With the plan to clear a significant land area already ongoing, the government has shown its commitment to activate the agrarian potential of the state and create more jobs in the agricultural sector.
The state government has also entered into a partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), and International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) to participate in the implementation of FGN/IFAD Value Chain Development (VCDP).
The objective of the programme is to enhance and improve the income and food security of poor rural households that are engaged in the production, processing and marketing of rice and cassava on a sustainable basis.
There is also an agreement with the World Bank/FGN sponsored Agro-processing Productivity Enhancing and Livelihood Improvement Support Programme (APPEALS) with the overall objective of enhancing the transformational Agric Value Chain Development of Ekiti State, particularly in the areas of modernising and upgrading the existing traditional and drudgery propelled agro-processing centres for maximum productivity.
It will be recalled that the AfDB granted a $40 million loan to the Afe Babalola University to build a world class teaching hospital to take advantage of the already available medical intellectual expertise in the axis and match competence with cutting edge facilities in the medical sector.
To aid the viability of its investment, the AfDB will be providing the funding for the airport which will support both the knowledge and agro-allied economy in the Ekiti State master plan.
The Ekiti Agro-Allied Cargo airport will play a key role in the rapid delivery of medical supplies and organs for transplantations at the world-class Afe Babalola University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti.
The speed and reliability of the cargo air transport will help deliver urgent assistance to patients and reduce medical tourism to other nations.
An Agro-Allied Cargo Airport situate in Ekiti will serve the South-West and Middle Belt food basket region; attract skilled migration to boost IGR; improve commercial activity as a “dry port” for fresh and processed produce and make Ekiti State a logistics hub in the agro-allied industry.
Investment opportunities exist in all areas of Ekiti State’s agricultural value chain. The Government of Ekiti State has opened its doors to foreign direct investments promising attractive incentives and support.
The policy direction of the Fayemi-led administration is to reduce poverty, improve living conditions of Ekiti people and mobilize resources to fast track the state’s economic and social development.
λDurodola is a Postgraduate Researcher in the Unit for Diaspora and Transnational Studies (DTS), University of Ibadan.
Corruption of Nigerian education system and mediocrity
Education is very important in Nigeria. Education is very important to humanity because it is the chief means of transmission of human civilization. And human civilization is the sum totals of all the cultures of the different people of the world. The culture of writing first reached the ancient Kanem Borno Empire and later the Hausa city states through the trade and Islamic missionary activities of the Arab from North Africa and Middle East. Later Muslim clerics from Africa mainly from areas constituting modern Mali, Guinea and Senegal migrated into Hausaland and become part of the ancient Habe Dynasties of Hausa City States where they functioned as court recorders and religious advisers. But this Arabic education was restricted to the court and to the children of the rulers.
The second wave of educational development came with the European trade and missionary activities. By 1861, Lagos has been colonized but then the missionaries, especially the Church Missionary Society had established the first primary school in Badagry and a secondary school, the CMS Grammar School in Lagos starting from 1842. With the colonization of Nigeria between 1861 and 1900, the colonial authority encouraged religious missionaries to establish primary and secondary schools across Nigeria. Thus, great schools such as Methodist Colleges in Lagos, Uzuakoli, Hope Waddel Training Institute, Calabar, St. Gregory, Holy Child Girls Colleges in West, East and South were opened just as the St. John’s College, Kaduna (now Rimi College) and several others sprang up in different parts of Nigeria. It was later in the early part of 20th century that government started establishing public school modelled after similar institutions in Britain such as Eton and this policy led to the founding of Kings and Queens Colleges in Lagos, Government Colleges at Ibadan, Umuahia, Afikpo, Barewa and Katsina Colleges in Kaduna and Katsina.
Essentially, the education policy under colonial rule was focused on the three ’rs’: reading, (w)riting and (A)rithmetic. But despite its shallow focus, the educational policy and its content were deep enough to produce very bright and confident scholars that have survived into the 21st century. Before independence, the University College modelled after the University of London and fostered by it, has been established and the products of that college, later University of Ibadan and other post-independence universities such as University of Nigeria, University of Lagos, University of Ife, University of Benin and Ahmadu Bello University have made Nigeria proud both at home and abroad.
As stated earlier, the British colonial education policy was shallow and was just deep enough to make the products of the schools and colleges to function under the colonial socio-economic and political environment but in large measure it succeeded and ended up producing persons who rebelled against the system, even though in very limited sense and effect. Education essentially is a tool of socialisation and purveyor of culture and for this reason it is usually adopted by a progressive societies and governments as deliberate policy for the creation and sustenance of equality of opportunity for the people. It was in this respect that it was possible for the children of the poor and the rich in colonial Nigeria to access primary, secondary and even university education largely at the expense of the state and its governments through scholarships and bursaries. This seemingly happy situation was destroyed when the soldiers seized Nigeria in 1966 and thereon instituted a socio-economic and political culture founded on brigandage, robbery, lies and frauds.
Honesty, hard work and integrity were destroyed in favour of the new culture of the ‘bigman’ who gets whatever he wants on the platter of force, treachery and fraud and all was fair in the new social relations. Between July 29, 1966 and January 12, 1970 when the Biafra War ended this culture was made manifest as soldiers made it clear that education and right conduct do not pay. They derided people with ‘dogoturenchi’ (longgrammar). What pays was the force of their new power through the barrel of the gun. And the gun rather than intelligence through learning became the norm. You can get anything in Nigeria if you have the gun or have anybody who lends you the force of that gun. Due to this new norm, armed robbery seized the country between 1970 till date and has produced ‘cultural icons’ such as Oyenusi, Otokoto, Lawrence Anini, Osunbor, etc.
Between 1970 to date, students began to disdain the labours of great learning preferring instead fraudulent acquisition of certificates. Thus, the culture of examination frauds starting with leakage and selling of examination papers of WAEC in the great examination fraud bonanza of 1976 and it became a culture. That year marked the public admission of the pervasive leakage of examination papers ahead of the examination. This fraud has multiplied to great extent that it is now openly perpetrated in special examination centres where candidates pay humongous fees to guarantee good results. There is racketeering virtually in every facet of education system be it, admission, university internal examination where students ‘sort’ themselves out to pass through bribery in cash or kind as we are now acknowledging only because a foreign media organisation, the BBC, is exposing us to the world. But this has been public knowledge since 1980s. It did not start today. There have been the sex-for-grades scandals that rocked University of Calabar, Obafemi Awolowo University and several other universities, colleges and polytechnics before the BBC undercover coverage of the stench at University of Lagos.
All these noise about the University Lagos scandal will not stop this culture which has been ingrained in the education system of Nigeria. Is this UNILAG case greater or worse than the Obafemi Awolowo University case where a professor (pastor of 60 years) was involved with Monica Osagie to award her marks for sex? This will not end the fraud because those involved know that this feudal and autocratic system that centralized all powers and dishes out social desiderata including universities admissions on quota basis/federal character makes it possible and intractable. Go to the universities and you will find out that over 60% of students are not university materials and shouldn’t be there but Nigeria system made it imperative that you can only succeed in life by acquiring the certificate whether you gained knowledge and skill or not. That certificate is your meal ticket for the great bazaar that is Nigeria. In all societies where education, mainly through public school system is a tool for equal opportunity for the citizenry, the system is sanitized by giving different individuals openings where their talents will germinate and flourish. To sanitize, as in all functional societies, the system by insisting that everybody is not a university material is the first step. We can readily point to the USA where there are community colleges and of course the universities where two year courses are available at the colleges just as there are four-year and above courses in universities. You don’t dream to enter Harvard unless you are an ‘A’ student. If you are a ‘C’ you retire to the colleges where there are various courses to equip you to function optimally in the society. If in the course of your studies you improve academically, nothing stops you from proceeding to Harvard or any other Ivy League universities for your academic advancement. Let’s stop this culture of mediocrities and consequent crimes being perpetrated in the Nigerian education system.
The 1967 military coup in Greece
The 1967 military coup d’état in Greece took the entire world by storm. The fact of the matter was that democracy first started amongst the Greek City States in ancient times before the entire world followed up in order to be like Greece. In spite of this achievements, it was surprising that the army seized power from the democratically elected government to upset its own democratic structures. With the military takeover, it symbolised that a military coup was competent to be staged in any other country. The coup certainly destroyed the fineness and beauty of the Greek democracy, when in fact the country was expected to be of good influence unto others.
During the particular era of the Greek City States, democracy gradually rose to its peak, at a time it became imperative that Greece has come of age in terms of democratic governance. The coup of April 21, 1967, may not be too sudden. Some of the causes were anchored on conspiracy theories of which the United States was alleged to have supported the coup of the four Colonels. The said military coup was led by Andreas Papandreou. It was also alleged that the coup was staged in order to fulfil the personal ambition of George Papadopoulos, who was vividly confirmed as head of the military junta. He ruled Greece from 1967-1974. He died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 80 years on June 27, 1999.
However, it is interesting to note that the causes of the 1967 Greek military coup of the April 21, was dominated by a combination of some foreign factors. For instance, the United States was in support of the coup in order to halt the spread of communism in Europe. There was also a close relationship between the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Greek military junta (1967-1974). This close intimacy was also intended to ensure that communism was kept very far from Western Europe.
Favouritism in NATO Southeastern flank and the cold war were also factors which led to the Greek coup. The need to ensure that human rights and foreign policy were in tandem with the rule of law and an ideal foreign policy was adjudged to be a major cause in view of the fact that the civil regime in Greece violently abused the rights of the people and the obvious fact that her foreign policy was tilted towards communism as an ideology. In spite of the fact that human rights violation and a foreign policy coated with communist colouration, the said coup brought to power a repressive dictatorship in Greece. The junta’s regime proceeded to deprive Greeks of their human rights and civil liberties, outraged international public opinion and strained transatlantic relations during the cold war. This case culminated into the withdrawal of Greece from the council of Europe and a pronounced threat to expel her from NATO. The relevance of ‘Détente’ to the United States coupled with its foreign policy was also a major cause for the Colonels to stage the coup.
It is essential to place on record that Papadopoulos who was head of the military government and leader of the junta ruled the country with iron fist. He was simply a deft dictator, who was himself toppled by his co-conspirator, Dimitrios Loannidis. After some few coups plotting in Greece, the ambitious Greek army officers may have appreciated the futility of their undemocratic actions. So also were the coup plotters in third world countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Chad and many others within the global context. The master coup plotters in Latin America and the Caribbean cannot be left out amongst countries where soldiers would circumvent democracy in order to pilot themselves to power.
The implications of the Colonels’ coup of 1967 in Greece appears to be legion, it must be acknowledged that the dictatorship of the Greek colonels ended on July 24, 1974 under the pressure of the Turkish military invasion of Cyprus. The fall of the junta was followed by the metapolitefsi, and the establishments of Third Hellenic Republic. In addition, let me stress that the 1967 coup was the accumulation of 30 years of national division between the forces of the left and that of the right.
Return to democracy in Greece was however gradual and consistent. Greece was being reborn with great things. The 1967 coup was an attempt to ensure the political and cultural purity of the people of Greece, though the means by which the Colonels attempted to achieve such goals resulted in a period of intense fear, distrust and political instability. The events which precipitated the coup represented the fearful Colonels and provoked them to act upon the growing international concern over communism and the instability of Greece’s foreign relations with the Republic of Turkey.
The return to democracy commenced with the withdrawal of support for the junta by the monarchy. Politicians such as Karamanis also advocated that the military henchmen and government should be under the control of the monarch. An attempt by King Constantine to stage a palace coup against the Colonels regime was thwarted due to lack of co-ordination, inability to broadcast the royal coup, to place in Athens and Thessalonica, lack of discretion in planning as long as the military stronghold over Greece combined to frustrate the royal coup. Although the Colonels’ regime did not blame King Constantine for the attempted royal coup, it rather blamed disloyal army officers. Those who mounted extra pressures on the junta to quit the stage were the Greek intellectuals, celebrities and other notable figures who formed National Groups alongside civilians to exact an amount of maximum pressures on the military. Today, Democracy has fully returned to Greece and it is likely that the country may not return to coup plotting such as was experienced by the four Colonels who suffered from the poverty of inordinate class political ambition.
Construction on our roads: Matters arising
he term ‘construction’, which is as old as the world, is not unconnected with engineering technology. Its existence could be rightly traced back to mankind’s creation.
It’s only in the engineering parlance the term is well understood and fully interpreted. It is, therefore, purely a professional word that is more often used by a certain group of professionals.
We must comprehend that engineers anywhere in the world, are well groomed, that, they are meant to wholly acknowledge the language of thoroughness in their respective endeavours.
This is the sole reason a well-trained engineer, or an engineering personnel who had passed through a holistic training, is expected to pay no attention to frivolities while carrying out his or her duty. By so doing, they wouldn’t overlook the essence of priorities.
Construction generally, irrespective of the field, requires optimum attention by any expert that’s involved. It, therefore, does not permit divided attention from the concerned individuals. This is a fact that’s keenly reiterated by any engineering tutor.
In any part of the global community, several kinds of construction – ranging from bridge, highway, local pathway, flyover, to drainage system – are usually encountered on various roads, particularly the major ones.
Road constructions in any society remain capital projects being implemented by governments at all levels. This is the reason successive governments invariably budget a huge sum solely for various degrees of proposed constructions on the roads.
Construction on the roads ought to be regarded as inevitable project, because it is apparently the pathway to other anticipated socio-economic developments within the benefitting domain.
In the developed economies, road constructions can never be compromised for whatever purpose or plan, because the leadership in such quarters comprehends the real essence of suchlike governance. Hence, they pay great attention to the policies guiding such developmental stride and the consequent implementation.
Construction on the roads are done to last for at least 20 years or thereabout, before it could be repaired or maintained.
Additionally, there’s usually a certain time frame within which a given construction is meant to last. This is so, because, every part of the work to be carried out – commencing from the design phase down to completion – has already been well planned by the experts.
It’s however disheartening that in this part of the world, particularly Nigeria, numerous degrees of construction being done on our roads are nothing to write home about. This level of anomaly can easily be observed by even a dummy.
It’s either the required funds weren’t duly released to the contractors or adequate supervision wasn’t conducted by the relevant authorities. This kind of aberration has resulted in different forms of lapses on roads whose construction has been supposedly concluded.
The sequences, regarding road construction, to be followed by the so-called professionals are not anymore adhered to, owing to the aforementioned loophole among other prevailing ones.
Today, constructions on Nigerian roads – on the average – manage to last for only two to three years. In some quarters, the duration is often noted to be about a few months or thereabout.
This devastating trend, if not properly checked, would seemingly linger unabated, indicating it has abruptly become a norm. This is the reason only a fierce measure is required to be taken by the apt authorities if we as a people are prepared to rewrite the wrongs.
It’s noteworthy that design is the basis of every construction. It’s needless to assert that all road construction works are strictly dependent on architectural designs. It’s equally worthy of note that design, which is of different kinds, involves various modes or dimensions.
In construction of a highway, for instance, there are different fundamental modes of design that are unavoidably needed. These are: geometric design, pavement design as well as drainage design.
The geometric considers all the parameters or features to be found within the road to be constructed. The pavement takes into cognizance the various factors on the soil, whilst the drainage on its part, takes care of the required drainage system along the road under consideration.
Designing of proposed constructions on a certain road, sometimes, takes longer time than the actual duration meant for the construction, depending on the type of road or site in question.
Once a sound design is done, construction does not usually encounter unforeseen barriers in the long run. This is to say that the design phase is supposed to be taken very seriously by any contractor who knows his onus.
During the design stage, various tests – to include soil and what have you – are often conducted by the engineers. This would enable the contractor to realise the kind of materials to be deployed on the road as the construction work commences.
But it is sad that these processes are never considered important, let alone inevitable, by most of our so-called building professionals. Sometimes, the concerned authorities are meant to be blamed in this regard, because it’s perhaps what they demanded that’s being given to them.
It’s very appalling to acknowledge that most of these governments have learnt to be so frugal during project implementation, but would invariably indulge in excesses while handling their personal issues or needs. This is indeed the level of decadence we have regrettably found ourselves.
However, rather than continue to lament on this high level of decay, we are advised to focus on how to get it right henceforth. The ministries and agencies at various levels that are meant to handle construction works are required to be headed by only people with the needed expertise. Similarly, they must be individuals with proven integrity and unstained antecedents. Hence, politics must be holistically separated from governance in this regard.
Inter alia, the country’s Public Procurement Act, alongside that of the various states, must be strictly adhered to by the relevant authorities while seeking for contractors to handle any road construction, with a view to engaging only eligible ones among the teeming job seekers. Most importantly, favouritism or nepotism must be duly jettisoned while carrying out this statutory consignment.
Conclusively, all relevant stakeholders must begin to ask critical questions when necessary, and every concerned law enforcement agency must be ready to investigate aptly no matter whose ox is gored. We can’t continue to claim ignorance of happenings even when they are occurring right under our noses.
It is, therefore, high time we formed a resounding coalition towards creating the Nigeria we have collectively dreamt of, than endlessly apportioning blames. Think about it!
Agenda-setting for Humanitarian Affairs Minister
hen President Muhammadu Buhari announced Sadiya Umar Farouq as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, only a few people could truly decipher the gamut of huge responsibilities and critical roles of this super-powerful ministry.
The idea for the establishment of the ministry was proposed by the House of Representatives early this year, to take care of the huge humanitarian needs of those displaced by insurgency in the North-East.
Before her ministerial appointment, Ms. Farouq was Federal Commissioner of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI) and had served as an official of the National Assembly Service Commission before leaving to join politics in 2010.
An astute politician from Zamfara State and former National Treasurer of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sadiya attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where she obtained a Bachelor of Science (Bsc.) degree in Business Administration (Actuarial Science) and Master’s degrees in International Affairs and Business Administration.
In his Independence Day speech on October 1, President Buhari hinted that the new minister would oversee the administration’s Special Intervention Programmes (SIPs).
Speaking on the SIPs, which was hitherto under the supervision of the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the President stated that, “Our ongoing N500 billion Special Intervention Programmes continue to target vulnerable groups, through the home-grown School Feeding Programme, Government Economic Empowerment Programme, N-Power, Job Creation Programme, loans for traders and artisans, Conditional Cash Transfers to the poorest families and social housing scheme.
“To institutionalise these impactful programmes, we created the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, which shall consolidate and build on our achievements to date. To the beneficiaries of these programmes, I want to reassure you that our commitment to social inclusion will only increase.”
From this background, therefore, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs has a huge task on her shoulders. During her tenure at the Refugees Commission, Sadiya played a prominent role in the passage of the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2018 (SB 335), which annulled the extant Act and re-enacted certain provisions to protect the rights of refugees, migrants, and IDPs, in line with international best practices.
The law empowers the commission to act as the coordinating arm for the effective administration and management of issues pertaining to refugees, migrants and IDPs in Nigeria, while expanding the scope of the commission to include facilitating the management and utilisation of funds from government and donor agencies.
In one of her public engagements, she had then pointed out that the extant law would address the issues of migration arising from communal conflicts, insurgency, and insecurity, due to the absence of a legal framework to prevent evolving challenges in this regard.
With the establishment of the new ministry, it is expected that the minister will ensure better coordination of humanitarian services, the protection of relief providers and safety of emergency workers, whilst ensuring the judicious utilisation of resources.
It is undeniable that disaster management and poverty alleviation programmes in Nigeria are currently undertaken without synergy, hence a proper institution-based coordination mechanism is necessary to tackle humanitarian and emergency needs, with the effectiveness required to bring enduring relief to those affected by these situations.
The social development aspect of the mandate of the ministry would need to consider soft approaches, entailing programmes that would address the roots of insurgency, kidnapping, armed banditry, poverty and disease which have been attributed to various factors, including the political, social and economic.
There is currently a document, the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST), which aims to forestall, secure, identify, prepare and implement key objectives and indicators, to effectively ensure the monitoring and evaluation of these soft approach programmes.
The strategy, developed by international partners, experienced academics and select non-state actors, actually recommends useful programmes for education, economic empowerment and gender issues in vulnerable communities. With its implementation anchored on the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), the strategy was put together taking into account the root causes of terrorism and other violent crimes in order to apply appropriate solutions to them.
Using the template in its programmes, the ministry can involve the participation of the civil society, academics, the media, and traditional, religious and community leaders, as it utilises existing structures within and outside government to deliver targeted activities that further the overall objective of stemming the tide of radicalism and economic crimes.
The mandatory registration of local and international humanitarian agencies should also be undertaken, against the background of the alleged suspicious activities of some of them by the Nigerian military. In fact, considering the sensitive nature of Sadiya Umar Farouq’s office in relation to national security, the ministry should work with the security and intelligence services in disaster prevention and response operations, as well as coordinating the activities of home-based NGOs interested in humanitarian and social development endeavours.
For sure, some of agencies expected to report to the ministry would likely include the organisation she previously led, the National Commission for Refugees, alongside the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the North-East Development Commission (NEDC), the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA), Federal Fire Service and, possibly, the Presidential Amnesty Programme.
On the economic front, especially in terms of poverty alleviation programmes, the ministry should supervise or, in the alternative, work closely with the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), the Ecological Fund Office, National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), School Feeding Programme, TraderMoni and N-Power, which are part of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
The activities of the listed agencies should be streamlined for proper coordination and to avoid the duplication of responsibilities. Proper documentation is equally essential for the humanitarian service providers, interventionist agencies, and NGOs, including the putting together of an accurate database of the IDPs.
The ministry requires adequate and competent manpower, including financial and logistics resources for disaster management and poverty alleviation. This will ensure proper supervision and implementation of the various programmes by the existing agencies.
Shuaib, author of “An Encounter with the Spymaster”, writes via firstname.lastname@example.org
Nigeria’s opposition is missing
Last week, the Nigeria’s senate majority leader reintroduced anti-sexual harassment legislation to parliament, following a serious exposé by the BBC of a sex for grades scandal at the University of Lagos.
The bill had been tabled before – in 2016 – but it was not passed: some members of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), working with the opposition, then stronger in numbers than today, blocked it.
This time around, there has been no such attempt by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to scupper the legislation. We cannot tell whether they remain opposed to it, for they have been too busy to let the 200 million citizens of Nigeria know. Instead, last week – whilst this matter was in the Senate, and the first Federal Budget following our February general election, was being tabled before the House – the opposition’s full attention was elsewhere: on the affairs of the President, who we were told by the Internet, was planning to marry in secret to one of his cabinet ministers.
The interminable nonsense of fake news is hardly unique to Nigeria. In the United States, Britain – indeed across much of the democratic world – we see waves of falsehoods and untruths peddled across digital and mainstream media. It has led to journalists and the press to become less trusted than almost any other profession or estate. Yet elsewhere, whether the fake facts emanate from governments or opposition, neither have sought to abdicate their unique responsibilities in the act of governance.
In Nigeria, the opposition is close to reneging completely on the compact it holds with the voters. Every modern democracy exists for its checks and balances. Voters may elect a government to govern but they also elect an opposition – to oppose, to scrutinise, and to hold the majority to account. In the absence of either weight or counterweight, the scales of democracy become imbalanced. This cannot continue for long without the full functioning of governance being affected.
Whether citizens voted for President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC, or for the opposition’s presidential candidate and his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), no one voted for failure. They may have voted differently on policy and personality, but regardless of a voter’s choice of candidate and party, for their vote they expect responsibility. No voter expected, nor wanted, the opposition somehow to simply go missing. But that, effectively, is what they have done.
Immediately after the February election that saw President Buhari re-elected to a second four-year term, and his APC secure a workable majority both in the Senate and House, the PDP went to court to challenge the result.
The world over election losers tend towards “lawfare” once they have lost the campaign battle in the field. None can begrudge the PDP their day in court: yet it was never in doubt that they would fail to persuade the judiciary to overturn President Buhari’s four million votes and 14 per cent margin of victory over his opponent.
“Biased judges!” screamed the opposition. Perhaps. Judges do tend to be biased – towards the facts. Yet those, it would seem, matter no longer to the opposition at all – for last week they opened their next salvo in ‘lawfare’ by taking their exact same, fatally flawed case to Nigeria’s Supreme Court. We must sincerely hope the opposition have the wherewithal to appreciate they will fail once more, given the facts and the math remain the same.
The opposition’s over-excretions are leaving a mess for the elected government to clean up. These do not just extend to the fact that even the most serious, and well-intentioned anti-sexual harassment legislation needs scrutiny, or the fact that the opposition yelled “corruption, padding!” at the Federal Budget – even before it had been tabled. More importantly, it leaves a stain on the terms of acceptable debate.
The median age of our 200 million population is 18 years old. Over 100 million Nigerians have access to the Internet, and to cell phones. Many will, of course, see the opposition’s fake news and failure to hold the government to account fully and sanely for what it is: dereliction of duty. But there will be those who do not.
Nigeria is leading the fight in Africa against terrorists claiming to be adherents of Islam. This battle is being won – but not without cost. Our fight matters not just to our country, or West Africa – but to the whole world. We are defeating the terrorists both through military and through educative means. We hold up to the terrorists the inalienable truth that society is better when there is reasoned debate, the exchange of views, argument without harm – and that it is through this process of consent which leads to unity.
Without that process working as it should, not only is good governance threatened but it imperils the principle of our system of governance – based on scrutiny of the executive based on facts – and makes it out to be a sham. It imperils the principle of governance by consent which is the firewall against impressionable young people being swayed towards terrorists, whom it emboldens. Nigeria’s opposition is missing. We need them back.
λShehu is Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity)
Haunting PDP in Anambra Central
In today’s episode of On Politics we shall continue with our dispassionate analysis of Section 285 (13) of the 1999 Constitution and how its discomforting truth is haunting the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and her candidate in Anambra Central.
Moving forward, it is not yet Uhuru for the PDP’s candidate, Senator Uche Ekwunife, as her ‘celebration’ may be cut short if the Appeal Court unlike the trial tribunal becomes bold in determining the true wordings and intendment of Section 285(13) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which was brushed aside by the trial tribunal in a judgement that insults not just common sense, but flagrantly violates the constitution, the rule of law and every past precedent. To argue to the contrary will be unnerving to the core.
The decision of the Appeal Court will be final on this matter, and as such one will expect it to be more dispassionate and be guided by the clear provisions of the law, so as to save the judiciary from further ridicule.
One big threat to democratic stability in Nigeria is the tendency of some politicians not to play by the rules and yet expect the courts to aid them in perfecting their illegality. They forget that laws are made to be obeyed, and that the law shall take its course where a party or its candidate like in the instant case fails, neglects or refuses to comply with the mandatory provisions of the law on the nomination and submission of the names of its candidate for an election. Such a political party shall be deemed or taken in law to have fielded no candidate in that particular election.
Section 285(13) empowers both the courts and the tribunal to determine whether a candidate complied substantially with the provisions of the Electoral Act. In other words, whether such a candidate participated in all stages of the election.
The section provided thus: An election tribunal or court shall not declare any person a winner at an election in which such a person has not fully participated in all stages of the election.
By the use of the word ‘court’ or ‘tribunal’, the section in my view is directed to both the court and tribunal and can be applicable as both pre-election and post-election matter to the extent of substantial compliance and participation in all stages of the election. Viewed more critically the section actually makes it possible for either an aspirant of same party or a candidate of rival party in an election to question a pre-election and post-election matter if such a person is directly affected by the actions of the other person.
Section 285(13) was designed to curb the excesses of politicians bereft of ideological bent who switch and changes political platforms like babies changing diapers.
This provision as contained in the 4th Alteration has been recognized by both the courts and various election petitions tribunals to the extent that if either the tribunal or court found out that a candidate did not participate in any stage of the election process, the tribunal will be left with no option than to declare the next candidate with the highest number of votes as winner in the election or nullify the election while ordering for a fresh election.
In Modibo v Usman & Ors delivered on the 30th of July 2019, the Supreme Court delivered a binding judgement which enjoins that ‘a person to be declared and returned as winner of an election must have been a person who fully participated as a candidate, in all stages of the election starting from his nomination as a candidate to the actual voting’.
But in the haste to conjure and invent its own underlining issue outside the pleadings before it, the trial tribunal in Awka, Anambra State, brushed aside this well established judicial precedent. The crux of the matter was brushed aside by the tribunal while personal opinion of the judges took over the cases without convincing reasons. Documentary and oral evidences provided by the petitioner to prove his case beyond doubt in anticipation for sincere judgement and concern to the survival of the democracy were jettisoned leaving a mystery as to why the tribunal would rule almost unanimously against the clear and unambiguous provisions of the constitution.
The Appeal Court now has a duty to set the law straight and safeguard the constitution as it answers the following questions:
Is section 285 (13) directed also at the tribunal? Can a candidate in an election approach the tribunal on the basis of substantial non-compliance in the electoral process by a rival party candidate? What is election? What are all the stages of an election? When can a candidate be said not to have participated in all stages of an election? Can a candidate who admitted under oath to not have participated in the party primaries be said to have participated in all stages of an election?
If this miscarriage of justice is allowed to stand, then the effort put in place by the National Assembly in the making of Section 285(13) would have become a wasted effort. All that a person need do is to wait in the wings till after party primaries are conducted, and then be anointed as a substitute candidate by the powers that be.
How did PDP and its candidate get to this sorry situation? The PDP candidate has a reputation of switching political platforms like the British weather changes. In 10 years, she has the honour of traversing all the major political parties, switching from PDP to PPA to APGA to PDP to AGAP to APC and to PDP. In fact, even she may have lost counts of the number of times she switched parties for no apparent reason than being opportunistic.
It was to curb this kind of mischief that prompted the National Assembly to enact the law prohibiting any person who won an election on the platform of a particular political party from switching parties as the seat occupied by the member belongs to the political party and not to the occupier.
In the instant case, the conduct of the candidate is even more vexatious given the manner it occurred. The best illustration is a Nollywood cast whereby a bride who had followed through a wedding plan up to the altar decides to take off, abandoning the wedding at the point of saying ‘I do’, thus leaving the groom, friends and families in dishonour, disgrace and embarrassment.
This was the lurch APC found herself, after a candidate she produced as winner in her primaries absconded without a quarrel with a rival party. That this experience left a bitter and sour taste in the mouth of APC is an issue for another day.
Make no mistake; I am not advocating that anyone should remain in an inconvenient marriage. But where there are rules governing disengagement, the rules must be obeyed. And in the event of breach, the courts must be bold to serve justice. Again, there is nothing wrong in being a substitute candidate but such a candidate must be eligible for substitution, meaning the candidate must have participated in the primary election which is a sine qua nom or condition precedent to either becoming a substitute or participation in the general election.
The Supreme Court upheld this position in the case of Abiodun Faleke v INEC, where it held inter alia that “a person seeking to contest an election into an office must be a member of a political party and must be sponsored by that party.” Furthermore, he must have participated in the party’s primary elections. However, in the circumstances of the case, the appellant Faleke could not metamorphose into the governorship candidate, particularly as he did not participate in the party’s primaries, which is a pre-condition for anyone seeking elective office.
How religion promotes crime
few weeks ago, police in Kaduna discovered a religious training camp, where students were dehumanized. Several such training camps abound in Nigeria, especially in the core North. Many of those who went to prisons in Nigeria with half-baked religious beliefs by the time they served their prison sentences, many a time became religious but their habit or moral seldom changes.
Many of them become more criminally minded and brutal. Agnostics, Atheists and Free-Thinkers are almost absent from the Nigeria’s penitentiaries. The religions often teach the concept of hell, where there is eternal suffering of an unimaginable dimension. That belief is taught to every young child. In order for children to imbibe that concept that the people they care about will burn in hell for all eternity, they must turn off their compassion for those people. Even in religions that teach that hell is only for people who have done really horrible things, it still forces people to turn off compassion for other human beings.
Once a person, especially a child, learns to turn off his/her compassion and shrug his/her shoulders at eternal suffering, then being able to do same thing for real world, short term suffering is much easier.
Religious individuals often feel as though God is guiding them in some way. This may be through prayer or just simple emotions, but, it allows individuals the ability that their emotions and desires are sanctioned by God, so when they gain the urge to do harm, they are more likely to convince themselves that they are justified, because they have such strong emotions that they feel are given to them, not by the neurons firing in their brain, but by God.
Religious often teach that it’s not easy for a person to have morality without the concept of heaven and hell to motivate them. This teaches people that they do not have the mental capacity to be good without an outside motivator.
If there is something morally wrong in society, or with an individual, the religious person has the ability to check up to God’s ‘Mysterious Ways’ this can diminish a person’s desire to make a difference, because they believe it’s all part of some great plan.
Religion often teaches belief in God and prayers as a moral issue, so, a criminal can believe that they atone for anything simply by worshipping God harder.
If people taught that heaven and hell are necessary for a moral society, then this implies that there is no inherent logic to being moral, and implies that there’s nothing to be gained on earth by being good and implies that there won’t be immediate emotional consequences for wrong doing.
Religions teach people to believe in a very specific set of spiritual concepts and believe that these concepts are absolute truth. However, they see other people all around them who do not share their beliefs, and often have other beliefs. The only way for many religious individuals is to maintain an absolute belief in their own concepts and to resist the potential joy found in other belief systems is to turn off their empathy for anyone who does not refuse to imagine things from other people’s perspectives.
People are often told that religion will draw them towards goodness, and some people take this to believe that it happens automatically, so they never come to realize that it takes willpower, and they don’t learn to work with their own emotions. They keep expecting it to happen simply by worshipping or reading a holy book. The concept of original sin re-enforces the idea that we are helpless to stop our criminal urges. Apostle Paul even confirmed that, in the Holy Bible. If a person already believes he/she is going to hell, and he/she thinks that there is already no way to redeem him, then, there is nothing left to stop him from committing whatever wrongdoing he wants and also commit suicide.
People learn from what they see and imitate others around them, especially, people who are built up as being greater than they are. This reaction can be entirely subconscious.
The concept of evil can often be used as an identifier for individual human beings. It’s easy and convenient to believe serial killers are possessed with an intense and unbreakable evil brought about from a higher power. When you accept the idea that a supernatural evil is at work on this planet, it is easy for you to believe, for example, that your wife who cheated on you and broke your heart is in fact evil. This can lay the foundation for a person’s justification for revenge.
Sometimes, when a person is feeling emotions that may lead them towards crime, they will talk about it with someone and even, attempt to receive professional help.
A religious person is more likely to seek out or be directed towards religious help and are more likely to wind up discussing their problems with individuals who do not have psychological training in crime prevention.
There are numerous logical arguments not to commit crime or other harmful actions. This is not to discredit the emotional and spiritual argument against crime and wrongdoing. If you look at the long term personal effect of committing a crime and analyse it, based on pure cold-hearted or selfish logic, you will still find that committing most crimes just doesn’t make sense.
It’s clear in our society or in the world generally, that violence and crime interests people.
It’s no wonder our movies are full of violence, and violent news gets significant more air time than peaceful news.
• Dr. O. Ajai, a public affairs commentator, writes from Lagos
ASIWAJU TELLA AND THE LONG WALK TO HONOUR
To the bounteous glory of Almighty Allah, my brother and friend, Kayode Awobadejo, a distinguished muslim alumnus of Concord Press, clocked age 60, just six days ago. In a most gratuitous manner, Awobadejo, who himself chose to personally celebrate this with umrah, chose to further spice his celebrations with an offer of hajj to a fellow media professional, AbduRasheed Abubakar, publisher of Muslim News. It would be AbdRasheed’s first Hajj. Awobadejo’s saadaqah, perhaps unknown to many, is a re-enactment of Basorun MKO Abiola’s generosity to Awobadejo. He emerged a beneficiary of MKO’s similar offer in 1993 after a rigorous Islamic Knowledge based interview chaired by Alhaji Liad Tella
The Concord publisher’s sponsorship of Hajj for the workers in that company was being coordinated by the man of this moment. Alhaji Liad Tella, Deputy Editor of Concord newspaper at that time also doubled as the Chairman of the Osun State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board and led the MKO-sponsored ones including Awobadejo during the hajj rites. The story of the huge impact registered on Awobadejo between then and now would span volumes for those of us who knew the gangling, jean lover, Mr. Kay, very well before the holy pilgrimage. Mildly speaking, Mr. Kay was as much endowed as much as he chose to indulge himself. But Tella has since led Mr. Kay into spiritual freedom. Allah, the most beneficent, later made it possible for Alhaji Tella to be similarly nationally relevant. He eventually emerged in 2007 as pioneer commissioner representing the entire southwestern Nigeria at the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON. Awobadejo’s liberation and probably those of several others he later served are what have culminated into today’s glory for the first Asiwaju Musulumi of Iwoland.
By the time the world converges on Iwo to honour Alhaji Tella, not a few would readily recall Alhaji Liad Tella’s life of service spanning decades, special glory to the almighty Allah for His limitless favours. What may recur in most discussions is that the man, most of his colleagues and admirers affectionately call Alhaji or El Haj, possesses a relentless commitment to the religion of Islam with the support of his dresser and darling beau’ and soulmate, Barrister Funke Tella. The story of Alhaji’s sartorial distinction among peers is reserved for another day.
Indeed, Alhaji Tella has mustered unmistakable efforts in contributing particularly to the visibility of Islam which has, in turn, earned the faith more reckoning, embolding many young professionals from the southwest today to identify with it. Many stories will readily ooze forth about this, from otherwise muted voices, here implying Prof Ojebode’s inference, as enunciated in his recently delivered inaugural lecture as a professor of communication studies at the University of Ibadan.
This writer’s voice was almost muted as a rookie reporter at a national newspaper in the 1980s. Those were the days the newsroom relied on typists for the typing of reporters’ stories often submitted in longhand. Fresh from the university, I stuck to my name as borne all my life, and registered on all my certificates for my byline. The typist, a non Muslim, assigned to typing my stories and those of my colleagues, chose to consistently ‘murder’ my Muslim identity. After repeated embarrassment resulting from the unpardonable misspelling, I resorted to two names, thus dropping my Muslim name. Yet, late Shuaibu Adinoyi Ojo and some other reporters managed to keep their three names as byline elsewhere. Alhaji Tella literally pulled up the drowning voice of mine and embellished it with grandeur. He facilitated my entry to Concord Press in 1991.
In retrospect, Alhaji’s support for me to be a Concord staff was part of his focused design to strengthen the initiative of another dear brother, Publisher MKO Abiola, with the army of the best in his vicinity. Same way he took me in, he attracted one time most ethical journalist prize winner and now Communication’s Director of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Wahab Gbadamosi; as well as Abdul Fatah Oladeinde, now the Editor of Xpress Nigeria newspaper. Abdul Fatah, my fellow Unilorite, was the best graduating student in his department when he rounded off his first degree programme in English Studies. Yet another was Abdul Warees Solanke, arguably the most prolific broadcast journalist in Nigeria today. A Director at the Voice of Nigeria, VON, Solanke still ceaselessly publishes articles in leading newspapers practically every week till date. My darling kinsman and very dear friend, Bayo Adeyinka, yet another Tella boy, who now lives in the US is known to have cultivated the core of reporting and programming model for business, finance and allied beats for which AIT is known today. He was actually the president of the Financial Correspondents Association of Nigeria, FICAN, in its early years. If anyone reckoned with Concord Press as an oak in the publishing industry at that time, it was largely attributable to the unflinching, brotherly dedication of thorough professionals like Alhaji Liad Tella.
But Tella has always been modest with his enviable accomplishments even as he never wasted knowledge sharing opportunities with attentive younger ones. One afternoon, shortly after the proscription of Concord titles in 1994, we had both just left Thisday newspaper office at Yunusa Adeniji Street Ikeja, when we suddenly met late Dr Omotosho Ogunniyi, formerly of Daily Times. Alhaji instantly pulled up the car, rushed out and lay flat in prostration before Dr Ogunniyi who visibly relished the warmth and courtesy, the usual Yoruba way. He prayed for Alhaji Tella after reviewing a few events and issues with him. Alhaji later told me “that was the man who hired me at Daily Times, my first journalism job. He’s such a wonderful human being. It took a while before I knew he came from Ede.”
Even with his mother-hen, disarming, all-time warmth, Alhaji has never been one that would fold arms and resign to fate in the face of challenges. When it became clear that the Abacha junta meant to completely crush Concord and other similarly proscribed publishing organizations following the annulment of the 1993 election won in 1993 by MKO, the Concord publisher, he incorporated a media consultancy firm. His clientele cut across both the public and private sectors. Often, they celebrated his interventions on their matter each time he was called in. The official interactions he had using his company availed him the opportunity to demonstrate some of the tangential advisory he has had the opportunity to raise as a Concord columnist which had endeared him to the world, in the first place.
The energy and creativity from the private initiative came in handy when he became a commissioner at NAHCON. Alhaji Tella’s directorate was the central, daunting and most tasking one called Operations. But Tella’s extraordinary industry and cosmopolitan disposition exhibited in the media for more than four decades had successfully registered him as a household brand in the media and beyond, nationwide and even internationally. His antecedents in the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, MSSN, was no less supportive for his new assignment. NAHCON, courtesy of Tella, therefore consistently enjoyed prime visibility which attracted grace and honour from the authorities and the lowly, alike. For all the years Tella served at NAHCON, the organization was uniquely renowned for prudence and integrity yet never lacking in excellent delivery of its mandate. It consistently refunded surplus budgetary allocations thus earning official commendations during the Presidents Obasanjo and Yar’Adua years. NAHCON remains, till date, a beneficiary of the tenacity and creativity cultivated by team Tella. He is always, of course, quick to impress it on colleagues and acquaintances that he would do anything to treasure and guard his integrity as a distinguished prince of a Yoruba ancestral home of Oyo, the original roots of his own Agboluaje extended family in Iwo.
Way back in 1992, the Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board in Osun State was no less a beneficiary of Tella’s devotion to duty deriving from varied management and allied experience garnered from his chairmanship of Odu’a Printing Company as well as committee membership constituted by state and federal governments implying international exposure. It is on record that Alhaji’s performance as the Chairman of the Muslim Pilgrims Board remains the one to be beaten decades after he left. Little therefore, did people who knew his trajectory, wonder that he was invited to serve the nation’s Muslim community at the highest level of NAHCON.
A consummate leader and passionate happy family man with children of biological, professional and other forms of descent, he ensured that his multidimensional knowledge, talent and connections got properly invested. His last duty post, Better By Far University of Ilorin, harvested all of these. As Alhaji Tella therefore bags a distinguished, formal recognition from his Iwo root today, what may probably remain the most enduring legacy is the inspiration he has cultivated in multitudes across assorted sectors. All hail Asiwaju Tella!
Dr Akanni is the Director of Digital Media Research Centre, DMRC, of the Lagos State University. Follow him on Twitter: @AkintundeAkanni
Business12 hours ago
Border closure: Used vehicles flood Apapa port
Metro and Crime10 hours ago
Four youths, fleeing police arrest, drown in Lagos lagoon
Sports22 hours ago
Obaseki, Pinnick attend funeral mass for former NFF Vice President, Obaseki
Business12 hours ago
‘Confluence Rice’ll be affordable to Nigerians’
Metro and Crime22 hours ago
Police discover decayed corpse of sergeant’s wife in Benue
Sports13 hours ago
Osimhen valued at 48m Euros
Metro and Crime18 hours ago
Plateau: Police arrest notorious kidnapper, 16 others
Politics12 hours ago
Epie/Attissa denies endorsing any candidate, says APC