Less than three weeks after His Excellency, Governor Emeka Ihedioha, assumed office, a columnist in an Owerri-based newspaper queried why he was yet to flag off a “major project”! A few days later, another commentator in a rejoinder argued that while “projects” are important, they must be distinguished from “edifice mentality” which, according to him, was the bane of governance in the state for eight years; and wherein the people were made to see halls and squares as the hallmark of development.
Today, if we are talking of edifices, Imo would likely rank the first among the 36 states. But unknown to the hapless citizens of the state, the buildings and squares are standing on top of a massive financial and procedural filth. Of course, the administration of Hon.
Ihedioha is inevitably forward-looking but it also owes it a duty to explain to the good people of Imo State where they were before now, since that is the only way they can consciously pursue a collective aspiration for a greater future.
In other words, we cannot be tired of telling the people the state of affairs before now. How would, for example, Ihedioha, no matter how “nice” anybody would like him to be, fail to disclose to the people that in the last eight years, over 250 bank accounts existed in the state through which revenue accruing to government was supposedly managed; or that monies deducted from the salaries of civil servants under the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system never got into the coffers of government; or that such monies indeed “disappeared between the Accountant-General’s office and the MDAs”.
Would the governor be “playing politics” to let Imolites know that even with that incredible number of bank accounts, payments for government services were “being made in cash as against directly to bank accounts” and that “these payments in cash are not duly transmitted to government treasury…”, resulting in “massive fraud and heavy loss of funds to the government”.
Or take another situation whereby “MDAs… maintained and operated revenue accounts… in pseudo names instead of directing payments to the central electric platform of the Board of Internal Revenue”, leading to a situation where “these funds are spent … and not properly accounted for…”
I have just pointed at a few of the findings of the eight-man Financial Advisory Committee (FAC) set up by His Excellency on assumption of office to look into how the state’s finances, especially from internally generated revenue, were being managed.
The committee, led by Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, an egghead who, for a decade, headed Nigeria’s Debt Management Office (DMO), turned in an interim report last week. Would Governor Ihedioha be playing politics or wanting to do his predecessor in, by letting fellow citizens know of this parlous state of affairs? In any case, it is not as if the people did not know the situation. Otherwise, why do we think that calls have been made by several well-meaning indigenes/ stakeholders and concerned friends of the state, agitating for an immediate probe of the past administration.
However, for those who want the new administration to “look forward” and not “look backwards”, the governor has just done that with the findings and recommendations of the FAC. It is no longer news that, in line with his promise as contained in his inaugural address to adopt the Treasury Single Account, His Excellency on Wednesday July 10, 2019, upon receiving the committee’s report, signed Executive Order 005 signalling the takeoff of Treasury Single Account (TSA) system in the state. By this, Imo is the second state, to take to the TSA system, following its adoption by the Federal Government in 2015. Among others, what TSA in Imo State means is that henceforth, there ceases to exist the multiplicity of revenue accounts operated by MDAs. Instead, all revenues payable to government shall be to BIR accounts.
The TSA also means that henceforth, there shall be no cash payments for services rendered by government and its agencies as all such payments shall now be made to designated bank accounts on the BIR platform.
Then, of course, PAYE reductions from the salaries of civil servants shall be remitted simultaneously with the payment of salaries to the TSA maintained by the BIR. While every well-meaning and knowledgeable citizen of the state is looking forward to its implementation, it is important to point out that TSA is not an end unto itself. It is a step that is taken preparatory to achieving something more robust and transcendental, in this case a positive transformation of the state economy. One of the major objectives of TSA in Imo is to reposition the state to make it more competitive, that is, make business easier in the state.
Perhaps unknown to many, Imo, according to the latest World Bank report, is number 34 on the Ease of Doing Business ranking among the 36 states of the federation. So, what has that got to do with TSA? A lot. Imagine a first time visitor to the state who wanted to obtain some government services which he had to pay for.
Under the previous arrangement wherein MDAs received cash for such payments, the visitor, perhaps a potential investor, would have to go to his bank, withdraw the cash and then go back to the concerned MDA to make the payment. Cumbersome? Exposure to danger? Discouraging? Your answers are as good as mine.
Now, this. A comparative review of the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) between 2013 and 2018 shows that at N14.8 billion in 2018, Imo occupied the fourth position (it tied with Abia) among the five South-East states.
In other words, Imo ranked below Anambra and Enugu states whose figures stood respectively at N19.3 billion and N23.1 billion. Imo was only atop Ebonyi State whose figure was N6.1 billion. Now, Anambra and Enugu are non-oil producing states but Imo has 163 oil wells.
Needless to say, the current assignment of the Imo FAC is not the first time experts are expressing concern over the financial morass of the state. So, if the state is to “improve its infrastructure and enhance its financial viability”, it goes without saying that measures like the TSA have become absolutely necessary. But even so, it is important to further point out that the Imo FAC did not stumble at TSA.
As already noted, TSA is in itself not an end but a means to an end, which is the overall economic prosperity of the state. Considering the collapse of infrastructure in the state, what project can be better than cleansing the Augean stable of a cacophony of financial procedures, irregularities and massive theft of public funds; as a necessary condition for a sustainable action plan? As experts say, 70 per cent of good governance is from intangibles, not edifices or “projects”, the type Imolites were used to in the immediate past.
Good governance, according to those who know, strives at excellence which is defined by equality, meritocracy, integrity, incorruptibility, diligence and compliance; which is where our dear state is now headed.
There is no gainsaying Ihedioha is passionate about the rebuilding process, for which, he has already hit the ground, despite the fact that the past administration never considered it traditional to hand him a status report.
Not distracted by the deliberate abuses by the remnants of the disgraced past administration, he has gone further to deliberately restore confidence again in the governance of the state. He has taken bold steps to institutionalize believability in his administration which a large section of informed citizens, say, is a total departure from old. Truth is, there is calm, hope and expectation, which resonates among the people. lOnyeukwu is Chief Press Secretary to Governor of Imo State
RUGA Settlement as a paradox for peace
One could understand the high tempo of discussion and emotion attached to the discussion of the government’s proposed Ruga Settlement initiative. Land, which is at the centre of discussion is an ancestral heritage and highly valued in this part of the world; and people will do anything to defend their homeland and heritage. Definitely, no one will willingly sit back and see his homeland invaded or forcefully taken over by another group in whatever guise. So the government should thread with caution.
It was expected that President Muhammadu Buhari’s wise step in suspending the Ruga Settlement initiative could at least temporarily restore peace in the polity but rather it has further heightened the discussion and raised it to a vexatious level of argument.
From the argument of supporters of the initiative, it shows that some people are deliberately trading and bandying falsehood to feather their nest. They prefer to remain bottled up in their position and refused to see the reasons people are ill disposed to the whole idea of Ruga.
Their postulations are so watery and ineffectual that you wonder the foundation of their argument in support of the project. The initiators of the project, the Federal Government, is convinced beyond every reasonable doubt that the project is the panacea to the frequent herders-farmers clashes that have left tales of anguish, destruction, losses, deaths and economic adversity in their trail. The government argues that with the Ruga Settlement in place, there will be no more perennial clashes between the herders and farmers, and the internal security of the country would have improved significantly.
There is no denying government’s right in pursuing measures that will improve the internal security of the country. After all, that is one of its fundamental responsibilities – guarantee of the safety of lives and properties of the populace. However, government in thinking of measures to improve internal security of the country must think her measure through, and engage the populace to ensure that everybody is on the same page. This is where the government failed woefully.
Government has not been able to convince the larger mass of the citizens of the desirability and peace prospect of Ruga to the nation. They did not do enough consultation or engagement with all the necessary stakeholders to explain the whole entailment of Ruga.
Whatever people heard or knew about Ruga was what they could put together from discussions with other people or read online. There was no attempt on the part of the government to educate and enlighten the people on the project, and as such water down whatever wrong interpretations it could be given. Probably the government in her wisdom thought that it was not worthwhile discussing with the people on the project because they, the government, are the best thinkers for the people and know what is best for the people.
Or better still, the government may have assumed that the populace would oppose the initiative and so decided to roughshod it over the people. But unfortunately, the government miscalculated and undermined the resolve of the people to stand eyeball to eyeball to protect what is legitimately theirs. Again, it is overtly over optimistic of the government to think that Ruga has any chance of survival as a measure to resolve the herders- farmers conflict, given the background of criticism and rejection that had orchestrated the prior plan of government to build cattle colony for the herders, as another measure of avoiding the herders-farmers clash. To many Nigerians, Ruga is a baptismal name for cattle colony and does not offer any fresh idea.
This has been demonstrated in the backlash that has followed the proposed Ruga initiative. Nigerians vehemently stood their ground and said no to cattle colony; one is therefore at a loss on why the government thinks that it can drive Ruga through, knowing that there is no seemingly difference between the two. It is simply the government that is unnecessarily overheating the polity by doing the wrong things.
There is no way any right thinking government will think that this Ruga idea will fly. Government is being economical with the truth on the reason for establishing Ruga for the Fulani herders and their families. Definitely not motivated by the desire to effectively bridge the rancour and antagonism between the herders and the farmers. You cannot use a problem to solve a problem neither can you address a problem with even a more daring problem.
Ruga itself is a problem and so what level of peace is it expected to offer and achieve. Any measure that is designed to solve a problem must manifestly be seen to be sincere, unbiased, transparent, focus on the problem, offer workable options and be widely acceptable to the people. All these factors are unfortunately conspicuously missing in Ruga.
So tell me, what solution does it offer to the problem at hand? Any idea that confers superiority on one party over the others during a conflict cannot achieve peace; an idea that is ill-motivated cannot achieve peace, an idea that is clothed in nondescript cannot achieve peace, an idea that lacks legitimacy cannot achieve peace; an idea that is provocative and daring cannot achieve peace. Any idea that has the potency to set the nation in war path cannot achieve peace. Government needs to wear its thinking cap and come up with another explanation for Ruga.
Hinging the argument for Ruga on the peace window it offers to the incessant herders-farmers clashes is not tenable and cannot even convince a kindergarten pupil. Something tells me that even the government knew that the Ruga project will be dead on arrival but just wanted to fly a kite.
The government knows that there is no way the project will fly because nothing has been done differently to package, market and make it acceptable to Nigerians. Everything about the idea and conceptualization of the project is wrong.
Even the government is singing discordant tunes within themselves on the real intention of the project and where it is warehoused. They are finding it difficult to logically defend the project and situate it in its proper context.
They did not do their homework well and were ill prepared for the backlash that followed. That is why the project has received wide condemnation and rejection, and forced President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend it. Even the real beneficiaries of the project, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association did claim that they were not consulted about the project. The association is not even convinced that the project will yield the desired peace between the herders and the farmers.
Let government know that the entire populace of this country want an end to the constant feud between the herders and the farmers because of the losses it brings to the society. There are workable and realistic options available to the government to achieve this much desired peace but the government does not want to listen.
She already has a fixated mind on what she wants to do but peace cannot be achieved from their position. The government needs to be open minded and amenable to citizens’ suggestions. They should be less sentimental and divest herself of any undue interest in finding lasting solution to the clashes. After all, herders-farmers clash predates this administration, and successive governments prior to this administration had existed and managed the clashes within the arm-bit of the law.
Why did the clashes assume a monumental dimension, effrontery and audacity under this administration? Nigerians are ready to work with the government to find a middle of the road approach to the herders-farmers clashes but the government must be willing to receive fresh and divergent ideas to solve this problem. Government does not have monopoly of knowledge. We all know that the Ruga project can never offer any window of peace and solution to the frequent herders and farmers clash because it was not originally designed to achieve peace.
- Iheanacho, a media consultant, writes from Lagos via emmaiheanacho@ yahoo.com
Nigerian Customs Service and smuggling
A few months ago, I was listening to a radio programme in which a group of smugglers had a very rough confrontation with men of Nigerian Customs Service. One of the smugglers alleged that the men of customs service were always after them in open market places and not in the border areas after they (smugglers) had successfully crossed the border with the smuggled goods.
That reminds me of the recommendations, we made to the Board of Customs Service in 1976. The Chairman of the then Nigerian Customs Service commissioned my boss, who directed me to do a research on smuggling in Nigeria and come with recommendations, within three months. The recommendations were implemented in 1978. About 95.5 per cent of our recommendations were injected into the service and many officers were relieved of their appointments. After several years of watching how men of Nigerian Customs Service and smugglers in the country wasted human lives and goods, I feel this is a battle neither of them can win. Therefore, the Federal Government and the Customs Service need proactive public relations attitudes.
The first question that comes to my mind: Do these smugglers know the damages they are doing to the economy and their own life too? I remember during that radio programme a lady smuggler claimed that she had no other job than smuggling.
That shows that smuggling is like drug addiction or alcoholism. A habit is always very hard to brake. The truth is that, most of the die-hard smugglers are known to some Customs men. It is only petty smugglers that are exposed. The high-brow smugglers are like the camel passing the eye of the needle. Like drug addicts, smugglers in Nige-ria need a total change of attitudes orientation and change of focus that would take them out of the belief that smuggling is the only job or work that can sustain their life.
During my research in 1976, I discovered that goods from Nigeria were also being smuggled out of the country. Cocoa from Western Region was being smuggled out of Nigeria through the Northern borders. There are other products made in Nigeria that are being smuggled out of Nigeria daily including petroleum products. Now that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is ready to finance farming in Nigeria, the Governor of CBN should now think of turning these rice smugglers to rice farmers.
This is a proposal, I think would change the attitudes of the smugglers of rice into the nation and they would become good citizens of the nation. The first job of Customs Service is to identify these smugglers and hold a stakeholders’ meeting or workshop for them with the attendance of Central Bank officials and Ministry of Commerce and Industries.
This class of people (smugglers) needs grants and not loan or cash finance, but technical inputs to sustain their operation as farmers. Those smugglers in the North can be turned to great cotton, rice and tomatoes farmers. To change the perception of smugglers is not a day’s job with constant and regular education from the Federal Government and Customs Service they would change with time. The Service is fighting a battle it cannot win with gun with smugglers.
Smuggling has become a religion and a religion is always very hard to defeat. Another area I would like the Comptroller General of Customs to focus on is the excise duties from industries operating in Nigeria. Many of these industries are short-changing the Federal Government in payment of excise duties. Not only smokers are likely to die young, smugglers too are likely to die young as they always put themselves into emotional rigour.
- Dr. Ajai writes from Lagos.
Nero, a brutal emperor in Roman history
Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was a very brutal Emperor in the history of Rome. He was the last Roman Emperor of the Julio-Claudius dynasty. He adopted Claudius as his middle name. In fact, he adopted Claudius from his great uncle, Julio-Claudius, the man who was instrumental to Nero becoming an Emperor. He became an heir and successor to Claudius.
He was an emperor from A.D. 54 October 13 to June 9, A.D. 68. On the whole he was emperor of Rome for 13 years and eight months. His religion was Roman paganism. Nero became emperor of Rome after the death of his adopted father Claudius in A.D. 54. Nero ruled as emperor until he committed suicide in A.D. 68. He was the last ruler of what historians call the “Julio-Claudian” dynasty. Famously known for the apocryphal story that he fiddled and fell into a deep sleep while Rome burnt in a great fire. Nero has become one of the most infamous men who lived. During his rule, he murdered his own mother, Agrippina; his first wife, Octavia; and allegedly, his second wife, Poppaea Sabina.
In addition, ancient writers claim that he started the great fire of Rome in A.D. 64 so that he could re-build the city centre. Despite the numerous charges that have been levelled by ancient writers, there is evidence that Nero enjoyed some level of popular support.
He had a passion for music and arts, an interest that culminated in a public performance he gave in Rome in A.D. 65. Also, while he was blamed for starting the fire, he took it upon himself to organize relief efforts, and ancient writers made other allusions to acts of charity that he performed. In recent times a newly translated poem has been published, and it depicts Nero in a positive light.
It tells of the deification of his dead wife Poppaea Sabina, concluding with her watching over Nero from the heavens. Scholars were surprised to discover that the text, which proclaims Nero a man “equal to the gods,” dates to about two centuries after Nero’s death, suggesting that some individuals in the Roman Empire held a favourable view of him long after his death.
Nero was born in Antium, in Italy, on December 15, A.D. 37, to his mother, Agrippina, and his father, Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus. His father, a former Roman consul, died when he was about three years old, and his mother was banished by the emperor Caligula, leaving him in the care of an aunt.
His name at birth was Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus. After the murder of Caligula in January A.D. 41, and the ascension of Emperor Claudius shortly afterward, mother and son were reunited. His ambitious mother would go on to marry Claudius (who was also her uncle) in A.D. 49, and she saw to it that he adopted her son,giving him a new name that started with “Nero”. His tutors included the famous philosopher Seneca, a man who would continue advising Nero into his reign, even writing the proclamation explaining why Nero killed his mother.
The newly adopted son would later take the hand of his stepsister, Octavia, in marriage, and became Claudius’ heir apparent, the emperor choosing him over his biological son, Britannicus (who died shortly after Nero became emperor). After the death of Claudius in A.D. 54 (possibly he was poisoned with a mushroom), Nero, with the support of the Praetorian Guard and at the age of 17, became emperor. In the first two years of Nero’s reign, his coin depicted him side by side with his mother, Agrippina.“She managed for him all the business of the empire…she received ambassadors and sent letters to various communities, governors and kings…,” wrote Cassius Dio who lived A.D. 155-235 (translation from the book “Nero Caesar Augustus: Emperor of Rome” by David Shotter, Pearson, 2008). Nero and his mother appear to have had a fallout within about two years of his becoming emperor.
Her face stopped appearing on Roman coins after A.D. 55, and she appears to have lost power in favour of Nero’s top advisers, Seneca and Burrus, the commander of the Praetorian Guard who advised him on military affairs. Officially, the reason given for Nero’s orders to kill his own mother in A.D. 59 was that she was plotting to kill him. Whatever the reasons, Nero knew that he was making a decision that could come back to haunt him. Nero, not trusting his Praetorian Guard to carry out the killing, ordered naval troops to sink a boat that she would be sailing on.
This first attempt failed, with his mother swimming to shore. Nero then ordered the troops to do the job directly. Tacitus (A.D. 56-120) wrote that when the troops came to kill her, she told them if “you have come to see me, take back word that I have recovered (from the sinking boat), but if you are here to do a crime, I believe nothing about my son, he has not ordered his mother’s murder”. The senators said that they believe his life was at risk and congratulated him on killing his mother. Seneca himself wrote Nero’s report on the murder to the senate. His marriage to Octavia was not a happy one.
She gave him no heir, and the two were estranged by A.D. 62. In that year, he divorced her, then accused her of adultery and killed her. Nero may have taken the step of killing her as a way of protecting his position as emperor.
As Shotter noted, a large part of Nero’s legitimacy as emperor was based, not only on the fact that he was the adopted son of Claudius, but that he was married to his daughter. The evil committed by Emperor Nero appears endless to the extent that he was said to have massacred innocent Christians whom he alleged set Rome ablaze.
A professor’s ignorance or mischief on Biafra war
Sometime ago, a Nigerian youth, exasperated by the Nigerian elders and experts’ youthbashing and claim of monopoly of knowledge made a complaint. He complained that these Nigerian elders, experts and others standing in some kind of authority or superiority kept on complaining about the “ignorance” and “incompetence” of the youth even when their own ignorance and incompetence stick-out like sore-thumb.
Standing on the unapproachable ‘know-it-all’, ‘expertise’ and ‘experience’, the Nigerian elders, experts and men-of-power and authority described the youth as not only ignorant but starkly incompetent.
The said youth recounted how some elders as fathers, uncles, mothers and rulers dismiss contemporary youths as having failed to match-up or attain the standard they reached at similar stage of development.
He avers that the same elders, experts and men-in-authority while complaining of the poor education of the youth did so in very poor English language. This claim of expertise knowledge and competence has made them to place unattainable standard for Nigerian youths especially in the employment market where in public or private sectors of the political economy they require three or more years’ experience for entry-level employment.
The youth cited the National Universities Commission which make doctorate degree the entry-level qualification for teaching in universities in Nigeria. To him, this standard is not obtainable even in developed countries such as USA, Canada or Britain.
This claim of expertise and knowledge has permeated the society especially at the universities where lecturers merely stuff students with unchallenged knowledge and students dare not answer questions during examination outside the handed-down notes. The clever students follow the lecturers’ diktat: “giveme- what-I-gave-you.” It is garbage-in, garbage-out!
The result of this poor culture of knowledge acquisition and dissemination is obvious to all as Nigeria and Nigerians are clearly overwhelmed by mundane issues of life such as poor design of governance structure leading to poor and collapsed social and physical infrastructure. And the socio-economic and political economy haemorrhages due to ignorance.
It is not uncommon to see the elders, experts and men-of-power and authority bestriding the public space and pontificating on several issues in public contention and on that pedestal of authority and relevance proffer solutions which deepen the problem rather than solve them. Do they even read or cross check their facts to be sure of their standing? No!
They no longer read or learn because they know it all and have the certificates, expertise, power and authority. It is against the backdrop of this observation that I read with disbelief and consternation the interview by Bola Akinterinwa, an eminent professor and an expert in foreign affairs.
Being a professor and expert, he is bound to be listened to, respected for his opinions. Moreover, Prof. Akinterinwa was a former director-general of Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). Ordinarily, it must be assumed that the head of such institution should be a person truly learned. Glanville William, quoting Walter Scott in “Guy Mannering” said that a lawyer must be learned in history and literature to be called “an architect’ but without these, a lawyer is “a mechanic, a mere working mason.”
So, how can a professor, former director-general of NIIA be said not to be learned in history as to be found wanting in the rudimentary, and almost recent history of Nigeria? In the said interview in Vanguard (9/8/2019) titled, ‘State of the Nation: Nigeria inching towards a second civil war’ Akinterinwa said: “In 1966, it was the issue of conflict. The civil war started with the use of policemen, not the military. General Yakubu Gowon directed that the police should go and arrest Col. Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu and bring him to Lagos. And the policemen met with stiff resistance, in fact many of them were killed.
That was how the Ore battle began.” I have quoted the learned professor’s statement to show whether this statement represents good knowledge of the Nigeria/Biafra War or whether the learned professor was merely out for mischief or negligent exhibition of ignorance. I believe the learned professor apart from his biological age which places him in the generation that witnessed the war remains a scholar who should, apart from historical records, know the rudimentary facts about that epochal portion of Nigerian history.
If any other person plays with historical records, certainly not this professor, elder, an expert and man-of-power and authority who has had the privilege of heading one of the well-springs of Nigeria’s knowledge tankfarms and citadels. It is incomprehensible how a professor who had the privilege of sitting on tomes of books on Nigerian history and who had witnessed the Nigeria/Biafra War would publicly make the statement attributed to him and still expect to be listened to or taken seriously on any issue.
This blunder by Prof. Akinterinwa can be attributed to the code of silence, secrecy and abolition of history upon which Nigeria is built starting from the British adventurers-founders of Nigeria to the past and present inheritors. Until Nigerian historians led by Onwuka Dike’s book, “Trade and Politics in the Nigeria Delta” exposed the terror, banditry and brigandage visited on Nigerian ethnic nationalities by Britain the formation of Nigeria.
But they suppressed and destroyed the records of the pillage/looting and outrage on Benin Empire, Nana’s Itsekiri, Jaja’s Opobo, etc. The Nigeria/ Biafra War was no different from the British colonial pacification wars to found Nigerian. Nigeria/Biafra war was fought to preserve it and it was not different from the banditry, brigandage, looting and outrage of the British colonial wars. Alabi-Isama, a brigadier-general, fought on Nigerian side.
His book “The Tragedy of Victory” recorded that at the end of the war, his 3rd Marine Commando destroyed all records of casualties and other important records rendering it impossible to relate with the families of the fallen soldiers. Now, contrast this culture of secrecy with the American history that preserved all records of the dead and the living that survived the American Civil War. Of course, an example is best found in the Gettysburg Memorial where at the dedication of the battle ground, President Lincoln made his great definition of democracy. In that Gettysburg Memorial every fallen soldier’s name (Union and Confederate) was etched on a tombstone and preserved for posterity. Every effort has been made to bury Biafra to extent that apart from individual autobiographical works, little is known about it hence a Prof. Akinterinwa could commit such blunder and expect to walk away free.
But do we blame Prof. Akinterinwa when the state has made it clear that it does not want history to prick its conscience. Until early 1980s, history was still a subject taught in primary and secondary schools but the soldiers-of-fortune that grabbed power abolished history in schools in Nigeria. So, a Nigerian child cannot learn about Nigeria to appreciate its glories and failures and build on them or make amends. He operates in a void to understand his world.
So, if this is the lot of Nigerians, why would a Nigerian of the future not deny that Nigeria/ Biafra War never happened thereby upgrading Akinterinwa’s distorted version of the war by outright denial.
After all, some Germans and Arab/Islamic countries question the Jewish Holocaust as propaganda stunt by the Jews to attract world sympathy. So, let’s quicken the reintroduction and learning of history in Nigerian school to obviate the blunders of Prof. Akinterinwa and his ilk.
Attack on Ekweremadu as parody of our reality
I call it the Nuremberg madness. I solemnly consider it as grotesquely outlandish. It defies all manner of ratiocination and rationalizations.
I had read a number of opinions that tended to either draw some bizarre corollary upon which a general warning was issued to other Ibo leaders and leaders of other ethnic nationalities to beware or that tended to justify the wanton assault in the context of the festering socio-political and economic ferment in Nigeria.
It is a no-brainer to surmise that the act of folly that was garbed as ethnic revulsion or contempt for perceived immersion in government or laissez faire attitude on the part of Ekweremadu to issues that allegedly affect Ndigbo within the Nigerian nation-state was egregiously misplaced. Some had suggested that the attire that Ekweremadu wore that bore the nation’s imprimatur, to wit: the Coat of Arms, and which suggested patriotic support, was the casus belli of the attack.
Regardless, whatever precipitated the harsh reaction by those irate folks in Nuremberg, that thing led to the unconscionable violation of the civility in the atmosphere of Germany that provides a catholic liberty, which John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) in his work: “On Liberty”, recognized as both the freedom to act and the absence of coercion.
Whereas those Ibo men had the liberty to act in expression of their displeasure, they did not have liberty to coerce or assault Ekweremadu in the fashion they did. In fact, in the realm of domestic approbation and appreciation of social-political values, the physical assault of Ekweremadu offended the republican spirit of the Ibo people.
In spite of their utmost frustrations, those folks were they resident in Nigeria, and knowing full well that they have the power to vote out leaders in elective offices who fail to provide them with the kind of leadership they desire, should have waited for another general election to vote out leaders who have failed to perform or align with their aspirations.
Instead of the global opprobrium that they had attracted to Ndigbo by their act of idiotic indiscretion, they should have embraced a mature way of passing across their displeasure. For instance, they could have embarked on a systematic campaign of naming and shaming Ibo leaders who have betrayed their people on the altar of filthy lucre; or who have compromised the ideas of Ndigbo for personal aggrandizement with a view to denying them the people’s votes whenever they seek revalidation of their mandates.
That would have been much better than the great disservice to their individualities and, generically, to the pristine tradition of Ndigbo as a politically sophisticated and self-respecting people. Those who attacked Ekweremadu have lost the moral high ground. They have become vermin of a brutish culture that tended to misrepresent the Ibo people as bellicose and sanguinary.
Indeed, it is this kind of combative attitude of both leadership and followership alike, a throwback to the failed attempt to Biafranise Nigeria that has contoured public perceptions of the Ibo persona and mentality within the framework of the Nigerian nation-state as aggressive and aggravating. Having used force and war to no avail to claim their rightful position in the political configuration of the country, a counter strategy of stooping to conquer could have been salutary this time round rather than the continued resort to ballyhoo.
Even if the strategy must be to deploy force in correcting the structural imbalance in the Nigerian federation or addressing Opinion the existential problems facing the ethnic nationality, the Ibo would be committing a greater mistake, given their numbers, to push the frontiers of “freedom” as a fractious and separated ethnic nationality of disparate drum majors.
That was the point that the Ibo self-acclaimed salvation group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPoB), missed by its alleged directive to its members to humiliate Ekweremadu. The group’s action was pathetically counter-productive.
It gratuitously assaulted one of the leading lights of Ndigbo and by, so doing, suffered a self-inflicted ignominy. Ekweremadu had, without a doubt, been a victim of physical assault by his kinsmen who should have protected him from harm’s way in Nuremberg. But they decided to drag him in the mud to satisfy a fit of anger. But were they given a trophy for so doing? No! Did they receive any well-meaning or well-intentioned accolades? I doubt.
The accolades that appeared to support the Nuremberg madness were wrapped in chicanery by conspiracy theorists merely to promote or champion the advocacy for a civil disorder rather than constitutional means that will upend the nation’s civil authority that is perceived to have failed to address a number of issues to the utilitarian benefit of the Nigerian people. But, to be sure, that act of folly in Nuremberg parodies our reality as a people. It is a travesty of our collective obscurantist predilection to raise all manner of issues that support our biased positions and suppress those that negate the same. Interestingly, the question now, and this clearly speaks to the perceived irritability of Ndigbo, is why was it that those Ibo folks chose the platform of unity, which the annual yam festival typified for the ethnic nationality, to brutalise a rallying and unifying personality, thus damaging the fulcrum of unity?
Ekweremadu may not have been the best or perfect paradigm of leadership that has been in a position to be able to minister to or address critical existential issues of the Ibo; there is also no justifiable basis to dismiss him as a selfish leader who, outright, did not promote the interest of Ndigbo. If he had been an all-round failure in the praxis of pragmatic leadership, let Ndigbo speak out.
Even where and when such allegation of failure cannot be rebutted, nobody, not even the IPOB or any other Ibo group for that matter, has the right to abridge Ekweremadu’s rights of movement, association (in this case, he was invited to attend the event) and expression, let alone the rights to assault him in the sordid way and manner those Ibo folks dealt with him in Nuremberg. I dare say that it was the collective shame of Ndigbo.
In rounding off, I share the position of Nigerians who have condemned, in the strongest terms, the unconscionable assault. I particularly concur with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the Nigerian Ambassador in Germany should work in concert with the German Government to take “appropriate decisive action on the matter”.
Those Ibo folks must be dealt with in line with the laws of Germany. I also agree with the opposition party that the Federal Government should “take urgent comprehensive steps to address issues leading to acts of resentment and agitations by Nigerians within and outside the country” on the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Nuremberg saga may just be a wake-up call to advert the attention of the Federal Government to do the needful to douse the rising tension in the country that is triggering harsh reactions from and by “Diasporic Nigerians”.
Ojeifo writes from Abuja via firstname.lastname@example.org
Computing and ICT in formal settings
Computing has presently proven to be the best way a job could aptly be done in the office or any formal setting anywhere across the global community. By the above assertion, it suffices to say that any establishment that’s yet to appreciate the essence of computing, or Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in particular, is still lagging behind. Computing is simply the activity of using a computer and writing programmes for it.
It can further be described as any goal-oriented activity that requires as well as benefits from a mathematical sequence known as algorithm, through the use of systems (computers) among other devices alike.
It’s noteworthy that the major fields that involve computing include: Computer science, system engineering, software engineering, and information technology. Computing – particularly Information Technology (IT) as it’s fondly called – has become a veritable and integral part of every business plan coupled with day-to-day office works.
From multinational firms who maintain mainframe systems and databases, to small establishments that own a single computer, IT obviously plays a key role. The impact of computing on everyday activity in the office is so vast. Adequate use of computing can enable any firm, regardless of size or status, to handle its human resources effectively.
A sound computing would enable the firm to boast of viable and reliable database of the overall staff alongside their designations. It would also help the company to update the database in terms of death rate, employment, transfer, maternity leave, or what have you. By so doing, the establishment would invariably realize the worth of its workforce towards boosting efficiency and job control.
The human resources of a state or Nigeria at large, for example, can only be aptly handled via computing.
Similarly, with a proper use of computing, employment process would be carried out expressly by the human resources department. With IT, also known as information systems, job seekers can apply without getting to the firm/office involved, thereby avoiding foreseen congestion that could compound office stress or workload. And, having applied, the various applicants can be easily and properly assessed via the use of computing.
We must acknowledge that manual system of interview is no longer in vogue if we intend to get it right, especially in the area of Aptitude Test. Management coupled with communication among the staff or between the existing branches of an establishment cannot be overlooked while discussing the essence of computing. Part of management is gathering and disseminating information, and IT can make this routine more accurate by allowing managers to communicate rapidly.
Emailing is quick and effective, but the managers can use information systems even more efficiently by storing documents in folders that they share with the employees who need the information. Such activity can be aided with adequate use of networking system. Furthermore, how you manage your firm’s operations depends on the information you have. Information systems can offer more complete and recent info, allowing you to operate your firm/office more efficiently. You can use IT to gain a cost advantage over competitors, or to differentiate your firm’s content by offering better customer service.
For instance, sales’ data give you insights about what customers are purchasing and let you stock or produce items that are selling well. Hence, with guidance from the IT, you can streamline your operations.
Additionally, apt use of IT would enable the firm to easily reach out to the public via advertisement, thereby boosting sales or services, as the case may be. Computing can equally help you make excellent decisions by delivering all the required information.
Decision-making involves choosing a course of action from several alternatives and carrying out the corresponding tasks. If you can boast of accurate and up-to-date info, you can make a choice with confidence. If more than one choice seems appealing, you can use the available information system to x-ray different scenarios. For each possibility, the system can calculate key indicators such as costs, sales/ services, and profits, toward helping you determine which channel gives the most beneficial result.
Record purposes are not left out. Your establishment needs records of its daily activities for financial and regulatory purposes, and for ascertaining the causes of problems towards taking corrective measure. Computing enables the firm to store the needed documents as well as revisit histories, communication records, and operational data.
The trick to exploiting this recording capability is organizing the data and using the system to process and present it as useful historical information. You can use such information to prepare cost estimates and forecasts, and to analyse how your actions affected the key indicators of the firm.
Even in our virtually every day private lives and activities, computing or IT has apparently become inevitable. This is to say that the mechanism embedded in the said technology is presently needed in all sectors of human endeavour.
Existing entities and individuals must be made to fully acknowledge that computing is gradually overtaking the ancient use of manual gadgets especially in the areas of research, networking, finances and what have you.
Hence, it’s high time it is duly inculcated in all our professional doings. However, though the roles of computing in office works can’t be overemphasized, it’s worth noting that a wrong use or application of it can cost the user an untold loss. Thus, every establishment enjoying the services must endeavour to regularly consult professionals as well as train its staff on various computer/IT skills.
The impact of computing on the present days’ society remains inevitable, but its wrong use ought to be avoided at all cost towards averting imbroglio that might result in colossal crisis. Think about it!
The Army-Police war: Where is the NSA?
“Our country is bedevilled… (by) multifarious security challenges by which each agency must bring its wealth of experience and comparative advantage to compliment the effort of another” – DG DSS The current Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Bichi Magaji, made the above remarks in his keynote address, while hosting the meeting of the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA) on April 24.
The Forum was established in 2013 by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) to enhance synergy and collaboration amongst critical institutions that deal with issues of security and its challenges in Nigeria. As a sensitive security organ, the ONSA is statutorily empowered to coordinate the activities of military, security, intelligence and response agencies in combating terrorism, cybercrime and major issues affecting the wellbeing of the state in Nigeria.
It is a known fact that during the previous administration, the ONSA hosted regular meetings of security and service chiefs in addressing issues that could create conflict in society. While the meeting of the security chiefs was held almost every other week in ONSA, the meeting of FOSSRA was held rotationally among member-agencies every month until June 2015. It is of utmost importance to highlight some instances when FOSSRA’s interventions doused tension and stabilised the polity within a climate of heightened agitations and security concerns in the country.
In June 2014, the then National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki officially tendered an apology to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, who was allegedly harassed by joint-security operatives at an international summit on Farmer-Herder Crisis in Kaduna.
Both the former NSA and the Speaker are from the same royal family within the Sokoto sultanate, even if of different statuses. Similarly, in one of the Army-Shi’ite altercations in Zaria, also in July 2014, during which some members and children of Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky were killed by Nigerian soldiers, the Chairman of FOSSRA, who was then the Director of Defence Information, General Chris Olukolade, promptly issued an empathic statement, expressing regret over the incident and announcing that a panel would be constituted to unravel the remote causes of the fracas.
The statement played a magical role in nipping the controversy in the bud. The following month, the Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and two operatives of the Corps were allegedly disrespected and manhandled on different occasions by the Police.
As the media were feasting on the controversy, the then spokesperson of the Nigerian Customs Service, Wale Adeniyi, hosted the monthly meeting of FOSSRA in September 2014, where the erstwhile Police spokesperson, Emmanuel Ojukwu walked to the NSCDC spokesperson, Emmanuel Okeh and issued a joint statement which doused the tension. Meanwhile, since the appointment of Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd) as the National Security Adviser (NSA) by President Muhammad Buhari in 2015, he has neither shown keen commitment to nor hosted the meeting of the FOSSRA to guard against inter-agency rivalry. The meeting of the Forum, which has become occasional, is now being hosted by the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) and other security agencies that value synergy and collaboration in information management.
If FOSSRA, which is domiciled under the ONSA, is very active, the current acri-mony between the Nigerian Army and the police over the killing of the Police’s Intelligence Response Team (IRT) operatives by soldiers in Taraba State could have been averted. There would most likely have been an existing synergy and a more cordial relationship between these two prominent actors within the Nigerian security architecture and system. It was alleged that soldiers of the 93 Battalion shot the IRT operatives – including Inspector Mark Ediale, Sergeant Usman Danzumi, and Sergeant Dahiru Musa – dead after they had arrested a notorious kidnap kingpin, Hamisu Bala Wadume, who is now on the run.
The Army claims that the police officers were shot after being mistaken for “suspected kidnappers” and blames the attack on a communication gap. The initial statement from the Police spokesperson, DCP Frank Mba and immediate response by the Army spokesperson, Colonel Sagir Musa, would have been needless if an effective mechanism of inter-agency collaboration, as exemplified by FOSSRA, had been adhered to. There are trending videos, audios and sponsored stories on the fracas that need to be contained before they further exacerbate the present situation and persist as drivers of tension.
It is quite unfortunate that many Nigerians on the social and mainstream media have continued to react to the incident through inciting, inflammatory and embarrassing innuendoes. It may not be surprising if the two public relations officers of the security organs involved were actually taking orders from their principals, rather than abiding by the ethics of crisis communication management, which guide professionals on their temperament, conduct and how to shape their messages during periods of high volatility.
As spokespersons of security agencies, they are expected to be courteous, restrained and conscious of the need to show great human understanding and empathy in their public communications, at this sort of time when such really matters. It is also very important that their messages, like press releases, should be clear, concise, concrete, correct and complete, without allowing for any form of ambiguity in communication.
In all these, the absence of strategic leadership in dousing the tension, beyond the critical levels of the individual service chiefs, merely escalates the inter-agency antagonism and fuels the heated debates and fury pervading the media from visible and anonymous sources. Is it not embarrassing that different panels were allegedly constituted to investigate this incident? While one is said to be chaired by a military officer in the rank of a major general, the other is noted as being headed by a security officer in the rank of an Assistant Inspector General of Police.
As the coordinating organ of government on security matters, ONSA should step in and manage this crisis, more professionally and with experience, especially in the absence of a federal cabinet, as the Ministers of Defence or that of Interior are yet to be sworn in.
The NSA can advise the Army Chief, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai and Police IG Mohammed Adamu on the need to urge their officers to exercise restraint. In the alternative, the Presidential media adviser should intervene by calling on the spokespersons of the agencies to sheath their swords in this attrition and highly unfortunate media war.
- Shuaib, author of An Encounter with the Spymaster, writes via email@example.com
Is Victor Oye the new face of APGA?
Since the great Dim Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu, the famed Igbo leader joined the ancestors, the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) which he led has been in search of identity, and it appears it has finally found a new face in the person of Chief Victor Oye, the party’s National Chairman.
Ironically, while Ojukwu is loved and revered even in death, Victor Oye is hated and despised. Ojukwu’s widow reportedly called him ‘ekperima’ – an Igbo colloquial for ‘thief ’. I see Ojukwu turning in his grave seeing the caricature his legacy has become. Anyone that knew Ojukwu knows that apart from being colourful, cerebral, and inspiring, that he had zero tolerance for corruption.
Why then are his disciples settling for a face with zero leadership and corruption? The answer lies in the fact that those running the party today from the lone governor to the National Chairman were never foundation members of the party. Obiano, for instance, became a member at the eve of him being imposed on the party and the people by former Governor Peter Obi and Oye’s membership card of the party only obtained few hours to his being imposed as National Chairman by Chief Obiano.
His only qualification being that he was recommended by the Catholic bishops who themselves maintain overwhelming influence on the party. Whether new or old, there is an absolute need to close ranks in the interest of our people. I have written consistently about APGA unending crisis in recent times out of love and because
I see the party as the political arm of the Igbo consciousness and Ohanaeze as her cultural renaissance. I believe APGA, IPOB and Ohanaeze can effectively work together to lift and advance the Igbo cause. The question is how this integration will occur? In the South-East, precisely Owerri, there is a new game among the youth called ‘dart game’.
The unique thing about this game is that it has the face of Chief Victor Oye, the APGA National Chairman as the shooting target. All you need to score a win is to aim an accurate hit on any part of the vital body of the APGA chieftain. Hitting the forehead, eyes, nose or mouth scores the big win. I personally don’t like the game.
We don’t need such a hate evoking game even though I understand the people’s frustration with our political elites. Many of our political actors are not doing enough to com-mand the respect of the people. Hear what these young men said to me: “We target Oye’s face because we don’t like him; he wrecked APGA with his greed. Anyone that wants APGA dead will first die as the dews does with the sunshine and we will happily live inside our party when they are all gone,” their leader said.
I managed to tell them that APGA is not about to die and will not die. But woe onto that man by whose hand the death of APGA will happen for it will be better that he or she is not born for he will not have a grave marked in his name. If our leaders in APGA are hearing what I am hearing, if they are seeing what I am seeing or feeling what I am feeling, especially if they have taken the pause of our people, they should by now begin to converse seriously on how to save the party from possible death. With Chief Oye as the Face of the Party, the party will die. Majority of the people do not want his continued leadership and they are not hiding their anger against him. They want him out as minimum condition to wash away the sins of the past for a new beginning.
As it happened to PDP, APGA may lose its long hold on Anambra governorship due to impunity and imprecise political thinking. A chieftain of the major opposition party in the state confided in me that the best thing that will happen to the opposition in Anambra will be for Chief Oye to remain the Face of APGA by 2022 when the state will be going to the poll for the governorship election. He predicted it will become a walkover as the opposition can field anyone and win a landslide.
This is how bad Oye’s travail will hurt the party. How did Chief Oye become the most disliked politician in the South-East? In a leaked email to Governor Obiano by the former National Chairman, Senator Victor Umeh, he had complained of the activities of Oye which he said was reported to him by aggrieved members of the party from Imo State. From the narratives in the said email it was alleged that the party national chairman traded with the governorship tickets of APGA in the South-East.
These allegations are serious moral issues which may hurt the party as it prepares for another crucial election. With Oye as the face of the party, and dogged by fraudulent allegations, the party will be badly hit. Already there is a mass exodus of people leaving the party on account of the allegations against the national chairman. While it is possible that he may be innocent, it is difficult to know the truth without a thorough investigation which unfortunately is being stalled by Oye and his supporters.
Laurels for Afe Babalola, ABUAD
Yet another feather was recently added to the already crowded cap of the Founder and Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola (SAN), when the General Assembly of the African Union Economic, Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC) nominated him for the Premier Continental Ambassadorial Award titled “African Role Model and AU Agenda 2063 Ambassadorial Award.”
This is in recognition of what it described as Babalola’s “iconic Pan African and philanthropic orientation as well as immense contributions to the realization of African Union Agenda 2063” which, according to AU-ECOSOCC, is “specifically predicated on the guiding vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa …in the international arena.”
The cheering news came vide a letter signed by Dr. Tunji John Ashaolu, the Nigerian Representative/Chairperson, Committee on Social Affairs & Health at 3rd Permanent General Assembly of the AU-ECOSOCC & Member, African Union Labour Migration Advisory Committee.
Ashaolu noted Babalola’s contributions to the implementation Agenda 2063. He said: “The AU is aware and it is on record that your institution performed three Open Heart Surgeries/Interventions a couple of months ago. You have made us proud and we are so happy about this and of course we are equally happy about the other successes which your university has achieved over the years.
“You have also established the implementation of Agenda 2063 particularly Aspiration Number 1 which deals with ‘A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development’ and Aspiration Number 2 which relates with ‘An African whose people development is purpose-driven, relying on the potentials of African people’.”
Reacting to the development, Babalola thanked the AU-ECOSOCC for taking note of his modest contributions through his various humanitarian programmes and for nominating him for the prestigious Premier Continental Ambassadorial Award.
He said his modest contributions to the educational landscape of the country is a dream come true and expressed happiness that this is happening in his life time, pointing out that his decision to set up a university was informed by his experience during his seven-year stint as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council at the University of Lagos during which time he was able to see, first hand and bare-facedly, the decay and rot in the nation’s educational system.
Together with his colleagues in Council and the Management of UNILAG, he recalled that they were able to do the little they could do then as a result of which the university was not only voted the best in the country then, Babalola was twice voted the Best Pro-Chancellor. But because he did not believe that was enough and to prove a point, he sold virtually everything he had, including choice properties in Lagos, Abuja, and United Kingdom as well as in the United States to establish ABUAD to show Nigerians how a university should be run and how it should not be run.
He noted with relish that the beautiful and commendable things AU-ECOSOCC said about him in its letter of nomination dated August 5, 2019 are equally being noticed by reputable universities and organizations around the world.
The stuff his university is made of started showing almost immediately it commenced academic activities on Monday, January 4, 2010. For example, on April 10, 2014, the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, invited ABUAD to participate in a symposium titled “Global Higher Education in the 21st Century”, at Balliol College, University of Oxford from August 27-29, 2014.
In the same vein, during ABUAD’s maiden convocation on October 21, 2013, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for African Development, Dr. Lalla Aicha Ben Barka, in appreciation of the monumental achievements of the university promised UNESCO’s collaboration with the university on issues related to education, particularly on the Flagship Programme 2 of Operational Strategy for Priority Africa (2014-2021) titled “Strengthening Education Systems for Sustainable Development in Africa: Improving Equity, Quality and Relevance”.
Ben Barka also volunteered “to publicize UNESCO-ABUAD initiatives on UNESCO’s website”, thereby ‘portraying the university as one of the shining beacons of excellence in its endeavour to be one of the best universities in African and the world’.
Again, through its letter of March 25, 2014, UNESCO picked ABUAD, ahead of other older universities, to play host to its first ever Regional Retreat during the 2014 summer.
The university recorded another milestone achievement in July last year when all the 43 pioneer medical students presented for the final MBBS Examination recorded 100% Pass with Eight Distinctions. Their superlative performance has thus made ABUAD the first university in Nigeria to produce its first set of Medical Doctors within six-and-half years.
This was followed closely in August last year with the mindboggling performance of ABUAD Law Graduates during the 2018 Bar Examination conducted by the Council of Legal Education where they recorded 100% Pass, with the Overall Best Student coming from ABUAD. In addition to these uncommon accomplishments, ABUAD Law Graduates won 24 out of the 36 available Prizes as a result of which many of the much older universities have been congratulating the institution.
It must be in appreciation of all these national and international recognitions and encomiums that the university, which was then less than five-year old was in 2014 appointed as the ‘Mentoring tertiary institution and affiliate’ to the new College of Industrial Development (UID), Accra, Ghana. Two years later in 2016, one of the oldest state universities in Northern Nigeria approached ABUAD to be mentored. This was followed by the 14-year-old International University of Grand Bassan, Cote D’Ivoire, which visited ABUAD in July 2019 for mentorship and partnership.
• Olofintila writes from Ado-Ekiti
Kogi 2019: Another Zamfara, Rivers in making
ogi State chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is looking set to attain the unenviable status of its counterparts in Rivers and Zamfara during the 2019 general election: disqualification from fielding a candidate in the November 16, 2019 governorship poll.
In the February 23 and March 9 National Assembly, and House of Assembly and Governorship elections, respectively, the courts banned the Rivers chapter from fielding candidates, and turned over the party’s wholesale victories in Zamfara to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
What was the offence of both chapters of the APC? They failed to conduct valid primaries, in line with the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (as amended); the party’s constitution; the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended); and the guidelines for the general election issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Kogi chapter bears imprints of the political rumbles that ensured the party lost in its strongholds, and promising terrains: unbridled ambition of incumbent or former officeholders; desire of big wigs to enthrone cronies; and opposition by other aspirants.
The result was a plethora of court cases prior to and after the conduct of cantankerous primaries across the country. Some of the cases are still running alongside election petitions initiated after the polls in February and March.
As it’s in Zamfara and Rivers, several court cases, filed within and outside Kogi, have dogged the APC primaries scheduled for August 29. The party may be playing with breaching court injunctions!
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC, as the organ mandated to pick the mode of primaries, and conduct same accordingly, has chosen “indirect” primaries for the Kogi chapter. But about 20 “aspirants” are opposed to the process, and call for a “direct” primary contest.
The opponents of “indirect” primaries argue that it favours Governor Yahaya Bello, who’s seeking re-election. And they allege of plans by the governor to substitute the delegate list for the primaries.
But over 30 “aspirants” are in support of “indirect” primaries, as a method they claim has brought victories to the Kogi chapter in elections since 2015, and as such, “you don’t change a winning formula.”
Whereas the indirect election is by delegates chosen in ward and local council congresses, who vote to pick the candidate at a state convention; the direct primaries involve all card-carrying members casting ballot at the wards to return a candidate at the convention.
The real headache for the APC in Kogi isn’t the conduct of the “indirect” primaries per se, but how the delegates would be chosen, as there’re two factions laying claim to the leadership of the chapter.
Besides the “aggrieved aspirants” getting the court to put the APC on notice for a hearing on an injunction to stop the primaries; some “stakeholders” have also dragged the party to court, to determine the authentic State Executive Committee (SEC) of the chapter.
Among issues canvassed are: Whether, during pendency of the suit, the APC, through persons claiming to be members of the Kogi SEC, can adopt indirect primaries; whether the party can ignore the suit, which seeks to determine the authentic members of the Kogi SEC; and who constitutes the delegatesto the primaries.
The implication of this case, with the hearing adjourned to October 2 – four days after the primaries slated for August 29, is obvious: Any primaries conducted before the court day would be in breach, and contempt of the court order.
Will the APC abide by the order, and save the Kogi chapter the odium of being disqualified from fielding a candidate for the governorship contest billed for November 16?
During their protest to the APC secretariat in Abuja, the dissatisfied aspirants drew the party’s attention to an untoward fallout from using a delegate list from an “illegitimate” state executive.
Their spokesperson, Mohammed Ali, said: “Arising from the pendency of the various suits to determine the legitimate party executive council in the state, the use of any factional delegate list may amount to an exercise in futility.
“And lastly, we may have unconsciously set booby-traps for our party and the stage for the replay of the unfortunate Zamfara scenario.” The APC can ill-afford a repeat of that occurrence!
The main problems in the Kogi chapter, as in all other APC chapters nationwide, are: The adoption of one of three methods of conducting primaries; indiscipline and impunity among powerful members; and failure of the party leadership in dispute resolution.
The constitution of the party recognizes consensus, indirect and direct methods of primaries, and it empowers the NWC to pick any of the modes for each election.
Direct method is popular with the majority of party members, but unpopular with incumbent and former governors, who lobby to get consensus or indirect primaries, or impose same on the members.
In the Kogi example, it’s alleged that Governor Bello, through stakeholders of the chapter, got the NWC to approve “indirect” primaries for the November poll.
Though the governor has denied such indiscretion, and said he’s ready to contest under any method picked by the party, the aggrieved “aspirants” have insisted there weren’t adequate consultations for the adoption of indirect primaries.
The die is cast, and as usual, the APC leadership is found wanting at resolving the Kogi logjam. The party’s failure to intervene, or as some alleged, intervened and sided with one faction against the other camp, led to its loss of several Government Houses and State Assemblies in the 2019 general election.
So, is fictionalization in the Kogi chapter a recipe for poor outing at the poll? Or, in the worst case scenario of conducting yet invalid primaries, get slammed by the courts or INEC with zero participation in the franchise?
Whatever the outcome of the election, it would be to the eternal good of the APC to adopt one method of primaries – preferably the direct process – for all chapters, and for all elections.
Direct primaries allow for mass participation, and provide ordinary members, who are actually the voting blocs, a say in the choice of candidates for elective offices. Any other method is subject to hijack and manipulation by the powerful and mighty in the party.
Adopting the direct primaries would curtail, if not curb their scheming excesses, and thus enhance party supremacy, which has suffered incalculable disregard and disrespect in its barely six years of existence as an “agent of change.”
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