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2020: Budget of consolidated suffering

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2020: Budget of consolidated suffering

By 2020, Nigeria was projected some 11 years ago to become one of the 20 largest global economies in the world. When the projection was made in 2009 during the tenure of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, Nigeria was ranked number 30th largest economy in terms of its GDP size. Nigeria, which has been in the wilderness of darkness could only boast of 3,500 megawatts at that time. Till date, despite huge investments in the power sector, we are still oscillating between 4,000 and 6,000 megawatts depending on who is presenting the data. Government apologists are quick to remind us that power generation has increased remarkably in the last two years but the same government has budgeted N9 billion for generators purchase and maintenance in several government agencies. While the Yar’Adua government set up the National Council on Vision 2020 to ensure that the expectations and objectives are followed through, there seems to be less work done to actually realise the gains of this noble agenda.

The National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) was put in place as a launch pad for the actualisation of some of the key targets of this vision. Succeeding governments have come up with one idea or the other to drive the initiative. The energy sector which is key to jump-starting a productive economy has remained in its low ebb, with accusing fingers pointing in the direction of funds misappropriation, regime after regime. Within the last five years, unemployment figures have grown in a geometric proportion while job losses have become the icing on the cake. Whilst the Buhari-led Federal Government declares its avowed commitment to fighting corruption and making a lot of recoveries, the irony is that Nigeria and Nigerians are growing poorer and poorer by the day. Government has continued to complain of declining revenue, even when Professor Itsay Sagay says over N1 trillion was recovered within the last one year as an eloquent testimony to the anti-corruption crusade of the current government. Why the monies recovered are not apparently adding up to the figures remain a subject of curiosity.

Amid a plethora of issues begging for governmental intervention, government spokespersons are insisting that borrowing is the way to go since there is shortfall in national revenue to execute a considerable percentage of its annual budget. By 2020, when it would be 11 solid years since the official endorsement of the Vision 2020, on 1st October, 2009, Nigeria will still be encumbered by series of developmental challenges that have refused to go away. Presently, there is a huge gap in infrastructural development across the country. The roads are in bad shape, rendering mobility and commerce difficult to flourish. The education sector is suffering kwashiorkor as a result of poor funding in the area of infrastructure, learning and research. A paltry N48 billion budget in the 2020 budget year is a far cry from UNESCO benchmark. Given the huge challenges in the education sector, with incessant strike action by trade unions and its affiliate bodies, the education sector is presently traumatised. Added to this is the gloomy economy that has not shown any sign of recovery despite cooked up figures to whet the appetite of those in government as though we are making progress.

As if that is not debilitating enough, the unwholesome activities of kidnappers, armed bandits, armed robbery and other crimes, have had untoward impact on the wellbeing of the populace. The environment of insecurity that has become a perennial slur on the economic landscape has affected investment in remarkable measures. Rather than make a realistic budget estimates that would make us to cut our clothes according to our size, government is making budgetary projection that is almost dead on arrival. The projection of 2.180 mbpd on the oil front is undoubtedly ambitious, especially at a time when OPEC oil quota is hovering around 1.8 to 1.77mbpd. As if that was not enough, the oil price benchmark of $57 dollar per barrel is also uncertain. Rather than generate estimates that would seem positive on the outlook, government ought to set benchmark that would appear plausible and almost predictable. That Iran and the United States are presently in a muscle-flexing altercation which has raised oil price to $60 or $61 per barrel is not enough to sing hallelujah song. In a sector where Nigeria’s influence is not water-tight, over-shooting OPEC quota in budgetary estimation is a joke taken too far.

The minimum wage challenge on the home-front is another pain in the neck of government. The Buhari presidency played politics with workers by agreeing on a N30,000 minimum wage before the elections, ostensibly to shore up support and votes from workers across the country. Rather than implement, governors have been complaining of lack of funds to hit the ground running. Labour is spoiling for strike action to pressurise government to honour its own side of the bargain. There are states that are still owing several months of salaries, some pay negotiated percentage, while others appear helpless in their effort to generate increased internally generated revenue (IGR). With Federal Government’s decision to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT), which will mean more money for the states at the expense of the people, the mere fact that it is an item in the 2020 budget raises more posers to analysts. The VAT law has to be tinkered with if this increment is to take effect, but the constraint according to some analysts is that it is like taxing an already impoverished citizens. It is another way to consolidate their sufferings. When government ought to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, it is making effort to take from the already down and out Nigerians, whose means of livelihood is tellingly affected by por economic realities.

When the Buhari presidency came up with the Social Investment Programmes in 2016 in response to finding quick-fix solution to poverty, suffering and deprivation, and lifting the poorly poor away from poverty, it budgeted N500 billion into the scheme. The following year, the budget remained at N500 billion and it dropped to N350 billion in the succeeding year. In the 2020 budget, it is now pegged at N38 billion, a far cry from its earlier 2016 budget. That means, those Nigerians who have been captured in government’s N5,000 monthly stipend will surely suffer in 2020. It will also mean that the school feeding programme which the government touted to be one of its legacy projects will also suffer. And those who have been captured in that supply chain will also be out of circulation. It is yet to be seen how this budget that proposes 20% capital expenditure, with N2.45 trillion debt servicing can actually launch the country on the path to economic recovery. While government apologists are raking up figures to justify the viability of the 2020 budget, it is left to be seen what investment N100 billion can attract in the defence and security portfolios, under a regime of insurgency and armed banditry. A deficit figure of N2.8 trillion is a clear indication of economic disaster, waiting to happen.

I had thought that with the announcement of the members of the Economic Advisory Council, that the President would create the opportunity for a robust synergy with the Budget and Planning Ministry in critically analysing the budget and taking informed position on it before it was hurriedly presented. This is a time that we need some level of uncommon approach to budgeting to get the figures right as well as the projections than the rush to impress the public on quick submission of budget. The ministers that were recently sworn in, needed time to study the books, make informed contributions before setting out to churn out a budget that could provide the right therapy for the economic ailments that confront us. Aside from the unrealistic nature of the budget, the complaint about lack of resources to fund the budget is another kettle of fish altogether.

Only on 1st October, 2019, the president told an already befuddled nation of N600 billion capital release to carry out capital projects. This is happening at the last quarter of the year. What baffles some observers is not the pronouncement, but that whether the government will be able to reflate the economy with such promised fund. That promised N600 billion represents 22% of the budgeted estimate in the 2019 budget, an indication that the 2020 budget may follow similar pattern of poor funding.

In an era when Nigerians are already groaning under the negative spell of poor budgetary implementation, with over 100 million amongst the world’s poorest, an unrealistic budget will be addition burden on the citizens. Government ought to cut down on its excesses and overheads. There is no justifiable reason why for example, the president will approve six Special Assistants and Special Advisers to an office that is not known to law; office of the First Lady. Government can also cut down on some items like president’s haircut, domestic travels, foreign travels, purchase and maintenance of generators and entertainment in the Villa. A dire situation that we find ourselves requires a serious austerity approach to cut down on wastes. This is the way to go in order to bail out Nigerians from their present economic predicament.

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Nigeria’s houses of horror

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Nigeria’s houses of horror

H

ouses of horror were recently unearthed in various parts of the country, starting in the North before berthing, last week, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital and largest city in West Africa. Oyo State police boss, Shina Olukolu, was quoted as describing the Ibadan house of horror as “man’s inhumanity to man”. All manner of occultist and satanic practices take place in those houses of horror. Only God knows how many destinies have been truncated, careers ruined, lives lost and homes wrecked by the evil operators of such houses and their patrons.

 

 

To be sure, they have powerful backers. The highly-placed patronise them for their diabolical wares and such conscienceless but powerfully-connected people are always at hand to ensure that the law is thwarted and the cloak of immunity woven around the vile elements that, otherwise, should have been made to face the full wrath of the law. Ibadan, once again, may not be a different kettle of fish.

 

 

We are no strangers to horror houses. We all were living witnesses to the Okija shrine debacle. The principal actors remain till today firmly ensconced in the corridors of power. A politician caught naked bathing with what was suspected to be human blood is today the speaker of a State House of Assembly. Apart from the official oath of office taken publicly by public officers, Nigerians know that there is another more powerful, more efficacious, and more dreaded secret oath that is administered before anyone can be allowed into the inner caucus of power. This is where satanic mediums and their patrons derive their power, relevance, toga of the untouchable and invincibility.

 

 

Their other source of power and influence is the gullibility and illiteracy of our people who even take their wards to the horror houses for “training”, “healing” or what-have-you! It was to such circumstances that we lost Super Eagles superstar, Rashidi Yekini. Remember? Relations said Rashidi was mad. The guy said he was not. He might have been a recluse but he troubled no one. One day, his relatives swooped on him, tied his hands and legs and hauled him into a house of horror called “healing” home. Rashidi had died before even his “healers” knew the pedigree of who was in their hands. How many Rashidi Yekinis have we lost to horror houses nationwide?

 

 

Governor Seyi Makinde’s response to the unearthing of the Ibadan house of horror was prompt and apt. He visited the scene – embarrassingly, it is purportedly a mosque, a so-called place of worship called Olore Central Mosque. That name is euphemism personified. Olore (Oloore) in Yoruba means the harbinger of goodness and dispenser of favour. To be sure, it is not only mosques that advertise God or Allah today but worship Satan. How else can we describe the case of five “pastors” using the same contortionist to demonstrate their miracle-performing “prowess”? Are the so-called pastors in chains already or do they still walk free, holding court?

 

 

That is the problem with Nigeria! Nothing shocks us anymore! We have all developed a thick skin. We do not do diligent follow-up. We do not punish offenders. And where offenders go unpunished, impunity reigns. Very soon, it becomes, “if you can’t beat them, join them!” I must confess that an avid reader prodded me from my “siddon look” to do this story.

 

 

His story: In 1984 I was returning home from (secondary) school and had to pass in front of the Olore Central Mosque. Suddenly, some men came from nowhere, hit me with something and dragged me inside the building. I was hauled before their boss. He asked me for my name. I gave him a fake name. He gazed straight ahead of him; looked at the ground and then ordered them to throw me out. Outside, I stood unconscious.

 

 

“Then I sauntered into Agbala Daniel next door and demanded to see the pastor. They said ‘Mama is sleeping’ I waited, my head howling and my body shaking. When they saw my comportment – a child – and I wouldn’t go and come back as they had counselled, they went and woke Mama up. I told her ‘Please, pray for me’. She did and then poured water on me. I regained my consciousness. That was 34/35 years ago. I couldn’t have been their first victim. Imagine how many must have fallen prey in that spate of time.

 

 

“Sometime in 2008 when the atrocities of the same people came into the open and government wanted to do something; it was reported that a prominent Islamic leader of Ibadan origin, now late, intervened. Now, that the same people have again been exposed, religious leaders are reportedly also coming together to sweep the case under the carpet. For how long will this continue?”

 

 

It will not continue! Governor Makinde has ordered the demolition of the house of horror parading as a mosque, as it was rightly described by the governor. Conscionable Muslims must understand this and distance themselves from Olore’s atrocities. More than that, true Muslims must be really angry that their name, religion and faith have been wilfully abused and unabashedly desecrated and must see the need to come out clean. They must, therefore, be in the forefront of those who will ask – and ensure – that vile elements are brought to book. Otherwise, they suffer double jeopardy. They will be treated not just as accessory after the fact of all the hideous crimes allegedly committed at Olore; they will also be treated as the proverbial abetter of crimes, who deserve a heftier punishment than the criminal himself. Religion or religious affairs must be separated from crime and criminality, again, as Makinde aptly stated.       

 

 

A total of 259 inmates were rescued at Olore. Makinde has taken them into safe homes and ordered their treatment and rehabilitation. That is the first step; next is the prosecution of the offenders. And what is worth doing at all is worth doing well. Justice delayed – to both sides – is justice denied. CP Olukolu has given his word that justice would be served; Gov. Makinde similarly. If this proves not to be so in the end, citizens’ trust and confidence in government will be shaken while getting the support and cooperation of the same people shall become an uphill task. I will, however, want Makinde to understand that it is not the case that people have not spoken out about Olore and such other houses of horror in Ibadan; the unfortunate thing is that the appropriate authorities have failed to act again and again.

 

 

In The PUNCH of February 23, 2008, Akin Oyedele, the then Oyo State correspondent of the newspaper, wrote a story on Olore and other Ibadan houses of horror titled: POLICE UNCOVER ANOTHER IBADAN HOUSE OF HORROR WHERE INMATES EAT DEAD COLLEAGUES. Excerpts:

 

 

The Oyo State Police command on Friday (February 22, 2008) uncovered another illegal detention camp in Ojoo area of Ibadan where at least 60 inmates were said to have been tortured to death and buried secretly in the last two years.

 

 

Against their wish, the victims claimed that they were turned to cannibals as they were forced to prepare and eat the remains of their dead colleagues with their captors. The police said 92 inmates were rescued from the centre after spending between three days and seven years while 11 suspects working with the prime suspect, Alfa Mohammed Olore, were arrested…

 

 

Exhibits recovered from the suspects were three cars, N32,000, three spades, concoctions, a jar of black soap, plastic container with reddish water allegedly drained from the corpses of the dead inmates…

 

 

Parading the inmates and suspects at the Special Anti-Robbery Squad on Saturday, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of the command, Mr. Udom Ekpoudom, said the latest discovery was shocking. This is coming on the heels of the arrest, last Friday (February 15, 2008), of an Islamic teacher, AbdulGaniyu Imoniyi, who operated an illegal detention camp at Eleta, Ile-tuntun area of Sanyo where 23 victims were rescued. Another Muslim cleric, Alfa Ali Ademola, was arrested at Orogun area of Ibadan, last week for allegedly torturing a trainee to death.   

 

 

On Saturday, an Islamic leader, Alhaji Azeez Arisekola-Alao, was one of the early callers at the SARS… The Muslim leader declined press interview during the brief period he stayed at the SARS while he assured the agitated victims, “Don’t worry; they will give you food,” before departing the venue.

 

 

The AIG admitted that pressure was mounted on him by some clerics… He said, “I don’t know what Ibadan is turning to… When I was in Abeokuta, two of my friends, an engineer and a doctor, came to Ibadan and disappeared. Who knows whether they ended up in one of these centres?”

 

 

There you are, Governor Makinde! It is not that people have not spoken out. It is not that the authorities have not been aware all along. It is just that the needful has not been done. Now, the ball is in your court! Will you dare to be different?

 

 

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Edo political conundrum (2)

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Edo political conundrum (2)

Coincidentally, today marks the 3rd year anniversary of Governor Godwin Obaseki in office, but I am not going to dissect his adventure thus far. That will be an assignment for a later date. Let me continue from where I stopped last week, the Iyamho debacle. The Iyamho show of shame has been given different interpretations and connotations with accusations and counter-accusations followed by sky-rocketing rebuttals, depending on what cylinder one is firing from. The governor who spoke about pursuing peace, refused to pick the phone calls of his boss, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who declared that his calls to Governor Obaseki, rang out. The Iyamho show of shame has a tinge of embarrassment to it, with a cincture of mutual suspicion. First, is the Oshiomhole angle. Second, is the Obaseki/Shuaibu angle.

The common denominator is the love lost, which led to some unhealthy conducts more on the part of the state government and partly Oshiomhole’s side. It is this love lost that breached the protocol in the entire scenario. Information has it that Governor Obaseki attended the Friday 1st November, 2019 Convocation Lecture without extending courtesies to his National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole at the latter’s home. It snowballed into the macabre theatre that played out the following day which has now been outsourced to professional hirelings, government bootlickers, naysayers, coupon clippers and renters, to further the ugly narrative. Even at that, a discerning mind would easily see the loose end. If there was the usual camaraderie, on arrival, both the governor and his deputy would have proceeded to the residence of their National Chairman to pay the usual courtesies and from there, all the dignitaries including their host, would ride in a bus to the venue for the day’s business.

So, the love lost became the catalyst for the show of shame. Even at that, I am yet to reconcile the rationale for the deputy governor’s decision to subject our collective psyche to such dangerous ride. As a number 2 citizen of the state, his total package should worry all of us. He belongs to us as our number 2, the same way the governor belongs to us as our number 1 in the state. Riding on top of motorcyle on that busy Okpella-Benin highway exposed all of us to undue hypertension. What if peradventure, God forbids, any of those trucks’ drivers plying that road failed to apply his brakes, and decided to ram into those motorcyclists, including that of the number 2? What would have been the explanation? There have been many instances of brake failure and mindless carnage on that ever-busy road by heavy duty long trucks by no ordinary design of their own. What moral lesson was the Deputy Governor trying to communicate to the average graduand of the university? What was the motivation for mobilising such huge and unruly crowd to the extent that the soldiers and police would shoot teargas canisters to disperse them? Was that supposed to be a role model display or a condemnable act bearing in mind the theme and environment of the event? Was it proper for the Deputy Governor to climb a make-shift podium to give directive to the crowd like a movie director? 

A usually serene, small, university community like Iyamho would expectedly become boisterous seeing such a huge, campaign-rally type of crowd on a day that should ordinarily be for merriment by parents and their graduating children. Containing such already charged atmosphere would also be a tall order, not when teargas canisters had been fired to create additional panic. Now, in the midst of such charged atmosphere, the event ended and the governor decided to accompany other invitees to the residence of his boss, the National Chairman, bearing in mind he never extended such courtesy a day earlier. It is expected that those imported “okada” riders and thugs would naturally accompany their leaders to Oshiomhole’s residence chanting 4+4, in full obeisance to the salutary lure for second term. Expectedly, there is already a “home-grown” crowd at the entrance to the residence of Comrade Oshiomhole. Only naivety would think otherwise. You are bound to have contestation or “balance of terror” between the imported and the home-grown crowds. Any security conscious person on advance duty ought to have properly communicated this situation to the governor and his entourage, knowing full well that both actors have not been in the best of terms for sometime now.

The personal security details of the governor failed in their responsibility of proactive trouble-shooting. The simple doctrine in VIP movement is to think ahead of your principal and see if any intending atmosphere is suitable enough to accommodate a hitch-free entry for your principal. The governor’s security details ostensibly became part of the crowd and part of the problem, thus making the entire situation uncontrollable. It is one thing for you to mobilise crowd to an event, managing them to behave in a most civilised manner, often times, becomes herculean. Did the Deputy Governor depart the scene on “okada” the same way he came with them? The answer is no. He was reportedly inside the bus that conveyed other dignitaries to the residence of Comrade Oshiomhole. He left the imported crowd in the hands of the “home-grown” crowd and zoomed off with his principal. The end product was the battering and smashing of windscreens that later became relics of the encounter. Lowering the standard of public office as exhibited by the Deputy Governor is morally reprehensible, given the assignment of that day. If what the Deputy Governor wanted was a show of political strength and bravado in Oshiomhole’s domain as a mark of political independence, he got his fingers burnt and thoroughly embarrassed his boss, the governor, the state and other invited dignitaries. By the time the security agencies profile and analyse those amateur videos, they would be able to place their hands on the jar.

I am enthralled by Comrade Oshiomhole’s reported phone calls to the governor and other dignitaries few minutes after the ugly incident was brought to his attention. The only sore thumb was Oshiomhole’s declaration that he didn’t actually invite the governor. That was off the mark. Not responding to Comrade Oshiomhole’s calls was another off the mark on the part of the governor. In the african tradition, the visitor or guest is the head of the house because of the respect we accord those who visit us. I am sure that was the motivation for Oshiomhole’s calls to the governor to extend his apologies. He didn’t stop there, he also personally apologised to the governor and other dignitaries including the revered Oba of Lagos, through press interview, over the untoward behaviour of the errant youths. That apology, to me, was the hallmark of humility against the background of the love lost between the two major actors. Going further to join issues with his political son was another off the mark chronicle. He should simply have called for the State Commissioner of Police and the Department of State Services to investigate the matter and come up with a report, after all, both agencies have their men on duty on that fateful day. 

Talking seriously, as a student of power, ingratitude has its own consequences. The addictive properties of power often make its distribution suffer certain deprivations and end up creating frictions between godfathers and godsons. In the Edo scenario,  I have read a couple of very misleading, ill-informed commentaries as the rationale for the seed of discord that has germinated between Governor Obaseki and Comrade Oshiomhole. They called it “refusal to share money”, a cheap blackmail, loaded in baloney, a banality that is neither here nor there. The Edo debacle is purely a function of ego, pure and simple. As a muslim who believes in the efficacy of my five times prayers, it is becoming a motto on the lips of people to offer this prayer line: may your case never be like that of Oshiomhole and Obaseki. Often times, you hear a deafening sound of A-M-E-E-E-E-N. Why is the prayer that instructive and disturbingly so? It is because of the robust relationship that hitherto existed between the two of them for eight solid years when Godwin Obaseki served as Economic Advisor to Oshiomhole and the level of decay it has suffered just within three years.

No one would have contemplated that Governor Obaseki would derive the balls to confront an Oshiomhole whom he often offered the honorific salutation of “yes sir”, “yes sir” in those years. Coupled with this, is the current role of the Deputy Governor, Phillip Shuaibu, a once political son of Oshiomhole, who has now chosen power in place of long held relationship. They say you do not know the true depth of a man’s character until power and money are thrust upon him. Power! Power!! Power!!!. What a crazy aphrodisiac that makes men blind to their real intentions and derobe their sense of humanity when faced with the lure of high office. I am yet to reconcile in retrospect why Comrade Oshiomhole would have to withdraw Phillip Shuaibu from the House of Representatives and made him Obaseki’s running mate, when there were better, intellectually mobile and cerebral minds from Edo North who could have filled the opportunity. Power, they say, works in an uncommon fashion.

If the opportunity presents itself, would Oshiomhole be willing to do same? That is the lesson of history and experience. I now hear the unprintable names Oshiomhole is being called by those beneficiaries of his compelling lobby and argument. Some say it is the law of karma at play, others say it serves him right, yet some say, it is a lesson for those who tend to serve power ala carte. Obaseki got his hands on power ala carte, right from the oven of Oshiomhole’s kitchen. Having been fed with the menu of some ideological precepts, he has now built his own army of praise-singers and colony of clapping youths who deafen our ears with suffocating chants of 4+4. In the inner recesses of power, especially in Nigeria, sustaining the drive becomes a distraction and money guzzling adventure, but from Obaseki’s body language, he seems ready to break the till to prove a point that he indeed is the real King on the throne. Power and its allure presents intoxicants for those who wield it and gives ingratitude a new meaning….

To be continued….

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Atiku: They gave him a false sense of hope

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Atiku: They gave him a false sense of hope

A

fter the Supreme Court threw out the legal challenge by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the February 23, 2019 presidential poll last week, two things flashed across my mind. One was a song, the other, a quote from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which I’d read over 40 years ago.

First, the song:

The strife is o’er, the battle done,

The victory of life is won,

The song of triumph has begun,

Alleluia!

And then Shakespeare, as Macbeth was confronted by Macduff at the battlefront, and the former realized he had been fooled by the witches who had predicted that no man born of woman could ever kill him, and that he could not be defeated in any battle “till Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.”

Macduff told Macbeth that he had been “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb, and was not biologically delivered as babies are. The advancing soldiers also bore before them trees they had cut from Birnam Wood, which meant the forest had virtually relocated to Dunsinane. Macbeth, confronted with defeat, had declared:

“And be these juggling fiends no more believed,

That palter with us in a double sense,

That keep the word of promise to our ear,

And break it to our hope.”

Macbeth had been fooled, just as it happened to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who had been hoodwinked into believing that he was President already, before the February 2019 election.

Who were those that paltered with Atiku in a double sense? Who were the people that lured him into a losing battle? Who were those who told him he was on a giant horse, not knowing that he was riding on a cockroach? Let’s do a checklist.

Olusegun Obasanjo, and his foreign cohorts. The former president was the one that ruined Atiku Abubakar most, when they fought a bitter battle as they served together in government. Obasanjo wrote books, granted interviews, where he poured vitriol on his former deputy. He described him in words that won’t make you buy Atiku for 10 kobo. In fact, he said God should punish him if he ever supported Atiku for president. And that lasted for about 10 years.

Suddenly, with just months to the 2019 election, Obasanjo came singing another tune. He said he had forgiven Atiku, and started calling him “my President in waiting.” Were Nigerians fools? Can you approbate and reprobate at the same time? Can you strip a man naked in the marketplace, and cover him up in the bedroom? The damage would already be done. And so it was with Atiku.

Yes, Obasanjo has some clout, particularly internationally. He swung into action, trying to mobilize the international community behind his candidate. Some people followed him, and Atiku thought the deed was done. But they didn’t reckon with the hurricane called Muhammadu Buhari. The cyclone force was too strong, and it simply cleared everything in its path. It was a bitter lesson that the challenger learnt too late.

Obasanjo had always decided who should, and shouldn’t be President, right from the first time he left power as a military ruler in 1979. He was instrumental in some ways to the emergence of Shehu Shagari, Umaru Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan, as presidents. He also contributed to pulling them down later with his mouth. By this year, Nigerians were simply tired of the overbearing attitude of the Otta chicken farmer. They thus refused to buy the candidate he had earlier rendered toxic, and was selling to them in borrowed robes.

Who fooled Atiku again? The Atikulators. And who are they? People who flocked after the candidate for many reasons, none of them altruistic. They were those who didn’t like Buhari, either because of ethnicity, language, religion, or the man’s aversion for corruption. They wanted business as usual, and it should be anybody but Buhari. So, they followed Atiku, not because they loved him, but they would have also followed a goat, if they had been told that the animal could get Buhari out of power. They put their money on the wrong horse, gambled, and lost.

Before the election, you saw and heard the Atikulators everywhere, boasting of how they were going to wrest power in the country. They were all over the place. In offices, market places, churches, mosques, schools, television, radio, newspapers, almost in all traffic lanes of life. And they fooled their principal. He backed them up with piles and tons of cash, in major currencies of the world. To quote President Buhari, “they spent so much dollars, that the currency became devalued.” For Atiku, anything that money cannot do is not doable. Money answereth all things. He threw in more and more. But for the Buharists, it is not about money, not even a bottle of soft drink or water. It is about conviction. It is about integrity and accountability. It is about building a new country, devoid of greed and rapacity. So we followed the Mai Gaskiya (honest man) all the way. Nothing could be articulated against him. Not possible.

 

Again, the marabouts, prophets, some pastors and preachers. Yes, let me group them together, including the witches and wizards. They formed a confederacy, and said Atiku would win. Who is it that says anything when the Lord has not spoken? The marabouts collected money handsomely, and pronounced Atiku king. They did not tell him he would be king on an empty throne. The preachers, across the major religions, because of personal hatred, and possibly inducement, gave evil and false messages. They began to proclaim that Atiku was the messiah, when God had not said so. And the PDP candidate believed them. He felt there was no way he could ever lose the election. But he didn’t know that lying tongues were in action. The preachers had become inhabited by lying spirits, modern day Zedekiahs, who prophesied falsehood (1 Kings 22:11). They led Atiku to political perdition.

 

The social media. Populated by people with exaggerated sense of worth, they think they can do and undo. I call them the vocal minority. If you followed only the social media before the elections, you would think the All Progressives Congress (APC) government at the centre was gone. They filled the landscape with so much wailing, till they became wailing wailers. We will do this, we will do that. Mere shooting of breeze. Superfluity of nothingness. Arrogant impertinence. The Buhari people simply kept their peace, while online warriors, most of who had no permanent voters’ cards (PVCs) continued to fire blanks.

 

A very credible and scientific study had showed before the polls that social media would account for only between nine and 11 per cent of the ballots. And not all of the votes would go to PDP. The two major parties would share it. But from the noise online, you thought Atiku had coasted home. He, too, must have believed the lie. He paid dearly for it with a broken heart.

 

The coalition that thought they owned the country. They also fooled Atiku. They include politicians, businessmen, high net-worth people. They had never failed in anything before. If they showed you a red card, you were out of the game. God’s judgement, no appeal. Such people massed behind Atiku. Those who had corruption cases before the courts, those who had lost power and were forlorn and disconsolate, those who had always profiteered from the system and who felt that Buhari had closed the sluice gate, they all came together. Buoyed by Atiku’s promise that he would empower his friends when he got power, they were already licking their lips. Soon, our snouts would be in the honeypot again, they told themselves. But those who felt they were Nigeria’s landlords had long been given quit notices by Buhari, and ejected. Atiku thought they were still somebody, and learned the hard way. What a pity!

 

Wrong permutations. That was also Atiku’s downfall. It is an inexorable truth that it is only the person/party that builds the bigger coalition wins the Presidency in Nigeria (and almost everywhere else). But before the election, Atikulators had come with this jejune permutation. They would sweep the Southe-East, the South-South, the North-Central, share North-East and North-West, as well as South-West. And Atiku would coast home. True? Well, dreams don’t cost anything. The dream eventually became nightmare.

 

Wrong strategy. It is on good authority that the winning strategy of the PDP had been based on data hack. That was why they fought tooth and nail for electronic voting, because they were allegedly in league with international forces that was adept at manipulation of election results. The plan was to intercept results as they were transmitted electronically, and record them for PDP. But it is said that if the abiku has learnt to die in dry season, the mother too would learn to bury in rainy season. The rest is history.

 

Many other forces fooled Atiku that space would not permit one to mention. People who promised access to the electoral commission’s server, when none existed in the true sense of the word. Some elements in the judiciary, who had made false promises. And the lawyers. Yes, we can’t but talk briefly about them.

 

Lawyers are professionals. They must ply their art, and make profit from it. They are learned people, while the rest of us are only educated. However, morality is everything. Why egg on your client, when you know he has the most useless case in the world? Nigerians knew Atiku lost the election. Lawyers too knew it. But man must chop. They encouraged the PDP candidate to go to court, despite knowing that the prayers were weak and improbable. Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Festus Keyamo, said the suit was the worst he had ever seen in Nigeria’s history of election petitions. But the lawyers convinced Atiku otherwise. He lost at the Court of Appeal level, but there was probably more money to be made. So they encouraged a trip to the Supreme Court. Another ill-fated journey.

 

 

Sadly, after the Supreme Court threw out the case, Atiku was not gracious enough to throw up his hands in surrender. He called the judiciary all sorts of names. An opportunity missed to prove that he is not a sore loser and power monger. Where would he go next, World Court? Or as somebody has jocularly said, he may just decide to go to the lawn tennis court.

 

 

  • Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.
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Those with glass jaws shouldn’t throw punches

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Those with glass jaws shouldn’t throw punches

I

t is pulsating trying to ascribe any intelligent reason to why the chief spokesman to Muhammadu Buhari had penned a misleading account of the last presidential election in the country. But it wasn’t all together a bad idea. If anything, Femi Adesina gave a literary expression to how jolt to the hilt people at the Aso Rock Villa were about the inevitability of a win at the polls by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Atiku Abubakar during the February 23 presidential election. This much, Adesina himself, confessed to when he said, “before the election, you saw and heard Atikulators everywhere… They were all over the place. In the offices, marketplaces, churches, mosques, schools, on television, radio, newspaper; almost in all traffic lanes of life.” That was both a candid and surreal expression of fear that the Atikulators were indeed poised for victory in the 2019 presidential election.

However, if we are to interrogate Adesina’s confession a little bit further, we would remove the mask and expose the chicanery that summed up the claim of victory by the APC and their Buharideens alike.

First off, before the election, the APC band was busy chorusing around town that there was no Nigerian alive who was up to challenge and defeat Buhari in an election. They soon coined the phrase of ‘No Alternative’ to ingrain the argument that Buhari was super human and to scare the opposition from challenging a second term ticket with him.

The APC and the likes of Adesina who are disconnect from the reality of the angst of Nigerians against the incompetence and cluelessness of Buhari-led administration told a lie to the president that he was loved and adored by all. Thus, Buhari and the APC entered the 2019 presidential race with a foolish and corrupted sense of entitlement about a towering expectation from the people that was nowhere to be found. The Buhari team, unlike the Atikulators, lured their candidate into an election without an honest evaluation of the strength of their opponent. At the end, they entered a panic mode and, using the instrumentality of power of incumbency, took certain actions to guarantee victory at all cost which ultimately compromised the integrity of the election.

The second irrational assumption is the claim that the Atikulators is an assembly of people who hate Buhari. According to Adesina’s words, Atikulators are ‘those who didn’t like Buhari, either because of ethnicity, language, religion, or the man’s aversion for corruption… So, they followed Atiku, not because they loved him, but they would have also followed a goat…’

It is often said that people who live in the corridors of power actually live inside a bubble. If there are people in this country who think that there is anything close to aversion for corruption by this current administration, they must be folks like Femi who are too busy chopping and smiling, having a blurry vision of the cesspool of iniquities and the lack of rectitude in the system. Irrespective of what Adesina and his colleagues at the corridors of power might say, Nigerians already have their opinion about the vastness of space index for corruption in the Buhari government. And by the way, Femi and his co-travellers need to be reminded that those with glass jaws should not throw punches.

 

So, coming back to the question: who are the Atikulators? Perhaps Femi is a bit right when he says that they are people who didn’t like the policies of this president. Where he got it all wrong is that they didn’t have to dislike Buhari’s personality or identity in order to like Atiku because both men share same religion, ethnicity and even language. If these qualities are the reason why some people hate Buhari, it must go without begging that there must be some other reason(s) why the same people will prefer Atiku as a leader.

 

 

There is a popular American saying that ‘fool me once, shame on you!’ In 2015, many of the people that supported and voted for Buhari feel that they have been fooled. They didn’t imagine that the man they would be voting as president would divide the country in the approximation of 70-30 per cent. They didn’t believe that the man they voted would be clannish in his top appointments. They didn’t expect that a president who boasted that there would not be one corrupt person in his government will end up filling more than half of his cabinet positions with same ‘corrupt PDP people.’ They didn’t believe that the man who promised to crash the prices of petroleum products, but ended up doubling it should be trusted again. They felt betrayed by a man who promised them change but ended up changing his ways and his words!

 

 

One epic episode in the 2019 election cycle is the live NTA interview anchored by Kadaira Ahmed. The interview afforded Nigerians a life time opportunity to hear the man called Buhari unscripted. Were Femi Adesina’s pen not beguiled by the lucre of power, he would certainly not find any excuse for himself to still be a Buharideen after watching the man unscripted at the interview. Had Adesina been a mere mortal like the rest of us, he would have longed to see the Atiku episode of that interview and given the brilliance that the former Vice President showed at that interview, Adesina himself would have been an Atikulator. But he didn’t. Not because Adesina hated the ideas espoused by Atiku during the campaign trail, but for him and his cohorts at the corridor of power the refrain is: Buhari will NEVER relinquish power to Atiku.

 

 

The Atikulators are patriotic Nigerians. They wouldn’t have voted for a goat. I mean, they just wouldn’t have doubled down on the same mistake!

Again, there was a reference to what Adesina called hurricane Buhari sweeping everywhere across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Yes, he is right about that allegorical meaning of hurricane in Nigeria blowing through the bellies and wallets of Nigerians. But if by any stretch of assumption the hurricane was describing Buhari’s electoral popularity, it is safe to conclude therefore that our friend, Femi, is a fit for stand-up comedy. Or how could he have forgotten so soon what transpired in room 710 of Eko Hotel during his presidency of the NGE in the presence of my then colleague at Atiku Media Office, and now his colleague in the Aso rocked villa. But to avert a needless distraction, I am inclined to ensure that what transpired in that room is buried in the bowels of time.

 

 

Where in the world would Buhari of all people feel invincible in an election contest when the man could not trust where his own wife would vote on the election day.

 

 

Atiku went through the judicial process to express his discontentment with the election. He never called on his supporters to launch a violent attack, neither did he make a savage remark about baboons being soaked in blood. If Adesina feels what Atiku did is morally deficient, then it only shows the company he has been keeping of late is already telling on his vanishing ethos.

 

 

And talking about jokes, there is a piece going around the social media that smart people who serve in Buhari’s government have a way of losing it. For Femi, that is more than a joke. And when next you have the opportunity to read Femi be sure to have a bowl of pepper and salt by your side. It will be wise to leave our friend with a popular Yoruba saying that the sheep that flocks with dogs will end up eating faeces.

 

 

  • Mazi Ibe is Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of Nigeria, 1999-2007
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The place of the President and Vice President under the Nigerian and American Constitutions (2)

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The place of the President and Vice President under the Nigerian and American Constitutions (2)

INTRODUCTION

 

It is the responsibility of individuals to know that the liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending against all hazards, and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. In the same vein, the constitutional provisions that clearly define the roles of the President and Vice President should never be undermined.

 

The current “private visit”  by President Muhammadu Buhari to the UK, a foreign land with a differing territorial jurisdiction, but where he is busy signing laws that govern Nigerians, has more than ever before brought to the fore the place of the Vice President in a presidential system of government that we operate.

 

How could the president side-track his joint ticket VP to totally ignore him and act in a foreign land as if sections 142 to 145 of the 1999 Constitution were inserted for mere decoration? Where is our national honour, pride, dignity and self-esteem as a sovereign state?

 

Last week, we considered some of the roles of the Vice President of America, to include, but not limited to presiding over the impeachment trials and the power to supervise electoral votes count. On this note, we shall continue with other informal roles of the American Vice President.

 

OTHER INFORMAL ROLES OF THE AMERICAN VICE PRESIDENT

 

The extent of any informal roles and functions of the vice President depend on the specific relationship between the President and the Vice President, but often include tasks such as drafter and spokesperson for the administration’s policies, adviser to the President, and being a symbol of American concern or support. The influence of the Vice President in this role depends almost entirely on the characteristics of the particular administration.

 

Dick Cheney, for instance, was widely regarded as one of President George W. Bush’s closest confidants. Al Gore was an important adviser to President Bill Clinton on matters of foreign policy and the environment.

 

Under the American system of government the President is both head of state and head of government, and the ceremonial duties of the former position are often delegated to the Vice President. The Vice President will on occasion represent the President and the U.S. government at state funerals abroad, or at various events in the United States. This often is the most visible role of the Vice President. The Vice President may also meet with other heads of state at times when the administration wishes to demonstrate concern or support but cannot send the President personally.

 

 

THE VICE PRESIDENT IN NIGERIA

 

The Vice President of Nigeria is the second-in-command to the President of Nigeria in the Government of Nigeria. Officially styled and referred to as the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Vice President is elected alongside the President in national elections.

 

The executive function of the Nigerian Vice President includes participation in all cabinet meetings and, by statute, membership in the National Security Council, the National Defence Council, Federal Executive Council, and the Chairman of National Economic Council (NEC). Although the Vice President may take an active role in establishing policy in the Executive Branch by serving on such committees and councils, the relative power of the Nigerian Vice President’s office depends upon the duties delegated by the President.

 

Section 141 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) (as amended) established the office of the Vice President.

Section 141 Provides:

 

There shall be for the Federation a Vice-President.

 

To further give weight to the office of the Vice President, the Constitution further provides in section 142 as follows:

 

142  (1) In any election to which the foregoing provisions of this Part of this Chapter relate, a candidate for an election to the office of President shall not be deemed to be validly nominated unless he nominates another candidate as his associate from the same political party for his running for the office of President, who is to occupy the office of Vice President and that candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of Vice-President if the candidate for an election to the office of President who nominated him as such associate is duly elected as President in accordance with the provisions aforesaid.

 

(2) The provisions of this Part of this Chapter relating to qualification for election, tenure of office, disqualification, declaration of assets and liabilities and oaths of President shall apply in relation to the office of Vice President as if references to President were references to Vice President.

 

It can, therefore, be argued that the Vice-President is NOT a “spare President”, because the Constitution has specifically assigned definite functions to him.

 

The Court of Appeal of Nigeria had an opportunity in the case of Atiku Abubakar v. Attorney-General, Fed. (2007) 3 NWLR (Pt 1022) 601 at 642, to give a thorough explanation as to the status of a Vice President. The Court held Per Abdullahi, PCA as follows:

 

“The President and the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are jointly elected at a general election and the relationship between them is not that of a master and servant. In other words, the Vice President is not an employee of the President or of the political party on whose platform they are both elected. In the instant case, the plaintiff not being an employee of the President or the political party on whose platform he was elected, he cannot be impliedly or constructively removed by either of them.

 

“The Vice President, not being an employee cannot be impliedly or constructively removed. Assuming he qualifies as an employee, without, for a moment so deciding, his employer would most manifestly be the people of Nigeria, who elected him to the office, acting through their representatives in the national assembly but certainly not the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria nor the sponsoring political party. This assumption is based on the cliché that the power to hire is the power to fire embedded in Section 11 of the Interpretation Act. See Longe v. First Bank of Nigeria Plc. (2005) ALL FWLR (Pt. 260) 65. In other words, this matter is a matter that falls squarely within the contemplation of Section 143 of the Constitution which expressly provides for the removal of the President and Vice President from office.”

 

 

On the strength of the above judicial decision, it is submitted that the relationship between the President and Vice President, is not that of master and servant as each of them is a creation of the Constitution and neither employs the other.

 

Unlike the Ministers, the President cannot remove the Vice President. The process of removal of the President or the Vice President is provided for in section 143 of the Constitution. It is through the process of impeachment, which is to be conducted by the National Assembly as set out in that section. Section 143(10) of the Constitution specifically ousts interference of the court from the proceedings leading to the impeachment of the holders of the two offices.

 

Section 143(11) defines what would amount to “gross misconduct.” Section 143 of the Constitution provides as follows:

 

“143(1) The President or Vice President may be removed from office in accordance with the provisions of this section.

 

(2)  Whenever a notice of any allegation in writing signed by not less than one-third of the members of the National Assembly –

 

(a)   is presented to the President  of the Senate;

 

(b)  stating that the holder of the office of President or Vice President is guilty of gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office, detailed particulars of which shall be specified.

 

The president of the Senate shall within seven days of the receipt of the notice cause a copy thereof to be served on the holder of the office and on each member of the National Assembly, and shall also cause any statement made in reply to the allegation by the holder of the office to be served on each member of the National Assembly.

(3)  Within fourteen days of the presentation of the notice to the President of the Senate (whether or not any statements was made by the holder of the office in reply to the allegation contained in the notice) each House of the National Assembly shall resolve by motion without any debate whether or not the allegation shall be investigated.

 

(4)  A motion of the National Assembly that the allegation be investigated shall not be declared as having been passed, unless it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of all the members of each House of the National Assembly.

(To be continued).

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

“The Framers of the Constitution wisely understood that constitutional principles must not be sacrificed on the altar of political appeasement.” (Max Baucus).

 

LAST LINE

I thank Nigerians for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb., Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to next week’s treatise.

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Problems with ‘living-apart-together’

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Problems with ‘living-apart-together’

The idea of couples mutually agreeing to live apart in quest for economic comfort is now widely embraced, tolerated and encouraged in our society. Not minding the unwholesome consequence of the arrangement on the survival of family life, the practice is a silent but effective way of “putting asunder” what “God has joined together.”

Living-apart-together is an arrangement where, on the excuse of the family’s needy condition as occasioned by the poor economic climate of the country where job opportunities become rare, the couple decide to allow one of them to relocate overseas in search of greener pastures. In most cases, men are usually the ones to weather the ash climate to work for the comfort of his family back home.

Often, they do agree on the number of years to spend; either he will apply for his family members to join him much later after he must have found his footing or he will return home finally to his family. Only a fraction of Nigerian spouses do keep faith with their partners on this arrangement. In the long run, they end up not living together again as husbands and wives.

Recent surveys suggest that people living apart together (LATs) account for around 10% of the adult population in much of Western Europe, North America and Australasia, although precise estimates vary according to the findings and the survey group British data suggest that up to a quarter of supposedly ‘single’ adults who are not cohabiting with partners (either married or unmarried) in fact, have partners living elsewhere.

Many years ago in Nigeria, whenever a man was going on a transfer or he’s relocating to seek better opportunities elsewhere, he will go with his family members: his wife and children. Employees of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), NIPOST (P & T as it used to be), banks, UAC, UTC, federal civil service, military, the Police and some corporate personnel were those experiencing frequent transfers across the country. That’s why many of our parents, uncles and retired workers end up becoming multilingual of major Nigerian languages. This also inspired marriages across regional, tribal and ethnic lines. It also evolved cross-cultural mix, interactions and integration.

Nevertheless, choosing to go abroad to work for one’s family’s sustenance, to me, is a sacrificial venture and an exercise in the right direction provided it doesn’t lead to the breakup of the home eventually. However, this idea is fast turning to a curse rather than a blessing in many Nigerian homes. Gory tales of abandonment, hunger and break-up are fast becoming recurring decimals in many homes where this arrangement is in practice. Staying abroad for more than two years without a feasible timeline to reunite with your spouse offers an unhealthy ground for your ‘lonely’ partner to despair or compromise.

A former colleague went on a transfer abroad with the promise of coming back to pick his wife and two children. In the first two years, his wife was very faithful, praying and hoping things would work out as planned. They were in constant touch almost every hour for the first one year. By the end of the second year, the woman already knew the game plan had changed from his end. In summary, as you are reading this article, my former colleague is yet to visit Nigeria since 1995.

A man left for Europe when his last daughter was barely three years. Leaving three children behind for his wife in anticipation of an early return to buoy the economic fortunes of his family; now his daughter is an undergraduate, yet, he is yet to return. He is hale and hearty where he is because he still communicates with his family once-in-a while. He’s not sending money because he’s still roaming the streets for help. He won’t like to return to Nigeria because of shame!

A woman relocated overseas to take care of her children schooling in Europe. In the fifth year of her stay abroad, I saw her husband, a good Christian, faithful man and caring father; he had emaciated so much. Apart from working in Nigeria to sustain his family abroad, nobody cared about his wellbeing. I discovered during our discussion that he had not touched a woman since his wife travelled. She returned in the eighth year critically ill but unfortunately she couldn’t survive it.

A banker resigned from her job and relocated abroad in pursuit of better opportunities. She left three young children with her husband in anticipation that her family would join her within a year. It is four years now, she’s yet to return while her husband and children are still hoping. As at now, her in-laws are asking her to return or he will be encouraged to “move on.”

I could go on citing numerous examples. I’m sure you, too, can cite some cases you know about to buttress this line of thought. If the spouses left in the lurch back home begin to desire affection elsewhere, will you blame them? Some people are quick to judge others. There are women who claim they can stay for 10 years without the touch of a man, bravo! But remember we are not equally wired emotionally and sexually. Even the Word says those who can’t hold their urges for long should marry. Therefore, long absence from your spouse is like deliberately pushing him/her to sin! Eve got seduced while Adam was away.

The essence of marriage is companionship and not children. Children are a blessing of sexual intimacy in marriage. A situation where a woman no longer misses the presence of her husband is evident that all is not well in that home. Living-apart-together is an easier way to walk away from your marriage. It is a breeding ground for infidelity. It is a tenable excuse to live adulterous life. No matter how reasonable arguments for this idea are, it is not a healthy arrangement.

Dr. Akin-Bola John, a counsellor and Bible scholar, in an interview in The Nation newspaper a few years ago said, couples living apart for more than one year under whatever guise have practically dissolved their marriages. This is because marriage, like I stated earlier, is mainly about companionship.

I salute those who are still keeping faith despite the obvious signs that their partners had ‘improvised alternatives’ in the foreign lands. The reasons for the ‘alternatives’ are often predicated on their inability to endure the chilling, freezing weather and as a ploy to get residency papers. This is a classic case of self-deceit and conjugal sacrilege.

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2023: Memo to the North

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2023: Memo to the North

It would be ungrateful for North to hold on to power after President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term – Shehu Sani

Last week this space was on a special memo to the South-West region regarding the ambition of some persons from the area ahead of 2023. The memo was intended to take a historical look at the origin and benefits of the zoning of political offices at national level and how it has helped to stabilize the polity. It also emphasized the moral burden inherent in jettisoning it for some selfish gains.

A lot of reactions from the publication show that Nigerians are indeed interested in their peaceful co-existence and are willing to make all the needful sacrifices for peace to reign in our land.

This week Musing is on a similar memo to the geo-political North where available indicators are also showing some politicians desirous of nursing the ambition of retaining power after holding it for eight years.

It’s not yet clear what the driving force of those with this position is except that when power like alcohol intoxicates, it makes its victim extremely stupefied and irrational.

Among the excellent qualities that stood out late Northern idol Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto among his peers in Nigeria political landscape was his ability to accommodate varying views. He was never on record to have unduly taken advantage of the majority position of his Fulani kinsmen.

His management of the divergent ethnic groups in the North became significant that even today we talk of monolith geo-political North thanks to his obliging leadership spirit. Bello remains a model in the management of strength in diversity. Technocrats like Sunday Awoniyi and Solomon Lar were brought right inside the system not minding their minority status in the equation. Even when the Tiv strongman late Joseph Sarwuan Tarka led a rebellion against the Northern hegemony Bello did not come with big stick being conscious of the implications of such to the larger interest of the geo-political North.

As a result, since Nigeria’s independence 1960, the Middle Belt region has been struggling to break away from the core North in all their socio-political activities but has failed as they always end up voting alongside Northern interest when the chips are down.

Credit goes to Bello for this, for successfully and strategically intertwining the people notwithstanding their ethnic and religious differences. In truth, if Nigeria has been lucky to have a leader like Bello with all its differences it would have made significant progress as there would not have been much talk of marginalization.

No wonder Bello told Zik of Africa in a dialogue when Zik wanted us to forget our differences and forge ahead that instead of forgetting it let us understand it because by understanding it we will build unity in our country.

When the nation through a constitutional conference rejigged its political structure and created six geo-political zones for easy governance and administration of the country, the North remained one refusing to be carried away by the division. Unlike their brethren in the South who had their zones almost like a different country refusing to co-work as one geo-political interest – Southern protectorate. Since independence all elected national leaders in the North except the Prime Minister Tafawa Belewa, the others are from the North-West but the rest of the region are not losing any sleep. From Shehu Shagari to Umaru Yar’Adua and now Muhammadu Buhari. Even now it’s still people from the same North-West region that are scheming to domicile power in the place after eight years and the others are really not grudging all thanks to the great bond established by Bello.

It’s perhaps against this backdrop that the whole region rose in unison against Goodluck Jonathan when he tried to take advantage of his position to truncate power rotation to the North which caused PDP to lose power at the centre. The incontrovertible fact remains that Jonathan lost power in 2015 because of the obvious gang up by Northerners because they believe rightly perhaps that he was usurping the position meant for them. Why have I gone down memory lane like this in this memo? It’s to draw a historical fact to those in the North trying to disrupt the power rotation by wanting to continue after eight years that such act has far-reaching implications.

Even Jonathan who can lay claim to divine providence on the natural death of his boss, Yar’Adua, did not eventually have his way so what reason would those desiring to keep power have weighty enough to dislocate power rotation without reaping some consequences.

If Ahmadu Bello is the overwhelming leader to emerge from the North why should some lessons not be learnt from his style? The likes of Ango Abdullahi and Junaid Mohammad are failed scholars from Bello school of accommodation and scooping to conquer. These are anarchists who have by their own antecedents have edged themselves out of national relevance and needed to be cantankerous and crabby always to be noticed.

It need to be said pointedly here that anybody desiring to retain power in the North either by supporting somebody or nursing ambition does not merit to be called a lover of peace in Nigeria. These crusty old men like Abdullahi and Mohammad and their likes should not be allowed to sow seeds of discord in our midst.

Bello had all the potentials and advantages during his time but he accommodated diverse views and brought his leadership to such quintessential level. It baffles pundits why knowledgeable persons who are privy to history are still allowing their inordinate ambition to drive them to the dyke.

Governor of Kaduna State Nasiri el rufai driven by his jaundiced ambition is arguing that zoning should be thrown away because it is affecting competence and quality. The governor knows as a fact that if we are talking of competence and quality in political position a lot of those occupying positions should not have been there from inception because there are more competent persons than them. The governor is part and parcel of APC reign since 2015 and we all are wondering what his own definition of competence is vis-a-vis where we are today in this country. Moreover, El rufai needs to respond to the poser put forward by his political opposite in Kaduna State, Senator Shehu Sani who asked the all-important and perplexing question: Can you be talking of competence when you have not produced an Igbo President? Are they not Nigerians?

The main essence of this memo therefore is to undress the danger inherent in trying to disorder a formula that has continued to give stability to the polity just because it insignificances the ambition of some persons. Justice and fairness demand that after eight years power should rotate back to the South anything otherwise would be sowing discord in our midst and we should be ready to reap what it produces. This country belongs to everybody born in it and its leaders must operate with this fact in mind in all their political dealings whether in PDP or APC. God help Nigeria.

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A tale of firewood Mama told me

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recently heard that jollof rice cooked with/on firewood tastes better than the one cooked with/on gas; and that the one cooked with/on charcoal/coal sits in-between – not as tasty as the former but tastes better than the latter. I wouldn’t know why; one would have expected only the expertise of the chef to make the difference. Maybe jollof rice aficionados will educate us!

The concerns of environmentalists over climate change and global warming notwithstanding, I am thrilled that, if true, this is another clear example of how our own traditional methods of doing things, which, often, we foolishly and without interrogation abandon with glee and relish, to embrace “modern”, Western or “civilized” ways have, ultimately, proved superior, better informed, more economical and more beneficial to our health than the new but foreign ways we are wont to adopt. The joke is on us on many fronts. The people whose ways we adopted are jettisoning those ways themselves and embracing ours! Sadly but ironically, it is when foreigners embrace the traditional way of life we discard that we see the need to go back to our roots!

The Japanese reportedly are throwing away their micro-wave ovens because latest scientific discoveries link it with cancer. Be sure the discarded ovens will end up in Africa! Growing up, we fetched “cold water” from the big earthen pot strategically located at the corner of the room by grandma. Traditional methods of preserving foods ranged from the way the Ikales preserve “pupuru” to how meats were preserved by the fire-place and “garri” dried in the sun.

The earthen wares of old used as cooking utensils and plates are now acknowledged to be better and safer than the modern cooking utensils which pass through production processes using chemicals to form or shape them. Nylons used to wrap foods are now known not to be as health-friendly as the traditional “ewe” or leaves. Apart from the environmental hazard and nuisance that their empties constitute, bottled drinks pose a danger to our health. Processed food of any kind is harmful; organic food, which was how our ancestors lived life, is the best. We now know that storing water and other drinks in the fridge in plastic containers is dangerous to our health. Imported rice – imported craze – has been conclusively proven not to be as good as our own local “ofada” rice – better if this, as well as pounded yam, etc., is wrapped with “ewe” and not nylon or polyethylene.

Only last Wednesday, my elder sister and her husband, just returning from the U.S., visited and my wife gave them the pounded yam treat – but the yam nearly ruined her efforts. Yams these days are stuffed with fertilizers – they look big but are not as good as our local, traditional yams. My sister recalled with nostalgia the “owanna” yams of old – thin but rugged and pure. What of “ewusu”? Just one tuber will feed an entire family. It swells as you pour warm water or “Koko posho”, which was popular in my native Owo, Ondo State in those days. With the ascendancy of yams, “Koko” or cocoyam was derided, abandoned and associated with the poor. It was years later in the late 70s when, at Osogbo, I encountered Ghanaians fleeing from their country’s economic hardship, that I learned that “Koko” was not just a delicacy but, perhaps, of more nutritional value than yam. We have lost many of our treasures to so-called modernization.

Recently, Prof. Tope Ogunbodede, VC, OAU, Ile-Ife, agonised during a private discussion that a lot of our animal species have gone into extinction without any effort at preserving them in our Natural Museums. He made specific mention of a specie of fowl/chicken that had no hair on its neck. And I remember our own local cattle called “erenla”; they used to graze at a swamp close to Methodist Church along the Oke-Ogun axis of Owo. Rugged animals but most likely must have gone into extinction.

In those days, we ate rice only on festive periods and on special occasions. No more! Rice is alien to our culture; that is why we have no local name for it. “Iresi” is bastardization of “rice”; ditto “buredi” for bread. Not only are these foods alien – and a drain on our resources to help shore up the economy of other lands while impoverishing ours – they also do not do our health any good. The pastries and soft drinks industry is harmful to our health. Yet, they are the craze of the moment. We have imbibed the food and drinks culture of the Western world without the knowledge and health facilities that mitigate their deleterious effects.

The same Western world may have modernised our local “pako” for export! Our God-given “brush” is brush and tooth-paste both rolled into one and is even said to have more medicinal value than toothpastes. So many of our herbs, leaves, roots and the bark of trees that are of medicinal values have been abandoned, neglected and left to rot while we run after the inventions of the West; the vast and incredibly useful knowledge of our ancestors in many fields may have been lost. Until and unless the West returns to “discover” them and “teach” us their efficacy, we may never see them as amounting to anything. So were we taught in Eurocentric history books that Mungo Park discovered River Niger – but natives showed him the way and led him through its length and breadth!

Bible scholars say Hannah weaned her son Samuel after three years; she must have fed him breast-milk and not baby food. Same knowledge of the efficacy of breast milk was available to our forefathers, perhaps, before Bible times but we were made to abandon it as primitive while we took to baby foods. I saw empty cans of Amama, Cow and Gate etc. in my father’s shop while growing up. They were evidence he was rich and gave us the best money could buy.

Today, we know that nothing nourishes a child better than the mother’s breast milk. We have also found that three solid years are the minimum for a child to suck at Mama’s breasts. Those days, we would return from school, which we did not start until our right hand touched our left ear (a minimum of six years), to still suck our mother’s breasts! No more! The attendant dislocation this change causes in the “new age” generations stares us in the face. Back to our roots!

Mama taught me that not all firewood is fit for cooking if you don’t want the food to “mehe”; meaning, it will cook randomly and not uniformly. No one savours such food. Deadwood does not glow but brings out smoke that peppers the eyes. Also avoid insects-infested firewood; the unwanted guests it brings will drive you out of the kitchen. Crooked firewood aka “igi woroko ti n da’na ru” not only makes it impossible for you to effectively arrange the firewood; it also can upturn the pot and throw its contents away! “Deceptive” bamboo burns bright and fast but expires quickly. At the point you need it most is when it disappoints.

Judges 9: 1 – 20 tells the story of Abimelech the son of Jerub-baal and his brother Jotham: Out of the 70 sons of their father, only Jotham escaped the murderous instinct of Abimelech. From a safe distance, Jotham told Abimelech this parable: Once upon a time the trees wanted a king over themselves. The olive tree; the fig tree; and the vine were consulted in that order but they all declined; thereafter, the bramble accepted the offer. The first three declined because they were gainfully employed and treasured the services they were rendering. The bramble accepted because it had little value and, thus, found the offer too tempting to resist and too delicious to reject.

A pastor, feeling so frustrated with goings-on, approached “Oga at the top” who was all ears. Afterwards, Oga told the complainant the proverb of the firewood: This firewood is not good; that firewood is also not good is how you end up removing all the firewood from the fire! You, too, may have heard that proverb. That is the tragedy of our collective existence today in all sectors – public, private, religious, name it. What good firewood do we have left in the fire? And is it not the bramble that calls the shot everywhere? Have the few men and women of conscience not given up – overwhelmed by the sheer numerical strength and bravado of the Abimelechs and the vain crowd around them?  How, then, will the food we are cooking not “mehe”?

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Kegame’s Rwanda

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Kegame’s Rwanda

A

lot has been written on Rwanda, including how differently the Western world reacted to that blight on human civilization that was the genocide of 1994, and its equivalence in the Balkans. Former US President Bill Clinton was man enough to later admit that failure to lead the world to put an immediate end to that incidence, was one of his greatest regrets. While the world watched, the lot fell on Paul Kegame and his Rwandan Patriotic Front to move in from the bushes, and stop the genocidal madness. The man led his country away from the horrors of that experience; now to the status of one of the most performing newer states in the world. Much more has been written on the new Rwanda, and the phenomenal transformation taking place in this country of some 12 million people. Last week, I stumbled upon and read a number of such write-ups, and thought it needful to also put across my own experience with, and thoughts on what is undoubtedly becoming the Rwandan miracle.

 

 

Mid-2015, I was in Kigali, on the invitation of the trio of Meles Zenawi Foundation (named after the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia), African Development Bank (AfDB), and the governments of Rwanda and Ethiopia. It was a colloquium in honour of Zenawi, an ideological soul mate of President Paul Kegame. In attendance were the Rwandan president himself, the former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, the Vice President of Ghana, and outgoing president of AfDB, Donald Kaberuka. A few other highly placed leaders from across the continent were also present, including of course, the widow and children of the late Zenawi. It was a one day, all plenary event, and yours sincerely was on a panel that included Jendayi Frazer, former US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, the former AfDB President, and two others. The theme in discussion was the “African Democratic Developmental State.” The summary of the interaction, which is really not the subject of interest here, was that in the light of the configuration of extant global system, the African state needed to build its capacity, so as to be able to effectively lead the developmental agenda on the continent, going forward.

 

 

The Kigali conference started on the dot of 9a.m., as advertised on the programme. It ended at about 8p.m. As expected at such events, the Kigali gathering came with a very elaborate opening ceremony. The big story, however, is that the conference, or at least a key participant thereof, deviated from the usual. Usually, at such events, after the opening razzmatazz, virtually all important state officials, supposedly attending the conference, take their leave; such that only the panelists and a few inquisitive participants, are left to talk to each other. Don’t ask me why we do not seem to get much from such events, on which so much money continues to be spent across the continent, especially here in Nigeria. What else do you expect when those at the driver’s wheel of development are the ones whose seat go empty at such gatherings immediately after the opening ceremonies? Kigali 2015 was different, and it was one president that made the difference. From when the conference opened at 9a.m., till it closed at 8p.m., Paul Kegame was there with us! And he was not just there to observe. Rather, he actively participated – listening, asking questions, and taking notes! These were thoughtful questions that sounded like, to paraphrase him, ‘What the first panelist has just outlined is akin to what we tried to do in Rwanda years ago; unfortunately we did not get the type of impressive results you just spoke about. Where did we go wrong, and what were we supposed to do that we left undone?’ Equally impressive was the fact that the Rwandan president was in attendance with his wife, and if I recall correctly, a daughter of his too – the gangling lovely trio, you may want to call it.

 

 

I have not been able to live over this experience. I cannot also stop talking about it. By the nature of one’s calling, I have been privileged to be a part of so many conferences, all across the world; but Kigali 2015 was unique. It was for me the first, and thus far, the last time I was seeing the highest official of state fully participating at one. With such dedication at the highest level, is it any wonder that Rwanda is turning out to be today’s development practitioners’ delight? It speaks to seriousness in leadership. It speaks to vision. It speaks to courage, courage to break fallow grounds in search of enduring results. It also, in a way, speaks to humility. It was, as it were, a denunciation of the aloofness and emptiness that define leadership all over Africa, where many a leader coasts around on a false and putrid conception of their role in governance.

 

 

The foregoing also brings to the fore, once again, the debate on leadership and institutions. The suggestion that what Africa requires to get out of the woods are strong institutions rather than strong leaders was aptly conveyed by Barack Obama in Ghana in 2015. Yet, the former U.S. president can only be correct to just an extent. For, in the context of the deficit of institutions that Africa emblematizes, the agency of strong leadership, in reconstructing society, cannot be overemphasized. This is what is required to engender and nurture institutions, i.e., a general and unimpeachable acceptance of the primacy of rules, laws, and established procedures for state, society, and private actions and interactions. Such can only be catalyzed by strong leadership; but one that comes with the requisite vision, courage, capacity, and social commitment. This is the nature of the structures countries nurture for systemic stability and effective governance. The transformation underway in Kegame’s Rwanda is a good reference material in this regard.

 

 

This is a man who took control of Rwanda, or more appropriately, its carcass, after the genocide of 1994, while the entire world looked away as the country literally bled to death. He stopped the carnage; and rapidly created the basis for stability, upon which extant developmental accomplishments got predicated. Today, it is safe to aver that if Rwanda continues on this renewal and growth track, it may, in a not too distant future, become the foremost country on the African continent, as Kegame himself has actually predicted. Yet, good as this may sound, there are issues, which resolution are critical to the possibility of Rwanda fulfilling this laudable mission. The urge to bring this in into the Rwanda narrative is the second basis of this piece. Such critical realities can neither be denied nor glossed over by either Rwanda, or what, for want of a better term, I call the Kegame model.

 

 

It is to be noted in this regard that the ground for state failure is laid when a state sets out to create, nurture, and sustain a system of exclusion, of key segments in society, from the political and economic processes, with virtually no opportunities for access, penetration, or even cooptation. It is often preceded by exit from power, willingly or otherwise, of a caudillo (strong authoritarian leader), and/or cabal, wrapped all along in the cocoon of a redemptive mission, and in whom power is fully concentrated, yet living in denial of the place of a credible succession pathway. This is why some of the more stable polities around the world are invariably the ones that make the most robust provisions for social inclusion, and an inclusive and transparent system of politics – contestation for, acquisition, and exercise of power.

 

 

While the accomplishments in Rwanda since 1994 are noteworthy, therefore, the Kegame model must become genuinely inclusive of the peculiar aspirations, overt or latent, of the Hutu majority in the country. The suggestion that in Rwanda there is no more such distinction between Hutu and Tutsi, the type that could engender pre-1994 type of mutual suspicion and hatred, is constructed on shifty grounds. The assumption that narrow nationalist sentiments can be erased through mere democratization of welfare, is also false. In the context of commitment to nationalist sentiments, which globalization is making more evident, it is not just enough to create the basis for better livelihood in material terms for a people, a deliberate programme of accommodation of their particularistic nationalist aspirations must be built into the system to engender the stability requisite for national development. It is particularly so where the majority population is the one that may have reasons to feel marginalized, howsoever conceived. How rapidly Libya fell apart in spite of Muammar Gadhafi’s robust social welfare programme, is a case in point. What Cote d’Ivoire, for years Africa’s most stable economy, went through with Ivoirite, following the death of the pan-Africanist Felix Houphouet-Boigny, is also noteworthy. Every ethnic nationality in a multi-ethnic state desires to have its culture allowed a free reign. This cannot be seen to happen if anyone of such national constituencies is either completely shut out of the scheme of things, or perfunctorily engaged.

 

 

Rwanda is essentially bi-national. The Tutsi ethnic nation, from which Kegame comes, at 14% of the population, is a negligible minority. The President has so far been the key player in the political firmament of his country since 1994, serving first as Vice-President and Defense Minister, but undoubtedly the de-facto president, before taking up the big job in 2000. In 2015, the sections of the constitution on term limits, were amended, such that made it possible for the incumbent to take a third term in 2017; and to remain in office, if he so wishes, till 2034! That alone, in itself, is hardly justifiable. It smacks of a drive in the direction of power concentration, and wanton abuse of institutional integrity. To assume that such a long reign of a single individual, and one from a minority group, in a country that once crumbled under the weight of ethno-nationalist antagonism, would just pass without notice by members of the Hutu who constitute 84% of the population, is to live in illusion. The onus is, therefore, on Kegame to set at a transparent programme of creating a critical mass from which a different individual, most reasonably a Hutu, must emerge president within the next few years. There is nothing that suggests Kegame must spend all the remaining number of years the amended constitution allows him. Cutting short on this long span in power would stave off rumblings from within and outside the inner recesses of power, guarantee stability in the few more years he has to spend in office, and increase the sustainability possibilities of the giant strides the country has made under him. These are the contours Kegame must carefully navigate, and in a manner that would make him live in the mind of Africans and Rwandans forever as a true nation builder. Anything short of that comes with much danger.

 

  • Prof. Mimiko, former vice chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State, teaches at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.
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place of the President and Vice President under the Nigerian and American Constitutions (1)

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place of the President and Vice President under the Nigerian and American Constitutions (1)

INTRODUCTION

This issue has become quite topical and urgent because of the present rumblings (or, may I say, loud silence) regarding the cold relationship between Vice – President Yemi Osibanjo, SAN, and his boss, the President, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. Most Nigerians point accusing fingers at a very powerful, but “faceless” “cabal” within the presidency, which even Aisha Buhari, the president’s wife, had also specifically and openly complained about in the public. Is the Vice President a disposable “spare tyre”, as many prefers to refer to Vice Presidents or Deputy Governors, or is he an indispensable gum that inexorably binds the government together? We shall discover answers to these nagging questions in the course of our luminous discourse of this vexed national issue.

 

VICE PRESIDENCY

Ordinarily, the word “vice” means corruption, iniquity, debauchery, depravity, perversion, debasement, degeneracy, lechery, immorality, indecency, etc. however, “vice”, when used as the next person to a leader or head of a group means deputy, backup, replacement, second-in-command, regent, substitute, lieutenant and subordinate. It is in this position of “Vice President” is used.

 

THE VICE PRESIDENCY IN AMERICA

The Vice President of the United States, also known as VPOTUS or Veep, is an important position in the executive branch of the federal government in America. The Vice President is probably best known as being “a heartbeat away from the presidency”, meaning that if a sitting President dies or is impeached, or is indisposed, the Vice President takes over. Hitherto, where the office of the Vice- President became vacant by reason of death, resignation or other permanent incapacity, it would remain so vacant until the next elections were held and a new President and Vice- President were sworn in for a fresh term of office. However, since the coming into force of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment (which was ratified in 1967), where the office of Vice-President becomes vacant, the POTUS has power to appoint a new Vice-President, subject to the ratification by the Congress. Unlike his Nigerian counterpart, the VPOTUS empowered by the U.S. Constitution to perform far more expansive duties and responsibilities – extending beyond even the Executive arm of Government. The Constitution of America does not expressly assign the Vice Presidency to any one branch, causing a dispute among scholars about which branch of government the office belongs to: whether the executive branch or the legislative branch. However, constitutionally, the main responsibility of the Vice President is the role of President of the Senate. Under Article 1 Section 3 of the US constitution: “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.”

 

 

THE VICE PRESIDENT OF AMERICA AS THE SENATE PRESIDENT

As head of the Upper House of congress, the Vice President votes on legislation or other motions only when Senators are deadlocked 50-50. This has occurred 243 times and involved 35 different Vice Presidents. Whilst in the past the Vice President would actively preside over Senate proceedings, nowadays it is customary that they only get involved in order to break a tie. In practice, the number of times Vice Presidents have exercised this right has varied greatly. John C. Calhoun holds the record at 31 votes, followed closely by John Adams with 29. During his first year in office (through January 24, 2018), Mike Pence cast eight tie breaking votes; his predecessor, Joe Biden, did not cast any during his eight years in office. As the framers of the Constitution anticipated that the Vice President would not always be available to fulfil this responsibility, the Constitution provides that the Senate may elect a president pro tempore (or “president for a time”) in order to maintain the proper ordering of the legislative process. In practice, since the early 20th century, the president of the Senate rarely presides, nor does the President pro tempore. Instead, the president pro tempore regularly delegates the task to other Senate members. Rule XIX, which governs debate, does not authorize the Vice President to participate in debate, and grants only to members of the Senate (and, upon appropriate notice, former presidents of the United States) the privilege of addressing the Senate, without granting a similar privilege to the sitting Vice President.

 

THE VICE PRESIDENT OF AMERICA PRESIDES OVER IMPEACHMENT TRIALS

As president of the Senate he may also preside over most of the impeachment trials of federal officers. However, whenever the president of the United States is on trial, the Constitution requires that the Chief Justice of the United States must preside. This stipulation was designed to avoid the possible conflict of interest in having the Vice President preside over the trial for the removal of the one official standing between him and the presidency. Curiously, the framers made no mention of who would preside in the instance where the Vice President is the officer impeached; thus leaving a loophole whereby a Vice President, as president of the Senate, could preside at their own impeachment trial.

 

 

THE VICE PRESIDENT OF AMERICA AND THE POWER TO SUPERVISE ELECTORAL VOTES COUNT

The Twelfth Amendment, like the superseded Article II clause, provides that the Vice President, in his capacity as President of the Senate, also presides over counting and presentation of the votes of the Electoral College. This process occurs during a joint session of Congress held, as prescribed by federal statute, on January 6 of the year following the presidential election. It will next take place following the 2020 presidential election, on January 6, 2021 (unless Congress sets a different date by law). In this capacity, four Vice Presidents have been able to announce their own election to the presidency: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Van Buren,and George H. W. Bush. Conversely, John C. Breckinridge, in 1861. Richard Nixon, in 1961, and Al Gore, in 2001, all had to announce their opponent’s election. In 1969, Vice President Hubert Humphrey would have done so as well, following his 1968 loss to Richard Nixon; however, on the date of the Congressional joint session, Humphrey was in Norway attending the funeral of Trygve Lie, the first elected Secretary-General of the United Nations. The president pro tempore presided in his absence.

 

NOW THIS THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT AND THE POWER OF SUCCESSION TO THE PRESIDENCY

Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 stipulates that the vice president takes over the “powers and duties” of the presidency in the event of a president’s removal, death, resignation, or inability. Even so, it does not clearly state whether the Vice President became President of the United States or simply acted as president in a case of succession. Debate records from the 1787 Constitutional Convention, along with various participants’ later writings on the subject, show that the framers of the Constitution intended that the Vice President would temporarily exercise the powers and duties of the office in the event of a president’s death, disability or removal, but not actually become President of the United States in their own right.

 

AND THIS

This understanding was first tested in 1841, following the death of President William Henry Harrison, only 31 days into his term. Harrison’s Vice President, John Tyler, asserted that he had succeeded to the office of president, not just to its powers and duties. He took the presidential oath of office, and declined to acknowledge documents referring to him as “Acting President.” Although some in Congress denounced Tyler’s claim as a violation of the Constitution, he adhered to his position. Tyler’s view ultimately prevailed when the Senate and House voted to acknowledge him as president, setting a momentous precedent for an orderly transfer of presidential power following a president’s death, one made explicit by Section 1 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967. In total, nine vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency intra-term. In addition to Tyler, they are Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Chester A. Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Gerald Ford. (To be continued).

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution.

That must be maintained, for it is the

only safeguard of our liberties.” (Abraham

Lincoln).

 

LAST LINE

I thank numerous readers across the globe

for always keeping faith with the Sunday Sermon

on the Mount of the Nigerian Project, by

Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR, FCIArb.,

Ph.D, LL.D. I enjoin you to look forward to

next week’s bumper treatise.

 

Follow me on twitter @ MikeozekhomeSAN

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