Category Archives: opinions

As We Begin the Journey to 2019

As We Begin the Journey to 2019

By Dele Momodu;
Fellow Nigerians, unbeknown to many of our people, the battle for who becomes our next President has already started in earnest. Never mind the fact that the incumbent President is still firmly in power even if he’s spent more time outside than inside in recent times. Despite his absence, President Muhammadu Buhari continues to exert almost total control on the affairs of state through regular phone chats with the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who is deeply loyal and committed to their joint cause, and emissaries who criss-cross the two continents to transmit messages to him and relevant officials. Nonetheless, you can’t blame the gladiators for shaping up this early for the big contest that is looming. It is big because it is unlikely that the current incumbent President will run again because of the fragile state of his health. Like joke, like joke, the Buhari/Osinbajo government is in its third year. By this time next year, the general elections would just be about six months away. That’s just too close for comfort.
The Presidential race is always the biggest deal in most countries, Nigeria in particular. The reason is simple. The President of Nigeria is probably the most powerful black President in the world. This is why you find so many perpetual contestants who never get tired of seeking power. Let me just go straight to the meat of my message without wasting your precious time on any long preamble.
Some aspirants have actually started making subterranean moves, here and there, to prepare the grounds for their eventual launch. The most obvious ones include former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano. The boldest and most vocal visible aspirant is the current Governor of Ekiti State, Peter Fayose who has even announced a date for the official declaration of his bid for the Presidency. Fayose seems to have mastered the art and science of politics. He has warned that no one should underrate him. I won’t because nothing is impossible in our clime.
Anyway. Let’s move on. The main cause of the early moves is the general belief in political circles that President Buhari is not likely to contest in 2019. His poor health has virtually eliminated him from the race no matter how much and how well he recovers from his present ailment. I think so too. Baba himself had declared in one of his rare interviews that he’s never been this sick in his life. Only the cruellest human being would advise President Buhari to continue to subject himself to the rigours of the Presidential office when he returns. To add the vagaries of rough and tumble of a Presidential race to his recuperation would be inhuman indeed. God has been very kind to him and there is nothing more to prove or to achieve. Others must carry on the fight as his able Vice President, now Acting President has been doing.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had shown interest in becoming Nigeria’s President since 1993 when he contested the Presidential primaries of the then Social Democratic Party alongside Chief Moshood Abiola and Baba Ghana Kingibe. He was persuaded to withdraw from the contest and throw his weight behind Chief Abiola on the basis of his relative youth amongst other things. Age, it was said, was on his side, and he had many years to seek the Presidency. Since then, he has never stopped dreaming and aspiring. Unfortunately, he has always just fallen short! He had made his next move in 2003, after he served as Vice President to President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999. The “abortive coup” (as it was described), to force Obasanjo out and bring Atiku in, by the all-powerful Governors of the time failed spectacularly. The cold war between Atiku and his boss exploded into full view and became a smouldering inferno. Atiku instantly became a marked man. He himself would be forced out of the party he helped to found and had to join others to form another party. But before too long Atiku was compelled by circumstances to scamper back to PDP. Not many felt that was a smart move. He was viewed as being too desperate and unprincipled. This flip-flop has been his major albatross. And he was not yet done! Atiku again jumped ship from the floundering PDP when some five Governors defected and joined the fulcrum of APC. There are already indications that he may be compelled to abandon ship again but where to, we don’t know. Some say that he is grooming PDM for this purpose and has already caused a crisis in his former movement.
There is no doubt that Atiku would make a good leader. He is a seasoned politician who is known to have the ability to unite Nigerians because of his extensive networks across the nation. He also has the penchant for recruiting the best brains to work with. If he becomes the President, he would be bringing in his wealth of experience in public service and private business that is almost second to none. But there are major setbacks against him. One is how to find the detergent to cleanse or unglue himself from the sticky mud his former boss President Obasanjo had generously splashed on him. He’s largely portrayed as a very corrupt and corruptible leader who may lead Nigerians into temptation and perdition with his acolytes. Whether this is a fair assessment or wicked blackmail is his business to deal with but it won’t be so easy to wish or wash away.
Atiku will find it difficult to clinch the APC ticket. There are obvious signs that he has already positioned some of his close associates in PDP, in case of emergency but he may be scammed at the end of the day if he takes the risk of pulling out of his present party. He needs to worry about his age. He has already crossed 70 and it is doubtful if most Nigerians want to be saddled with another old man who may collapse under the brutal weight of presidential stress and pressure. He would require more of a clean bill of health to persuade young Nigerians that he’s not carrying some health liabilities like others in the past. In summary, we have a reasonable bridge-builder and veteran administrator who may be too old and too late in seeking political office.
Next is the former Governor of Kano State, Senator Mohammed Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, a man with very vast political and administrative pedigree. He has gone through the whole gamut of governance at both executive and legislative levels. His performance as Governor of the massive state of Kano is an eloquent testimony to the fact that he may be the one to ignite the infrastructural revolution in Nigeria. He cuts the image of a frugal Aminu Kano with his simple mien. His grassroots non-governmental movement known as Kwankwasiyya Pillars of the Nation is well mobilised and may give him an edge over most aspirants. He also has in his favour the fact that Kano State has the highest number of registered voters and may be able to count on garnering a significant number of these. He is also expected to draw strength from his former colleagues in the Governors’ Forum across the nation but no one is sure how relevant they still are. Kwankwaso is 60 years old and falls the under the age of 65 that many want as the upper limit for contestants. On the negative side, he is not likely to have the formidable war chest of an Atiku Abubakar though this did not stop him from beating Atiku to third place in their last APC Primaries.
Say what you will, the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, must be factored into the equation by all means. The reason is that he seems to enjoy a special rapport with his ailing boss who may prefer to hand over fully to someone he knows well than risk certainty for uncertainty. Osinbajo has been a very loyal and dependable ally, the sort that are not common in this clime. This is no surprise because his vocation as a lawyer, his service as a teacher and his calling as a Pastor makes him imbued with integrity and dignity. Osinbajo has also succeeded in bringing Nigerians together and calming frayed nerves. His handling of the economy, security and national awareness is quite commendable and many Nigeria’s applaud his brilliance and performance in steering the affairs of state to its present comfortable position. His only worry would come from ethnic jingoists who do not care about merit but prefer only members of their tribe no matter how useless or incompetent they may be.
Osinbajo is likely to be vehemently opposed by such powerful forces who think only about themselves, although it seems to me that the people of the North are not with them on this occasion. There is no question that Osinbajo has restored hope and promise to Nigeria and should ordinarily be allowed to stabilise the polity and lead us out of the doldrums. The fact that he lacks his own political platforms may be a great disadvantage because he would need to lean on his political godfather and kingmaker, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who seems tired of fixing others into positions of power without being the ultimate King of Kings himself. However, Asiwaju is canny and wise and would prefer to be in the hallowed corridors of power with his protégé in charge than be outside it particularly given that he is himself ageing and would be over a couple of years over 65 by the time of the next elections.
There has always been speculation that the Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, is interested in being President. He is eminently qualified to do so. The way he has managed the Senate and worked assiduously on churning out unprecedented number of very efficacious bills is a pointer to his effectiveness as a modern and cosmopolitan leader who understands what the people want and how to give it to them. His biggest migraine apart from allegations of corruption and mismanagement of Societe Generale Bank which has seemingly not gone away, is that he comes from Kwara State. The State is geographically Northern but culturally Southern. His father was Olusola. He is Bukola. His wife is Toyin. His sister is Gbemisola. His Brother is Olaolu. His son is Olaseni. No one could be more Yoruba than Saraki. However, surprisingly, despite this great Yoruba credentials, the Yorubas do not also apparently view him as a Yoruba man but as a Northerner. I do not know how he plans to overcome that challenge of being neither cat nor rat.
The Governor of Sokoto State, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, attempted very briefly to run the Presidential race in 2015 but seemed to have chickened out and pulled back to settle for the gubernatorial race, where he eventually emerged successful. It is being mentioned in informed circles that he may still want to try his luck. As a former Speaker of the House of representatives and now Governor, he comes with some intimidating arsenal as e is still clearly well loved by his old constituency, the Federal legislators. It is not certain if he would abandon his almost guaranteed second term as Governor for a not so certain Presidential bid. His antecedents in this regard would persuade me not to expect too much of a change in Tambuwal’s circumstances this time around.
The same goes for one of my favourite leaders, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, one of the most cerebral, experienced and visionary leaders in Nigeria today. He is silently revolutionising Kaduna State although people see more of the controversial stuff coming out of that State because of its highly volatile religious mix of Muslims and Christians. Though he is yet to declare his interest openly, he is someone to watch…

Culled from ThisDay 

​Not too young to run? That’s only half the problem

Not too young to run? That’s only half the problem

By Yemisi Adegoke, Contributor  

In certain schools of political thought, from time to time, the elite classes drop crumbs of hope to pacify the masses. These crumbs are dropped to propagate the belief that a shift is underway that will eventually lead to real political change. The passing of the Not Too Young to Run Bill, is one of those crumbs.

Passed by the Senate last month, the Bill will lower the age of qualification for political aspirants running for presidency, governorship and other political offices. For the office of the Presidency, the age of qualification has been reduced from 40 to 30, Governorship from 35 to 30, Senate from 35 to 30, House of Representatives from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly from 30 to 25. The Bill will also allow for independent candidates to run for office, sidestepping the need for political parties.

Though the Bill still has some hoops to go through before taking effect, the move by the Senate has been lauded by many as a sign of change, even a positive ‘call to arms’ for the youth, showing that the upper echelons seek to promote equality and level the playing field by encouraging young people to take a more active role in society.  

Following in the footsteps of Nigeria’s example, the UN’s Envoy on Youth has partnered with other agencies in a bid to take the Not Too Young To Run movement worldwide. And in theory it makes sense. According to the UN, there are more young people in the world now, than ever before, and approximately 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24 . In Nigeria, over 60% of the population is under the age of 25. The median age of the country is 18, placing it in the top 20 youngest countries in the world. If population estimates are to be believed, this is a trend that is likely to continue.

But these numbers aren’t reflected in the country’s politics, with Nigeria’s leadership much older than the population. The current president is 74, the vice president is 60 and the senate president is 54. Of the 105 listed Senators on the NASS website, none are in their 30s, the youngest is 43. After a reportedly strong youth turnout in the 2015 election, it would seem obvious that the passing of this Bill, would only strengthen the youth, but will it?

Youth participation in politics on every level is important and should be encouraged, but just like old age is not necessarily an indicator of wisdom, youth alone is not an indicator of the potential for good governance.  There is a need for the country’s leadership to reflect its populace, but just as an older politician can be out of touch, corrupt and inept, so can a young one. Nevertheless, anything that will increase the impact of the youth in politics is surely worthwhile, unfortunately, the bill in and of itself will likely do very little to change the current order and politics will still remain very much in the grip of the elite.

A 2015 research paper into the cost of politics by Adebowale Olorunmola shows the exorbitant costs that come with wanting to serve the nation. To run for office, the current president paid a whopping N27.5 million (N2.5 million for expression of interest and N20 million for a nomination fee) the opposition candidate would have paid N22 million. In a country where the minimum wage is N18,000 a month and 70% of the population live below the poverty line, it’s difficult to see how the office of the president is a realistic ambition for the average citizen, talk less of a young person.

Governorship fees are just as outrageous, totalling N5,500, 500 for the APC and N11,000,000 for the opposition. The “cheapest” option is a run at the House of Representatives which under the APC costs N2, 200,000 and under the opposition N2,400,000. Calls to increase the minimum wage have fallen on deaf ears and the youth unemployment rate is at an abysmal high, so how can we honestly suggest that the playing field has shifted even remotely?

High fees aside, we cannot ignore the grip of corruption and godfatherism on virtually every level of Nigeria’s politics. “Godfathers are mostly instrumental to the emergence of virtually every successful candidate from whichever state they control,” reads Olorunmola’s report. “The godfathers are typically above the law and able to mobilize support, money and violence for candidates.”

With such a firm grip on power that shows no sign of diminishing, how then does lowering the voting age factor into making politics more fair, or political office any easier to attain?  It doesn’t.

If youth participation in politics was really important, then as well as reducing the age of qualification, why aren’t fees being drastically reduced to represent the wage structure of the country? Why aren’t there more avenues for young people to learn what good governance entails through internships and fellowships?

Reducing the age qualification without tackling any of these other major barriers to office is just another crumb from the elite to help uphold the belief that change is afoot, when it’s really just another smokescreen.

Source : The Guardian 

Weep not Ozubulu: Our vultures have come home to brood

Weep not Ozubulu: Our vultures have come home to brood

By Dr. Ugoji Egbujo Weep not Ozubulu.

We weep with you. Ozubulu, you are not alone. We are with you. We are you. What a man sows, he shall reap. We taught our youths ruthlessness. We filled them with the love of money. We had no jobs for them. We catapulted them far and wide.

We sold ancestral lands to procure visas. They besieged South Africa with greed. They didn’t find milk and honey. They took to bloodletting, drugs and violence. They menaced their hosts.

When the South Africans raised their brows, we called them ingrates. We reminded them how we fought Botha and De klerk, for them. When they sought to take back their streets, we called it xenophobia.

Our vultures,Ozubulu, have come home. We used to purge ourselves of thieves and robbers and drug dealers. We used to find repugnance in ill gotten wealth.

Now, our moral compass is lost. We threw away Amadioha for Jesus. But it is with money that we have pitched. We have lost our souls. So our boys leave the village empty, and head to south Africa with only desperation.

They come back with bags of money , blood and drug money. And we fall over them. We no longer have taboos. They will build huge mansions and they will become sign posts. “When you get to the red and white castle, you turn right….”

At Christmas, they are the peacocks. We gather and envy evil. They donate to the church and they are made knights. They build roads and become role models. They give cash handouts and the elderly shower blessings on them.

The elderly, they have become as impressionable as children. They mock conscientious youths— – “look at your mates!”

The children watch and imbibe the wrong values. We have blurred all the lines, we have chosen blindness.

With us, no philanthropy is dubious. So drug lords become chiefs rather than thieves. They are venerated. Women want their daughters to marry ‘ndi south,’ as they are fondly called.

Men queue up early in the mornings at their gates. They are not really there to beg for fish. They go to beg that their sons are taught how to fish in the deep waters of South Africa; that they are taken as apprentices; that they are shown ‘the way.’

They want their own to ‘make it’ like others. It is written, money destroys the understanding of the wise. It must be worse in Nigeria where there are many booby traps and no social safety nets.

You can retire from the senior civil service into delayed pensions and abject penury. So values can be mere niceties.

That is why we ask no questions. We refuse the urge to ask questions. We know the answers. We don’t want to know. They are businessmen. They are kind-hearted philanthropists. They are children of God. Fathers once prayed that their sons took the oath of celibacy. And became catholic priests. Now, they pray that their sons make tons of money and build huge cathedrals. And everywhere you go, you are confronted by synagogues built by the filthiest of men.

The idea that God can be settled has fuelled unbridled covetousness. Bishops gather and consecrate churches built by men of the underworld.

They, like their counterparts in politics, give the glory for the triumph of evil to God.

The Bishops don’t just turn the church into a den of thieves, they dismantle the moral framework of the society. The Bishops have provoked many to call for the return of Amadioha. The Bishops lay hands on the heads of the gangsters. The gangsters lay hands on the weary pockets of the bishops and leave them heavy laden. The exchange is completed. The Bishops will then lapse into esoteric theology to deaden their conscience. They will remember God said, judge not! Because that would allow them to close their eyes to the filth. They will proclaim: ‘All have sinned.’ That would allow them to pinch their noses and forget the stench.

They will say the church is a spiritual hospital. So in essence nothing and no one is too rotten.

So the rotten money bags are sinners on the mend. Their offerings are cleansed and clean.

The Bishops and the gangsters all remain lords. They wont say –- ‘whatever you sow you shall reap.’ Because that would mean that a foundation laid with the blood of others would have a bloody appetite.

They are men of faith. Only with their eyes shall they behold the works of the wicked. They have covered themselves and all generous donors (partners) with the inexhaustible blood of Jesus. They won’t tell themselves that Chinua Achebe said that whoever takes an ant infested firewood home invites lizards for lunch.

They won’t, because they are not of this world. They are the citizens of Zion. Whatever they bind on earth is bound in heaven .

They won’t tell anyone about the day Jesus chased out money changers from the church. Because that would mean their own quit notice.

They won’t tell that on that day, Jesus actually knew that all had sinned and fallen short, yet he chased out only money changers. He chased out those who had corrupted, perverted, the purpose of the synagogue.

Weep not Ozubulu. You paid the price. Yours are the handwriting on the wall. The forerunner of that which is to come.

Wily politicians cannot be relied upon to confront a demon that frolics with bishops.

The church must redeem itself. When advertised fraudsters became traditional rulers and governors and legislators, we knew we would pay handsomely.

When we sent out boys and grinned as they sowed tears and blood in South Africa, we knew we would pay heavily.

We know the chickens would come back home to roost, one day. They, their guns, the drugs, their blood thirstiness and the violence.

Chickens always come home to roost. Our vultures are coming home to brood.

Weep not Ozubulu. We weep with you.

My deepest condolences to the victims.

Culled from Vanguard

Jonathan’s house as metaphor

Jonathan’s house as metaphor

By Paul Onomuakpokpo | 

So former President Goodluck Jonathan house was plundered? While this is a personal misfortune to the former president, it serves as a fortuitous reminder to both the leaders and the citizens of the demands of nation building amid the despoliation of the national patrimony by those paid to watch over it.

At the outset, we need to state in unequivocal terms that our humanity is by no means vitalised by the troubles of others or what the Germans would identify as Schadenfreude. At the same time, we owe no fidelity to the philosophy of not speaking ill of the dead which deprives us of the reflection that could yield useful lessons for our own lives. Thankfully, in this case, we do not speak ill of a dead Jonathan but a man who has not yet passed the bloom of life and still has so much ahead of him. You need not doubt this – think of Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Donald Trump who offered to serve their nations in their seventies and the point becomes clear.

Jonathan’s four-bedroom duplex in Abuja was stripped bare of all valuables. These included six television sets, three refrigerators, one gas cooker, furniture, electronics, toilet and electrical fittings and internal doors and frames. The suspected masterminds of this larceny are those charged with the responsibility of guarding the house.

Jonathan has publicly confirmed reports that the house was burgled. But this public confirmation might have been spurred by the need to dispel wild speculations about the caches of luxuries in the house that threw into stark relief his implacable acquisitive character. This public acknowledgement only came after he had reported the case to the inspector-general of police who did not waste time in arresting the policemen who are suspected to have committed the crime.

In these climes, shoeless children of impecunious parents leave public office as wealthy citizens. Indebted ex-convicts leave public office and become owners of secondary schools, universities, posh hotels and vast land. Even those with dubious certificates end up becoming richer than their states after leaving public office. Against the backdrop of the massive corruption that is said to have bogged down his administration, Jonathan may not be considered different from other political leaders. He may not have only this house lying idle somewhere in Abuja. The policemen had the freedom to burgle the house simply because Jonathan has not been living there. This house may not even be as important to Jonathan as other property he has. Yet the sense of outrage that has compelled him to report the case to the police cannot escape our attention.

The former president did not say that because the house was not important to him, he would not protect it by making those responsible for the despoliation to go unpunished. Now, let’s strip this of its innocuous character and we are confronted with the national tragedy that has robbed us as a people of development. If the former president could be so concerned about his house, which apparently is serving no purpose, why do our leaders find it unthinkable that the citizens protest when their nation is pillaged by those put in place to ensure its prosperity? In this case, those citizens who say that others should not complain about the plundering of the commonwealth are complicit in the wrecking of the nation by their supposed protectors.

The nation suffers ruination at the hands of its leaders when due to the mismanagement of its abundant natural and human resources, millions of the citizens are rendered jobless. Daily, these are confronted with an increasingly bleak prospect of starvation and lack of educational opportunities. Again, there is plundering by the leaders when the oil resources of a section of the country is used to develop other parts of the nation and enrich only some people who have access to power through the allocation of oil blocks but those whose environment is degraded by the exploration and exploitation of the oil resources are neglected. Amid this, like the plundering policemen, the leaders continue to steal the nation’s funds and take them to foreign nations where they buy choice property with part of the funds and stash others away in coded bank accounts.

Our leaders are outraged at the complaint of the citizens that their nation is being plundered leaving them to be consigned to socio-economic fringes of the society. When Ken Saro-Wiwa complained about the marginalisation of his community while oil companies and the leaders were colluding to feed fat on its oil resources, he was swiftly executed. The south-south agitators who took off from where Saro-Wiwa stopped are being branded as economic sabotuers with the threats of eventual liquidation by the government hanging over their heads.

Yes, let’s shed off the infantile exuberance of the Igbo youths. What is left are a people who are not oblivious to their marginalisation in a country where they should be equal partners. Yet they are told not to complain about this injustice. And not even restructuring which is the middle course that their elders, the south-south and the south-west have embraced holds any appeal to the oppressive leaders.

Even in our educational institutions, students are taught not to complain when it is obvious that the leaders have plundered the system by their refusal to fund it. They are not to complain that they are learning under trees and standing to receive lectures. They are not to complain that they are in schools rendered squalid by dysfunctional water and electricity systems. If they violate this sacred injunction – do not complain- they are quickly sanctioned through suspension or eternal expulsion.

Like our current leaders, Jonathan as president would have dismissed the complaints of the citizens about inequality in the polity as the ranting of those who crave to be admitted into the inner sanctum of political power. He would never have brooked the impudence of a citizen that would make him or her to complain about the plundering of the nation. Forget the fact that he initiated a process that led to the report of the 2014 national conference. What should haunt him is that he failed to seize the momentum and start translating the laudable recommendations of the conference into reality. We need not rule out the possibility that if he had implemented them, there would have been a better security system that would have rendered his property invulnerable to the machinations of sentinels-turned-burglars.

Jonathan like other former leaders would be haunted by wasting opportunities to fix our medical facilities and roads. Yes, they might have appropriated to themselves a hefty proportion of the national patrimony to save them the perils of road travels and medical treatment at home. Still, before they go overseas to avail themselves of the medical facilities of other countries they have developed with the stolen funds they have hidden in those nations, there lurk the perils of a wobbly aviation sector that they have neglected.

Even if they all escape these, have they made all those close to them to be billionaires that they would not need to travel on the road but hop on a plane wherever they are going? Did Jonathan make all his community people so rich that instead of using the ill-starred east-west road while travelling they can effortlessly fly above it on their private jets? Or Buhari may be so rich that even after leaving Aso Rock he can still have enough funds to sustain his medical treatment in London. But has he also made everybody in his community so rich that they can equally go to London or other overseas country for medical treatment? Let our leaders keep on stealing what belongs to all instead of developing the nation. Let them keep buying houses. In the long run, what would be clear is the folly of acquiring property like the house of Jonathan that he neither needs nor lives in.
Culled from The Guardian

Does the Sultan need N700 million house in Abuja?

Does the Sultan need N700 million house in Abuja?

By Abu Najakku
Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, the 19th Sultan of Sokoto, is the President-General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (SCIA) and the head of the Jama’atul Nasril Islam, which combine to make him Amirul Muminin, or leader of Nigeria’s Muslims. He was appointed to the throne on 2nd November, 2006 and succeeded his senior brother, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido who died in a plane crash in Abuja.

Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar was a member of the 18th Regular Course of Nigeria’s foremost military institution, the Nigerian Defence Academy and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1977; until his appointment as the Sultan, he was a Brigadier General. Since his ascendancy, he has travelled to the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Middle East and many other countries to speak about Nigeria’s Muslims as well as the legacy of piety, scholarship and administrative acumen of his forefathers led by the legendary Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodio.

Here at home, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar has been a strong advocate of peace, communal harmony and religious tolerance. Lest I forget, he is also the co-chairman of Nigerian Inter-Religious Council which basically fosters continuing dialogue between Christians and Muslims. The Sultan has repeatedly condemned Boko Haram insurgency as anti-Islam and has told all those who kill in the name of religion that they are destined for hell. He has described begging as the trade of lazy persons rather than something encouraged by Islam. The Sultan has also dismissed the false alarm raised by those who continue to claim that there is a grand design to Islamise Nigeria.

However, in recent times, the Sultanate Council has been dogged by poisonous controversies that threaten to tarnish the good name of His Eminence. A couple of months ago, the cohesion and reputation of the Sultanate Council were put to the test by the bad blood generated by the altercation between the Sultan and Alhaji Hassan Danbaba, the Magajin Garin Sokoto, which exposed the Palace as a deal making, fortune seeking conclave. The Sultan had sought to make peace between two highly placed persons, one, his counsellor and the other a politician. The disclosure that a senior counsellor of the Sultanate had been invited by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to answer questions on a paid for but unexecuted contract in Taraba drew the attention of the public to some form of sharp practice that people never expected from those in the Palace. Mercifully, the Sultan demonstrated maximum maturity by refusing to offer any public comment on the infantile outbursts of Danbaba.

Nevertheless, the latest acts of skulduggery surrounding the purchase of a so called “befitting accommodation” for the Sultanate Council somewhere in Abuja by the Sokoto State government has horrified many Muslims. Several questions were raised when it was reported a couple of days ago that Alhaji Kabiru Tafida, a well-known fixer for the Sultan, was arrested and interrogated by the EFCC after it discovered that N700 million had been placed in his account by the Sokoto state government “for the purchase of a House for the Sultan in Abuja”. The EFCC asked why such a hefty amount of money was placed in the account of Tafida rather than “an estate agent or a contractor buying or building the house for the Sultan”. What service did Kabiru Tafida offer Sokoto state government to warrant him being credited with N700 million into his bank account?

If you recall the damaging statement made by Hassan Danbaba, quote: “A Sultan who commoditises Caliphate services with a price tag knows that I know his price, which I can as well afford, if I wanted his intervention (in alleged EFCC case)”, and now the allegation by the EFCC that “the suspect (Kabiru Tafida) has also been receiving huge funds from the government of Sokoto on behalf of the Sultan”, then we have an Amirul muminin whose reputation is headed for the gutter.

The real question is whether the Sultan really needs a house in Abuja and whether it makes common sense for the Sokoto state government to shell out a whopping N700 million for that purpose. What is it that the Sultan wants to do in private in Abuja that he cannot do in a Presidential guest house, the Sokoto state government house, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs or the Jama’atil Nasril Islam facility?

To isolate the Sultan and corner N700 million of tax payers’ money to buy a house for his comfort is how not to learn from the revered founder of the Sokoto Caliphate? How about donating the N700 million to the victims of the recent flood in Butuku-Babba in Bodinga, Sokoto, who lost 115 houses, livestock, farmlands and farm produce for whom the governor has “approved some money” for relief, according to Hassan Maccido, the DG of Sokoto Emergency Management Agency? These citizens are not looking for “comfort” houses in Sokoto or Abuja; they just want to reconstruct their old mud houses destroyed by flood! How about bequeathing the N700 million to Nana Asma’u College of Medical Sciences being championed by Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar? How about investing the N700 million in Sokoto state’s education sector where an emergency was declared last year? How about using the N700 million to rehabilitate almajirai?

“The sixth principle (of governance) is that the governor should provide public amenities for the PEOPLE of his state for their temporal and religious benefit…….He must keep every locality in prosperity, construct fortresses and bridges, maintain markets and roads and realise for them ALL what are of public interest so that the proper order of their world may be maintained..” Sultan Muhammad Bello in Usul al-Siyasa.

Your Eminence, you are not a traditional ruler, you are a religious leader; please extricate yourself and Council from this scandal, don’t request and don’t collect this overpriced N700 million guest house from Sokoto state as you don’t really need it.

Source: Daily Trust

​Epistle to St Lukaku

Epistle to St Lukaku

By Mike Awoyinfa

LET me follow the example of Paul, the Apostle to write you an epistle, my dear brother and son of Africa making waves on the soccer pitch of Europe, painting everywhere with goals. Lot of goals. So many that even those who rejected you and didn’t give you your deserved respect have to come back looking for you, paying a whopping 75 million pounds (£75m) to have you in their team.

Today, you are the rejected stone now become the cornerstone, my dear Romelu Menama Lukaku, you son of Congo, born in Antwerp and born into football by a father who is a footballer. Your story reminds me of the Scripture, Psalm 118 verse 22 which says: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.”

From childhood, you had been dreaming to become a big football star. You chose as your idol, the great Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba, a man with whom you share an uncanny resemblance. Two of you look alike, like brothers, the same height, the same physicality, the ability to terrorise defenders and the knack for scoring goals.

For you, it was dream come true, when you suddenly found yourself in Chelsea, stepping into the great shoes of Drogba your hero. You wanted to continue where Drogba stopped, scoring for Chelsea and making a name for yourself on the global football stage. Unfortunately, the coach, Jose Mourinho didn’t think you had matured enough to become the next Drogba. The competition for the position of Chelsea’s main marksman was so tough. You had players like Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres, Demba Ba, all fighting for a shirt. Mourinho not having so much faith in young talents but preferring experienced hands decided either to field you occasionally or consign you to the reserve bench. Kevin de Bruyne suffered the same fate. Now he is a big star in Manchester City.

It was unlike Mourinho. The Mourinho who had so much faith and confidence in Drogba that even if he is not playing well, he will still leave him on the field, believing that somehow, he would work out a miracle. Drogba was his miracle worker. He didn’t have that much faith in you.

To acquire more experience and confidence, you were sent on exile to West Brom. You were sent on loan, I mean. And there in West Brom, you made your mark as a marksman, scoring goals freely. Such was the impact you made that Mourinho had no choice than to bring you back to Chelsea. Again, there were doubts about your ability and capability to be Chelsea’s No.1 goal poacher. If they brought you in at all, it was just for a cameo role. You hardly started a match and finished it in 90 minutes.

Your undoing was the decisive UEFA Super Cup Finals against Bayern Munich when the game had to be decided by penalty kicks after ending in 2-2. Oh, I remember that sad day in Prague when you were saddled with the responsibility of taking the last penalty kick. Earlier before you, David Luiz the Brazilian defender had scored, Oscar, the other Brazilian had also scored, followed by Lampard who scored, then Ashley Cole who also scored.

Bayern was leading by 5-4 and it was up to you to equalise with your penalty kick. I could see fear clouding your face as you got set to take the last penalty kick. The referee blew his whistle and you delivered a weak shot from your left leg which the Bayern ace goalkeeper read and parried away as he dived to his left corner. You folded your hands on your head in agony. This must have been one of your saddest moments. You had disappointed yourself. You had disappointed your team. Most importantly, you had let down your coach Jose Mourinho, who trusted you to score. Your world and your dreams had crashed right before you in front of the full house of the Prague Stadium and millions watching all over the world.

There and then you knew all will not be the same again in Chelsea. You knew Jose Mourinho will no longer have confidence in you. He was likely going to make you pay for the miss by consigning you to the bench where you will rot. You took your destiny in your own hands and decided to leave Chelsea. You approached Mourinho about wanting to leave. To be fair to Mourinho, he initially turned down your request.

But three days later, he gave the green light for you to join Everton.

And the rest is history.

You were sold for a record fee of 28 million pounds. At Everton, you played yourself into recognition by scoring goals and goals galore.

Soon you were crowned the goal king of Everton. The Guardian newspaper named you in 2014 as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe. You beat a record of goal scoring set by our own Yakubu Aiyegbeni in Everton. There were some poignant moments. I remember when you scored against your old team West Brom and you chose not to celebrate. I also remember an occasion when you scored a fantastic goal and you were quoted as saying: “I hope Mourinho is watching.”

It was an unnecessary statement.

So I think. Mourinho wasn’t happy with the statement. He fired back as he always does: “Why did he leave Chelsea? Ask him.” Meaning he didn’t ask you to leave. That you left on your volition. All the same, you went outside Chelsea to prove yourself by scoring and scoring. You let your legs and your head do the talking. And the world listened.

Today, you are one of the hottest properties in soccer. You are one player who can play in any team, be it Real Madrid or Bayern Munich or Barcelona. Even Chelsea was regretting allowing you to leave and praying they would buy you back.

Ironically, it was Jose Mourinho, your old nemesis who succeeded in convincing you to come into his fold after paying Everton 75 million pounds. Success indeed is the best revenge!

What are the lessons in all this? In whatever field you play in life, have self-belief, believe you are the best, don’t play second fiddle, work hard, hone your skills, be persistent, be hungry for success, never stand still in one place, refuse to let frustration weigh you down, don’t let any coach frustrate you. You may be in a difficult situation but stay positive.

Silence your critics with your goals.

Today, Lukaku is having the last laugh. He is today the beautiful bride of soccer. The stone that was rejected is now the cornerstone. I pray that he succeeds in his new assignment in Manchester United.

Last line: The real cornerstone however is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who was once rejected. May He be the cornerstone of your life—and my life too!

​Jonathan: Metaphor of a clay-footed hero!

Jonathan: Metaphor of a clay-footed hero!

By Abdulrazaq Magaji | 

Goodluck Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is feeling blabby again after a self-imposed hiatus occasioned by his apparent deference to wise counsel. At a rancorous meeting of the badly fragmented Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) the other day, the former president let it be known, contrary to wise counsel that Nigerians want the party he led to a disgraceful defeat back in power in 2019. Hear here!

Before his latest drool, Jonathan had gone to town to accuse imaginary enemies of being responsible for his anticipated defeat in the 2015 presidential race. In fact, the former president simply threw caution to the wind and saw nothing queasy in the way he launched a verbal offensive on perceived enemies. Whoever advised Jonathan to clam up after he imagined enemies where there were none did him a load of good. The former president has defied a golden rule of people who live in glasshouses: he is throwing stones!

If he has some gumption in him, Jonathan should henceforth sidetrack those third-rate publicists who led him by the nose down the dark, blind alley that took him nowhere. The way things are, the man who was lamely tagged a patriot-hero and was depicted by dishonest handlers as the next best act on Nigeria’s crowded political stage conveniently refused to see the former president as no more than a pedestrian politician who is fit for the reserve team of the Niger Delta! The hens are truly coming home to roost!

At issue, still, is the decision by Jonathan to persist in his ineffectual, some call it counter-productive, pastime of resorting to criminating. Of recent, he has been shouting himself coarse to the hearing of whoever cared to listen that he and members of his family are being witch-hunted by the Buhari/Osinbajo administration. The former president, who serially claimed that stealing is not corruption, has of late raised issues with several scandals that have been traced to him and members of his family.

So far, the former president has blamed everybody but himself for his self-inflicted misfortunes. He never picked any lessons from being slammed for the havoc his misrule caused Nigerians. If Jonathan is not accusing world leaders for plotting his ouster, he is busy blaming elements from a section of the country or adherents of a particular faith for his transgressions. All this while, nobody apologised for the pain caused Nigerians by the crassly incompetent and thieving Jonathan administration.

It must be in strict adherence to the former president’s garbled dogma of ‘stealing is not corruption’ that influenced him and his rambunctious fans to believe he and members of his family are victims of a witch-hunt! If Jonathan and his clappers must know, stealing is corruption and corruption is a criminal offence! To operate with the mindset that being called to account amounts to a witch-hunt shows how lowly people can go in playing to the gallery.

At the last count, the name of Jonathan has been linked to as many as three high-altitude scams! The most recent and, probably the worst of them, is Malabu-gate, a crime of no mean proportion that robbed the nation of millions of dollars. If reports that the former president was privy to the scam are true and that he pocketed $200 million, Nigerians have not been unduly hysterical in demanding that Jonathan and other scammers be called to account.

Jonathan may not look and sound sharp but, when it matters most, he has the presence of mind of how to save his skin. He knows that his conduct and that of his close confidants, including his equally scandal-prone wife, Patience, made it imperative for him to ensure a smooth handover. Proof of this is that, for most part of his better-forgotten years in office, Jonathan looked the other way as his handlers threatened war without the semblance of whimper in the form of condemnation.

The man who now wishes to be seen as a hero saw nothing wrong when his wife waddled round the country to preach her hate sermons. If he had any sobering moments, Jonathan should know by now that he dug his political grave by over-indulging the empty-headed politicians around him. Of course, he was a weak leader in every sense of the word. In the six years he wasted the time of Nigerians, he succeeded in projecting himself as a man who was incapable of taking decisions. And, if truth be told, heroes are not made out of men who cannot rein-in over-bearing spouses!

Jonathan and sundry publicists should accept the dishonour of sending Jonathan into premature political retirement. From her characteristic waddle to her unclassified okrika grammar, Mrs. Jonathan represented yet another classic example of how Nigeria became a stage for barely literate and unserious actors and actresses to play out their funny acts. While it lasted, Nigerians had good laugh at the antics of their clowning first lady but deep down, even those who ate from the crumbs off her table knew Mrs. Jonathan was incapable of any good.

That Mr. Jonathan retained his wife as a major plank of his campaign in 2015 after several public gaffes, characterised by hate speech, is a pointer to the kind of commander in chief Nigerians had in Mr. Jonathan. May be he even thought his wife was always right and Nigerians who cautioned her were wrong! Whatever it was, the former president’s failure to caution his wife or stymie her damaging campaigns, especially after she ordered opposition politicians to be stoned, confirmed the saying that birds of a plume flock together.

Nigerians should be honest enough to look Jonathan in the face and tell him, quite frankly, that he was a disaster as president. He probably didn’t fare any better as a husband! It is delusional of Jonathan to see himself as a hero just as it is deceitful of his fans to refer to him as a statesman when the reverse is the truth. Reason for this is that heroes are made of sterner stuff. Sadly, Jonathan is not made of any stern stuff. At best, he will get a mention in history books as a clay-footed hero!

Magaji lives in Abuja.