Category Archives: opinions

Ekiti and the drama of power

Ekiti and the drama of power

By Dare Babarinsa

At least Kayode Fayemi knows how to be a governor. Yes, we have had governors in Ekiti; the dignified Niyi Adebayo, the competent Segun Oni and the intellectual Kayode Fayemi, but none like the populist Peter Ayodele Fayose (He loves to call himself Peter the Rock). Fayose’s ambition was to be a governor like no other. He succeeded. He is not my idea of a governor. Therefore the election of July 14 was seen by most Ekiti citizens as a referendum on Fayose’s style of leadership.
I cannot remember any election since 1999 that has polarized Ekiti than the last governorship election in which Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, defeated Fayose’s deputy-governor, Professor Kolapo Olusola Eleka of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The division showed in the result. Neither of the two candidates was dominant. Fayemi scored 197,459 votes to Olusola’s 178,121. President Muhammadu Buhari, in congratulating Fayemi for his victory, said it showed an acceptance of the APC. I dare say the President should wait till 2019 for the Ekiti opinion about the APC.

The July 14 election was not about APC or the PDP. It was a referendum on the unusual ways of Ayodele Fayose, the outgoing governor. Fayose is a phenomenon.He showed himself to be a politician of unusual brilliance and inventiveness. I first heard about him in 2002 when he emerged as the governorship candidate of the PDP.I met Governor Niyi Adebayo in his modest office (the old office of the Ado Local Government) in Ado Ekiti where we discussed the development. How can the PDP field an unknown quantity over and above men and women of substance within the party? It was strange. Adebayo too was surprised for he was expecting a more formidable and better known opponent. In 1999, he had faced Professor Tunde Adeniran, an illustrious son of the land. Adebayo defeated him. He had on his side the overwhelming influence of Afenifere, the mainstream Yoruba political and cultural movement that then dominated the Alliance for Democracy, AD.

Fayose had been procured from dark obscurity by the leadership of the PDP and placed at the centre stage of Ekiti politics. I was eager to know more about this new boy in the hood. Some of the leaders have brought charges that Fayose had never worked in any organization before and never performed the compulsory National Service. They said he never finished his course at The Polytechnic, Ibadan, where he claimed he graduated with a Higher National Diploma. I sent Yemi Olowolabi, one of my most enterprising colleagues in TELL, to get in touch with Fayose and ask for his Curriculum Vitae. Olowolabi, who is now the Ondo State Commissioner for Information, met him. Fayose never sent his C.V.

Fayose now has a rich C.V. He is the first Ekiti politician to be governor twice. After his first tour of duty, he fled the shores of Nigeria. When he finally returned he was put in Ikoyi Prison for about 100 days. He has cases hanging on his neck for alleged stealing of Ekiti fund and several cases of murder. He was accused of supervising the killing of one Akin Omojola who was beaten to death in Ifaki. Like Houdini, he escaped the vice set for him by his foes to continue his romance with politics. He flirted with Fayemi in his struggle against Governor Segun Oni and finally purchased a senatorial ticket of the Labour Party but lost the election to the famous journalist Babafemi Ojudu. By 2014, Fayose was back in full force winning the PDP governorship ticket by defeating a coterie of foes including Dayo Adeyeye and Caleb Olubolade, former Military Administrator of Bayelsa State who was a Minister in Jonathan’s government. He went ahead to rout Fayemi, then the incumbent governor, at the election.

Now that Fayemi has won the return match, I hope he would concentrate on his assignment. There are three things that are urgent. One is the issue of unemployment. Thousands of young graduates are roaming the streets of Ado-Ekiti and many have migrated to Lagos and other cities. He needs to lead the people to acquire marketable skills to produce product and services. This year, the only viable large manufacturing concern in the state, the Ikogosi Warm Spring Company, producer of Gossi Water, collapsed. It should not only come back, the government should try and encourage the setting up of other industries considering the abundance of trained manpower in the state and easier access to land.

The second assignment is to look into the portfolio of abandoned projects. The state is littered with many abandoned projects especially at the Ekiti State University, EKSU, and other places. All abandoned projects should be re-evaluated and completed. Ekiti State is noted for its good network of roads. All our governors: Niyi Adebayo, Fayose, Segun Oni and Fayemi, have all done well in making good roads. However, some of these roads are falling into decay. Rehabilitation and maintenance of roads should be a matter of public culture. We should not wait until the roads become impassable before we fix them.

The most difficult assignment however would be how to reconstruct the state finances which is now in shambles. First, there is a need to put a moratorium on public borrowing. All past governors, except Adebayo, have borrowed for mostly unproductive prestige projects. Now we have enough debt overhung to be inherited by our grandchildren. The incoming governor should pity the next generation by putting a cap on borrowing. He should also move quickly to recover state assets in private hands. He may need the help of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, and the Interpol to do this. Some of the assets may be in far-flung places like China, Singapore, Hawaii and Dubai.

Though Fayemi won the governorship contest, the winners of the election are the long suffering Ekiti people. In the evening of Saturday July 14, even before the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, declared the result, Fayose and his agents went to the state radio to claim that Professor Olusola Eleka had won the election, asking the people to “rise up and resist rigging.” The National Broadcasting Corporation, NBC, quickly shut down the radio station. In the early hours of Sunday July 15, the governorship election returning officer, Professor Idowu Olayinka, the highly respected vice-chancellor of the University of Ibadan, announced the result, proclaiming Fayemi the winner.

On the day of the election, I had joined other citizens to cast my vote. I was at the polling centre in front of my uncle’s house, the late Chief James Ekunola, in Okemesi. Voting was orderly, witnessed by only three female police officers. Voting was concluded by 2 p.m. Votes were counted openly and everyone heard the result. There was no dispute anywhere because the process was so transparent notwithstanding the pervasive and corrosive influence of money.

The fall of Fayose is an affirmation that politics is local. His rabble-rousing rascality resonated with many people across Nigeria, especially among those who are opposed to the dour Muhammadu Buhari and his incapacity to save Nigerians from rampaging murderous gangs. Fayose was the brave David who stood up to the Federal Leviathan over the Fulani herdsmen issue. He took on Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who drove him from power in 2005, accusing the former President of hypocrisy. He attacked President Buhari at every turn, once proclaiming him dead or paralyzed while the President was receiving medical treatment in London. Then last week, the President came to Ado to campaign for Fayemi and Fayose asked taxi driver and transporters to stay off the road so that no one would be available to welcome the President.

Twenty-four hours after the President left, news came that the governor had been attacked by some policemen and that Ado was boiling. I called my friends in Ado and was told that indeed, there had been clashes in front of the Government House in the morning but that Ado was now calm. Fayose soon appeared on national television, with neck brace turned upside down and his left hand in a sling tied to his supposedly wounded neck. He was weeping, with tears falling on his robust cheeks. He alleged that some policemen slapped him and wounded him with the butts of their guns. He said Professor Olusola Eleka too was also beaten. He blamed the Inspector-General of Police for his plight.

I spoke to a senior police officer who claimed that Fayose was lying. Yes that morning, police had dispersed with teargas a crowd of PDP supporters who wanted to organize a prayer walk round the city. He said the police had not granted any permit for a prayer rally. Fayose’s supporters later moved into the Government House ground where the rally was addressed by Fayose, Olusola and other leaders.

One disturbing aftermath of this election is that no role is assigned to the candidate who came second. The American presidential system adopted by Nigeria since 1979 is a winner-take-all Olympics. In the old parliamentary system, Ekiti would have benefited from Professor Olusola Eleka’s knowledge and experience as the Leader of Opposition. He would also be the Premier-in-waiting in case the Premier loses a vote of confidence in the House of Assembly. Now the only place where the winner and the loser can meet is in the law court. This is not right.

Those who are clamoring for restructuring should consider this aspect of our Constitution. It is simply unhealthy.A day before the election, a foreign delegation had visited Ado to have discussions with both Fayemi and Olusola Eleka. They met Fayose. He had dispatched the deputy governor on another errand. He had removed his hand sling but still carry his neck brace with grim determination and dark humour. The brace was now properly fixed. Such was Fayose’s sense of drama that he did not tell himself the truth about his neck brace. He would have a lot of opportunities for drama in the months ahead.

Source: The Guardian

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How Buhari aide predicted Fayemi’s election four years ago

Tolu Ogunlesi: Did Ekiti vote for Fayose or against Fayemi?

ByTheScoopPublished on June 23, 2014

By Tolu Ogunlesi

Tolu Ogunlesi is head of digital communication in the Presidency. Four years ago, just after the then incumbent governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, was declared the loser of the governorship poll, Ogunlesi wrote a piece on why Fayemi lost. Most importantly, he predicted his return to the office.
Enjoy it

One morning earlier this year (January, I believe), while having breakfast at a hotel in Abuja, I realised that one of the two men seated at the next table was Ayo Fayose, a former Governor of Ekiti State, now reelected after Saturday’s governorship election. There was no retinue of aides and hangers-on, just the two of them, eating, talking. He cut the perfect picture of the ex-Big Man who has now grown accustomed to a life out of the limelight. I went to say hello, mentioning that I am journalist. He seemed pleased to be recognised, and we exchanged phone numbers.

Barely three or so months later, Fayose was back in the big leagues, after winning the Peoples Democratic Party primaries for the governorship election in Ekiti State. The next time I would see him was at his campaign headquarters in Ado-Ekiti, on June 6, where he was surrounded by heavily armed policemen, soldiers and DSS officers, and hundreds of adoring supporters. Intriguing commentary on the unpredictability of life, the “suddenly-suddenly-ness” of it all, to borrow the words of the contemporary urban philosopher, Dapo Oyebanjo.

What struck me again and again while I was at the Fayose campaign office was the outpouring of support for the candidate, to the point of fanaticism. “Fayose is someone we genuinely like in Ekiti,” Odunayo, a 31-year-old artisan and PDP supporter, told me, in Yoruba. “Fayose to me is like a woman you like.”
I put questions to him about some of the many allegations associated with Fayose. He had answers for everything; and it was obvious he genuinely believed everything he was telling me. When I mentioned the violence associated with Fayose’s first term in office (2003 – 2006), he said: “That Fayose killed people is a lie. There is no government under which people don’t die. Everyone is destined to die at one time or the other.”

Regarding the allegations of corruption, he said: “We won’t be following Fayose like this if he actually stole Ekiti money; we are intelligent people in Ekiti.” Instead, he said, Fayose actually spent his personal funds on the people. “He’s an honest man.” He was confident that Fayose would win the election, and that he would finally get a chance to do for Ekiti all the things his impeachment had robbed him of the chance to do.

The following day, I got a chance to interview Governor Kayode Fayemi at the Government House in Ado-Ekiti (You may read the interview online at Theafricareport.com). Now, I must start off by saying I’m a big fan of Fayemi. The first time I met him – this was sometime in 2010, before he was sworn in as governor – he mentioned that he was a regular reader of my weekly column in the now defunct NEXT newspaper. I was flattered, as I would be on the two other occasions when I saw him and he would make references to something I had recently written about on this Monday PUNCH column. I am also keenly aware of, and deeply impressed by, his antecedents as a journalist, role he played in the pro-democracy struggle in the 1990s, his extensive clout in international policy and development circles, his unmistakable intellectual bent (you can see clear evidence of that in the interview I had with him), and his commitment, in word and deed, to good governance.

I saw – and still see – him as the sort of politician Nigeria needs in larger numbers, until there is a critical mass of them. And of course, it was shocking to learn that he lost the election on Saturday. A group of friends and I – all Fayemi fans – have spent a lot of time since Saturday debating and pondering over a number of issues relating to the election, and Nigerian politics generally.

The Ekiti election shows quite clearly how complicated politics can be; how much it may actually have more to do with what voters think of you than what you’ve done in office. In an ideal world, a Governor Fayemi – with his strong record of prudent management, innovation, and infrastructural development – should have no problem getting re-elected. But this is not an ideal world.

One okada rider told me that civil servants were complaining bitterly about how Fayemi had made it impossible for them to continue enjoying the “side-money” they enjoyed under Fayose. Of course, I couldn’t convince him that that should have been a great thing, a plus for the governor. As far as he was concerned, it was a valid reason to not vote for Fayemi.

It does seem to me like a great number of Ekiti people genuinely saw Fayose as the man most likely to defend them and their (admittedly mostly pecuniary) interests; who would most generously spread the “food” around; who was most given to being “a man of the people”. Indeed, Fayose’s campaign posters revolved around the message that he was the “friend of the masses” and “friend of the common-man”. Odunayo also told me: “Fayose has human feelings, you don’t need to tell him your problems before he knows them.”

Those seemed to be widespread perceptions among Ekiti residents, deeply believed to such an extent as to overshadow Fayemi’s many achievements on another scale. And let’s face it, the fact that the stated reasons behind the overwhelming choice Ekiti people made on Saturday might seem illogical or unfortunate to many of us who self-affirm as “enlightened” does not take anything away from the solid reality and evident authority of those reasons. You might not agree with how Ekiti voters came to the decisions they made, but you can neither convincingly accuse them of not consciously thinking about those decisions, nor justifiably argue that the decisions were wholly bought with bags of rice and salt distributed at the 11th hour.

There are related questions that may need answering. For example, did Ekiti State electorate vote for Fayose, or did they vote against Fayemi? (There is a difference, I believe). Would they have voted this enthusiastically even if Fayose wasn’t on the ballot? What role did party affiliations play? How would things have played out were Fayose to be the candidate of a lesser-known party, without the intimidating financial and logistical support of the PDP? And, to stretch things somewhat improbably, what would have changed were the incidence and extent of poverty to suddenly and remarkably fall across Nigeria?

My final question to Fayemi in the June 7 interview was: What will you do if you lose the election? His answer: “In the event that I lose the election in a free, fair and credible manner, I would congratulate the winner, and I would support the winner to achieve progress for our people. I’m in this for Ekiti, I have an alternative address.”

That answer impressed me, but I didn’t expect any less from him. As things sadly turned out, he lost, and he has since accepted defeat and congratulated Fayose. I wish him all the very best as he prepares for life as an ex-governor. The last seven years have been hectic, first fighting for his mandate, and then running the state. Now, he will have some quiet, to rest and read and write, and to reflect on his impressive political journey. I would like to see him run for Governor of Ekiti State again, in 2018, when Fayose’s second and final (by constitutional provisions) term comes to an end. Something tells me Ekiti will welcome Fayemi once again, as Kano did to Rabiu Kwankwaso in 2011, and as Ekiti has just done to Peter Ayodele Fayose.

Awolowo, Abiola, Obasanjo and Afenifere

Awolowo, Abiola, Obasanjo and Afenifere

Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and former President Olusegun Obasanjo

Posted By: Bayo OSIYEMI

I REMAIN a genuine admirer and believer in the ideals that Pa Obafemi Awolowo espoused in his life time. I also loved his dress sense since I first encountered him as a primary school pupil in 1957 and also from 1978 when I got close to him at both his Park Pane, Apapa home and his ancestral home in Ikenne, Ogun State, due to my professional and political callings.

So, if some of those who shared the same passion for the man Awo can now be seen to be rallying support for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who they believed (and still believe) stood between Awo and the Presidency of this nation which he coveted in his lifetime, then I feel hugely vindicated that I engineered the political coming together of Alhaji Lateef Jakande and late Bashorun Moshood Abiola, first in the late 80s, and later, in the early 90s, until the political spoilsports in our clime came to put spanners in the works of the few of us then, who believe that political recrimination, stubborn unforgiveness, vindictiveness and vendetta will, and, can never stand the Yoruba nation in good stead.

No harm if what some of us saw then, the latter-day converts are now seeing. But I smell a rat. Whereas it was for altruistic reason that informed our own action then, the same cannot be said of the few that gathered together recently to host former President Obasanjo and try to whip up tribal sentiment in his favour.

Of course, I’m not deceived into believing that Obasanjo himself is not playing cat and mouse game with our respected and elderly Afenifere chieftains and their younger followers; that he only needs them now to help him out of the consequence of the cobra tail he had stepped on; and that if he succeeds, he won’t go back to the club of few who, for countless number of years, after the demise of the First Republic, have held Nigeria by the jugular.

I submit, with due respect that the meeting held with Obasanjo in Chief Ayo Adebanjo’s Lekki residence recently was to a partisan end, that it has nothing to do with their tribe and their love for the race or the nation. It was, without mincing words, a meeting instigated to work for the preservation of privilege and the return of a group of political desperadoes to power at the centre, since Buhari has made it be known that with him, it will no longer be business as usual.

Let the few Afenifere choristers and Obasanjo offer us refreshingly different tunes from the ones we have had in the past and tell us who these new singers are, if it won’t be evident that they are in the genre of the jaded voices from our very recent past, those rejected massively at the last polls, and who are using every trick in the book to stage a come-back.

When all their bag of tricks is drying up, they are now trying to stigmatise our integrous President of an attempt to Islamise Nigeria, an attempt I know Buhari is fully conscious of what the consequence of that will be to him as a person, and Nigeria as a corporate entity. Take it from here that he will not dare contemplate such gamble!

Elections are in the air and political parties, especially the PDP, are jittery and therefore anxious to find what else they can do to overtake the APC for scoring impressive points on the issue of Abiola and June 12. It is in their desperation that they are wooing just any group – socio-cultural, religious, youths, et al, to recruit, to join in their bid to upstage Buhari and the APC in the next elections.

It is within their right under the law but, in doing so, they should be mindful of spreading venom into susceptible minds and not engage in acts that are inimical to national cohesion, unity and progress. They should also remember that laws are no respecters of anybody and that those who run foul of the nation’s laws in any subtle or discerning form, will have nobody but themselves to blame.

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Source: The Nation

Restructuring: Time for reason

Time for Reason

The Horizon By KAYODE KOMOLAFE

When politicians and social commentators say that this country has never been so divided, they are actually being euphemistic. The reality is indeed grave. For some forces appear hell- bent on setting this country on the path of destruction. Nigeria seems to be en route to Mogadishu with a stopover in Kigali.

Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, became a metaphor for genocide when in 1994 estimates of between 500, 000 and 1 million persons (mostly Tutsis) were killed within 100 days in the violence of the Hutus against the Tutsi. Hate speech was the fuel for that conflagration that drew universal horror. The good news, however, is that the dark chapter of Rwandan history is closed and the country is today a model of reform under a visionary leadership of President Paul Kagame. Unlike Rwanda, Somalia has hardly recovered from the civil war, which broke out in the country in 1988 and the subsequent overthrow of the dictator, Siad Barre, in 1991. By the way, there is no multiplicity of ethnicity in Somalia. The country is often cited as an example of a failed state under the rule of clannish warlords. The world is still waiting for the good news from Mogadishu, the troubled capital of Somalia.

Rwanda and Somalia are both instructive and sobering African stories.

Historically, there is probably no immunity against the failure of the state and the consequent national disintegration. That is why nation building is always a work in progress. Those cosy places to which members of the ruling class escape in moments of crisis are still being built by the leaders and people of the respective nations. Since the days of Plato and Aristotle, competent governance has always been a requirement for the state to maintain its integrity. A crisis-ridden country should, therefore, watch out for the signs of a failed state so that it would not unconsciously be on the road to Mogadishu, as they say.

The objective climate of insecurity in Nigeria is being subjectively worsened by the purveyors of hate in the public sphere. Lies, prejudice and hate are the effective weapons of mass manipulation. For some persons, Nigeria has simply ceased to exist subjectively even though they still operate within it objectively. Some of these elements still make billions from the poverty-stricken political economy. Yet, they speak of the country only in negative terms. These desperate forces perceive the forces of integration as naïve; whereas the real naivety is in assuming that there can ever be a bloodless disintegration of Nigeria. It’s not clear if some of the gladiators sometimes pause to do a proper scenario – building of what they wish for this country. Unfortunately, these forces of disintegration appear to be having the edge over the forces of integration. The voices of the prophets of doom are becoming more resonant.

Here lies the real danger of the moment.

Now, there is hardly any dispute about the imperative of making the Nigerian federalism work better by restructuring. Over centralization of items is simply not working. No rational person can question the elements of equity, fairness, efficiency and effectiveness as the condition for the union to last for generations. But the debacle seems to set in when you ponder the politics of restructuring. In other words, the real question is this: how exactly do you bring about restructuring? This question inexorably cropped up last Thursday in a quality colloquium in Lagos. It was organised by a highly reputable segment of the Yoruba elite, the Voice of Reason (VOR), whose motto is Agba kii wa l’oja k’ori omo tuntun wo (wise men do not stand by when things go wrong in the land). The VOR’s roll of honour is unquestionably inspiring for the young men and women seeking role models. The tone and tenor of the discussion were elevated even if sometimes provocative and reckless. Significantly, these members of the Yoruba elite invited the perspectives of the elites of other ethnic groups.

In fact, the VOR has demonstrated the seriousness of the group about its purpose by coming up with an attempt at a draft constitution to articulate its position on restructuring. The document, which VOR modestly describes as a “work in progress,” is entitled A Constitutional Framework for a Multi-Cultural Society.

However, the drawback of the occasion was that the severe limitation of the politics of restructuring was patently on display. Some of the suggestions were utterly tactless and, disappointingly, these views came from those who should know better by the virtue of their experience. A lot of historical distortions and misinterpretations were freely peddled. The emotion shown by a few was indeed frightening. Perhaps, this was what prompted the wise intervention of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, who challenged the gathering to the fact that the objectives of the advocates of restructuring might be impaired by the “harsh” tone of some of the southern participants in the debate when referring to their compatriots in the north. Agbakoba suggested in the alternative a robust engagement among elements from the various parts of the country. In this respect, reason, and not hate speech, would serve the purpose.

After all, what is federalism if not a continuous negotiation among the federating units and between the units on the one hand and the centre on the other?

Even if restructuring is accomplished today as defined by the contemporary, future generations of Nigerians might still have cause to restructure the federation to serve their own purpose. Maybe, no one could envisage the future purpose now. That is why decent advocates of restructuring such as the VOR should be wary of the merchants of hate and practitioners of anarchy. You cannot go far on the road to restructuring with a penchant for insulting people of other ethnic groups. That is not the way of decent negotiation. And you simply cannot restructure without being imbued with the spirit of negotiation in a complex setting such as Nigeria. It is only reasonable to learn how to play the politics of restructuring right.

So those who play with the fire of the fault-lines of ethnicity and religion are doing a great disservice to the cause of restructuring. A peaceful restructuring cannot be achieved by the cynical manipulation of religion and ethnicity.

In this respect, President Muhammadu Buhari should seize the moment by giving a coherent and illuminating response to the groundswell of opinions on restructuring. Buhari should simply go back to the manifesto of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), to be properly equipped on how to engage the nation amidst the seemingly unstoppable momentum of restructuring. That is what good leadership demands of the President.

The reflections should also focus on the factor of governance. The present and real danger of insecurity enveloping the nation is an issue of proper governance. No matter the structure of the federation that is eventually agreed upon, governance will still be a factor on its own. To derive the benefits from the proposed devolution of power to the federating units, state police and fiscal federalism, the country will still need to be properly governed at all levels. It would be illusory to imagine otherwise.

More fundamentally, it is important to explode the myth that the primary contradiction in Nigeria today is the distortion in the structure of the federation. Federalism, true or false, is not the primary issue. The primary contradiction in Nigeria is class-based. The primary contradiction is neither ethnic nor religious in nature. It is manifested in mass poverty and misery as recent findings by think tanks and international agencies have only confirmed. The primary contradiction is between the poor and the rich exploiters. The point at issue is that the vertical restructuring of the federation without the horizontal transformation of the social structure of inequality will not solve the problem fundamentally. The social structure of inequality traverses all ethnic groups, regions, zones and religions. And restructuring the federation will not automatically eradicate poverty in the land.

So, it is important that the restructuring advocates should also raise their voices against the worsening social inequality plaguing the land in the interest of social justice and peace.

Culled From ThisDay

New PDP returns to old tricks

New PDP returns to old tricks

Posted By: Emmanuel Oladesu, Group Political Editor

For the All Progressives Congress (APC), this is an anxious moment. Reminiscent of the pre-2015 election period, when the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) sprang up to liquidate the acclaimed largest party in Africa, some chieftains yesterday announced the formation of the ‘Reformed APC’ to coordinate the onslaught against the ruling party.

APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, who tried frantically to avert it, now has a big challenge on his hands.

Can he stop the predictable defection from the APC? Can he avert the disintegration of the ruling party? Can he persuade the aggrieved chieftains to sheath their swords? What is the way out of the logjam?

According to observers, the APC has no formidable competitor in next year’s elections; it is now evident that it has so much trouble to deal with within than without.

Prominent APC chieftains have constituted themselves into a curious internal opposition within the fold. Thus, while APC appears unperturbed by the activities of the main opposition party, the PDP, and other smaller rivals, it can only ignore the antics of its internal opposition leaders to its peril.

The bone of contention in the APC is not ideology. Neither is it the welfare of the common man. There is a clash of ego. Those fighting within are fighting the battle of relevance and survival. They crave for more party powers and access to the inner corridor of power, where President Muhammdu Buhari, who seems to have a different vision and mission, is aloof and indifferent to their cravings.

Senate President Bukola Saraki is on trial for alleged corruption. He has also been linked with bandits who broke banks in the deadly Offa robbery. He expects a sympathetic presidential ear. The Bauchi home front is hot for House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara, owing to the war of attrition between him and Governor Muhammed Abubakar. He believes the President should intervene on his side.

Members of the so-called ‘Reformed APC” have returned to the drawing board. The pre-2015 tactics of the nPDP is on their palms. The defection ravaged and devastated the then ruling party. When nPDP members dumped their former camp en mass, there was no remedy. Therefore, the “Reformed APC” or put succinctly, “nAPC,” is on a familiar path.

Defection can only be condoned under the law if there is crisis in the party. Yet, the APC has been surviving its crisis, including the furore over congresses. The onus is now on the Reformed APC to orchestrate a crisis as a prelude to its final decision to jump ship. A shift of allegiance to a new party is legally permissible. But, it is at a cost. The parliamentary defectors forfeit their seats. But, if they can manage to successfully instigate crisis, they can hold on to their legislative positions, just as former House of Representatives Speaker Waziri Tambuwal did and escaped sanctions in 2014.

Those behind the new plot are skilled in the art of defection to score some points. Former nPDP leader Kawu Baraje is ready to fuel the ‘rebellion’ with his rich experience.

It is ironical that the ‘Reformed APC’ has no clear agenda for party reforms.

To observers, the doomsday was only postponed. Since the beginning of the Buhari administration, the APC has been fighting internal battles. The party was nearly suffocated in an atmosphere of strife and rancour. Although it has the majority in the National Assembly, it has never translated that to cordial relations between the legislature and the executive.

In the past, the logjam was attributed to the weakness of the party caucus, which should have moderated the tension between the presidency and the National Assembly. Also, reconciliation in the APC has been slow. Many stalwarts are erecting obstacles on the way of the process. When he assumed the reins last week, Oshiomhole promised to swing into action.

Already, those who are likely to defect are locked in partisan fraternity with the PDP. The motivation is personal interest, which is fundamental in politics. There is a realignment of forces. Also, there is a clash of permutations. When the national convention was going on in Abuja, Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso was meeting with the PDP presidential aspirant, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in another location. Just this week, Tambuwal was holding court with Rivers State Governor Nyeson Wike in Port Harcourt. Saraki’s Chief of Staff Hakeem BabaAhmed called it quits with the APC.

What next? It is believed that the aggrieved chieftains have made up their minds to defect. But, the defection is still being delayed for strategic reasons. Can the national chairman stem the tide?

If potential defectors bid APC farewell, will it herald the disintegration of the ruling party? Will the defectors go back to the PDP, with all its baggage? Will the PDP change its name as it is being speculated? Will the defectors team up with former President Olusegun Obasanjo? Will their defection cripple the APC? Will it abort President Buhari’s second term ambition?

Certainly, there is a split in the nPDP. There is no consensus. The current action is not a unanimous decision. In the Southwest, the activities of the Reformed APC will not have impact. In the Southsouth, which is a PDP-dominated zone, and the Southeast, where zonal APC leaders are trying to persuade their kith and kin to support the President, it will create a setback for mobilisation. But, not beyond what happened in 2015 when the zone rejected the APC. The battle front is the North, where pro-Buhari forces will now gird their loins in anticipation of titanic battle with anti-Buhari forces.

Generally, it is doubtful if the activities of the Reformed APC will produce the same impact like that of the pre-2015 nPDP ahead of next year’s polls. The reasons are obvious. There is split in the camp of the internal agitators. The public perception of some of their arrowheads is a big factor. Preliminary steps have been taken to reduce the effects of defections in states that may likely be hit by the defections. Also, unlike what happened in the PDP in 2014/2015, majority of party leaders will not desert the president in his bid for a second term.

Source: The Nation

Dirty money in circulation

Dirty money in circulation

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

By Oshineye Victor Oshisada

Money is the medium of exchange and store of value. People describe it variously as bank notes, currency notes or simply “money”. But for the purpose of this piece, the description as “money” is chosen for prompt and lucid understanding of man and woman in the street. Bank note is the paper money that is issued by a Bank. The issue of notes in most countries is either entirely confined to or subject to strict control by the Central Bank. Currency is another name for money. A country’s own currency is that for internal transactions. Foreign currency is the money of other countries. In this country, the currency that is in circulation is “Naira”.

The poor appearance of our “naira” is the focus of this writer. For a long time now, our naira has been badly mutilated, smelling nauseatingly and in shreds, to the extent of using sellotape to stick together the pieces. In these appalling appearances, people whose lot it is to spend the money have their re-actions. Why not? To every action, there is a re-action. “Nigerian currencies are Legal tender.” By legal tender, it is meant, the forms of money which a creditor is legally obliged to accept in the settlement of a debt. For the reason of “inflation” coins have vanished from circulation for many years. If anybody holds coins in possession, it merely serves as a family heirloom for future generations. Therefore, by the expression, “legal tender”, it is the argument by concerned citizens. The currency is paid for services and purchases of all sorts. Prospective buyers are right to argue: “This money though tattered, it is the legal tender today.” The producers of the services or commodities on their parts, shall contend with a note of finality. “It may be a legal tender. But nobody shall collect sellotaped naira notes in this market or area. Give me better money.”

The buyers shall insist that the bad Naira notes must be accepted by the sellers on the premise: “It was given to me by a Nigerian. Besides, I carry no other notes with me.” In the course of these continual and fruitless arguments, three possibilities may emerge-the seller may not part with the commodity. This does not enhance good trade and economic growth. Both the sellers and the buyers are at losses. The products may remain unsold. The buyers may lose the desired utility that is derivable from the commodity. A scuffle may eventuate between the buyer and the seller. These are not beneficial to the society.

Therefore, the Federal Government, through its Central Bank, must opt for the plausibility of regularly printing fresh currency notes for people’s commercial transactions. This writer considers clean money to be one of the economic mirrors of a country. If the notes are clean, it shows that the economy is good; if it is dirty as it is now, it demonstrates that our economy is seriously sick, requiring surgical operation. By the way, if I may inquire: “Are our Federal Ministers not in receipts of these dirty notes? Are the members of the National Assembly blind to the abysmal conditions of these dirty notes? Is it not a shame to the Federal Finance Minister to find in circulation absolutely wretched Naira notes?” These dirty Naira notes are a disgrace to the nation. Some years ago, Nigerians were condemning tattered national flags flying in public places. Today, we are criticizing mutilated Naira Notes. It seems that our leaders are in love with things that are in tatterdemalions. It is a pity!

Why are the conditions of our Naira so revolting? This writer can ascribe some reasons for these. People are in the habit of rejecting these notes. But quite often, I point it out to them: “When it was in mint form, the same people made it dirty as it is now, because of the wrong style that it is handled. Invariably, rough handling contributes to the filthy appearance of our money”. For example, the market women and the bus conductors are guilty of this. It is typical of the market mummies to stock decent notes inside their brassieres, corsets and corse-lettes for keeps in the course of their trades. In that process, body perspiration moistens the naira notes. Likewise, some young men tuck naira notes inside their pairs of socks, and even their pants ostensibly for security, but in reality they are vandalized. To worsen it, some write their names and address on the notes, thinking that in course of time, the money shall return to them after a certain period of circulation. Also, some superstitious folks nip the edges of the notes believing that no spirit shall steal them from their possessions. Further, the quality of the materials used to produce our naira notes are inferior. In 2015, many of these notes that were printed and sent into circulations have today peeled off as the inscriptions are deleted and illegible. The N50, N100 and N200 denominations are the victims of this vandalisation sparing N500 and N1000 the blushes. Moreover, the Federal Government’s habitual tardiness in re-printing the notes renders them defaced and lose their original artistic beauty. That is the aesthetics. It costs money to mint and print money. Therefore very significantly, the perennial delay in passing the Annual Budget by the National Assembly may possibly contribute to the Federal Finance Ministry’s prevailing predicament. Lastly, in this country, there is too much pressure on cash, with less emphases on bank cheques for transactions. In my considered opinion, I believe that it is because of the predominantly illiteracy level which results to lack of confidence in cheque transactions. In other words, people more often than not, rely on the uses of cash and less on cheques. This creates the mutilation and filthiness on the lower denominations of naira notes.

With a pang of nostalgia, this writer remembers the colonial Nigeria era, to Tafawa Balewa administration when Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh was the Finance Minister, Nigerians were enjoying clean bank notes, compared with the present. At the introduction of new notes, a song was composed: “Okotie-Eboh ko owo tuntun de; aiye ndara bowa o e”, meaning, “Festus Okotie-Eboh has issued fresh and new currency notes; the country is assuming better economic era” Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh was a colourful politician in his days. He had the peculiarity of buoyancy in appearance and equally demonstrative in his gait that at any social milieu, the wrapper round his waist would be flowing behind him with the trailing tail held on by two youngsters. In the like manner, the currency notes, produced for circulation by his Ministry, were typically spick-and-span and undefaced. Today the exercise has detracted from what obtained in the days of yore. This writer is authoritatively informed that some banks are rejecting the mutilated money. The Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, must prove equal to the task of furnishing Nigerians with clean Naira notes, about which the quantities in different denominations cause inadequate balances (that is, change) for buyers and sellers.

From the foregoing submissions, what is clear writer is advocating is that Nigerians deserve clean Naira notes, instead of the present sellotaped “rags” that pass for money.
Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.

Before the next massacre by Simon Kolawole

Before the next massacre

BY SIMON KOLAWOLE

Quote me: the Plateau killings, in which over a hundred defenceless citizens lost their lives, will not be the last. I am not trying to be a prophet — much less a prophet of doom — but the reality of Nigeria is that things hardly change. Internecine killings have been going on consistently for the past 18 years, mostly in northern Nigeria, and there is yet no sign that they are about to end. The Plateau killings are not the first and will not be the last. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that the next massacre is just by the corner elsewhere. Without a realistic conflict management strategy in place, I can sadly assure you that we are just helplessly waiting for the next mayhem.

What sparked off the latest bloodbath in Plateau state? Predictably, truth is the first casualty. People easily take sides and always end up with so many versions of truth that you would be performing a miracle to be able to put your finger on the real thing. The initial story was that herdsmen went on the rampage in Barkin-Ladi, Riyom, Mangu and Jos south local government areas of the state. Why? An account says some herdsmen had been killed and their cattle rustled by Berom youths days earlier, hence a reprisal. Up till now, we are still not sure of the facts. We are left to speculate. My article today assumes that it was a product of the intractable herders/farmers/villagers crisis.

Initially, Mallam Danladi Ciroma, the north-central chairman of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), was widely reported by the medial as suggesting that the Plateau attacks were “retaliatory”. He has since denied saying so, but he pointed out that the biggest issue “on ground” in the state is cattle rustling. In January 2018, after the Benue killings, Alhaji Garus Gololo, a leader of Miyetti Allah in the state, told BBC pidgin that the attacks were in retaliation for the stealing of their cows. “As we were relocating to Taraba through Nasarawa state, thieves came to steal 1000 cows from us at the border town of Nengere, so we fought them back,” he said.

There are recurring decimals of “cattle rustling” and “reprisal” in the narratives. We can thus make some general observations based on what is in the open. One, herders are losing their cattle to armed robbers. Two, herders are also losing their lives to these violent rustlers. Three, the security agencies appear overwhelmed and unable to bring the rustlers to justice. Four, the herders embark on revenge missions. Five, the security agencies appear overwhelmed (some even say complicit) whenever the herders exact revenge. Six, the offending herders are also hardly brought to justice. Overall, we have something like a mutually assured destruction (MAD) in our hands.

In every conflict, though, there are remote and immediate causes. Therefore, my one-paragraph summary does not capture all the nuances of the herders/farmers conflict in the north. Things are much deeper. A broad view of the crippling crisis will identify more triggers than “rustling” and “reprisal”. Some analysts have partly blamed the genesis on atrocious geography — desertification and a disappearing Lake Chad — which is increasingly driving herders southwards in search of fresh pasture and inevitably putting them in conflict with farmers and villagers as a result of destructive grazing practices. In addition, the Boko Haram insurgency has pushed them southwards.

That said, we also cannot ignore the fact that the grazing routes created by colonial masters have been ruined over time. The encroachment on these routes by farmers and builders has never been addressed and it is not to be unexpected that one disruption leads to another. Evidently at play is a fierce struggle for scarce resources. So at the base of these herders/farmers confrontations is an economic issue which unfortunately plays into our fault lines and inflame passions. Any analysis of the conflict that does not recognise this as a factor will be most unhelpful, and we cannot begin to think of a permanent resolution in isolation of these economic issues.

Another deadly undertone is that, historically, the north is strongly divided along ethno-religious lines, and these differences are more pronounced in the Middle Belt where the scars of wars from the 18th and 19th centuries are still being nurtured. In states such as Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Adamawa, Kaduna and Nasarawa, there is eternal tension between Muslims and Christians. It is very evident in the way people take sides over the herders/farmers issues. The historical fault lines are always activated after each mayhem — even by the most educated and enlightened commentators. It always generates an emotive response devoid of rationality and pragmatism.

It is also indisputable that the anti-grazing laws in Benue and Taraba have become very contentious. The “state police” (vigilante), in enforcing the law, have been accused of extorting the herders, stealing their cows and in some cases killing the herders. The herders then regroup and fight back, with the reprisals turning out to be deadlier than the original “crime”. Their victims are almost always innocent villagers. One fair conclusion we can quickly reach is that the anti-grazing laws cannot on their own resolve the issues at play. I do not know how much of impact assessment the state lawmakers did before passing the legislations. Is it worth the bloodshed? I think not.

But then we are also faced with practical questions. Should any state government fold its arms and allow herders to continue to destroy the farmlands and livelihoods of other people in order to feed their cattle? I think not. No honest human being should answer yes to that question. On the other hand, can any government stop open grazing without alternatives and not provoke repercussions? Will any herder fold his arms and watch his livestock die from lack of water and pasture? Again, I think not. I don’t think any rational person will say that is the way to go. There we see the crux of the matter. Finding a middle ground is what we are always running away from.

There are at least three realities we must face if we are to sincerely address the crisis. One, herders cannot continue to destroy people’s livelihoods without repercussions. Your right to do your business must not encroach on my right to do my own business. Two, herders are human beings and economic agents who cannot be wished away or wiped off the surface of the earth. Anybody who thinks we will stop having herders in Nigeria is daydreaming. Three, and consequently, we must find a balance between the rights of the farmers and the rights of the herders if there is ever going to be peace in the land. Any proposal that ignores these three realities will NOT solve any problem.

In the end, something has to give. Of all the proposals on ground, ranching is the most reasonable and the most appealing to me. But the nomads will have to imbibe a new breeding culture. This will not happen overnight. Teaching an old dog new tricks is a tough task. When you have been doing something the same way for thousands of years, it is a heritage you don’t want to give up. The transition period will be hard. Ranching is a multi-billion naira economy waiting to explode — with enormous benefits. Caution: states should not be forced to provide land for ranching. Only the willing should sign up. We shouldn’t attempt to solve one problem by creating another.

Unfortunately, 2019 elections are around the corner and everything is tainted with politics. This makes crisis resolution pretty difficult. There are those taking advantage of the situation to play dirty politics and will go to any length in their dangerous game. These are the moments that need genuine problem-solving. Political leaders, religious leaders, traditional leaders, intellectuals and the media all need to exercise leadership in these tough times. Let us all remember that there is no medal to be won if we allow our house to be set on fire. We will all bear the brunt. If Nigeria is not at peace, Nigerians cannot be at peace. Comfort for the tree is comfort for the bird.

My parting words are to Buhari. Dear President, someone once said that leadership is not what you do every day; it is how you rise to the occasion when the occasion arises. The insecurity in the land is the biggest test of your leadership so far. Nigeria is bleeding. Mr. President, don’t let it be said that Nigeria bled to death under your watch. Be firm. Be courageous. Be open-minded. Expand your circle of advisers. Seek help wherever you can get it. Do the needful to calm frayed nerves. Re-jig your security set-up if need be. Culprits must be diligently prosecuted. Justice must be done. Another massacre is just around the corner — except we earnestly begin to do things differently.

GALLANT EAGLES

The Super Eagles crashed out of the World Cup on Tuesday after losing 2-1 to Argentina in their final group match — but I was not terribly disappointed. My frustration was that we were so close to securing the needed result when we conceded the killer goal in the 86th minute. Nevertheless, I saw a Nigerian team that played their hearts out and fought gallantly to the last drop of their sweat. I loved it. The story would probably have been different if Jude Ighalo had buried his chance in the 75th minute instead of waiting for an uncertain penalty. But that’s the way life goes. We did not start the World Cup well and we paid the price, but it was a decent outing. Kudos.

TANKER DEATHS

A fuel tanker broke down, burst into flames and killed nine people on Thursday evening. Many more were injured while scores of vehicles got burnt. The cause? Break failure, according to reports. Doesn’t that sound familiar? Anytime you come across these fuel tankers, please take a look at their state of health. Many of them don’t have complete tires. Even some tires are worn out, but they keep dragging them on the road. We have the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) which is supposed to enforce safety on our roads, and we also have certification from ministry of transport (MOT) which confirms that these trucks are roadworthy. Innocent people always pay the price. Dreadful.

THE PEACE MAKER

Here is one to shame the bigots in Nigeria. An imam in Plateau state hid over 200 people, including Christians, inside his mosque during the recent killings in the state. He did not discriminate in saving the lives of men, women and children from the killers. He did not separate Muslims from Christians. He acted as a protector to all. This is the Nigeria I love. His identity was not revealed, but God knows him very well and I have no doubt that he will receive his due reward. True religion respects the sanctity of human life. No matter how religious you are, if you don’t respect human life, you are not better than a beast. I hope our Christian and Muslim leaders will learn from this imam. Godliness.

AND FINALLY…

A presidential spokesman said on Thursday that there were more wanton killings under PDP governments (between 1999 and 2018) than under the APC administration (from 2015 till now). I don’t know the purpose of the comprehensive list of killings that was released, but I must confess that it was well researched. It was a celebration of tragedies. He seems to be a football fan: he more or less developed a league table with invisible columns for “goals for” and “goals against” to compare and contrast dead bodies under PDP and APC. I have been complaining about unprofessional public communication in Nigeria for a while but this should take the cake. Ridiculous.

Source: TheCable