How Jonathan May Just Help Buhari To Win The Presidency

Will Muhammadu Buhari be Nigeria’s next president?

Fisayo Soyombo

With Goodluck Jonathan’s collapsing popularity, Muhammadu Buhari actually stands a chance of winning the 2015 elections.

For the first time in Nigeria’s 16 years of democracy, there is real chance that the president could be someone other than the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Many times, I have described Muhammadu Buhari, the man who will face Jonathan in 2015, as a “perennially-losing presidential candidate”.

In 2003 he emerged as the sole candidate of the All Peoples Party (APP), after two candidates Rochas Okorocha and Harry Akande were pressured into stepping down, while Yahaya Abubakar failed to show up on the date of the primary. In the elections, Buhari lost to then incumbent, Olusegun Obasanjo of the PDP.

In 2007, he was consensus candidate of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) after Bukar Ibrahim and Pere Ajunwa were made to back down on convention day. Buhari then lost to PDP’s Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.

In 2011, he contested the elections on the platform of the Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), which he formed, losing again, to Goodluck Jonathan. In all three cases, his emergence was without intra-party opposition.

But I am first to admit that Buhari’s story has changed. By contesting and winning the presidential primary of the All Progressive Congress (APC) – the first time his presidential ambition has been challenged – Buhari has recorded the most important victory of his political career. And if the 2015 election is free and fair, he could well better that record.

Why Buhari may win

Buhari remains the single most popular man in northern Nigeria. Despite lacking real party structure, Buhari, with CPC in 2011, defeated Jonathan in Yobe, Zamfara, Sokoto, Niger, Kebbi, Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Gombe and Jigawa. He single-handedly polled a total of 12,214,853 votes, which amounted to 54.3 percent of Jonathan’s tally. Riding on the back of APC’s nationwide structure backed by 14 governors and their war chest, a Buhari victory in 2015 is quite possible.

Buhari is popular outside the north as well. Four days after he created his Twitter account (@ThisIsBuhari), he had already amassed 45,000 followers. This is testament to Buhari’s growing national – not just northern – acceptability, because the north remains Nigeria’s least literate zone. The north, therefore, has a sparse population of Internet users, which means that Buhari’s crowd of Twitter followers probably come from across the country.

In truth, Buhari cannot take full credit for his popularity outside the north. Full marks should go to Goodluck Jonathan, the man who has unravelled as the antithesis of his opponent’s unique selling point.

Presidential spokesman Reuben Abati can deliver the floweriest prose about his boss’s aversion to corruption while his colleague Doyin Okupe hurls the foulest words at the opposition and other Nigerians daily puncturing the president’s professed incorruptibility. But the majority of Nigerians have come to accept that Jonathan, even if re-elected for 10 terms, will never fight corruption. The courage is lacking, the political will is nonexistent, the desperation for re-election is so consuming that he would not hurt the weakest of his corrupt political allies. So Nigerians are prepared to turn to Buhari, unarguably the least stained presidential aspirant in the eyes of the people.

When APC was formed in February 2013, senior PDP figures dismissed it as a failure-bound union of four parties. Who would blame them? Many were sceptical that this merger would not survive even a year. Yet, in another two months, this merger would be two years old. But that is not the story.

The story is that all APC presidential aspirants defeated by Buhari have offered him their support. Few expected it. Atiku Abubakar, the man most expected to bolt out of APC in the event of a loss, congratulated Buhari the moment the ex-general’s vote count overtook his, even though the winner had not yet been officially announced at the time. There is a massive movement for Buhari, which Jonathan didn’t face in 2011.

Negative perceptions

That Buhari stands a good chance of winning does not mean he is not facing challenges. Nigerians, though forgetful, are largely an unforgiving lot. Their memories only need to be reignited by reminders of an individual’s past indiscretions.

That was what Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka did, first in 2007; and his thoughts have been massively re-circulated since Buhari’s emergence as the APC candidate. The unjust execution of Lawal Ojuolape, Bernard Ogedengbe and Bartholomew Owoh, through a retroactive decree, will haunt Buhari ahead of February.

There is nothing Muhammadu Buhai can do – and he himself knows – to extricate himself from his perception as a religious bigot. For the second time running, he has chosen a pastor as his running mate. But even if he chooses a pope, there are Nigerians who won’t pick Buhari for fear of enthroning a religiously extreme president.

In 2011, Buhari was accused of inciting the violence that followed his loss to Jonathan. The following year, he said “the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood” should the 2015 election be rigged. Buhari has shed blood before for his presidential ambition, some people believe. And they think he would do it again. Such man, they reason, should never taste power.

And there are those who would never vote for a 72-year-old. How can APC be trumpeting change while fielding a man who was military president more than three decades ago? That’s no change; it’s recycling.

The candidature of a septuagenarian is a dent on whatever progress we think we have made as a democracy. And although there have been arguments on the immorality of voting for either Buhari or Jonathan, Nigeria badly needs the “recycled freshness” that voting Jonathan out would herald!

Fisayo Soyombo edits Nigerian online newspaper TheCable. 

Source: Al Jazeera


Buhari’s New Year message to Nigerian youth

Full text of Buhari’s New Year message

General Muhammadu Buhari

As we welcome the year 2015, I have shared a message to Nigerians in general, but I find it crucial to send another message directly to Nigeria’s youth, who are the major stakeholders of this enterprise.

The year 2014 was a challenging one for most citizens of our dear country.

We remember our compatriots who were brutishly killed or maimed by evil terrorists in 2014. I remember with a still broken heart that 219 of our children from Chibok are yet missing, let down by a country that should protect them. I remember that, even as I speak, some of our towns and villages are yet under the occupation of Boko Haram.

Yes, it is enough for you to despair. It is enough for you to wonder if your country cares about you and can protect you. But do not despair.

2015 has arrived at a time of great discomfort; but the beauty of the New Year is that we can look forward with renewed hope and the knowledge that things can and will change.

In Nigeria’s particular case, we can truly look forward to the change that the elections can, and will, bring. Our country will be secure again. Our country will prosper again.

I have faith that 2015 is the year we shall begin to write a new story – a story of our youth creating jobs and expanding the frontiers of innovation and creativity everywhere from Mavin Records to the Co-Creation Hub; a story of genuine investment in our children and students be they in the University of Nigeria, Nsukka or in the Delta State University, Abraka; a country that finally makes a permanent shift from our debilitating dependence on the free-falling price of crude oil.

I have unshakeable faith that 2015 will be the year of change.

Now some of you have asked me: what exactly does ‘change’ mean?

I have taken time to explain this at different opportunities, but on this special day, let me remind you in five short statements.

Change means:

1. A country that you can be proud of at anytime and anywhere: where corruption is punished, where your leaders are disciplined and lead with vision and clarity; where the stories that emerge to the world from us are full of hope and progress.
2. A Nigeria in which neither yourselves, nor your parents, families or friends will have to fear for your safety, or for theirs.
3. A Nigeria where citizens get the basics that any country should provide: infrastructure that works, healthcare that is affordable, even free; respect for the environment and sustainable development, education that is competitive and outcome-oriented in a knowledge-economy.
4. A country that provides jobs for its young people, reducing unemployment to the lowest of single digits and providing safety nets so that no one is left behind.
5. A Nigeria where entrepreneurship thrives, enterprise flourishes and the government gets out of your way so that you can create value, build the economy and aggressively expand wealth.

Are these things truly possible? Of course. That is the essence and outcome of leadership, and that is what my party and

I promise you as we get into 2015.

My dear friends, this New Year, more than ever before, I am hopeful about Nigeria.

Yes, you are disappointed and you are angry, as you are entitled to, but you must never give in to the temptation to feel so weighed down by those who have failed you that you lose your hope and your energy and your passion to see change. You must never give up on Nigeria.

Together, we can build a nation that is secure, prosperous and gives everyone a fair chance.

This is the promise that 2015 holds. That is the promise that change will bring. That is the promise that I bring to you.

Once again, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year.

Thank you and God bless Nigeria.

Full Text of President Goodluck Jonathan’s New Year Address

Full Text of President Goodluck Jonathan’s New Year Address

“Dear Great People of our nation,

1.         I greet and felicitate with you all as we enter the New Year today. As we mark the beginning of this New Year, 2015, a new nation is being born.  A new nation is being born because of the foundations we have all laid, working together for the good and progress of our dear fatherland.

2.        I join you all in thanking God Almighty who has brought us this far, for continually bestowing His Grace upon us and for guiding our great nation safely through all the challenges of the past year.

3.        This year, as in the year past, I reaffirm my commitment to work to ensure a secure future for our dear country and the generations yet unborn.

4.        Last year, we celebrated our hundredth year of nationhood. The year brought us further progress, challenges and fresh opportunities.

5.        We have contended with the normal challenges of nation-building and the unusual challenges of terrorism.

6.        But we have continued to vigorously confront those who seek to destroy the bonds of unity that hold us together.

7.         On this first day of the New Year, I want to pay special tribute to the gallant officers, men and women of our Armed Forces and other security agencies who have been in the forefront of the war against terrorism and violent extremism in our country and sub-region.

8.        I also commend all Nigerians who have remained vigilant and cooperative with our security agencies in the fight against the common enemy.

9.        We are re-equipping and re-positioning our armed forces to enhance their capacity to win the ongoing war against terror and insurgency.

10.    Regrettably, terrorists have unleashed much pain and agony on our land. They have made widows of our mothers and sisters and orphans of our children. They have shut down businesses, desecrated places of worship and brought untold hardship to both men and women. They have violated the culture and peaceful way of life in our country, which took generations to build.

11.     They have destroyed countless schools and displaced people from their communities, driving them into exile.

12.    I want to assure you that the terrorists will not get away with their atrocities: they will not win; they will be routed. As President, I feel the pain of all affected communities and families. I hear their cries and share their sorrow and pain.

13.    We will not forget; we will not look the other way. We have done a lot of painstaking planning and work to resolve the current security challenge. We will bring justice to the savage terrorists known as Boko Haram. They will be defeated.

14.    That is the solemn commitment I make today as President of the Federal Republic, and Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces.

15.    By the Special Grace of God, the Federal Government, under my leadership, has continued, in the past four years to lead our country forward, even under the most trying circumstances.

16.    The progress we have made in priority areas bears us testimony.

17.    Amongst other achievements, we have rehabilitated and expanded our rail transportation network, successfully privatized power generation and distribution, significantly reformed and increased local participation in our oil and gas industry, and improved nationwide access to potable water from 57% in 2010, to 70% at present.

18.   We have also made significant progress in improving access to primary, secondary and tertiary education by building and equipping more schools, including special Almajiri schools, and establishing additional universities to ensure that each state of the nation now has at least one Federal University.

19.    Our national economy maintained a steady growth rate of close to seven per cent in the past four years and millions of fresh employment opportunities were created for our people as a direct consequence.

20.  Recently, we launched the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) and the $100 million dollars Government and Donor Fund for Agriculture Finance in Nigeria (FAFIN) to fast-track the positive transformation of our agricultural sector.

21.    The Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP) targets 750, 000 market-oriented young agricultural producers while the $100 million dollars Fund is to provide affordable long-term financing to support the development of small and medium agribusinesses in the country.

22.   This is in addition to a N50 billion Farm Mechanization Support Fund set up by the Central Bank to establish 1,200 agricultural equipment-hiring enterprises.

23.   Both funds will become fully operational this year.  Policies and programmes such as these to boost agricultural production remain topmost on the agenda of this administration.

24.   Being very conscious of the inherent perils of our over-reliance on income from crude oil exports for national development, we have focused on accelerating the diversification of our economy.

25.   The non-oil Sector which has grown by an average of 8% in the last few years, is now a major driver of growth in our economy.

26.   The 2015 national budget, which is now before the National Assembly, is targeted at deepening our efforts at becoming a non-oil economy.

27.   The budget also includes measures to ensure that the downturn in the price of oil does not affect our development plans and our national economy too adversely. We are adjusting our financial processes to safeguard our economy.  We are also taking steps to ensure that the poor and the low and medium income earners do not bear the brunt.

28.  In 2015, this administration will continue to lay the foundation for a vibrant economy that attracts significant Foreign Direct Investment and promotes policies that ensure economic stability.

29.   We will ensure stability in the value of the Naira by striving to take away speculative behaviours that cause market exchange pressures.

30.  We will continue to build and maintain a healthy external reserves position and strengthen fiscal buffers.  We will ensure the Naira remains strong, and gives foreign investors the clarity and certainty that they need, to guide future investment decisions.

31.    We will continue to improve our payment systems and strengthen risk-based supervision mechanism for Nigerian banks to ensure overall health and stability of the banking system.

32.   We are introducing a broad spectrum of financial instruments to boost sector-specific enterprise areas in agriculture, Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), manufacturing, and oil and gas to enhance our aggregate supply capacity, reduce poverty, promote job creation and increase the general well-being of our people.

33.   These efforts and other measures being spearheaded by relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, are geared to ensure a secure future for Nigeria and create a much more prosperous country, where people live more peaceful and fulfilled lives.

Fellow countrymen and women,

34.   As we enter an election year, I assure you that our administration will remain fully focused on providing good governance and the delivery of better public services to our people.

35.   The coming campaigns and elections will not distract us from our ongoing work to significantly improve the living conditions of our people.  And I urge all tiers of government not to be distracted as well.

36.   The elections are very important for us as a country.  Their successful conclusion will further strengthen our democratic institutions and place our beloved country even more firmly in the comity of truly democratic nations.

37.   Given the challenges that have characterized some previous electoral contests in our country, the eyes of the world will certainly be on the conduct and outcome of our fifth post-military rule general elections.

38.  I reassure all Nigerians and the international community of our firm commitment to free, fair and credible elections. My commitment to free elections and one man, one vote remains unwavering.

39.   Our administration has worked hard in previous elections to prepare all key stakeholders including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), security agencies and the electorate optimally, to ensure a progressively improved electoral process in the country under my watch.  We will continue to do so for the coming elections.

40.  We will continue to provide adequate funding to INEC and maintain the Commission’s independence and isolate it from any form of interference or meddling in its day-to-day affairs.  This shall continue to guarantee its impartiality and ability to conduct more credible and acceptable elections.

41.    National security agencies will also be given all necessary support to enhance their ability to ensure that the elections are peaceful and violence-free. The Nigeria Police has already established an Elections Security Planning and Monitoring Unit.

42.   I am optimistic that with the cooperation of all law-abiding citizens of the country, our commitment to have a peaceful and violence-free election will be actualized.

43.   I will like to say this, once again, to my fellow politicians and political leaders. None of our political ambitions is worth the blood of any of our countrymen, women and children.  The improvement of their lives and living conditions ought to be our primary motive and the driving force of our quest for political power and leadership positions.

44.   Let us not promote sectionalism, disunity, intolerance, hate, falsehood or the malicious abuse of political opponents. Whatever we feel or seek, we must have a nation and a people before we can dream of political ambitions. Let us put the nation and the people first.

45.   Let us all conduct our electoral campaigns with the highest possible decorum and civility towards political opponents. Let us give INEC the fullest possible support and cooperation it requires to conduct credible and violence-free elections in 2015.

46.                   After the 2011 general elections, some unpatriotic elements embarked on an orgy of violence, resulting in the destruction of lives and property. That will not be allowed to happen this time around. This government will act decisively against anyone who disrupts the public peace, before, during or after the 2015 general elections.

47. All Nigerians, of voting age, are free to vote based on their convictions. It is our duty to defend and protect that basic right, and let no one be in doubt, we will.

48.  Fellow Nigerians, I urge all of you to enter the New Year with renewed zeal and patriotism, to serve our fatherland with love, honesty, faithfulness and hope for a greater tomorrow.

49.   As I have always maintained, none of the challenges before us is insurmountable.  We must come together as a people and work with single-minded unity of purpose to overcome them.

50.  Nigeria is a key country in Africa. We must work together to maintain our strategic position and collaborate with others to move the continent forward. I call for peace in Africa and an end to all conflicts in our continent.  I urge all Africans to promote democracy in their respective countries to ensure faster development of the continent and faster economic and political integration.

51.    We will continue to pray and offer hands of fellowship and assistance to our fellow Africans suffering from the Ebola Virus Disease.  I urge all Nigerians to show compassion and contribute in whatever way we can to help our African brothers and sisters.

52.   As we go into this New Year, I salute the indomitable and resilient spirit of our people in Nigeria and wherever they are in the world.  Our spirit of enterprise and the doggedness to succeed amongst all odds has been our strength.

53.   With our collective prayers and efforts, we will grow our economy and our people will become wealthier. Government will continue with programmes deliberately designed to create more jobs for our youth, to enable them contribute more to the growth and development of our nation.

54.   Let us continue our march to the future, towards the attainment of our collective vision of a strong, united, prosperous and harmonious nation – a secure nation for us and for our coming generations.

55.   I wish you all a happy and fulfilling 2015.

56.   God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

57.   Happy New Year, Nigeria!

58.   I thank you all.

News Headlines Jan 1. Headlines from Nigeria’s major newspapers

News Headlines Jan 1. Headlines from Nigeria’s major newspapers. Compiled by Demola Adefajo for

The Punch
2015: Jonathan vows to crack down on troublemakers
Reps fail to pass PIB 156 days to tenure end
Jonathan has run out of ideas – Buhari
NLC threatens strike over unpaid salaries
Defend yourselves against B’Haram, JNI tells Muslims
Suspension: PDP undecided on Tukur’s fate
Better days ahead, says Folarin
Don’t violate Electoral Act, APGA warns INEC
Omisore advises Osun workers
Fashola says VP tax comments shows ignorance
Ademowo tasks INEC, police on fair elections
Nigeria will be liberated in 2015 –Lagos Speaker
Ambode picks campaign director, others
A’Court stops Akingbola’s N47bn fraud trial
Army creates martial court in Lagos, Abuja, Jos
Why I dumped Switzerland for Nigeria – Ukoh
AYC: Yahaya, Eze yet to join Flying Eagles
Pinnick says Keshi must accept NFF terms
End of year goal thrills Ighalo
We deserve top spot – Mourinho
FG may reopen MMIA cargo terminal next week
Oil price now $9 below budget benchmark
FG spent N500bn on power sector liabilities
FG shifts Tokunbo car tariff increase to April
Naira closes 2014 at 193 to dollar
The power of faith and mental wellbeing
Set your health goals for 2015
Year of birth changes impact of obesity
A New Year’s wish for my country
Team Nigeria and World Solar Challenge
Let’s discuss a new Nigeria
You can become a better business manager in 2015
Avoiding New Year resolutions that can’t work
First Bank, Etisalat boost mobile money initiative
‘Why dollar surged against naira, others in 2014’
Ex-worker, messenger threaten to kill boss, demand N500,000
Akure doctor attacked by robbers, not assassins ─ Police
Two in court for attempting to swindle Gen. Ogbeha
My sister’s killer dragged her on the road ─ Brother
Fire guts banking hall in Lagos
Protest continues as new Oyo REC resumes office
Ladoja expresses concern over unpaid salaries
Omoworare defeats Lawal in APC rerun primary
24 states won’t pay salaries in 2015 – Afenifere
Ahmed promises better life for Kwarans
Nigerians right to be angry with Jonathan –Buhari
Online FAQs and their answers
Oil price, power, others to determine economic outlook
2015 and politicians without ideology
NSE index closes lower on selling pressure
Writers in search of alternative to govt patronage
DPR under pressure to increase oil, gas reserves
ECOWAS common tariff begins today

The Vanguard
Happy New Year!
2015 Polls: Jonathan talks tough
Army restrict vehicular movement in Maiduguri
Nigeria’s future depends on electoral choice — Odinkalu
Ekiti budget passage by 7 PDP lawmakers illegal —Omirin
Prologue: Nigeria Kills Ebola
Babatunde Raji Fashola: Loud Ovation In Most Places
Pray for safe return of Chibok girls, Mu’azu tells Nigerians
Sule Lamido: Creator Of The New Jigawa
Akpabio: Akwa Ibom’s bridge to modernity
2015 political milestones
Delta: SDP, only credible alternative — Idawene, Delta SDP chairman
Federal, state pensioners in Ogun tell tale of woes
Oil falls below $56, heads for biggest annual drop since 2008
Eagles camp in full swing
NFF plans six grade-A friendlies for Eagles
Pray for safe return of Chibok girls, Mu’azu tells Nigerians
Imo gov Primaries: PDP dismisses Ararume’s claim
Buhari’ll fuel devt in 2015, APC senatorial candidate assures
Shun divisive politics —Imoke
ECONOMY: Afenifere warns of bleak future
Jonathan to spend N6.5bn on State House operations in 2015
UNPAID BILLS: UBTH frees detained 45-year-old cancer patient
New Year: Religious, political leaders sue for peace, unity

In a Foreign Policy Shift, Nigeria Sides with Israel over Palestine
APC Accuses FG of Move to Clamp down on Opposition
Crude Oil Price Falls Below $56 per Barrel
In New Year Messages, Jonathan, Buhari, Others Harp on Violence-free Elections
Oshiomhole Calls for Change
Fayose, Fayemi Urge Nigerians Not to Despair
Olofin Tasks Politicians on Transparent Elections
Ahmed Hopeful of a Greater 2015
Orji Pledges to Complete Ongoing Projects
Build More Secured, Prosperous Nation, Says Chime
Ajimobi Calls for Vigilance, Congratulates Nigerians
IG Tasks Churches, Mosques on Security
Pray for Peace, Yuguda Tells Nigerians
Look Forward to More Rewarding 2015, Says Aregbesola
Agbaje Wishes Nigerians Successful Election Year
Imoke Preaches Hope
2015 Calls for Introspection, Says Obi
Learn a Lesson from 2014 Troubles, Saraki Tells Nigerians
Isiaka Believes 2015 Will Usher in Opportunities
NLC Commends Workers‘ Resilience
Amosun Calls for Continued Prayers against Security Challenges in 2015
Obi Counsels Nigerians against Voting for President over 70 Years
Buhari Support Group Clarifies Controversy over Their Candidates’ Credentials
PDP: No Order on INEC over Party’s Ondo Candidates
Abia Guber Race: Otti Picks Woman as Running Mate
2015: Group Urges Nigerians to Support Jonathan
North is Still Underdeveloped, Says Ganduje
Hussain: Adeleke’s Candidacy is a Fraud
Imansuangbon: Nigeria Will Survive 2015
‘Imposition of Candidates May Destroy APC in Osun’
LP: 33 Governorship Candidates, 70 for Senate in 2015 Elections
2015: Princewill Sued for N10bn for Parading as LP Governorship Candidate
CBN Revokes Licences of 21 Primary Mortgage Banks
FG Defers 35% Levy on Used Cars Till April 30
BPP Saves N8.9bn on Contracts in Three Months
NNPC, DPR Promise Adequate Fuel Supply in the New Year
NEPC to Train 600 Farmers in Shea Butter Production
LAGBUS Provides Free Ride for Lagos Residents On New Year’s Day
Equities Market Sheds N1.748tn to close Year at N11.478tn
CBN Releases N500m to 1,600 Entrepreneurs in Enugu
Naira Depreciates by 13% in 2014
TEF $100m Entrepreneurship Programme Opens
Stanbic IBTC to Float More Exchange Traded Funds
Liberia’s Central Bank Moves to Reduce Ebola Stress on Lenders
Meeting New ICT Targets in 2015
Truths and Myths of Electromagnetic Emissions
CPC/Coca-Cola’s Face off as Template for 2015
As Counterfeiting Hampers Herbal Drinks
Lagos Countdown as Money Spinner
Nigerians Yet to Embrace Cashless Policy
Stakeholders Insist on Independent Courier Regulatory Body
Subscribers Commend Telcos on Service Quality during Yuletide
Mail Delivery: NIPOST Urges Compliance with Motorcycle Ban
Pinnick: Keshi Must Be Ready to Work with our Terms
NFF Lines up Six Friendlies for Eagles
64 Eaglets Axed
Okala Predicts Rosy Time for Anambra Sports
2015 and the Sorcerers Apprentices

The Nation
Our plan for Nigerians, by Jonathan, Buhari
NLC to govt: cut cost of governance
Investors reject rice import licence bazaar
2015: My five-point agenda, by Buhari
Why insurgency persists, by JNI
Broken promises and renewal of deceit
Insecurity remains blight, says govt
‘Trials of soldiers have instilled discipline’
NDLEA uncovers new methods of drug concealment
IGP orders tighter security nationwide
INEC is conspiring with PDP, says Balarabe Musa
Elections ’ll be crisis-free, says Oritsejafor
Northern governors urge Nigerians to seek peace
Saraki, Ahmed, Imoke preach hope
Mark craves for violent-free elections
Seven Ekiti PDP lawmakers ‘sit’ in secret to pass budget
Ladoja faulted on gender inequality in Accord
APC: Fed Govt using security agencies to decapitate opposition
Agbaje no match for Lagos APC, says Fashola
Protest in Ibadan as REC resumes
Essence quits Kennis Music
No going back on $65 benchmark, says Minister
Governor Fashola lights Bar Beach
Fed Govt approves disbursement of N166b outstanding fuel subsidy
‘Negative press don’t move me,’ says Cynthia Morgan
Alleged N47.5b theft: Appeal Court quashes charges against Akingbola
Ebola breakthrough
Future Awards: Adedevoh, Obaji, Mupuwa, others win big
2015 through the crystal ball
ARG urges reduction in recurrent expenditure
Jonathan, Buhari in titanic battle for Aso Rock
I’m not fighting with my husband’s family, says Ini Edo
Runaway kidnap kingpin arrested
Ice Prince, Kcee thrill consumers at Orijin launch
Revisiting amnesty
IPMAN president gets title
‘Why Al-Makura deserves second term’
Three Boko Haram suspects die in car explosion
FirstBank partners Etisalat on Firstmonie, Easywallet
Way forward for education, by scholars, others

National Mirror
2015: APC alleges plot to arrest opposition leaders- *** It’s smear propaganda, says Presidency *** Buhari: Use your votes to unseat Jonathan
Oil revenue: NLC warns against sacrificing workers’ welfare
Implement Beijing declaration on girl-child, FG told
Jonathan vows to remain focused on delivering better services
Army vows to ensure peaceful polls
FG reassures on ending insurgency
No Muslim protected Christians on Christmas day in Kaduna –CAN
Naira ends year in negative territory, down 14%
Socio-economic revolution coming –Oritsejafor
Gunmen behead three villagers in Plateau

Leadership News
Twin Bomb Blast Rocks Checkpoint, Kill 13 In Yobe
Wada Presents N110.2bn Budget To Kogi Assembly
7 PDP Lawmakers Pass 2015 Budget Behind Closed Doors
BoI Invests N1.1bn In Local Manufacture Of Smart Cards
2015: Stakeholders Envisage Mining Devt As Oil Price Drops
2014: Power Sector In Retrospect
Options Before Nigeria’s Power, Oil & Gas Sectors In 2015
Laptops Vs Desktops Which Is Healthier? Option?
2014: A Year In Review
Kebbi 2015: How Party Flag Bearers Emerged

The Sun
Kalu hails Ooni at 85
Kumuyi predicts glorious 2015
Shun divisive politics, Imoke tells Cross River residents
New Ebonyi secretariat ready in February –Elechi
Amuneke rules out new Eaglets invitees
‘Why I’m in race for Enugu House of Assembly’
2015: Northern group warns Asari-Dokubo over comments
JTF arrests alleged killers of 6 soldiers, recovers cache of arms
2014: We made progress in critical sectors –FG

261 Days of Chibok girls in captivity By Kayode Komolafe

261 Days of Chibok girls in captivity
By Kayode Komolafe

So the year ends today without the return of the Chibok girls to their parents! This distressing turn of events should worry the government and people of this country a great deal as the year is viewed in retrospect. Since that terrible night of April 14 this year, the phrase, Chibok Girls, has become the sore shorthand for the abduction of over 200 girls from the Federal Government College, Chibok in Borno State. After spending 261 of the 365 days of the year in captivity, at least 219 of the poor girls are yet to be rescued from their callous abductors. It is even more troubling that no one could give account of the actual state of things with the girls.

It is indeed an end-of- year sad commentary on the conduct of the war that the murderous group, Boko Haram, is waging against Nigeria. To imagine how sad the commentary has become, you only need to put yourself in the painful shoes of the parents and guardians of these helpless Nigerians who have tragically become the most advertised victims of the Boko Haram war. Some “commentators and public affairs analysts” are wont to rationalise even the most absurd events. According to these rationalisers, “we should not be sentimental” about the tragedy of the Chibok girls. If the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls does not provoke sentiments among a people, what else should justify sentiments? Which parent having his or her daughter held by some terrorists in an unknown place and condition would remain unsentimental in response?

The outrage on the abduction and the handling of their rescue is a legitimate sentiment. It is an attribute of a society imbued with humanity. The story of the Chibok girls is a poignantly open sore on our collective humanity. So let no one add salt to the injury by cautioning against sentiments. Any one with a modicum of humanity in him or her should be sentimental about this national tragedy.

Now, the Boko Haram insurgents have exploded bombs killing thousands of people and maiming several others. The insurgents have abducted hundreds of people including the Chibok schoolgirls. The violent activities of the group have led to the destruction of property worth hundreds of millions of Naira. Indeed, the economy of the northeast especially has been put in a state of suspended animation by the devastation wrought by this group. Millions of Nigerians are also internally displaced. About 30 births have been recorded among the displaced persons in recent weeks.

By the way, another unsettling aspect of the story is that valid statistics about this national disaster are hardly available. However, none of these heinous crimes of Boko Haram (reported or otherwise) has attracted more global attention than the holding of the Chibok girls in captivity. Terrorists employ what is called “propaganda by the deed”. Future historians of the Boko Haram war may one day record that no deed of the insurgents provided greater propaganda than the abduction of the Chibok girls. The solidarity of the whole nation should go to all those who are bereaved as result of the mass murders committed by Boko Haram as well as those maimed and abducted. As the year ends on this sad note, the solidarity of the whole nation should also go to the Chibok girls and their parents.

A nation could go to war because of one girl. That is how patriotism is engendered. A girl who knows that her nation would go any length to save her life would most likely grow up to become an ardent patriot. The brave Malala Yousafzai is a soul. She survived an assassination attempt by terrorists in her home country, Pakistan. Her ordeal attracted global attention with the concomitant solidarity. She is today a Nobel Laureate for her activism in promoting the female education. The other day, she visited Abuja and was received by President Goodluck Jonathan in Aso Rock. In Nigeria, 219 schoolgirls have not been properly accounted for and some cynics dare suggest that the nation “ should move on” on the matter. Well, the nation may choose to move on, but the pain in the heart of the parents of these girls will not move an inch especially given the manner in which matter has been handled.

The defence authorities have become unduly sensitive to the criticisms of their prosecution of the Boko Haram war. Yet they should be told that the handling of the abduction of the Chibok girls has been less than satisfactory. Within a month of the abduction, defence spokesmen announced that most of the girls had been rescued. This cheery statement was withdrawn shortly after it was made, in a way that was bereft of accountability to the public. Some months ago, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, told reporters to “leave us alone” as the military authorities knew the location of the girls.

Without prejudice to the secrecy of military operational procedures, there is hardly any official update to the public on the matter of the Chibok girls. The last time there was a categorical statement in respect of the Chibok girls was when the public was fed with the tales of a ceasefire with Boko Haram that never was in the first place. The release of the girls was alleged to be one of the terms of the ceasefire. The military authorities owe the public more explanations on this matter. This demand should not be misconstrued as asking them to discuss their operational strategies on the pages of newspapers. All that is required is to humanise defence briefings as it is done in other civilised societies.

The other sore point is the inexplicable hostility by government officials to those who have elected to uphold our collective humanity by sustaining a campaign for the recue of the Chibok girls. The counting of the days of the girls in captivity is even offensive to some government officials and politicians. It is disheartening watching on television ministers visibly irritated at the protest march by the #BringBackOurGirls group. Instead of joining hands with their compatriots in the group in solidarity, they respond with verbal assaults.

You wonder in what way the #BringBackOurGirls campaign is inimical to government’s interest? It is charitable to assume that the government is concerned about the condition of the abducted girls and working hard on their rescue. In that wise, the noble activities of those making personal sacrifices to keep the matter in public view should be seen as complementary to the official steps. What then is the basis of the official antagonism to the efforts to keep the matter in public view? The campaigners are simply saying that this nation should not “move on” with the fate of the Chibok girls unknown. No humane nation can so easily “move on” on such matters.

For clarity, it is also important to stress that the issue of the Chibok girls is beyond partisanship. It is indubitably a Nigerian problem. It is not just the headache of the government or a political party. It should, therefore, offend the sensibility of all decent people when the tragedy is politicised or trivialised. In fact, the wish of all persons of goodwill should be that the girls are rescued before the election so that no one would say the election is a referendum on the Chibok girls or indeed insurgency.

Meanwhile, the military authorities should be supported by the affected local and state governments in ensuring the return of the Chibok girls and indeed in defeating terrorism in the land. Yes, there are shared responsibilities in this matter. But the ultimate responsibility is that of the Commander-in-Chief when hundreds of girls are abducted in a place where a state of emergency is imposed. The whole nation should, therefore, be unambiguously behind the Commander-in-Chief in this war in which the Chibok girls appear to be helpless hostages. Both the government and opposition should acknowledge this inescapable fact in their rhetoric in the coming weeks of campaigns for the 2015 elections.

Source: ThisDay

Health alarm as Cancer-causing metal is detected in water supplied to Lagos residents

Cancer-causing metal detected in water supplied to Lagos residents


In the second part of his report, KUNLE FALAYI takes on the Lagos State Water Corporation armed with the report of a chemical analysis done on a sample of the contaminated water which some Lagos residents drink oblivious of the dangers they face

At Ijora-Badia, one of Lagos’ most notorious slums, living around dirt is obviously not strange to the residents. But the water they buy from vendors who get their supply from the Lagos State Water Corporation may be doing them more harm than good.

A sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation, which is Target 10 under Goal Seven of the Millennium Development Goals, continues to be an illusion to people like the residents of this area. According to the United Nations, at least 783 million people the world over lack access to clean water.

Our correspondent noticed that many residents of the Ijora-Badia community dispose of their human wastes in open sewers while most of the pipes laid by water vendors in the community pass through the same drains and sewers. Yet common cases of dysentery and diarrhoea among children of the community do not seem to be raising alarm bells.

Where dysentery is a ‘regular visitor’

After 28-year-old food vendor, Mrs. Khadijat Akibu, narrated how her son died in June 2014 after a bout of his ‘usual’ dysentery (published in the first part of this report last Saturday), a search for more families with similar cases revealed how common the disease is among the residents of the area.

Thirty-two-year-old hairdresser, Adunni Alimi, told our correspondent that she no longer saw it as a problem when her three-year-old daughter, Bisi, complained of dysentery because “it always comes and goes.”

She lives only about 30 yards away from Akibu, and there is no doubt that she and her family also use the same water supplied by water vendors in the area.

“Bisi had dysentery last in November. She has dysentery almost every three weeks but she recovers after we give her drugs. That is why we are not really worried,” Alimi said.

Initially, when her daughter started her usual frequent stooling, Bisi would take her to Grace and George Hospital, a private hospital in the area, but now, she simply goes to a drug store to buy Flagyl and Tetracycline anytime the bout sets in because she can’t afford to take her daughter to hospital all the time.

Does she think that the recurrent dysentery might have something to do with the water they drink in the house? Alimi, whose expression changed to one of confusion, answered that it could not be so.

“I know well that the water the vendors sell in Ijora-Badia come from the water corporation,” she said.

That was the same reaction Julius Aji, another resident of the area, gave when our correspondent was speaking with his wife.

His wife, Chinenye, had told our correspondent that they had to take their six-year-old son to the hospital when the dysentery he had on December 15, 2014 entered the third day without abating.

“That is the second time he would develop dysentery in the last four months. But this last one really frightened us because we went to buy the same drug that were prescribed during his last case and it just did not work,” Chinenye said.

“You reporters have come with your questions again. If we use borehole water, maybe I will agree that there is contamination. But we use water corporation water here,” Julius interjected when his wife was asked if they had ever worried that the water they use in the house might be contaminated.

But these families are just two of the many others who our correspondent spoke with and who admitted to battling recurrent cases of dysentery in Ijora-Badia.

However, dysentery is just a minor problem compared with the danger the analysis of the water taken in the area revealed.

Cancer-causing metal, high bacteria load

The result of the analysis revealed a frightening chemical and biological composition.

The silica level detected is 14.20, which is at least 400 times higher than the World Health Organisation’s acceptable maximum of 0.03. Phosphate, a chemical that causes digestive problems to both human and animal, is five times higher (at 5.176) than the maximum level permissible by the WHO (1.0).

The analysis also reveals 0.498 level of Lead, a dangerous carcinogenic metal.

This water result signals grave danger —Don

A senior lecturer of Pharmaceutical Chemistry from the University of Lagos, Dr. Chimezie Anyakora, who has conducted extensive research on water contamination across Nigeria, broke down the result of the water analysis, explaining that the lead detected in the water level should be of great concern to the people directly using the water and Lagosians in general.

Anyakora explained that lead and the high bacteria level in the water are the two main elements that should cause alarm bells to ring.

He said, “Obviously, the bacterial count (2.40 X 103 colony-forming unit per millimetre) which is at least 20 times more than the WHO limits (1.0 x 102) poses the danger of short-term diseases like typhoid, dysentery and diarrhoea. But my major concern is the lead level. There should not be any lead at all in the water.

“As you know, lead is a very carcinogenic element. If one ingests bacteria in water, they reproduce and attack the body when their number is large enough. The typhoid, dysentery, diarrhoea or other diseases that it will give you in the short-term can be treated if detected in time. But the problem are those who are not feeling sick at the moment and develop long term illnesses in the long run because of the heavy metal, lead.

“Lead, like other heavy metals, accumulates in the body over time. Someone who drinks water contaminated with it like this may live a normal life without feeling sick for years. When one is supposed to be living a good life, that is when it causes kidney failure, cancer and many other ailments problems that may be too expensive to manage.

“Looking at the result of the analysis on this water sample, it is a signal of grave danger. One who drinks this kind of water continuously for two years is in grave danger.”

Anyakora said unfortunately, the epidemiology of many illnesses which plague Nigerians is not done unlike in developed countries where illnesses are traced to their roots.

Dysentery will stunt children’s growth —Paediatrician

A Professor of Paediatrics, Faculty of Clinical Services, College of Medicine of the University of Lagos, Edamisan Temiye, said children who consume the contaminated water at Ijora-Badia are likely to continue to have intestinal diseases like dysentery and diarrheoa from time to time, which may impact on their development.

He said children who have dysentery regularly do not grow well.

Temiyemi said, “Such children become stunted and smaller than their age. Each time they have dysentery, they use up a lot of energy to recover. A lot of energy is diverted to the immune system.

“The likelihood that they will have a high load of worms in their intestines is very high. These will also sap micro-nutrients, essential vitamins and elements from their bodies.

“Eventually, their immune system is put under a lot of pressure. There is no way they can achieve their optimal growth. It is also definite that it would affect their intelligence.

“Even the girl child among them are more in grave danger because they cannot grow well as their puberty is likely to be delayed. By the time they are supposed to have children, their pelvis are likely to be contracted and have problems giving birth.”

He explained that even though the issue is just about water contamination, the effect becomes a vicious cycle of poverty and diseases leading to more poverty and deaths.

Commenting on the presence of lead in the water, Temiye said the metal should be an urgent source of concern to the authorities.

“Lead is an element that prevents a children from growing optimally. They grow up to become dull mentally. In addition to that, lead also prevents the formation of blood. Meaning that such children are likely to suffer from blood shortage,” the professor said.

Danger knocking at everyone’s door?

Experts say the contamination occurring at Ijora-Badia may seem like a local problem but every resident of Lagos who uses government-supplied water must be concerned about.

As a result of the fact that the water vendors are connected to the LWC’s main, the contamination might be sucked into the larger water flow, thereby ‘poisoning’ water supplied to other parts of the state, they noted.

According to a water engineer, Mr. Olusegun Adeogun, it is improper and unhygienic to lay water pipes that feed residential apartments in drainages.

He said ideally, the distance of connection between the mains and the buildings they feed should not exceed 18 metres.

Adeogun, who runs Aqualeau Water Engineering Services, said, “Mains are usually laid in major roads, while sub and trunk mains are laid in sub-roads and streets bearing in mind the distance of flow, dimension of pipes, topography of the area and human population in such areas.

“It is expected that water flowing from mains is treated and disinfected with chlorine as it flows through the channel and appurtenances, once there is a burst along the direction of flow, it paves way for the post-chlorination that makes dirty particles or suspended particles easily flow in and contaminate the treated water, thereby exposing the end-users to water-borne diseases.

“In cases where the water pipes supplying a house are between 50 to 300 metres away from the mains, laying them without proper backfilling as protection will surely cause the pipes to burst at some point.”

Adeogun said the solution was to provide mains on all roads and sub-roads to prevent laying unnecessary lengthy pipes and also prevent untraceable damage points. He suggested that more pipe reticulations should be done by the LWC.

Water corporation promises clampdown

The Lagos State Water Corporation said even though it was true that some water vendors at Ijora-Badia are supplied water by the corporation, it was not aware of the haphazard and dangerous ways pipes were being laid in the area.

Executive Director, Operations at the LWC, Mr. Deji Johnson, explained that there are many challenges faced by the corporation which make consistent monitoring of water vendors impossible.

He said, “We have challenges with our networks. The corporation has only achieved about 25 per cent of coverage in Lagos even though by 2020 we hope to cover the whole of Lagos. This is why we allow legitimate vendors who are registered with us to supply to the people using their own pipes.

“But it is obvious now that many of them install the pipes whatever way they like when our back is turned. The first thing we will do is identify the affected area and carry out massive disconnection exercise.

“People will break the law as much as they believe that they won’t be punished. There is no excuse for such illegality. We do not condone laying pipes in drains because it is wrong and illegal. We carry out enforcement but the vendors have just learnt to take advantage of our challenges.

“It has been challenging to carry out monitoring all the time. The challenges we face which people are not aware of include the fact that many people build their houses and fences so close to the drainages that utility cannot work in their streets.”

He explained that the LWC would take steps to ensure that henceforth vendors who are punished when they put the end-users of water in the state at risk.

We’ll sanction both corporation, vendors —LSWRC

The Lagos State Water Regulatory Commission said the fact that the LWC allowed vendors to connect to their mains without proper monitoring makes it a candidate for sanctioning as well.

Executive Secretary of the commission, Mrs. Tanwa Koya, said it is the responsibility of the corporation to ensure the water vendors do the right thing.

She said, “My conclusion is that the water corporation is the culprit in this issue. The Lagos State Government has set up a mechanism to monitor and enforce such things.

“We are not just going to punish the vendors but will also sanction the water corporation as well. Our job as the regulatory commission is to enforce water quality. That includes tracing the source of the contamination right to the end.

“We have just recently issued water quality regulation that would sanction in no small way both the vendors and water corporation.”

She explained that the implementation of the framework for ensuring monitoring of water circulation in the state would start in 2015.

Koya said, “The government is concerned about this issue. In a case like this, we do not solely rely on the community to alert us us. In 2015, we will be looking at the integrity of the water the residents of Lagos are being served regardless of whether we get a feedback or not.

“When we take action on the case you have identified, our process is not just to shut down the compromised supply points but also to ensure remediation because they don’t have any other source of water.

“All the pipes going through drainages will be moved out of the gutter. This will be a multi-effort action. The difference between the approach of the corporation and ours is that they want to disconnect the people that have done the wrong thing, we want to ensure that when you disconnect the bad ones you reconnect immediately the right way so that people continue to have access to water.”

Source: The Punch

Between GEJ’s today and GMB’s yesterday

Between GEJ’s today and GMB’s yesterday

By Mohammed Haruna

In an interview with Channels TV three Mondays ago, Dr Doyin Okupe, a senior spokesman of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ), said the All Progressives Congress, the country’s leading opposition party, made “a fatal error” by electing General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB), a former military head of state and serial loser in the country’s presidential elections since 2003, as its candidate for the February 14, 2015 presidential election.

General Buhari won his party’s presidential primaries, held on December 10 in Lagos, by a landslide, much to the surprise of most pundits who had forecast a tight race between him and former Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar. Indeed, so confident was the Atiku camp of his victory that his able spokesman, Garba Shehu, boasted on the eve of the primary that his principal’s acceptance speech had already been written. Shehu, you may recall, had conducted the vice-president’s highly successful media war in 2007 against his estranged boss, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo,

“For you to know how confident we are,” Shehu said, “Oga’s acceptance speech has already been written. So we are winning.”

In the event, Shehu and his oga couldn’t have been more disappointed; not only did he loose to Buhari, he also lost to a much less fancied Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the Governor of Kano State, who came a very distant second. The scores were 3,430 for the winner, 974 for the governor, 954 for the former VP, 624 for Rochas Okorocha, the Governor of Imo State, and 10 for Sam Nda-Isaiah, the publisher of Leadership.

The contrast between Buhari’s win and the coronation ceremony of President Jonathan as PDP’s candidate in Abuja on the same day couldn’t have been starker as a comparative study of the internal democracy of the two parties; the ruling party simply made it absolutely impossible for anyone to contest for its presidential ticket against the incumbent, inadvertently betraying a lack of confidence that the man can retain his ticket even in a rigged primary.

When Okupe said he knew Buhari’s election was “a fatal error” he of course meant it for APC. Buhari, like Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Abdulsalami Abubakar and Obasanjo (whose spokesman he once was), he said, only reminded Nigerians of a past that was best forgotten. Well, contrary to Okupe’s wish, APC’s “error” may well turn out to be fatal, not for itself, but for PDP which has ruled (misrule is more like it) this country since the start of the Fourth Republic in 1999 – and has threatened to rule us much longer for at least the next half century.

Okupe’s remarks in the Channels interview merely echoed his master’s acceptance speech on his coronation as PDP’s candidate. “The choice before Nigerians in the coming election,” he said in the speech, “is simple: A choice between going forward or (sic) going backwards; between the new ways and the old ways; between freedom and repression; between a record of visible achievements and beneficial reforms and desperate power-seekers with empty promises.”

I do not have any opinion poll to back my belief but I have no doubt that if Nigerians were free today to choose between the immediate and distant past Okupe has denigrated, on the one hand, and his principal’s present, on the other, the vast majority of them will prefer the past. Whatever those like Okupe who prefer the status quo may choose to believe, the fact is that Nigerians have never had it as bad as it has been in the last five years under President Jonathan, the good people of the oil producing Delta region he comes from not exempted.

As Eric Teniola, a veteran reporter and now a frequent commentator, pointed out in a well researched piece, “Changing tide for the Niger Delta” in The Guardian (December 24), with the region blessed with a development commission (NDDC), a ministry and the Presidential Amnesty Programme, all being allocated princely sums that are the envy of most states in the country – not, above all, to mention a president who is a son of the soil – money has since ceased being an object for the region.

Yet, today the ordinary people of the region have not in any way been better off than they were in the past. On the contrary, they are probably worse off today, as they wallow in abject poverty in sharp contrast to the mindless opulence of a few of them who the president seems ever so proud to say, as he repeated during his fundraiser two Saturdays ago, he has made millionaires and billionaires and, who knows, even trillionaires.

Speaking on December 23 at the inauguration of the Enugu-Port Harcourt train service the president repeated the statistical self-delusion, following the so-called rebasing of our Gross Domestic Product this year, that his administration has grown Nigeria’s economy into the biggest in Africa and one of the biggest in the world. “We have,” he said, “managed the economy such that it has risen to be the greatest economy in Africa and one of the biggest in the world.”

Obviously the president, in repeating this mantra about Nigeria’s new economic status, chose to ignore a report, issued by the UK-based Legatum Institute, a research organization that documents annual prosperity indicators around the world, which listed Nigeria as 125th in poverty out of 142 countries the institute surveyed.

The report, issued on December 19, had said, “Despite its latest status as Africa’s biggest economy, and its government’s claim of improved standard of living, Nigeria was not only one of the world’s least prosperous countries in 2014, but also one of Africa’s poorest beaten by smaller nations like Niger, Benin, Mali and Cameroun… Remarkably, Nigeria failed to make the list of Africa’s top 10 most prosperous countries, a league dominated by Botswana and South Africa.”

Obviously this is not a record any leader who cares for the welfare and the happiness of his people would be proud of. As The Punch said in the conclusion of its strongly worded front page comment, “Jonathan’s N21 bn donation: Impunity taken too far,” (December 23), “It is all evident that Jonathan has failed badly to build a credible, honest and minimally effective government for almost half a decade that he has been president. This is regrettable indeed.”

Yet we are told that we should reject change and vote for the status quo next year when our yesterday seems all so much better than our today.

Of all the things the president said in his acceptance speech as PDP’s candidate, the most profound for me was one of the shorted paragraphs in the speech. “Our mission,” he said, “is to secure Nigeria’s future.”

On his current record of his abysmal failure to even secure our present, it seems highly doubtful that he can secure the country’s future – certainly not with the level of threat we have repeatedly been subjected to by several of his henchmen like Asari Dokubo who have said his loss next year will mean the end of Nigeria. Given the widespread public concern about recent massive and illegal importation of arms as articulated only the other day by former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, in a letter to the President and to Buhari as the two leading presidential contenders, pleading with them to sign a memorandum of undertaking that they will get their respective followers to eschew violence especially after the election, Dokubo’s threats cannot be dismissed as empty or idle.

Predictably, threats from the likes of Dokubo have provoked counter-threats from Buhari’s camp, the most controversial of which has been the threat by Rivers State Governor and now the Director-General of Buhari Campaign Organisation, Rotimi Amaechi, that the opposition will form a parallel government if PDP wins, his assumption being, of course, that PDP cannot win next year’s election if it is free and fair.

Amaechi’s threat is to be condemned as much as Dokubo’s. However, whereas government officials have condemned Amaechi over his threat, they have maintained a deathly silence over those from the president’s men.

Not only have government officials condemned threats of violence from opposition elements, they have now gone further to threaten them with arrest and imprisonment. Only two Mondays ago, the combative Minister of Police Affairs, Chief Jelili Adesiyan, said he has ordered the Inspector General of Police and the Directorate of State Security to arrest anyone “making mutinous and inflammatory statements.”

He named no names but it was obvious he was referring mostly to Amaechi, especially over another statement the governor made condemning the death sentence passed recently on 54 soldiers for alleged mutiny in the war on Boko Haram terror in Borno State. “The soldiers,” the governor had reportedly said, “have a right to protest for the federal government’s failure to fully equip them.”

If the rather liberal interpretation of Amaechi’s words by PDP and government officials is accurate, he was hardly alone in speaking them. In this he was clearly in the company of such human rights lawyers like Femi Falana, SAN, and the Nobel Literature Laureate, Wole Soyinka, who have said the inability of government to arm and motivate the soldiers adequately are mitigating circumstances for their misconduct.

More importantly Amaechi is in the good company of one of the most respected retired generals of the Nigerian military, Major-General Alabi Williams.

“Those playing politics with the lives of these soldiers who were being sent to commit suicide in the name of fatherland and they refused, have to be ashamed,” the general, who retired as an officer and gentleman of the highest integrity and as the Chief of Defence Operations, Planning and Training in 1993, said recently. “The army’s top hierarchy is covering up its weaknesses by court-martialling these soldiers. Period.”

As the February presidential approaches the question then is not whether our present is worth preserving, because obviously it is not. The question is, can the opposition deliver on its promise to bring an end to our nasty and brutish present? My answer will form the subject of this column next week, God willing.

Happy New Year

With every difficulty, says a dictum, there’s ease. As we enter the year 2015 tomorrow may the Good Lord bring an end to our sufferings of recent years. Happy New Year.