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.
Five things we learned from Nigeria’s win against Iceland
By Solomon Fowowe
Ahmed Musa produced an outstanding performance to put the Super Eagles in the path of qualification to the second round. The Super Eagles after their opening game loss against Croatia had to win to stand a realistic chance of qualification to the next round. Gernot Rohr’s men struck in the second half to defeat Iceland 2-0 at the Volgograd stadium that was crackling with energy.
Ahmed Musa pays faith with record-breaking brace
The Man. The Myth… The Legend. The best mental image that describes Musa after his feat is one with forward turbaned, riding majestically on the back of a camel into the sun as he waves us his subjects. For we are unworthy of his brilliance. The opener was as exquisite as they come, Musa brought down Moses’ cross into the box from the air with his stretched foot before he hit a beautiful half-volley past Hannes Halldorsson. It was a sheer delight, a beautiful moment etched into the annals as he became Nigeria’s highest goal scorer at the World Cup.
It was Musa in all his splendid glory for his second goal. He raced onto the ball beating Ari Arnason for pace before he checked in to dribble past goalkeeper Halldorsson. The forward seemed to stop time afterwards, he was unusually calm after he took the touch past Halldorson, he turned goal-ward, was with razor-sharp focus as if muting Kelechi Iheancho, who was bellowing and visibly gesturing for a pass. Musa after picking his spot, gently but convincingly stroked the ball past the two covering defenders on the goal line. It was reminiscent of his excellent performance in the last World Cup against Argentina where he scored a brace. Certainly, he is odds on to start the match and perhaps get a goal in the final group stage game against Argentina that could confirm the Super Eagles qualification.
Rohr’s shake up pays dividends
After the loss to Croatia, Gernot Rohr shook things up in the side, changing both personnel and tactics. The German manager opted for a 3-5-2 with Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa playing as a pair up front. The front pair replaced Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi while Abdullahi Shehu, who started the first game was on the bench.
Omeruo came into the side to play as the left sided centre-back in the back three and to good effect. But perhaps, the most important change came in adjusting John Obi Mikel’s role in the side. The Captain was criticized for his lack of incisiveness while playing in attacking midfield behind the striker but against Iceland, Mikel conducted play from deep where his passing range and precision shone through.
Omeruo’s addition gives backline solidity
Kenneth Omeruo was introduced into the back line and was solid all through barely putting a foot wrong all game. John Ogu had been used during friendly games as the third defender when Rohr deployed the three-man defence. However, Rohr chose Omeruo who is a better defender than Ogu to start. He helped strengthen the team’s defence and also added a bit more quality in defending set pieces. It won’t be surprising if the Chelsea defender reprises his role for the final game against Argentina.
Counterattacking still Nigeria’s strongest weapon
It could be clearer that the Super Eagles are strongest when breaking hard and fast. Both goals on the night were from counterattacking plays that involved effective movements of the players on and off the ball. Musa’s first goal was from a cleared set-piece where Iheanacho got the ball in the midfield third before he fed it to Moses. Moses moved the ball briskly before he lofted the cross for Musa to finish. The second goal involved a clearance from deep after defending a set piece. Musa raced onto it to produce a guileful finish.
Nigeria have their qualification in their hands and there is just one final hurdle left after the Super Eagles defeated Iceland. The Super Eagles would have been effectively out of the World Cup had they lost to the European side. A win against Argentina ensures qualification for Nigeria regardless of result from the other group game. While a draw could also see the Super Eagles go through, the team will have to hold a superior goal difference to Iceland if Iceland defeats Croatia. However, If the Super Eagles lose to Argentina in the final game, they will not qualify from the group stages.
Posted By Yusuf ALLI, Managing Editor Northern Operation and Jide Babalola, Assistant Editor,
Ghanaian authorities are angry with former President Goodluck Jonathan over his recent comment alleging that the President of Ghana, Nana Akuffo-Addo, mocked Nigeria.
They dismissed as untrue claims by Jonathan in Ado-Ekiti penultimate Friday that Akuffo-Addo recently mocked the poor state of security in Nigeria and the weak status of the country’s currency.
Speaking at the inauguration of a flyover in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State capital, the former president had said that things had deteriorated so much in Nigeria that it had lost its respect in Africa.
But responding to the statement yesterday, Ghana’s High Commissioner in Nigeria, Mr. Rashid Bawa, said Jonathan “took the words of President Akufo-Addo completely out of context.”
He said: “Indeed, in the speech delivered by President Akufo-Addo at the Oxford African Conference, one of the instances used by former President Goodluck Jonathan, these were the exact words of President Akufo-Addo: ‘For most of you in the audience today, it is probably before your time. But in the late 1970s up to the mid-1980s, as a result of the discovery of considerable petroleum deposits, Nigeria was booming. It was the place to be.
‘We Ghanaians, who were going through very difficult times then, would arrive at Heathrow Airport, and be herded into a cage to be subjected to the full third degree by Immigration , and we would look on as our Nigerian cousins would be waved through, with a ‘welcome sir’ and a ‘welcome madam’ .
‘The newspaper headlines in this country were full of Nigerians leaving or forgetting bundles of money in taxis and telephone booths. Nigerians were the preferred tenants for those who had apartments to let. You could stop by any Thomas Cook shop on any High Street in this country and buy or sell Naira, the Nigerian currency, and you could do the same in New York, and I suspect in many other Western country cities.
‘I do not need to spell out today’s reality to anyone in this audience. I cite this just to make the point that the “the outside world” is well able to tell that there are separate sovereign nations on the African continent. But when the news is not good, then Africa is treated as one entity.’
Bawa also took exception to Jonathan’s reference to Akufo-Addo’s purported disposition towards cattle-rearing.
His words: “The other alleged remark that ‘Ghana is not Nigeria where cattle can roam about anyhow’ has never been made by President Akufo-Addo. That is not his way of speaking.
“President Akufo-Addo, in many of the speeches he has made in Nigeria and elsewhere since becoming the President of Ghana, has described Nigeria as ‘a country I describe as my second home in the world’, and will never use Nigeria to make negative examples as the former President Goodluck Jonathan sought to portray.
“President Akufo-Addo enjoys a very good relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari , as he has with many other Nigerian leaders.
“Ghana and Nigeria are like siblings, and it would be most inappropriate, because of politics, for anyone, regardless of his or her status in society, to try to sow seeds of discord amongst the leadership and peoples of our two countries.”
So how can we have a much better Nigeria, a country we can proudly call our own? The debate continues. The dominant line of discourse has been that of “restructuring Nigeria” and there are certainly different shades of the argument. I was fascinated by the communiqué of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the end of the South-East Summit on the Restructuring of Nigeria in Awka, Anambra state, last week. The socio-cultural group put a number of proposals on the table which, going by the mood of the participants, can be considered unanimous. The proposals are not completely new, just that most are now attaining consensus among the leading lights of the restructuring campaign.
Among other things, Ohanaeze demanded a constitutional conference backed by law, a new constitution that is “truly federal” to be produced by a Constituent Assembly and adopted through a referendum by the people of Nigeria for “legitimacy and validity”, and the repeal of Decree No. 24 of 1999 by the National Assembly to void the current constitution and enable a new one. The group proposed the retention of the presidential system and bicameral legislature at the federal level. Ohanaeze wants the current geo-political zones to be the federating units with their own system of government, although it prefers uniformity for “ease of transaction” and “comparability”.
The Igbo outside the south-east zone — such as Anioma in Delta state and Ikwerre in Rivers — who desire to be united with their kith and kin should do so via a referendum; it should be voluntary, Ohanaeze said. Every region will have its constitution; if it conflicts with the federal constitution, the latter will take precedence. This is not too far from what obtains under the 1999 constitution in which there are exclusive, residual and concurrent lists. Ohanaeze proposed that if states would be federating units, then the south-east should get an additional state for the sake of equity. It proposed removal of local governments from the constitution – each region should decide the local structure it wants.
Ohanaeze proposed a single-term tenure of six years for presidents (and, by extension, governors) and five vice-presidents, one from each geo-political zone other than the president’s own, and that each VP should have supervisory powers over key ministries. In other words, there should be federal character and quota system in picking VPs. Ohanaeze further proposed rotational presidency, another aspect of federal character, and went further to recommend something similar at the state level: there should be rotation of governorship between senatorial districts — or whatever sub-structure is eventually adopted at the regional level. This, it said, is in the interest of equity, fairness and justice.
My interest today is the six-year tenure. It is not entirely new – the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme proposed it some 22 years ago. He, however, wanted six vice-presidents, not five, with a proviso that if the sitting president dies, resigns or is impeached, the VP from his or her zone will step in and complete the tenure. If we had had such a provision in the 1999 constitution, the tension caused by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s fatal illness in 2009-2010 would have been avoided. Some political analysts still believe that the death of Yar’Adua and the ascension of President Goodluck Jonathan to power in 2010 wounded the north, poisoned the body politic and we are still paying the price.
Jonathan, meanwhile, also proposed a six-year single-term tenure after winning the 2011 presidential election. His argument was that re-election bids often heat up the polity. He also said it would reduce INEC’s electoral expenses as polls would now be held at six-year intervals. His proposals were met with cynicism, especially as it was interpreted to mean he wanted to be in power for another six years rather than the four he was elected to do. When he spoke in Ethiopia that he would do only one term if elected, he was perhaps hinting at this; but he denied planning to be a beneficiary of six years. Critics said he was plotting to stay in power for seven unbroken years. The proposal died in no time.
Nevertheless, the six-year tenure proposal being promoted by Ohanaeze Ndigbo has its merits. One, a six-year tenure will guarantee that presidency goes round the geo-political zones, thus addressing issues of marginalisation. Imagine we had a six-year tenure arrangement since 1999: south-west would have had it till 2005, the north (east, west or central) would have carried on till 2011, the south-east or south-south would have had it till 2017 and it would be back to the north by now. It would be predictable. As things stand, Ndigbo are convinced there is a conspiracy to keep them out of the No. 1 position. Only a transparent arrangement of this nature can ensure that every part of Nigeria is guaranteed a shot.
Two, when presidents (or governors) have only one opportunity to perform, the rational ones will put in all efforts to write their names in gold within the six years. But when there is the possibility of a second chance, they may be busy settling political IOUs and plotting to survive power games in order to bid for a second term, thereby paying little attention to quality governance and instead accumulating funds to get re-elected. Most governors are still trying to settle in by the time it dawns on them that another election is around the corner. They then lose focus and delay or avoid critical decisions in order not to offend voters. Reform is very difficult when you are eyeing a second term in office.
Three, an incumbent president going for second term has an undue advantage. The heads of all the agencies central to the conduct of elections are appointed by the president, from INEC and police to DSS and sometimes the military. The incumbent also has incredible access to resources. It is a frightening war chest no individual or group of individuals can rival. It was not an ordinary feat that Jonathan was defeated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 – that is why we still consider it to be historic. In the history of Nigeria, incumbent presidents were always returned no matter how poorly they performed in office. A single-term tenure can, to some extent, reduce re-election desperation.
Now where do I stand? Pardon my intransigence, but we are only discussing this because of the perennial failure of leadership in Nigeria. There is a reason for the provision of two terms of office for governors and presidents. The carrot of a second term is supposed be an incentive for the incumbent to perform and then be rewarded by voters with another four years for a job well done. As we say in Nigeria, “one good term deserves another” (whoever coined this aphorism deserves a medal). However, we have seen people spend eight years in office with little or no impact on the community despite the hundreds of billions of naira at their disposal. Thus, the aim of two terms is defeated.
The other side of the coin, though, is: what happens if you have a competent and patriotic leader, someone who really inspires confidence and is committed to fairness, justice and equity, someone who is actually delivering the goods? Under the single-term tenure, there will be no reward for the hard work! Not just that, there is a fat chance all the good work will be disrupted and discontinued by their successors who will want to prove to the world that they have their own ideas. I think we are assuming that our leaders will always underperform in office, so we want them to get out of office as quickly as possible through single-term tenures. We may end up throwing the baby away with the bath water.
In sum, Ndigbo appear to be shut of the No. 1 position in the land, something that they think can be resolved through a system that guarantees power rotation among regions within short intervals. My view has always been that no part of Nigeria should feel isolated from power; the political system must ensure that everyone is fully represented and integrated. Every part of Nigeria must be given a fair shot at presidency. It is good for the peace of the land. Without federal character, things would even be worse. We could have a cabinet that does not have a single south-easterner and no law or principle would have been broken. Federal character guarantees that every state is represented.
Having said that, I like the sound of the one-term proposal, but you know my position: it is not the solution to the Nigerian conundrum. It will address one problem – that of political equity – but it will not guarantee food on the table, 24-hour power supply or drugs in the hospitals. Nothing is inherently wrong with our system but everything is wrong with the operators. Until we address the leadership deficit ravaging every nook and cranny of Nigeria, until we have leaders who are irrevocably committed to development, we will remain stuck. One term, two terms, six years, eight years, presidential system, parliamentary system, regionalism… none of these things will turn Nigeria to Dubai on their own.
Finally, if the one-term proposal will help institute what I call “development as a relay race”, I’m in. That is, successive administrations will treat government as a continuum and carry on with the good ideas they meet on ground. My biggest admiration of President Buhari since he came to office three years ago is the commitment to completing some of the projects and ideas carried over from Jonathan. As a Nigerian, as a student of development, I looooooove it. Politicians and partisans won’t like it – for them, politics always comes first. All I want to see is a prosperous Nigeria built on sound ideas. That’s why we must keep the national discourse alive and robustly debate every proposal. Imperative.
AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
BUHARI VS OBASANJO
In the 2011 presidential debate organised by NN24 and moderated by our own Kadaria Ahmed and CNN’s Jonathan Mann, Candidate Muhammadu Buhari promised to probe the “$16bn power expenditure by PDP from 1999 to 2007” for which there were no bright results. Seven years later — and three years after finally becoming president — Buhari has “re-opened” the file. Not many think Buhari will actually probe former President Olusegun Obasanjo, his erstwhile supporter turned traducer. There is an unwritten rule that former Nigerian leaders are untouchable. However, something tells me that the rule will be broken someday. We are getting closer and closer. Equality.
MILITARY VS AMNESTY
I don’t know who is advising the Nigerian military, but if I were in a position to advise their advisers, I would say they should tell their clients to pipe low in their war against Amnesty International. There seems to be this feeling in the military hierarchy that AI can be intimidated into silence. It won’t happen. The international human rights organisation, set up in 1961 “to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end abuses of human rights”, has survived the most brutal military regimes all over the world. I would suggest that we deal decisively with the issues of rape, extrajudicial killings and other abuses by Nigerian soldiers. We will be the better for it in the end. Commonsense.
JIBRIN VS HOUSE
Now that another court of law has ruled that the legislature does not have the power to suspend members, let us hope that our lawmakers will find another way of enforcing discipline without the military-style sledgehammer. Different courts had previously voided the suspension of Senators Ali Ndume and Ovie Omo-Agege, and now Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin has been let off the hook. Dissent is essential to democracy. Senator Arthur Nzeribe was the first to be hit with the suspension sledgehammer in 2003 when Senator Anyim Pius Anyim was senate president. Let everything be done decently and in order, no matter the perceived offence. Draconian.
On Friday, a delegation of Nigerian female parliamentarians paid a visit to President Buhari at the presidential villa. They made a case on the marginalisation of women in Nigerian politics (an indisputable fact, by the way). Personally, I think the Buhari administration has not been gender-equitable in the distribution of important political offices. Well, the women have requested for the slot of vice-president. In his response, Buhari joked: “It’s a pity the vice-president is not here. But I believe the secretary to the government of the federation will tell him that his position is threatened.” I blame the women: they should have asked for the position of president. LOL.
Where is the Nigerian Opposition?
By REUBEN ABATI
Less than a year to the next general elections in Nigeria, the biggest deficit in the political process leading to that moment is the absence of a robust, virile and effective opposition. The role of the opposition in a democracy is to question, criticize, challenge, and audit the governments of the day – local and national – and make them more transparent and accountable, and even if these twin-objectives may not be immediately achieved, the opposition exists nonetheless to put the people in power “on their toes” as it were in the people’s overall interest.
This is the underlying principle of a parliamentary system of government, and even in other forms of government including a Presidential system, the opposition provides checks and balances, it is a kind of alternative government, a counterweight, providing such balance that could safeguard the integrity of the political process. But of course, what is at stake is “the conquest of power”: the opposition provides the people with a choice and ultimately seeks to wrestle power from or out of the hands of the incumbent and present a different vision of social and economic progress.
In doing this, the opposition may be constructive – in this regard it could even work with the ruling party or government to promote the national interest. This was the case under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao of India who once sent opposition leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, as leader of the Indian delegation, to defend the government on its human rights record in response to allegations by Pakistan.
Rao’s party members, who felt he had no business working with the opposition criticized him as loudly as they could, but the Prime Minister felt it was more important to be bi-partisan and project a picture of national unity. It is not a strategy that has endured in India’s divisive politics. But what is known is that in other jurisdictions, members of the opposition in parliament sometimes vote on a non-partisan basis on key issues before the parliament. This may occur when the rivalry among the political parties is peaceful and there is a broad consensus that the country is far more important than the boundaries imposed by partisan politics.
For the most part however, opposition politics can be disruptive, and apropos, the strategy of the opposition is not to construct anything or offer any value but to “oppose, oppose, oppose” by any means possible to wear down and pull down the incumbent government. Physical violence, blackmail, abusive words, post-truth imagery and fake news are part of the arsenal of the disruptive opposition.
In Nigeria at the moment, we neither have in my estimation a constructive or a disruptive opposition. Whatever we have that may look remotely as any form of opposition is weak, uncoordinated, and ineffective. Our political parties are internally polarized, politics has become evil, our political leaders do not know where to draw the line, the ruling government is having an upper hand, it is committed to an unrelenting, overzealous persecution of the opposition and progressive ideas. The last time we witnessed what looked like organized opposition, even if it was disruptive, was ironically through the All Progressives Congress (APC). In 2013, a number of political parties formed a synergy with civil society groups to become the All Progressives Congress, and adopting an “oppose, oppose, oppose” strategy, they managed by 2015 to get the ruling Peoples Democratic Party out of power. It was a major turning point in Nigerian politics since the return to civilian rule in 1999.
But the PDP was not prepared for its new role as the leading opposition party, just as the new government led by the APC was equally unprepared for governance. This sudden reversal of roles caught Nigeria’s main political actors napping. The APC at the centre found it difficult to even appoint Ministers: it took six months to come up with a list. In one or two states, the Governors acted as sole administrators for up to a year. There are about 80 registered political parties in the country, but these are at best relatively unknown parties.
The main political party, the PDP has been largely in disarray since it lost power. Most of its members have defected to the new ruling party, many of its founding fathers now prefer to be known and addressed as statesmen, and the party’s strong mouthpieces have all been cowed into silence by a ruling party that is wielding power like a whip. The PDP came out of power mired in a corrosive in-fighting and blame-sharing that robbed the party of its soul. It was later “kidnapped”, and then rescued, but it is not yet in strong enough shape to stand up to the ruling party, offer alternative views or organize itself properly. Who is even the national leader of the PDP? Close to the next general elections as we are, nobody is quite sure. What exactly does the PDP want to do? It is not so clear either. Is the PDP still interested in power? If it is, it is not showing the kind of determination that the APC projected in 2014.
There are PDP members in the legislature at the Federal and State levels, but their voices have not been loud enough. Nigerian politics has not been ideology-driven for a while, that is one explanation, but it is also possible that the remaining PDP members are hedging their bets and secretly planning to join the APC. This is the case because the ruling APC is now in charge of state resources – and that is a major attraction for Nigerian politicians, besides, the APC not knowing how to govern has been functioning more as an opposition party. It has spent the last three years hounding PDP members and the Jonathan administration, and making it difficult for anyone to come up with progressive, opposition ideas.
It had to take Microsoft’s Bill Gates to criticize the Economic Recovery and Growth Programme (ERGP) of the Federal Government before the PDP realized that such a document existed. The new PDP, failing in its role as an opposition party, cedes the initiative to the APC and merely reacts through statements that do not even make much impact. In the states across the Federation, opposition members often forget what their role in the legislature is supposed to be as they join the queue of lawmakers trooping to the Government House to collect favours from imperial Governors. At the Federal level, APC Senator Dino Melaye has functioned more as an opposition leader than any PDP Senator with his persistent interrogation of Executive policies and actions. One or two PDP Senators, along with some other APC members, in comparison, have since acquired a reputation for going to the Red Chamber to sleep during plenary sessions! There is no quality debate as such in our parliaments, more or less, and so the debate about Nigeria has shifted to morning shows on radio and television, oftentimes conducted by ill-equipped analysts and the hysterical crowd.
It is the country that pays the cost when the opposition is asleep, and one political party is allowed to ride roughshod over everyone just because it is in power and office. When members of the APC claim that there is no alternative to President Muhammadu Buhari, I guess they are not saying there are no persons who are better qualified than the President; rather they are saying they cannot see any organized opposition that could pose a threat to the continued stay of the Buhari government in power beyond May 2019. And by conduct, they even make it clear that whoever challenges the APC should be prepared to face the consequences of doing so. The APC mastered bully tactics as an opposition party. It continues to rely on the same tactics as a ruling party.
The gap that has been created by the absence of an effective opposition in Nigerian politics since 2015 is gradually now being filled by thought leaders. Sometime in 2016, I wrote a piece titled “Where are the public intellectuals? in which I challenged the Nigerian intelligentsia generally to rouse from its slumber. That slumber is perhaps understandable. The Nigerian intelligentsia bought into the APC project in 2014 and 2015, and wanted the PDP out of the way by all means.
Not too long ago, confronted with the failings of the APC as a ruling party, this special class has since recanted. I dealt with that in “The season of recanting” (Jan.16) but since this other article, the political space has since become more interesting with the interventions of persons like Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, General Ibrahim Babangida, General TY Danjuma, Professor Wole Soyinka and the emergence of groups like the Obasanjo-led Coalition for Nigeria, the Agbakoba-led Nigeria Intervention Movement (NIM), the Ezekwesili-led Red Card Movement, and the Concerned Nigerians Movement led by Charly Boy Oputa. The main battle-ground in recent times however has been the Nigerian social media where young Nigerians have been quite loud in expressing their dissatisfaction with the Buhari administration. The social media proved to be a strong weapon of mobilization in the hands of the APC before 2015, now it is its main nemesis.
Useful as these interventions, this reawakening of the civil society, may seem, the value is limited except there is a formal opposition that is specifically organized for the “conquest of power” at the polls. There is a growing consensus among these groups that both the APC and the PDP are of no use, they have not yet identified an alternative political party that can engage the ruling party but I believe the point is not lost on the actors involved that elections are won or lost not on twitter but by political parties actively organized for political action. Opposition politics involves branding, strategy, organization and pro-active action. Nigerian Opposition parties seeking to dislodge the APC can work together to form a political coalition as the APC did in 2013, and even if they do not win in 2019, the country’s political process would be better enriched by a constructive and strong engagement from the opposition that any ruling government deserves.
The current infidelity of the average Nigerian politician is the biggest obstacle that I see. Most Nigerian politicians do not necessarily go into politics because of what they can contribute, but because of what they intend to take out of it. The APC would continue to insist on its self-ascribed invincibility if the best that other political parties can offer is to apologize. The PDP Chairman recently apologized to Nigerians for whatever the PDP did while in power for 16 years. I don’t know whether that is meant to be a strategy or a confession but the meaninglessness of it has been exposed by the vicious responses from the APC and how the PDP has found itself having to struggle to put in a word. The Nigerian Opposition when eventually it awakens and seeks to engage the APC must realize that the APC has a tested opposition machinery, which found itself out of depths in the context of governance, but which in an election season could assume its emotional memory state, and with the resources now at its disposal, including power, prove to be deadly.
Opposition politics is not rocket science and nobody has to travel to India, the UK or the United States to master it. In Nigeria’s First and Second Republics, whatever may have been the problems of that era, this country had a rich culture of opposition politics. Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Action Group and later the Unity Party of Nigeria, as an opposition leader, confronted the ruling government with hard facts and figures and an alternative vision of how Nigeria could be rescued.
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Malam Aminu Kano and Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri – opposition figures at various times – also stood for something. Whoever wants to rule Nigeria or any part thereof should be prepared to tell us exactly what he or she wants to do and how and when. If we have not learnt any lesson, we should by now have realized that a politician wearing Nigerian clothes, taking fine photos, eating corn by the roadside, over-promising, pretending to respect women and children, distributing cash and food, claiming to be a democrat, dancing to impress, and sometimes projecting himself or herself as nationalistic may not be what we are made to see. Nigeria needs a different breed, new faces, new ideas, a new way of politics.
We have proofs CBN withdrew N100bn for Jonathan before 2015 polls – Presidency
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – THE presidency Sunday night said that there was evidence that the nation’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN got specific instruction to ensure billions were moved from the bank directly to the residence of the former president Goodluck Jonathan.
Ex-President GoodLuck Jonathan
This new discovery is coming few days after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo described grand corruption as the elephant in the room when discussing the Nigerian economy.
A source in the presidency said more compelling details have been established showing how several tranches of funds were illegally removed from the public by the Jonathan’s administration specifically ahead of the 2015 presidential elections.
The source claimed that the former National Security Adviser, NSA personally supervised the physical transfer of the money from the CBN vaults to the private residence of the former President.
According to the source, “In one particular instance over N70 billion was released in parts from the national treasury between January 8 and February 25, 2015. The over $289M which was also referenced last week by the Vice President is said to be included in this particular series of illegal transactions.
“Besides, that in another illegal disbursement, the minutes of the Central Bank board meeting of 25th August 2014 indicated the board’s okay of another N60B requested by the former President and released later by the Central Bank.”
A presidency source specifically claimed that sum which was okayed by the CBN board was not tied to any project or procurement, and was meant and disbursed purely for campaign purposes, through the office of the then NSA and the SSS leadership at the time.
He said that N60 billion that was okayed by the CBN on August 25, 2014 was said to have been shared between the two security agencies thus: N40B went to the NSA while N20 billion was released to the State Security Services (SSS).
“While some of these newly emerging fund disbursements have been traced to the former NSA, there are indications that some of the funds are unconnected to the ongoing Defence contract trials of the former NSA,while some might,” he said.
Recall that Osinbajo, in a recent speech, had alleged that weeks to the 2015 election under the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan about N100B was released and embezzled. He also disclosed that about $289m was disbursed illegally about the same time.
The new discovery revealed that the $289m mentioned by the Vice President was released on February 25, 2015
Details of the deal shows that documents including cash vouchers indicate that $289,202,382 was released in cash to the NIA by the Central Bank of Nigeria from the Joint Venture (JV) Cash Call Account No. 000-0000-11658-366 of the NNPC/NAPIMS with JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York, USA.
At the exchange rate then of $199 to a naira, $289m was equivalent to about N60 billion. But had the money not been stolen, it would be at today’ s rate over N104B.
According to the source, further findings showed that in yet another set of illegal fund withdrawals under one week between January 8 and 16, 2015, the sum of N1.5 billion was released in three tranches of N300m, N400m and N800m respectively.
He said, “This money was released from the MEA Research Library Account to the Jointrust Dimension reportedly owned by Danjuma Yusuf and Nenadi Esther Usman.”
The source further said the sum was transferred to their various political associates, which included a former minister that is critical to President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
Further findings showed that N350 million was allegedly transferred to the former minister through his Zenith Bank Account No. 1004735721, on February 2, 2015.
Also, another N250 million was allegedly transferred to him through the same Zenith Bank Account on February 19, 2015.
A document further showed that yet another N10 billion was released to the Office of the National Security Adviser by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on September 15, 2015.
The money was said to have been released in tranches of foreign exchange of $47 million, $5 million, 4 million Euros and 1.6 million Euros.
A letter from the Office of the NSA in November, 2014 further showed that the monies were released by the CBN as ‘funds for special services’.
“Further to our discussion, you are pleased requested to provide the sum of Forty Seven Million United States Dollars (USD47,000,000,00)cash out of the Ten Billion Naira (N10,000,000,000,00) and the balance in Euro to this office for special services,” a letter signed by the former NSA read.
Findings have shown that this particular CBN release of N10B was sourced in November 2014 from a N40 Billion CBN released funds meant for Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR. It was this N10B that former President Jonathan instructed the CBN Governor and the then NSA to deliver to him personally in a private residence in Abuja. Sources said the money was illegally transferred using CBN van for the use of “PDP Presidential Primaries.”
An official source noted that even more illegal transactions would soon be unearthed.
Cambridge Analytica’s Role In Nigeria’s 2007 Election
The parent company of Cambridge Analytica interfered in Nigeria’s 2007 elections, regarded as the worst election till date, which the late President Umaru Yar’Adua also deplored as unfair and his successor Goodluck Jonathan described as a huge embarrassment.
Electoral commission head Maurice Iwu declared Yar’Adua of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) the winner with 24.6 million votes, far ahead of his closest rival, Muhammadu Buhari, with 6.6 million.
Then candidate Muhammadu Buhari challenged the ‘blatantly rigged’ election in the court, with the judges arriving at a split verdict. Buhari also called for the impeachment of President Olusegun Obasanjo, who appeared to have organised the charade in cahoot with Iwu.
The BBC reported today that the parent of the infamous company, SCL Elections boasted about interfering in foreign elections, according to documents seen by the news organisation.
The BBC said the company claimed in its brochure that it organised rallies in Nigeria to weaken support for the opposition in 2007.
The brochure outlines how SCL Elections had apparently organised “anti-election rallies” to dissuade opposition supporters from voting in the Nigerian presidential election in 2007.
The 2007 election was described by EU monitors as one of the least credible they had observed.
Cambridge Analytica is embroiled in a storm over claims it exploited the data of millions of Facebook users. The company was also hired by the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2015 elections.
The UK Foreign Office said it was unaware of this alleged activity before SCL was awarded British government contracts in 2008.
Cambridge Analytica says it is looking into the allegations about SCL.
In the document, SCL Elections claimed potential clients could contact the company through “any British High Commission or Embassy”.
It also claims SCL received “List X” accreditation from the UK’s Ministry of Defence which provided “Government endorsed clearance to handle information protectively marked as ‘confidential’ and above”.
The document claims SCL Elections deliberately exploited ethnic tensions in Latvia in the 2006 national elections in order to help their client.
SCL also claims that ahead of the elections in Trinidad and Tobago in 2010, it orchestrated an “ambitious campaign of political graffiti” that “ostensibly came from the youth” so the client party could “claim credit for listening to a ‘united youth’”.
Most of the examples detailed in the brochure took place before the British government entered into at least six contracts with SCL.
The former Labour Foreign Office Minister and Cabinet minister Lord Hain has tabled a written question in the House of Lords on Monday for urgent clarification on the matter of Embassy endorsement.
He told the BBC’s Sunday Politics show that the SCL case was “lifting the lid on a potential horror story” of other companies using data to manipulate voters.
The Ministry of Defence has confirmed SLC were given a provisional List X accreditation but had not had it since 2013.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “It is not now nor ever has been the case that enquiries for SCL ‘can be directed through any British High Commission or Embassy’.”
“Our understanding is that, at the time of the signing of the contract for project work in 2008/9, the FCO was not aware of SCL’s reported activity during the 2006 Latvian election or 2007 Nigerian election.”
In a statement, the acting CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Dr Alexander Tayler, said “Cambridge Analytica was formed in 2013, out of a much older company called SCL Elections.
“We take the disturbing recent allegations of unethical practices in our non-US political business very seriously. The board has launched a full and independent investigation into SCL Elections’ past practices, and its findings will be made available in due course.”