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Nigerian Law School And The Need For Change

Nigerian Law School And The Need For Change

By Abdulrazaq O Hamzat
A law graduate or lawyer that cannot defend his or her own basic rights as contained in the constitution does not deserve to be called a legal practitioner. Why because, such person is not fit to defend the right of others. You can’t defend the right of others if you can’t defend your own rights.

This is why I have always maintained that there are very few lawyers in Nigeria who deserve to be called legal practitioners, what we have are businessmen and women who trade in the legal profession. If not, the abusive system in the Nigerian Law School could not have been tolerated for this long without much resistance. It appeared lawyers are now trained to be docile, so they could not defend human rights, but to wear wigs and collect certificates.

For the Nigerian law school, which has become notorious in flagrant violation of basic rights of many Nigerians, including female Muslim students who have been consistently denied their right to decent dressing as prescribed by their constitutionally guaranteed right to religion, the time for change is now.

To change an unjust system, there must be at least one disobedient person who is very much aware of the unjust system and purposefully decides to disobey it, with the intention of causing change and permanent restructuring. This is exactly what has happened during the recently conducted call to bar by the Nigerian Law School.

A Muslim lady, Amasa A Firdaus who graduated from University of Ilorin and Nigerian Law School, Abuja campus was barred from entering the International Conference Center (ICC) for the call to the bar program because she refused to remove her decently worn hijab in defiance to the repugnant tradition of the law school, which bans the use of hijabs by female Muslim students.

Firdaus is not the only victim of this violation of basic rights, thousands of female Muslims have continued to suffer similar abuse over the years.

Few days before the unfortunate incident at the call to bar event in Abuja, some young people had taken to the social media to launch a campaign to call for change in the law school discriminatory practice against female Muslims. It appeared Firdaus, a female law graduate, who was the Ameera of Muslim Students Society (MSS) at University of Ilorin resolved to take up the challenge to fight for all victims, as she also presides as the Ameera of Nigerian female Muslim lawyers at the law school.

While I understand that rule 36 (a) of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession Revised (2007) expressly decries the “wearing of apparel and ornament” that draws attention to a legal practitioner appearing before a judge, the hijab doesn’t fall into such apparel ornament that can be decried upon, because it is a constitutional right that no bye-law can suppress on a permanent basis.

It has been established that the constitution is a ground norm and by section 1(1) & (3) thereof, it is Supreme and binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria and as well above the ordinary laws of the land. Since the constitution recognises ones right to manifest one’s religion and belief in practice and observance, a female Muslim, being a Nigerian too, has the right to wear her veil anywhere, anytime.

“The Constitution of Nigeria is the basic norm from which all the other laws of the society derive their validity. Any other law that is in conflict with the provision of the Constitution must give way or abate.” This is the position of the law court in the case of PDP V CPC (2011) 17 NWLR (pt 1277) 485 at 511.

Besides the above, there are numerous court judgments from the Appeal Court and even Supreme Court that has maintained that the use of the hijab by female Muslims is a right that cannot be denied because the veil is part and parcel of religious practice of a female Muslim if she chooses to wear it.

The Court of Appeal Ilorin Division in the case of *PROVOST, KWARA STATE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, ILORIN & 2 ORS VS BASHIRAT SALIU & 2 ORS

Appeal No CA/IL/49/2006, delivered on the 18th day of June 2009 held that:“The use of veil by the respondents, therefore, qualifies as a fundamental right under Section 38 (1) of the Constitution.”

In another court of Appeal judgment in Massoud Abdul Rahman Oredola, JCA, it was held that; “The right of the Respondents to wear their hijab, veil within the school campus and INDEED ANYWHERE else is adequately protected under our laws.

I therefore hold the views that, the only reason why such archaic rule still existed in the Nigerian law school is because nobody has been courageous enough to challenge it like Firdaus has now done and all well-meaning Nigerians must rise up to defend our law and not their personal sentiments.

It is important to note that, if the law school can make rules to deny people their right under the guise of the profession, then to what use is the constitution? That means every profession can then proceed to make unjust laws and claim it is to protect a professional ethics. We must not allow this to continue.

I am also aware that religious right is not absolute. The right is subject to section 45 of the constitution which gives the government the right to disregard citizen’s right to religion in the interest of defense, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons. But the practice in the Nigerian law school doesn’t fall into any of these categories.

While some people might want to argue that it falls into the public order category, but they have to explain how exercising a right to wear hijab impedes public order. And even if it is for public order for the purpose of defense, such ban cannot be permanent; it can only last for some time.

The Supreme Court decision in M.D.P.D.T. v. Okonkwo (2001) 6 NWLR (Pt.710), explained that, for the purpose of public interest, such right would be held in abeyance.

In view of the above, the Nigerian Law School must begin the process of changing all of its rules that are inconsistent with the Nigerian constitution. This is the only way to guarantee peace and teach law.

Abdulrazaq O Hamzat is a Human Rights Ambassador and Executive Director of Foundation for Peace Professionals. He can be reached at discus4now@gmail.com

Culled from SaharaReporter


Prohibition of the use of Hijab/veil in some public institutions: The position of the law



             _O. G. CHUKKOL._
One of the challenges Muslim females are facing is the wearing of hijab. Hijab is a veil they use in covering their body. These challenges are found even in public institutions. The proscription of the use of veils is normally done through rules made in those institutions. For example there has been complaint that hijab is not allowed in Nigerian Law School, it happened also in Kwara, Lagos, Osun State etc where students were not allowed to wear hijab to schools.

This article seeks to establish that prohibiting Muslim females from wearing veils in public institutions is unconstitutional. Whether the position is the same in private institutions or not is outside the scope of this article.
To clear a preliminary point, I am a Christian and shall by the grace of God die a Christian. This work is based on my little understanding of the law and love for rule of law. The work is also informed by my agreement with the words of *Martin Luther King Jr.* who once said:
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
In other words, it is Muslim female facing it today, tomorrow it may be Christians. So, I feel spade should be called a spade.
Let us first examine the basis of the use of hijab by Muslim women. *Chapter 24 verse 30-31 of the Glorious Holy Quran* says:
“… Enjoin believing women to COVER THEIR GAZE and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that THEY SHOULD DRAW THEIR VEILS OVER THEIR BOSOMS AND NOT DISPLAY THEIR BEAUTY except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s father, their sons, their husband’s Sons, their brothers or their brother’s Sons or their sisters’ sons or other women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, …”
It follows from the verse above that wearing of hijab by Muslim women is a Quranic injunction so a Muslim female is bound to obey it without question. 
The next point is whether a Muslim female can capitalize on the provision of Glorious Qur’an to insist that she is entitled to wear Hijab everywhere. The answer is obviously in the affirmative.

*Subsection (1) of section 38 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (2011 as amended)*, it provides as follows:
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…and IN PUBLIC or IN PRIVATE) to MANIFEST AND PROPAGATE his RELIGION or BELIEF in worship, teaching, PRACTICE and 


(emphasis mine)
The constitution is a grundnorm and by section 1(1)&(3) thereof, it is Supreme and binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria and as well above the ordinary laws of the land. Since the constitution recognizes ones right to manifest ones religion and belief in practice and observance, a Muslim female, being a Nigerian too, has the right to wear her hijab anywhere.
In the case of *PDP V CPC (2011) 17 NWLR (pt 1277) 485 at 511* ​it was held;
_“The Constitution of Nigeria is the grundnorm, otherwise known as the basic norm from which all the other laws of the society derive their validity. Each legal norm of the Society derives its validity from basic norm. Any other law that is in conflict with the provision of the Constitution must give way or abate”._
Courts have consistently held that, having regards to chapter 24:30-31 of the Holy Quran, a Muslim female has the unfettered right to wear her hijab anywhere.
The Court of Appeal Ilorin Division in the Unreported case of *THE PROVOST, KWARA STATE COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, ILORIN & 2 ORS VS BASHIRAT SALIU & 2 ORS Appeal No CA/IL/49/2006,*

*delivered on the 18th day of June, 2009*, per Hussein Mukhtar, JCA,held at page 15 – 16 of the lead judgement thus:
“The foregoing verses of the Glorious Qur’an and Hadiths have left no room for doubt on the Islamic Injunction on women’s mode of dress, which is clearly in conformity with not only the Respondent’s veiled dress but also the controversial article J of the 3rd Applicants’ dress code. The use of veil by the respondents, therefore qualifies as

a fundamental right under Section 38 (1) of the Constitution”.

The Court of Appeal further held *per Massoud AbdulRahman Oredola, JCA at page 2* of the concurrent judgement;
“The right of the Respondents to wear their Hijab, veil within the School campus and INDEED ANYWHERE else is adequately protected under our laws. Human rights recognizes and protects religious rights. Section 38 of the

1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guaranteed freedom of religion to all and sundry. Thus things that lawfully constitute OPEN MANIFESTATION, PROPAGATION, WORSHIP, TEACHING, PRACTICE AND OBSERVANCE of

the said religion are equally and by extension similarly guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. Indeed the Hijab, Niqab or Burqa, being part and parcel of Islamic code of dressing and by whatever standard a dignified

or vividly decent one cannot be taken away by any other law other than the Constitution”
Just last year, 2016, Justice Falola of the Osun State High Court restated the law as pronounced in the Court of Appeal decision above while delivering judgement in the case of *Sheikh Oyinwola & Ors V The Governor of Osun state & Ors SUIT NO. HOS/M.17/2013* *delivered on the 3rd of June, 2016*. Bound by the time honoured principle of Judicial Precedent, the court held that the use of Islamically prescribed headcover called

Hijab by the Muslim Female Students in all Primary and Secondary

Schools in Osun State forms part of their fundamental rights to

freedom of religion, conscience and thought as contained in Section

38 of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and also declared that Article 8.2(v) of the “Guidelines on Administration

and Discipline in Osun State Public Schools“ issued by the Ministry

of Education prohibiting Muslim females from wearing hijab in public schools is not only discriminatory against Muslim female students but also uncalled for, inconsistent with Section 38 of 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a clear violation of the fundamental rights of Muslim female

students in Public Schools in Osun State to freedom of religion and therefore null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
A month after, A specially constituted panel of the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on *Thursday, July 21, 2016* unanimously reaffirmed its decision delivered in 2009 at Ilorin, Kwara state Division. It reversed the *judgment of a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja which on October 17, 2014* banned the use of hijab in Lagos State public primary and secondary schools.

The appellate declared in a unanimous judgment on Thursday that the ban was discriminatory against Muslim pupils in the state.

It accordingly reinstated the use of hijab in Lagos schools.

This writer is not unaware that section 38 of the constitution (right to religion) is not absolute. The right is subject to section 45 of the constitution which gives government the right to disregard citizen’s right to religion in the interest of defence, public safety, 

public order, public morality or public health; or for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons. For instance during the Bokoharam insurgency in the North East, government was right when it temporarily banned the use hijab because then some suicide bombers hid bombs therein.
Another example is the fact that every person has the right on religious ground (say Jehovah Witness sect refusal of blood transfusion) not to submit to treatment recommended by a doctor even if the refusal of treatment can lead to the death of the patient. However for the purpose of public interest, and relying on the authority of the Supreme Court decision in *M.D.P.D.T. v. Okonkwo (2001) 6 NWLR (Pt.710)*, such right would be held in abeyance if the disease, like Ebola and the like, is contagious.
In the light of what has so far been stated and in the absence of any exceptional circumstance as the ones mentioned above, every Muslim female has the unfettered right to wear her hijab anywhere. Prohibition of wearing of hijab in some public institutions is unconstitutional. The institutions concerned are hereby advised to reverse those rules.
*O. G. Chukkol is a student, Faculty of Law, ABU, Zaria.*

Atiku Abubakar and the PDP: Time to change the tales 

Atiku Abubakar and the PDP: Time to change the tales – Dr. Ugoji Egbujo

Atiku Abubakar

In 2015, Governor Fayose told us about his 74 year old mother and her diapers. He was desperate to paint the picture that a 73-year old would be too frail, too demented, to be president. He bought front pages of some national newspapers. He made Buhari the butt of deathly geriatric jokes. In a few months, he would return to the soap box. Fayose would ( tell people to vote for a 73-year-old Atiku. Atiku would be 73 in 2019. I believe Atiku is fit. But the Fayoses of the PDP would have to repackage their tales.

2019 can’t come too soon. The PDP would have to campaign without mentioning certificates. In 2015, the PDP had a candidate who flaunted a PhD. So they mocked Buhari. They said he didn’t have the required academic qualification to contest for president. They were not persuaded that he had passed the senior officer’s course at the United States War College.

In 2019, the PDP would have to sell Atiku and his certificates. Atiku Abubakar owns a miserable grade 3 WAEC certificate. His certificate was so pale it couldn’t keep him in the Police College where he had been admitted. Atiku Abuabkar had failed O level mathematics. The PDP and Atiku can burnish that diploma from the Kano school of hygiene. They could tell us that the Kano school of hygiene is an ivy league school.

I think Atiku is intelligent. He communicates effectively. He has good business acumen. He is urbane and tolerant. Atiku cannot be sold without a loss of face. That is what pettiness brings. The PDP commissioned documentaries into Buhari’s family life. Buhari was a retired army General. They portrayed him as an unrepentant dictator. Abubakar Atiku is a product of sin soaked Customs Service. The PDP can claim that the Customs is the home of discipline and order. Fortunately, the PDP doesn’t pretend to hate corruption so much.

The PDP likes to say that Buhari is misogynistic. They would like to tell more jokes about some, kitchen and the ‘other room.’ But that could hurt them. It is true polygamy is permitted by Islam. And Atiku has never exceeded four women at a time. But matched against Buhari, it’s not difficult to see who is a better example. Atiku has multiple ‘other rooms’

Sometime ago Fayose and the PDP came loose. The governor picked a microphone and announced that Mrs Aisha Buahri, the president’s wife could not visit America. He said she was wanted by the FBI. PDP supporters were excited. The freedom to enter and leave America became a measure of righteousness. Aisha Buahri entered the United States. Fayose and his media men said the pictures were doctored. Then Aisha held public events in the United States. Gov Fayose, shamelessly, offered no apologies.

That falsehood and the drama that followed it could tell on Atiku. Atiku, it appears is barred from entering the United States. Obasanjo says Atiku has questions to answer in the United States. Atiku has not had the courage to dare Obasanjo. Yes, the denial of entry by some Western countries cannot be disqualifying. But you have to have some sympathy for Atiku. He would be surrounded by people who love to mock anyone who can’t travel to America in peace. Poor Atiku, he claims he is innocent.

In the last two years, the PDP has lived on incendiary and divisive rhetorics. The party lost the 2015 elections and lost its orientation. And receded into dangerous sectional and religious brinksmanship. Yes, acts of political insensitivity by the Federal Government inflamed roiled tempers. But it was that recourse to naked demagoguery that took the nation to the brink. Atiku is Fulani. There are many who hate Buhari because he is Fulani. Many of them are now blowing Atiku’s trumpet. They may have to stop. That way their bigotry would have a little integrity.

Atiku has run for president in the past. This time he would be examined up close and personal. An intrusive standard that has been created in the last two years. Atiku says he can explain his wealth. He set up an Agric business while he was in the lower ranks of the Customs. The business failed. Agric businesses can be a little unsentimental.

There are no government privileges to leverage upon. Then he set top a huge trucking company. Since his father was poor and he inherited little, he may have to tell of his magic, to inspire the youths. He became the Deputy Director and miraculously ran into one Volpi , a foreigner. They hit it off, and set up a multimillion dollar logistics company. Atiku, the Deputy Controller General then, birthed a company to operate in the very ports he supervised. The company ate ‘growth hormones’ and became a giant in no time.

Atiku is a good businessman. But His company, Intels, largely lived on commissions for monies it collected, monopolistically, for the Federal Government. So much for hard work. I don’t know why many think Atiku is not that incorruptible. He is just a man with an eye for opportunities. Could it be a certain lack of discretion about conflict of interest? A certain knowing of rules and knowing the loopholes. While he worked in public service, he came to own companies that full time businessmen could only dream about. He says the law allowed him to own shares and that he was not engaged in day to day running of the outfits. He is right. They all did it.

He is right. At the kirikiri prisons warders own food vending companies run by their wives. These outfits monopolize the sales of foods to inmates. The warders would also say they are not involved in the day to day running of these companies flourishing within the prisons. It’s no use finding out how their ownership of these companies affect the quality of food budgeted by the government for the prison inmates.

Atiku has returned to the PDP. That’s heartwarming. The PDP was disoriented. Atiku is media savvy and resourceful. The prestigious Yaradua school of politics whose doctoral degree he must possess teaches pragmatism and a little ruthlessness. An Atiku came back at the right time. The nation needs a well resourced and ambitious opposition. President Buhari and company need anything that can rattle them out of conceitedness and presumptuousness. The president takes his public acceptance for granted. That is why he has slept comfortably on the Maina scandal, for a whole month.

Welcome Atiku.
Culled from Vanguard 

Severance pay and severe pain

Severance pay and severe pain

by Simon Kolawole

For Mr. Mounir Gwarzo, director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), these are not the nicest of times. He must be in a severe pain. He has just been suspended by Mrs Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance, over allegations of impropriety. Gwarzo was accused, among other things, of paying himself a “severance package” of N104,854,154 as a former executive commissioner — shortly after being named DG of the same commission. The argument is that since he was still serving in the same organisation, it was wrong for him to have collected the benefit. “Severance package” is theoretically a one-off exit payment for political appointees.

In other news, Gwarzo does not think his suspension has anything to do with the petition over severance pay. Reports here and there attribute the suspension to Gwarzo’s insistence on conducting a forensic audit of Oando Plc over allegations of insider abuses and irregularities. The forensic audit would have led to the suspension of the Oando management and the appointment of an interim management. Adeosun reportedly asked Gwarzo to impose fines on individual members of the management rather than carry out the audit, for which SEC has already engaged the services of Akintola Williams Deloitte.

Gwarzo was said to have objected, leading to a reportedly heated argument with the minister who allegedly seized the moment to remind him of the petition against him “pending since January”. The SEC DG requested that her directive be put in writing — to which Adeosun was said to have pointed out that she herself takes verbal instructions from President Muhammadu Buhari. Gwarzo left her office and wrote her on November 28, 2017, summarising the discussions at the meeting and asking again that the request be put in an official letter. He got a letter, dated November 29, 2017, quite all right, but it was to suspend him from office over the allegations against him.

The sequence of events and the circumstances would fit perfectly into the narrative that Adeosun decided to dig up the petition because Gwarzo continued to insist on the forensic audit, but the office of the minister has strongly denied the allegations. Oando Plc, understandably, has refused to join issues and would prefer to be left out of the picture. The oil company actually secured a court order to stop the forensic audit which it considers to be a witch hunt. In the final analysis, we are only left to work with rumours and speculations on what really transpired between the minister and the DG. Suspicion is not terribly helpful in this matter. It is neither here nor there.

My bigger interest is in the allegations against Gwarzo — that he got a mouth-watering severance package and that he awarded contracts to a company, Madusa Investments Ltd, in which he has interest. While confirming that he collected the N104 million pay-off in 2015, he denied any wrong doing, citing a board decision way back in 2002 which authorised the payment to DGs and commissioners who had served for a minimum of two years. He also said Madusa is a family business from which he had resigned his directorship when he was appointed a SEC commissioner in 2013. He denied that the company has done any job for, or received any payment, from SEC.

Now that he is being investigated, I think the anti-graft agencies are in a better position to prove or disprove the allegations of impropriety against him. This may sound funny, but we can say that since the ICPC and EFCC are also going to carry out their own “forensic audit” of Gwarzo, it is only proper to ask him to step aside while this is being done so that an interim manager can also be in place. The trouble, though, is that this may further complicate things for Oando and Adeosun — if the forensic audit of Oando does not go ahead eventually, it may prove too difficult to convince Nigerians that there is no truth in Gwarzo’s allegation. Fingers crossed.

My curiosity in this matter, lest I forget, is the legality of the severance pay. If indeed the board of SEC approved as far back as July 2002 — 11 years before Gwarzo became a commissioner — that the benefit should be paid to the DG and “permanent commissioners”, the suspended DG would have no case to answer. The quantum of the pay wouldn’t matter as long as there is no infraction involved. The real issue would be: was it legal or not? Are there documentations to prove it or not? However, if there was no such board decision and Gwarzo collected the benefit illegally, then he would have to keep a date with the hangman.

If he truly followed the letter of the law in collecting the pay-off, there are still more questions to ask — and in asking these questions, we will discover more loopholes in the law or policy, as the case may be. Should he have collected the benefit while still in service even if occupying a different office? It would mean that, technically, he is entitled to another severance pay after his current tenure since the processes of appointing an executive commissioner and DG are different. What this shows us clearly is that there is a lacuna in the policy. Those who made the policy did not take care of a situation where a commissioner is promoted DG after two years.

Gwarzo can even pursue a hypothetical argument — that if he serves as an executive commissioner at SEC for two years, doesn’t collect the severance benefit, gets appointed as the DG of another agency and is removed after one year, then he would have lost out on the benefit completely. On the other hand, if he forgoes the hefty package (let’s say out of “patriotism”) and gets appointed as a minister, his severance pay would be probably N5 million. Therefore, there was a higher incentive for him to quickly claim his benefit as a former SEC commissioner. There is a huge dichotomy between the benefits of a minister and the heads of “specialised agencies” serving under them.

There are loopholes in the way severance pay is defined and structured. I’m sure many public officers have been benefitting from this at federal, state and local levels. While you cannot punish or prosecute someone for what is legally permissible, you can fine-tune the law or policy to address the loopholes. I am, therefore, looking beyond Gwarzo in my argument. I am canvassing a comprehensive and standardised policy on severance pay such that everything will be clear to all. I guess this is the job of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission and National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission. They should be the clearing houses for all such payments.

It gives me severe pains to know that there are some governors who, after getting a second term in office, pay themselves severance for their first term. That means they will collect a second severance pay after the second term, in addition to pension. I am also told that there are some legislators who get paid severance package at the end each term. So if they are re-elected five times, they get paid the benefit five times. I hope I am being misled — it is too bad to be true. We are also made to understand that some former governors who are now senators still collect pensions in addition to their hefty allowances in the national assembly. It may not be illegal but it is immoral.

To be clear, I have not declared Gwarzo culpable or not culpable. That is beyond my pay grade. Whether he is being punished over the Oando issue or over the petitions against him is beside the point. My worry, which I have managed to state clearly, is that we need to work on avoiding the lacuna in the severance benefits. This Gwarzo affair offers us an opportunity to streamline the payment of these benefits. I propose that an active public servant should be entitled to severance pay just once in a lifetime, preferably on final exit from government. That is more morally defensible, so let us standardise it — and legalise it.



Having read Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi’s book, ‘On a Platter of Gold: How Jonathan Won and Lost Nigeria’, I confess that I have developed more sympathy for the former president. Yes, he was imperfect. He was indecisive, too soft and highly vulnerable. He did a million things wrong. But you could see a simple and listening leader who, in the midst of the chaos, never loved to hurt people or do illegal things, so much so he deferred to his attorney-general, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, on critical matters of law. My impression remains that Jonathan simply could not grow fast enough into the role of a president, and the company he kept did not help matters. Undoing.


Did you listen to Senate President Bukola Saraki’s insightful comments on the 2018 appropriation bill? “Sometimes I wonder if technocrats want to embarrass government and try to do some things knowing it can’t work,” he said. “Why would the budget be predicated on 2.3mbpd when the country was only able to record 1.9mbpd in 2017? In addition, even though in the past two months when oil price has been as high as $60, the report from FAAC is that they have not been able to put any money in the excess crude account. The only reason is that it must be that oil production is much less than what we are budgeting for.” I hope President Buhari is listening. Damning!


Was the Obama administration right to support the overthrow of Col. Muammar Ghaddafi as the Libyan leader? Many who said “yes” in 2011 must be saying “no” today. Libya has since dissolved into a mess since then, and Nigeria is facing the repercussions. It’s established that Boko Haram was strengthened by the arms flowing from the anarchy that ensued. The North African country now offers a booming route for human trafficking, illegal arms and illicit drug trade. It came to a head recently with the revelation that black Africans (Nigerians inclusive), illegally en route to Europe, are being sold off as slaves, tortured or killed in Libya. Grief.


Nigeria keeps getting Argentina as opponents at FIFA World Cup. We must be getting sick and tired of each other’s face by now. We’ve been drawn together at every World Cup we’ve played, save for France ’98, and they have always beaten us. But I love our sense of humour in Nigeria. I thoroughly enjoyed these tweets “Next time, they should just put Nigeria and Argentina together before drawing the groups” (@mrokike) and “Nigeria and Argentina should just marry!” (@ellytomall). With highly talented Croatia and giant-killing Iceland also in the mix, we should not make the mistake of thinking we are sure bets for the knock-out stages. Caution.
Source: TheCable

Atiku’s pathological defections and the party system

Atiku’s pathological defections and the party system

Abubakar Atiku

By Anthony Akinola

One major difference in the politics of the advanced democratic nations and that of contemporary Nigeria is that one is highly “individualistic” while the other is still largely “communal”. By this I mean there is a greater degree of independence in one than exists in the other. Whereas the divorce lawyer may not be summoned because a wife has chosen to hold a political view that is different from that of her husband, this may not be the case in a communal society where the choice made by one person could be taken, invariably, as the choice made by others. It is precisely because of this communal culture that the phenomenon of defections, i.e. crossing over from one political party to another, attracts the attention it hardly deserves.

When a key political actor has defected from one political party to another, there is a “bandwagon” effect helped by a very low level of political education as well as economic poverty on the part of others. I remember when my father, the late Chief Josiah Akinola Oisa was “coerced” into transferring his loyalty from the National Council of Nigeria and the Camerouns (NCNC) in the late 1950s, quite a number of erstwhile supporters of the party followed him to the ruling Action Group (AG) in the then Western Region. He was quite an influential chief, very intelligent as he was equally principled and bold. However, the “regional government” threatened him with deposition if he did not switch loyalty. Deposition was, and still is, some kind of disgrace no one would wish for. My father reluctantly abandoned the political party he so much cherished, thanks to the intolerance of those in positions of power and authority. He was not given the option of being paid “a penny a year salary.”

Armed with what I observed as a very young child, I took exceptional interest in the phenomenon of defections during the Second Republic (1979-83). I was about arguing a thesis that the presidency would bring about a two-party system in Nigeria, hence the excitement in an observation that members of minor political parties were defecting in large numbers to the then two relatively successful parties, the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). I saw the development as a process of “party cross-breeding.” The termination of the then democratic experiment, not least because of the culture of election rigging, frustrated whatever outcome or conclusion one was anticipating.

There have been quite a few noticeable defections since political party activity resumed in 1999; however, no individual has been identified with this phenomenon more than Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, erstwhile Vice President between 1999 and 2007. He has moved from one party to the other on several occasions and any prostitute could easily have become jealous of his shifting loyalties. Even when his most recent defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress “APC” back to his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party “PDP”, could be justified by his avowed supporters, there are not a few who would be incensed by what has become his pathological obsession with the presidency. Many had predicted he would quit the APC for another political party if he was not going to grab the presidential candidacy of that party for the putative 2019 election. Whatever might be his strength and good qualities, critics would nevertheless say that Atiku is a politician with unstable character- someone who has never been a good team player.

The ease with which our politicians change political party support clearly suggests that ideology is of little relevance in our politics. Our politicians are divided by their greed and selfish interests than by anything else. Where there is commitment to ideology, a politician will not transfer his or her loyalty for the fear of competition by potential rivals. They will not be running from the political party they believed in for the fear that its structure could be hijacked by another. On the contrary, an ideologically-informed politician will remain in his or her party and sort out whatever problems might have arisen therein. In the well-established political parties with broad-based support, politicians belong in varied wings of the ideological divide-left, right, centre or moderate, etc. Their views may diverge in specifics, but what they share is unanimity of purpose.

It will take quite a while for the Nigerian party system to stabilise. The party system is evolving, still some kind of work in progress. The one good thing to take from current observations is the potential for integration being exhibited by the presidency as a political institution. There will be those arguing for Nigeria to return to the parliamentary system of government which was practised in the First Republic, not least because it is believed to be less expensive than the presidential alternative. However, when it comes to the issue of political integration, I shall be one of those arguing that the presidential system should be accepted as having come to stay. A return to the parliamentary system will be a return to another era of ethnic political parties and the erstwhile culture of conspiratorial ethnic alliances.
There is nothing to be nostalgic about in the practice of the parliamentary system as witnessed at the federal level of political governance until its deserved death on 15 January 1966. The emergence of the PDP and the APC, as broad-based political parties, has revealed the centralising influence of the presidency and proved beyond reasonable doubt that there is no place for ethnic political parties in the current dispensation. The future of the party system depends on how disciplined the politicians can be, as well as the sophistication of the electorate.
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This Is Not The Buhari We Knew

This Is Not The Buhari We Knew

Abba Mahmoud

There is confusion everywhere. The government lacks direction. There is no clear policy on anything be it economic, security, foreign, aviation, environment or any other issue of importance. Everyone is virtually doing what he or she likes with nobody to call anyone to order. President Buhari is not in touch with the party that gave him a platform to contest and come to power, even though last week he suddenly realize that he needs the party which necessitated his caucus and NEC meeting almost belatedly. He appears not be in charge of anything, even admitting that he gave directive for boards to be reconstituted since October 2015 but that directive is yet to be carried out! He appears to not only over delegate his presidential powers but apparently abdicates his responsibility too. Obviously, this is not the Buhari we knew.
Soon after he was sworn in as President, General OlusegunObasanjo released his first appointments on the same day of May 29, 1999. And no one could fault Obasanjo’s choice of key aides: General Mohammed as Chief of Staff; General Gusau as NSA; Chief Ekaette as SGF; Col. Areh as DGSSS, among others. Buhari took three months to appoint his own aides and ended up appointing some of the worst officials in Nigeria’s history. It took 166 days for Buhari to form his cabinet. Does it mean for more than ten years that he was contesting to be president he did not have a plan let alone a team to help him carry out his plan? Clearly, this is not the Buhari we knew.
General Buhari was voted for, basically to do two things: fight insecurity and fight corruption. There is an appreciable progress with regard to fighting the Boko Haram insurgency no doubt but the level of kidnappings and killings going on across Nigeria is simply scandalous. It is not restricted to the highways anymore. Last two weeks, a brother of the Chief of Staff to the governor of Kaduna state was kidnapped right inside Zaria city. And no one has yet been held responsible to account for this high level of insecurity. Indeed, this is not the Buhari we knew.
With regard to the fight against corruption, it is simply funny that the only place that was investigated in the last two and a half year is the Office of the NSA. The Ministry of Petroleum, where Buhari is the Minister and where most of the past corruption was perpetrated has been shield from investigation by those around Buhari. The CBN, the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the SGF are yet to be held accountable for their past misdeeds. All the billionaires created by the last regime are still keeping their loot, or even making laws for us as legislators thanks to those shielding them in this dispensation. In fact, this is not the Buhari we knew.
Since he joined partisan politics, Buhari’s main political base has been Kano which has been consistently voting for Buhari. In 2015, Kano was delivered one hundred percent to the APC thanks to the consistency and commitment of Senator, then Governor,RabiuKwankwaso and his associates. Buhari did not find it necessary to visit Kano since he became President. Kano is the oldest and second largest commercial centre in Nigeria. The city’s market got burnt but no one commiserated with them let alone gave them any support from the Buhari-led federal government. Truly, this is not the Buhari we knew.
Almost three years into this administration’s tenure, many, indeed most parastatals are still being run by those appointed by the last administration. No less a person than Col Hameed Ali, the CG of Customs had to say recently that 50 percent of Buhari’s government is PDP. Boards are yet to be constituted for almost all the federal agencies. Is it that the President doesn’t know or doesn’t care? For over two years even ambassadors to various countries are just reporting. What does it take to make appointments in Nigeria, a country that is full of talents across virtually local government in the country? Really, this is not the Buhari we knew.
President Buhari swore to an Oath of Office holding the Qur’an “to do good to all manner of people, without fear or favour, affection or ill will”. Two years on, the Lagos-Ibadan expressway is the best road in Africa while the Abuja-Kano expressway built by President Babangida thirty years ago is still a death trap even though one minister collected N1.8 billion to “repair” the Abuja-Kaduna segment when the Abuja Airport runway was being repaired. Buhari has identified those he appears to favour and he has chosen those he cannot sack, apparently because he fears them, all contrary to his oath of office. This is not the Buhari we knew.
As a General who served in one of the most national of institutions, the Nigerian Army, we expected Buhari to create a national platform where every section of Nigeria will feel a sense of belonging. Instead, this is one of the most exclusive governments in the history of Nigeria. From Jigawa state, for instance, virtually every appointee is from Kazaure – INEC National Commissioner; DG, NYSC; SCOP; Ambassador; and Minister are all from that single town. Is the President not aware of this? This is not the Buhari we knew.
Buhari came with a pan-Nigeria mandate enjoying enormous goodwill across Nigeria and indeed around the world. From that national, in fact international pedestal, Buhari’s constituency is now the two to five people who appear to exclusively have his ears. The party is aggrieved; chieftains like Tinubu are alienated; the National Assembly is feeling side- lined; in fact everyone is feeling marginalized. His government is a disappointment to Nigerians; a disgrace to those who insisted on him, particularly northerners; and indeed a disaster to the Africans who saw in him a hope which has now been dashed. This is not the Buhari we knew.
The wife of the President had reason to complain in public about the cabal that caged her husband; many well-meaning individuals both high and low have been complaining too. The verdict is that President Buhari is surrounded by very bad people who are destroying him, his government and even the country he loves so much. Is it that the President does not know or is not listening? We really love Buhari and we want him to succeed. That is why we have to complain loudly, before it is too late so that he can take necessary actions immediately. The verdict of history awaits him and he should know that. After all, history is on the side of the oppressed.

Source : Leadership

Zimbabwe and the African Tragedy

Zimbabwe and the African Tragedy

Robert Mugabe

The Verdict By Olusegun Adeniyi, Email: olusegun.adeniyi@thisdaylive.com

There is a temptation to hail the outcome of the ‘military coup’ in Zimbabwe that eventually led to the ouster of President Robert Mugabe as a triumph of popular will. That would be a myopic reading of the situation. While the resignation came amid popular discontent fuelled largely by the military and a faction of his own political party, there is an inconvenient truth that we should not shy away from: In Africa, power still does not belong to the people!

Meanwhile, for the generation who know only Mugabe the dictator, it may be necessary to highlight the fact that he did not start that way. He was at some point in history, an African hero. At the risk of his life, Mugabe had led a bloody guerrilla war against the white colonial rulers of Rhodesia (as his country was then called) who jailed him for 10 years over a “subversive speech” he made in 1964. When he was released a decade later, Mugabe did not relent as he merely crossed into the neighbouring Mozambique to continue his struggle. With independence in 1980, he was elected the first prime minister and six years later, the president.

Mugabe’s first decade in office was marked by improvement in the lives of the Zimbabweans and he was well regarded across the world as a good leader of his people. But the moment Mugabe became consumed by an overriding ambition to stay in power in perpetuity, the problem started. He became intolerant and repressive while his land reform policy was marred in controversy.It didn’t take long before the economy collapsed and with it the value of the national currency. Corruption became endemic and by the time he left office on Tuesday, more than 80 percent of his country’s young population were unemployed.

However, the genesis of the crisis of Zimbabwe can be traced to 1979 when the Lancaster House Accords agreed to an equitable compensation in the distribution of farmlands in the country that were held by the British.Even when there were justifications for the policy, the British government refused to fulfil its part of the bargain and acting in collaboration with other western powers, used the issue to bring down the economy of Zimbabwe and ultimately, Mugabe.

I recall that a few days before the March 2002 election, the then Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Francis Sengwe (a friend of our own ‘Comrade’ Kayode Komolafe) visited THISDAY and he explained how the land issue touches on the pride and sovereignty of his country. “There are a few white people who individually own plots of farmland as big as the size of Imo and Abia states combined. Where is the justice and equity in that? Our parents suffered in the hands of these people. My parents worked in a tobacco farm owned by a white man and we had nothing; in our own country. President Mugabe is only trying to correct some of these imbalances and the British would not allow him to have any peace.”

What the foregoing suggests is that amid the global euphoria that has greeted the ouster of Mugabe from power in Zimbabwe, it is important to remember the hypocrisy of the British government on the land issue. At the end of the day, whatever may be the other sins of Mugabe, it was the mismanaged land reform, not the fact that he stayed too long in power or that he was a dictator that accounted for the challenge of his last two decades in office fuelled largely from Britain. That of course does not excuse the fact that he overstayed his welcome and became a nuisance.

As it would happen, the more the international pressure visited on Mugabe on account of the land issue, the more he became desperate about regime protection at the expense of the welfare of his country of 16 million people. Yet throughout, he was enabled by a class of other leaders especially those regarded as war veterans, who believe it is their birthright to rule Zimbabwe because they fought for independence.

To understand this power game better, we may have to go back to recent elections when a very unpopular Mugabe faced the greatest challenges of his leadership. For instance, before the 2002 general elections, all the senior military commanders in the country declared they would serve under no president except Mugabe. In turn, Mugabe signed into law an Electoral Act which gave the armed forces a legal role in national elections for the first time in Zimbabwe’s history. Section 17 of the controversial legislation allowed the heads of the “service commissions”(defined in the Act as the army, air force, police and prison service) to second personnel to serve as “constituency election officers, deputy constituency elections officers, assistant constituency elections officers and polling officers”.

Six years later, the opposition was far stronger against Mugabe. Following a presidential election held on 29 March 2008 believed to have been won by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), it took more than a month for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to announce that while Tsvangirai may have secured 47.9% of the votes against Mugabe’s 43.2%, there was no outright winner hence a run-off was needed. But shortly before that poll, slated for 27 June, Mugabe vowed that he would never accept ‘traitors’ taking over power in Zimbabwe. “It shall never happen … as long as I am alive and those who fought for the country are alive; we are prepared to fight for our country and to go to war for it.”

In pursuit of that agenda, military commanders and Mugabe’s hirelings went on the offensive against opposition politicians and due to the violence, Tsvangirai announced on 22 June 2008 that he was withdrawing from the run-off because, as he said, the lives of his supporters were in danger. The election went ahead as scheduled and even though Mugabe’s (Zanu-PF) ruling party lost its majority in the House of Assembly for the first time (as the opposition won more seats) he still went on to secure 85.5 percent of the total votes cast to continue in office.

In all the foregoing perversions of democratic will, Mugabe always had behind him the military commanders who treated him like a god. The real challenge for Mugabe, however, came when it recently became obvious that his young and ambitious wife, Grace, was remote-controlling him in a not-so-subtle bid to move from ‘The Other Room’ to the presidency of Zimbabwe. Following the removal of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa, army commander Constantino Chiwenga had warned that the military would act if purges against former war liberation fighters did not cease. But Mugabe was too drunk in love to listen and he paid the ultimate political price for that.

In the tragedy of Zimbabwe was an arrogance that bordered on entitlement, almost as if the country belongs to a few men on account that they fought for independence. It was that same entitlement that fed into the coup that eventually ousted Mugabe. If ‘The Crocodile’ had not been sacked and there were no surreptitious moves by Mugabe to make his wife succeed him, there would have been no coup. At the end, the military commanders and their political collaborators, led by the man who has now inherited power, merely used the people to achieve a predetermined end.

Now that he has, by a sleight of hand, become the main man in Zimbabwe, I believe it will serveMnangagwa well to lead the cult of personalities within the ZANU-PF to outgrow their sense of entitlement.The immediate challenge facing Zimbabwe today is that of ensuring good governance, providing jobs for the restless young citizens, deepening democracy and fostering national unity.

I wish ‘The Crocodile’ the best of luck as he assumes the mantle of leadership in Zimbabwe.

The Book of Jonathan

A day to the public presentation of my book, “Against The Run of Play: How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria” in April this year, I got a call from the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, who said someone had given him a copy and that he had read it. After the usual pleasantries, he asked, “but why did oga (President Jonathan) say that about Stella (Oduah)?”

Since I didn’t know how to respond to such question, I simply allowed Anyim to talk. He told me of how people within their circle were angry that Jonathan simply threw Oduah under the bus by using her removal as a justification for his fight against corruption.

Although I couldn’t understand the point Anyim was making considering that Oduah’s saga played out in the public glare and President Jonathan merely echoed an open secret, I can now see the bigger picture after readingBolaji Abdullahi’s very insightful book, “On a Platter of Gold: How Jonathan won and lost Nigeria”. In the book, Oduah gave a counter-narrative which presented the manner in which she left Jonathan’s cabinet as a product of negotiation between the two of them. Excerpts:

“Did Diezani ask you to sack me”, she asked the president.

“No, she did not”, a troubled Jonathan answered. “But I am confused. Tell me what I should do now.”

“Why don’t you just announce it, since we have got to this stage? But if I go now, you would not get the credit for it. May be you should just wait and announce it with the rest.”

By the account that followed, President Jonathan actually waited and added the name of Oduah among a list of other members of the federal executive council who were said to be leaving to seek other political offices. What makes Abdullahi’s book rather fascinating is that his former cabinet colleagues provided a lot of background information that enriched the narrative. But it is also a well-researched book with penetrating insights on the factors that combined both to throw up Jonathan from the obscurity of a teaching job to the pinnacle of power and to throw him down as the first incumbent president to be defeated in Nigeria.

Although Abdullahi was a minister under Jonathan for almost three years before he was removed on account of politics and he is currently the spokesman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), he has produced a most scholarly work. Reading the book, especially against the background of the ongoing political developments in Zimbabwe, one cannot but agree with Mr. Mo Ibrahim’s summation that “Africa’s history over the last 50 years has been blighted by two areas of weakness. These have been capacity – the ability to design and deliver policies; and accountability – how well a state answers to its people.”

That essentially is the thrust of the blurb to Abdullahi’s book by Wale Adebanwi, Rhodes Professor of Race Relations at Oxford University, who put the whole narrative in perspective. The “selective outrage regarding some fundamental crises which members of the elite used in propelling themselves to power”, according to Adebanwi, “emphasises how the various factions of the Nigerian political elite are gifted in the art of the capture and recapture of power but largely vacuous in the art of building and sustaining a good society”.

You can follow me on my Twitter handle, @Olusegunverdict and on http://www.olusegunadeniyi.com where I have posted a March 2002 piece I wrote on Zimbabwe as well as other old columns.
Source : ThisDay