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Obasanjo and GEJ: Parable of the goat seller who won’t release the rope

OBJ, the prowling goat seller

By Oceherome Nnanna

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is haunting his hand-picked former protégé, President Goodluck Jonathan, like a malevolent ghost. You may wonder why OBJ, after four years as a military ruler and another eight years as an elected president, is still butting like a stubborn, demon-possessed ram at the doors of Aso Villa, Abuja? What does he still want? What did he forget in the seat of power after occupying it for 12 years? Why can’t he just go home and enjoy his new-found affluence after his latest eight years as president during which he doubled as Minister of Petroleum Resource for six years?
If you put this question before Obasanjo he will tell you it is because he “loves” Nigeria; he is a great “nationalist”, and he cannot keep quiet when things are going wrong. He will conveniently hide the fact that he is the cause of many of our problems.
Political interests
He will not accept responsibility. Instead, he will divert attention and point accusing fingers at others, making accusations that he is also guilty of a million times over. In the process, Obasanjo succeeds in hoodwinking a few gullible, uninformed Nigerians and raises applause among those whose political interests resonate with his objective of bringing down a sitting president.

But those of us who know him probably more than he knows himself are not carried away. We know his motives and methods all too well. Obasanjo’s estranged daughter, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo, in a letter in January this year in which she disowned her father, told us Obasanjo believes in his heart he “owns” Nigeria. President Jonathan, in his own angry rejoinder to a windy, scathing attack by Obasanjo, likened the Ota poultry farmer to a goat seller who, after selling his goat and pocketing the money, still holds on to the goat’s tether rope. In other words, Obasanjo, after handpicking and installing people in power, seeks to control them. When they refuse to be at his beck and call, he starts to fight dirty in the public square because he has come to see the Nigerian seat of power as his personal booty.
After all, he fought the civil war and collected the instrument of surrender from Biafra. We have since heard the truth about how Obasanjo fought that war. One of the civil war commanders, Brigadier Godwin Alabi-Isama, in his book: The Tragedy of Victory, actually described OBJ as a coward. In various interviews after the book was published, he disclosed that Obasanjo has bullet wounds on his buttocks. This means he was shot while running away from enemy onslaught! But he makes loud noises about his civil war “heroism” and feels entitled to exclusive freebooting on our national estate.
Obasanjo is confronting GEJ because the president is a gentleman. He could not try it with the late President Umaru Yar’ Adua, who was much tougher and savvier in the game of power than Jonathan.
As sick as Yar’Adua was, he was able to curtail Obasanjo’s goat-seller mentality and keep him tightly leashed. Those were the days when people like Nasir el Rufai actually bolted to America and only returned to become a troublemaker because Jonathan is a gentleman.
This same Obasanjo troubled General Babangida when the latter was in power because Babangida respected him. But when he tried it with General Abacha, we know what happened. Obasanjo came out of jail in 1998 looking like an exhumed corpse.
Besides, Obasanjo is a master in the game of hypocrisy. He likes to call other people thieves, and he is the first to accuse another person of being corrupt. The idea is to divert attention from his own unquantifiable deeds that fabulously enriched him, both as a military leader and elected president.
Sound Sultan, one of Nigeria’s most creative avant-garde musicians, has a song he entitled: “One day bushmeat go catch de hunter“. In it he sang: “Ole de shout ole”.When you catch a pickpocket red-handed, to avoid being lynched he begins to shout: “ole!, ole!!” (Thief!Thief!!).Was it not under Obasanjo that bags of money meant to induce lawmakers to impeach a political enemy of the president were displayed in the House of Representatives? Yet he calls MPs “looters”.
When Abacha raised the pump prices of petroleum in 1994 he established the Petroleum Trust Fund, PTF and used the proceeds to intervene in infrastructural reconstruction. Where did Obasanjo put proceeds of eight price hikes that took fuel price from N22 to N65 per litre over eight years? At least, Jonathan ploughs back his own increase from N65 to N97 into a fuel subsidy regime that guarantees steady fuel supply and funds for the implementation of Subsidy Re-investment Programmes, SURE-P, nationwide.
Fuel subsidy was bedevilled by corruption, but it is working. We are enjoying it. But we can’t see anything Obasanjo did with his own extra N43 per litre. Billions were sunk into the refineries but they never worked.
Billions were wasted on Independent Power Plants, but turbines were imported and left for years at the ports because they could not be moved inland. Government companies were sold for pennies to fronts and cronies. But in four years, Jonathan has laid down a clear agenda to overcome the challenges of the power sector. It is very slow-going, but is moving forward, with zero reports of corruption in the sector which is now mainly in private hands.
Yes indeed, Jonathan has his problems as a leader. He is too laid back about fighting corruption. It doesn’t seem to bother him. President Jonathan is too much in the background as my leader. I like my leaders there up front, inspiring me with words, deeds and examples. I like them tough and decisive, but always putting the interest of the nation first. I don’t like walking up front and looking back for my leader.
Thirdly, I don’t like the way Jonathan has handled Boko Haram. If he had done the needful things two years ago, we would not have the second largest number of displaced persons in the world, with parts of our territory under devilish Salafist Islamists.
I also have reasons to believe that if the Jonathan regime was given the support it needed, it would have recorded more successes than any other in our history. The quest by regional hawks to snatch power by all means, tied to the Boko Haram terror war and jackal-like opposition, have taken a toll on all of us. No regime has been sabotaged by the same people it strives to save from their enemies the way some Northern leaders have undermined the Jonathan regime. People who destroyed Nigeria in their 40 years of total brigandage are ganging up as the “opposition” to return us to where they left us in 1999, and Obasanjo has become their fire-eating generalissimo.
If Jonathan is a problem, Obasanjo created it by selecting him to pair with a terminally ill Yar’Adua, so that he (OBJ) would call the shots from Ota. Yar’ Adua and Jonathan were his “Plan B” after he failed to grab third term. I agree with former Speaker, House of Representatives, Umar Ghali Na’Abba, that if Obasanjo looks into the mirror he will see the trouble with Nigeria.
The goat seller wants his goat back after pocketing his profit. Well, Nigeria is not Obasanjo’s goat. The earlier he gets the message the better for him – and us all.
 Source: The Vanguard

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The Lies About President Jonathan Being A Christian President

The Lies About President Jonathan Being A Christian President

BY GABRIEL OLALEKAN POPOOLA

Politicians’ desperate appeal to religion as a resort of last line of hope when confronted with firm failure is at once ubiquitous in nature and repetitive historically. Ordinarily, politicians ought not to be thugs and rogues; they ought to be leaders chosen by the larger society to administer the land on behalf of all members of the given society. The constitution and other extant laws of the land make that otherwise difficult administrative job a very easy one. Unfortunately, as events have revealed over the years, particularly in our nation Nigeria, politicians, because of their materialism and acquisitiveness, are more of problem-creators than problem-solvers.

Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor and others pray for President Goodluck Jonathan during a pilgrimage to Isreal in 2013
State House Photo
They fail again and again where they should have succeeded; they steal where they should not have stolen; they lie where simple truth should have been told; and they deceive where acting in a straightforward manner would have sufficed. This is the tragic situation of our shameless and dishonourable politicians in Nigeria. Then, when it becomes certain that the failed leader is about to be thrown out of office, having incurred the justifiable anger of the electorates, he suddenly begins to appeal to religion. He claims that he is a Christian or Muslim; he openly identifies with some religious leaders of his proclaimed faith, and in turn, expects all adherents of the faith he bogusly lays claim to, to support him. And this just for political benefit.

This is President Goodluck Jonathan’s situation at the moment as he faces a more than cloudy presidential election in 2015. It is clear that Nigeria, a not so fortunate country with regard to qualitative leadership, is terribly divided along politically created religious fracture lines. The fact remains that no President, in the history of this nation, has succeeded, through complicit actions and inactions, in polarising the nation as much as President Goodluck Jonathan. This fact is already in the public domain. My concern however, is to expose the underbelly motivation of Mr. President’s handlers’ religious hoodwinking of Christians in Nigeria. Christians need to know that they need not rush to give support to just any leader who mouths Christianity, without carrying out diagnostic examination of such a leader. The Bible enjoins us to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

To begin with, there’s nothing wrong with Christians in Nigeria giving wholehearted support to another Christian who aspires to any political office in the land, provided that the said Christian is a Christian indeed, and that he possesses leadership qualities to move the nation in the right direction. As a matter of fact, in our pluralistic nation, just anyone who, irrespective of religious affiliation and inclination, has character, wit, insight, generous spirit, self-control, resolve, honesty and a clear picture of where the nation ought to be, as well as the understanding of how to get there, can aspire to be anything in the country and get the support of the electorates.

In President Jonathan’s case, the undeclared reason for his appeal to religion is simply to take advantage of the numerical strength of Christians among the Nigerian electorates. This is sad. The rush and push currently going on in certain quarters within Christian circles in Nigeria today is totally political and shameful; and all is being done to give undue support to a non-performing president because he is supposedly a Christian. This is not the Bible. The God of the Bible, in actual sense, hounours only responsible people. He demands that leaders be accountable and faithful (1Cor.4:2).  Therefore, Christian leaders ought to help Mr. President become more accountable, and rescue him from terribly political pettiness being displayed at the moment.

Let’s consider this important question: should we even consider President Jonathan a President with Christian character? I think not! But wait a minute; am I in a position to determine whether or not an individual is a Christian? Scripturally speaking, the simple answer is yes. In Matthew 7:21, the Lord Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”. The implication of this passage is that open declaration of one’s religious standing, church membership, hobnobbing with credible and influential Christian leaders, as well as financial donations to churches does not confer Christianity on anyone. In fact, the above is totally useless without the heart and attributes of Christianity. To know who a Christian is, the Bible recommends that you look at what he does, and how he does it; check his character.

And then, the Holy Scripture also tells us that we know people – genuine Christians, fake Christians, genuine leaders, not-so-genuine leaders, totally corrupt leaders etc. – by their fruits. The Lord Jesus said, “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:18 & 20). The Lord Jesus simply said, just look critically at people, see what they do, how they do it, check the fruits they produce, and you will easily understand where they belong. They may claim they are God’s, but when you check the fruits of their lives, you will understand to whom they belong.

The word of God then explains how a Christian – and this, all the more, applies to a leader – should conduct himself. The first of these points to be considered here is that a Christian is expected to keep his word. His word should be his bound. He should keep his promises and not be given to frivolities. This is how the Bible puts it: “So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:12). This is God’s standard. Do what you say or promise with your own mouth. Now does Mr. President keep his word? I’m sure he does not! I’ll give some examples shortly. But before the examples, please understand that he can still be supported by those who still wish to support him; however, that support should not be based on the fact that he says he is a Christian. Not at all! This is so because he’s not a man who keeps his word, and Christians, real Christians, do keep their words.

In 2011, while going around begging for votes, these were the words of Mr. President: “I do not make empty promises in my campaign because whatever I promise to do, I had already carried out adequate study to make sure I can accomplish it in the next four years.” This was on the 27th of February in Onitsha, Anambra State. But the truth, as available to us all, is that he did promise, but then he failed to fulfill his promises.

On the 12th of March, 2011 in Abeokuta, he promised to revive ailing oil refineries and build new ones. The available fact, as at today, is that Mr. President merely deceived people into voting for him with that empty promise, because as we all know, no ailing oil refinery has been revived, not to talk of building new ones. I know his supporters can come up with a million and one reasons why he didn’t fulfill that promise; but the fact still remains that he did not fulfill his promise. Then on the 31st of March, the same year in Abuja, he promised to expand and develop the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry to provide about one million jobs. Today, we are still waiting for these jobs in the downstream sector of the oil and gas industry.

Earlier, in Awka on February 26, he said he would construct all the major roads which link Anambra with its neighbors; complete the ongoing aero-dynamic survey of gas in the Anambra River basin; complete the second Niger Bridge; and complete the Onitsha Inland Port. Nigerians would not be talking about generators by the time his four years in office would have ended, he guaranteed. It is about four years since these promises were made; however, if a Nigerian today does not have his own generator, it is because he is financially incapable to procure one. The promises were largely unfulfilled. Did Mr. President lack anything he needed in fulfilling these promises? Did he lack money, hands, time or occasion? None that I know. He just won’t do what he said he would do.

The above are few of the many unfulfilled promises, pledges and vows of Mr. President. I want to say that no Christian in Nigeria should be deceived into voting for Mr. President in 2015 because he lays claim to Christianity; he should simply be judged by his performance in office. He should be seen as a person – the current President of the country, who made several promises in 2011 while campaigning, and who failed to fulfill those promises – and be treated as such. This is the foundation upon which his re-election or rejection in 2015 should be based, not some useless religious mawkishness.

But then, there are other two important points we need to consider in this discourse: integrity and skillfulness. As far as God is concerned, these two qualities are central to leadership, and without them, no one in any leadership position, in the eyes of the Almighty God, could be considered successful. Hear the Bible: “He chose David also his servant, and took him from the sheepfolds: from following the ewes great with young he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheritance. So he fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands” (Psalm 78:70-72).

That’s the Bible talking about David. In this passage, David’s background as well as his emergence to leadership was examined. God took David from following animals and made him a King. He named him His servant and empowered him for just a reason: to feed His (God’s) people, the Israelites. Now this is one important purpose of leadership: feeding, supporting, sustaining, nourishing, nurturing, encouraging, maintaining, strengthening and bolstering the led. Can we say this is what is currently obtainable in the nation under President Goodluck Jonathan?  I think not. With the very basic requirement for meaningful living in the 21st century – electricity – almost totally missing in most homes, it is clear that the major focus of this administration is not to feed the poor, but to feed on the poor.

King David, having understood his assignment, settled down to lead his people, employing two important qualities in the process. First, he led his country with the integrity of his heart. He was a man in possession of very firm principles; wholly dedicated to his business, and displayed uncommon veracity in his dealings with his followers. Integrity requires that a leader be open and truthful. Integrity drives a worthy leader to eschew corruption and fight it. It equally demands that the leader be true to the laws of the land and not try to circumvent any aspect of it. A leader with integrity has nothing to hide from his followers, and he constantly fights and punishes, according the laws of the land, those engaged in sleaze. Can we say this is the situation in our nation under President Jonathan? Again, I think not.

Nigerians have not forgotten the recent stinking revelation of how the current Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, squandered 10 billion naira while junketing around. In the revelation, which the House of Representatives later passed a resolution to probe, it was alleged that the minister spent the amount to charter and maintain a jet for her personal use. As shocking as the embarrassing news was, the President has not found any reason to reprimand the minister for spending 130 million naira per month to maintain the aircraft in just two years. Were we blessed with a President who understands integrity and deals with us in the integrity of his heart, this reckless act would have been thoroughly dealt with. There won’t be any reason to bother you with other well-known corruption issues and cases around this government. But what is plain and obvious to all is that this is one administration that lacks integrity.

Now if President Jonathan willingly and consciously flouts important scriptural requirements and recommendations; if he chooses to scoff at the divine principle of integrity, should I then blindly follow him, simply because he claims he is a Christian just like me? This is my point. No Christian anywhere in the nation should allow himself to be sold a dummy. We should not be herded into wrongdoing simply because we have a “professing”, but in actual sense, a scripture-breaking Christian as our president. However, if an individual Christian, given his own conviction of the president’s performance and integrity, decides to vote for him next year, fine. The issue being that the Christian is voting, not because he is glad that the aspiring leader is a “Christian” and not a Muslim, but because the would-be leader is worthy and owns integrity.

The second virtue employed by David in his leadership adventure was skillfulness. Political and administrative skillfulness is possessing competence, adeptness, dexterity and proficiency in handling issues and situations in a way that avoids sloppiness, clumsiness and wastage. It is the hallmark of very capable leaders. It is a virtue that a nation like Nigeria needs in her leaders because of the inherent ability of this singular virtue to clean up built-up political muddle and clutter. Where unfortunately this quality is lacking in a leadership endeavour, as is currently the case with President Jonathan, disorder, disarray and chaos ensue. It is lack of skillfulness that causes a president to confer unconstitutional powers on ex-militants, freeing them to move around in convoys with security men, while reputable men are being hounded for saying their mind.

Imagine the one big ball of mess the nation has suddenly become, all because political and administrative skillfulness in missing. The way political issues and other sundry happenings in Nigeria have been handle by this administration really puts mud on the faces of Nigerians. It is the case of continual falling into one scandal after another, with the most recent one usually being more potent than the previous. Consider the latest in the series of misadventures of an administration void of political dexterity and steeped in error – the invasion of the National Assembly by security men.

While this act has been roundly condemned by people of wit and imagination in the country, the President is yet to see anything wrong with that assault and insult. And why would he? The unfortunate blitz obviously serves hisF purpose. It makes one to wonder whether the President have people who advise him at all. After all, even when a president is not particularly skillful, he still can tap into the skillfulness of brilliant and able souls within the country. With the way things stand at the moment, it is clear that the nation is being ruled by someone with shortage of political and administrative skillfulness, and Christians need to be reminded that God demands skillfulness in leaders that must deliver.

As a function of the above, the important question all Christians, indeed all Nigerians, need to ask before being goaded into voting based on religious or political sentiment is whether we are ready to withstand and stomach another four years of unproductive, completely messy political space dominated by shoddiness, corruption, unresponsiveness and a sense of despair never known to Nigerians since the end of the civil war. The crucial question is whether we are willing to endure President Goodluck Jonathan till 2019!

That idea, that thought alone, for me, is frightening! A president who doesn’t keep his own words, fights dirty, institutes and promotes ethnic racketeering, unable to manage rather commonplace and uncomplicated situations is, undoubtedly, not the person Nigerians need for the next four years of our national life.

Source: Sahara Reporters

Pastor Gabriel Olalekan Popoola, a former University of Port Harcourt Students’ Union Leader, worships with Living Faith Church and can be reached at gabrolap@gmail.com

Presidential Grades and Gaffes Written by Sonala Olumhense

Presidential Grades and Gaffes

Written by Sonala Olumhense

“Most of the Ministers and Special Assistants/Advisers in that government were mini-tyrants; they saw every criticism of government policy as an act of affront, the more deluded and disoriented ones among them, with their arrogance helped to make more unnecessary enemies for government. It was also a style of governance that encouraged sycophancy. The point was often made that Ministers went to the Federal Cabinet meeting only to massage the President’s ego…”

Those words were penned on May 26, 2007, just days before Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan took office, part of a newspaper columnist’s postmortem of the Olusegun Obasanjo years.
 
“The General ran a government in which he was the wisest man in the entire country. Nobody was expected to contradict him, and those who did were punished for their insubordination. Governors struggled to be in Baba’s good books. The President was called Baba: he was the father of everyone whose words could not be questioned since this is the dictate of age-old culture and tradition…”

Of the centrality of sycophancy in that administration, the author said, “When on one occasion all the Ministers in a show of solidarity with the President rose in unison against the Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who had become Obasanjo’s adversary, it was clear at last that we had a civilian dictatorship on our hands.”
The article was “Obasanjo’s Legacy (4),” by Reuben Abati, who was the Chairman, Editorial Board of The Guardian (Nigeria).

Four years after those words, Abati took office as Special Adviser for Media and Publicity to President Jonathan.  In that capacity, he has blossomed in the past three years as some kind of Director of Denials: when there is something for Mr. Jonathan to deny, he calls upon the man who so well understands tyranny—mini and maxi—delusion,
disorientation, sycophancy, and presidential ego massage.  
However, if there is someone who takes presidential ego massage more seriously than Abati, it is far and away his colleague, Senior Special Adviser Doyin Okupe.  

 If Abati is the Doctor/Director of Denials, Okupe is without question the most dangerous man in the presidency.  He is the quintessential mini-tyrant described in Abati’s article, gifted with the easy ability to accumulate enemies for the president.
Okupe courts the mainstream media, but he is also heavy on social media, with particular loudness on Twitter.  That is not difficult to understand: Twitter is easy: 140 characters by which to combine praise and worship, 24 hours a day.  Okupe is the propaganda champion.  

But he is also a chameleon.  Recently, as he praised Mr. Jonathan’s so-called Transformation Agenda, I asked him: Are Mr. Jonathan 2011 electoral promises part of the TA?  

I also asked: Were Mr. Jonathan’s post inauguration vows also part of the TA?  His response has been deep silence.
But this same man, a medical doctor brought into the presidency not to heal the sick but to injure the healthy and deceive the hopeful, leads the charge to portray Mr. Jonathan as special.

Last week, citing “facts on the ground, he declared, “…In terms of performance and achievements, no administration since 1960 when Nigeria gained independence from Britain, has done as much as that of President Jonathan.”

He immediately reminded me of another man who once observed, accurately, how the more deluded and disoriented among Nigeria’s Ministers and Special Advisers “with their arrogance helped to make more unnecessary enemies for government…a style of governance that encouraged sycophancy…”

Sycophancy is a difficult word to spell, but even Mr. Jonathan, by now, understands that some of the people close to him are sycophants.  Were Mrs. Jonathan to ask him for an example of sycophants, I have no doubt he would point one finger at Okupe.
No administration…has done as much as that of President Jonathan?   You can almost see Mr. Jonathan, turning to Mrs. Jonathan, pointing at Okupe.

You thought, for a moment, that perhaps Mr. Jonathan did something unique, something exemplary, or something profound.
You thought perhaps he read a book…perhaps to a child, or took his Ph.D dissertation in his hands to a department of agriculture to share his ideas.
Perhaps he declared his assets publicly—determined to enthrone example and presidential transparency—thereby launching an unprecedented era of accountability?
Perhaps he inherited 36 States from his predecessor, and 36 months later, still had all of them within his control?
Did he implement one of the presidential reports submitted to, and applauded, by him?
Perhaps Mr. Jonathan, upon assuming office, was stunned to discover the presidency had an embarrassing pool of jets and expensive automobiles, and swiftly proceeded to rationalise the needs of the office and sell-off the excess capacity to make the funds available for drinking water for elementary schools?
Did he walk through a shopping mall in Abuja, encouraging small businesses to broaden employment?
Did he achieve a ceasefire with Boko Haram, or end the militant group as he has promised over and over?
Perhaps some kidnappers were stupid enough to seize hundreds of schoolgirls from a school somewhere within the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and he, outraged, ensured they were swiftly returned to their parents and schools unharmed?
Perhaps he demonstrated courage, literally under fire, by visiting and sleeping in one of the states under emergency rule?  Did he go to Chibok and break bread with the families whose children were spirited away under his watch?
Perhaps, unknown to us, the President wrote up a cheque, representing 50 per cent of the vast, private wealth he knows he will never need and used it to develop libraries or to offer scholarships to indigent students?
Perhaps he made his wife return her bogus earnings as Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa?
Did he give his country electricity, or did he explain why Aso Rock must buy new generators every year?
Did he persuade the people of South Africa or of Kenya that Nigeria’s presidential jets and other government toys are not used for extensive money-laundering?
Did he finally kill Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau?  Did he transform the people of Chibok, or just the citizenry of Aso Rock?
These are a few of the questions that Okupe ought to be answering in prosecuting the mission to sell the 2015 Jonathan candidature.  
Obasanjo, who rated the Jonathan presidency as “average,” was actually offering unearned credibility.  Jonathan’s administration is the very definition of a tragedy.  How can anyone define as an achievement the epochal equivalent of arson and looting?  
The bigger tragedy is that it is to Obasanjo that Nigeria owes the Jonathan administration. Seven years ago, the PDP certainly had men of presidential potential, but Obasanjo permitted them no electoral opportunity.
I have written elsewhere that if the former president must be taken seriously concerning his criticism of Jonathan, he must first apologise for inflicting him on Nigeria. In 2006, Jonathan was minding his business trying not to attract attention when Obasanjo offered him the buffet.  

As Nigeria slips from unworkable into unmanageable, we are paying for that colossal crime, driven on by ruthless sycophants who have no regard for truth or for the corporate interest.  Nigerians must respond by speaking loudly and courageously for themselves.
• sonala.olumhense@gmail.com

‘You are not a Muslim. You are a terrorist’

‘You’re Not a Muslim. You’re a Terrorist’

By Simon Kolawole

This quotable quote, more than anything else, captures my position on the Boko Haram maniacs. It is taken from Season 3 of the American political thriller, Homeland. Nicholas Brody, a retired US Marine sergeant ─ who had turned against his country, converted to Islam and become a terrorist while fighting in Iraq ─ was on the run. He was a suspect in the bombing of CIA headquarters. A bounty of $25 million was placed on his head. On self-exile in Venezuela, he escaped from his overbearing “protectors”, moved into a mosque and introduced himself as a Muslim to the Imam, who gladly received and housed him.

But not long after that, the Imam discovered Brody was a fugitive ─ declared wanted in America for terrorist activities. The Imam immediately confronted Brody, telling him to leave his mosque and shouting: “You are NOT a Muslim. You ARE a terrorist!”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the missing jigsaw in our attitude to Boko Haram in Nigeria. We continue to view these thugs through Christian and Muslim lenses rather than see them for what they truly are: bloody-sucking terrorists from the pit of hell. No genuine Muslim should be proud of the activities of these demons. No genuine Christian should rejoice at the unending slaughter of the innocent. No true Nigerian should be happy that a section of this country has been turned to killing fields by deranged fanatics, who murder children and women with brainless fervour, who haul bombs into crowded churches and mosques.

For too long, we have failed to isolate these retarded adults and treat them as a different bunch of gangsters who are a threat to all of us ─ Muslims, Christians, Northerners, Southerners, PDP, APC, Jonathan, Buhari, etc etc. When this whole madness began to unfold on a large scale, we chose to treat it as a religious or political problem. To many Muslims, it was a problem for Christians ─ until Boko Haram went past churches and started attacking emirs and mosques. To many Christians, it is “these Muslims who hate us” ─ but we can now see that even “these Muslims” hate fellow Muslims. The attack on the Central Mosque in Kano last Friday is as barbaric as the one on St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, on Christmas day in 2011.

To many Southerners, terrorism is a problem for Northerners. “Let them keep bombing themselves” is their terrible attitude. But they forget that the victims in Abuja, Nyanyan, Maiduguri, Kaduna, Kano and elsewhere are full-blooded Nigerians from different tongues. “Let us divide Nigeria” is a chart-buster among some Southerners ─ as if having blood-drinking terrorists next door is going to be a tea party. Ask Kenya about the al-Shabab menace in neighbouring Somalia.  Ask Turkey about the hazard of ISIS in Iraq. Ask Mali about the fall-outs from the fall of Muammar Ghaddafi in Libya. It is pure ignorance to think that leaving innocent Northerners at the mercy of these lunatics is a great idea ─ when they will eventually share border with you if your dream of breaking up Nigeria comes true.

The politicisation of Boko Haram is absolutely odious and horrendous. On the one hand, the All Progressives Congress (APC) sees it as a publicity tool to win votes by highlighting how clueless the PDP-led government is. A party chieftain once said APC would end Boko Haram within three months if voted into power. That easy? On the other hand, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been trying to demonise APC as the sponsors of Boko Haram ─ all because of 2015. And I keep saying: if PDP is sure APC is behind terrorism, is it not the job of government to arrest and prosecute the suspects? Does the PDP government have a game plan to defeat terror? Is the game plan working? That should be their preoccupation rather than demarketing APC.

For too long, we have had a wrong attitude towards Boko Haram. We underestimated the problem. We played politics with it. We have been pointing fingers back and forth. We have been propounding all sorts of senseless theories. The only theory that I understand, and I will continue to say this, is that Boko Haram is a committee of vampires. They display their insanity by hiding behind religion, but they easily lose the case when even Muslims become their prey. What point are they making by killing worshippers at a Jummat service? What God do they believe in that takes pleasure even in the death of Muslims like them? The only sensible conclusion is that these hooligans are not Muslims. They are terrorists.

What exactly do these guys want? I have been monitoring and analysing Boko Haram’s pronouncements since the emergence of Abubakar Shekau as their leader in 2009. He has never suggested ceasefire or complained about poverty or lack of infrastructure. He has been incredibly consistence with his mission statement: to establish an Islamic caliphate and get rid of the infidels. Infidels, in this case, are not just Christians ─ who, in any case, are their natural targets ─ but Muslims who do not share their bestial brain. From the very beginning, he said he had a divine mandate to kill human beings “like chickens”. He said the Nigerian system is anti-Islam and he had a divine call to cleanse the land. He has said this again and again and again.

If we are wise enough, it should be clear to all by now that we are not dealing with a religious problem, even if it has a religious content. We are not dealing with a political problem, even though they have a political message. We are not dealing with a regional problem, even if the North-East happens to be their base. We are dealing with a security problem. A national security problem. A problem that spares no one. We saw this problem start in the backyard of Maiduguri. It became a Borno problem. It became a regional problem. They started with swords and daggers. Now they are using bombs. They started with hit-and-run. Now they are in command of towns and villages.

If we are to learn from the pattern of insurgency around the world, what we are seeing is just an introduction. Nobody knows the next frontier. Nobody knows their next strategy. And nobody is safe. Nowhere is safe. That is why it hurts me to my bones when we play politics with this insurgency. It hurts me to my soul that we cannot see beyond our nose. It hurts me deep when we introduce 2015 and regionalism and bigotry into this unambiguous national security tragedy. What we have in our hands is, evidently, a copycat of Al-Qaeda, Taliban, ISIS, name them ─ funded, equipped and motivated by forces who have a global terror agenda, headlined by Osama bin Laden in the last decade.

Fellow Nigerians, I am convinced beyond reasonable ─ and unreasonable ─ doubt that this Boko Haram lunacy can only be tackled when we take away the religious and political veil from our face. We need the buy-in of every Nigerian to confront this insanity. We need the political class across the divides. We need Nigerians of all religious persuasions. We need a national consensus to cast out these devils. They are not Muslims. They are terrorists.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…

ECONOMIC CRUNCH

So crude oil prices have fallen, demand for forex is on the rise and the CBN has finally devalued the naira (or, to quote economists, allowed the naira to depreciate)? We saw all these coming one day, didn’t we? We were warned, weren’t we? Yet we kept on spending like there would be no tomorrow. We were piling up travelling allowances, buying jets, building state-of-the-art (they call it “befitting”) governors’ lodges, padding up allowances, embarking on white elephant projects, looting the treasury and holding sex parties in Dubai. Who cares? Who cares about the future? Who cares? Heartlessness.

GOD BLESS FASHOLA

He sure has his critics, but you are not going to get many public administrators who understand the basics of rebuilding the society like Babatunde Fashola. The governor of Lagos has just handed over the rebuilt Area C headquarters of Nigeria police, which was set ablaze by “unknown soldiers” in 2006. It is what a modern police station should be, complete with CCTV, forensic room, finger print room, interrogation room with cameras, cameras office, communication equipment, gym, befitting male and female cells. I dare say it is the most modern police building in Nigeria today. God bless Fashola. Amen.

DAYLIGHT ROBBERY

Was it some joke? The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has fined Coca-Cola and Nigerian Bottling Company N100million because of a defective product. That is, two half-filled cans of Sprite. Now, I don’t have anything against imposing fines and sanctions on all these big companies who have gone virtually unpunished over the years. For all I care, CPC can fine them N1billion. However, what amazes me is the justification of the hefty fine by CPC. According to them, they spent N60million to investigate the case. N60million! I mean N60million! What exactly were they investigating? How many countries did they visit? Scandalous.

DIEZANI’S DIADEM

Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, minister of petroleum resources, last week made history as the first female president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). It may escape many of us but this is truly historic: a woman heading an organisation where the all-powerful Arabs call the shots. A women at the top of such an organisation is novel indeed. Having been the first Nigerian female executive director at Shell and first female petroleum minister of Nigeria, Alison-Madueke has hit an interesting milestone. She must use this position to raise Nigeria’s profile and clout in the cartel. Very important. Congratulations!

THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF LAGOS BY DELE MOMODU

THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF LAGOS
BY DELE MOMODU, Email: dele.momodu@thisdaylive.com

Fellow Nigerians, there is no doubt that Lagos is the most important State in our dearly beloved country. Once upon a time, it was our Federal capital before Abuja was carved out in what was supposed to be the centre of Nigeria. The idea for Abuja was not entirely new or original. I was told during a visit to Australia about six years ago, that the master-plan emanated from Canberra, the seat of government in that country. I used to think Sydney was the Capital, or even Melbourne. But I was kindly educated by the then Nigerian High Commissioner to Australia, Professor Olu Agbi, a Diplomatic Historian, who made sure I visited Canberra. I truly saw some similarities between Abuja and Canberra except that Abuja remains a chaotic ersatz, a shambolic attempt at emulating a masterpiece.

Despite the migration of the Federal capital from Lagos to Abuja, Lagos has continued being the nerve-centre of Nigeria, our own veritable New York.  Every Nigerian is a stakeholder in Lagos because practically everyone has one link or the other to what is probably the most exciting city on the African continent. This is why Lagos has become a microcosm of Nigeria by representing every culture, tradition, religion, socio-political belief of the nation. Lagos reflects the American dream that anyone can aspire, whether stranger or not, due to its assimilative spirit.
For this reason, Lagos has become the toast and target of most politicians. Whosoever controls Lagos has Nigeria by the neck. This is probably the only State that can snub the notorious Federal Allocation and still survive. This was tested in those days of acrimony between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Bola Tinubu when the statutory allocation to Lagos was stopped by Presidential fiat. The Governor of Lagos is as good as a mini-President. Amongst Governors he is clearly primus inter pares.  Who wouldn’t want to be in that position? This is why the battle for the soul of Lagos is going to be a Third World War, without any shade of doubt.

Let’s now come down to brass tacks and open up the anatomy of Lagos politics. Since 1999, only a particular Party metamorphosing into different parties has held sway in Lagos. Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu rode on the crest of the pro-June 12 struggles and advocacy to become the Governor. He governed the State for two terms spanning eight years and was able to pass the baton effortlessly to his former Chief of Staff, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN). By next year, Governor Fashola would also have served two terms of four years each and it would be time to hand over power. In theory, the ruling party in Lagos is supposed and expected to retain its stranglehold without any major challenge from the opposition PDP. But let me say categorically that it is not going to be that simple. Permit me to deliver my permutations.
The APC looks good on paper but it has gargantuan challenges ahead. The party is currently a house divided against itself and may collapse if care is not taken. The main actors are the former Governor Tinubu and his political godson and current Governor Fashola. Tinubu believes that he’s the biggest investor and shareholder in the Lagos conglomerate and as such should have the final say in who takes over from Fashola. For now, he has already picked his choice in a former Accountant-General of Lagos, Mr Akin Ambode, but this decision has produced unprecedented sour grapes and overt dissension within the rank and file of the party.
On the other hand, Fashola feels that as the occupier of the exalted seat, he should be entitled to the privilege Tinubu enjoyed at the expiration of his tenure by also picking his own successor. Unfortunately, his former boss does not agree. As a matter of fact, Tinubu had grudgingly agreed to a second term for Fashola when it became obvious that his protégé’s rising profile was too massive to be toyed with. Never mind their public comportment, their relationship has been frosty, a cat and mouse affair, and it is doubtful that they would ever agree to a consensus candidate. Governor Fashola wants his former Attorney-General, Mr Supo Shasore to succeed him but Asiwaju Tinubu won’t permit any such heresy. If it was just a mere race between Ambode and Shasore, the latter would have been a surer bet because Fashola would have thrown anything and everything to the fire. But his boss has blatantly disregarded such opportunity.

The problem does not end there. It is further compounded by the motley crowd of other distinguished aspirants who want true Democracy in their party. The hard-core politicians amongst them are raising dust, railing, screaming and kicking against the imposition of someone they consider at the very best a bystander, if not an outsider, who wants to reap where he did not sow. The Tinubu/Ambode camp is responding by saying Fashola himself was a product and beneficiary of imposition. The brickbats continue.
As at the last count, about ten or more other aspirants have picked up nomination forms. This unwieldy number should be ominous to APC and Tinubu in particular.  Tinubu has, till now, failed to get them to drop their collective aspirations for Ambode. Many friends of Tinubu are worried stiff about the possible demystification of Tinubu as the ultimate powerhouse in Lagos if he continues to stubbornly support Ambode and maintain that his choice must prevail. It is sad that most people tell him what they know he wants to hear and say ugly things behind his back. They make reference to how Tinubu’s fabled war chest could not save Ondo and Ekiti States and his former kingdom is shrinking by the day because of his obstinate disposition.

There are never-before-seen frontal attacks against Tinubu. While it seems the Governor has chosen not to fight his mentor publicly, his proxies have picked up the gauntlet. Most of the former cabinet members have decided to back one of their own Mr Supo Shasore, born on January 22, 1964, with everything necessary. This has provided him with veritable political platforms across the State which he lacks as he is only a consummate lawyer and seasoned technocrat. It would be difficult if not impossible to win an election in any part of Nigeria without grassroots support and mobilisation. It is believed that Tinubu has become a third party spender and may not have the singular financial muscle of Fashola & Friends when the time comes to fight this battle.
The biggest threat to Ambode comes from one of Tinubu’s core-loyalists, Rt. Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, the only Speaker who has served three terms in a House of Assembly in Nigeria. He’s believed to be Tinubu’s secret weapon if politicians reject Ambode outright as things stand at the moment. Ikuforiji has a wealth of experience as he’s served under both Tinubu and Fashola and must have been privy to most of the government activities in Lagos.
There is a major hitch in Tinubu’s Ambode project which was anchored on the blind loyalty of the 57 Local Government Chairmen whose tenure, unfortunately, expired in October, and they have not been reappointed as Executive Secretaries, which was the practice in the past. Inevitably, the war of the Titans in Lagos may not only emasculate the ambitions of any APC candidate it may also badly jeopardise the chances of any APC Presidential candidate next February. The open secret fear in APC circles is that Tinubu by trade with President Jonathan if he fails to get his iron grip on APC as was the case in ACN where his word was Law. He’s being resisted and frustrated over Ambode and also failing to field his choice as Vice Presidential candidate.
The APC National Legal Adviser, Dr Muiz Banire has boldly come out to warn about the danger this issue of imposition poses to the good health of the party. Banire was only echoing the loud whispers from behind the scene. The intractable squabble in Lagos is fast becoming an embarrassment to members and sympathisers of the party who find the conflict resolution apparatus of the party most appalling. Everyone is asking why at this late hour a party promoting change does not have a list of elected delegates that can be given to aspirants for verification and authentication. The party elders are expected to intervene speedily or watch the party haemorrhage to death on the altar of vaunting ambitions.

The APC Lagos should watch out for the PDP candidate which should be a straight fight between Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Mr Jimi Agbaje. I foresee Obanikoro picking the ticket for many reasons. Mr Jimi Agbaje was the 2007 gubernatorial candidate of the Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA), who defected to PDP. It is unnatural for politicians who have bonded together for so long to “dash” their ticket to a newcomer, as they see Agbaje. Besides, many believe Agbaje is too gentle to face the APC onslaught in Lagos.
Obanikoro has no rival in today’s PDP. He’s the most prepared politician who has gone the full gamut over the years. Born in 1957, Obanikoro joined politics as soon as he returned from his studies in the United States where he bagged a B.Sc in Public Affairs and Master’s in Public Administration. He cut his teeth as Chairman Caretaker Committee of Surulere Local Government. He won election as State Deputy Chairman of the National Republican Convention. The Miracle Governor, Sir Michael Otedola appointed him Director, Lagos State Bulk Purchasing Corporation as well as member Lagos State Football Association. He has been a delegate at all levels from Local Government Congress to State Congress and ultimately, National Convention. He was elected State Secretary of the influential Justice Forum and Chairman of the powerful Lagos Island Local Government.
Obanikoro became Commissioner for Home Affairs and Culture in 1999 and was extremely close to Tinubu. He won his Senatorial election in 2003 and fought an epic electoral battle against Tinubu’s candidate, Fashola in 2007. It is not for fun that he earned the sobriquet of KORO IBO (the vote poacher). He has since been a very successful High Commissioner to The Republic of Ghana and was until recently the Minister of State for Defence.
I’m surprised that APC is about to underrate such a man by fighting a needless war of attrition when PDP is virtually ready with a candidate who knows their tactics too well. If Tinubu succeeds in picking his avowed candidate, Ambode, as APC flagbearer, anything can happen in Lagos.

Many politicians have sworn to teach Tinubu a lesson. The historians point not only to the Sir Otedola debacle of the Second Republic but the more recent events which led to the ouster of Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala in Oyo State.  As I told Ambode when he invited me to a meeting, his biggest strength is also his greatest weakness. He is a fantastic gentleman with intimidating credentials but I wonder how he’s going to pacify those who see him as a mere stooge of Bola Tinubu. That is the crux of the matter.
For APC, it is morning yet on creation day.

FOR RISQUA MURTALA MUHAMMED
These are interesting times in Nigeria and I’m very excited. Gone are the days when we mostly left politics in the hands of political jobbers but it gladdens my heart that accomplished Nigerians have now seen the need for public service.
This is the reason I seriously welcome the entry of my dear friend, Mr Risqua Murtala-Muhammed, into the gubernatorial race in Kano State. A graduate of Finance & Banking, University of Lagos, with Post Graduate Diploma in Business Admin from Cardiff Business School and Diploma in Computer Application from Oxford House College, London, Risqua was born in 1969. He was under seven years old, when his father, Nigeria’s Head of State, General Murtala Muhammed , was assassinated in Lagos.
He has served in both the public and private sectors in Nigeria. He was appointed Special Assistant on International Relations and also Privatisation to President Olusegun Obasanjo. He’s currently the Group Chief Executive Officer of AMG Petroenergy Limited.
I had wanted Risqua as my Vice Presidential candidate in 2011 but the arrangement fell through. It is my fervent wish that other hardworking Nigerians would show more interest in how our country is governed so that we can have competent, diligent people to support regardless of political affiliations. We desperately need good leaders at all levels.
Best wishes, Risqua.

A TOAST TO NANA KUFUOR AT 50
One of my best friends and a very passionate reader of this column is Nana Ama, the cerebral daughter of former Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufior, who turns 50 today. I know this short tribute will come to you as a surprise but it is only a token of my appreciation for your humility and kindness. I’m greatly inspired by your simplicity, knowledge and brilliance.
The great Nana, I wish you and your family a most joyous occasion today, even if we all accept your wish not to have a lavish celebration. A toast is still in order…

Source: ThisDay

Civil Rule On the Verge of Collapse in Nigeria- Falana

Imminent Collapse of Civil Rule in Nigeria, By Femi Falana

THE dreaded Boko Haram sect has continued to unleash mayhem on defenceless civilians including school children in the north east region. In the last couple of months, the satanic society has annexed part of the territory of the Republic of Nigeria.
In the circumstance, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has requested both chambers of the National Assembly to ratify his decision to extend emergency rule in the war torn Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states in accordance with section 305 of the Constitution. While the Senate has commenced deliberations on the request the House of Representatives has been violently restrained by the Police from considering such matter of urgent national significance.
Without any justification whatsoever, the Speaker of the House, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, and his colleagues were teargased by the Police and prevented from gaining access to the chambers of the National Assembly last Thursday. In a bid to enter the chambers some of the legislators risked their lives by jumping the fence. In the process, they exposed themselves and the nation to undeserved ridicule.

Tambuwal adjourns sitting till Dec 3, says House under siege
Consequent on the break down of law and order instigated by the Police the National Assemby complex was closed down by the Senate President, General David Mark (rtd). Thus, the House was prevented from carrying out its legislative duties contrary to the order of the Federal High Court that the status quo ante bellum be maintained pending the determination of the suit filed by Honourable Tambuwal over the removal of his security aides.
Although the majority of the members foiled the coup to remove the Speaker the triumph of democracy in the National Assembly may be short lived. Since the ruling party cannot secure the endorsement of the required two thirds majority to remove Speaker Tambuwal the House will be factionalized while the minority will be given official recognition and security protection under a new leadership.
In justifying the barbaric invasion of the National Assembly complex by security forces the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, claimed that the police received intelligence report that hoodlums were going to break the law and order in the premises of the National Assembly. To the detriment of democracy the security forces decided to break the law when the hoodlums failed to turn up as arranged!
In a reckless display of partisanship the Police ensured that the Deputy Speaker of the House, Honourable Ihediora and a few other legislators were not subjected to any form of harassment.
Meanwhile, the Presidency and the Police have turned round to blame the Speaker and his colleagues for assaulting security operatives who were discharging their “lawful duties” at the National Assembly complex. According to the Police, Tambuwal and a motley crowd of his supporters “broke the cordon, assaulted the Police and evaded due process…”
Evasion of due process
The Police then warned “all political actors to respect constituted authority and due process and desist from the use of thugs to pursue their agenda.”
As security forces were used last week to disrupt the proceedings of the National Assembly President Jonathan was prevented by a former militant , Mr. Government Tompolo from attending the flag-off ceremony of the $16 billion EPZ project in Warri, Delta State.
Like the terrorists who have prevented the President from visiting Chibok, the militants declared him a persona non grata and forced him to stay away from Warri. As if that was not enough, the journalists who had assembled at the venue to report the event were abducted by a horde of armed goons. Even though the reporters regained their freedom after six hours of horrific physical and mental torture those who committed the grave criminal offences of kidnapping and threatening to overawe the President of the Republic have not been arrested by the Nigeria Police Force!
Thus, through sheer negligence and official impunity on the part of the Federal Government the country has become a failed State where security forces are competing with criminal gangs in the wanton infringements of the civil liberties of law abiding citizens. Like the terrorists who attack communities while ill-equipped soldiers vamoose, armed thugs are allowed to threaten the life of the President of the Republic while the Police without any reaction from the Police.
But unlike terrorists who abduct school girls in the night, militants kidnap journalists, lawyers and others during the day.
Unlike coup plotters who overthrow legitimate governments at night security forces collude with anti-democratic forces in broad daylight to remove elected leaders of legislative houses. Having been enriched by the State and allowed to acquire weapons without any license some ex-militants have set up armed gangs for the 2015 general election.It is common knowledge that many politicians have also established illegal violent groups of unemployed youths and cultists. Of recent, there were bloody clashes between armed thugs in several parts of the country.
In fact, policemen attached to some politicians have taken part in such clashes which marred some of the congresses of the APC and the PDP. The Sheik Ahmed Lemu Panel set up by President Jonathan to inquire into the post election violence which occurred in Akwa Ibom State and some northern states in April 2011 had recommended that over 850 armed thugs and hoodlums be prosecuted for culpable homicide, arson and allied offences.
Although the recommendation was accepted by the Federal Government the persons indicted in the report have not been prosecuted. In one of his media chats last year, President Jonathan rightly condemned the military invasion of Odi community in Bayelsa state in November 1999 by the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration.
Shortly thereafter, Chief Obasanjo accused President Jonathan of training snipers to attack his political opponents. Although the serious allegation was denied by the Presidency security forces are now joined by hounded militants and other nihilist groups to harrass voters during elections. It is an irony that the President of the Republic is being harassed and intimidated with weapons acquired under the pretext of executing multi-billion oil pipeline monitoring contracts by ex-militants!In the first and second republics security forces and thugs were used in the manipulation of elections and the violations of the rights of the Nigerian people. Such naked abuse of power by the Federal Government paved away for military interventions and the civil war.
In the third republic, the military dictators annulled a credible presidential election. The crisis that ensued terminated the expensive political transition programme and facilitated the return of a full-fledged military dictatorship with dire consequences.
However, it is hoped that the ongoing politicization of the security forces, the unprecedented wave of official corruption and the subversion of democratic institutions by the Federal Government will not lead to the eventual collapse of the fragile fourth Republic.
In spite of the threat of terrorist and other nihilist groups to balkanize the country I strongly believe that the rickety democratic process can still be salvaged by all the genuine democratic forces who led the Nigerian people to fight against unending military rule and who equally defeated the cabal that attempted to take advantage of President Umaru Yaradua’s ill-health to seize power from the then Acting President, Dr. Jonathan.
As time is not on our side, the forces of democracy ought to return to the trenches now to halt the imposion of fascism on the nation by the Jonathan Administration.
Source: The Vanguard

THAT NOTORIOUS GATE IN ABUJA BY DELE MOMODU,

THAT NOTORIOUS GATE IN ABUJA

BY DELE MOMODU,

Fellow Nigerians, today is one of those days that I don’t even know where to start from. I’m sure you won’t blame me for finding myself in this lethargic and somnambulist state. I feel like I’m in a trance with events spiralling out of control at the speed of light. But this incredible stories need to be told somehow.  Man proposes but God disposes. I had planned to write on a different topic entirely and had even completed the mental draft before things started falling apart.

It seems I was in a spiritual mood from the beginning of this week and I just allowed myself to move as the spirit directed. My original plan was to leave London to Dubai on Tuesday and spend one night before connecting to Accra on Thursday morning but I changed plans at the last minute and decided to do an immediate connection from Dubai. It was to prove a fortuitous decision.  I spent about four hours enjoying the bliss of Dubai on Wednesday morning as I marvelled at what transformation a visionary Leadership can achieve almost effortlessly. I had helped to market Dubai to Africans about 12 years ago at the invitation of British Trade Partners to Ovation International and I never cease to marvel at how much Dubai has changed since then. But that is another story for another day.
As I boarded the magnificent Emirates flight, little did I realise the shocker that awaited me. Just before the doors of the plane were shut, two Nigerians sauntered in from the blue and one of them turned out to be Nigeria’s only former military Head of State and Civilian President, the irrepressible General Olusegun Obasanjo, and his ubiquitous Personal Assistant, Alhaji Akande. As he sat down, I approached him calmly and despite our differences, prostrated to greet him as any well brought up man would do, shook hands and returned to my seat after a brief chat with his warm PA.

Of course, as a reporter, my journalistic antenna had instantly jolted into action. Since we were the only two people on the second row, it was a bit easy to accomplish my mission of observing a former President on an eight-hour commercial flight. I engaged in internal monologue and stream of consciousness: would he eat and drink like a normal civilian would do? Would he drink, sleep, and use the same washroom after flying Presidential jets for so long…?

It was an uncommon private glimpse of one of Africa’s most influential men. A few people who recognised him went to greet him, including the Emirates crew who had asked me if they could snap some pictures with him. Say what you will, former President Obasanjo is actually a very charismatic, intelligent and canny leader despite his rustic disposition. This accounts for the tremendous influence he wields on the Continent and indeed outside it. In addition, ladies in particular find him attractive and see in him traits of a strong man who brooks no nonsense. And one thing is certain, women are astute in unearthing, understanding and appreciating power and its source. I was very impressed with his cosmopolitan carriage and he was truly Presidential. He exuded an aura of intense confidence and you could not but feel his vibrations throughout the flight.
I was stunned at his capacity for hard-work as he was kept busy by calls after calls most of the flight.  Emirates is in the vanguard of airlines in this regard, allowing you to make calls on your mobile phone during the flight.  The former President was only able to take a short nap and ate some light meal. What I made of his many calls was that Obasanjo was controlling Nigeria from the skies of Middle East all the way to Africa. His attention was badly needed and I should have known that something serious was about to happen. For the only man in Nigeria’s history to have ruled as military Head of State for three years and eight years as civilian President, Obasanjo is too entrenched in every facet of Nigerian life to be ignored.  His views are much sought after by both friends and foes alike.  When he voices an opinion or in keeping with character delivers his usual epistle on aspects of the state of the nation, the country reverberates as if shaken by an earthquake.

Anyway, we landed safely and went our different ways. Within 24 hours, events began to unfold at almost the speed of light snowballing at an alarming rate into a final denouement that any producer of a tragic thriller would have been proud of.
First was the sad news from Ekiti State where seven members of The Ekiti State House of Assembly claimed to have impeached their Speaker in a House of 26 members. Like a macabre dance of masquerades we were informed that three other people whose identities remain a complete mystery sat with these legislators during their deliberations.  This was probably to make up the numbers to form a quorum of nine members before any legal decision could be taken by the House. Just like that! Our LAWMAKERS will simply not learn the law. Or maybe they believe they are above the LAW. How many times does the Supreme Court have to pronounce that a farcical process like that can never be sustained because it is simply unconstitutional, null and void.
As if that was not bad enough, I watched our Brother the Governor of Ekiti State Ayo Fayose as he boasted on National Television that he supports the impeachment without apologies. He emphasised that “without apologies!” without any compunction! I shook my head sadly as I remembered how a few of us, strictly on matters of principle, had stood stoutly against the kangaroo decision that kicked him out of office. I remember how bitter he was at the time that Obasanjo had masterminded and orchestrated his impeachment. But strange are the ways of PDP because the same party that sacked him ignominiously has brought him back triumphantly. That is not my cup of tea but I thought we had passed this level of executive recklessness and impunity and that if one person had learnt a lesson it would be the new Governor of Ekiti State who was once a victim. Is this what inordinate ambition does to people? How can anyone with a sense of History ever imagine they can get away with this kind of hocus-pocus!

My frustration was further compounded by the lack of better explanation of the implication and repercussions of such audacious acts at this time and age. How could it be possible for a Governor to combine both executive and legislative powers simultaneously? Where are we headed with this type of unbridled rascality? How can seven people sack a man and his deputy supported by at least 17 other members against all known tenets of Democracy? When have ghosts resurrected to suddenly join in an impeachment process and as miraculously as they appeared evaporated and vanished into thin air? Indeed everything is possible in God’s own country, Nigeria.

As that Ekiti debacle was sinking in, something bigger and more combustive was brewing. According to reports, the President and Commander-in-Chief, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had written to the National Assembly asking for an extension of the existing State of Emergency in three States. It is curious that the said letter was extended to the Speaker of The House of Representatives, Waziri Aminu Tambuwal, who had virtually been declared persona non grata since decamping from the ruling party PDP to the opposition APC. There is speculation and suspicion by conspiracy theorists that the President had been sold a decoy that it was possible to foxily impeach the Speaker by tricking him out of his recess by sending that Emergency letter which is obviously in respect of a matter of utmost national importance given the Boko Haram rampage and outrage in those States. The idea was to reopen the House and block the Speaker at the notorious gate where we were stopped and the Police threatened to shoot us when we demonstrated in defence of then Vice President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan against the cabal in 2010. As I watched the latest melodrama, memories of that gory experience flooded back to me. The Speaker who had previously been stripped of his official security without justification was kept at that gate for no justifiable reason. That was an outlandish joke carried too far.

The Speaker and his supporters were not fooled or caught napping. They were obviously many steps ahead of the game. If they had not forced their way in last Thursday, it is most likely that a few PDP loyalists would have sat like they did in Ekiti, attempted to do in Port Harcourt, and sack Speaker Tambuwal and dare him to go to court and spend eternity waiting for judgment and justice. It is a travesty and a sorry tale of how low we have descended that some people have had the temerity to condemn the Speaker’s conduct in not giving in to unabashed and shameless destruction of our constitution, our values and our democracy.
In any event they don’t seem to understand the well-tested aphorism that a bully only respects a bully and the child of fire is always sent to fire. It happened in Rivers where Governor Rotimi Amaechi would have been impeached if he had chosen to be a perfect gentleman. In a country where the Federal Government wields the power of life and death, and the Judiciary has been desecrated mercilessly, many have learnt to resort to self-help. It is such a terrible and horrifying development but that is the reality of our situation if our nascent democracy is to be protected and nurtured.

The Nigerian Police acted apparently in bad faith and obviously in malice in the partisan manner their officers blocked the Speaker from gaining access to his own office. It was a classic case of abuse of power. I felt ashamed on their behalf at their defence that they got a security report that hoodlums were going to invade the National Assembly. Nigerians are not so foolish to believe such a cock and bull story. I’ve watched the footage on Channels Television repeatedly and except our elected representatives are now being considered and referred to as thugs and hoodlums by the Nigeria Police, the justification is fantasy existing only in the minds of the police and those who provided this piece of “authoritative intelligence”.  The way the Speaker and indeed all the legislators were treated was nothing short of totally scandalous. If his offence was decamping from PDP, how come the same party gloats whenever others abandon their parties to join them? It is the height of intimidation and oppression. All the Nigeria Police seem to have achieved is confirmation that the country needs a foil against their excesses and State Police appear necessary to checkmate such unbridled disregard for constituted authority.

However, I am sad by the fact that a few lawmakers went overboard by reacting in such violent manner that could have resulted in bodily injury to themselves and others. I commend the maturity of the Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal in the face of what could have plunged Nigeria into total mayhem and bedlam. An assault against the Speaker is the same as that against the Senate President.

As usual, my biggest concern and advice is for President Jonathan. Sir, too many people are selling you lies and dummies at a premium. A good General should never fight on too many fronts. You are already too exposed on the fronts and flanks without adding any more.

The Presidential election is only three months away and what is most obvious is that many of your supporters are acting like you can win whether the opposition likes it or not. It is not going to be that easy. This moment requires utmost caution. I will humbly suggest again that Mr President should abandon those urging him to violently violate the Nigerian Constitution and trample on fellow citizens and leave them to their idiocy. They are present in every government at next to nothing. They are heating up the polity unnecessarily.  They portend no good for you.  Let them not be responsible for your downfall. If you must exit the stage, let it be with dignity and honour.  Let history be kind to you. One thing is certain, none of those scurrilous advisers shooing you into these present follies will be charitable about you and your leadership when tomorrow. Not even the military regimes could cow Nigerians or sentence them to perpetual servitude. There is no point starting a war you can’t win as history has taught. Fate has been too kind to you.
Remain the master of your destiny, Mr President. God be with you, now and always.
Source: ThisDay