Tag Archives: Politics

Signing Kanu’s bail put us in trouble, says Senator Abaribe

Signing Kanu’s bail put us in trouble, says Senator Abaribe

Nnamdi Kanu

By Gordi Udeajah, New York, USA

Biafra Agitation Stopped Bulk Sale/Export Of Made-In-Aba Products

Leader of Southeast caucus in the National Assembly, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, has explained that those who signed the bail bond for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of proscribed IPOB, from detention are now in trouble.

Abaribe also stressed that as a result of agitations by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra for a separate state of Biafra, bulk selling and export of Made-In -Aba products have been hampered drastically.

Abaribe, who represents Abia South senatorial district, made the disclosures last night in New York, U.S.A, while speaking at the Made-In-Aba Products Fashion Show held as part of the 2017 Convention of Abia State National Association of North America (ASNA) at Hilton Hotel JFK, New York.

Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, was represented on the occasion by his deputy, Mr. Ude Oko Chukwu.

The Senator noted that bulk buyers and exporters of the products stopped coming to Aba due to security risks posed by Biafra agitation and the Operation Python Dance 11 undertaken by the Nigerian Army in the Southeast, which effects he said, hit Abia State the most.

He said: “I am a Nigerian Senator and not that of Biafra. We had advised Kanu, reminding him that his rights end where those of others begin. We are now in trouble, because we do not know where he is and how to contact him. Those that support Kanu’s agitation should think twice.”

Riding on his acclaim as ‘Made-In-Aba Senator’ Abaribe urged the people to be pragmatic and realistic, stressing that “we should trust that our leaders, both elected and not elected can get the best for us.

“We think we need Biafra, but this Biafra should be that of the mind that represents our ingenuity and our innate quality for hard work and enterprise, especially as oil proceeds keep dwindling.

“Igbo are largest and highest investors in the country, contributing to the development of wherever they reside and operate. In Lagos alone, we have built and developed about ten different markets from which over N3b are generated on daily basis.”

Advertisements

The Forgotten Conversations

The Forgotten Conversations

Simon Kolawole

A keen follower of the perennial debate on the state of the Nigerian union would have noticed some patterns by now: your diagnosis of the problem inevitably determines your prescription. If you think the problem with Nigeria is the 1914 amalgamation, your prescriptions will most likely be built around “de-amalgamation” or creating a loose union — what they call “open relationship” in the Western world. If you think the problem is federalism, you will vigorously push for “true federalism” and such like. If you think the problem is revenue allocation, you will fight for the Nigerian definition of “fiscal federalism” — by which is meant “higher derivation payment”.

If you are sold on the argument that the problem is the presidential system of government, your prescriptions will naturally focus on that. If you are convinced, like me, that the root cause of our underdevelopment is the absence of good governance, you will inevitably spend your time campaigning for quality leadership that will build strong institutions, design good systems and inspire patriotic followership. I have seen countries develop under various conditions and systems — unitary, federal, quasi-federal, presidential, parliamentary, democratic, dictatorial, homogeneous, heterogeneous, etc — but I am yet to see a country develop under poor leadership.

Your diagnosis logically determines your prescription. My bias is always evident in my writings. I always blame leadership. But I am not demanding that Nigeria should become like Japan by Christmas. I am a little realistic. All I seek is a leadership that is determined to deliver the basic things of life: potable water for the poor, hospitable hospitals for the lowly, good education for underprivileged, regular power supply and motorable roads. Pardon my naivety, but I do not think we need Sharia to end meningitis and cholera in Gusau, or balkanisation to build roads in Aba, or 1963 constitution to run good primary schools in Ibadan. But that’s me.

In any case, while we await the manifestation of the Nigeria of our dream — either the “balkanised” Nigeria, or the “1963 Nigeria”, or the “good governance” Nigeria — there are other critical issues we can devote a fraction of our energies to along the line. We just can’t fold our arms and do nothing simply because the Nigeria of our dream is yet to materialise. In the meantime, we can revive some critical conversations that focus on our common challenges, irrespective of “tribe and tongue”. I have chosen three of such today: one, the Armageddon in the education sector; two, the doom among the youth population; and three, the calamity awaiting the federation revenue.

Some statistics need to sink in properly. There are about 13 million Nigerian children who will never attend primary school — that is the highest number of any country in the world today. That is more than the entire population of the Republic of Benin. Among the lucky ones who attend primary schools, millions do not attend class regularly and the poorest don’t make it to secondary school. They terminate at Primary 4, 5 or 6. Where are they now? And about 70% of those who manage to write WAEC fail. Where do those who fail go? About 1.6 million candidates write UME every year, and only 450,000 places are available in the universities. Where do the rest go?

These statistics need as much attention as the clamour for state police and regionalism. In the year 2017, nearly 180 years after missionaries introduced Western education to Nigeria, there are still over 13 million children who will never see the four walls of a school. They will never learn to read and write. Over 13 million of them! If this does not tug at your conscience, nothing else will. What is the future of these illiterate generations? What will they become tomorrow? Are they among those we call leaders of tomorrow? Sadly, most of our leaders are busy accumulating obscene wealth while a horrible future unfolds before their very eyes.

And, I want to ask, even for those who attend school, what is the quality of instruction? How many teachers know what they are teaching? What is the quality of classroom infrastructure? Are there desks? Are there books? Do the poor pupils eat the basic proteins — meat, fish and milk — which are necessary for brain development? We are teaching Chemistry without chemicals. We have libraries without books. As Beautiful Nubia sang, “Why do we lie to the children about their future when we are not building good schools?” And we have many leaders — Muslim, Christian, north and south, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa — who are looting the treasury while our education system rots.
Our today is like this because of what we failed to do yesterday. But what are we doing today to prevent a more tragic tomorrow? We are already reaping the fruits of the wickedness in high places. The doomsday is no longer a prediction. Some 91 million Nigerians are under the age of 30. That is more than the combined populations of Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of Niger and Burkina Faso. How many of our U-30s have the basic skills to make anything meaningful out of their lives? And among those who manage to pull through all the way to the university, where are the jobs? It is one thing to be unemployable; it is another for there to be vacancies.

Do we ever make a link between these horrifying statistics and the growth of Boko Haram, IPOB, Badoo, Niger Delta militants, kidnappers, internet fraudsters, political thugs and armed robbers in the country? The jobless youth are getting employed somewhere! Do these statistics mean anything to us at all as we continue to focus our energies on “tribe and tongue”? Are these statistics significant enough to engage the energies of the political elite who are busy bickering over the distribution of plum jobs in government? How many of their children attend public schools? How many of their children are enrolled in Nigerian public schools with no desks and no teachers?

I have just highlighted the Armageddon in the education sector and the doom among the youth population, but we seem to have forgotten our conversation on the imminent calamity in the oil-based federation revenue. We had a foretaste in 2015 and 2016 when crude oil prices hit the floor and we could not pay salaries and the exchange rate went haywire and the stock market caught fire and the country fell on its knees. The message was very clear: without oil revenue, we cannot breathe. Only Lagos state could pay its workers without bleeding; the rest 35 states fainted. The federal government went into more debts. We were badly exposed as petro-parasites.

But that is just introduction to trouble. The real trouble is that the future of oil — which we have been talking about without really talking about it — is doomed. Many more countries are discovering hydrocarbon and reducing their dependence on imports while many are developing alternatives that are cheaper and more environment-friendly. To add insult to injury, some of the biggest energy consumers have set deadlines to phase out vehicles that use our oil. But you know what we are busy doing in Nigeria? We are looking for oil in Borno and Sokoto states. Who is going to buy it? We are still sleeping. We are not ready to wake up yet. It’s called the sleep of death.
If we are wise in this country, we should be worried that our future is under serious attack and begin to act immediately and collectively. Most of our public schools, from primary to tertiary, are a disgrace. We have an exploding youth population that is mostly unskilled, underemployed, unemployable and unemployed. We should be concentrating our energies on building the human resources that will take us a better future. We are still building our hopes on natural resources. We do not appear to care about tomorrow. Most of our conversations are contrived to heat up Nigeria. Those who should give us direction are leading us astray.

Most of the people who direct public discourse are hardly interested in these issues. They are more excited about ethnic and religious issues — that is where they get their adrenaline from. When you raise issues about potable water, maternal mortality, infant mortality, sanitation, roads, malnutrition, unemployment and police brutality, they say you are living in denial or trying to be politically correct. Their real interest is the elite struggle for political power and personal share of the national cake. Who cares about the tens of millions of unschooled children and unemployable youth all over the federation? Yet, these are the conversations we should be having.
======

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS

UNILAG MESS
My alma mater, the University of Lagos, represents everything that is wrong with Nigeria. After postponing its post-UME test, it still emerged that the school was not ready. Hundreds of teenagers were subjected to traumatic conditions on Wednesday at the test centres. After arriving at the school as early as 7am, many of the candidates did not write the test until 7pm. And to think some came from outside Lagos! Some of these youngsters, denied food and water, fainted. Many computers set up for the test did not work. Some candidates were beaten by soldiers for being “unruly”. And now we would be told the candidates failed. Is this a human society? Rubbish.

GOD BLESS ZAHRA
My star of the week is Zahra Buhari, daughter of the president. A few hours after she posted a message on social media criticising the sickening state of the state house clinic, there was a response from the appropriate quarters! Newspapers have been doing the story for a while, but the state house permanent secretary, Mr. Jalal Arabi, could not be bothered. Now he’s bothered! Can Zahra please drive on a few federal roads across the country and help us post the pictures? Can Zahra please help us comment on the state of other hospitals in Nigeria? A visit to ABUTH, LUTH and UNTH (yes, federal character) will help. Keep posting, Zahra, we love you. Impact.

KACHIFO, KACHIKWU?
Is Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, on his way out? His weighty letter to President Muhammadu Buhari on the conduct of Mr. Maikanti Baru, NNPC GMD, paints the picture of someone who is frustrated and ready to call it a day. Truth be told: Buhari’s government is in disarray — there are too many cases of insubordination, power play and unpunished impropriety. As the chaotic APC government continues to mess up, I’m further amused that the pathetic PDP is equating the award of contracts by NNPC with the diversion of security funds to 2015 electioneering. But, then, what is the difference between APC and PDP? #OneChance.

EDO ANARCHY
What is happening in Edo state? It is one tale of woe after the other as criminal gangs unleash horror on the state. A professor was killed last week. Kidnapping is becoming rampant. It is believed that all hell has been let loose since Mr. Godwin Obaseki, the governor, began to dislodge touts and extortionist gangs from the streets. Meanwhile, the police commissioner, Mr. Haliru Gwandu, has a lot of question marks on him. He has been transferred out of the state since July but Mr. Ibrahim Idris, the inspector general of police, has chosen to retain him there for reasons we can only speculate, in the light of the weighty allegations against Idris himself. Bemusing.
Source: ThisDay

INEC fixes date Ekiti, Osun governorship elections

INEC announces dates for Ekiti, Osun governorship polls

By Vincent Ikuomola 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has announced April and September 2018 dates for governorship polls in Ekiti and Osun states.
The tenure of Ekiti incumbent governor, Ayodele Fayose and his Osun state counterpart, Rauf Aregbesola would end on Oct 15, 2018  and November 28, 2018, respectively.
According to the timetable released on Thursday in Abuja by the electoral body, the Ekiti and Osun elections would hold on  July 14th and September 22, 2018, respectively.
Based on the timetable any run off election would  be held within seven days after the announcement of result in line with relevant laws.
The timetable for the polls was signed by the Commission’s secretary, Mrs Augusta Ogakwu.
According to the timetable, INEC is expected to issue notice for the Ekiti  election on April 4, 2018, which is not later than 90 days before the election. Political campaigns would commence  on  April 15 while collection of forms by political parties for issuance to candidates would come a day after.
Political primaries and resolution of disputes arising from such was slated for 15April-14 May, 2018.
Notice of election was fixed for 23rd June 2018 while campaign for the Osun state government house would start on June 25, 2018.
Collection of forms for the Osun election has been fixed for June 25th, while primaries and resolution of arising disputes must be conducted between June 24- July 23rd, 2018.
Speaking on the dates,  INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, Prince Solomon Soyebi  said INEC was guided by the  provisions of section 178(1)and (2) of the 1999 constitution as amended, and section 25(7) and (8) of the electoral Act,2010 in arriving at the dates.n
He also restated the Commission’s earlier warning to intending aspirants and their parties that the release of dates for elections did not amount to notice for campaigns for votes. He further warned that parties which infringed  on provisions of the Electoral Act as amended  would be sanctioned.
“Anybody who deviates  from the Electoral guidelines by engaging in public campaign ahead  of the date for commencement of campaign is committing electoral offence and will be prosecuted.
“All political parties and their candidates are hereby enjoined  to cooperate with us,” Soyebi said.

Pragmatic steps towards restructuring Nigeria by Pastor Tunde Bakare

 PRAGMATIC STEPS TOWARDS RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA BY
 PASTOR ‘TUNDE BAKARE 

Tunde Bakare

Introduction

Fellow citizens of Nigeria, Happy Independence Day to you all. 
At crucial moments such as this, I have, by the grace of God, stood on this platform to bring timely admonitions to our beloved nation. I stand here once again at this defining period in the evolution of our nationhood to bring the mind of God to a nation in the valley of decision. I stand here today as a patriotic citizen of Nigeria, as an ardent believer in her great future, and as an unrepentant optimist in the God-given potential of the Nigerian people to surmount the present challenges and build a great nation. 
Let me begin this address with gratitude to God for the recovery and return of our dear President Muhammadu Buhari. As I have done privately, I once again congratulate Mr. President on this pleasant climax to a trying period in his personal life and that of the nation. Together with all well-meaning Nigerians, I pray for a continuous supply of health, vitality and wisdom as he resumes his duties. Let me also use this opportunity to commend the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who, as Acting President, courageously held the fort and steered the ship of state with grace and skill on behalf of his principal. 
Furthermore, I congratulate the nation on the victory of constitutionalism over conspiracies. The correspondence between the president and the National Assembly in line with section 145 of the constitution each time the president left to attend to his health indicates some progress in our democratic experience, compared with almost eight years ago when a cabal hijacked power in circumstances bordering on the health of a sitting president. In this regard, credit must be given to President Muhammadu Buhari for his compliance with due process, and to the leadership of the National Assembly, including the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, for making the most of the constitution despite its flaws. This evident growth is a shimmer of hope at a very sensitive period in which the destiny of the nation is at stake.
The State of the Nation and the Quest for Leadership

Undoubtedly, Mr. President has returned to a nation hanging in a precarious balance. Indeed, our nation is enmeshed in a prolonged war against the retrogressive effects of a structure that was created by the fear of the past, has become institutionalized by the fear of the present, and is being perpetuated by the fear of the unknown. These fears have morphed into a horde of agitations which, in an address upon his return in August, Mr. President charged aggrieved persons to channel to the National Assembly and the Council of State. 
However, due to the reputation that members of the hallowed chambers have created in the minds of Nigerians, many have expressed doubts as to the ability and willingness of the National Assembly to midwife the structural, institutional and constitutional solutions demanded by Nigerias historical and present circumstances. As a result, Nigerians from all walks of life are questioning Mr. Presidents recommendations as to proper channels for agitations, even though the National Assembly and by extension the State Houses of Assembly are the only available constitutional avenues for making peaceful change possible and violent change inconceivable. 
We can only keep hope alive by reminding ourselves that the National Assembly has, in the past, risen to the occasion and intervened at crucial moments such as this. From the decisive death blow dealt the third term agenda of the then president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, by the 5th National Assembly, to the doctrine of necessity invoked by the 6th National Assembly, the 8th National Assembly has sufficient precedents on how to act in the best interest of Nigeria. We believe that the distinguished and honourable lawmakers will rise to the occasion and work closely with the president to pilot Nigeria into stable and prosperous nationhood.
Having laid the foundation of the need for legislative responsibility, I must state that, as far as championing the far-reaching structural, institutional and constitutional changes necessary to salvage the soul of our nation is concerned, the words on the desk of the 33rd president of the United States, Harry Truman: THE BUCK STOPS HERE!, are relevant to President Buhari whose legacy is at stake. Mr. President, the buck stops at your desk and, as always, my earnest prayer is that you find the courage and political will to do what is right at this momentous period in the history of our nation. 

Against this backdrop, we shall now examine the latest buzzword in Nigerias political lexicon with a view to distinguishing the noise from the voice, separating the wheat from the chaff, and presenting practical steps towards building a strong and stable nation. 
The Clamour for Restructuring 

Some years ago, the word restructuring was the exclusive lingo of pro-democracy groups like the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), the Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO), and The Patriots. The leading individual voices in this call emerged mainly from the southern part of the country, including the likes of Chief Rotimi Williams, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and Chief Anthony Enahoro, all of blessed memory. Others included the likes of Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Prof. Wole Soyinka and Chief Emeka Anyaoku. However, in more recent times, leaders from the northern part of the country have increasingly lent their voices to this call. From former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who has aired this opinion since around 2012, to a former governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, and, most surprisingly, former Head of State, General Ibrahim Babanginda, the call for restructuring appears to be reaching a tipping point.
Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that the restructuring of the polity is implied in the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the government has, for a long time, been silent on the matter and has, very often, drawn the attention of Nigerians back to the tripodal policy agenda of President Buhari, namely, anti-corruption, security, and job creation through diversification. However, after much evasion, the APC, two months ago, eventually constituted a ten-member committee headed by Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the current Governor of Kaduna State, to address the increased agitations for restructuring. 
As we await the submission of that committee, I acknowledge that some opponents to the call for restructuring, including serving officials, have ascribed ulterior selfish motives to those calling for it. Whether or not this is the case, not only must we not allow the counterfeit overshadow the genuine, we must also not allow the voice of cynicism drown the voice of reason. Thus, the words of David, the shepherd boy, when he was confronted by his brothers as he was about to take on Goliath, should be the response of every genuine advocate of restructuring to the criticisms. David said, and I quote: Is there not a cause? (I Samuel 17:29; NKJV) 
Moreover, the hue and cry over President Buharis address to the nation on August 21, 2017 suggests Mr. President is perceived by some stakeholders as opposed to restructuring. But, from my interactions with the president in the past seven years as an advocate of a properly structured polity, I am convinced that this is not the case. Not only does the president want agitations managed through appropriate constitutional channels, he also wants a clarification of demands in concise terms, as well as propositions on practical pathways towards achieving those demands. That is the essence of this address and I believe that Mr. Presidents expectations are valid.
However, before I proceed to elucidate on the practicalities of restructuring, permit me at this juncture to cast our minds back to our consistent calls for the restructuring of the polity, long before the current bandwagon effect.
Our Calls for Restructuring 

In 2010, the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) presented a Contract to Save and Transform Nigeria to President Goodluck Jonathan which, among other demands, made a case for devolution of powers, called for a review of the revenue formula, and advocated the convocation of a national conference towards the creation of a draft constitution that would be adopted through a referendum. Following the inaction of the government, we subsequently convened a Dialogue of the Nobles attended by Donald Duke, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, and Fola Adeola, among others. As part of a series of dialogues, in a bid to seek the best of the North and the best of the South as an alternative to the then incumbent administration, we also engaged the major candidates ahead of the 2011 elections in search of commitment to the restructuring of the nation, among other desirables. 
General Muhammadu Buhari stood out among the available contenders and, on October 10, 2010, we expressed our conviction that he was best suited to lead. On January 15, 2011, I was invited by General Buhari to be his running mate and I initially declined because I had engaged the polity not with the intention to contest elections but to midwife genuine national rebirth. My eventual acceptance was contingent on the mutual understanding that the restructuring of Nigeria would be top on the agenda. This was reflected prominently in the manifesto of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in which we promised the initiation of action to amend our Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench Federalism and the Federal spirit. This provision subsequently made its way into the APC manifesto.
In 2014, we took our demands for restructuring to the National Conference, where a case was made for a unicameral parliamentary system of government to reduce the cost of governance, and for a federal structure comprised of a strong central government with six geopolitical zones as federating units. In addition, we sponsored a Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration as the basis of our union as a nation, as against Decree 24 of 1999 by which the current constitution was promulgated. 
Following heated debates, in the spirit of trustful give and take, the conference adopted a modified presidential system that would harness the separation of powers inherent in the presidential system, while guaranteeing the needed cooperation between both arms of government as intended in the parliamentary system of government. We recommended the selection of the Vice President from the legislature and advocated the institutionalization of the principle of zoning in the Electoral Act. Furthermore, the Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration was unanimously adopted. This address will use the propositions at the National Conference as a springboard but will necessarily include bolder and more far-reaching recommendations given the current state of the nation.
On January 4, 2015, in a message titled The Gathering Storm and Avoidable Shipwreck  How to Avoid Catastrophic Euroclydon, I sounded a note of warning at the height of the electioneering campaign. I charged the nation not to place the cart of elections before the horse of restructuring, proposing “true federalism under Zonal Commissions as well as fiscal federalism
Rather than pay heed to the warnings, many of our politicians kept on with their business as usual” attitude that brought the nation very close to the brink of disaster. Fortunately, by divine intervention through the efforts of distinguished Nigerians, the international community, and through a demonstration of statesmanship unprecedented in Nigerias history, we scaled through the 2015 elections by a hairs breadth. Mindful of our narrow escape and the festering socio-political and economic challenges, soon after the inauguration of this administration in 2015, we submitted to Mr. President an extensive document that called for a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring comprised of eminent Nigerians, and guided by the Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration which was adopted by the 2014 National Conference. 
Our submission anticipated the need to reconcile contentious interest groups, foster the integration of the diverse sectional groups into true nationhood, and facilitate the evolution of an acceptable functional governmental structure for Nigeria. We proposed that the new structure would be contained in a new constitutional framework which would come into effect by way of an executive bill to be submitted to the National Assembly by Mr. President and decided upon by the Nigerian people through a referendum.
All our efforts have been inspired by our belief that, as a nation, we are better off together and should find acceptable ways to stay together. We are driven by an urgent responsibility to find, within the constitution, pathways to a more perfect union. Having laid this background we shall proceed to further simplify the seemingly complicated but, indeed, simple concept of restructuring.
Understanding Restructuring: The Basis

Restructuring simply means to change the way an entity is organized or arranged. In the corporate context, restructuring is a management term for the act of reorganizing the legal, ownership, operational, or other structures of a company for the purpose of making it more profitable, or better organized for its present needs. In the context of a nation, restructuring requires redefining the relationship between the people and the government, including taking another look at the structures and systems of governance as encapsulated in the constitution. The diverse positions on the restructuring debate are being championed by at least ten categories of advocates, give or take a few overlaps, namely:

The Conservatives

The Economic Structure Reformists

The Non-Structural Constitutional Reformists

The Political System Reformists

The Devolutionists

The State Creation Advocates

The Resource Control Activists

The Regional Federalists

The Regional Confederalists

The Secessionists

We shall now examine these positions and then proceed to present our prescription on the way forward for Nigeria.
Category #1: The Conservatives

The Conservatives are generally satisfied with the systems and structures of governance, current challenges notwithstanding. They generally hold the view that attitudinal adjustments, not necessarily systemic or structural changes, are required. This position is held by the likes of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, who believe Nigerians need a restructuring of the mind. 
Category #2: The Economic Structure Reformists

The economic structure reformists frown at the focus on politics and emphasize the need to restructure the systems and structures of economic governance, in order to diversify from an oil-based economy, reduce the size and bureaucracy of government, and loosen governments grip on the economy through the privatization of key sectors while the government simply plays a facilitatory role. Proponents include policy and economic experts like my friend and sister, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who has said: We need economic governance as the basis for any political grouping the country may need”, or, in the words of James Carville, chief strategist for the Bill Clinton campaign in 1992: Its the economy, stupid.”
Category #3: The Non-Structural Constitutional Reformists

These are those demanding amendments in certain aspects of the constitution that have no direct bearing on the structure of governance. They include young people advocating a reduction of the age qualifications into certain political offices through movements such as Not Too Young To Run; they include advocates for such affirmative action that reserves a percentage of political offices for women; they include those advocating the removal of the Land Use Act from the constitution, as well as those advocating the separation of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation from that of the Minister of Justice, and so on.

Category #4: The Political System Reformists

Political System Reformists make a case for such constitutional changes that include a unicameral, rather than a bicameral, legislature to reduce the size of government. Others prescribe part-time legislature while some make a strong case for the parliamentary system of government or, as the 2014 National Conference resolved, a modified parliamentary system.
Category #5: The Devolutionists

These are multi-state federalists making a case for ceding more powers to the federating units even if such units are the current 36 states. Many of the current advocates of restructuring, including former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, belong to this school of thought. The devolutionists envisage a constitution with a leaner exclusive legislative list, a more robust concurrent list, and a workable residual list. Also on the agenda of the devolutionists is the review of the revenue sharing formula in favour of the states and local governments.
Category #6: The State Creation Advocates

At the last National Conference, 18 demands for state creation were approved, taking the possible number of states in the nation to 54. Some advocates are regionalists deploying multi-state strategies in the quest for equitable allocation of resources to the respective regions from the centre, including the leaders of the South-East calling for one more state so each region would have six states apiece except the North-West, which has seven. The Middle Belt states seeking regional autonomy from the North-Central also fall into this category. They recognize that, given the current revenue allocation system, the more states a region has, the more allocation goes to that region or geopolitical zone. Other advocates of state creation are motivated by the need to give geographical expression to ethnic identities. 
Category #7: The Resource Control Activists

This is a more radical group that swings between devolution and secession. They include the Niger Delta activists and militants demanding outright resource control, which is the exclusive right to regulate the exploitation of resources in a geographical area. Their clamour simply reminds us that we need a more pragmatic resource distribution and management system.
Category #8: The Regional Federalists

The Regional Federalists argue not only that the current system falls short of true federalism, as the devolutionists point out, but also that the vast majority of the current 36 states are not viable. Recent reports indicate that Lagos State, where the commercial activities of Nigeria are concentrated, generates more internal revenue than 32 states combined. This school of thought therefore makes a case for the integration of states along geopolitical zonal lines to create economies of scale. A number of options have been thrown up as to possible number of zones but the six geopolitical zonal formula featuring the North-West, North-Central, North-East, South-West, South-South and South-East, has been the most advocated. Proponents envisage a strong central government catering for matters like defence, foreign affairs and monetary management, with six strong zonal federating units having concurrent legislative powers in such matters as policing, mineral resource management, electricity generation, and transportation. Groups such as Afenifere are inclined in this direction, taking a cue from the 1963 Constitution.
Category #9: The Regional Confederalists

These also advocate a regional or geopolitical zonal arrangement. However, advocates of confederacy prefer a weak central government and strong regional governments with each region having its own army and as such able to defend itself in cooperation with other regions. 
Category #10: The Secessionists

These are those calling for Biafra Republic, Oduduwa Republic, Arewa Republic, Ijaw Republic, Ogoni Republic and so on. This is because sectional identities have survived independence and are still reflected in our social interactions and intensified by perceptions of marginalization. Decades after the civil war, we are yet to forge true nationhood and Nigerians still tend to think of themselves as Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas, Fulanis, Kanuris, Tivs, Idomas, Nupes, Ijaws, Edos, Urhobos, and so on, within the Nigerian state. 
Some of the ongoing calls for restructuring are motivated by the aim of finding geographical expressions for these sociocultural identities. Although we can compel statehood by show of force, we cannot force true nationhood into existence. Relationship cannot be legislated; it can only be cultivated. Nationhood can be built only through good and equitable governance.
Therefore, those asking for the opportunity to negotiate their existence within the Nigerian state based on their ethnic or cultural identities have a right so to do, as captured in international legal instruments such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory.
However, these negotiations must be handled with decorum and all the sensitivity required so that the Rehoboams in the polity do not play into the hands of the Jeroboams and push the nation from bad to worse as it happened to Israel of old (I Kings 12:1-24 & 14:1-11, 14).
As for those calling for secession, they should bear in mind the fact that, before the creation of the Nigerian state, there was no Yoruba nation, there was no Igbo nation, there was no Hausa nation, neither was there an Ijaw nation. We must not be misled by nostalgia for a spurious harmonious past or the myth of homogenous ethnic groups that is far removed from reality. The area around the Niger was marked with unrest, continuous intergroup conflict, subjugation, enslavement and oppression of the weaker by the stronger until Nigeria provided the possibility for peaceful coexistence. For this, we must appreciate the Nigerian state, we must celebrate our Nigerian-ness and we must gravitate towards strengthening our nationhood rather than cursing our blessing.
Be that as it may, there is no doubt that the current structure cannot hold the greatness that awaits the nation but could hinder it. The demand, however, should not be for secession. The question should be: How best do we organize ourselves for equitable, peaceful and productive coexistence? This takes me to our position on the pathway to a stable and prosperous Nigeria.
Pathway to a New Nigeria

Each of the schools of thought on restructuring reminds one of the story of blind men who visited a zoo to “see” an elephant. One grabbed its trunk and concluded the elephant was like a snake. Another touched its ear and concluded the elephant was a fan. A third touched one of its legs and concluded the enormous animal must have been a pillar. Rather than resolve that they were all wrong, we believe there is a measure of wisdom in the various perspectives and that, like a jigsaw puzzle, the bits must be put together to achieve a desired objective. 
For those who care to know where I stand in all this, I am an advocate of progressive and pragmatic restructuring; progressive because ours is a long-term approach, and pragmatic because the interests of every segment of the country are taken into consideration. It is to this end that we reiterate, and even expand the scope of, our call for the creation of a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring by the president through an executive order, in full consultation with the Council of State and the National Assembly. 
The Presidential Commission should be given the mandate and the powers to facilitate, within ten years, the evolution of a functional and acceptable geopolitical structure subject to constitutional provisions while the 1999 Constitution is progressively amended. This Commission shall undertake a geoeconomic and geosocial path to geopolitical restructuring by creating geoeconomic frameworks, mending geosocial faultlines, and attaining a geopolitical climax.

Creating Geoeconomic Frameworks

The Nigerian economy is clearly regional in structure with comparative advantages defined by climate, geology, biogeography, population and culture. It is why, in the era of the regions, even though agriculture and mineral production were the mainstays of the economy, there were areas of specialization. 
The six geopolitical zones not only roughly reflect six sociocultural zones but also mirror six geoeconomic zones that can be deliberately cultivated over a period of about ten years within which political structures can be designed. The ten-year window is meant to cater for the concerns of parts of the country where the notion of restructuring is opposed due to perceived economic disadvantages. Within the ten-year period, the six zones would have been aided to develop areas of comparative advantage. Therefore, in the interest of sustainable economic development over the next ten years, we propose the following seven-point agenda:

The federal government will progressively devolve powers to the existing 36 states, which will themselves progressively evolve into a zonal arrangement. To facilitate this, we propose the creation of 6 zonal commissions to be headed by zonal commissioners appointed from each zone, to work with the 36 state governors to facilitate integration. The zonal commissioners will be charged with a mandate to map out the economic potential of each zone, design or update, as the case may be, a zonal economic master plan, and coordinate federal and state efforts towards transitioning into zonal economies within ten years, thereby harnessing the comparative resources of each zone to achieve globally competitive economies of scale and scope;

Instituting a social bond to fund the transition to zonal economies, thereby attracting local and international investments to the possibilities of vibrant zonal economic clusters;

Within the financing framework, instituting a 5-part Transitional Zonal Economic Fund focused on key sectors with unique expressions in each of the six geopolitical zones, including extractive minerals, agriculture, industrialization, creative and cultural development, and human capacity development;

A progressive increase in percentage of funds from mineral extraction accruing to the state from which it originates such that, by the tenth year, either by derivation or by partial resource control, subject to constitutional provisions, 50% of revenue will be returned to or retained in the zone of origin as it was at independence and in the First Republic;

Consequently, a progressive shrinking of the distributable pool account over ten years based on recommendations by the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission in line with the restructuring thrust;

Aside the Transitional Zonal Economic Fund, the creation of a special Internally Generated Revenue Grant aimed at rewarding the efforts of the states in each zone at generating internal revenue as against compensating non-viable states for economic laziness. This grant will be in the form of counterpart funding;

The national infrastructural development thrust will thus be managed by the federal government in conjunction with the Zonal Commissions and the state governments towards ensuring seamless linkage.
Mending Geosocial Faultlines 

While the economic component of the restructuring agenda is being implemented, the geosocial component, which calls for a resolution of the inter-zonal and intra-zonal aspects of the Nigeria Question, should be immediately activated. This will entail harnessing the collective strengths of statesmen and nation builders across the nation to reconcile historical and current grievances and to reintegrate the diverse components of our nation into united nationhood. The details of this component are beyond the scope of this address but are contained in the framework for a Presidential Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring. 
3.  Attaining a Geopolitical Climax

The climax of the work of the Presidential Commission will be to codify the geoeconomic and geosocial outcomes and facilitate their evolution into vibrant geopolitical zones as federating units, each with rich sociocultural expressions and viable, world class economic clusters, all knit together by a strong federal government. The geopolitical zones will have the power to organize the constituent states and local governments as districts and counties based on the models created by the geoeconomic and geosocial aspects of the process. By the tenth year, the codified outcomes will be presented to the president who, in conjunction with the National Assembly, will have, within the ten-year period, championed the necessary constitutional amendments for progressive development of good governance, including allowing for a referendum in which the Nigerian people will eventually adopt the framework as a new constitution for a New Nigeria.
Sustainability

The proposed ten-year transitional window is expected to kick in from 2018 to 2028. I understand that this translates to the administrations of at least two, or at most four, presidents spanning three election cycles. Therefore, if the policy is flagged off by the current administration, there is the clear danger of policy discontinuity unless the process is institutionalized. However, the 1976 Abuja Master Plan offers an example of collaboration and continuity spanning fifteen years and five administrations. 
In the early 1970s, the Nigerian government began to mull the idea of relocating the federal capital from Lagos. It felt that the capital had become congested in terms of population and available land. It sought a new capital that would be sited in the centre of the country, thus providing a surer guarantee of security and ensuring a more balanced representation of the countrys ethnic and religious diversity. 
To this end, in 1976, the government of General Murtala Muhammed identified a site for the proposed new capital and established the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) to mastermind the process. Policy execution of this restructuring spanned the administrations of General Olusegun Obasanjo, President Shehu Shagari, General Muhammadu Buhari and, eventually, General Ibrahim Babangida under whose watch the relocation phase commenced in 1991.

The fact that such policy consistency occurred during Nigerias unstable political history, characterized by successive military takeovers and a truncated democracy, shows that the right dose of political will can sustain a policy when the need is universally appreciated. Therefore, 

the following points should be noted in the quest for sustainability.

We expect that the project will be flagged off under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in the period leading to the next governmental fiscal year;

Alongside the kickoff of the project, the President may send to the National Assembly a Bill for the Establishment of the Commission for National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring, however so named, to provide institutionalization, continuity and legislative guarantee for the objectives of the restructuring agenda;

To further safeguard its operations and objectives, we charge Nigerians to hold as a standard for electoral decision making the  commitment of aspirants and candidates towards the ten-year framework for a restructured Nigeria;

Finally, we expect subsequent holders of public office at all levels of government to demonstrate the desired political will, drawing lessons not only from the Abuja story but also from more recent policy transitional success stories, including the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS), and the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which were enacted by the preceding administration but are being implemented by the current government.
Conclusion

Recently, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, was reported as stating that the Nigerian economy has struggled so far because it is not structured to meet demographic needs. She therefore cited, as regards respites, the governments policies aimed at diversification from an oil-based economy. However, I am confident that the success of its diversification programme is dependent on the ability of the government to embrace the zonal geodemographic nature of the economy as we have spelt out in this proposal. This entails a revisiting of existing plans and policies including the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). 
I believe that as we adopt these proposals and take these steps towards building a new nation, we will see breathtaking economic miracles. With the world transiting from crude oil, the northern zonal economies will become hubs of sustainable energy harnessing solar power and biomass while deploying solid minerals like lithium in the emerging electric automobile industry. Meanwhile, the southern zones will harness the huge gas reserves while optimizing the vast coastal waters for wind turbines.
The president, the National Assembly, the Judiciary, the state governments, the State Houses of Assembly, the Council of State, political parties, the private sector, and the generality of Nigerians all have a critical role to play in initiating, implementing, sustaining and defending the process and its outcomes. We must think, not as sectionalists but as nationalists; not as skeptics who only see obstacles, but as optimists, who see opportunities; not as politicians, mindful only of the next election, but as statesmen mindful of the next generation.
By the grace of the Living God, who calls those things that be not as though they are, and according to the proportion of my faith in Him who cannot lie, I call forth today, the 1st of October, 2017, the New North and the New South to come together to the table of brotherhood and negotiate the destiny of a New Nigeria with mutual respect and trustful give and take void of mutual suspicion.
Finally, I urge all Nigerians, with unassailable courage, unalloyed patriotism and unrelenting faith in the destiny of our nation, to arise and seize this opportunity to build a great nation, with the confident assurance that there is no army powerful enough to stop an idea whose time has come. (Victor Hugo). For, in the words of President Theodore Roosevelt, The government is us; we are the government, you and I.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless our country, Nigeria.
Pastor Tunde Bakare

Serving Overseer, The Latter Rain Assembly;

Convener, Save Nigeria Group (SNG)
STATE OF THE NATION BROADCAST

ON SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2017.

VENUE: THE LATTER RAIN ASSEMBLY, END-TIME CHURCH,

4, AKILO ROAD, OFF OBA AKRAN AVENUE,

OGBA, IKEJA, LAGOS, NIGERIA.

​The Political Manipulation of Nigerians

The Political Manipulation of Nigerians
By Simon Kolawole

Nigeria is 57, going by the year of independence, and the consensus in every corner is that we can be, and should have been, better than this. I have not met a single person who said this is the best we can be. Our ecrronomic and development indices at independence are largely better than what we have today, but the real deal is that we were such a promising nation in 1960 that it was thought we would dominate Africa with the speed at which we were developing. It is a fitting tribute, isn’t it, that the immortal Lee Kwan Yew, the man behind the Singapore success story, saw Nigeria as a model to be emulated when his country became independent from Malaysia in 1965.
If things had worked out well for Nigeria, especially if the stupendous petrodollars gushing into our treasury had been intelligently managed, our story would have been significantly different today. We would not be talking about thousands of kilometres of bad roads, we would not be lamenting epileptic power supply, we would not be crying over hospitals that are basically torture centres, we would not be groaning about third-rate quality of instruction and infrastructure in our schools, and we would not be moaning that millions of people are homeless. Poverty rates would be low. Literacy rate would be high. We would be an economy built on production and productivity.
The biggest question as we clock 57, at least going by the headlines, is the unity of Nigeria. There is a trending agitation for “restructuring”, “true federalism” and “Biafra” which, we are made to believe, hold the key to the development of Nigeria. Many think Nigeria is like this — underdeveloped and conflict-prone — because of the amalgamation of “strange bedfellows” in 1914, or because we run a “military constitution” aka “unitary constitution”. Some even blame our multi-ethnicity, maintaining that until we are broken up along ethnic lines, our problems will persist. But, at least, there seems to be a consensus that corruption is hurting our development.
For those who say Nigerians cannot live together, I have always begged to differ. Having travelled around Nigeria for years, having interacted intensively with people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, having observed Nigerians at close quarters, I have always concluded that we are impressively integrating socially and culturally. Ordinary Nigerians have learnt how to live with one another. Inter-ethnic marriage is what we usually give as an example, but I am also enamoured by the culinary intercourse — delicacies such as suya, isi ewu, amala and edikaikong always leave a sweet taste in the mouths of Nigerians across the divides.
What’s more, words such as “ego”, “oga”, “oya” and “shikena” have successfully crossed lingual boundaries and become part and parcel of everyone’s daily conversations. I don’t even know the origin of some words anymore. An example is “garri”. Is it Igbo? Is it Yoruba? Is it Edo? That is how far our cultural integration has gone since amalgamation and independence. Our sartorial preferences have also crossed ethnic boundaries: you see dresses such as “senator” and “agbada” being worn by northerners and southerners, Muslims and Christians alike. For those who think we hate one another with passion, their evidence is inconclusive.
The entertainment industry excites me on the viability of the Nigerian project. Our home movies typically feature people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. You see Igbo and Edo actors and actresses featuring in Yoruba-language movies in a country where we are made to understand we hate each other. In music, cross-cultural collaborations are the in-thing. Artistes like Onyeka Onwenu, Sonny Okosuns, Christy Essien Igbokwe and Funmi Adams did an enormous job in the 1980s and 1990s promoting, in different languages, the one love that binds us together. In churches, worshippers switch from Igbo to Yoruba to Hausa to Urhobo to Ibibio songs like second nature.
I have long concluded that ordinary Nigerians do not have problem living with one another in spite of our differences. But because we are different along the lines of ethnicity, religion, ideology, history and politics, there will always be conflict. That is not peculiar to Nigeria. As I always say, there is no country in the world that does not have its own internal divisions, rivalries and flashpoints. Conflict is human nature. The real issue is the political management of diversity and conflict. Ultimately, it is the political leadership that has the responsibility of managing conflicts and potential conflicts to the best of their abilities.
Unfortunately, most unfortunately, while ordinary Nigerians have largely integrated culturally and have evolved ways of living together, they are daily being let down by the political elite who manipulate ethnic and religious sentiments for selfish ends. Those who control the airwaves have ceaselessly poisoned the minds of Nigerians against each other, stirring up sectional strife, stoking tension and promoting political messages that are designed mostly for their personal pecuniary benefits — under the pretext of fighting for “my people”. All said and done, who eventually benefits from “it is our turn”? The elite or the market women?
Sadly, our political elite, working hand-in-glove with their intellectual sidekicks, have successfully developed narratives that muddle up the real issues and becloud our reasoning. There is a popular claim that “military” constitution has hindered our development. This is absolutely false (although there is even the bigger falsehood that Nigeria’s constitution was written by the military, but I’m done with that argument). Anyone who has studied the history of the role the military played in the development of South Korea, and the role of civilian dictatorships in the development of Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, will laugh off the claim. China is not even a liberal democracy!
To be clear, I do not recommend dictatorship for Nigeria, but neither will I support the narrow proposition that we can’t develop because of “lack of true federalism”. This is ridiculous. Norway, consistently ranked No. 1 on UNDP’s human development index (HDI), runs a unitary system. In fact, there is no resource control or derivation payment. All the oil revenue is managed by the central government. Yet Norway’s per capita income is $67,614, compared to $5,442 in the resource controlled-Nigeria. I do not propose a unitary system for Nigeria, but neither will I contribute to the claim that Nigeria cannot develop because of the supposedly “unitary” constitution.
So you know, 15 of the world’s top 20 most developed countries, according to the 2015 human development index, are: Norway, Denmark, Singapore, Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Sweden, Liechtenstein, UK, Japan, South Korea (formerly a federation), Israel and Luxembourg. What do they have in common? They ALL run a unitary system. The only “true federalism” countries in the top 20 are Australia, Germany, Switzerland, US and Canada. Next time somebody tells you “true federalism” or “regionalism” is the magic formula for development, ask them for the evidence. In fact, China runs a unitary system! The elite love to prey on our ignorance.
Nigeria has three major ethnic groups and we are often lectured that we cannot develop until we balkanise. But Norway has seven ethnic groups — Norwegian, Sami, Jew, Traveller, Forest Finn, Romani and Kven. They are not doing badly. There are over 300 ethnic groups in Malaysia; its per capita income is four times that of Nigeria. India has roughly 2,000 ethnic groups, and while it is a Hindu-majority country, the population of Muslims is about 172 million, almost equal to Nigeria’s population. India is not yet categorised as a developed country, but it is way ahead of Nigeria. It is an economy built on production and boasts of multinational companies in Tata, Ranbaxy and Infosys.
Frankly, I do not blame the ordinary people who cannot decode the unending political manipulation of ethnic and religious sentiments in Nigeria. I’m rather saddened, if not depressed, when those propagating the false narratives and half-truths about “true federalism” are the enlightened people. There is a glaring lack of sincerity. I need to emphasise, and I will keep doing this for the sake of clarity, that I am not saying the current system or structure of Nigeria does not need tinkering with. We definitely need to restructure the country. My point of departure, though, is the campaign that restructuring has to be along the lines of ethnicity, religion and natural resources.
I do not know of any country that developed simply because of “true federalism” or “regionalism”. I am still frantically researching that idea. But I can give plenty examples of countries that developed because of competent and patriotic leadership, with or without “true federalism”. I hope most Nigerians will come to this realisation someday. As we mark our 57th independence anniversary, I would propose that we rethink these inherited wisdoms that we have always failed to critically question. Those who direct the orchestra know how to make us sing their buzzwords, but a deeper reflection on our part will confirm that it is all politics. Before I forget, Happy Independence Day.

===
AND FOUR OTHER THINGS
FEDERAL ROADS

I was elated when I heard that governors have called on the federal government to hand over the so-called federal roads to the states. This makes perfect sense to me. However, I was not very clear about how the reconstruction or maintenance will be funded. One governor spoke about public private partnership, but there are other ways: one, the federal government can hand over the funds budgeted for the roads directly to the states, or more permanently, let go of some of its share of the federation account. I find it incredible that the centre takes 52.68% of the federation revenue, leaving the 36 states with 26.72% and the 774 councils 20.60%. Restructuring.
FALANA’S CALL

When the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) recently raised the alarm that the Sukuk bond, a non-interest Islamic finance facility issued by the federal government, was an attempt to Islamise Nigeria, the most appropriate response, in my opinion, came from Mr. Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, who said: “I am challenging CAN to Christianise Nigerians. Christianise us by setting up interest-free banks.” Some of the most expensive schools in Nigeria today are owned by churches, and if Muslims decide to offer tuition-free education now, CAN will say it is an attempt to Islamise Nigeria. Someone said it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. Word.
SLOW MOTION

An intended impact of criticism, I suppose, is change of style and attitude. President Muhammadu Buhari has been accused of being too slow to act on most of the issues he has had to deal with since he came to office in 2015, and I am yet to see any attempt to do things in a different way. It took him ages to constitute a cabinet; it took him forever to respond to economic downturn; and it is taking him an eternity to constitute boards and appoint substantive heads for agencies. In that case, we will wait forever for the implementation of the reports on the suspended DG of the National Intelligence Agency and secretary to the government of the federation (SGF). Frustrating.
ILL CREST

My attention has been drawn to a potential case of discrimination by Hillcrest School, Jos. Rinret Yusuf Gukas underwent the entire admission processes without being asked if he had any allergy.

It was only upon his resumption that he was asked. The parents confirmed he has nuts allergy and provided the medication in case of accidental ingestion. To their surprise, the school nullified his admission. He had relocated from the UK and paid all the fees. In advanced societies, this is a case of discrimination on health grounds.

While Hillcrest might be seeking to play safe, it needs to review its admission processes. And where are the regulatory authorities in all this? Sickening.
Source: ThisDay

Full Text Of President Buhari’s Independence Day Broadcast

Full Text Of President Buhari’s Independence Day Broadcast
Full Text Of President Buhari’s Independence Day Broadcast

My dear Nigerians,
October 1st remains a special date for all Nigerians as this marks the day when we attained one of the most precious of human desires — freedom.
Over the years the country has gone through trials and tribulations, but October 1st is always a day for celebrations.
It is a day for thanksgiving, reflection and re-dedication.
It is also a day for remembrance. We should remind ourselves of the recent journey from 1999 – 2015, when our country happily returned to democratic rule.
However, in spite of oil prices being an average of $100 per barrel and about 2.1m barrels a day, that great piece of luck was squandered and the country’s social and physical infrastructure neglected.
We were left with no savings and huge infrastructure deficit.
The APC Government’s Campaign rallying cry to restore security, re-balance the economy and fight corruption was not all rhetoric.
The country must first be secured. The economy must be re-balanced so that we do not depend on oil alone. We must fight corruption which is Nigeria’s Number One Enemy. Our Administration is tackling these tasks in earnest.
In the past two years, Nigeria has recorded appreciable gains in political freedom. A political Party at the Centre losing elections of State Governor, National Assembly seat and even State Assemblies to the opposition parties is new to Nigeria. Added to these are complete freedom to associate, to hold and disseminate opinions. Such developments clearly attest to the country’s growing political development. But like all freedoms, this is open to abuse.
Recent calls on re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We can not and we will not allow such advocacy.
As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about 2m lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through.
I am very disappointed that responsible leaders of these communities do not warn their hot-headed youths what the country went through. Those who were there should tell those who were not there, the consequences of such folly.
At all events, proper dialogue and any desired constitutional changes should take place in a rational manner, at the National and State Assemblies. These are the proper and legal fora for National debate, not some lop-sided, un-democratic body with pre-determined set of objectives.
Government is keeping up the momentum of dialogue with stakeholders in the Niger Delta to keep the peace. We intend to address genuine grievances of the communities.
Government is grateful to the responsible leadership of those communities and will pursue lasting peace in the Niger Delta.
SECURITY
On security, Nigerians must be grateful to our gallant Armed Forces for rolling back the frontiers of Boko Haram’s terrorism, defeating them and reducing them to cowardly attacks on soft and vulnerable targets.
Nigeria is grateful to its neighbours and the international community for the collective efforts to defeat this world-wide menace of terrorism.
Not even the most organized and most equipped police and security forces in the world can escape the menace of modern day terrorism, as we have seen in recent years in Europe and other parts of the world.
But we are not letting up. Our Armed Forces in an effort to enhance the operational capability of troops of OPERATION LAFIYA DOLE have established Mobile Strike Teams in the North East. These will ensure the final push to wipe out the remnants of Boko Haram.
In addition, through targeted air strikes most of the leadership and identified logistics bases and routes of the insurgents have been neutralized. The Armed Forces have established a Naval presence in the Lake Chad Basin as part of the coordinated military efforts to curtail the movements or re-emergence of the sect in the area.
Government is working round the clock to ensure release of the remaining Chibok girls, as well as other persons in Boko Haram captivity. Government will continue to support the Armed Forces and other security agencies to fight not only terrorism, but kidnapping, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers violence and to ensure peace, stability and security in our country.
ECONOMY
With respect to the economy, the Government has remained pro-active in its diversification policy. The Federal Government’s agricultural Anchor Borrowers Programme, which I launched in November 2015, has been an outstanding success with:
· N43.92 billion released through the CBN and 13 participating institutions,

· 200,000 small holder farmers from 29 states of the federation benefitting,

· 233,000 hectares of farmland cultivating eight commodities, namely Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, soya-beans, Poultry, Cassava and Groundnuts, in addition to fish farming.
These initiatives have been undertaken in close collaboration with the states. I wish to commend the efforts of the Governors of Kebbi, Lagos, Ebonyi and Jigawa States for their support to the rice and fertilizer revolutions.
Equally commendable are contributions of the Governors of Ondo, Edo, Delta, Imo, Cross River, Benue, Ogun, Kaduna and Plateau States for their support for the Presidential initiative for palm oil, rubber, cashew, cassava, potatoes and other crops.
With the abundance of rainfall last year and this year, agriculture has enjoyed Divine intervention.
Since December last year, this Administration has produced over 7 million 50Kg bags of fertilizer. Eleven blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million metric tons have been reactivated. We have saved $150 million in foreign exchange and N60 billion in subsidy. Fertilizer prices have dropped from N13,000 per 50Kg bag to N5,500.
Furthermore, a new presidential initiative is starting with each state of the Federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths, again with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives.
Power remains a huge problem. As of September 12th, production of power reached an all — time high of 7,001 Megawatts. Government is increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial log jam bedeviling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020.
Key priorities include better energy mix through solar and Hydro technologies. I am glad to say that after many years of limbo, Mambilla Power Project has taken off.
Elsewhere in the economy the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters, foreign exchange requirements has proved very effective. Since April, about $7 billion has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.
The country has recorded 7 consecutive months of lower inflation, Naira rate is beginning to stabilize, appreciating from N525 per $1 in February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.
Furthermore, in order to stabilize the polity, the Federal Government gave additional support to states in the form of:
· State Excess Crude Account loans,

· Budget Support Facility,

· Stabilization Fund Release

to states and local governments as follows:

· N200 billion in 2015

· N441 billion in 2016

· N1 trillion in 2017
Altogether totaling N1.642 trillion.
This was done to enable states to pay outstanding salaries, pensions and small business suppliers who had been all but crippled over the years.
In addition, the Government’s current N500 billion Special Intervention Programme is targeting groups through;
· Home Grown School Feeding Programme,

· N-Power Job creation to provide loans to small-scale traders and artisans,

· Conditional Cash Transfer,

· Family Homes Fund and

· Social Housing Scheme.
CORRUPTION
Fellow Nigerians,
We are fully aware that fighting corruption was never going to be a straightforward task. We expected corrupt elements to use any weapon to fight back, mainly judicial obstruction and political diversion. But we are determined to eradicate corruption from our body politic.
In this fight, the Government has:

· Empowered teams of prosecutors,

· Assembled detailed databases,

· Accelerated the recovery of stolen funds.
The Administration’s new institutional reforms include:

· Enforcing Treasury Single Account,

· Whistle-Blowers Policy,

· Integrated Payroll Personnel and Information System.
We have signed multi-lateral cooperation agreements on criminal matters with friendly countries. There are signs of increasing cooperation from the Judiciary. Recently the Chief Justice of Nigeria directed Heads of all our Courts of first instance and Appeal to accelerate hearings of corruption cases and dismiss any judicial officers found to have been compromised.
Justice Salami has just been appointed to chair the Judiciary’s anti-graft committee. Government expects a lot from this Committee.
I commend the National Assembly for refocusing on its oversight committees. They should, in addition, ensure swift passage of enabling corruption laws. But fighting corruption is a bottom to top operation. I call on all Nigerians to combat corruption at every turn. By not asking for and refusing to accept a bribe, by reporting unethical practices or by blowing a whistle, together we can beat corruption. The government for its part will work for accountability at all levels – Federal, State and Local Governments. CHANGE will then be real.
As we enter the second half of our term of office, we intend to accelerate progress and intensify our resolve to fix the country’s challenges and problems.
Thank you and a happy holiday to all of you.
God bless our country

Biafra: A post-mortem

Biafra: A post-mortem

Nnamdi Kanu

By Isyaku Dikko

Imagine Pat Utomi, who wants to be president of Nigeria and Professor Charles Soludu, who had been governor of Central Bank of Nigeria supporting Biafra.
– Justice Mustapha Akanbi, former President, Court of Appeal, (Sunday Sun September 17, 2017 page 37)



Unknown to many people, the mother of Major-General Ike Nwachukwu, an old man who is about 75 years, was a Hausa Muslim from Katsina state, which is part of what some anarchist call “Core North”. This is the point. In other words, if a Hausa Muslim woman could marry an Igbo man 75 years ago, is it not irresponsible for any Nigerian to prepare for war simply because he is too parochial to tolerate any Nigerian other than his kinsman  in the 21 century. My intellectual hero, Dr. Bala Usman, explains it better: 
“They (South Africans) wanted to support what they regarded as pro-democracy but when they went there, they were asking for the dissolution of Nigeria at the time South Africa was looking up to Nigeria to come and unite Africa. So the people kept telling Nelson Mandela that, “take it easy with this people who are telling you to come and try Abacha, don’t get involved. Even though Saro-Wiwa was executed, this man was a secessionist, Madiba – be careful.” 
When they went for this conference – Wole Soyinka and others arranged it – the South African government and others arranged it – the South Africa government kicked them out. They said they were about 130 groups, each of them claiming all sorts of nonsense and when they asked them what future was there for Nigeria, they said there was none. For them it was a shock. When I was there in South Africa, this is what they were asking me: “What sort of people are these; they say they are progressives but they want to break up their country and they are talking of tribes when we‘re trying to unite the country.”          
My hero went further to argue that even “the blood thing” we emphasize is a farce. Said he: 
“The tribal groups themselves were formed through history. You use your territorial structure to build things for those who are living there, the inhabitants. People who live in an area doing such occupations that link them up have a common interest. This goes beyond what you call blood. In any case, even you and your mother don’t have the same blood. People don’t seem to know that. Don’t they know that if you are group A, and somebody has AO, or one other group, you can’t even transfuse? But you can bring a stranger – a Chinese or bring an Eskimo who has the same blood group as G.G. Darah, they can transfuse. There are so many areas in which this blood they talk about is nonsense. What you have is common interest, common livelihood. So they preach this type of politics and the idea of the politics is basically anti-democratic. Nigeria is probably among the few countries where the pro-democracy movement has become the most anti-democratic movement because its position is that politics is primarily a matter of fighting for the interest of your tribe under the leadership of your tribal leader.” (Weekly Trust May 11-17, 2001.)
If you are one of those who believe that restructuring Nigeria into ethnic regional units, listen to the limitations of such outdated argument, from Dr. Bala: “Do those so vehemently asking for restructuring of Nigeria into a federation or confederation of ethnic regional units know the ethno-geographical realities on the ground, the fishing grounds, the creeks, the pastures, the marshlands, the markets, the town and cities of their country? Where do you set the historical baseline, with regards to the demarcation of the boundaries in order to sort out amicably the conflicting territorial claims? Do you take the present ethnic-geographic situation as given and work on that. Or do you go back to an earlier period? Which year should be the historical baseline? 2000 A.D? 1960 A.D? Or 1000 A.D? Or even earlier…Is this the way we want to enter the 21stcentury, driving each other around, and killing one another, fighting over our grandparents ancient claims over land in the 11th, 18th, and 19th centuries.”  
When the federal government revealed the role of foreigners in using the pro-Biafra agitators to destroy Nigeria, I was not surprised. Dr. Bala Usman told us about the grand design to destroy nation – state in Africa, as far back as 2002. He argued: “The violent communal conflicts in these states are the out-come of psychological, ideological, political and economic processes which are nation-wide, continent-wide and even global. The attack and denigration on the nation – state in Africa and of its sovereignty and territorial integrity by Africans, funded and encouraged by countries which fiercely promote and defend their sovereign rights, their interests and even the borders of their nation – states, generates, in many parts of Nigeria an atmosphere which encourages violent ethnicity and conflicts, in defiance of the fundamental democratic principle of peacefully resolving all conflicts; even though these European and North American countries and their African Proteges, campaigning against the nation – state in Africa, are very loud in their claims about love for democracy and peace.”
Dr. Bala Usman seizes every opportunity to argue that the Europeans conquered Africans not because of maxim gun but because of disruptive disputes. It is a fact that the British used Hausa slaves to conquer Hausa land. How many Europeans participated in the conquest of what is known as Nigeria today?  Dr. Bala again: “The blockages, obstacles and barriers to migration, settlement, citizenship and economic interaction which the Sokoto Caliphate, Borno, Benin, the Niger Delta States, Oyo, Eko, and most of the other political systems of the late nineteenth century in the Nigerian area entrenched, weakened their capacity to rise up to the threats of European imperialist penetration and invasion. They were subjugated by the British, not primarily because of the maxim gun, but because of the disruptive disputes, chronic conflicts and civil wars within them, which had their roots in this inability to overcome these blockages, barriers and obstacles to the building of broader bases of citizenship and of incorporations and of economic production and commerce. Contemporary political fabrications like the “Yoruba Race”, “The lgbo Nation”, ‘The Hausa-Fulani”, ‘The Ijaw Nation” or the “Ogoni Nation,” etc, cannot hide this basic reality of the conditions of the peoples and polities of the Nigerian area in the late nineteenth century. They are exercises in fiction intended to evade the recognition of the seriousness of the problems and challenges our grandparents faced in the last century, and which we face in the closing years and this century, at a new level.”  
Surprisingly, not even progressives are immune from the ethnicity project. Listen to Dr. Bala on his experience with Wole Soyinka: “Wole Soyinka was my assistant in the PRP when I was the director of research but I couldn’t get him to do serious work. When we published political education in Nigeria, he came to the launching. We documented the Bakolori killings we documented the Black Maria issue and the Shugaba episode to show what the NPN government was doing to Nigeria. Wole (Soyinka) came to the launching and he flew out to Canada virtually the same day. And we asked him “Wole, please get this thing widely circulated either by publishing it again, re – editing it or distributing it because what is happening there in Bakolori will happen all over Nigeria.” Wole didn’t do anything. When the time for another election came, he sent us one gramophone record which he said we should distribute and we did, singing against NPN. Then one day that Bola Ige was rigged out, because Wole was his campaign manager, the second day, he wrote to me (I’ve got the letter) and said he had realized what I was saying a year ago.” (Weekend Vanguard, April 13, 1996.)
Dr. Bala Usman did not spare Northern elite for their incompetence in defending themselves, talk less of defending the weak. He said: “The frustrating thing is that the Northern establishment and the Northern elite are so inept. The newspaper thing I was talking to you about. They can’t even maintain the media. This Afenifere thing is a media thing. They can’t even maintain a newspaper. And they don’t even know, we are backward. The gap between Edo State and Yobe is like between Congo Brazzaville and Belgium in 1990. They just go and wear fancy hats and go about saying they are northerners. The problem with them is my frustration. You can’t even talk seriously with a lot of them. But unfortunately for them, a generation has developed and you find them all over now – people who are trying to do the things on their own.    (Weekly Trust, October 15-21, 1999)
What is the future of Nigeria? I have been looking for concrete arguments on the future of Nigeria but could not find any because many intellectuals, surprisingly, are busy arguing about restructuring. Don’t blame them. People who have limited vision always end up parroting the agenda of others. Not Dr. Bala Usman. Listen to him.
“One possibility is that, if current trends continue, without any decisive political and economic changes, by the year 2010, Nigeria’s place in the global economy shall be one of a raw material exporter, largely minerals, with an enclave economy, marked by low intensity conflicts and an amorphous sovereignty, contested between various warlords, trading barons and political merchants, and governments. We shall have a situation here, somewhere between present-day Somalia and Columbia… the second possibility, if the IMF and the World Bank succeed in imposing the sort of monetarist, civilian, or military dictatorship they want, either through elections, coups or rebel movements Nigeria will be characterised by possessed commodities, and assembled goods, exporting economy, highly regimented, wrecked by severe inequalities and occasional outburst of civil conflicts. We shall be somewhere between present-day Mexico and Egypt… the third possibility is, if the classes and groups who produce the goods and services in Nigeria, develop political parties and take over power and link up with others across Africa… there are of course many other possibilities to consider.”   (Tempo Newspaper 24th July 1997)
Ironically, it was an Igbo printer who sharpened my understanding of Dr. Bala Usman. I took a document I compiled about Dr. Bala Usman to him for printing at Jama’a Road, Kaduna . As I was trying to negotiate the cost of the printing, he just laughed and said “Oga, if you like I can print it free for you, it is about my man, Bala Usman”. When I asked him how can a man he never met be his man, he replied: “I like him because his thinking is different from the thinking of Nigerians”. But he is not alone in this “Bala Usman business’’. The only time I heard my boss, Malam Kabiru Yusuf, Chairman Media Trust, saying “yes sir, yes sir” to somebody was when Dr. Bala Usman visited our Media Trust office in Kaduna. It was obvious, the visit was unscheduled, as Malam Kabiru was looking surprised and confused. We were laughing at him, saying, as the Hausa people would say, “Baba da babansa” (daddy has a daddy also). For details, ask Dr. Farooq Kperogi!