Some Western diplomats on Friday warned that with the current and abysmal way the Nigerian Government was handling the Coronavirus outbreak, the number of infections could witness a significant rise in the coming weeks.
Already, Nigeria has 81 confirmed cases and one recorded death of the pandemic.
According to the diplomatic community, infections could rise to more than 10,000 in the coming weeks as there are at least 5,000 persons, who had come in contact with infected persons in Nigeria already.
This category of persons, it was gathered, had gone ahead to mingle with thousands of others in the society without realising that they had the virus.
“This is the real danger. A lot of people who have had contacts with original carriers of the virus don’t even know they have the ailment and have in fact gone ahead to mingle with hundreds and thousands of others in the society, spreading the virus further.
“From information we have in the diplomatic community, there could be an explosion of confirmed infections in the coming weeks. It is going to disrupt a lot of things,” a senior diplomat attached to one European high commission in Nigeria told SaharaReporters on Friday.
Echoing the same sentiment, another diplomat, whose country has provided technical support to African nations battling the spread of the virus, said the situation in Nigeria was dire because the number of untested infections far outweighed those examined by government agencies.
So far, only around 200 persons have been tested for Coronavirus in Nigeria due to the unavailability of testing kits.
Though Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, has donated testing kits and protective items to Nigeria and other African countries to help combat the virus, hundreds of potentially infected persons are yet to be examined in Nigeria, increasing the risk of an epidemic in the West African state.
“We could be having tens of thousands of confirmed cases across Nigeria in a few days from now.
“There are thousands of people with the virus already on the loose in the country and many of this people cannot be traced. They have taken this pandemic into every nook and cranny of this country.
“I think Nigeria must act fast to avert a full-blown war,” the diplomat said on Friday, adding that Western countries will continue to provide technical support to help Africa and the rest of the world conquer the virus.
Already, there have been reported cases of people being asked to self-isolate after reporting to health agencies of having symptoms of the virus.
Without proper monitoring and stringent measures to ensure such persons do not expose others to infection in case they have the virus, thousands of individuals in this category have gone on with their daily activities and opened up the chance of an epidemic in the country.
Unwilling to take chances, some Western countries are already evacuating their citizens from Nigeria and other African countries.
For example, an Air France flight on Thursday moved 260 Europeans from Nigeria to France to prevent them from being infected with the virus.
This came after the Nigerian Government granted a one-week permission to Air France and KLM to evacuate Europeans from the country following the continued spread of the pandemic.
Also on Thursday, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms. Catriona Laing CB, said the mission was exploring available options to send staff and their families back to the United Kingdom.
This was occasioned by projections by experts and top diplomats that the Coronavirus pandemic could explode in Nigeria and other African countries in the coming days.
But according to the World Health Organisation, Nigeria and other African countries battling the virus must conduct more tests to portray the true picture of things and avert a major crisis.
In a Facebook write up, the founder and CEO of Ovation Magazine, Mr Dele Momodu has regretted supporting Buhari over Jonathan.
In a very confessional write up, Momodu regretted the fact that they should have listened to voices of reasons like those of former Ekiti state governor, Ayodele Fayose and others but perhaps fooled by the fact that Buhari chose Prof. Yemi Osinbajo as vice president.
This actually depicts that Momodu and his ilks voted and supported Buhari due to Osinbajo, which simply translates to tribal sentiments.
His write up is below.
“I must confess that at the height of our stupidity and naivety, in retrospect, we threw caution to the winds.
We wrote off Jonathan despite occasional flashes of genius and inspiration by some members of his team.
In the meantime, former Nigerian Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (RTD.) was repackaged to smell like roses and we all fell for the promise of Eldorado he seemed to hold at the time.
I was one of those who jumped on the bandwagon to describe him as a born-again Democrat, despite some strident and persistent warnings by then Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose and others. Perhaps we were fooled by the fact in quick succession he had picked Pentecostal pastors in his running mate in Pastor Tunde Bakare in 2011 and Professor Yemi Osinbajo in 2015.
Those who told us that our Hallelujah Choruses were premature and that a leopard can never change its spots were castigated and hounded by those of us who had been converted to what we believed was the new Buhari.
We sang in unison that anyone but Jonathan. The rest is history.”
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A former political adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also a former Managing Director of the News Agency of Nigeria, Mr Akin Osuntokun, shares with TUNDE AJAJA his thoughts on the last presidential election and assessment of the incumbent administration
You were one of those opposed to President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election and people like you were optimistic that the opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, had a chance. Were you shocked by the outcome of the election?
No, I wasn’t; it would be unrealistic of me if I was. In Africa and most of the developing countries, the assumption is that the incumbent wins the election one way or the other; the incumbent doesn’t lose election unless their tenure constitutionally expires. To that extent, it has followed the norm of assumptions. People refer to the presidency of Nigeria as the most powerful in the world and it is so loaded that it will be difficult for any occupant of that office to lose an election. Of course, you know we had the pleasant exception of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015 and we know he is a different person from Buhari. They have different dispositions to power and they don’t come from the same stock.
How do you mean?
Buhari is a connoisseur of power. He personifies power politics in Nigeria. If you look at his make-up, he has his origin in military politics; reinforcing his Fulani-Muslim origin; those we associate hegemony with, and of course his persona. He contested the office four times, so you could see that he was bent on being there. But, Jonathan is not someone who is caught in the kind of hegemonic power struggle that the presidency of Nigeria has become.
You also said before the election that those who vote for Buhari, if he wins, would be doubly disappointed. With what you have seen since his inauguration a month ago, how would you place your prediction?
Have I not been proven right? In what respect, for instance, would you suggest that he has fulfilled any expectation that people had of him. See the way the country is going. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo took up issues with the fact that the head of all the three organs in Nigeria (Executive, Legislature and Judiciary) come from essentially the same constituency; the core North. And you have the same thing for the heads of the security agencies. That is very subversive of the idea of national integration, national unity and federal character. Not only that, on Tuesday, they came up with the Ruga Settlement idea, which somewhat started as cattle colony. You saw how the majority of public opinion repudiated it. Meanwhile, part of selling the policy was that it would be up to each state government to decide whether they want it or not, which should be the case legally and politically if they want to use it as an instrument of resolving a crisis. But what has emerged has completely deviated from that conception, according to the Benue State Governor (Samuel Ortom). They are more of imposing it on states now, regardless of their disposition towards it. It not only raises question about the practice of federalism in Nigeria, but more importantly, it is going to compound the situation that it was ostensibly intended to resolve. Also, on Wednesday morning, I read what my friend, the Emir of Kano and former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Muhammadu Sanusi II, said. The emir has enough issues on his mind at the moment and I don’t want to drag him into this, but he said the oil subsidy is a fraud. If the oil subsidy is a fraud, then the President who presides over it, in addition to being the minister of petroleum, is implicated. You pay fuel subsidy of trillions of naira when you condemned Jonathan for paying for this same subsidy. Buhari once said 22 million litres per day in Nigeria was a fraud but now we are paying for about 60 million litres per day. According to Sanusi, Nigeria is confronted with bankruptcy. Why wouldn’t you be doubly disappointed? Can you honestly fault these things some of us point out? Put those on one side. Look at the people in positions of authority and you would find that only two zones essentially are given representation at the highest level of government in a country that has six zones. As a student of Nigerian politics who wishes Nigeria well, the Vice-President (Prof Yemi Osinbajo) is from the South-West and at the same time you railroaded the speaker to come from the same zone. So, the South-West and the core North are holding the rest of the country prostrate. This is not the kind of government we should wish for ourselves because you are going to have the consequences further down the line. You cannot plant coconut and reap cassava. There is no way this kind of power politics would have a beneficial effect on the country.
Already, about three zones, including the South-West and North have also expressed interest in the presidency in 2023, do you think they are trying to take other zones for granted?
The fact that the president is from a particular region is of no consequence to an average Nigerian, but the fact is that giving others a chance fosters a sense of belonging. We have very few formulas left to rekindle a sense of nationalism and nationhood among Nigerians and to convince them that this country could work. Obasanjo, a Yoruba man, was President for eight years; our current Vice-President is also a Yoruba man, if you have the consciousness to build a nation, which you should have, is it fair for that same region to show interest again? You see, this clamour by the South-West and the North are an indication of how things have gone wrong in the country. Barack Obama (a former US President) used to say that what you do when no one is watching is more important than what you do when someone is watching, which is talking about conscience. The sense of fairness, morality and nobility are all missing here and we should worry that this is not how to build a just country. The country as it is now is prone to divisiveness and so many frailties; hence this kind of politics is too dangerous to the health of the country. With all these insensitivity and cruelty, you would find that almost all Nigerians are alienated from the country one way or the other. That is why what the Chief of Army Staff (Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai) said about soldiers not being prepared to fight is happening. I tell people that the greatest problem Nigeria has is political mismanagement. The standard text is ‘love your neighbour as you love yourself’. If you do, will the South-West or the core North say they want to produce the president in 2023?
What then is the solution?
This is why we talk about a structured federalism. For Nigeria to succeed in the structure that we have today, whoever is president must be detribalised, nationalistic, wise and a good man but of course you are not going to get that. That is the sense in restructuring because what Nigeria is going through is systemic failure; it’s not something that institutional pieces could fix. The whole system is a rot; look at how everything has been perverted. The notion now is get your own and move on. At the level we are, if you are in a position of authority and you don’t make money, your family would almost curse you. The systemic failure is why you have an army that is not an army and it’s like that in all areas. How do you justify a situation that the best way to address the insecurity in the country is by appointing almost all the heads of the security agencies from one part of the country? You see the disequilibrium everywhere and there is no way restructuring will not be inevitable. It’s even worrying that the leadership of the country sees nothing wrong with that and that is very depressing.
But the question some people ask is if restructuring can tackle all the problems in this country?
We have gone beyond the level of fixing each problem one after other; it has to be a systemic response. If a former CBN governor tells you that Nigeria is confronted with bankruptcy, then there is a serious issue. In fact, restructuring may be too late as a panacea for the problems that we have. It’s either we do it proactively or it is forced on us by extraordinary circumstances; the country can implode or collapse on itself. Any society that would prosper must be rooted in the correlation between productivity and reward and the correlation between hard work and reward. That is not the case we have in Nigeria today, where the belief is for you to grab what you can. Can anybody say what we have is fairness or patriotism? What we have is almost an inverse. We throw money at all the crises we have, like insurgency. Why, because you cannot appeal to people’s sense of patriotism. You have to relate with them at that base level; come and get your share but how many people can you buy?
Where did Nigeria get it wrong?
The thinking of those who prescribed the model of federalism to Nigeria was far superior, in terms of their knowledge of Nigeria, their commitment and their preparedness, and I’m talking of the British colonialists, who created Nigeria, and those who are referred to as Nigeria’s founding fathers; Ahmadu Bello, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, etc. Who in Nigeria before and now do you think know Nigeria more than those people or has the love of Nigeria more than those people? They all sat together for years and it wasn’t through a coup that Nigeria got its independence; there were so many constitutional conferences that led to the independence constitution. Do you think you can throw all that away and not get things wrong as we have it now? The extent of our failure as a nation is in many respects the extent to which we have deviated from that independence constitution, which gave us federalism. I tell people that both in theory and practice, that constitution has been vindicated over and over again. Nigeria up till 1966 is qualitatively different from what we have now. That was why I said the mentality of those Nigerians about our society is different from that of those of us who came after them. I don’t know whether Ahmadu Bello has houses anywhere, maybe he has a modest house. I have my own reservations about imperialism and such things, but you cannot fault his commitment and dedication to the development of the northern region. It is obvious. Of course, you can say more than that for Awolowo in the western region, likewise Azikiwe. A bunch of young guys in 1966 came together and violated that federalism and threw it away. To all extent and purposes, it was an accident, how then can you say you would choose an accident over the norm? When it was violated, we kept reinforcing the jeopardy. The development from that 1966 was that Nigeria became totally captive to power politics and from which we have proven incapable of extricating ourselves. They took Nigeria from four regions to the 36 states that we have today. The basis of the creation of some of the states was even ridiculous; some to compensate girlfriends. You see, those of us asking for restructuring are only asking for restoration. When are we going to start the important job of reclaiming the country to what it should be? Do I still need to tell anyone that the hard work has to start?
From what you said that the mentality of those founding fathers is different from that of the political elite we have today, is there a possibility that they won’t also plunge the restructured system into a dysfunctional state if the restructuring takes place eventually?
In the American war of independence, one of their battle prizes against the British colonialism was ‘no taxation without representation’. What that is telling you is that if you want to universally apply it to Nigeria, if the revenue of a state, for instance, is largely derived from the citizens of that state rather than run to a paymaster in Abuja, the people would hold that governor responsible for how he utilises their money. If a state derives like 80 per cent of its revenue from its people, the governor would not have a convoy of 15 vehicles because people would ask questions. But because it is not their money, directly, it became a double jeopardy. First, the people know that the money is not directly theirs because the governor got it from somewhere even though on their behalf; individuals didn’t make sacrifices, they may not hold the steward accountable. Second, the governor who received the money also feels he doesn’t hold the responsibility to them because he didn’t get it from them so he can spend it anyhow he wants. They may not say it but that explains the waste, profligacy and mismanagement of resources.
If we continue on this thread, where do you think it would lead this country to?
If we do, Nigeria would be lucky to still survive. You are breaking out in anarchy if you have soldiers who say they cannot fight. It was the Chief of Army Staff who said so. If it came from someone else, they would have said it was their enemy. Look at the rate of kidnapping. Just few days ago, 10 people were abducted from Akure-Ikere Road. I went to attend a meeting in Akure on Monday, many people who wanted to come from Lagos and would have driven like they used to could not get vacant seats on the flight. The flight from Lagos to Akure now is packed full because a percentage of those who used to drive, now go by air. You are in constant state of prayer. Now, if security men stop you, you don’t know who they truly are. You now hear things that make you panic, all a product of a systemic collapse. Imagine what the Vice-President said in the United States about the kidnapping problem when there are indications on a daily basis. I pray that God doesn’t bring the reality to him in a very personal way because that is cruel to the victims of those kidnappings. The fact that it doesn’t speak well of your government doesn’t mean you should minimise or distort what is happening. But this is the kind of personality type that contemporary Nigeria is bringing out. There is selfishness, insensitivity, cruelty, perfidy and all manners of bad things everywhere in government and the tragedy is that the political managers don’t even seem conscious of it.
The President promised to focus on three things – security, anti-corruption fight and the economy, are you optimistic that Buhari would do better in those areas this time round?
Morning shows the day. On what basis would I say I expect things to be different? Buhari is not a magician and there are a lot of things that have accumulated to produce the drawbacks that we have, but he has aggravated them, in my own opinion, beyond any other administration. But, you see, I keep on telling people that political mismanagement is our problem. As President, you need a grand strategy to get Nigeria working, not that you would fight corruption. Let us even assume that he has good intention but it is a non-starter. What we have is a complete rot and Nigeria has become a basket case. And what Nigeria needs most now is what is disappearing, which is a sense of nationhood, national unity, belief in the country, commitment, dedication and integration over and above anything else. It’s about how you get the country going and I have not seen the evidence. If the evidence is having the leaders of all the organs of government, in a very brazen manner, from one part of the country, if you are from the South-East, for instance, how will you feel? It’s an insult. I’m a student of Nigerian politics and I study all these things, so it gets to me more than many others. If Festus Adedayo was appointed as media aide to the Senate President (Ahmed Lawan) and the Senate President was pressurised to drop him, how do you manage such mentality? It’s an indication of how deep the country has sunk. If I were to meet Buhari today, I would tell him to appoint his critics if he wants to get Nigeria going; not ass-lickers or people who are looking for something from him. Can you honestly fault what some of us say or object to? If I’m being sycophantic towards you and I cannot tell you what is going wrong, am I not deceiving you? But it is the man who is telling them that something is not right that they would choose as an enemy.
It’s been a month since the President was sworn in and people are already saying there should be no delay in appointing ministers this time round. Do you think it’s getting late too?
Like I said, morning shows the day. Why should anybody be surprised? You see, people behave as if you can change a left-handed man at 60. I would have been pleasantly surprised if ministers have been appointed by now. Can anybody claim to be surprised? Nigeria requires an emergency solution by capable hands and you have the President acting as if everything is okay.
The absence of all former Heads of State at the June 12 Democracy Day generated reactions from people, was there anything symbolic about their absence?
Of course it was symbolic. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m the one who has unreasonable expectations. If all former Presidents from different parts of this country did not sit together to decide that they wouldn’t go and they boycotted the programme, that is a vindication of those who hold the view that everything is wrong about the way Nigeria is going. For each of them to reach that conclusion not to go, there is no resounding judgment that is more than that and you should be worried. Rather, you have a sanctimonious belief in yourself, but it’s the logic of dictatorship when you have people who fall over themselves like sycophants because of you and they tell you all you want to hear. Inevitably, you are going to end up in that alley of vindictiveness.
There are some of them who come from the North, his region. Not even that alone, it was only Yakubu Gowon that attended his inauguration. That is a sad commentary of our current reality. As I told you, I try to ask myself whether we are the ones being unreasonable in our expectations of him, because I was trained in critical thinking. It’s obvious this style of governance is not working and that is double jeopardy. You need the commitment, sacrifice and dedication of your citizens to develop the society, but the opposite is what is in Nigeria because like I said the citizens are alienated from the country. I don’t want to be seen as being critical of government, but at the same time, I have an obligation to my God and my conscience. I would have preferred to be shamed by a wonderful performance. Worse still is that his style of governance is creating division among people, creating this mentality of ‘we’ versus ‘them’. There was a video clip of Chief Olu Falae where he shared his experience in the hands of some Fulani. Would he because of anything say they are not Fulani when they are? The professor they abducted also said they were Fulani herdsmen. Nobody is saying such is typical of Fulani, but at the same time, you cannot ignore these acts, and they are being overtly and tacitly inspired and encouraged to take law into their hands with impunity. As bad as things are in the South-West today, you can imagine what people in Benue State have gone through in the past few years. You would be adding insult to their injury by imposing this Ruga settlement on them. I’m not an extremist; I’m trained to believe in political compromise as the basis of political stability, but what we are being offered is not compromise, it is what you call ‘take it or leave it’. People would be complaining about something that wasn’t done right, but by the next day they would do something worse. Look at the provocative nature the idea of the Ruga Settlement was brought up and you also have the Fulani Radio coming up. I also believe there is no smoke without fire; I’m talking about the N100bn that was allegedly given to that group. Is that a good way to do things?
Some people have said Obasanjo might become irrelevant politically if Buhari, whom he opposed, win the election. Do you have same fears?
The logic of running a government of exclusivity, division, impunity and dictatorship is that you would need to create a negative personality cult around yourself. When you govern a country in terms of who is for me and who is against me, that is inevitable. The second thing is that Nigeria is travelling in a fast pace towards anarchy. Look at how all former Presidents kept away from him, was that an act of friendship to him? If he sees that as an indication that something is wrong and he does something about it, he would learn a positive lesson. If anybody thinks Obasanjo might become irrelevant, that person is thinking in the opposite direction and what I mean is that his status would become magnified because he would be vindicated. If he’s asking questions, you cannot fault the fact that something has gone fundamentally wrong.
You worked closely with Obasanjo, why didn’t he honour Abiola?
At that time, there were a few occasions in the National Assembly that doing something for Abiola was discussed but it was shut down. You know the way our leaders aggravate tension in the country, especially with the way the issue was presented as North versus South. In the early years of Obasanjo’s Presidency, there were machinations made by people like President Buhari to portray him as being against the North. The Sharia issue was there at that time and he (Buhari) was the same man who led a delegation to Lam Adesina. During that Sharia crisis, there was a Council of State meeting and the Vice-President then, Atiku Abubakar, addressed a world press conference that the council took a decision that parties to the Sharia conflict should revert to the status quo. General Buhari went on air and said it was a lie. Of course, we know the quotes that came out from that address. They don’t like us talking about these things but this is recent history. They are documented. They told people to vote for those who can defend their faith. There was a time in which there was this active northern Muslim opposition to Obasanjo and whatever he did was viewed on that basis. You can imagine bringing up the case of Abiola at the National Assembly at that time. It came up once or twice that I can remember but of course the fate was predictable, so that was the circumstance. Such an issue was divisive in those years. (Punch)
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President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep disappointment over the postponement of the presidential and National Assembly polls by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
The President lamented that, despite giving all the necessary support to the electoral umpire, the exercise was postponed just hours to voting and after Nigerians had taken the pains to travel to vote.
“I am deeply disappointed that despite the long notice given and our preparations both locally and internationally, the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the presidential and National Assembly elections within hours of its commencement,” Buhari said in a statement he signed on Saturday morning in Daura, Katsina State.
However, he asked INEC to ensure the safety of election materials already distributed and appealed to Nigerians to remain law abiding.
Buhari also stated that he had decided to relocate to Abuja from Daura to ensure that the meeting INEC called to hold with stakeholders was successfully.
His statement reads further, “We now urge INEC to ensure not only that materials already distributed are safe and do not get into wrong hands, but that everything is done to avoid the lapses that resulted in this unfortunate postponement, and ensure a free and fair election on the rescheduled dates.
“While I reaffirm my strong commitment to the independence, neutrality of the electoral umpire and the sanctity of the electoral process and ballot, I urge all political stakeholders and Nigerians to continue to rally round INEC at this trying national moment in our democratic journey.
“I, therefore, appeal to all Nigerians to refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united to ensure that no force or conspiracy derail our democratic development.” (Punch)
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Sunday denied a report which indicated that he had dropped his support for the Peoples Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
He faulted the report which also stated that he had no preferred presidential candidate. Obasanjo said only a fool would sit on the fence.
The ex-President said these in a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, made available to journalists in Abeokuta.
In the statement titled, “2019 elections and reports of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s neutrality”, Obasanjo said he was in Cairo to attend the maiden edition of the Intra-African Trade Fair where he acted as the Chairman of the Advisory Council when his attention was drawn to the report (not in The PUNCH) with the headline, “Atiku: Obasanjo shifts political gear to neutral”
Obasanjo said in the statement that Nigeria was being destroyed by incompetence, lack of focus and nepotism.
He said while he chose not to use the Owu convention in Iwo, Osun State on Saturday as a platform for a political campaign, he adopted a communal and familial approach in talking to members of his Owu sub-ethnic group.
According to the statement, the former President “ believes that only a fool will sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed with incompetence, corruption, lack of focus, insecurity, nepotism, brazen impunity and denial of the obvious. Chief Obasanjo is no such fool nor is he so unwise”.
The statement said, “It is disingenuous, if not malicious, for anyone to suggest that Chief Obasanjo was being neutral when he chose not to use the Owu convention as a platform for political campaign but instead adopted a communal and familial approach in talking to members of his Owu family.
“For the records, and as accurately reported by some media organisations, what the former President said at the convention in Iwo was that while he would not impose any candidates on them, Nigerians should vote for credible candidates who would drive growth and development and make their lives better than it is now.
“Chief Obasanjo’s statement did not suggest his neutrality. In fact, the former President believes that only a fool will sit on the fence or be neutral when his or her country is being destroyed. Chief Obasanjo is no such fool nor is he so unwise.
“The former President reassures Nigerians that he will not sit on the fence when he needs to be out and active for people to know where he stands in the best interest of Nigeria.
“Chief Obasanjo reaffirms that he is on the side of what is best for Nigeria and what we have currently, at the helm of affairs of Nigeria, is not the best for Nigeria, so nobody should fool himself or deceive others about Chief Obasanjo’s position.
“The former President further urges Nigerians, who are victims of what we have for now, to stop just complaining and go out to get beneficial change.
“They must know that such change will not come if they remain inactive, just complaining and complacent and allow themselves to be deceived by sycophants and enemies of Nigeria.
“If they do not become active and get the much-needed change of the current administration to a government that will improve the economy, regain the confidence of investors and generally drive growth, development and economic progress with security, what is coming will be much worse than what Nigerians currently suffer.
“On his part, Chief Obasanjo will remain consistent in speaking out whenever and wherever he sees evil as he is known to do no matter whose ox is gored. Nobody should manipulate Chief Obasanjo’s position, particularly on the 2019 presidential election and what he said in Iwo, to perpetrate or perpetuate continued destruction of our country, “the statement said.
Obasanjo, had in a letter to the President in January this year, urged Buhari not to seek re-election. He had accused the President of incompetence in many areas, including the economy.
The ex-President had stated, “There are other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court. This has grave consequences on the performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest.”
Urging the President to shelve his 2019 presidential ambition, he stated, “I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service. President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.”
After the emergence of his former deputy, Atiku Abubakar as the PDP presidential candidate, Obasanjo in October endorsed the ex-vice-president.
The endorsement followed a peace meeting brokered by the founder of the Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo; an Islamic preacher, Ahmed Gumi; the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah; a chieftain of the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and the PDP National Chairman, Uche Secondus.
The relationship between Obasanjo and Atiku had become frosty towards the twilight of the Obasanjo administration which ran from 1999 till 2007.
There were allegations that Atiku had worked against the third term agenda purportedly mooted by his then boss. Obasanjo too had since not supported all Atiku’s earlier efforts at becoming the president.
Obasanjo, had in an exclusive interview with Premium Times on August 3 after his arrival from Kigali, said God would not forgive him if he supported Atiku.
“How can I be on the same side with Atiku?” Obasanjo was quoted to have asked. “To do what? If I support Atiku for anything, God will not forgive me. If I do not know, yes. But once I know, Atiku can never enjoy my support,” he said.
But on October 11, 2018, after the peace meeting, Obasanjo said he forgave Atiku in the interest of the nation.
He stated, “Let me start by congratulating President-to-be, Atiku Abubakar, on his success at the recent PDP primary and I took note of his gracious remarks in his acceptance speech that it all started here.
“Yes, when it started, it was meant for Atiku to succeed Obasanjo. In the presence of these distinguished leaders of goodwill today, let me say it openly that we have reviewed what went wrong on the side of Atiku.
“And in all honesty, my former Vice-President has rediscovered and repositioned himself. As I have repeatedly said, it is not so much what you did against me that was the issue but what you did against the party, the government and the country.
“I took the stand I had taken based on the character and attributes you exhibited in the position you found yourself. I strongly believe that I was right. It was in the overall interest of everyone and everything to take such a position.
“From what transpired in the last couple of hours or so, you have shown remorse; you have asked for forgiveness and you have indicated that you have learnt some good lessons and you will mend fences and make amends as necessary and as desirable.
“Whenever or wherever you might have offended me, as a Christian who asks for God’s forgiveness of my sins and inadequacies on a daily basis, I forgive and I sincerely advise you to learn from the past and do what is right and it will be well with you.” (Punch)
Former Vice-President Abubakar Atiku has said President Muhammadu Buhari’s failure to retain significant individuals in his party was a sign of weakness and lack of leadership.
Atiku, through his campaign organisation, said his attempt to come to power “is to clean the mess that Buhari would leave which has resulted in job loss, poor economy and ranking of the country as one of the poorest.”
The spokesperson for the Atiku Campaign Organisation, Segun Sowunmi, in a reaction to Buhari’s comment while receiving the All Progressive Congress nomination forms, said, “Never in the history of Nigeria has a more incompetent person served in the chambers of the exalted office of the President. No President of Nigeria, politics apart, will speak in such manner. The fact is that freedom of association is guaranteed by all the United Nations’ conventions and the constitution of our country.
“That Buhari has not been able to provide leadership and keep high-network individuals in the APC is to his own weakness and a question of his lack of capacity to keep Nigerians together. We are in the campaign and we are on the ballot. Atiku is attempting to become the President to clean the mess that Buhari caused in our country.
“Buhari has made many Nigerians lose their jobs and our country has become one of the poorest countries in the world. He has divided the country and people cannot move freely. He has made a mess of the economy.
“Therefore, we take his comment as not possibly referring to us. He should speak to issues, development, job creation, restructuring and so on. Obviously, these things he cannot do.”
President Buhari had on Tuesday lashed out at defectors from the All Progressives Congress, describing them as weak and selfish politicians. (Punch)
Last week, the Redcard Movement, a pressure group seeking good governance and regime change in Nigeria launched its first public rally in Abuja. CALEB ONWE reports
The Red Card Movement has been trending on the social media for some time but last week, it’s promoters decided to bring to reality by organising a rally on the streets of Abuja.
This public perception of the group was boosted by the fact that it is led by a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili, a dogged fighter and prime mover of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) fame.
In this latest outing, Ezekwesili and her group are angry about the poor level of governance in Nigeria today and have vowed to mobilise well-meaning Nigerians to dislodge what she described as an incompetent leadership.
Social media enthusiasts are familiar with the barrage of criticism that followed her declaration of a lofty dream to achieve a paradigm shift in the process of choosing leaders in Nigeria and also mindset conversion in part of those who chose leaders.
One thing counting in favour of Ezekwesili is her ability to remain resolute in pursuing this her new project, particularly when one considers her track records in mobilising and sustaining her vision in the BBOG campaigns against all odds.
The launch of the movement in the Federal Capital Territory took place at the popular Berger Roundabout in Abuja. It was designed to feel the pulse of the public about this new pressure group.
The first hurdle the movement struggled to dismantle was the embargo the FCT Police command placed on the Unity Fountain, a place where citizens gather to exercise their constitutional rights of free speech.
Amidst heavy police presence, Ezekwesili took the Red Card campaign to Nigerians from all walks of life. She, supported by other members of the team, emphasized that political power belongs to the citizens, who must wake up and stand up against a “failed government”.
According to Ezekwesili, the country would remain in the claws of politicians who were not prepared to reward those who voted them with good governance, if nothing drastic was done to chase them out of office in 2019.
“We are here today to activate the office of the citizen which is the office that every Nigerian citizen occupies. A citizen doesn’t have to be in government in order to have a voice as to how they are governed.
“We want to mobilize citizens so that they will know that they have the power to determine the kind of government that will lead this country, a government that is competent, capable and has character
“When citizens don’t put their voice in how they are governed, then we are going to stay as a failed country forever. We decided to use our red card as a way of saying to people who have failed in governance to go and get out of the field of governance,” she declared.
Armed with the determination to see her dreams fulfilled in 2019, Ezekwesili also disclosed plans to have the movement launched across the 36 states of the federation.
Similarly, another member of the movement, Aisha Yesufu, who is also a member of the BBOG, said the vision of the movement was to lay the foundation for a new Nigeria.
Yesufu, while refuting the claims that the movement was being sponsored by a political party to discredit the current government, said the movement was purely a platform for citizens to express their will and take possession of what belonged to them.
“This movement is not sponsored by anyone. It started organically online by Nigerians who are tired of the bad governance that the APC and PDP have offered over the years. As citizens, we want to entrench leaders who believe in the people.
“Leaders, who are competent and capable of moving Nigeria forward. There is no sponsorship anywhere as this is just a movement by the Nigerian people,” she noted.
Another leader of the movement, Maureen Kabirk, noted that one of the most disturbing things about the current crop of leadership in the country was their penchant for sacrificing the interest of the masses to achieve their selfish aims.
“How many of the incompetent leaders will ever bring out their children to lead a political protest? When employment opportunities are available in places like the CBN, NNPC, these selfish leaders would secretly fix their own children there.
“But when it is time for recruiting the youths into the Police, the military, it would be made open, because they want people they will push to where they would be killed,” she said.
A citizen, Chizoba Nnamani, who probably had been looking for an opportunity outside the social media sphere to express his desire for a change in government, got one at the Redcard Movement rally when he was given the microphone to talk.
Nnamani said: “I am a trader, I came to Abuja and have not benefited from the social welfare of the government. I have never voted in any election before but have decided to get my voters card in order to vote out these politicians”.
The last word
Despite the efforts the proponents of the movement had made to sell their agenda to Nigerians, cynicism is on the increase.
However, with the benefit of hindsight, Ezekwesili and her supporters appear to be overlooking the threats in their ways with an unflinching commitment to the project.
One thing that remains outstanding about this idea, is the need for citizens to be actively involved in all the processes that produce their leaders, by voting and making their votes count. This is the cardinal point the Redcard Movement wants to be promoted. Whether the movement will withstand the opposition that is coming from all frontiers against it and leave its footprints on the sand of history is a matter of time. (New Telegraph)
Plenary at the Senate on Thursday became rowdy over the alleged incompetence of President Muhammadu Buhari to address the spate of killings by armed herdsmen.
Lawmaker representing Abia South Senatorial District, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, had raised a point of order to make reference to the conflicting reasons given by officials in the Buhari-led administration for the herdsmen/farmers clashes.
Abaribe noted that the latest was from Buhari who said during his current official visit to the United Kingdom that the killer herdsmen were from Libya.
He said the admittance by the President that Nigeria had been invaded by external forces confirmed his previous claims that Buhari was “totally incompetent”.
The Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, interrupted Abaribe to raise a point of order, asking the lawmaker to withdraw his derogatory comments on Buhari and apologise for his statements.
The bickering polarised the chamber along political lines. (Punch)
If Vice President Yemi Osinbajo expected a public outrage at his latest revelation that the whopping sums of N100 billion and $289 million were embezzled by the Goodluck Jonathan administration weeks to the 2015 elections, he must be disappointed by now. Up till now, nobody is exactly asking for Jonathan’s head on a spike. Osinbajo has confirmed people’s suspicion: that Buhari, the man who was elected to tear down the temple of corruption in Nigeria is not as potent a force as he was marketed. Nigerians that thought they were getting two raging bulls must be wondering how they ended up with these hand-wringing jokers. Osinbajo should not be surprised at the yawns and wrinkled noses he got from Nigerians for his exposé, people now think that still blaming Jonathan is an old subterfuge considering everything else that has befallen us under Buhari. If Jonathan and his merry band stole so much and up till now, the best you do is throw out repetitive lines of how much he stole; maybe you should not be in government. Nigerians voted you to fight corruption, not to join them to moan about it.
This day three years ago, it was five days before the presidential elections. Everywhere you turned at that time, you heard “Sai Baba” chanted to the tune of “anti-corruption.” Followers of the candidate and now President, Muhammadu Buhari, evangelized about the coming of this messiah whose no-nonsense stance will cleanse Nigeria’s Augean stables for good. Even his former foes forgave him without him asking. Buhari himself, aware of the weight of expectations imposed on him, sold himself as the karma of corruption in Nigeria. Everywhere he went, he sang about fighting corruption and Nigerians rocked themselves to its sonic sensation.
When Buhari was first sworn in, bragging about what Jonathan’s administration had done wrong was the most priced and bestselling share on the stock market, and the APC — still basking in the euphoria of unexpected victory — made huge dividends out of it. Almost three years after he was sworn in, the folks who rhapsodized about Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda have found that he was no different from his predecessor. He is just as clueless, and corruption — Nigeria’s Frankenstein monster — has once again swallowed another one of its creators. Post-2015 Nigeria is still in the doldrums of ineptitude, nepotism, tribalism, and uncontained violence.
Osinbajo is still talking about what Jonathan did wrong when their government has barely been able to do a single thing convincingly right. Osinbajo was also quoted as saying that at some point, those who promoted strategic alliance contracts between the NNPC and the NDPC made away with almost one-tenth of our national reserves! That is a mind-boggling amount. Such a theft ought to be thoroughly investigated and punished, and not just crunched into a sensational speech at an occasion. Osinbajo, again, said that it was only in talking about such mega-thefts that we could resolve such thieving. True, he has a point that such scams need to be addressed, but he seems to forget that talking is all Buhari’s government has done till now. People are tired of accusations; they are tiring and demoralizing. What we want to see is what the government under his watch has done about such embezzlements. How many of those people have been tried and how many are on their way to jail now? If nothing of the sort has been done, then what is the point of informing us who stole what? You are only confirming that you are weak, and your government is more or less a paper tiger. Mentioning Jonathan’s name alone used to be a potent means of whipping Nigerians into frenzied outrage about “corruption,” but people seem to be fatigued about the unending talk of what is wrong; they want transparency, reforms, and action. They are bored with people like Osinbajo constantly revving the engine of a vehicle that has no wheels.
Not only are officials of this administration adept at just talk, they, in fact, act as a striptease. Just a few days ago, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), also said that if he released details of the allowances of the principal officers of the National Assembly, Nigerians would be shocked. But what exactly would be shocking to Nigerians about his revelations considering that Sagay already informed Nigerians last year that lawmakers earned as much as N29m monthly? What else is “shockable” about what he has to reveal? At worst, he will reveal that Senate President, Bukola Saraki possibly earns N1bn monthly. Even if we find out that things are that sordid, what exactly is the reaction he expects the shock we will experience to solve?
Sagay thinks Nigeria will explode if people find out what the lawmakers cost them but most people know, just like they know that Buhari’s budget is just as padded as was his predecessors’. They just insist on keeping their sanity intact by ignoring their thieving leaders. I think Sagay — much like Peter Obi who also teased us with information about what governors earn — is overestimating the capability of Nigerians to be still shocked with the mindless looting that goes on in the country every day. Nigerians have come to realize that both the APC and the PDP are bad for their mental and moral health, and there is nothing one side can accuse the other of that it is not guilty of too. That is why Osinbajo’s revelation did not get much more than sneers and jeers. He is working in an administration whose anti-corruption agenda has become more or less reduced to accusations and counter-accusations, and he wants us to be moved by Jonathan’s profligacy.
Since Buhari became president, his cronies too have been accused of corruption, seven million people have lost their jobs between 2016 and 2017, and Nigerians have yet to recover from the effects of a recession. Think of the degree of violence that has occurred under Buhari, from the killings in Benue to Kaduna, Enugu, Taraba, and the abduction of girls in Dapchi. How about those for “shock” and explosion? If the country did not go on the streets to protest after Buhari spent half of last year abroad, and up till now he has still not accounted for how much his health cost the country, then what is Sagay worried about?
There is every possibility that Osinbajo is right that Jonathan plundered the nation for his re-election. All the money Jonathan’s administration spent in 2015, particularly in the last few weeks of the election when he was crawling on his knees from churches to traditional rulers must have come from somewhere other than his pocket. But Osinbajo will not get the reaction he expects from Nigerians this time because Buhari himself has not shown superior morals when it comes to the issue of dipping your hands into the national pockets. 1n 2015, Buhari did not finance his campaign with five loaves and two fishes. The money too came from somewhere, and we know it was not his putatively untainted pockets. In fact, Buhari has that mystique about him: he has a way of making people believe he is personally not corrupt even though whenever he has needed money to finance his ambition, somebody’s dirty hands have picked up the invoice. Up till now, nobody in the APC has had the honour or dignity to account for their campaign spending yet they cry about others’ faults. By 2019, they are likely to do exactly what they accuse Jonathan of: take money out of the national reserves to finance their campaigns too. That is why their moral posturing moves nobody whose head on his/her shoulders can think their way out of a paper bag. (Punch)
The streets have become an epistemic community where the mood of the country and the direction of thoughts are expressed, moulded, patterned and structured. When one interacts with the streets, one is able to know who is popular and unpopular, which person governs well and which does not; the streets’ engagement is important in sampling the dynamics of thoughts of the ordinary Nigerian who bears the brunt of present mis-governance.
Unfortunately, the leadership of the country is surrounded by sycophants who create the impression that without President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria cannot get to the Promised Land. To this set of people, who thought there is no alternative to Buhari, they must be living in fools’ paradise as the President has never been the best for the country but a candidate of circumstance and protest vote in 2015. The same reasons of ethnic sentiments, religious favouritism and nepotism which made Nigerians reject Buhari in the serial election losses of 2003, 2007 and 2011 have now become real in their consequences. All these elements of his characterisation have played out in governance, fighting corruption and management of the economy.
Nigerians have moved from “It must be Buhari” (Sai Buhari) of 2015 to Káì Buhari! From Sai Buhari to Kai Buhari is how ordinary Nigerians have constructed the social reality which confronts them in present day Nigeria. As a trained sociologist, the society is my laboratory and I get data through constant interaction with it. I had gone to purchase brake pad and shock absorber for my ailing car owing to the deplorable state of roads in my state. The spare parts seller told me the brake pad which I bought last year for around N1000 now costs N2,500. When I screamed, he simply shuddered and said, “We are in the season of change, Oga.
Na Buhari time. You know na Kai Buhari we dey now. By next year, e go be Go Buhari”. After hearing the submission, I marvelled at how ordinary Nigerians construct social reality and map out strategies to make their life better for the future. Those who suffer bad policy and poor governance are planning ahead while the horse riders and their cronies think they can continue to ride the horse for life.
President Buhari as the proverbial horse rider is a big man who is not on the ground to feel the pains of those being governed. The fatalities recorded as a result of the killer Fulani herdsmen have surpassed the record of Boko Haram. Yet, the Buhari government has been incapacitated by clannish considerations while farming communities are degraded. Buhari and his government have shown that man is born equally but some are more equal than others by not arresting and prosecuting the herdsmen who are stretching the limits of tolerance. A seemingly contradictory government wants One Nigeria while tearing it apart by its action and inaction. Peace eludes settlements where injustice is allowed to thrive. How did we get here?
With the woeful performance of Goodluck Jonathan, and the new found alliance with the regional godfather who needed mainstream relevance, a lot of money was pumped into presenting a different narrative of the man, Buhari. Note that the same political characters had branded Buhari bad in three general elections which he lost. In Buhari’s Chatham House 2015 Speech, before his electoral victory, he presented himself as a converted democrat “who is ready to operate under democratic norms”. And for me, rule of law is one of the norms constantly flouted by this government. Many court rulings have been disobeyed. Personal affairs such as health and the accident of his son get jet-speed attention but the health, education needs, unemployment and electricity needs of Nigerians, and carnage of farming communities by Fulani herdsmen get the country’s unification consideration and setting up of a committee and no arrest.
He only begs the victims to accommodate their fellow countrymen. Such an approach to national issues is unpardonable as he had promised Nigerians in his packaged 2015 Chatham House speech never to allow problems to irresponsibly fester. Hear him: “Let me assure you that if I am elected President, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilising role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service; we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunition to work with; we will improve intelligence gathering and border controls to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels; we will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development plan promoting infrastructural development, job creation, agriculture and industry in the affected areas. We will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester.”
While successes have been recorded in the area of reclaiming territories from Boko Haram (that still kills) and recovering parts of the looted funds, Buhari has failed to switch on the inner light of his vehicle which accommodates political complicits and untouchable tribal comrades. He should know that those who purport to clean a dirty town must start from within. Unlike Boko Haram that is restricted to the North-East, Fulani herdsmen are presently widespread nationwide. Yet, the President and associates want colonies established for herders noted for killing, raping and destroying livelihoods.
As a criminologist, the spread of Fulani herdsmen in virtually all the nook and cranny of the country portend security threats going by their activities in the last decade. Accumulation by dispossession has become their trademark while they sabotage the economy of others to sustain their livelihoods. I should also warn that increasing distrust in the capability of the state to secure lives and property allows people to resort to self-help. This should not be allowed to happen.
In the area of economic governance, we can’t celebrate either. The economy has grown on paper while the masses get choked to death in the same economy that favours the rich. To know if there is development, we should ask the President the same question he asked Goodluck Jonathan then: What is happening to poverty? What is happening to unemployment? What is happening to inequality? As the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Buhari has failed to ensure governance and accountability in that sector. Today, Nigerians buy petrol at N180 per litre or more owing to an unfulfilled promise to fix our refineries.
What this implies is that Buhari is not the messiah we are looking for. He can only do his bit while others continue from there. Therefore, Kai Buhari underscores the masses’ period of agonising and warning to Buhari. Certainly, the lice of unresolved problems of unemployment, health, education, economy, Fulani herdsmen terrorism continues to stain our hands. A Presidency that approaches public issues with jet-speed, and bridges inequality gap is desired. But can the leopard change its skin? 2019 presents the opportunity for voters to either say káre Buhari (welldone Buhari) or Go Buhari as my spare part seller rightly puts it.
Contact the writer: Dr Tade, a sociologist, via firstname.lastname@example.org