ajagunna

I discuss Nigeria and the world at large because I strongly believe MyOpinionCounts!

Category: The World

Mr. Omoyele Sowore, 2019 Presidential Aspirant Visits Berlin for Townhall Meeting with A Breath of Fresh Hope for Nigeria

Convener of #TakeItBack Movement and Nigeria’s 2019 Presidential Aspirant Mr. Omoyele Sowore In Historic City of Berlin as A Breath of New and Fresh Hope In Nigeria Political Space. It was a full hall yesterday as #TakeItback Presidential Aspirant, Founder of Online Media Platform, Sahara Reporters, Mr. Omoyele Sowore came to Berlin the Capital of Germany to meet with Nigerians in pursuit of the race to Nigeria’s Presidency in 2019. It is worthy of note that the election and handing over to a new administration in Nigeria is less than a year from now. Therefore, Mr. Omoyele Sowore’s plans are in high gear to ensure no place is left unturned or untouched. Prior to the BErlin Townhall Meeting, he had been to Italy and several other cities, towns and villages in the North, South-South, South-East and South-West of Nigeria with Townhall Meetings. He continued to Barcelona Spain from Berlin Townhall Meeting spreading the #TakeItback Movement to Nigerians in every part of the world.

sdr

Presidential Aspirant and Converner of #TakeItBack Movement Mr Omoyele Sowore with Ms Abigail Okorodus, A Current European Union-Scholar(ERASMUS) and Alumnus of the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife Nigeria. Impressed by the intelligent multifaceted questions of MS Okorodus on pathways to financing and successful implementation outlined agenda in the manifesto acronymed SPICER-HEAT, Mr. Omoyele Sowore answered the questions with great indepth and analysis, and also agreed to take a selfie upon Ms. Okorodus request.

Prior to the powerfully attended Townhall Meeting in the historic city of Berlin, Mr. Omoyele Sowore met with leaders of Nigerian communities in Berlin, business leaders and entrepreneurs of Nigerian heritage. Also Nigerians with passion for social and community works were duly represented to dialogue and discuss matters and issues of the Nigerian state and Nigerians at large with Presidential Aspirant Mr Omoyele Sowore.
Nigerians with professions ranging from Doctors, Lawyers, Businesswomen and men, Traders, Musicians, Factory Workers,Teachers, Students, also Children and Parents came out in large numbers to attend.

sdr

L-R (1) Mr. Omoyele Sowore, Converner of #TakeItBack Movement and Nigeria’s Presidential Aspirant, (2) Mr. Okejimi Segun, A DAAD Scholar in Germany and (3) Publisher of http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com Blog, Mr. Ibukunolu O. Ajagunna aka Ahjot Naija in Attendance at The Berlin Townhall Meeting

Nigerians all over the world tuned in online to join in on the Facebook-Live handle of the movement. The show of love and the daring power of hope was visibly represented among the people yesterday as Mr. Sowore thanked Nigerians for the strong faith and hope they have in the country and in the potentials of our people as a nation. He noted the historic importance of the Berlin visit pointing out that in 1884/85 was when Africa was divided up without the presence of Africans at the table to discuss and negotiate their own future. The #TakeItback Movement, having convened in Berlin is therefore a historic moment as it seeks to discuss and dialogue on the future of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and to see that it stays united and draw up new pathways for a successful administration of the country. “If Nigeria gets it right come 2019, Africa will get it right”, says Mr. Sowore.

Mr. Sowore listened with rapt attention and discussed matters arising with participants in manner worthy of a president giving indepth analysis of and into issues without mincing words on the urgency of the task at hand. In the Townhall Meeting, he addressed Nigerians and answered questions. He touched on his manifesto which is summed up in the acronym SPICER-HEAT, that is Security, Power, Infrastructure, Economy, Restructuring, Health, Education, Agriculture and Technology. He discussed in details each of these agenda and pathways to realize them, funding being a major factor that he left nobody in doubt will be taken care of.

He emphasized that his Presidency will not be business as usual. A great wind of positive renewal and intervention is about to happen in the Nigeria political and national space come 2019. He stated that Nigeria will have its pride of place once again among the comity of nations. Not only did he categorically state that Nigeria Airways will be brought back to alive, but also pointed out the economic loss the absence of a national carrier is to Nigerians, the Nigeria state and businesses.
Job creation was top of the discussion as he dived into the core of his agenda for the country. In the Power Sector alone, when solar and wind energy is properly harnessed and developed, it has the potential to employ over 2 million Nigerians, young and old alike. Agriculture, Health Sector among others will be rediscovered and new ways to tackling long standing problems in various sector of Nigeria’s daily life will be introduced.

IMG-20180610-WA0004

Mr Omoyele Sowore, Converner of #TakeItBack Movement and Nigeria’s Presidential Aspirant at the Berlin-Schönefeld Airport with Mr. Victor Ayog, Coordinator of the Berlin Branch of the #TakeItBack Movement.

All in all, Mr. Omoyele Sowore is a breath of positive fresh air into the otherwise discredited political landscape in Nigeria. Nigerians in Disapora and Home are proud once again as the look forward to the emergence of Mr Omoyele Sowore as President of Nigeria in 2019. Many participants, both online and offline all around the world have continued to spread the message that there is hope after all for Nigeria once again.

Hajj 2015: Thoughts and Recommendations by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq 'Deji Hammed. An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed.
An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

The airlifting of pilgrims back to their home countries started in earnest as Hajj 2015 is practically over since 27th September. All seemed to flow perfectly well until the morning of that fateful Thursday when Muslims all over the world were preparing for Eid-el-Kabir, and pilgrims who had spent the previous day on Mount Arafat moved from Muzdalifa to the Jamaraat area for the symbolic pelting of Satan with pebbles. Barely two weeks after the unfortunate crane-crash in Makah which claimed the lives of over 100 people with several  hundred injured, little did anybody know that a worse tragedy was about to happen. The stampede at the intersection of Roads 204 and 223 resulted in over 700 dead and many sufferers of varying degrees of injury.

Before any comprehensive investigation was conducted to unravel the causes of the incident by the Saudi authorities, trading of blames and voices of condemnation were already at the highest decibel in the Muslim world and among concerned members of the international community. The first salvo coming from the Iranians: “The Saudi government should take full responsibility of the tragedy.” Some blame the incident on the indiscipline and failure of pilgrims to follow official directions on movements. As if that was not enough, the Head of Central Hajj Committee, Prince Khaled al Faisal blamed the disaster on “some pilgrims with African nationalities”. This irked a number of Africans who considered such utterance as racist. Yet some went as far as weaving a conspiracy round the incident. They insisted on the invisible hands of Teheran being responsible, with the sole aim of embarrassing the Saudi government and portraying same as incapable of assuring the safety and well-being of the guests of Allah.

As we await the conclusion of the investigation into the incident as ordered by His Royal Majesty, King Salman, the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques,  whatever might be the immediate and remote causes of the stampede, we owe it to justice and fairness to set the record straight. This is so because a lot of barefaced lies, half-truths and hate-filled allegations are flying all over the news and social media.

First, it will be incorrect to blame the incident on the ill-preparedness of the Saudi government.  Hajj, a gathering of millions of people (this year over 3 million), poses a serious and inestimable challenge of crowd control and safety. Millions of people perform the same acts and rites almost at the same time, within specific locations requiring movements and displacements covering several kilometres back and forth within a definite number of days. Any slight panic and loss of serenity could result in fatality and catastrophe of horrendous proportion. That this sort of awful disaster happened last 25 years ago is enough testimony to the serious planning efforts that the Kingdom deploys to ensure yearly safe and successful Hajj.

This year, a team of 100,000 security personnel consisting of an elite counterterrorism unit, traffic police and civil defense was deployed. At Mina air-conditioned and fire-proofed tents with heat-sensitive water sprinklers were provided. This is in reaction to the 1997 fatal fire incident. There was free medical care with toll-free number in many international languages in case of emergencies. I wanted to work as volunteer with the French section in Riyadh. I could not realize this wish because I was an intending pilgrim.

Jamaraat is no doubt the most tragedy-prone of the holy sites; little surprise the stampede occurred close to it, just like in 1994 and more recently 2006. The five-storey stele was constructed to facilitate and ease the bottlenecks at stone-throwing. Multiple access roads, water vapour spraying from metal pipes to cool the crowds, over 7000 cameras to monitor the crowd influx with police and paramilitary cordons stationed at strategic locations, including metro lines from Arafat to Mina through Muzdalifa.

Second, there isn’t any modicum of truth in the insinuation or attempt to insinuate that the Saudi government is racist or racially motivated in its dealings with Muslim faithfuls coming for Hajj from all over the globe. A cursory look at the reception arrangements made for pilgrims at the famous tent-city of Mina lay to bare this fact. The city was carefully divided into 8 zones and marked with different colours and numbers on the map guide for easy identification by the pilgrims.  The zoning includes pilgrims from  1. Saudi Arabia  2. Arab Gulf countries 3.  Iran 4. Non-Arab Africans 5. Arab countries 6. Turkey with America, Australia and Europe 7. South East Asia and last but not the least 8. South Asia. Aside where they were each mostly concentrated, small numbers of these pilgrims dotted every other parts of the Mina landscape and intermingled with different races.

In my case, being an internal pilgrim, I shared the same tent and male compartment with dozens of other internal pilgrims of different nationalities: Saudis, Nigerians, Pakistanis, Ghanaians, Sudanese, Yemenis and Indians. We all used the same facilities and helped ourselves to the same sumptuous buffets throughout our stay in Mina. This same reality held for other colleagues and compatriots in their tents.

Third, rather than blame trading and shifting, Muslims and Muslim communities should take a fair share of responsibility. There should be concerted efforts and planning from us all to avoid a repeat of such “relatively avoidable” massive  loss of precious lives.

The Saudi Ministry of Hajj should adhere more strictly to quota system and restrict massive influx of pilgrims. The five-year recommended lapse for renewal of Hajj permit to intending internal pilgrims can be replicated for foreigners, and extended if need be to ten years. National Pilgrims Board should dissuade regular Hajjis. We should not see this measure as antithetical to free choice/worship but as a necessary step to safety and comfort to our fellow brothers and sisters, while simultaneously ensuring that a large percentage of Muslims from across the world can embark on this spiritual journey at least once in a lifetime. We may consider such restraint as a personal sadaqqah and a social responsibility for the well-being of other Muslims.

It was noticed that many Saudi security personnel speak only the Arabic language. This made communication and adherence to guides and instructions difficult as the majority of the pilgrims do not speak Arabic. There may therefore be the need to teach Hajj-designated security officers and other allied officials English, French and relevant international languages. An array of Hajj Volunteers Corps drawn from nationals of participating countries may be specially trained to collaborate and work with the Saudi officials for the duration of Hajj to limit cultural or linguistic barrier. Citizens of  different countries studying in Saudi universities may come in here handy.

At this point, it needs repeating that Hajj is not a compulsory aspect of the Islamic religion. This is also in line with clear cut injunction that Allah has not placed any burden on His servants than they can bear. Sending aged, weak and sick family members to Hajj should stop forthwith. The Hajj rites I witnessed is not stress-free. Perhaps this explains Allah’s precondition of “ability” to embarking on Hajj. There is therefore the need to tamper the urge for Hajj with a degree of reasonableness. We must not forget this: there are other acts of Ibadah commensurate with Hajj in rewards that Allah’s Apostle magnanimously  recommended.

It will not be out of place to advise those who intend to do Hajj to prioritize it, so this goal is accomplished while they are relatively young, healthy and full of energy.

On a final note, I enjoin the families, people and governments of affected pilgrims to take solace in Allah and in the reassuring words of the  Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir: “The Kingdom has had a long history of spending tremendous resources to care for the pilgrimage to ensure that the pilgrims who come there have a successful pilgrimage. And we will reveal the facts when they emerge. And we will not hold anything back. If mistakes were made, who made them will be held accountable. And we will make sure that we will learn from this and we will make sure that it doesn’t happen again. I want to repeat again this is not a situation with which to play politics.”

Personally, I commiserate with families of the victims of the stampede, crane-crash and all those who lost their lives to other sundry causes in Hajj 2015. May Allah accept them as martyrs and grant them the best part of Al-Jannah in the company of pious predecessors. (Amin)

FacebookUpdate (FUp): The Philosophy of Awomoju by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq 'Deji Hammed. An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed.
An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

If you have been dreaming that one day you will wake up and see ex- President Jonathan clobbered with manacles round his wrists, you better wake up now. Stop daydreaming. It won’t just happen. That possibility is at best a tall order in a military regime and at worst utopic in a civilian administration. Mind you I deliberately refuse to use democracy because the latter in its truest and uptimal form is in itself another utopia.

Yesterday, I read Bamidele Ademola-Olateju, my Facebook teacher’s latest treatise in her weekly Tuesday Premium Time column where she posited that whereas Jonathan’s minions should be prosecuted and sent to jail if found culpable, he should be spared of any humiliation but at most be made to return his loots. Courtesy of a successful election cum a peaceful transition.

Again this morning my most  Respected Bishop Matthew of the Sokoto diocese was on Channels TV Sunrise daily. Mind you, this man, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Cardinal Onaiyekan and recently Father Mbaka  are the clerics that have my ears and heart when it gets to Nigeria’s issues. So, Kukah again underpinned Mummy GO’s position. Courtesy of this same historical display of sportsmanship and statesmanship on the part of the man from Otuoke.

I remember sometimes in February while having our regular banter with my colleagues in our school canteen in Riyad, I posited that it a person gets to a point on the ladder of leadership that s\he becomes an untouchable. An awomoju. Like it or not. Believe it or not.

That “all animals are equal but some are more equal than the others” is real.

This universal aphorism will not be an exception in Jonathan’s case.

It may not be an ideal thing but that is the reality. That is the norm. The World over.

That is why a people must be careful in their selection or election of leaders at the helms of their national affairs. Reason being that the Prerogative of mercy or clemency or amnesty that a leader exercises over his or her ‘subjects’ (the governed is ideal here) will later turn to his or her benefit. Out of office, s/he in turn becomes a beneficiary of public clemency and amojukuro. Like it or not. Accept it or not.

Let me draw some parallels in our recent history.

Ivory Coast. Over three thousand Ivorians lost their lives within few months as a result of Gbagbo’s obduracy to vacate power when he lost fair and square the 2010 Presidential election. His main challenger, Alassane Ouattara, agreed to a negotiated soft landing with him which included amnesty from prosecution,  full honour and prerogatives as a former Head of State as well as choosing any country in the world where he will like to retire to. Angola and South Africa were ready to receive him on their shore. He bluntly refused and fought to the last man standing. Today he is at the ICC. The story will have been different had he yielded to the sybaritic proposals.

Just like how President Abdallah Saleh of Yemen case’s was different. Just like how Ben Ali of Tunisia was different. Just like how Houssein Mubaraq case would have been much different had he succumbed and left Egypt on time.

Where are the George Bush of this world with his atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq? Where are the Ariel Sharon and Netanyahu of this world with their constant carnages in Palestine?

 Don’t be surprised,  if Bashar Al- Assad  of Syria and Omar Bashir of Sudan negotiate their ways and relinquish power tomorrow, nothing will happen. All their hitherto crimes become ajemonu and they become awomoju.

Unfortunately, that is the reality of our world.

Even in the Quran,  Allah sent Musa (Moses) and his brother Aaron to Pharaoh to invite him to His obedience and sermonise him in the best and gentlest of manners. Had Pharaoh yielded, he would have been forgiven and spared of the perdition of the Red Sea.

Similar occurrences abound in history. Both recent and distant.

Jonathan’s case will surely not be different. The highest we will get is the return of some his loots and maybe coupled with the incarceration of some of his minions.

And that is all.

And even at that,  given the porosity of our anti graft laws and the criminal leniency of some of our judges, the most determined political  will on the part of President Buhari alone may just not be enough to handle this lower  bunch of avid kleptomaniacs talk less of the Ogas at the top. Our ex-Presidents.

Let the reality dawn on us.

Inaugural speech by President Muhammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

I am immensely grateful to God Who Has preserved us to witness this day and this occasion. Today marks a triumph for Nigeria and an occasion to celebrate her freedom and cherish her democracy. Nigerians have shown their commitment to democracy and are determined to entrench its culture. Our journey has not been easy but thanks to the determination of our people and strong support from friends abroad we have today a truly democratically elected government in place.

I would like to thank President Goodluck Jonathan for his display of statesmanship in setting a precedent for us that has now made our people proud to be Nigerians wherever they are. With the support and cooperation he has given to the transition process, he has made it possible for us to show the world that despite the perceived tension in the land we can be a united people capable of doing what is right for our nation. Together we co-operated to surprise the world that had come to expect only the worst from Nigeria. I hope this act of graciously accepting defeat by the outgoing President will become the standard of political conduct in the country.

I would like to thank the millions of our supporters who believed in us even when the cause seemed hopeless. I salute their resolve in waiting long hours in rain and hot sunshine to register and cast their votes and stay all night if necessary to protect and ensure their votes count and were counted.  I thank those who tirelessly carried the campaign on the social media. At the same time, I thank our other countrymen and women who did not vote for us but contributed to make our democratic culture truly competitive, strong and definitive.

I thank all of you.

Having just a few minutes ago sworn on the Holy Book, I intend to keep my oath and serve as President to all Nigerians.

I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.

A few people have privately voiced fears that on coming back to office I shall go after them. These fears are groundless. There will be no paying off old scores. The past is prologue.

Our neighbours in the Sub-region and our African brethenen should rest assured that Nigeria under our administration will be ready to play any leadership role that Africa expects of it. Here I would like to thank the governments and people of Cameroon, Chad and Niger for committing their armed forces to fight Boko Haram in Nigeria.

I also wish to assure the wider international community of our readiness to cooperate and help to combat threats of cross-border terrorism, sea piracy, refugees and boat people, financial crime, cyber crime, climate change, the spread of communicable diseases and other challenges of the 21st century.

At home we face enormous challenges. Insecurity, pervasive corruption, the hitherto unending and seemingly impossible fuel and power shortages are the immediate concerns. We are going to tackle them head on. Nigerians will not regret that they have entrusted national responsibility to us. We must not succumb to hopelessness and defeatism. We can fix our problems.

In recent times Nigerian leaders appear to have misread our mission. Our founding fathers, Mr Herbert Macauley, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, Chief J.S. Tarka, Mr Eyo Ita, Chief Denis Osadeby, Chief Ladoke Akintola and their colleagues worked to establish certain standards of governance. They might have differed in their methods or tactics or details, but they were united in establishing a viable and progressive country. Some of their successors behaved like spoilt children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house.

Furthermore, we as Nigerians must remind ourselves that we are heirs to great civilizations: Shehu Othman Dan fodio’s caliphate, the Kanem Borno Empire, the Oyo Empire, the Benin Empire and King Jaja’s formidable domain. The blood of those great ancestors flow in our veins. What is now required is to build on these legacies, to modernize and uplift Nigeria.

Daunting as the task may be it is by no means insurmountable. There is now a national consensus that our chosen route to national development is democracy. To achieve our objectives we must consciously work the democratic system. The Federal Executive under my watch will not seek to encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government. The law enforcing authorities will be charged to operate within the Constitution. We shall rebuild and reform the public service to become more effective and more serviceable. We shall charge them to apply themselves with integrity to stabilize the system.

For their part the legislative arm must keep to their brief of making laws, carrying out over-sight functions and doing so expeditiously. The judicial system needs reform to cleanse itself from its immediate past. The country now expects the judiciary to act with dispatch on all cases especially on corruption, serious financial crimes or abuse of office. It is only when the three arms act constitutionally that government will be enabled to serve the country optimally and avoid the confusion all too often bedeviling governance today.

Elsewhere relations between Abuja and the States have to be clarified if we are to serve the country better. Constitutionally there are limits to powers of each of the three tiers of government but that should not mean the Federal Government should fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments. Not least the operations of the Local Government Joint Account. While the Federal Government can not interfere in the details of its operations it will ensure that the gross corruption at the local level is checked. As far as the constitution allows me I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch.

However, no matter how well organized the governments of the federation are they can not succeed without the support, understanding and cooperation of labour unions, organized private sector, the press and civil society organizations. I appeal to employers and workers alike to unite in raising productivity so that everybody will have the opportunity to share in increased prosperity. The Nigerian press is the most vibrant in Africa. My appeal to the media today – and this includes the social media – is to exercise its considerable powers with responsibility and patriotism.

My appeal for unity is predicated on the seriousness of the legacy we are getting into. With depleted foreign reserves, falling oil prices, leakages and debts the Nigerian economy is in deep trouble and will require careful management to bring it round and to tackle the immediate challenges confronting us, namely; Boko Haram, the Niger Delta situation, the power shortages and unemployment especially among young people. For the longer term we have to improve the standards of our education. We have to look at the whole field of medicare. We have to upgrade our dilapidated physical infrastructure.

The most immediate is Boko Haram’s insurgency. Progress has been made in recent weeks by our security forces but victory can not be achieved by basing the Command and Control Centre in Abuja. The command centre will be relocated to Maiduguri and remain until Boko Haram is completely subdued. But we can not claim to have defeated Boko Haram without rescuing the Chibok girls and all other innocent persons held hostage by insurgents.

This government will do all it can to rescue them alive. Boko Haram is a typical example of small fires causing large fires. An eccentric and unorthodox preacher with a tiny following was given posthumous fame and following by his extra judicial murder at the hands of the police. Since then through official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory.

Boko Haram is a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of. At the end of the hostilities when the group is subdued the Government intends to commission a sociological study to determine its origins, remote and immediate causes of the movement, its sponsors, the international connexions to ensure that measures are taken to prevent a reccurrence of this evil. For now the Armed Forces will be fully charged with prosecuting the fight against Boko haram. We shall overhaul the rules of engagement to avoid human rights violations in operations. We shall improve operational and legal mechanisms so that disciplinary steps are taken against proven human right violations by the Armed Forces.

Boko Haram is not only the security issue bedeviling our country. The spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustlings all help to add to the general air of insecurity in our land. We are going to erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined people – friendly and well – compensated security forces within an over – all security architecture.

The amnesty programme in the Niger Delta is due to end in December, but the Government intends to invest heavily in the projects, and programmes currently in place. I call on the leadership and people in these areas to cooperate with the State and Federal Government in the rehabilitation programmes which will be streamlined and made more effective. As ever, I am ready to listen to grievances of my fellow Nigerians. I extend my hand of fellowship to them so that we can bring peace and build prosperity for our people.

No single cause can be identified to explain Nigerian’s poor economic performance over the years than the power situation. It is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4,000MW, and distributes even less. Continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution and close on $20b expanded since 1999 have only brought darkness, frustration, misery, and resignation among Nigerians. We will not allow this to go on. Careful studies are under way during this transition to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light and relief to Nigerians.

Unemployment, notably youth un-employment features strongly in our Party’s Manifesto. We intend to attack the problem frontally through revival of agriculture, solid minerals mining as well as credits to small and medium size businesses to kick – start these enterprises. We shall quickly examine the best way to revive major industries and accelerate the revival and development of our railways, roads and general infrastructure.

Your Excellencies, My fellow Nigerians I can not recall when Nigeria enjoyed so much goodwill abroad as now. The messages I received from East and West, from powerful and small countries are indicative of international expectations on us. At home the newly elected government is basking in a reservoir of goodwill and high expectations. Nigeria therefore has a window of opportunity to fulfill our long – standing potential of pulling ourselves together and realizing our mission as a great nation.

Our situation somehow reminds one of a passage in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar

There is a tide in the affairs of men which,

taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;

Omitted, all the voyage of their life,

Is bound in shallows and miseries.

We have an opportunity. Let us take it.

Thank you

Muhammadu Buhari

Finally! Mr Muhammadu Buhari is President!

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

President Buhari is Inaugurated. For the first time in 16 years Nigeria will today inaugurate a president who emerged from the opposition in the March/April 2015 General Elections. The hithero ruling party PDP will occupy the opposition- a role it has thus far despised as being responsible for badmouthing Nigeria’s huge achievements while the party ruled the country into the mother of all ruins. The realization of a dream it is for the new president, but a larger dream come true it is for Nigerians because they worked tirelessly to vote out the incompetent incumbent. The till yesterday incumbent President Jonathan was the worst president to ever happen to Nigeria by all standards. We congratulate President Buhari on his inauguration and wish him a successful first term in this historic presidency.

Freddie Gray’s Death: Baltimore Officers Charged! President Obama wants Justice and Truth

It is confirmed. Mr. Freddie Gray of Baltimore, Maryland was at the time of arrest innocent. He did nothing to have warranted arrest. Yet six police officers of the Baltimore police department arrested, handcuffed and locked him behind their van for a rough-ride, from which he sustained spinal cord injuries. His death resulted from injuries in this death ride.

Up till today, the city of Baltimore had erupted in protest, being joined by sympathisers and cities from accross America and beyond. The major part of the protest had been peaceful with pockets of violence and property vandalisation recorded, which had also since been condemned in order to focus on the primary purpose of the protest, nanely police brutality against Blacks in America.

President Obama weighed in twice on the matter, first to condemn violent protesters while emphasizing the import of objective media reporting. Baltimore is a city with a history of unacceptable brutality, a soul searching mission within the rank and file of the city police department, within the community, Black and White and accross America were pressed home in the president’s message. Upon the charge of the six police officers, the president emphasized the necessity of justice to both the deceased Freddie Gray and the officers facing possible death sentence if convicted. The people of Baltimore want the truth, President Obama said with a voice laden with sadness and calm, deep in thought.

At least one of the accused is facing a second degree murder charge, a graver accusation than those of his accomplice whose action while on duty helped snuffed out life in Mr. Freddie Gray. In a CNN report, it was pointed out that being charged with murder is not same as being convicted of murder.

Thus, the celebration which is now ongoing upon the news of hearing the charges against the police officers is a first step in a two-step victory for the protesters. Many protesters knew this, they are but satisfied that the first move has been taken to getting justice for the death of Mr. Freddie Gray, an unarmed! Black, whose crime was running away for fear of death upon citing the police. As if Mr. Freddie Gray had known he would be killed! by the men who were meant to keep him alive. What an irony!

From hastag stop police brutality to Black Lives Matter to hastag FTC, meaning F*ck The Cop, rising frustration in America, particularly Black communities to underline the long history of unnecessary extra judicial police killing meted out to Blacks, not only in Baltimore, but in America at large is being aired. The Baltimore police, it was revealed in the past days of protest, has been particularly violent and adopted unfriendly policing policies of Blacks in the city.

Baltimore houses many crime prone areas, however experts warn that brutal policing is never an effective crime combating mechanism, in fact it could bolster that which the city wants to curtail. Looking outside the hammer-and-nail approach/tactics a la mass incanceration culture, police brutality (e.g killing Blacks for being Blacks etc) would help; issues of abject poverty among Black communities, existing wage disparity between Black and White communities and high unemployment cum unemployeability of young Blacks in the city need be addressed.

Like the long walk to freedom from slavery, the struggle for equal rights for Blacks fought for by the Civil Rights Movement, it is clear that the journey to ending police brutality against America’s Black population will be long. One can but be comforted in that old slave song which hold true till this day, and anytime sung, connects to the fight/yearnings for freedom by foremothers and -fathers as they tilled the massa’s plantation: WE SHALL OVERCOME, WE SHALL OVERCOME, WE SHALL OVERCOME SOMEDAY…! And they did overcome!

Like the president, I demand that the process of getting justice for Mr. Freddie Gray be fair and truthful, only then can true soul searching to finding solution to the American police culture of brutality commence.

Jonathan Out! Buhari In! Death-Wisher-Fayose Congratulates President-Elect Buhari

General Buhari

General Buhari

A failure has not many acquaintances. Same is the fate of Nigeria’s incumbent president yesterday when his loss became irreversible. Many strongest supporters disappeared into thin air. Some praised President Jonathan for the display of good sportsmanship in that he had called the winner of the 2015 General Elections even before Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the winner. Nigerians, many of whom favored change, celebrate(d) with the People’s General on the occasion of this well deserved victory. It was a victory not only for General Buhari but for the Nigerian people.

In the same vein, the saying that a successful man is everyone’s friend/relative, found fulfillment yesterday in Governor Fayose’s action. It was gathered that he called General Buhari to congratulate him. He warned the country is greater than any individual, we should not in anyway rock the country.

Going by Governor Fayose’s death wish for the General, which he went as far as publishing in national dailies prior to the election, one could not but wonder his sudden change of heart and call for reconciliation. If anything, Governor Fayose had cried-wished the loudest landslide loss for the People’s General. His U-turn means this: he has a personal interest to protect.

For example, Fayose’s election as Governor is still much controversial. Beyond the leaked tape of election rigging, there is indication that he was not qualified to run for that office because he had once been impeached. He was yet to fulfill the number of years stipulated in the constitution to re-contest.

Worthy of mention is Elder Orubebe’s display of shame when INEC chairman, Professor Jega held a news conference. He accused the chairman of corruption and compromise. He would not be calmed and was consequently escorted out of the building so the collation and announcement of results could continue.

All through the interruption, Professor Jega was calm and coordinated. He commented Orubebe’s action as unbecoming of an elder. According to him, Orubebe was a statesman in his own right, being a former minister of Nigeria, he should watch is public conduct and actions. Orubebe’s disruption has since been updated on Wikipedia, the world’s online encyclopedia.

Nigerian English has since been updated too. New nouns and adjectives ranging from “jega”, “orubebe”, “jegamycin”, “orubebeism”, “jegality”, “orubebvin”, “jegaland”, “jegatrick”, “jegamethod”, “jega-advice” among many others were added. Orubebe’s rude behavior was thus a blessing in disguise for Nigerian English.

The outcome of the presidential election confirms many things. Here is one: power resides only in the electorate. The electorate can give and take it back at wish! This realization is a good development for Nigeria’s nascent democracy.

General Buhari campaigned on change and as an anti-corruption Cesar. Christian Amanpour of CNN yesterday aired an interview in which the General was heard saying that if corruption was not killed in the country, it would kill Nigeria. Nigerians voted for change so that their country will not be killed by this many-headed monster. I congratulate them on this new dawn.

EuroSpot: It’s (not) the Greeks again!

It’s (not) the Greeks again!

Lets end before we start: Greece is bankrupt! So crystal clear is this truth even a blind man sees the broke-country is finished. Think of the Nigerian Pidgin proverb: Dem no dey tell blind man say rain dey fall! It is raining thunderstorm in Greece!

A backjump. September 2006. Newspaper served. On a KLM cityshopper from Amsterdam. The title on the front-page: Greece Fiscal Misery! Same old topic; a bizarre submission that Greece had lied to the European Union Common Currency Zone (Eurozone) to gain entrance. In short, she was a cheat, the report concluded.

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

There are reasons for admitting this proverbial broke-vulture into the Eurozone. The least believable is to blame a Greek-manipulated fiscal report. Long before Greece admission, politicians in Europe were acquainted with the truth that Greece is as corrupt as any country in Sub-Sahara Africa, for example Nigeria. The political nepotism and economic irresponsibility of Greece far outweighed anybody’s imagination. So, a claim of being a cheat could not be tenable to have neglected doing the needed if Greece must be admitted into the Eurozone.

At the other end is one of the strongest aims of Greece admission, which is, the ‘Big Fishes’ of the Eurozone were out to make a ‘permanent’ financial-quickie of a country double-killed by her own potpourri of corruptible tendencies. Admission into the common currency market only catapulted a comatose country into her own abyss.

Therapies to bring back Greece to fiscal sanity long before 2008 economic meltdown had not worked; attempts by finance-czars to halt her continual fall after 2008, if it worked at all, amounted to near-killer suffocate-dosage. Greece became to Europe an economic nuisance.

The blame is not solely on the doorstep of the bigger Eurozone countries. Greece had her problems before admission. I need not remind that longthroat is a perfect character of leaders running a corrupt state. These leaders forget most times there is a singular winner in a quickie-affair; except parties involved are clear about their intention from the word-go. Anything aside this is pretense. Greece and her leaders were never smart to have hidden her financial woes because her yansh was never covered. With this action, I could only think of Greece as an ostrich hiding her head in the sand.

Trust politicians, they are always spot-on with all sorts of rhetoric to whip-in maximum gain for themselves. The ensuing fiasco as to (non-)implementation of the austerity plans is a good chance. Think of recent gain by various right-wing parties in the last European parliament election and the picture is complete; Greece’s problem was a good selling point. A comparison of Greece prime minister and his finance minister to a second-hand car dealer from whom no one would want to buy a car is the least of jabs shot at Greece in recent times. When a bigger suffering befalls a man, smaller and hitherto below-status insults will begin to show face. Such is Greece misfortune at the moment.

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Hurling insults at Greece will not make the problem leave us, we must discuss issues in ways that construct solutions. To begin with, Eurozone’s insistence on pulling through the hard austerity measures for which successive governments in Greece had been voted out by angry Greeks is an indicator of a failed policy. Latest protest in Athens against Tsipras Leftist-led government is an indication of what shall happen should Greece be pressed further. Reason given thus far that other countries have gone through same and returned cleaner is nothing but a hoax. European politicians know.

Reality check is a confirmation of contrary claims that financial sanity cum structural stability has returned to Italy. Spain’s (youth) unemployment rate is a clearer pointer to a looming problem waiting to explode. The Irish idyll is what it is at the moment: a sham. That Ireland and Portugal were able to payback billions as scheduled does not prove austerity measures are working. Sarah Warenknecht, German Leftist Leader in the Bundestag, said the obvious in a recent debate: The giant/stronger p(l)ayers in the Eurozone have thus far only been paying their own bills. They send money to broke-countries only to disburse/return them in installments as agreed in the austerity plans. The much needed structural reforms are not achievable (and cannot be) within a short period. The imminent collapse of the house of cards only need time to materialize. And we are confronted with the next crisis.

By the way, one cannot cease to wonder if Europe’s strongest woman-politician Germany’s Angela Merkel is this bereaved of ideas to rescue this house from collapsing. Only if in self-denial, the current austerity measures as put together will help only to postpone the next crisis to a later date. Speculation is that she wants to sit out her current/last term as German chancellor managing an European crisis she helped create with far-from-reality policies and disillusioned politics.

Talking about collapsing house of cards, a related Yoruba proverbs sheds light on the next issue. Ile ta ba fi ito ko, eri ni o wo! A house built with saliva is bound to be demolished with the first dew. That the Eurozone has only moved from one financial turbulence to the next confirms a foundation-fault. Think of the Leftist position upon the introduction of the common currency, which is that many countries outside Germany and countries with comparable strong economies and stable structures were not ready to introduce the Euro. Weaker countries may be allowed at a later date but not without having put in place crisis-proven structures and good economies.

Europe failed to listen. Many European countries, particularly the volatile members would not have listened anyway. They were bent on catching-in cheap monies. The immediate benefit of reaping now to sow later was too alluring to be ignored. Either way, Germany will always benefit from the arrangement, she too was interested in the immediate economic gains. This way, the countries with the Euro plunged themselves into spiraling crisis.

Were there intelligent political managers at the helm of affairs in countries like Greece, they would not have agreed to an all-importing economy; beyond farm produce Greece hardly exports anything tangible to/outside Europe. Same goes for Spain and Portugal. They are of course holiday paradise, a booming branch so long people come to their shores. Not to forget, Germany, Holland, France etc are also strongly represented in this branch, so the earnings are not going to the South alone. Add to that was the crazy unsustainable house market-price boom. The crash of the utopia could not have been louder anywhere than in Spain. House worth millions depreciated beyond redemption. Truth is, an economy built on market speculation and abracadabra economic theories cannot survive tomorrow. Germany’s Economy Minister summed-up the woes of these countries when he emphasized in a speech only an economy based on trade, handwork and industry is that which last the test of time, not one established on finance speculation and non-existent money/gains a la hedge-fund trickery etc!

Not only must Greece be enabled to start a new country by canceling a larger portion of her debt. If she must remain in the Eurozone without being caught in the next crisis, she must put structures in place, no doubt, but not under the scrutiny of current austerity measures. Here is the reason: Like Germany would never survive a day with a Greek-led economic package, same way can Greece never survive a Germany/Brussels-led economic package. Think of Germany’s ways and you inch a step closer to understanding the logic. Greece is not Germany, and Germany is not Greece. For instance, Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder was made possible not only for the Marshall Plan but because of Germany’s cultural understanding of the work concept. Greece will rise again within the Eurozone, if allowed to stay, but at Greece’s own pace and as acceptable within the purview of her cultural understanding of the same concept. Forcing them to work on a diet of rationed “dictatorship” from Brussels will not work; it will at best lead to successive Greek government being “toppled” at the polls even before her election!

On a final note, some are of the opinion the much talked-about wrong-footed take-off of the Euro is an issue we ought to be done with. I disagree. The mistake was made because political optimism was prioritized against commonsense economic choices. The current crisis is an opportunity for the Eurozone to correct these foundational faults. The fingers on the wall at the moment, particularly in Greece, point unfortunately to hurry-hurry politics that helped made the crisis possible in the first place. How else does one explain the initial no-renegotiation-stance by the Eurozone upon Tsipras’ election as Greek’s prime minister as if there was a singular correct perspective to resolving Greece fiscal problem. Think of Germany’s chancellor unwarranted meddling in Greek’s internal affairs shortly before election with soft threat that voting a party other than one which follows through on the austerity plans might spell doom for the tiny country. Few weeks after, the Bundestag voted with a resounding majority to temporarily extend Greece credit; an indication for other European countries to follow suit. Desperate moves would have been unnecessary were the package humane/good enough for any country to begin with.

Greece exit is in nobody’s interest. Of course, the Eurozone will survive with(out) Greece, but a stronger Greece in the Eurozone will benefit both Greece and the Eurozone. Like the adage goes, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. At the moment, we must not forget the worst sufferer of the crisis is the common (wo-)man in Greece. They must be relieved.

Chatham House Full Speech of APC Presidential Candidate Muhammadu Buhari

Permit me to start by thanking Chatham House for the invitation to talk about this important topic at this crucial time. When speaking about Nigeria overseas, I normally prefer to be my country’s public relations and marketing officer, extolling her virtues and hoping to attract investments and tourists. But as we all know, Nigeria is now battling with many challenges, and if I refer to them, I do so only to impress on our friends in the United Kingdom that we are quite aware of our shortcomings and are doing our best to address them.

The 2015 general election in Nigeria is generating a lot of interests within and outside the country. This is understandable. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, is at a defining moment, a moment that has great implications beyond the democratic project and beyond the borders of my dear country.

So let me say upfront that the global interest in Nigeria’s landmark election is not misplaced at all and indeed should be commended; for this is an election that has serious import for the world. I urge the international community to continue to focus on Nigeria at this very critical moment. Given increasing global linkages, it is in our collective interests that the postponed elections should hold on the rescheduled dates; that they should be free and fair; that their outcomes should be respected by all parties; and that any form of extension, under whichever guise, is unconstitutional and will not be tolerated.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War, democracy became the dominant and most preferred system of government across the globe. That global transition has been aptly captured as the triumph of democracy and the ‘most pre-eminent political idea of our time.’ On a personal note, the phased end of the USSR was a turning point for me. It convinced me that change can be brought about without firing a single shot.

As you all know, I had been a military head of state in Nigeria for twenty months. We intervened because we were unhappy with the state of affairs in our country. We wanted to arrest the drift. Driven by patriotism, influenced by the prevalence and popularity of such drastic measures all over Africa and elsewhere, we fought our way to power. But the global triumph of democracy has shown that another and a preferable path to change is possible. It is an important lesson I have carried with me since, and a lesson that is not lost on the African continent.

In the last two decades, democracy has grown strong roots in Africa. Elections, once so rare, are now so commonplace. As at the time I was a military head of state between 1983 and 1985, only four African countries held regular multi-party elections. But the number of electoral democracies in Africa, according to Freedom House, jumped to 10 in 1992/1993 then to 18 in 1994/1995 and to 24 in 2005/2006. According to the New York Times, 42 of the 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa conducted multi-party elections between 1990 and 2002.

The newspaper also reported that between 2000 and 2002, ruling parties in four African countries (Senegal, Mauritius, Ghana and Mali) peacefully handed over power to victorious opposition parties. In addition, the proportion of African countries categorized as not free by Freedom House declined from 59% in 1983 to 35% in 2003. Without doubt, Africa has been part of the current global wave of democratisation.

But the growth of democracy on the continent has been uneven. According to Freedom House, the number of electoral democracies in Africa slipped from 24 in 2007/2008 to 19 in 2011/2012; while the percentage of countries categorised as ‘not free’ assuming for the sake of argument that we accept their definition of “free” increased from 35% in 2003 to 41% in 2013. Also, there have been some reversals at different times in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritania and Togo. We can choose to look at the glass of democracy in Africa as either half full or half empty.

While you can’t have representative democracy without elections, it is equally important to look at the quality of the elections and to remember that mere elections do not democracy make. It is globally agreed that democracy is not an event, but a journey. And that the destination of that journey is democratic consolidation – that state where democracy has become so rooted and so routine and widely accepted by all actors.

With this important destination in mind, it is clear that though many African countries now hold regular elections, very few of them have consolidated the practice of democracy. It is important to also state at this point that just as with elections, a consolidated democracy cannot be an end by itself. I will argue that it is not enough to hold a series of elections or even to peacefully alternate power among parties.

It is much more important that the promise of democracy goes beyond just allowing people to freely choose their leaders. It is much more important that democracy should deliver on the promise of choice, of freedoms, of security of lives and property, of transparency and accountability, of rule of law, of good governance and of shared prosperity. It is very important that the promise embedded in the concept of democracy, the promise of a better life for the generality of the people, is not delivered in the breach.

Now, let me quickly turn to Nigeria. As you all know, Nigeria’s fourth republic is in its 16th year and this general election will be the fifth in a row. This is a major sign of progress for us, given that our first republic lasted five years and three months, the second republic ended after four years and two months and the third republic was a still-birth. However, longevity is not the only reason why everyone is so interested in this election.

The major difference this time around is that for the very first time since transition to civil rule in 1999, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is facing its stiffest opposition so far from our party the All Progressives Congress (APC). We once had about 50 political parties, but with no real competition. Now Nigeria is transitioning from a dominant party system to a competitive electoral polity, which is a major marker on the road to democratic consolidation. As you know, peaceful alternation of power through competitive elections have happened in Ghana, Senegal, Malawi and Mauritius in recent times. The prospects of democratic consolidation in Africa will be further brightened when that eventually happens in Nigeria.

But there are other reasons why Nigerians and the whole world are intensely focussed on this year’s elections, chief of which is that the elections are holding in the shadow of huge security, economic and social uncertainties in Africa’s most populous country and largest economy. On insecurity, there is a genuine cause for worry, both within and outside Nigeria. Apart from the civil war era, at no other time in our history has Nigeria been this insecure.

Boko Haram has sadly put Nigeria on the terrorism map, killing more than 13,000 of our nationals, displacing millions internally and externally, and at a time holding on to portions of our territory the size of Belgium. What has been consistently lacking is the required leadership in our battle against insurgency. I, as a retired general and a former head of state, have always known about our soldiers: they are capable, well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty in the service of our country.

You all can bear witness to the gallant role of our military in Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur and in many other peacekeeping operations in several parts of the world. But in the matter of this insurgency, our soldiers have neither received the necessary support nor the required incentives to tackle this problem. The government has also failed in any effort towards a multi-dimensional response to this problem leading to a situation in which we have now become dependent on our neighbours to come to our rescue.

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 ammunitions 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, and I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front and return Nigeria to its leadership role in regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.

On the economy, the fall in prices of oil has brought our economic and social stress into full relief. After the rebasing exercise in April 2014, Nigeria overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest economy. Our GDP is now valued at $510 billion and our economy rated 26th in the world. Also on the bright side, inflation has been kept at single digit for a while and our economy has grown at an average of 7% for about a decade.

But it is more of paper growth, a growth that, on account of mismanagement, profligacy and corruption, has not translated to human development or shared prosperity. A development economist once said three questions should be asked about a country’s development: one, what is happening to poverty? Two, what is happening to unemployment? And three, what is happening to inequality?

The answers to these questions in Nigeria show that the current administration has created two economies in one country, a sorry tale of two nations: one economy for a few who have so much in their tiny island of prosperity; and the other economy for the many who have so little in their vast ocean of misery.

Even by official figures, 33.1% of Nigerians live in extreme poverty. That’s at almost 60 million, almost the population of the United Kingdom. There is also the unemployment crisis simmering beneath the surface, ready to explode at the slightest stress, with officially 23.9% of our adult population and almost 60% of our youth unemployed. We also have one of the highest rates of inequalities in the world.

With all these, it is not surprising that our performance on most governance and development indicators (like Mo Ibrahim Index on African Governance and UNDP’s Human Development Index.) are unflattering. With fall in the prices of oil, which accounts for more than 70% of government revenues, and lack of savings from more than a decade of oil boom, the poor will be disproportionately impacted.

In the face of dwindling revenues, a good place to start the repositioning of Nigeria’s economy is to swiftly tackle two ills that have ballooned under the present administration: waste and corruption. And in doing this, I will, if elected, lead the way, with the force of personal example.

On corruption, there will be no confusion as to where I stand. Corruption will have no place and the corrupt will not be appointed into my administration. First and foremost, we will plug the holes in the budgetary process. Revenue producing entities such as NNPC and Customs and Excise will have one set of books only. Their revenues will be publicly disclosed and regularly audited. The institutions of state dedicated to fighting corruption will be given independence and prosecutorial authority without political interference.

But I must emphasise that any war waged on corruption should not be misconstrued as settling old scores or a witch-hunt. I’m running for President to lead Nigeria to prosperity and not adversity.

In reforming the economy, we will use savings that arise from blocking these leakages and the proceeds recovered from corruption to fund our party’s social investments programmes in education, health, and safety nets such as free school meals for children, emergency public works for unemployed youth and pensions for the elderly.

As a progressive party, we must reform our political economy to unleash the pent-up ingenuity and productivity of the Nigerian people thus freeing them from the curse of poverty. We will run a private sector-led economy but maintain an active role for government through strong regulatory oversight and deliberate interventions and incentives to diversify the base of our economy, strengthen productive sectors, improve the productive capacities of our people and create jobs for our teeming youths.

In short, we will run a functional economy driven by a worldview that sees growth not as an end by itself, but as a tool to create a society that works for all, rich and poor alike. On March 28, Nigeria has a decision to make. To vote for the continuity of failure or to elect progressive change. I believe the people will choose wisely.

In sum, I think that given its strategic importance, Nigeria can trigger a wave of democratic consolidation in Africa. But as a starting point we need to get this critical election right by ensuring that they go ahead, and depriving those who want to scuttle it the benefit of derailing our fledgling democracy. That way, we will all see democracy and democratic consolidation as tools for solving pressing problems in a sustainable way, not as ends in themselves.

Permit me to close this discussion on a personal note. I have heard and read references to me as a former dictator in many respected British newspapers including the well regarded Economist. Let me say without sounding defensive that dictatorship goes with military rule, though some might be less dictatorial than others. I take responsibility for whatever happened under my watch.

I cannot change the past. But I can change the present and the future. So before you is a former military ruler and a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms and is subjecting himself to the rigours of democratic elections for the fourth time.

You may ask: why is he doing this? This is a question I ask myself all the time too. And here is my humble answer: because the work of making Nigeria great is not yet done, because I still believe that change is possible, this time through the ballot, and most importantly, because I still have the capacity and the passion to dream and work for a Nigeria that will be respected again in the comity of nations and that all Nigerians will be proud of.

I thank you for listening.

MidWeekSpecial: Cote d’Ivoire Parallelisms in Nigeria’s Presidential Election by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq Hammed An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. Isiaq Hammed came to us READY-MADE! He is a giant contributor.

Isiaq Hammed is Nigerian and political activist. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. He is a passionate believer in Nigeria and discusses Africa, particularly Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. He writes extensively on many international issues affecting the continent and the Middle East. He guestblogs on AhjotNaija.

Saturday, February 7, 2015 can definitely not be said to be a day like any other. It was indeed a historic day for Professor Attahiru Jega with several brainstorming sessions and negotiation with the various political actors and stakeholders in the electoral process. The INEC Chairman finally surfaced on that fateful night to the full glare of the waiting  gentlemen of the press. Millions of Nigerians and perhaps friends of Nigeria, home and abroad, were equally glued to their television sets. Those who were not lucky with the electricity distribution companies resorted to their generating sets. Others who could not access live streaming settled for the instant briefing on the social media platforms (Facebook, twitter etc.) The issue of the rumoured postponement, true or untrue, must be laid to rest. As Nigerians wait to hear directly from the horse’s mouth, the tension was palpable… Prof. Jega, using the security report from the service chiefs as a force majeure, finally officially extended the Presidential election by six weeks, during which the Nigerian military and the Federal Government vowed to crush the Boko Haram sect once and for all.

On hearing of the new March 28 and April 11 election dates, many were disappointed. For some, nothing much to worry about. As long as the May 29 handing over date remains sacrosanct. Yet some were of the opinion that the new development will allow more Nigerians who are yet to collect their permanent voters’ card (PVC) to do so.

Personally as Nigerian, I did not know what word(s) I could use to describe my feeling: betrayal, embarrassment, anger, disappointment, scepticism… It was definitely not that of relief or indifference. Indeed the stakes were and are still high. And I have a stake in the (un)becoming of my nation. Every Nigerian should in fact have. Like many others I settled for calm and vigilance. I ruminated on any similar event in history that I could remember. With historical retrospection, one can peep and permit oneself an introspection in to the future. As Providence would have it, exactly twenty four hours after, the next capital of call for the African Nations’ trophy will be Abidjan, just two years after it was in the Nigerian federal capital, Abuja. Cote d’Ivoire, a country still recovering from the vestige of a deep politico-military crisis that threatened its very existence, narrowly defeated the Black Stars of Ghana in a keenly contested penalty shoot-out at the AFCON final. A lot of political pundits will agree that Nkrumah’s Ghana has become a model of democracy in governance, albeit in a politically unstable West African sub-region, having succeeded to have civilian to civilian intra- and interparty transitions. From the likes of John Kuffour to Late John Attah Mills and then to the current President John Dramani Mahama.

As the euphoria of seeing the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire becoming the new African champions waned, the perplexing and tensed Nigerian situation reared its head again in the mind. The new itinerary of the AFCON trophy seems to pass a warning signal. Will Nigeria go the Ghanaian or Ivorian way in the days and weeks to come? Eternal vigilance is the watchword! Let me digress a little. Cote d’Ivoire used to have two political gladiators too, especially before, during and after the 2010 presidential elections. We will draw some interesting yet shocking parallels in subsequent lines. It is an axiom that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

Alassane Ouattara, like Muhammadu Buhari, was born in 1942 to Ivorian parents of northern extraction. After completing his primary and secondary education, he proceeded to Philadelphia in the United States where he bagged his Bachelor degree, Masters and Ph.D. in Economics. Ouattara later rose to become the Director of Africa at the International Monetary Fund before he was then nominated by President Felix Houphouet-Boigny as the Prime Minister and Head of Government in 1990. He held this position until Houphouet-Boigny’s demise in December  7, 1993… Let us also do a quick panorama on Laurent Gbagbo before going back to the crux of our analysis.

Laurent Gbagbo was born in 1945 in Gagnoa, a city in the southern part of Cote d’Ivoire. He obtained a degree in History at the University of Abidjan in 1969 and proceeded  in 1979 to complete his Ph.D from Paris Diderot University, France. He lectured at the University of Abidjan for many years before finally joining politics and forming his opposition party Front  Populaire Ivoirien (Ivorian Popular Front) in the 80s. He contested and lost to Houphouet-Boigny in the 1990 election. Gbagbo later actualized his Presidential dream in 2000 in an election which saw Ouattara disqualified on the ground of not being an Ivorian descent and hence his nationality certificate was cancelled. A legal decision that can be said to be the genesis of the country’s decade-long crisis.

Laurent Gbagbo whose tenure was supposed to end by 2005 had the general elections postponed several times. He disbanded or caused to disband several electoral commissions. Mr. Youssouf Bakayoko, ‘the Ivorian Jega’, who finally organised the 2010 election was also threatened and frustrated. And when the elections finally took place and Bakayoko was set to announce Ouattara winner, Gbagbo rejected the result and refused to concede defeat. The International community (ECOWAS, AU, UN, US,  France etc.) all accepted and aligned with Ouattara as the rightful winner. In fact, Mr Soro Guillaume, the  Prime Minister under Gbagbo accepted the ballot’s verdict. Gbagbo kicked. He manipulated and managed to secure a contrary verdict from the court. Hell was let loose. The Ivorian national TV and radio stations became instruments of propaganda. Independent International news media like Rfi, TV5 were stopped from transmitting. Pro-Ouattara news media were muzzled. And that was how far Gbagbo went in his desperation to keep power at all cost. Several thousand Ivoirians and foreigners paid with their dear lives in the ensuing post-election violence which ended only after Gbagbo’s capture on April 11, 2011. And he is presently cooling his feet at the ICC in the Hague… The rest is now history.

The similarity in the opposition parties’ strategies is equally worthy of mention here. Just like Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) merged with other opposition parties to form the All Progressive Congress (APC), Alassane Ouattara also formed a coalition alliance, Rassemblement des Houphouetistes pour la Democratie et la Paix (RHDP) in order to have a common front against the incumbent and his party. This indeed proved effective as it really made the election a keen contest and not an easy walk-over that the power of incumbency always breeds. And that in fact brightened the opposition’s chances at the polls. Alassane Ouattara finally ascended to power in 2011 since his expression of interest for the Ivorian highest office as far back as 1995.

Watching current happenings in Nigeria with the various legal cases seeking to disqualify Muhammadu Buhari from contesting the 2015 Presidential election on the ground of his school certificate (remember Ouattara’s birth certificate saga), the recent postponement of the elections, rumoured plans to have the electoral umpire removed and replaced or even the outright scuttling of the Nigerian democratic processes via the search for an extension of the incumbent’s stay in power, institution of an Interim National Government or instigating a coup d’état etc. all make one to wonder if indeed we learn anything from history.

As we seem to be at the crossroads now, and yet as our nation seems to hold her breath, we can’t help but ask if  Nigeria will go the Ghanaian or Ivorian way in the days and weeks to come. And that is the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question to which the Nigerian political class must give an answer, most especially the two major political gladiators: President Goodluck Jonathan and Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari. The actions and inactions of the duo  together with those of their individual foot soldiers and sympathizers will indeed determine in what direction our national pendulum will swing. Verily, the thin line separating the two nations scenarios will be determined by how far the two Nigerian heavyweights choose to go. Alas, only our proverbial thin line separates the Hague from the West African coast. Both Charles Taylor and Laurent Gbagbo know better though, as they are both living testimonies whereas we the poor masses are living witnesses.

Our fingers are more than crossed!!!

%d bloggers like this: