ajagunna

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

Tag: democracy

MidWeekSpecial by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed: In Quest for True Change

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.

Just when you think it is time to take a deep breath and hibernate, albeit temporarily, from political debates and engagements, the Nigerian breed of politicians have their ways of reminding you that your plantains and yams can just not be safe in their hands. Tie those hands. Muzzle the snouts. For where? Theirs is a special specie of rapacious goat, never satiated. Always inclined to pillage and amass tons of yams and plantains which they never need; and never will. They are poised to go to any length in the pursuit of inordinate ambitions, surpassing all imaginable benchmarks of corruption.

There is fire on the mountain. The change project we invested so much in, indeed unquantifiable resources…all for the love of the fatherland…must not be gutted! For months. For more than a year. Increasing in intensity as the historic 2015 general elections drew near. Finally, vindication came. Rightly, the Nigerian hoi polloi saw in the Buhari’s victory the triumph of the enslaved majority over the enslaving minority. The advent of Buhari considered as one of theirs was for them the breaking of a new dawn, of liberation and of life more abundant.

Perhaps still basking in the euphoria and ecstasy of hard-won victory, little did they know that in the journey to freedom, the rain that fell has caused the pigeons and fowls to intermingle. The drama oozing out, for some times now, from the two hallowed chambers and which later culminated in this free-for-all show of shame lay to bare this stark reality. The need to separate the wheat from the chaff becomes an urgent imperative.

There is no mincing words. Having Dr Bukola Saraki as Senate President in this era is a monumental disaster. Senator Ali Ndume as Senate Majority Leader is another national mishap. These folks have heavy moral and ethical burdens which in saner climes require quarantining from public positions until names are cleared. Among other lawbreakers who will make laws, perform oversight functions, approve federal budgets and Presidential appointments aside other critical national duties for the rest of us are Stella Oduah, Buruji Kashamu, David Mark etc. Too much a burden for a people so desirous of change.

One begins to wonder if the President will have enough breathing space in this kind of scenario. Too often than not the masses get carried away with presidential and gubernatorial polls that they forget about the parliamentary leg of the tripod upon which rest the affairs of governance of the state. In short, Buharism has caused strange bedfellows to share a cage. Reason things began to fall apart and everything is no longer at ease. The consequences of that mob-instinct non-discriminatory block-votes are as legion and as catastrophic. The anything-but-this-party mentality born out of the twin brothers of blind love/detest for a person/group explains partly the appalling situation the Osun State economy has plunged into.

In the 2011 general elections, the people of Osun, like most electorates in the recent elections, voted for anyone with the portrait of Ogbeni Aregbesola on his or her campaign poster (and recently for anyone with APC logo). The end result being an Assembly of yes-yes men who (fore-)see not, criticise not, scrutinise not, pre-empt not… thus the ambitious Governor became carried away with the worries of where Osun ought to be, the state began to bite more than it could chew. Among these yes-yes men was no single voice of wisdom to caution the overzealous Ogbeni; particularly on the need to create rooms for days like these! There were hardly debates on the necessity of saving up for rainy days. The consequence stares us in the face: Today Osun cannot meet its statutory financial obligations to its teeming worker. For months. The state economy remains grounded. Such is the price of mob-instinct, blind followership and polity devoid of  constructive opposition.

Back to NASS. With the emergence of these crops of lawbreakers, who are poised to hijack this victory from us, is a clear reminder to the change agents that the battle is not won yet. We have realised our electoral faux pas already. Once bitten,  twice shy.  Saraki and his accomplices must understand that it is no longer business as usual. It will be in their best interest to fall in line, become truly born-again and swim with the tide of change. Buhari’s call for an alliance between the grandparents and the children against their prodigal parents resonated very well amongst the youth demographic. It may need re-echoing here:

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. (President Buhari’s Inaugural Speech, May 2015)

These children of anger have vowed to support anybody that embodies that hope for a changed nation where they will have access to the basic necessities for a decent living and where their future will be secured. They expressed that vow through their protest votes that humiliated the men of yesterdays out of power. And they will not rest on their oars but resist any person or group of persons that try to thwart their dreams. That resistance is palpable in their eternal vigilance and clamour for open NASS, paycuts, reduced numbers of political appointees and other waste in governance.

One step at a time. Ordinarily, it should not be hard to whip the likes of Saraki back to line. Since they have cases to answer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The presidential declaration “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” definitely excludes those that do not want to belong. Those will be the reactionary and conservative forces who excluded themselves from the fatherly open arms of Mr President and his extended hands of fellowship. The President should not hesitate in wielding the proverbial big stick against the recalcitrant who may want to rubbish his good name and frustrate the actualisation of the social contracts he entered into with the Nigerian masses.

The critical role of continued pressure and monitoring of elected representatives by the masses immediately the elections are over cannot be overemphasised. Eternal vigilance is indeed the price of freedom. The processes of impeachment and recall are not just mere clauses of embellishment in our constitution. They are potent weapons of checks and balances of the led on the excesses and arrogance of power-intoxicated leaders. They should therefore be guarded jealously and used when necessary. Needless to tolerate politicians’ rascality for another 4 years waiting for the routine election rituals. A single day in the life of a nation is too important to be wasted, not to talk of years.

Nigerian youth demographic will do well to infiltrate the ranks and files of the two main parties, namely APC and PDP, and redirect the course of things to their advantage. Since they bear the brunt of corrupt governance the most. If democracy is a game of numbers, then they have the numerical advantage in their kitty. They should decide and and not be decided for. Only youth-oriented and  ideologically-inclined parties can provide the needed third force to swing the balance in favour of the masses, especially when the politicopreneurs and gerontocrats are lost in self-serving power tussles and stalemates.

Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): Three-And-A-Half Thoughts

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

Many thoughts on my mind, all seeking for attention, I will develop them into something more elaborate in the future, but in the meantime, these thoughts outdid others.

Thought 1: Nigeria is not a bad country because we are bad people, Nigeria is bad because we have no structures. This thought seems trite but let’s look at it this way. As a student at Obafemi Awolowo University, someone who looked like a professor chided us for trying to cross a lawn through a clearly cut footpath around the faculty of Social Sciences. He took us all the way to America and Germany; places he claimed he had visited and he did not find such footpaths on lawns. So today I saw on German soil, one highly organized country in the world and I am like ‘this professor can lie for Africa sef!’

It proves that as humans, we all want the fast route. What sensible governments have done is to place rewards and punishments for law upholders and law offenders respectively, at least to a very large extent. It has not been as easy as getting LaCasera in a hold-up though – it’s a process that has undergone trial and errors, re-workings and adjustments.

Thought 2: Let the search for an alternative opposition party begin; the PDP is a bad party bereft of initiatives and sound arguments. Innovation is as scarce in their meetings as finding a man of integrity is in their party. Since after elections, they seem to have lost their voices until the president-elect took a wrong step by barring AIT from reporting his activities. Nothing on the PWC report, not that APC was that constructive as the opposition but you could find an atom of constructive criticism and intelligent hooliganism in their oppositions.

In the light of this, the All Progressives Congress needs close monitoring. I don’t know about other states but Lagos, which has the poster-boy of APC’s good governance (Gov Fashola) as its governor, has on several occasions experienced the high handedness of the bespectacled barrister-governor. Apart from the LASU fees which was rescinded after the party lost in Ekiti, the government has not been known to withdraw on its decisions. Think of the toll gates.

Thought 3: Can we talk about this ethnicity business? It is an open-secret that the various nations that make up Nigeria have not seem themselves as one yet. The last elections are testimony to this. So, should we revert to regionalism or form our own system of government the way we like it not necessarily within the scopes of what Western powers call democracy. This system of government and federalism should be built to recognize all the nations that make up Nigeria.

Also, the pretense and hypocrisy around the civil war has lasted a long time. In my opinion, there has been no other period in our collective history as a country when an overwhelming number of Nigerians have followed a conviction to that extent. So we have been thinking that the horrors of the civil war that saw extra-intelligent minds like Christopher Okigbo could be wished away General Gowon’s 3 R’s a la Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and ReCONciliation (You google that! 🙂 ).

The recent reference to this horrific event by a number of opinion writers and intellectuals is a reminder of what is wrong with us. The war has no closure, the earlier we accept and retrace our steps the better. We are one big pretentious country! I read that at least 10,000 books have been written on the American civil war. We run away from our past praying it won’t catch up with us. I shake my head.

Thought 4: Why do girlfriends ask their boyfriends (and vice versa) to scream ‘I love you’ in crowded places? Most times, ‘victims’ of this emotional bullying know it is not for affection but a stamp, a roar to scare intruders away!

Open Letter to Prof. ‘Remi Sonaiya by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Professor 'Remi Sonaiya was KOWA Party Presidential Candidate in Nigeria's 2015 Presidential election

Professor ‘Remi Sonaiya was KOWA Party Presidential Candidate in Nigeria’s 2015 Presidential election

Dear Prof. Sonaiya,

Five months ago, if I had written this open letter with this same caption, a deluge of questions would have poured in. Who is the addressee of this letter? Why is an open letter addressed to her? What relationship exists between the writer and her? Of what concern is the letter to us, members of the public? Just name it. Any question an inquisitive mind could elicit.

Today, by that singular audacity, you, Prof. Comfort ‘Remi Sonaiya, have saved me the stress of having to proffer answer(s) to satiate the people’s genuine curiosity. This audacity, encapsulated in your eight-word motivational statement, “Ordinary citizens like me can be President too”,  resonated across the length and breadth of our nation. With that epochal electoral participation, Mrs. Sonaiya has etched her name in gold in our History books as a woman Presidential contestant in the male-dominated Nigeria political terrain.

By garnering 13,076 of the total votes cast, which were spread across the 36 states of the federation plus the FCT, the KOWA Party candidate trounced two other male contestants out of the other 13 male hopefuls in the March 28 historic Presidential election. As modest as this may appear, it is definitely no mean feat most especially for a woman and a new comer to the rocky and bumpy  roads to the highest office in the land. Today, Remi Sonaiya, this name of an “ordinary” Nigerian with an “extraordinary” dream rings a bell, from the far north to the near south. From the remote east, to the proximal west. That in itself is a resounding achievement. It offers a rare springboard for a more forceful comeback and a leverage to sweep to victory in the future.

Still about the future, General Buhari’s triumph at the polls was a symbolic defeat and demystification of moneybags politics. The dedollarizaion and denairalization of our political space were a necessary rite of passage which we had to undergo as a people so as to guarantee a level playing field and ensure the enthronement of meritocracy among the political class. Never again will financial inducement of the electorates be so potent as to fetch undue advantage for unpopular and mediocre political desperadoes to lord it over the rest of us. Henceforth, it will be foolhardy and naïve to rely solely on buying votes as a means to get to power.

It was the need to ensure that paradigm shift that made a number of us to pitch our tents with Gen. Muhammadu Buhari. We understood that by siding with him, we were supporting a man who possesses and depends solely on the strength of his character and willingness to serve  as a means to get the people’s mandate. We understood that the former Head of State was not the best, but definitely better than those currently misruling us. We understood, like the Yoruba proverb captured it, that trees that fall on each other should be sorted out from top downward. Buhari was therefore a means to an end. And not an end in itself. He offered the tool with which the masses vented their anger and taught our present crop of (mis)leaders the lesson that never again should the people be taken for a ride.

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

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

In effect, we were, perhaps inadvertently, paving way for the emergence of “ordinary citizens” like me and you in occupying, why not, the highest office in the land. With the corrupt politicians’ buying dollars put to shame, and with massive rigging drastically checked and reduced, the coast to the Presidency is more than ever clear for the likes of Sonaiya who were hitherto shortchanged for being unable or unwilling, as a matter of personal principle, to go on dollars’ spray. I hope we will consolidate on that paradigm shift.

That is not all. The unwritten north-south power rotation pact as well  as power zoning between the six geopolitical regions is another hurdle we must cross. Moreover, the level of our sociopolitical evolution and sophistication as to embrace the idea of a female President is still subject of contention and cynicism. For a  patriarchal nation like ours with deeply rooted male chauvinistic tendencies, it will at best remain a tall order.

However, none of the hurdles is insurmountable. Like you rightly pointed out in one of your pre-election interviews, serving in the incoming administration may not be out of place. In my estimations, most of the personal principles and sociopolitical norms and values that you hold dear are not anathema to the President-elect. Without you cross-carpeting or compromising on the KOWA Party welfarist ideology, taking a political appointment will afford the opportunity to showcase your leadership prowess and endear you more to the electorates. That will also silence the skeptics who were cynical about your leadership credentials and experience. Hillary Clinton, Oby Ezekwesili, Late Dora Akunyili etc all offer shining examples in this regard.

Alternatively, our dear Professor of French language and Applied linguistics turned politician can focus on building KOWA Party to become stronger and by so doing deepen our democracy while serving as watchdogs and constructive critics of the ruling party. I completely agree with these lines in your post-election statement:

I am also convinced that there is a quiet majority out there who see the truth in our message that only a leader with strong values and an independent mind can give us the change we need. As such, I intend to spend the coming years working with other members to grow KOWA Party and establish it as a solid and attractive platform of excellence for politicians of character and integrity.

The road may seem long, tedious and unending. I dare to think otherwise. The most difficult was having the audacity to embark. That you have done. By mere coincidence or not, General Buhari’s twelve-year journey to Aso Rock Villa started when he was sixty years old. You are also starting at that particular age. How long yours will take still begs for answer. An answer that only Providence has a clue about. In the months and years to come, we can only wish you the best of luck and assure you of  our unwavering belief and unflinching support of your noble dreams for our nation and the common man.

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

WeekendStarter by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed: Buhari’s Presidency is a Dream Come True

General Buhari

General Buhari

As some rightly put it, on the 1st of the Fourth month of the year, Muhammadu Buhari became the Fourth elected President of the Fourth Republic at his Fourth attempt. Mere coincidence!? Certainly this ascension to the highest office in the land by the first Opposition leader since Nigeria’s Independence in 1960  is jinx-breaking. The advent of the Nigerian Abraham Lincoln has forever demystified the Almighty incumbency factor at the central government.  The self-styled Africa’s largest political party, the PDP, taunted to rule for sixty consecutive years has been rebased to the “Africa’s largest opposition party”, albeit after just sixteen years. Perhaps they misheard their Seer’s prophecy and mistook six-teen for six-ty, or the said Seer is simply non-seeing.

One thing is definitely certain. Nigeria just opened a new page in her democratic history. A new dawn has broken. As the President-Elect aptly captured it in his acceptance speech : “You voted for change and now change has come”. And if these heavy-laden words are anything to go by, then Nigerians have just succeeded in replacing a bloody revolution à la Arab Spring with the broom revolution through the ballots.

Talking of averting bloodshed, and that will lead to the President Jonathan’s phone call, concession speech, and the subsequent heroism hoopla that trails them, records must be set straight here.  Indeed there was a pre-presidential election and also a post-presidential election. Concerned citizens counseled  President Jonathan not to thread the Gbagbo’s path and not to yield to unpatriotic pressures from the hawks in his entourage. Mr President hearkened to the warnings. And by that singular show of sportsmanship and display of humility in defeat, President Jonathan doused tension and saved the lives of innocent Nigerians. And if that is not commendable, nothing else should. President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat in 2010 to his rival, President Ouattara. The consequence of which was a full blown post-election violent conflict which sent over 3000 Ivorians to their early graves within the space of four months. If we would condemn him for his obduracy and self-centeredness, and treat him as a villain, then for doing the opposite, Jonathan should be commended. Fairness and not being hypocritical require nothing short of that from us.

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
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.

However, commendation has a limit. There was indeed a Pre-election Jonathan who descended to the lowest of low in his desperation to clinch a reelection. A President who, together with his spouse and their cronies, threw all known decorum, modesty, morality and Presidential restraints to the dustbin. Under no circumstance should President Jonathan become a national hero overnight and through the backdoor. That will amount to a brazen denial of the pre-presidential election and  a sordid insult to our collective memory. Beatifying him as some have taken it thus far is tantamount to a reckless and heinous betrayal of the Chibok girls, the dozens of youths who lost their lives in the immigration job screening sham, the coldblooded murder of the Boni Yadi school boys, the over thirteen thousand massacred Nigerians, several millions others maimed, rendered homeless, hopeless and helpless therefore living as refugees in their own country and elsewhere, the stolen $20 billion and a whole lots of other financial frauds and scams under his nonchalant watch. The list is just endless. Unless we are a people who are so heartless as to forget their recent past, a people condemned to demand so little from those in to whose hands so much is entrusted,  and cursed to celebrate and sing the praise of their underperforming callous rulers to high heaven.

His was a trying time for our nation, second only to our excruciating experience during  the civil war. And we are so eager to turn this painful page of his and usher in a new era in our nation. And Providence, through our well-utilized votes, has confided that onerous task of heralding that national rebirth in to the hands of General Muhammadu Buhari. We believe he will not let us down. His several failed shots at the Presidency and his succeeding at the fourth attempt is a testimony that such a rare determination  can only come from a patriot who has noble dreams and plans for his compatriots. For the first time, Nigeria got a leader who truly wanted to be one and toiled for it.

To succeed where his immediate predecessor failed, Mr. President-Elect only need to be the direct opposite of what Jonathan Presidency was. Our out-going President gave no damn. You, give a damn. His cluelessness went beyond what anybody could have a clue of. Sir, take a clue from that. His was Presidential insensitivity at its peak. General Buhari, be sensitive. He surrounded himself with confused sycophants who in his own words confused him the more. President-Elect, surround yourself with our best hands and our best brains. He was most unfortunately a spendthrift. Muhammadu Buhari, nothing stops you from being our Jose Mujica. He hobnobbed with fugitives, thieves and criminals and kept them within his inner-circle. Sai Baba, we know you can’t be comfortable in the midst of the worsts of us. In short, he was simply incredibly unpresidential. Your Excellency, be Presidential.

We can only imagine how far the legendary Pa Obafemi Awolowo, our first and foremost opposition leader, would have taken our nation if he had the chance that you have today. The same dream Late Chief MKO Abiola had and almost actualized but was denied of unjustly. This is a golden opportunity for General Muhammadu Buhari to become the Father and Architect of Modern Nigeria. A rare come-back and a chance to  become the Nigerian Nelson Mandela and why not a Lee Kuan Yew that will put Nigeria back on the path of stability, growth and unprecedented development.

We have the All Progressive Congress party’s manifestoes and  your various electoral promises held close to our chest. They will either testify for or against you. We will surely judge your performance based on your delivering on them. It did not take us more than 6 months in to the Jonathan Presidency in 2011 before we realized that we have entered “one chance”. He refused to declare his assets publicly and scornfully threw it to our face that he does not give a damn about it. His first derailment was shadow-chasing a self-serving six-year single tenure when the hope of the Nigerian masses who identified with his “shoeless” humble background was at all-time high on him. The rest is history.

One sure way by which you can achieve so much within so little time is forgetting about 2019. Be the President of our national reforms  and renaissance. Bury the idea of a reelection and you will go far. It will make you care less about stepping on big toes, all for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians collective interest, if the need be. Leave your reelection fate in our hands. Let us beg and implore you to go for it when 2019 comes. For this is because the historic March 28 and the heroic Professor Attahiru Jega have taught us that power indeed belongs to and emanates from us. We give it and we can as well retract it when we so will. And to whom much is given, much should be required.

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.

Take Charge! Vote Buhari for Change! by Emmanuel Oritseweyinmi

General Buhari

General Buhari

The ring is ready for another rumble. Blood courses through my veins in futile attempts to stop my heart from racing. This man here is praying. That man there is hyperventilating. And can someone please tell this woman beside me that she’s holding on too tightly and her blackish green sweat is beyond disturbing, quite unpatriotic I might add. And can anyone help me whisper to that raging loudmouth by the corner that he’s preaching to the choir. And I’m their director.

That cock and bull story of how a soldier is no good for Nkem, my daughter, is getting old. The loudmouth said it last Friday, yesterday his rants annoyed me to bed and here he is today, saying the same thing. Even the walls seem tired of his discourse; I saw them crack this morning as he spoke.

The young man must think so little of me. He is particularly excited at how the soldier’s age completely disqualifies him from being in contention for Nkem’s hand in marriage.

Is he calling me blind for not regarding the wrinkles on the suitors face? He must have mistaken my squinted eyes for decoration. Maybe he has.

Or is he insulting my memory by reminding me of things I already am reminded of? I saw sweat trundle down his forehead as he pumped his fist in the air and went on pointing out the wrongs the old dove has done. He called him unrefined, extreme and harsh. Of this, I already am aware of.

Or maybe he thinks I’m deaf. His parents must have told him I fought in the Great War. Maybe he thinks all the noise of grenades and gunshots must have clogged my ears. Yesterday, when he chattered endlessly, I actually wished they had been clogged. His “salient” reasoning poured like rain much to the dismay of sanity, and unsurprisingly to the admiration of the gullible crowd at the village square.

He must really think I’m deaf, for I don’t understand why he enjoys reiterating every unsavoury speech the man said in times past and expects me to applaud him for his “thorough approach”. I am aware this soldier believes some things I do not, and has said some things that probably should be unsaid–if only that were possible– but the fact that I choose to have him in spite of all the scandals that surrounds him is a pointer to how bad the other option is. In spite of his flaws, picking him is a risk I am willing to take.

This crusader has forgotten that although he may be family, he can only suggest, not command me on what to do. Nkem, my little princess has gone through a lot. Her ex-husband, Dothan, had her for six whole years and you need to see the state she was in before I snatched her from his arms.

Battered and bruised, she could barely recognize me. She fell asleep as I took her to the hospital, and when she finally came around, the first word she said was “Papa”. She called me father. But I know i don’t deserve this title. Her father was a man like none other. A warrior-par-excellence. Yet, a very homely man. He knew when to wear a smile and when to take care of business. A man of steel and brawn. Maybe it’s that bit of him that I see in this soldier that has me decided on him. Nkem needs someone with a firm hand, but a gentle grip. Someone that, if needs be, would catch a grenade for her, without thinking too hard about it. And this “soldier boy” looks the part. I may be wrong about him, but i doubt it.

Dothan, although not outrightly evil, is in cahoots with the wrong crowd. They pervert his judgment and cloud his cranium with corrupt concepts. They feed him lies. They tell him he’s invincible and we are all fools. He has always been a simple man, easy to manipulate. His friends know this. They never liked him; they were only after all he had. Nkem was all he had. Without her he was no better than a drunken fisherman by the waterside. So the gullible Dothan attended to their every whim, bending like the palm tree to a strong wind. And when I heard he had begun pimping her out to please these evil men–the so called “cabal”– he heard my roar. I refuse to stand by doing nothing while my favourite falls. I refuse to do nothing while things go awry.

Now back to the loudmouth activist and his hatred for all things military, be they active or retired. I accept, he may never fully understand why i take this risk. But I hope he’ll join me and see the error of Dothan’s ways. I hope he agrees with me and hopefully, someday when we look back to how bad things were before the soldiers came back, we’ll rest knowing we did what’s right.

Have you heard? Our Nkem is getting married this month. Have you gotten your Invite? Of course, the Invite is the PVC. Your vote is your voice in her betrothal…do have your say wisely.

Take charge!

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!!!

Nkem’s Shoeless-Dothan by Emmanuel Oris’

Emmanuel Oritseweyinmi is a writer and an inspirational speaker. He is the author of “I Dare to be a Nigerian: A collection of inspiring stories, plays and anecdotes” available on Amazon We at AhjotNaija are honoured to have him guestblog for us. This is first of many inpsirational series soon to be published.

Emmanuel Oritseweyinmi is a writer and an inspirational speaker. He is the author of “I Dare to be a Nigerian: A collection of inspiring stories, plays and anecdotes” available on Amazon
We at AhjotNaija are honoured to have him guestblog for us. This is first of many inpsirational series soon to be published.

See the blood course through my veins as I try to slow him down before he crashes and burns. He shrugs my hands off. Hear my voice call out to him just before he heads off a cliff. He deafens his ears to my pleas. His heart is fixed. He is bent on reaching Hell’s gate, to ascertain if indeed it is what it is.

“Abandon hope all ye who enter here”

Was that not what the philosopher Dante figured the inscription at Hell’s entrance would read? Yet I wonder why Papa Nkem wants to dare the Fates and hopes his gamble pays off. We all thought he was joking when he told us that he was going to marry off our favourite daughter, Nkem, to that unsophisticated Fulani soldier man. For God sakes even the village lunatic remembers Maigari’s days at the helm of affairs at our village’s military consignment. Those were dark days.

Like a slave master, he placed shackles on our freedom. Like dogs we were put on leashes. He called that discipline. A long standing curfew paralyzed our night trade and completely put my late uncle out of business. Papa Ada, who was a palm wine tapper, never truly recovered from the ban on all drinking parlours. He died during Maigari’s repressive regime. It’s a pity he couldn’t hold out a little while longer, as God heard our prayers soon after and Maigari was kicked to the curb.

I can hardly believe Papa Nkem would wilfully allow such a man into our family. I know my friend Dothan really treated Nkem poorly at some point, but no one can deny the fact that the man still loves her. And the look on Nkem’s face this afternoon when I saw her was that of the moon when the sun has been stolen away from it. A thousand stars wouldn’t compare. The moon needs the sun to shine.

It was exactly four years ago we all rooted for Dothan when he asked for Nkem’s hand in marriage. The man was the epitome of humility and servitude. It’s a fact he has gotten a bit overambitious over the years but unlike others I still see that gentleman that charmed us all that sunny afternoon. I remember it like it was yesterday.

The clouds hid themselves that day, heralding the sun’s heated embrace for red earth, thatched roofs and bald heads. Papa Nkem, the family elders and I sat under the Ukwa tree in front of his compound awaiting the arrival of Dothan and his brothers. We had had our fair share of flamboyant displays from red cap chiefs, city businessmen and the likes for the hand of our daughter, but we weren’t impressed. And we were certain this man from the south would be no different.

Soon after they arrived and our hearts were turned. He was a common civil servant, dressed in khakis. He introduced himself and we got to question him further. It was then we discovered his luck was good. Out of nothing – from having no shoes—Dothan had become the vice principal of his community’s grammar school. Soft spoken and mildly tempered, we were certain this was the man for our Nkem. It was Papa Nkem himself who convinced those who weren’t. It behoves me why he has changed his mind to a point that apologies and promises bounce off him like a ball off a brick wall.

I have tried telling him over and again that his temper would one day get the best of him and this looks like the perfect storm, but I’d rather he doesn’t drag Nkem down with him. In times like these patience is more than a virtue. He’s crying for change, but that’s not what we need right now. We need to keep moving forward.

Dothan has started us off on the road to success. I mean, take a good look at Nkem, she was crude and seemed to lack an idea of what to do with herself, but look at what Dothan has done with her. He paid for her to continue schooling. The other day I heard her speak through her nose in a manner I’m sure her white missionary teachers would be proud of. Instead of keeping her at home to rot, this man saw the best in our daughter.

Life is a journey where we sometimes stumble and fall, but that’s no excuse to throw in the towel and return to base. Dothan –much like every man alive – is not perfect and has made some mistakes in times past but I’m sure he’s turned a new leaf and is ready to do what’s right this time around. I may be wrong about him, but I doubt it.

They argue that Dothan hit Nkem, but marrying her off to Maigari – that brute of a man – would somehow make things better. If anything, that sentences the poor girl to severe brutality and this time we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Papa Nkem doesn’t understand the politics Maigari’s playing. Maigari is a proud man who believes everyone is beneath him and the only reason he’s sulking up to everyone right now is because of Nkem. And when he has her, I bet he’ll show everyone his true colours. And God forbids he does worse to Nkem, is it her lily-livered father that will storm a military man’s house to drag her out like he did to the quiet Dothan? I think not.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but it’s often a mirage. I wish we would be grateful for what we have, understand that no man’s perfect and be patient with this man – Dothan. He may not deserve it but it just might be the only wise thing to do. For I will sleep better knowing that our daughter Nkem is lying down in the arms of a common civil servant than be in the neck crushing chokehold of a malevolent fiend of a man.

It is said that “those who do not remember history are bound to repeat it”, but must that be our story? I mean, the man has shown us his hand several years back, must we allow him deal his last card when the power is in our hands this time around?

Have you heard? Our Nkem is getting married this Valentine. Have you gotten your Invite? Of course, the Invite is the PVC. Your vote is your voice in her betrothal…do have your say wisely.

Take charge.

Fast-Forward to FeBuhari 14! 2015

Dear President Buhari,

So, now that President Jonathan finally lost this election, I welcome us all to the new reality. Nigeria has a new president, and he is not a PDP-President! There are lessons to learn, but I will spare us that because I am afraid we just might not care. We are still feeling high from a victory well deserved. Finally this Jonathan is gone! Ibanuje lo!

Until yesterday, President Jonathan was Nigeria’s worst headache. Now that the old headache is gone, I hope President Buhari will not be a worse nightmare. The next 100 days will be decisive in foretelling the course this presidency. The tone of reconciliation struck after your landslide victory is a welcome development, but not unexpected. Humility in victory is our culture.

While we accept that this is our cultural good, we must be willing to hold accountable the past government to her corruption and abuse of office. Perpetrators must not be left off the hook. A precedent is necessary. If anything, it will signal, that come 2019 we shall not be unwilling, just like we welcome you like a donkey-riding messiah, to pursue you out of office once again with our votes if you fell short of fullfilling every promises made.

There is no excuse for non-performance. You knew Nigeria was a liability before you promised heaven and earth to make her work again. My yardstick for a successful Buhari presidency shall be this: A comparable report-sheet to Governor Fashola’s first term in Lagos state. Anything short is epic failure. Governor Fashola WORKED every single day in his first term. Think of this: Fashola was so confident his report-sheet was strong enough to win him a second term. And it did! If Asiwaju Tinubu had dared to play dirty by not returning him for another term, he would have successfully killed himself politically. Here is the thing: Good work speaks for itself! We must hold your presidency to this standard. That is another precedence we must set.

The job of the new president is clearly cut out for him. We need not remind that the last president whom you replace, in fact, made this new job more difficult. For this reason we shall be terribly sincere in our criticism, give little room for error and shout even louder if you tried to force sh*t policies down our throat. Maybe we need tell you that one of the attack dogs of the former president referred to us as children of anger. Yes, that is exactly who we are! Collective children of anger! Call us anything, ebu o so! Abuse nor dey gum body! We are only interested in one thing alone: That you do your job by fullfilling the mountain of promises you made.

At this point, I shall remind of a campaign advert I saw in your name. The video declared: Electricity generation is not rocket science. Well, Mr. President, we know this, previous governments knew this truth. We are happy that a president finally hit the nail on the head. Yes! Power generation and supply is simple as ABC, the thing now is, abeg, fullfill your promise!

We shall hardly be willing to compromise on this matter. I hope you understand what this means and why we shall shift no ground particularly on light. Over 50 years of constant darkness and epileptic supply coupled with uncountable-monies soldier-politicians had embezzled in that sector! Add to that the fact that you were once Head of State to perfect our suspicion and uncompromising stance on this matter.

Well, to help you, and I believe I am speaking for NIGERIANS as a whole, if you give us in your first term TWO YEARS of uninterrupted power supply, in Lagos, Kano, Onitsha, Agbor, Okene and in the remotest/most obscure place in Nigeria, not only is your second term guaranteed, your name shall forever be written in gold even in minds of children yet unborn! President Buhari, we can only enjoin you to think of Chief Awolowo and FreeEducation legacy. I hope two years of constant power supply will be one of your legacy in the next four years.

I will not want to beat the matter on your promises too much, but be reminded that there are millions of Nigerians who are banking on your word. The Awujale of Ijebu is one of your best fans. Hear the king of kings talk about you: You can take General Buhari’s word to the bank and you will get paid! Mr. President, sincerely I do not envy you, because for real, you are in a tight corner right now. If you fuck up (permit my colloqual), you have not only ruined your present presidency and APC’s image, the cult built around your presonality so far is forever shattered.

Remember sir, up till your landslide win in the just concluded election, your past achievements as a soldier and HoS are most controversial. I need not remind you of your dark days. For those who excused your many missteps on the ground of youthfulness, circumstances and other things, they shall forever be silenced and monumentally disappointed. As for those who are certain that you were and still will be a disastrous choice for Nigeria, they finally will be right. In short, Nigerians will finally listen to Ikhide Ikheloa’s warning that APC is PDP! Well, if you don’t know what Ikhide thinks about you, I will tell you now: He is strongly convinced you and your party are a worse latrine than PDP is! I bet you don’t want to confirm his warning cum prophecy.

Another thing: There could be nothing more humiliating for you and your legacy if we have to kick your bottom out of Aso-Rock for underperformance. Remember, Nigerians are fond of sincerely singpraising achievements of past tyrants, rulers and presidents especially if the incumbent is an underperformer! In your case, that would mean, President Jonathan will be better placed and praised for his achievements! I am sure you don’t want history to deal with you this way.

Talking about APC being PDP, I am presently most likely to agree with this submission. Looking away for once from PDP-like corrupt moneybags in the senior rank and file of APC, practically all heavyweight of PDP decamped to your party. Remember, old habits die hard. These are people who are never interested in anything but their own pocket. Chief Obasanjo technically jilted his beloved PDP to get you elected, IBB declared for you. Shehu Shagari self sent spokesperson to disown claim that he was in anyway going the way of the person you replaced! All these people in your carriage are mega-thieves, commonwealth looters and everything-wrong-with-nigeria.

You know this, but your starkest footsoldiers assured the path you followed were simply unavoidable, needed to win you the presidency. I agree, dealcutting is as old as politics. I am only afraid this challenge will stick with you throughout your presidency. If you are not careful, exactly these terrible decampees and weight-givers shall be your undoing.

Many talks will not fill a basket, so I shall address one more matter before I rest. Senator Yerima. In order of relation, he is a closer kinsman to you than me. I heard with one ear that this man is now in APC. They even said he was in a committee who worked for your election. I hope you know too that he was/is married to a 13 year old girl. His justification is simple: he exploited a loophole in the constitution which regards every married female as having come of age. Plus he has many other justufications, his religious conviction being an influence too. This man has your confidence, so we believe you can talk to him in a tongue he understands. Not only that, please we want you to push for a consitutionally standard age and definition of who a child is, male or female in Nigeria.

Abeg, call on the wisdom of your lawyer professor vice president to close this Yerima-loopholes in the constitution. I can only call on your humanity and your high standard of morality to safe our children from constitutionally sanctioned rape and abuse. Our childten, particularly the female ones, have more than enough suffering already to chew, the possibility of being constititionally fucked by a Senator Yerima need not be added permanently to their taste-bud. They deserve to be who they are, namely CHILDREN!

Mr. President, sir, I have on your behalf greeted those who wished you lost the presidency to your incumbent-challenger. They showed strong spirit of sportsmanship in the contest. They deserved to be so well-greeted. That President Jonathan won over 19 million votes clearly confirmed he was a worthy contestant. He had the suppirt base. Omi lo kan poju oka lo!

For the Jonathan supporters, to whom sportsmanship is a strangeness, I have appealed to them to give you the benefit of 100 days in office. Around that time, you will have shown enough color via your statements, appointments etc to determine policy direction of your government. They gave me their word. They will wait till then before they start wishing/confirming your failure.

Also, I did not forget to warn my two friends and brothers who happened to be your staunchest admirers. Babawale Biyi gave me his word that he will not withold from telling it to your face you fail if you indeed fail. Isiaq ‘Deji is not ready to imagine you might fall our hand. These two brothers and supporters, like all your supporters/Nigerians, deserve no disappointment from you, sir!

I heard Fani-Kayode flew hurriedly out of the country few hours ago. You know he was a man of full of political tactlessness. He left nobody in doubt he was fleeing political persecution. He left no word as to destination. Governor Fayose is presently still at large, most likely on medical leave in Germany. He left words that he had wished your death only out of political desperation. He meant no evil and hoped that upon his return his messenger of peace will have reached your doormot!

Madam Petroleum Minister Deziani will not run away. She believes she robbed nobody. Madam Iweala has since been returned to where we borrowed her from. Okojonomics will apparently never work in Nigeria! Madam was undaunted to the end. Your excellency, you need to sight her gele at the airport to confirm for yourself that her head was high and her spirit undampened!

On a final note, I must not forget to remind your excellency, sir, that I have since, upon hearing of your landslide victory, ordered the barman to bring me another two bottles of APC and PDP. Actually, I wanted my usual sepe-mixture to wash your victory, but e nor dey. That was how I washed Jonathan’s victory in 2011. I am not ashamed I did because it was nothing personal. It is a game of politics. Actually, many friends knew I was washing Jonathan’s victory back then in anticipation of this day FeBUHARI 14, 2015! I knew I was going to survive the past four years because I am Naija! I am larger than your predecessors. So that you know, I will survive the next four years too come what may and I am already getting ready for 2019.

Yours sincerely,

Ahjot Naija

%d bloggers like this: