Sahara Reporters Latest News Monday 21st January 2019
Sahara Reporters Latest News Today and headlines on some of the happenings and news trend in the Country, today 21/01/19
target=_blank>APC Campaign Likens Atiku’s US Trip To ‘Yahoo Yahoo’ Boys Scamming Their Victims
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign Council says the visit of Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to the United States of America “smacks of things local ‘yahoo yahoo’ boys do to scam their victims”.
For the first time after more than a decade, Atiku stepped foot in the US on January 17, 2019.
VIDEO: Atiku Arrives In US All Smiles In Saraki’s Company
3 Days Ago
There had been speculations that Atiku stayed away from the US allegedly due to the belief he would be arrested over allegations of corruption, including one by US congressman Williams Jefferson that part of the $100,000 cash found in his refrigerator was intended as bribe for Atiku for his role in helping American firm iGate secure a contract to expand broadband in Nigeria.
In a statement by Festus Keyamo, spokesman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, issued on Sunday, APC said the visit was a “non-event”, and “nothing but a downright catastrophe because rather than dispel the fact of indictments hanging over his head, it further confirms and reinforces those facts”.
The statement read: “In our press release issued on Sunday, December 30, 2018, titled ‘When the Thief is Shouting Thief: The Case of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’, we correctly predicted as follows: ‘By running for President of Nigeria, Atiku intends to get some immunity from prosecution. Already he is hoping to obtain a visa to visit the US, as a guest of the State department, a concession that the US will grant to a Presidential candidate of Africa’s biggest Nation’.
“Therefore, we were not surprised by his visit to the U.S. For us, this visit is really a non-event considering the issues involved in the forthcoming election. However, we have bad news for those who think this is a momentous event for Atiku Abubakar: the visit was nothing but a downright catastrophe because rather than dispel the fact of indictments hanging over his head, it further confirms and reinforces those facts for the following reasons:
“The visit had all the trappings of a fugitive sneaking into America under a ‘special diplomatic waiver’. For the candidate of the major opposition party in Nigeria, it is an absolute disaster that the visit was not announced ahead of time in Nigeria, with his programmes and itinerary clearly spelt out, the decent and customary minimum standard of such visits. This culminated in his close aides issuing conflicting statements about the visit when he was already on his way there. In fact, one of them called Paul Ibe actually spoke to the Press that his principal was nowhere near America! Such was the secrecy of the planning and execution of that visit.
“It is shameful that a presidential candidate of a major opposition party in Africa’s most populous country would visit America, and the international press was kept in the dark: There was NO SINGLE press conference with the array of international media and correspondents required for such ‘high-profile’ visit. Atiku knows he has no moral stamina to withstand the avalanche of hard questions bordering on his sordid past in America. In fact, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar claims he visited the Voice of America (VOA) but only did two carefully-packaged interviews with the Hausa service and the English to Africa program – platforms that have always been available to him back home. How strange! In fact, both the Twitter handle (@VOANews) and official website of VOA did not mention any such visit of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to their station. For news hounds, you would agree with us that such an ‘important personality’ cannot walk into a news premises without reporters swooping on him. Whatever he went to do in the premises of the VOA must have been a carefully-arranged private visit for the photo-ops, which was intended to scam Nigerians. What more evidence do we need of a “sneak-in-sneak-out” arrangement than this?”
Targeting in particular the ‘Get Nigeria Working Again’ mantra of the PDP, APC berated Atiku on various claims, including that of meeting US government officials. According to Keyamo, Atiku only met with someone who is the equivalent of a House of Representatives member, noting that the visit has done nothing but to “expose him for the questionable character he is”.
The statement continued: “For a candidate who claims he wants to ‘get Nigeria working again’ (a meaningless phrase) to sneak into America without meeting major players in private businesses is a curiosity and an indication that we are dealing with a candidate with a dodgy and questionable character. He claims he went to the US Chamber of Commerce, which is supposed to be a business federation. Again, the Twitter handle (@USChamber) and the website of the organization make no mention of the visit of such an ‘important personality’ to them. Maybe their famous American lobbyist on a salary of N9million per month can help them ‘do something’ about this after this press statement.
“It is also an anomaly that the candidate of the major opposition party in Nigeria sneaked into America and did not meet large sections of political leaders of similar ideologies and persuasions towards which he claims to be inclined. For all his claim to be going to America to meet ‘US Government officials’, he only succeeded in meeting a certain ‘Congressman Smith’, who is the equivalent of a member of the House of Representatives in Nigeria. You would agree with us that as dignified and respected as the office of a Member of the House of Representatives is, an important personality cannot come to Nigeria on an official visit and claim he has met the ‘Nigerian government officials’ after he pays a private visit to that Member. For all we know, the Congressman Smith may just be a private friend of Dr. Bukola Saraki or Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. That reminds us of Atiku’s famous legislator friend he threw under the bus, Williams Jefferson, who taught us how to hide laundered money (which was meant for Atiku Abubakar) in the deep freezer when the cops came knocking on his door!
“In all, it is very obvious now that the so-called American trip was a desperate trip for photo-ops. Throughout the trip, Atiku Abubakar looked cagey, frightened and on edge. We note the close support always provided by Senate President Bukola Saraki like a comforting guardian angel. The visit and arrangements smack of things local yahoo yahoo boys do to scam their victims. It is utterly disgusting and puerile that it has been brought into a serious political contest.
“Rather than being the highpoint of his campaign, the American visit is indeed the lowest watermark of Atiku Abubakar’s campaign. It was a political and P.R disaster. The statements he released from there only to the Nigerian Press back home that he intends to alienate other countries and do business with the U.S is actually the antithesis to our policy of non-alignment.
“For the information of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his handlers, Nigerians know that Nigeria is already working again for everyone and not for a few. As confirmed by him in a town-hall meeting a few days before his disastrous trip to the U.S, he said he wants to “get Nigeria working again” only for few of his friends who he claims he wants to make rich. If he cannot get them rich now from his private businesses, it is obvious that he is referring to the use of public funds to make his friends rich. Nigerians should judge for themselves whether this is the type of President they want.
“Finally, whoever advised Atiku Abubakar to undertake that trip to America just destroyed his entire campaign and exposed him for who he is – a questionable character who has continued to leave huge questions over his suitability for the highest office of the land and as such cannot be trusted by the Nigerian people.”
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>More Fake News Here By Bunmi Makinwa
Can one avoid fake news? It is highly unlikely.
Anyone who uses social media, also called social networking services, will receive fake news. The more frequently one uses social media, the more fake news one receives. The challenge is to identify and ultimately avoid spreading fake news as the personal and social impact can be damaging. In fact, it may also have legal implications.
The growth of technology, media technology in particular, in combination with the ease of creating one’s information through cheap mobile telephony, has democratised “news” both for good and bad uses.
An active user of social media receives information many times each day from friends, families, casual acquaintances, and unknown people. It has become easier than ever to generate and spread information. It can be about anything. In several formats, including text, video, photo and voice,anyone can use just a smart telephone to express views, ideas, wishes and news that can reach numerous people across the world in rapid time.
Such shared information may be fake news which contains mis-information and inaccuracies. The information may be designed purposefully to deceive or mislead the receiver. Or it may be used to inform, or promote a viewpoint, sale, generate interest in an issue, or perhaps to entertain. Most people re-post information quickly and hardly spend time to verify its authenticity.
Fake news varies in appearances and implications. As Nigeria’s 2019 elections for president, governors and other offices draw nearer, fake news will increase in frequency and sophistication.
The relevance of newspapers, radio and television notwithstanding, social network services are very effective means of communication. Their impact on political discourse and communication is significant in Nigeria.
According to available statistics, Nigeria’s active users of social media increased from only 52 million in 2013 to about 90 million users in 2017. With a huge population of young people, the country will most likely surpass its hitherto growth rate of about three percent for active users. Especially if the costs of mobile telephony decreases and the economy picks up in the near future, more young people will use the Internet with social media as primary means of communication. The mobile telephony subscription in the country rose from 1.6 million in 2002, to 87.4 million in 2010, and it is now at about 154 million.
Some fake news can be sighted from a mile off. Especially by astute communication and media professionals. A casual observation will show if the name of the purported media organization is wrongly portrayed, or if there are wrong spellings, unusual language or style of presentation. In some cases the hyperlink used as source of the news or information does not exist. Or the statements made are simply doubtful.
Yet, fake news can be cleverly done. It is possible to use modern innovations to modify photos, voices, images and scenes, and combine them to look credible. In such cases, it is difficult to spot the manipulations. More advanced analysis or technology is required.
Recently, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka spoke of a fake website that had his identity all over it. He succeeded to trace the originator but the person has not taken the website down.
Many wealthy people, celebrities, well-known persons, leading brands and organisations have fake information about them and attributed to them on the social media. Facebook, Twitters, websites and blogs, WhatsApp and Instagram are popular in Nigeria, and they contain a lot of fake news despite deliberate efforts by the platforms to identify and eliminate fake news and their creators.
Whilst there is general agreement that fake news should be discouraged and stopped, there is little common position on how it can be done. Current libel laws may be already adequate. Others ask for special policies and laws to counter fake news, whilst some countries place special taxes on use of social media. There have been several instances where national authorities closed down access to the Internet.
Just as one does in daily lives, one must apply common sense to determine what is fair, right or wrong. There are no better ways than to question claims and appearances.
For ease of doing things, you may want to consider the following ten points for social media messaging (text, voice, video, cartoon, photo and other materials). I call them my intuitive 10 laws of social media scams. They are particularly relevant in Nigeria as the political space heats up with ongoing campaigns.
All freebies on social media are scam. If the freebies are actually free, everyone and too many people have already taken whatever was available before I get to know.
If it sounds like fantastic news, a truly phenomenal happening, I hesitate. If it sounds untrue, it most probably is untrue.
Who said it? The same liar. He/she lied about things in the past. Forget it.
Oh, this story is credited to a well-known person, a public figure etc. If it is really true then I should find it on websites of the relevant major media, including newspapers, radio and TV. Is it there?
This does not sound like the same person I knew as a public figure. He or she would never do it, or say such a thing.
Does this quoted person have the qualification or experience to speak with authority on the issue? Can I find his background information or depth of knowledge through a regular Internet search?
Alright, this item quotes a reputable major news organization. Let us check it on the website or in the information area of the news media.
The fact that it is written does not make it true. Anybody can write anything about anybody at any place at any time for any reasons. Where else can I check the truth of it? Who should know?
Allegations of corruption and abuse of office stated about every top politician is likely to be true. But proof is hard to come by. Choose which ones to accept and act upon. Avoid the ones that may lead to a libel case.
Buhari does not hate Atiku. And Atiku does not hate Buhari. They are friends, and will remain friends after the elections. Please, do not send me these hate stories.
Bunmi Makinwa is the Chief Executive Officer of AUNIQUEI Communication for Leadership.
target=_blank>APC: The Cases Against Atiku Are There… If The US Decides Not To Pursue It, That Is Not Our Problem
Lanre Isaa-Onilu, APC National Publicity Secretary (middle), addressing journalists in Abuja on Sunday.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) says Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), returned to the country like a “fugitive”.
Mallam Lanre Isaa-Onilu, the APC National Publicity Secretary, stated this on Sunday in Abuja while addressing a press conference.
According to Issa-Onilu, Atiku hurriedly left the United States of America (USA) and “landed like a fugitive and refused to address any international media”. He added that the cases against Atiku are in the open should the US government chose to puruse.
“If he visited yesterday or tomorrow, it doesn’t matter. What made him not go for 12 years points to the fact that something that has to do with corruption. The cases are there in the US If the US decides to pursue it or not, that is not our problem, but the facts are there that corroborate the fact we already know. If a thief is walking freely on the street, it does not make him not a thief anymore,” he stated.
Onilu also criticised Atiku for walking out of the presidential debate organised by the Nigeria Elections Debate Group (NEDG) and the Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), which held on Saturday night, stating that the former vice-president “has nothing to offer”.
BREAKING: Atiku Walks Out On Presidential Debate After Buhari’s Absence
1 Day Ago
He stressed that Atiku cannot be trusted, particularly with his statement that he would sell off the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to his friends.
Urging Nigerians “not to take him seriously”, the APC spokesman said Atiku would “compromise the system to favour himself and his friends if voted into power”.
In his response to the allegation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) plans to rig the election in favour of President Muhammadu Buhari, Onilu said: “Obasanjo is being haunted by his past and it is high time he adjusted to the reality of the imminent defeat that is starring him in the face”.
Denying the accusation on rigging the election, he noted that it is time for Obasanjo to “smell the coffee and wake up from his slumber”.
“This election will come and it will be free and fair. APC has no reason to rig it. You have seen all the rallies we have done. The same party PDP that said our president is going to campaign by proxy, is the party that is showing concern nobody needs from them that our president is doing too much in terms of the rallies he has been attending,” he added.
He asked Obasanjo to adjust himself to the reality that after February 16, “he would realise that he is not God”.
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>‘The Son Of Nobody Can Become Somebody Without Anybody’ And Other Deductions From The Presidential Debate
The presidential debate organised by the Nigeria elections Debate Group (NEDG) and Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) at Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja on Saturda was quite revealing and indicting while it lasted. Touted as the ‘mother’ of all debates and expected to be so by most Nigerians, people from all walks of life took time out of their busy schedule to stay glued to their televisions.
Five out of the 72 candidates vying for the presidential post were invited for the debate: Fela Durotoye of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) , Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressive Party (YPP), Atiku Abubakar of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN). Four of these invited candidates ‘came’ for the debate. However, minutes before the commencement of the debate, Atiku walked out.
Here are the deductions from the debate.
Atiku, Buhari Gave Nigerians the Middle Finger
Muhammadu Buhari, the incumbent President, hinged his absence on his participation in a twon-hall debate on Wednesday and his ‘hectic schedule’. Atiku, who had earlier travelled back from the United States Of America (USA), where he went for his two-day ‘vindication journey’, passed his note of non-participation to the umpire just in the nick of time. He cited the absence of his only match among the candidates from the ring of debate. Atiku showed up but could not step up and enter the ring for contest of ideas. But why did the former Vice-President waste hours and resources in formulating his Atiku Plan when he is unwilling to speak to Nigerians? Why did he travel 10,661km all the way from the United States when he knew he would not debate and sell his ideas to Nigerians?
Deduction: The former Vice-President’s excuse seems implausible and ridiculous considering the fact that he has always attacked the same Buhari on the pages of newspaper and on Internet on matters ranging from the profound to the petty. Perhaps Atiku and Buhari — both septuagenarians — are bent on entrenching GERONTOCRACY in Nigeria. They arrogantly think the election is a two-horse race. Atiku knew that in the absence of his fellow septuagenarian, who is his main target, the younger candidates will turn him to their target and make a mincemeat of him. So he fled the scene of intellectual battle.
Moghalu’s opening salvo was a pointed question: Are we a nation? This is a question that borders on identification. Has the place we refer to as Nigeria evolved into a nation? Is it a mere geographical expression (apologies of Obafemi Awolowo)? Is Nigeria a mere notion striving to transform into a nation or an amalgam of disparate ethnicities cobbled together by its colonial masters for selfish gain?
Deduction: Since Moghalu is from the eastern part of the country and there has been vociferous clamour for secession from the current contraption by people from that part of the country, he should have been asked what he thinks of a secessionist state of Biafra.
Moghalu Took A Swipe At Buhari
Without wasting words, the presidential candidate of YPP promised not to relegate women to oblivion in the administration. He said “they women will have a seat at the table”. Taking a swipe at Buhari who had said the influence of her wife is confined to the kitchen and the “other room” — a subtle way of strengthening patriarchy — Moghalu promised to destroy patriarchy and allow and all-inclusive government.
Deduction: It seems Moghalu is sincerely committed to giving women equal participation in his administration. He chose 37-year-old Umman Getso as his running mate and sometime last year he said: “I restate my target of 50:50 gender parity in the composition of my cabinet as President of Nigeria in 2019”. Women may find a worthy ally and advocate in Moghalu
Moghalu on Reduction Of Recurrent Expenditure
He promised to reduce recurrent expenditure by 50%. His method will be through political will and this will be achieved within two years.
Deduction: Perhaps the YPP’s presidential candidate forgot in the heat of the debate that we are in a democracy and he will have the National Assembly to deal with for the ratification of most of his actions before they become implementable. He might not have supporters in the office even if he wins the elections considering the fact that he is from a fringe party.
Moghalu On Atiku And Buhari’s Absence
Moghalu believed their absence is the beginning of Nigerians’ emancipation from the shackles of bad leadership and their absence is a reflection of their emptiness. His words: “They are not here because they cannot answer the intricate questions of the economy”.
Deduction: Moghalu’s ideas and answers looked smart on paper but how implementable are his policies. This is because they seem theoretical.
Durotoye promised that his government would focus on three sectors: agriculture , housing and road construction.
On Reduction Of Cost Of Government
Durotoye promised that there would be penalties for not paying taxes. He also promised to be riding in a bus that carries other ministers. We just hope this won’t turn out to be an empty promise from Durotoye because Nigerians don’t forget. The incumbent president promised not to travel abroad for medical treatment but…. By the way, when was the last time Durotoye rode in a bus?
On The Absence Of Atiku and Buhari’s Absence
The ANN presidential candidate believes that old things have passed away and leadership is truly about people who respect people .
Durotoye said there will be heavy investment on drones to monitor our borders On Education
He said the Nigerian Educational System has been churning certificated graduates and not qualified and truly educated ones. He promised to make our educational system to focus more on qualifiacation and not certification. He also said he would ensure that all citizens have access to fundamental education.
Deduction On Durotoye’s Answers To National Issues:
Though his thoughts were well-coordinated and presented, oftentimes in the debate his answers looked like string of clichés . They often seemed perfunctory and regurgitated, a kind of straight-from-the-book stuff. Like when he said “I want a Nigeria where the son of nobody can become somebody without the help of anybody”. This starts as lofty as it looks on the surface sounds glib!
The former minister of education sole claim to competence is her experience at the National level as a minister. She said “ I bring with me a track record of being able to fix problems”
Oby On Poverty
She promised to liberate 80 million Nigerians from the shackles of poverty.
Deduction: How realisable is this? ‘Madam Due Process’ did not specify when she targets to achieve this in the course of her administration.
On Atiku, Buhari’s Absence
She said “I am not surprised they are not here. They have just simply announced their exit from governance.”
Deduction: But for her activism in recent years, some would have tied her with the same brush with the likes of Obasanjo and Atiku who happened to be her bosses when she served as a Minister.
Oby said: “Number one is to send signal that there is a new sheriff in town. We will set up a SWOT team made up of the best brains in the country.”
Deduction: This sounds too banal and somewhat heroic, especially when one considers Oby’s years of activism when it comes to national issues. She’s been in the vanguard of the ‘Bring Back of Girls Movement’. One expected an in-depth analysis of our security challenges and “provision” of sound and workable solutions to the problem of insecurity.
Even her submission on education looks vague. She said “we will focus on technical and innovative education”. For somebody who once served as Education Minister, her response to education was below par.
However, the three presidential candidates were on their mettle yesterday and proved that they hold the electorate in high regard and ready to play a ping-pong of ideas, unlike the other two candidates who chickened out.
SaharaReporters, New York
E2%80%94-sowore-outlines-his-plans target=_blank>‘Govt That Fails To Build Schools Would Definitely Build Prisons’ — Sowore Outlines His Plans For Education
Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), has revealed his plans for the education sector.
Sowore, who is also the Publisher of SaharaReporters, premised his plans for the education sector on the following: Free, compulsory and qualitative education; payment of cost of study allowance; abolishment of fees and exorbitant charges; establishment of community colleges and creation of vocational/technical colleges.
According to a statement by the SoworeOnCampus Special Intervention Unit, there is need to invest in the sector, as the current system “isn’t only designed to produce mass of unemployable graduates, it is also structured to keep and send millions of children with poor background out of school”.
The statement read: “Right from the military regime and down to the draconic civilian dictatorship which was albeit misnamed democracy, we have always been victims of government policies targeted at creating an army of extremely poor and uneducated population. It is no wonder Nigeria is at present the poverty capital of the world despite its enormous human and natural resources. Without regard for the slightest economic caution, all the economic facets and sectors haven’t only fallen prey to indignation and deprivations, but they have also been consciously designed and rigged against the poor.
“One of the major economic gang-up against the poor people is the several and wicked attempt by government at all levels to price education out of the reach of the poor through education underfunding, unaffordable fees, arbitrary fee increments as well as animalistic living and learning conditions. The Nigerian education system as of today isn’t only designed to produce mass of unemployable graduates, it is also structured to keep and send millions of children with poor background out of school.
“Creating an investment based education system was and had never been in the plan of the Nigerian ruling class. They have consciously failed to see and acknowledge the unbreakable link between functional education system and national prosperity. Our party, the African Action Congress (AAC), believes that a government that fails to thoroughly invest in the education of its young people should definitely prepare itself for unsustainable economy, increased crime rate and terrorism. A government that fails to build schools would definitely build prisons. It will continue to invest in feeding prisoners since it has failed to invest in the education of young people.”
The statement highlighted the plans of the party to improve education as follows:
Free, Compulsory and Qualitative Education: While Atiku through his ‘spokesperson’ Ben Bruce has communicated their plan to privatize our tertiary institution — a move that would bring school fees to a minimum of 600 thousand naira — meanwhile, the Buhari’s administration through his ‘spokesman’ on education, Dr Wale Babalakin, has made public their intention to increase school fees to the tune of 350 thousand for non science courses and 500 thousand for science related courses. Contrary to the madness of the PDP and APC, our party, the African Action Congress (AAC) and its Presidential Candidate, Omoyele Sowore, would ensure education is free from primary down to the tertiary level. Admission racketeering, nepotism and favoritism would be completely eliminated from our tertiary institutions. We would also immediately employ 200,000 teachers to increase the capacity of personnel in primary and secondary education.
Payment of Cost of Study Allowance: Omoyele Sowore and the African Action Congress would pay N100,000 per session to students of tertiary institutions as study allowance. This will ensure our students do not study under empty stomachs and are also able to meet up with basic financial and academic needs.
Abolishment of Fees and Exorbitant Charges: When elected as President, our administration would not only reverse all fee increment policies, we would completely abolish all fees.
Establishment of Community Colleges: Aside the fact that our administration would pump enormous resources into funding existing tertiary institutions, we would establish a community college in each local government of the federation. This would ensure that learning and academic curriculum are drawn within the confines of the economic requirements of each community and local government. For example, students in a fishing/leather-making community should learn with a ‘fishing/leather-making curricula’. Just as we have it in the US, policies like these would industrialize our local communities on a large scale; give bigger economic roles to communities and local government. This itself would constitute a major leap to national prosperity such as which has never been seen even in the history of Africa.
Creation of Vocational/Technical Colleges: For us in the African Action Congress (AAC), we do not find commissioning of projects like roads, bridges, railway, etc., worthy of celebration until we ‘commission’ a generation of engineers and technicians (plumbers, welders, miners etc) who can build our infrastructures. We would invest massively into the technical education of the citizens.
“We then seize this medium to call on all well-meaning Nigerians to join in the struggle to revitalise education to the highest level for national prosperity,2 the statement added with a call on Nigerians to cast their votes for Sowore.
For those interested in enquiries and volunteering for the SoworeOnCampus Special Intervention Unit, contact details are: 08065693312,08169053108.
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>VIDEO: We’d Be Fools If We Let Buhari Deceive Us The Second Time, Says Obasanjo
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says Nigerians would be “fools” if they allow Buhari “deceive them the second time”.
He stated this in a ‘State of the Nation’ address delivered at his Pent House residence inside the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Sunday afternoon.
Obasanjo berated Buhari on his policies, and accused him of conniving with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on plans to rig the 2019 elections.
He took a swipe at the Trader Moni scheme of the present administration, labelling the scheme spearheaded by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo as “idiotic”.
He also spoke on the trial of Walter Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), and expressed disbelief in Osinbajo’s claim that Buhari didn’t know about it till the Saturday before the scheduled Monday arraignment, stating that “President is not in charge let alone being in control and no Nigerian must take anything for granted”.
Speaking on the state of the present administration, he noted that it is important “at this juncture, to keep lamenting about the failure, incompetence, divisiveness, nepotism, encouragement and condonation of corruption by Buhari administration as there is neither redeeming feature nor personality to salvage the situation within that hierarchy”.
As such, he told Nigerians that: “Buhari has succeeded in deceiving us the first time and we will be fools to allow ourselves to be deceived the second time”.
Video of Nigerians Will Be Fools To Fall For Buhari Again, Says Obasanjo
Nigerians Will Be Fools To Fall For Buhari Again, Says Obasanjo
THE FULL SPEECH
POINTS FOR CONCERN AND ACTION
By Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
I am concerned as a democrat who believes that with faithful and diligent practice of democracy, we can get over most of our political problems and move steadfastly and surefootedly on the course of stability, unity of purpose, socio-economic growth and progress for all.
Democracy becomes a sham if elections are carried out by people who should be impartial and neutral umpires, but who show no integrity, acting with blatant partiality, duplicity and imbecility. For all democrats and those carrying out the process of elections, there must be the redline that must not be crossed in tactics and practices of democracy.
I personally have serious doubt about the present INEC’s integrity, impartiality and competence to conduct a fair, free and credible election. And if the INEC is willing, will the ruling party and government allow it? From what we saw and knew about Osun State gubernatorial election, what was conclusive was declared inconclusive despite all advice to the contrary. The unnecessary rerun, if viewed as a test-run for a larger general election, would lead people to expect incidences of deliberately contrived, broken or non-working voting machines or card readers, confusion of voters as to their voting stations, inadequate supply of voting materials to designated places, long line to discourage voters and turning blind eyes to favour the blue-eye political party of INEC because the Commission’s hands will be tied to enable hatchet men and women to perform their unwholesome assignment. The transmission and collation of results are subject to interference, manipulation and meddling. If the INEC’s favourite political party wins with all the above infractions, the result will be conclusively declared and if not, there will be a ‘rerun’, the result of which is known before it is carried out. I know that I am not alone in being sceptical about the integrity of INEC and its ability to act creditably and above board. But we are open to be convinced otherwise.
The joke about INEC would seem real. The INEC was asked if the Commission was ready for the election and if it expects the election to be free, fair and credible. The INEC man is reported as saying in response, “we are ready with everything including the results!” God save Nigeria! It is up to Nigerians to ensure that the redline is not crossed in safeguarding our fledgling democracy. And if crossed, appropriate action must be taken not to allow our democracy to be derailed.
A friend of mine who is more credulous and who claims to be close to the Chair of INEC keeps telling me that INEC will retrieve its image and reputation by conducting the coming elections with utmost integrity and impartiality. I am not sure as I believe more in action than in words and in past record than in promise. The track record of the present INEC is fairly sordid and all men and women of goodwill and believers in democracy must be prepared for the worst from INEC and their encouragers and how to get Nigeria out of the electoral morass that the Commission is driving us into. To be forewarned is to be forearmed. A battle long forewarned does not embroil the cripple nor catch him unawares. A word is sufficient for the wise. The labour of Nigerian democracy heroes must not be in vain. Some men of God would hold President Buhari to his word on free, fair, credible and peaceful elections. I am a realist and I reiterate that I go by track record. Therefore, I am not persuaded by a track record of hollow words, impunity, insensitivity and ‘I-couldn’t-care-less’ attitude, or by the sanctimonious claims of any candidate and his campaign staff. I will only believe what I see. This is a time for vigilance to fight to safeguard our votes and defend our democracy. The price of liberty and sustenance of our democracy is eternal vigilance and appropriate reaction to ward off iniquities. We must all be ready to pay that price and not relying on hollow words of callousness. The derailment of Nigerian democracy will be a monumental disaster comparable to the disaster of the Nigerian first military coup.
While Nigerians must not allow such a disaster to happen nor take such an affront lying low, the international community who played an admirable role in warning INEC, of course, to no avail on the Osun State gubernatorial election and who have been warning all political parties must on this occasion give more serious warning, send more people to the field to observe and work out punitive measures against INEC and security officials especially the Police and politicians who stand to gain from INEC’s misconduct, which is obviously encouraged by the Executive Arm of Government and who must be held responsible for the violence that will follow. Such measures can vary from denial and withdrawal of visas from the people concerned and from their families to other more stringent measures including their accounts being frozen and taking them to International Criminal Court, ICC, if violence emanates from their action or inaction. Nigeria must not be allowed to slip off the democratic path nor go into anarchy and ruin. No individual nor group has monopoly of violence or gangsterism. And we must not forget that in human interaction, reactions are normally greater than action, though opposite.
It is no use, at this juncture, to keep lamenting about the failure, incompetence, divisiveness, nepotism, encouragement and condonation of corruption by Buhari administration as there is neither redeeming feature nor personality to salvage the situation within that hierarchy. You cannot give what you don’t have. Bode George put it bluntly in his statement of December 3, 2018 when he said: “The other day, the Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo – a learned man, an enlightened person in all parameters – was seen at various markets in Lagos State and Abuja distributing N10,000 each to market women. What an absurdity! It was indeed an obscene display of executive recklessness and abuse of office. Pray, where did the money come from? Was it budgeted for in the appropriation law? In more civilised nations, Osinbajo would have been impeached and prosecuted for gutting our collective treasury.”
What an act by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria lawyer, number 2 man in the Executive hierarchy; and what is more, a pastor of one of the Christian movements led by a revered, respected and upright church leader, Pastor E. A. Adeboye. Osinbajo must have gone for, “if you can’t beat them, join them”. A great pity indeed and which makes people ask the questions, “Any hope?” Yes, for me, there is hope. Osinbajo has shown the human weakness and proved the saying that the corruption of the best is the worst form of corruption. His explanation that it was their government programme can only be construed to be very shallow and lopsided, if not an outrightly idiotic programme.
Traders in rural and sub-urban areas of Nigeria are many more than those in urban areas and they are much poorer than traders in Lagos, Abuja and other cities. They need more attention and greater help. Are they to be confined to the heap of perpetual poverty? What of those who are not traders? They are not entitled to hand-out and they can languish in penury? And what about millions who have lost their jobs in the last three and a half years? The timing is also suspect. Those who criticise the action are called evil but they are not evil as they know what they are doing and saying, and they love Nigeria and Nigerians not less than the likes of Osinbajo. They are not devils incarnate; they are patriots.
What is the connection between taking the number of PVC (Permanent Voters Card) of the recipient of the N10,000 doled out to ‘traders’ and the forthcoming election? There is something sinister about it, and Professor Osinbajo, of all people, should know that. With collusion of the INEC officials and card readers not made to work, anybody quoting the PVC number may be allowed to vote as the revised Electoral Bill was not signed. And if that happens all over the country, it will be massive rigging indeed. The Chairman of INEC must stand firm and carry out his duties with competence and unbending neutrality. Card readers must be used without fail and accreditation must be completed and number ascertained and made public before voting commences as was done in 2015.Amina Zakari has become too controversial a figure to be able to give assurance of free, fair and credible election for INEC. President Buhari and her family have declared that there is no blood relationship but there is relationship through marriage and that is more than enough for the good lady to step aside. A judge does not sit in judgement over a case once he or she becomes a cause for controversy or one side in the case has strongly objected to the judge. Madam Amina Zakari should, in honour, stay out and not be seen as a source of contamination of the election. Otherwise, it will be difficulty to deny the rumour that she is being assigned to Collation Centre for one duty only – to write out figures that are not results of the voting in the field on fake results sheets without water mark or on genuine results sheets which she will have access to as a Commissioner. Amina Zakari is not the only Commissioner that can be in the Collation Centre. Let the INEC Chairman act boldly and impartially and prove his absolute neutrality and responsiveness to contribute to make the election peacefully free, fair and credible. His integrity needs to be transparently demonstrated.
We should remember that there had been reports of INEC sponsored rigging in the past, and also with INEC officials through collation and with officials being put in party coordinators’ dresses and working for the political party favoured by INEC and also putting the dresses of other parties on INEC-favoured parties and police uniforms on INEC-favoured parties to rig all the elections for the favoured party. Like all of us, INEC knows all these and it should devise means to make sure they do not happen. But will they? One way will be to only allow card readers to be means of authenticating voters and where there is no such authentication, it should mean no voting. The second is to use only identity cards with watermarks issued by INEC itself to party officials only for identification of political party coordinators, officials and agents and not political parties dresses or arm and wrist bands which anybody can wear for purposes of identification on election duty or function. Both the Presidency and the National Assembly must so far be commended for adequately providing funding as confirmed by INEC, and therefore funding cannot be an excuse for poor performance by INEC.
President Buhari and his hatchet men in the coming election think that the judiciary must be primed in their favour. Hence, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, has been harassed and prosecuted for non-declaration of his assets without following the Constitution and the law, just to make him conform or set him aside for a Buhari man to take over or act, as President Buhari and his people believe no stone should be left unturned to rig Buhari in. It seems to be a ploy to intimidate the judiciary as a whole in preparation for all election cases that will go before them. Where and how will all these stop? Typically, with overwhelming outrage and condemnation, we are told that the Presidency denied knowledge of the action. But the Vice-President told us that the President knew of the action on Saturday night for everything that has been prepared for Monday morning. Haba VP, it doesn’t happen that way. Nobody should take such measure against any of the four in hierarchy below the President or any of his ministers without his knowledge and indeed his approval. But if that can happen to the Chief Justice of the Federation, the fifth man in the hierarchy of government, without the knowledge let alone the approval of the President, then it speaks for the type of government we have which means the President is not in charge let alone being in control and no Nigerian must take anything for granted. We are all unsafe and insecure under such an administration. And enough of it! Buhari’s apologists will not stop at anything to try to cover up his administration’s inadequate performance and character. A constitutional liberal democracy cannot thrive without an independent and insulated judiciary from the executive and the legislature. Nigerians must wake up and stop these acts of wanton desperation tantamount to mental incapacity to run the affairs of Nigeria wholesomely.
Life and living are anchored on trust. But if I trust you and you deceive, cheat or disappoint me the first time, it is shame on you. However, if I allow you to do so the same thing for me the second time, I do not only have myself to blame, I must be regarded as a compound fool.
Buhari has succeeded in deceiving us the first time and we will be fools to allow ourselves to be deceived the second time. Buba Galadima, who knows Buhari very well as a confidant and National Secretary of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, the Buhari’s party before it joined in forming All Progressives Congress, APC, has warned us this time around that no matter what he promises, he cannot change his character and attitude. He describes him as inflexible, insincere, dubious, intolerant, never accepts responsibility when things go wrong and impervious to reason and advice for change. If you cannot change your mind, you cannot change anything is the assertion of George Bernard Shaw. Even when figures, facts and statistics are made clear to Buhari, he keeps repeating what is untrue, either because he cannot understand or for mischief purposes and that places him on the level of a pathological liar. He believes he can get away with impunity and deceit as he seems to have done on many occasions in the past. Buba Galadima’s position is well complemented by Dr. Auwalu Anwar on the APC, CPC, TBO and Buhari’s character and attitude in his yet to be launched book, “Politics As Dashed Hopes in Nigeria”. It is also a stunning revelation. Anwar clearly pointed out, “the brazen display of incompetence, insensitivity and irresponsiveness by delusional party, CPC, leadership at all levels”. Buhari was the leader of the party. Bola Tinubu’s statement about Muhammadu Buhari in 2003 is fairly prophetic, “Muhammadu Buhari is an agent of destabilisation, ethnic bigot and religious fanatic who, if given the chance, would ensure the disintegration of the country. His ethnocentrism would jeopardise Nigeria’s national unity.”
Junaid Mohammed was eloquent on the issue of nepotism. But if as we were told that Buhari is nepotic because he does not trust others, why should others trust him to continue to put their fate and life in his hand. Trust begets trust. They cannot be trusted for ‘sensitive’ appointment but they can be sent out to campaign for his re-election. Who is fooling who?What is happening under Buhari’s watch can be likened to what we witnessed under Gen. Sani Abacha in many ways. When Abacha decided that he must install himself as Nigerian President by all means and at all costs, he went for broke and surrounded himself with hatchet men who on his order and in his interest and at high costs to Nigeria and Nigerians maimed, tortured and killed for Abacha. Buhari has started on the same path in mad desperation.
From available intelligence, we have heard of how Buhari and his party are going about his own self-succession project. They have started recruiting collation officers who are already awarding results based on their projects to actualise the perpetuation agenda in which the people will not matter and the votes will not count. It is the sole reason he has blatantly refused to sign the revised Electoral Reform Bill into law.
His henchmen are working round the clock in cahoots with security and election officials to perfect their plan by computing results right from the ward to local government, state and national levels to allot him what will look like a landslide victory irrespective of the true situation for a candidate who might have carried out by proxy presidential debate and campaigns.
The current plan is to drape the pre-determined results with a toga of credibility. It is also planned that violence of unimaginable proportion will be unleashed in high voting population areas across the country to precipitate re-run elections and where he will be returned duly elected after concentration of security officials as it happened in Osun State. We are monitoring them and we call on all democrats across the world to keep an eye on the unfolding anti-democratic agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is the time for preventive measures to be taken otherwise Nigeria may be presented with a fait accompli with impunity and total disregard of all pleas.
His scheme bears eloquent testimony to this road similar to Abacha whom he has praised to high heavens and as an arch-supporter and beneficiary from Abacha, he has seen nothing wrong done by him. It is clear from all indications that Buhari is putting into practice the lessons he learned from Abacha. Buhari has intimidated and harassed the private sector, attacked the National Assembly and now unconstitutionally and recklessly attacked and intimidated the Judiciary to cow them to submission.
I was a victim of Abacha’s atrocities against Nigeria and Nigerians – high and low. At the height of Abacha’s desperation for perpetual power, he did not brook any criticism because Nigeria was seen as his personal property. You must go along with him or be destroyed. All institutions for ensuring security, welfare and well-being of Nigeria and Nigerians particularly the Police, the Military and the Department of State Services (DSS) were abused and misused to deal with critics of Abacha and non-conformists with Abacha.
Today, another Abacha Era is here. The security institutions are being misused to fight all critics and opponents of Buhari and to derail our fledgling democracy. EFCC, Police and Code of Conduct Tribunal are also being equally misused to deal with those Buhari sees as enemies for criticising him or as those who may not do his bidding in manipulating election results. Criticism, choice and being different are inherent trade mark of democracy. If democracy is derailed or aborted, anarchy and authoritarianism will automatically follow.
Today, as in the day of Abacha, Nigerians must rise up and do what they did in the time of Abacha. Churches and Mosques prayed. International community stood by us Nigerians. I was a beneficiary and my life was saved. Well-meaning Nigerians took appropriate actions and made sacrifices, some supreme, some less than supreme but God had the final say and He took the ultimate action.
God of Nigeria is a living God and a prayer-answering God. Nigerians must cry out to God to deliver Nigeria. Here again, I have been threatened with arrest and extermination but I will not succumb to intimidation or threats. Maybe I should remind those who are using probe as a threat that I have been probed four times by EFCC, ICPC, House of Representatives and the Senate and Buhari has access to reports of these probes. But I have also challenged Buhari and the criminals around him to set up a probe on the same allegations and I will face such probe in public. But I know that these criminals cannot withstand a Police inquiry let alone clinical probe on the past public offices they held. My fervent prayer is that President Buhari may live to see the will and purpose of God for Nigeria. My final appeal to him is to desist from evil with manipulation and desperation because evil has repercussion especially as man who should watch and be mindful of his self-acclaimed and packaged integrity. At the end of the day, those who goad you on will leave you in the lurch. You will be left alone, naked and unheralded. In defeat, which must be Buhari’s fear leading to desperation, he and his co-travellers can still maintain modicum of decency, and exhibit fear of God in their actions. We have been told that governance has been abdicated to a cabal. Now, campaigning has been abdicated to ‘jagaban’. And it is being authoritatively stated that he would not join any presidential debate.
Nigerians will not allow the elections to be abdicated to INEC and Police to give us false and manipulated results. I personally commend the President for yielding to popular outcry to let the former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, go when he is due as he had the track record and history of being assigned to rig elections for the incumbent. It was alleged that he was sent to Kano for that purpose in 2015. He was already deploying his Commissioners of Police on similar mission before his exit. We must all encourage the new Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to tread the path of professionalism, even-handedness, respect and new image for the Police.
While Nigeria must appreciate Buhari for the little he has done and allow him to depart for home in peace if he allows free, fair, peaceful and credible elections, we must also tell ourselves that Nigeria deserves better at this point in time than what Buhari is capable of offering. History will note that he has been there. Nigeria now needs a man with better physical and mental soundness, with an active mind and intellect.
Let me say again that Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians and exists for the benefit of all Nigerians and non-Nigerians who desire to live or do business in and with Nigeria. The attitude of “it is my turn and I can do what I like” with impunity will not last because Nigeria is created by God and it will outlive all evil machinations and designs against the overall interest of Nigeria.
Before I conclude, let me assert that the security situation has deteriorated with kidnapping everywhere and Boko Haram more in action and nobody should deceive Nigerians about this. With the teaming up of Boko Haram and Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram is stronger today militarily than they have ever been. Boko Haram has also been empowered by the Nigerian government through payment of ransom of millions of dollars which each administration disingenuously always denies. With ISIS being liquidated in Iraq and Syria, Africa is now their port of concentration. Soon, they may take over Libya which, with substantial resources, is almost a totally failed state. When that happens, all African countries North of Congo River will be unsafe with serious security problems. The struggle must be for all West African, Central African, North African and most East African States. Nigeria has to play a vanguard role in this struggle as we have much to lose. This administration has reached the end of its wit even in handling all security issues, but particularly Boko Haram issue, partly due to misuse of security apparatus and poor equipment, deployment, coordination and cooperation.
Finally, those Nigerians that are being intimidated or threatened by this Administration must trust in God and stand firm. Tough times do not last forever, but tough people invariably survive tough times. This is a tough time for almost all Nigerians in different respects, but the people’s will shall triumph. All people who have registered to vote with their PVCs must never allow anybody or anything to deny or deprive them of the right of performing their fundamental civic duty of voting and sustaining democracy. Establishment of democracy and its sustenance is second to attainment of independence in our political life, leaving out the victory of the civil war. We shall overcome.
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>PHOTOS: Sowore’s Supporters Protest Exclusion From Presidential Debate
PHOTONEWS: Sowore’s Supporters Protest Exclusion From Presidential Debate
SaharaReporters, New York
target=_blank>Town Hall Meeting: Buhari Gave The Worst Performance Of Any Candidate Ever By Bayo Oluwasanmi
If someone had told me when I was in High School that a day would come when the President of Nigeria would be so intellectually disabled to hear, to think, to talk, and answer simple and straight forward questions on politics and government, I would have said you were crazy. If after the juvenile performance of President Muhammadu Buhari at the Town hall Meeting, we still have some Nigerians who believe he’s the best man for the job, then we’ve gone down the rabbit hole.
Throughout the Town Hall Meeting, Buhari a.k.a. Baba Go Slow was aggressively incoherent, completely unintelligible, proven repeatedly that he had absolutely no idea of what he was talking about. Snapshots from the Town Hall Meeting:
Kadaria: What are your thoughts on restructuring with regards to education?
Buhari: I’m expecting the press to investigate the corruption in the local government.
Kadaria: Why should the Nigerian people vote for you again?
Buhari: I’ve said before that if my party nominates me, I will contest.
Kadaria: The soldiers are protesting poor treatment and are ill equipped. What are your thoughts?
Buhari: I get situation report from the military. The military should investigate the demonstrations because they are not supposed to demonstrate.
Kadaria: Boko Haram targeting the military and killing soldiers. Are you worried about that?
Buhari: They choose the time to attack. We have resource limitations. Boko Haram get help from external forces.
Kadaria: What’s the solution to the conflict between farmers and herdsmen?
Buhari: We studied grazing routes from the First Republic. Benue Governor shouldn’t ban grazing but provide routes for grazing.
Buhari’s responses to questions were incomprehensibly demoralizing full of grim, tawdry, and surreal bizarre often painfully deep. Buhari’s performance just like his four-year old administration, is disjointed, unpleasant, and bizarre. If Buhari was savoring a moral advantage as a “man of integrity” as he took the stage at the Town Hall Meeting last week, it didn’t register on his face. Instead, he looked bereft. A funeral spirit haunted his responses throughout the session.
Buhari’s intellectual deficiency and incapability to master policies and how government functions are so obvious from the beginning of his presidency and campaigns if you watched his rallies and interviews. It baffles Nigerians that Buhari’s gaffes and goofs, are appealing enough to his supporters that they pretend not to notice that Buhari is ignorant and deficient about everything important to the job of president.
The Presidency is the most important office in the land. One would expect any candidate appearing in front of 200 million people to have done a little bit of prep work, read a briefing paper or two and take the Town Hall Meeting seriously. It wouldn’t hurt any candidate to have done a little cramming (well, Buhari is too old for that) on the details to make the case for why he or she is the best person for the job. Last week at the Town Hall Meeting, Buhari demonstrated not only that he didn’t prepare but that he lacks the capacity, ability, and has no underlying knowledge of the subjects a president is required to know. Buhari simply tried to wriggle his way through with incoherent misdirection even with all the help he got from his interpreter Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. Buhari gave the worst performance of any candidate ever.
It’s disorienting to see Buhari spout gibberish at such an important event. There were just too many errors, mistakes, lies, and flashes of ignorance that characterized Buhari’s embarrassing performance. It’s no wonder that Buhari dodged the NEDB/BON debate held Saturday January 19. It was a total melt down for Buhari, his supporters, and APC. The Town Hall Meeting radically changed public opinion of Nigerians about Buhari. Majority of Nigerians now see him more clueless, ill prepared, and unfit to continue for the next four years to govern a nation of 200 million people. His abysmal performance is so obvious even his die-hard supporters and defenders of his flaws and failures and his handlers concede the reality of Buhari’s dying presidency.
From Buhari’s looks, gestures, and body language all the duration of the Town Hall Meeting, was a man experiencing excruciating esoteric torture, a moment of plague, famine, and a near-universal grief. Buhari looked grave and grief-stricken. Yes, Buhari’s performance was the lowest point of any presidential debate/town hall meeting. Ever. It will be talked about for years to come.
target=_blank>A Chief Justice That Has Always Lived Above His Means And Now, Nemesis By Annie Orji
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen is facing the battle of his political carreer. He was one of the judges indicted for corruption and recommended for dismissal by the the Justice Kayode Eso Panel set up by the Sani Abacha military regime to probe incessant allegations of judicial corruption in 1994. Justice Onnoghen was then a judge in the Cross River State high court where he was accused of selling justice to the highest bidder. Luckily for Justice Onnoghen he had been promoted to the Court of Appeal when the implementation of the recommendation of the Eso Panel was carried out against only judges of high courts across the country.
As the leopard never changes its colour Justice Onnoghen has continued with corrupt practices. The judge has not been able to account for the millions of Naira, Pounds Sterling, Dollars and Euros in his bank accounts. The money is so much for a serving judge that Justice Onnoghen did not declare some of his bank accounts as required by law. Hence, the Chief Justice was charged with failure to false declaration and failure to declare his assets containing hundreds of over $3 million of dollars before the Code of Conduct Tribunal last week. It has also been alleged that for 18 months the Chief Justice did not withdraw from his salary account, suggesting that he was spending bribe money.Although the petition was received by the Code of Conduct from an ex aide of President Buhari on January 9, 2019. A team of officials from the Code of Conduct Bureau visited the Chief Justice on January 10. When confronted with the fact that he did not declare his assets as stipulated as stipulated by the Constitution the Chief Justice said that he “forgot” to have done so. He therefore pleaded for the “understanding and cooperation” of the Code of Conduct Bureau officials. The official promised to coopetate but asked the Chief Justice to write a statement under caution. He did so in his own handwriting where he admitted that he “forgot” to declare his assets.
Based on the admission by the Chief Justice that he did not declare his assets the Bureau quickly prepared a charge and filed it before the Code of Conduct Tribunal on January 11. The Tribunal fixed the case for the arraignment of the Chief Justice for January 15. To avoid the disgrace of being arraigned at the Tribunal the Chief Justice was advised to stay away from the proceedings of the Tribunal which he did. In a counter move, the legal team of the Chief Justice informed the Tribunal that their client had not been served with the charge sheet. The case was adjourned to January 22 for hearing after which proper service would have been effected on the Chief Justice.
Meanwhile, a case filed on Monday, January 15 at the federal high court to stop the trial of the Chief Justice through two NGOs were assigned to a judge, Justice N. E. Maha, a newly appointed judge in the court. We have confirmed that Justice Maha is very close to the Chief Justice as a former staff in the office of the Legal Practioners Privileges Committee located in the Supreme Court complex in Abuja. The Committee is headed by the Chief Justice. Within minutes of receiving the file of the new suit it was heard by Justice Maha who quickly granted a motion ex parte in the case. The judge restrained the Code of Conduct Tribunal from proceeding to hear the charge against the Chief Justice until the hearing of the motion on notice.
Not sure that the order of Justice Maha was sufficient to shield him from prosecution before the Code of Conduct Tribunal the Chief Justice planned another strategy. He held a meeting with Justice Babatunde Adejumo, the President of the National Industrial Court whose wife, Justice Abimbola Adejumo had delivered the judgment in the case of Nganjiwa v Federal Republic of Nigeria which ruled that all corruption cases involving judges should be reported to the National Judicial Council which is headed by the Chief Justice. The judgment was delivered to prevent the arrest and prosecution of judges as was witnessed in 2016 when about 10 judges were arrested and charged to court for corruption.At the end of the meeting which held in Abuja last Sunday the embattled Chief Justice asked Justice Adejumo to get an order to prevent his arrest by the police, efcc or icpc. A case was filed the following day at the National Industrial Court . It was hurriedly assigned to Justice Sanusi Kano by Justice Adejumo. The case was heard by Justice who granted an order restraining the Police from arresting the Chief Justice pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice. The judge also stopped the trial of the Chief Justice by the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Lawyers and judges are asking if the Chief Justice has become an employee to have his case decided at the National Industrial Court established to hear only trade union and labour matters.
In a desperate move to save Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen from prosecution and compulsory retirement the Body of SenIor Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) had called an emergency meeting of Senior Advocates of Nigeria to hold at the Lagos campus of the Nigerian Law School at 11 am on Saturday, 19th day of January 2019. But the communique of the meeting was prepared in advance and surreptitiously passed to the secretariat of the body for adoption at the meeting. The meeting was poorly attended by senior advocates.
But the few members of the body who attended the meeting kicked against the move to use the BOSAN to condemn the trial of the Chief Justice whose conduct was criticised at the meeting by many senior advocates. It was the view of the majority of those who attended the meeting that while the procedure adopted by the Executive in charging the Chief Justice before the Code of Conduct Tribunal is procedurally wrong they wondered when forgetfulness became a defence to a criminal offence in Nigeria. The suggestion that the N1.4 billion money laundering charge filed against the NBA president, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN by the efcc be tabled for discussion was unanimously rejected by members of BOSAN. It was a very somber meeting as members expressed concern over the damage being done to the reputation of the legal profession by senior judges and lawyers. In order not to be accused of covering the Chief Justice who cannot explain the sources of the local and foreign currencies in his declared and undeclared bank accounts the BOSAN dropped the prepared communique and issued another one which tactically called for caution by all the parties concerned. The communique was signed by Professor Ben Nwabueze SAN and Seyi Sowemimo SAN, the Chairman and Secretary respectively of BOSAN.
Even though the federal government has denied the reported plan to arrest the Chief Justice, the National Financial Intelligence Unit has frozen his accounts under the Presidential Executive Order No 6 of 2018. An application has slredy been filed in court to have the Chief Justice removed from office since he has ignored the call of the federal government to call it quits.
SaharaReporters, New York
We Warned Buhari About Deliberate, Sinful Silence On Herdsmen, Says Tunde Bakare
Pastor ‘Tunde Bakare, Serving Overseer, The Latter Rain Assembly (The LRA) and Convener, Save Nigeria Group (SNG), says he warned the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on its “deliberate, sinful silence” regarding the activities of herdsmen in 2018.
He stated this in a State of the Nation broadcast delivered on Sunday at the church in Ikeja, Lagos State. The speech was themed: ‘The Prophetic Portrait of Nigeria in Her Latter Days’.
He also restated his commitment to retructuring Nigeria, and called on the “new breed” presidential candidates to forge a united front in the interest of developing the nation.
“At the beginning of last year, 2018, when the nation was thrown into mourning by the heinous activities of herdsmen which left the Benue towns of Logo and Goma devastated, it was from this platform that we warned a complacent government of complicity by deliberate sinful silence. Indeed, it was from this platform during the Sunday, January 14, 2018 State of the Nation broadcast that we demanded a renegotiation of our union and inspired the Nigerian people with the possibilities of a great nation while reaffirming our destined role in the emergence of the New Nigeria,” he said.
According to Bakare, beyond the campaign promises of politicians such as President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as well as that of the “new breed”, among which he mentioned Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC), Oby Ezekwesili of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) and Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), what Nigerians need now is “a political family, a team of patriotic Nigerians committed to one agenda, the restructuring of a united Nigeria, so that we can begin to build the Nigeria of our dreams”.
Restating his commitment to restructuting, he said: “Beyond the elections, this is what our nation needs: a uniting force that can rally our diverse strengths around a common narrative, towards a common objective, to achieve a common vision – The Nigeria of Our Dreams – and through a common strategy – the Sixteen Pragmatic Steps Towards Restructuring Nigeria. After all is said and done, may Nigeria win, no matter who wins or loses in this year’s elections. After the elections, we have a nation to build together.
“With our zero-sum game and winner-take-all-politics, we could be losing the ideas, the brilliance, the institutional memory, and all the strengths required to build a nation. But when, beyond the elections, the Buharis, the Atikus, the Moghalus, the Ezekwesilis, the Durotoyes, the Sowores and the like come together to minimise our weaknesses and maximise our strengths, as one political family, with one agenda – nationhood – we can shape a new nation beyond 2019. That is what Team Restructuring is all about and that is the climax of my message on this platform in this final state of the nation broadcast – The Can-Do spirit that accompanies Restructuring for a United Nigeria. This is a new kind of “can-do spirit.” It is the word “can” with two “n’s”: CA-N-N. It is the call to Create A New Nigeria (CANN) and the message is simple: “Divided we can’t, together, we CANN” – Divided, we can’t, together, we Create A New Nigeria.”
“Fellow Nigerians, if you believe in the New Nigeria, if you believe that we can surmount the obstacles that face us as a nation and build a great nation, if you believe that we can rewrite the Nigerian story and create a great nation that will amaze humanity and inspire posterity, if you believe that we can Create a New Nigeria, one that our young people will be willing to live in, to live for, and, if need be, to die for, then stand with me on this day, as part of a new political family, a new breed without greed, a radical opposition to corruption, a people of excellence, bound by a common purpose, inspired by a common destiny, driven by a powerful creed: Together, We CANN.”
THE FULL SPEECH
Fellow Nigerians, the theme of this State of the Nation broadcast is: “The Prophetic Portrait of Nigeria in Her Latter Days.”
Let me begin by welcoming you into the Year 2019, a year that holds untold possibilities for our beloved nation. In the past thirty years, we have stood on this platform at The Latter Rain Assembly, in line with our God-given mandate, to birth timely interventions towards the making of a great nation. I am aware that our engagements with the polity over the years have been keenly followed by many within and outside the shores of our nation. Some have followed with passionate faith and patriotic fervour and others have kept an eye with scepticism and cynicism. Nevertheless, our contributions to the polity from this platform over the last thirty years have been shaped not by changing public opinion but by an unrelenting commitment to the dominion mandate. Therefore, from the priestly to the prophetic and the princely, we have held the fort as nation builders for whom Nigeria is the primary place of assignment.
From inception, we recognised the incontrovertible truth that Nigeria’s greatest problem is a human resource problem and that nation builders are people builders. It is why, from this platform, in line with our priestly mandate, we have deployed God-given tools in raising a purposeful people of integrity, for whom excellence is a nonnegotiable value; an assertive, confident and patriotic company of Nigerians in every sector of human endeavour; a people who are uncompromising nonconformists and a radical opposition to corruption.
Having laid the people-building foundation, we then progressed to the prophetic front where we marshalled the divine will against the forces of oppression. It was in the prophetic order that we foresaw and forewarned the major stakeholders in the June 12, 1993 transition saga. It was in the prophetic order that we became God’s battle-axe against the most brutal military dictatorship in Nigeria’s history.
It was in the prophetic order that we warned the nation regarding the pseudo-democratic transition that the military bequeathed to our nation in 1999. It was in the prophetic order that we confronted the so-called Third Term Agenda in 2006. It was in the prophetic order that we foretold the emergence of “the tender plant from the side of the North, afore prepared before the foundation of the earth to steer Nigeria into her prophetic destiny” and to pilot Nigeria into unprecedented economic growth and development far more miraculous than those of Asian Tigers like Japan; a prophecy that is in the process of being fulfilled right now, in your hearing.
Emerging from the prophetic, our engagement took on a princely dimension by the Year 2009 as we began active deployment of nation-building tools through direct intervention in the political landscape. Since then, it has been our manner of engagement to present State of the Nation addresses at the beginning of every year from this platform at The Latter Rain Assembly.
Indeed, our annual State of the Nation addresses have attracted a following from among the political class, the intelligentsia, the media, and many beloved citizens of our nation. However, we are not unmindful that there are some who query the potency of such addresses made not from the presidential seat in the statehouse in Aso Villa, nor from a rostrum on the parade grounds of Eagle Square, Abuja, but from this platform at The Latter Rain Assembly, Akilo, Ogba, in Lagos State. I am reminded of the words spoken to Jesus Christ by His brothers as recorded in John 7:3 & 4 (NKJV):3“…Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”
Like my Master, Jesus, I have been so accosted by friends, particularly those in the political class, who do not understand why I have not pitched my tent with the political aspirations of their respective candidates as we step into another election season.
Moreover, in view of what has now become known as the twelfth prophecy of 2018 wherein I declared God’s word to me that politics is not over for me yet, there are those who wonder why I did not step into the 2019 presidential race as a candidate, and why I have, instead, continued to engage the nation from this platform. I daresay that no other response is more fitting for such friends of mine than the response of my Master to the pressure put on Him by His brothers as recorded in John 7:6-8 (NKJV): 6“…My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. 7The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. 8You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”
However, for the sake of inquisitive fellow citizens who sincerely question the relevance of our engagement with the nation from this platform rather than from the partisan political arena, I will begin with a panoramic rundown of our God-enabled princely engagements from this platform within the past decade. Lest we forget, at the beginning of the Year 2010, when our nation was in the iron grip of a power-hijacking cabal, it was from this platform that we began to defreeze social mobility and to mobilise Nigerians in defence of constitutionalism. When our march on the streets of Abuja and Lagos sent shock waves through the polity, it was on this platform that we defended our course of action on Sunday, January 17, 2010 as we refused to cower to the impostors who held our nation to ransom.
In 2011, when the government of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan prevaricated over crucial national reforms, particularly the restructuring of our polity, despite the fact that he had benefitted from our march for constitutionalism in 2010, it was from this platform that we awakened a slumbering electorate. We did so on Sunday, January 2, 2011 when we insisted on “Doing Politics God’s Way” as we declared that year “The Year of the Voter” and made a strong case for the wise use of the VOTE – the Voice Of The Electorate.
Incidentally, contrary to our intention and motivation, and despite my initial hesitation, that same year, our engagement from this platform ushered us into partisan politics as I became running mate to then General Muhammadu Buhari on the platform of the now defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC). One year later, when our nation gasped for breath under the stranglehold of a fraudulent subsidy regime, it was from this platform that we enlightened the Nigerian people on Sunday, January 15, 2012, simplifying an opaque patronage system masquerading as petroleum subsidy, an unfortunate malady the nation continues to suffer from up till now.
In 2013, when our beloved nation remained submerged in the cesspool of organised corruption while the perpetrators of unlimited kleptocracy were left unpunished, it was from this platform that we blew the trumpet for the rescue of the soul of a drowning nation at the State of the Nation broadcast of Sunday, January 13, 2013. The following year, 2014, a year in which Nigeria marked the centenary anniversary of her existence as an amalgamated entity, our princely engagement in the polity from this platform once again ushered us into more direct intervention in the affairs of our nation.
From being the keynote speaker at the “Nigeria at Centenary” lecture held in honour of my late boss Chief Gani Fawehinmi on January 15, 2014, to being a delegate to the 2014 National Conference, our engagement from the pulpit to the podium that year further turned the spotlight on the New Nigeria narrative. In 2015, when our nation placed the cart before the horse as we set sail towards elections in the midst of a gathering storm and avoidable Euroclydon, it was from this platform on Sunday, January 4, 2015 that we warned against the disastrous trajectory of a presumptuous political class. Four years later, Nigeria is still reeling from the consequences of rejecting wise counsel.
In 2016, when our national economy staggered under the weight of a recession and suffered a severe shortfall in foreign exchange, even as the promised change was fast becoming a short-change, it was from this platform that we challenged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to improve currency management as we presented a “Roadmap to Successful Change” at the State of the Nation broadcast of Sunday, January 10, 2016. In 2017, when the lingering economic downturn pushed Nigerians to the brink of despair and the citizenry became increasingly impatient with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, it was from this platform that we guided the nation on Sunday, January 8, 2017 when we pointed to the future with the eyes of faith and began to unveil the detailed imperatives of restructuring.
In October of the same year, when restructuring became the buzzword on everyone’s lips and Nigerians were torn in different directions regarding the imperatives of restructuring, it was from this platform that we separated the noise from the voice as we profiled ten schools of thought on restructuring, and unveiled, for the first time, “Pragmatic Steps Towards Restructuring Nigeria.” At the beginning of last year, 2018, when the nation was thrown into mourning by the heinous activities of herdsmen which left the Benue towns of Logo and Goma devastated, it was from this platform that we warned a complacent government of complicity by deliberate sinful silence. Indeed, it was from this platform during the Sunday, January 14, 2018 State of the Nation broadcast that we demanded a renegotiation of our union and inspired the Nigerian people with the possibilities of a great nation while reaffirming our destined role in the emergence of the New Nigeria.
Ten months later, on October 7, 2018, from this platform, we became even more explicit in our case for a New Nigeria as we unveiled “Sixteen Pragmatic Steps Towards Restructuring Nigeria.” We can therefore confidently state that, over the past thirty years, we have faithfully executed our God-given mandate to the nation from this platform. Over the past thirty years, we have deployed appropriate tools for appropriate occasions, from prophetic declarations to confrontational advocacy and from political activism to propositional policy advisory. Over the past thirty years, we have done this consistently, sometimes at the risk of being misunderstood by friends and foes alike. We have been motivated not by wavering opinions of men but by our unshakeable faith in our national destiny and an unalloyed commitment to seeing that destiny fulfilled. From the priestly to the prophetic to the princely, our message has been the same: it has been the making of a great nation where righteousness and justice reign; a prosperous nation whose leaders are motivated by service to the people and not just seeking power for self.
Fellow citizens of our great nation, we shall not stop until we see the emergence of the Nigeria of our dreams. Therefore, as a decade winds up in 2019, which, incidentally, is a crucial election year for our nation, I bring you the last January State of the Nation address from this platform in Akilo Road, Ogba, Lagos. It is the last from this platform because of the major transition that we are about to experience within our community this year as we proceed to our new location, The Citadel. I am confident that our relocation at The Latter Rain Assembly is symbolic of the possibilities that await Nigeria, the possibilities of relocation from the old to a New Nigeria, a nation that will set the pace in good governance, responsible citizenship, economic transformation, and city infrastructural development.
Salute to the Nigerian Soldier
Having laid the background, it is pertinent at this juncture to state that this address comes a few days after Armed Forces Day. As a fellow soldier, albeit of a heavenly army with an earthly mission, let me use this opportunity to pay a heartfelt tribute to the Nigerian soldiers who have continued to hold the fort with courage and self-sacrifice in the face of an asymmetric confrontation with Boko Haram and other armed enemies of the Nigerian state. I salute the courage of these heroes who have put their lives on the line in active service to the fatherland. Our condolences go to the families of the soldiers who have lost their lives in battle, from the five airmen who died in the helicopter crash in Damasak at the beginning of this year, to those who were killed in the attacks on the military bases in Jilli, Yobe State and in Garunda, Metele and Baga, Borno State. Let us now stand as we observe a minute of silence in honour of these fallen heroes. (May the souls of our departed soldiers rest in peace. Amen.)
The reported odds faced by the soldiers fighting for our beloved country is a cause for serious concern. While the allegations that our soldiers are forced to confront terrorists with inferior weapons have been denied by the Nigerian Army, these claims must still be thoroughly investigated and acted upon rather than merely dismissed. Recent news of the loss of territories to Boko Haram and recent videos of our soldiers being massacred by terrorists are more potent in the consciousness of the average Nigerian than any denial the military officials can muster. Our military must prove that it is fully equipped to prosecute this war not just by attempting to win the propaganda war, but by winning on the actual warfront. That is the only way to justify our defence spending over the past decade. Between 2008 and 2018, N6 trillion has been allocated to the Federal Ministry of Defence. Between 2012 and 2014, it received a whopping 19.9% of the total budget on average.
Under the current administration, defence has received a significant percentage of the annual budget. In 2016, for instance, the ministry was allocated N443 billion out of N6.06 trillion; in 2017, N469.8 billion out of N7.44 trillion; and in 2018, N576.4 billion out of N9.12 trillion. In 2017, N6.8 billion was budgeted for defence equipment, while Operation Lafiya Dole “and other operations of the armed forces” received N78 billion. With these relatively huge allocations, even with average budget performance, the allegations that our soldiers fight under poor conditions are intolerable.
If we further consider the fact that recurrent expenditure has been fully performed as overhead costs are covered, then it becomes inconceivable that any soldier risking his or her life for the Nigerian state should be owed a dime of his or her allowance. Even more disturbing is the 2017 investigative report that soldiers in the theatre of war lack basic necessities such as food, uniforms and footwear despite the fact that a portion of their wages is questionably deducted as feeding allowance. These reports, in addition to the 2018 protests by soldiers deployed in the theatre of war, give cause for concern especially against the backdrop of the recent resurgence of the terrorists.
The President, the National Security Council, the Ministry of Defence, the Army Headquarters, and the National Assembly Committees on Defence must re-examine the defence architecture, especially the human resource factor, and address every anomaly in the interest of the vulnerable rather than the powerful. Failure to do this could undo the gains of the war on terror. The soldiers, on their part, must approach the call of duty with civility and courage; with civility because the reports and allegations of human rights violations by the military are repugnant and unbecoming of the distinguished profession. Their code of conduct must be influenced by the words of Proverbs 14:31 (MSG): You insult your Maker when you exploit the powerless; when you’re kind to the poor, you honor God.
In addition, we enjoin them to continue to act with courage, because, in the words of General George S. Patton: “Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.” To our soldiers in the theatre of war, you carry the weight of the hopes of a generation on your shoulders. May God replenish your resolve and reward your courageous resilience. For those who have died in combat, we owe these heroic patriots the eternal duty of ensuring that they did not die in vain. Not only does the government owe their families adequate welfare packages and the assurance of a decent future, we, the people of Nigeria, for whose sake they laid down their lives, must become soldiers in our own right; we must become soldiers for good governance. At crucial moments such as the coming elections, responsible choices must become our weapons in the theatre of citizen engagement, and credible leadership must become our banner of victory. We owe the memories of these soldiers a well-governed nation, a nation that is worth their sacrifice, because good governance is the soil upon which patriotism is nurtured, and a nation that is worth dying for must be worth living in.
A Nation Worth Dying For
It was Herbert Hoover who said: “Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. And it is youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow, and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war.”
I am of the considered opinion that the apathy of our war-weary soldiers transcends matters of conditions of service or the question of whose weapon is superior between the army and the terrorists. I believe that, more than any other factor, patriotic zeal, backed by transformational leadership, is the missing element in our nationbuilding experience. It is why, for instance, the underdog army led by George Washington defeated the established British Army in the American War of Independence.
Therefore, the real problem is the absence of a compelling enough reason to lay down one’s life for one’s country. The pertinent question is: What kind of nation will the Nigerian soldier be willing to pay the ultimate price for, if need be, and what kind of nation do the Nigerian people deserve to live in? A nation worth dying for must have sacrificial, inspirational leaders. When our country’s lawmakers earn close to $40,000 per month in a nation where 152 million Nigerians live on less than $2 per day; when government officials claim over N241 billion annually as unaccounted for security votes in a nation that has become the “poverty capital of the world;” when the minimum wage is far from meeting minimal needs and the nation’s workers appear to strike for a living; when a people cannot look to their leaders, or listen to them, or watch them live their lives, and find a reason to look to the future irrespective of the difficulties of today, I highly doubt our young people will consider such a nation worth dying for.
A nation worth dying for must value human capital development. When a nation’s tertiary education system is shut down for months such that students who enter for a four-year course invariably make plans for extra years; when our public universities are inundated with dilapidated facilities and antiquated study materials; when doctorate degree holders queue up to be interviewed as truck drivers; when 13.2 million of our young citizens are categorised as “out of school,” it is unlikely that our young people will consider such a nation worth dying for.
A nation worth dying for must have people-centric governmental structures. When large bureaucracies based in Abuja and far removed from the people gulp the lion’s share of the country’s expenses; when the tiers of government that are closest to the people cannot deliver basic goods; when the state government lacks the constitutional powers to provide security for its endangered populace, or to generate income from its resources to improve the lot of its impoverished people; when the local government office in the neighbourhood is nothing but a redundant administrative appendage of distant political forces, rather than a facilitator of community development, I doubt that the people will consider such a nation worth dying for. A nation worth dying for must have critical infrastructure. When citizens lack basic amenities such as electricity and clean water; and when a nation’s roads, railways and airports require a unique brand of long-suffering; when the cities of other nations provide much higher standards of living than one’s own country, it is very likely that the people of that nation would be more concerned with relocating because they “cannot come and go and die.”
A nation worth dying for must place a premium on the health of its citizens. When a nation’s healthcare system is failing and its hospitals are poorly equipped, such that its hospitals are some of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth55 and children die during childbirth at an alarming rate;56 when government officials and others who can afford it would rather seek treatment abroad than in the local hospitals, then you can take it to the bank that the people of that nation would scarcely want to die for a country they can hardly bear to give birth in. A nation worth dying for must prioritise the interests of its people. “America First” is how President Donald Trump puts it. The late Senator John McCain took it a step further: “We are Americans first, Americans last, Americans always.” When a country is quick to give away its territory to look good before the world rather than staunchly defend its land and people; when a country exports some of its brightest brains and imports the bare necessities; when a nation cannot stand up to other countries but makes excuses when its citizens are being massacred by xenophobic mobs, it is unlikely that the citizens of that country will consider it an honour to put their lives on the line to defend her unity and uphold her honour and glory.
A nation worth dying for must be bound by a strong political ethos that confers on that nation a unifying and integrated identity. When the fabric of a nation is torn apart by the politics of division such that violent clashes, political murders and character assassination are what dominates election periods while issues are relegated to the background; when banditry becomes the synonym for the politics of a nation such that the only factor that unites politicians is the greedy feasting on the so-called national cake; when the political arena is ideologically distorted, such that there is no robust debate on diversity of strategies to improve the lives of the ordinary people; when corruption and falsehood dominate the political space, with politicians quick to make promises they do not intend to keep, it is most unlikely that the people of that nation would want to lay down their lives for their country.
This is the situation of our nation today. Far beyond the sophistication of our weaponry, as to whether they are inferior or superior to that of the enemy, the underlying issue behind the spate of soldiers losing ground to the enemy is that the Nigerian soldier, like the ordinary Nigerian people, has not inherited a nation worth living or dying for. This is perhaps a fate even worse than death itself. It is the reason our people, peasants and professionals alike, are looking for the next exit route away from our country, whether via the violent waves of the Mediterranean or armed with a one-way ticket to Canada; it is the reason our people are quick to break the law or discountenance the public interest just to achieve a private end; it is the reason our people are quick to sell their votes to the highest bidding politician rather than committing to the rigorous but necessary work of scrutinising candidates and making the best choice based on competence and character prerequisites. People resort to quick fixes when they have no stake in the community; they are unwilling to pay the price or make sacrifices when they cannot relate to the common interest. In other words, they simply have no compelling motivation to lay down their lives for the public good.
Fellow Nigerians, I want you to know that there is much more to our country than this; more to live for, more to hope for, more to work towards; more to leave as an inheritance for our children’s children. Together, as a people, we can build a great nation of which posterity will be proud; the kind of nation that will give every Nigerian the confidence to declare, “I am Nigerian!” As I conclude, let me paint a picture of that nation. It is a nation of servant leaders, where Nigerians at home and abroad, male and female, old and young, the best of the North and the best of the South, from across political parties, can come together in one political family, to provide effective and transformational leadership that will birth the Nigeria of our dreams.
It is a nation in which government is big enough to protect you and small enough to serve you; expansive enough to reach you, and close enough to know you, to touch you, to feel your pulse, to know where the shoe pinches, and to bring solutions straight to your doorstep. It is a cutting-edge nation with viable federating units that have global relevance and local impact. I am talking about a nation where a strong anti-corruption value system permeates every cadre of leadership, from the federal government to the local governments, and where zero tolerance for corruption is transmitted from the leadership to the people; a nation where there are clear consequences for actions, where lawlessness and disorderliness are met with preventive and punitive measures, and where people are rewarded for honesty and integrity.
The Nigeria of our dreams is a nation of unprecedented economic growth and development, built on geo-economic parameters through regionally focussed fiscal policy and targeted monetary policy; where resources, including agriculture, water resources, solid minerals, oil, and gas are harnessed within six geo-economic zones for national development; a nation where the manufacturing sector is propelled by the fulcrum of maximising regional strengths and where banks and financial institutions are committed to growing local enterprise for global impact.
The Nigeria of our dreams is a nation that prioritises human capital development; a nation that brings the highest quality healthcare close to the people and ensures that healthcare policy is closely linked with the education and innovation thrust at every level of government. It is a nation that competitively educates for its needs; a nation where the zonal and local governments are allowed to create unique educational experiences and opportunities for their own people so as to harness local opportunities; it is a nation where subnational governments are allowed to use the resources in those areas to fund their unique educational objectives and to attract the best brains from around the nation, Africa, and the rest of the world to achieve those developmental objectives.
The Nigeria of our dreams is a nation of massive infrastructural development, where government at all levels – the federal, zonal and local – works with the private sector to provide uninterrupted power supply by broadening the national energy mix to include solar, hydro, nuclear, thermal, chemical, oil, natural gas, biomass, wind and other energy sources, based on zonally coordinated policies and comparative advantage; a nation where every part is limitlessly powered even without connecting to the national grid, affording the federal government the opportunity to export excess electricity to other African countries; a nation with an interconnected network of multimodal transportation systems, laid out to facilitate the enterprising Nigerian spirit. The Nigeria of our dreams is a land where no one is above the law; where the law applies equally to the rich and the poor; to the president and the petty trader; to the Senator and the janitor; and, I dare say, to the Chief Justice of the Federation and the gateman in a magistrate court. It is a land where public officials understand that impunity is criminality; where the custodians of the law are held to a higher standard of responsibility and accountability, accepting that an oversight does not neutralise culpability, because those who sit to judge others have a solemn responsibility to model the law that they hold others accountable to.
It is in this regard that I enjoin every Nigerian to put Nigeria first and approach the current matter involving the highest judicial officer of the land without bias, in the interest of justice and accountability, with the objective of institution building and in the spirit of the New Nigeria. Note, in addition, that the prosecutors must themselves operate in accordance with due process, with utmost respect for the independence of the judiciary, and in compliance with constitutional provisions on both substantive and procedural matters, knowing that two wrongs, no matter how seemingly well-intentioned, cannot make a right. This ethos of regard for due process, respect for the rule of law, and reverence for justice over politics, is the spirit of the Nigeria of our dreams.
Furthermore, the New Nigeria is a nation that asserts Nigerian leadership on the African continent; one that is respected across the world; a strong nation that defends the dignity of every individual that carries the Nigerian passport; a powerful nation that protects the interest of every organisation that is incorporated in Nigeria and does business legally anywhere in the world; a nation whose individual and corporate citizens no nation would dare ill-treat; a hospitable nation that relates to the rest of the world on the basis of mutual respect.
Fellow citizens, the New Nigeria is a nation that gets the national defence and security questions right; a nation that better integrates its diverse military, paramilitary and intelligence agencies into one coordinated unbeatable defence and security machinery; a nation with enhanced intelligence gathering on par with, if not surpassing, the anticipatory precision of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), MI6 and Mossad; a nation with an effective zonal and local security apparatus, with the zonal and local government empowered to truly enforce laws; a nation where a governor will be the chief security officer of his or her jurisdiction — not just in word, but also indeed with the requisite constitutional powers.
The New Nigeria is a nation that our soldiers will be proud to fight for and to defend with the last drop of blood in them; it is a nation of unmatched patriotism, whose armed forces will attract the best, the brightest, and the fittest, whose soldiers will wear their uniforms with utmost pride, engaging the enemy with civility and courage, willing to put themselves in the line of fire, if need be, just to rescue the Nigerian flag, not to talk of a Nigerian citizen in danger; a nation where no wounded soldier is left behind on the battlefield and no citizen is left behind in the war against poverty; a nation worth dying for because it is worth living in. That is the kind of nation we must work for in 2019 and beyond. As we approach the elections, 73 candidates are gunning for the presidency, a seat reserved for only one person. The most prominent candidates have come out with promises as regards how they intend to take our nation to the desired destination. We have heard promises on security, economic reforms, job creation for our teeming youth population, healthcare delivery, infrastructure, social welfare, arts and entertainment, and so on.
We have seen President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defend his scorecard on security, anti-corruption, job creation, infrastructure and social investments. The economic team led by the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has reiterated the government’s gains; we have seen them project the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) as the instrument that can take the country to what they call the “Next Level.” We have heard the incumbent insist that Nigeria’s current problems were created within the sixteen years of the previous administration and that, little by little, they are working to rewrite the narrative.
On the other hand, we have heard the “Atikulated” side of the contest argue that the sixteen years argument is now stale news. We have seen former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Peter Obi, of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) downplay the achievements of the current government. We have read the so-called “Atiku Plan,”71 spanning a competitive and open economic system, public institution reform, reduction of infrastructure deficit, economic diversification, and human capital development. We have also heard Atiku Abubakar’s promise to restructure the polity with a focus on the devolution of powers.
In addition, we have seen a new generation challenging the old order and insisting that Nigerians do not have to choose between six and half a dozen. We have seen Kingsley Moghalu of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) project his experience in economic management at national and international levels as he promises better economic management and a geo-economic restructuring of Nigeria. Meanwhile, Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) has eloquently promised a New Nigeria where the cost of living is reduced, power, security and healthcare are guaranteed, jobs are created, and law and order are maintained. In addition, we have seen the likes of Omoyele Sowore of African Action Congress (AAC) crisscross the nation, mobilising the young, especially students, in his drive to take our country back.
However, of the new breed seeking to disrupt the political space, none gives me as much hope for the near future as does my sister, Obiageli ‘Oby’ Ezekwesili, of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), whose candidacy I shared publicly several days before her official announcement. Her brilliance, experience, sacrificial service to our nation, antecedents at championing and executing pro-people and progood governance reforms, compassionate yet dogged belief in the Nigerian potential, and her faith in the God-ordained plan for Nigeria, are unmatched by any of the other new breed candidates. I salute her for jumping into the fray despite her seemingly limited chances and, as I have said to her in times past, come what may, one day, and that day will come soon, we will fix this nation. One thing is very clear in my mind: with her candidacy, no Nigerian can reasonably say after the election that there was no credible alternative to the status quo in 2019.
Fellow Nigerians, I understand that many are wondering if I am endorsing any candidate. I understand that there are those listening carefully to decipher where I stand. Ladies and gentlemen, I have never minced words as to where I stand. In my address to the nation on Sunday, October 7, 2018 titled “The Road to 2019: Quo Vadis Nigeria?,” I charged you to choose nationhood. I said to you on that occasion: A choice for nationhood has nothing to do…with any political party or the political interest of any of the candidates. To choose nationhood is to put the interest of Nigeria at the heart of our actions and decisions in 2019 and beyond.
Fellow Nigerians, what we need is a political family, a team of patriotic Nigerians committed to one agenda, the restructuring of a united Nigeria, so that we can begin to build the Nigeria of our dreams. In that same speech, I laid out the pathway to achieving this in the “Sixteen Pragmatic Steps towards Restructuring Nigeria.” I maintain that it is a roadmap that will lead us to our promised land. If ours is a country that works, if ours is a country with transformational leaders ready to deploy their strengths and staff their weaknesses, if ours is a country that values capacity, competence and character, what we should be doing is creating platforms to harness the diverse strengths at our disposal, to begin to build a wellstructured, well-governed and well-integrated Nigeria.
It is in this regard that I look forward to a Presidential Commission on National Reconciliation, Reintegration and Restructuring, a team of incorruptible Nigerians of unquestionable integrity and bridgebuilding antecedents, endowed with wisdom and judgement, driven by unshaken faith in the essence and possibilities of the Nigerian nation, who can work with the presidency and the National and State Assemblies towards restructuring a united Nigeria. I believe that, beyond the elections, the future of our nation and its greatness lie in the ability of the presidency to facilitate the emergence of this team that I call “Team Restructuring.”
For those who care to know, I belong to “Team Restructuring.” Convening such a team has been the nature of my contributions to our nation in the past decade. It was why, in 2009, I brought together a company of nobles, for what we then called “The Dialogue of the Nobles,” to begin to shape the future of our nation; it was why, in 2010, propelled by a God-given vision, I was privileged to convene a coalition of nation builders that became the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), a group that rose to the occasion at critical junctures and jolted this nation back to its senses; it was why, in 2010, my wife and I hosted in our home the likes of Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, Jimi Lawal, Donald Duke, Nuhu Ribadu, my dear friend Fola Adeola, Jimi Agbaje, Hon. Wale Oshun, and Yinka Odumakin, arrowheads we sought to position to begin to reshape Nigeria; it was why, after much hesitation, I accepted to be running mate to then General Muhammadu Buhari in the 2011 elections as we ran on the promise of a restructured Nigeria – the number one item in the CPC manifesto; it was why I accepted to be a delegate to the 2014 National Conference convened by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, a conference at which we, by God’s grace, sponsored the “Nigerian Charter for National Reconciliation and Integration” that was unanimously adopted by the 492 delegates from across the nation.
Fellow Nigerians, beyond the elections, this is what our nation needs: a uniting force that can rally our diverse strengths around a common narrative, towards a common objective, to achieve a common vision – The Nigeria of Our Dreams – and through a common strategy – the Sixteen Pragmatic Steps Towards Restructuring Nigeria. After all is said and done, may Nigeria win, no matter who wins or loses in this year’s elections. After the elections, we have a nation to build together. I am reminded of the words of Anwar al-Sadat: “There can be hope only for a society which acts as one big family, not as many separate ones.” With our zero-sum game and winner-take-all-politics, we could be losing the ideas, the brilliance, the institutional memory, and all the strengths required to build a nation. But when, beyond the elections, the Buharis, the Atikus, the Moghalus, the Ezekwesilis, the Durotoyes, the Sowores and the like come together to minimise our weaknesses and maximise our strengths, as one political family, with one agenda – nationhood – we can shape a new nation beyond 2019. That is what Team Restructuring is all about and that is the climax of my message on this platform in this final state of the nation broadcast – The Can-Do spirit that accompanies Restructuring for a United Nigeria. This is a new kind of “can-do spirit.” It is the word “can” with two “n’s”: CA-N-N. It is the call to Create A New Nigeria (CANN) and the message is simple: “Divided we can’t, together, we CANN” – Divided, we can’t, together, we Create A New Nigeria.
Fellow Nigerians, if you believe in the New Nigeria, if you believe that we can surmount the obstacles that face us as a nation and build a great nation, if you believe that we can rewrite the Nigerian story and create a great nation that will amaze humanity and inspire posterity, if you believe that we can Create a New Nigeria, one that our young people will be willing to live in, to live for, and, if need be, to die for, then stand with me on this day, as part of a new political family, a new breed without greed, a radical opposition to corruption, a people of excellence, bound by a common purpose, inspired by a common destiny, driven by a powerful creed: Together, We CANN.
Thank you for listening; God bless you, and God bless Nigeria.
SaharaReporters, New York
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