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THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA- (1)

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Barely a few weeks after the unceremonious ceremony of Nigeria’s 60th Anniversary, there were tumultuous protests by the youths of this country, echoing and chorusing ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Enough of alleged police brutality, enough of dishing out money to the police on a daily basis as they ask-‘’wetin you carry’’ –meaning,(illegal and deceitful way of requesting for a tip ), enough of the alleged SARSmen (Special Anti- Robbery Squad) brutalizing the youths driving posh cars or carrying laptops on the streets with the prejudice that they are fraudsters. Enough of the alleged ‘escorting’ their victims to the ATM machines or asking them to use their handy POS to withdraw money on any spurious and unsubstantiated accusations.

All the above are now part of Nigeria’s history. The protests or agitations had subsided now, but not without leaving behind sorrow, tears, and blood all over the country. May the souls of the innocent boys and girls felled by the bullets of yet to be known soldiers rest in perfect peace.

The solace of this piece, therefore, is not to open old wounds or unnecessary sentiments, but to tug at the springs of the heart of rulers or leaders in governments. The question now is –after the EndSARS imbroglio, what next? Permit me to make a positive digression to the masterpiece of the renowned author of ‘’ Animal Farm’’ –George Orwell. The popular novel published in 1943 is a satire and has been an interesting piece when analyzing the system of governments around the world; especially when we look at our country Nigeria which is neither a little to the right or left form of government (apology to IBB) A little extract from the novel will open our memory to what might have led to the EndSARS protest. In the novel, one of the major characters, ‘Old Major’, addresses its fellow animals saying: ‘Now Comrades, what is the nature of this life of Ours? Let us face it: Our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to work to the last atom of our strength…………’’ ‘’But simply, is this simply part of the order of nature’’? ‘’Is it because this land of ours is so poor that it cannot afford a decent life to those who dwell upon it’’? ‘’No, Comrades, a thousand times No’’! The soil of England is fertile, its climate is good, and it is capable of affording food in abundance to an enormously greater number of animals than now inhabit it…. ‘’ Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings….’’ Not quite long after the Old Major’s long speech laden with emotions, either by divine intervention or human error and the lackadaisical attitude of –‘’it doesn’t matter’’, ‘they will not talk,’ syndrome, those animals in the animal kingdom on the Manor Farm set themselves free to the amazement of their masters but not without the sour taste in the mouths of their Keepers just as it happened during the EndSARS protests. Some schools of thought are of the opinion that EndSARS peaceful protesters were not co-ordinated, but we should not deny the fact that they were focused until those brigands mixed with them. The original peaceful protesters were not out to topple the incumbent President but genuinely to register their disapproval on the way and manner their future is being mortgaged. It was bottled aggression (like that in George Orwell’s ‘’Animal Farm’’. And that is what happens when leaders in government take people for granted too long but prefer to use propaganda mouthpiece to persuade people to understand like ‘ Squealer’ (Animals PRO) who comes out to dish out smooth speeches to its comrades on the farm knowing full well that their masters would not take any positive action. The same for any government or organization deferring or ignoring the positive application of good governance, paving ways for evil days.

What this medium seeks to achieve is for the rulers to know that it is unprofitable to build fortresses to protect themselves- Isolation could be disastrous. The government must choose to COMMUNICATE as frequently as possible to the citizens and be pro-active –Do something promptly to cushion the effect of people’s plight and not merely talking; Isolating information from people cuts you off from valuable information or intelligence gathering and makes a government vulnerable to mutiny or attacks. The ministry of Information should work in tandem tenaciously with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in all the states of the federation to educate, inform, and disabuse the minds of mischief-makers. Radio jingles, television talks shows, youth meetings, community heads meetings, meetings with market women and artisans, tete-a –tete with traditional rulers, etc; all would work together to bringing peace, understanding, and government closer to the people. The NOA should not be like a masquerade that shows his face once a year. NOA should not wait until another general election before reorienting the populace on the pulse of the government to the citizens. Feedback mechanism should be paramount as pointers to people’s expectations from the government and the government must yield to people’s yearnings and not playing the ostrich or making a change like a gentle improvement of the past. It has to be an aggressive change, a radical one that is very sustainable to the grassroots.

Whosoever is in the ivory tower, be it Federal, States or Local governments should shun the culture of ethnic jingoism. Nigeria is still ‘’One’’. Therefore, the six geo-political zones should be midwived as three children of the same parents. None should be starved or discriminated against.

By Idowu Tunde –(To be continued

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Politics

THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA(2)

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Our youths and adults alike must be ready to work, be creative, and shun any aspect of unproductiveness. To make a legitimate protest is their civic right but to be destroying government and private owners’ properties during protests is counter- development. When you destroy government property it is your own property built through your own sweat that you are destroying and when rebuilt, it will be done through the taxes you or your parents have paid to the governments instead of the governments using the money to provide basic amenities for the citizenry.

The allusion to the novel’’ Animal Farm’’ is to make us know that Nigeria is not peculiar with this type of governance. It has happened in different parts of the world before and still happening now. A protagonist in the novel, ‘Old Major’ has always been preaching to the animals ‘a SUGAR CANDY MOUNTAIN’ where they would be free to eat plenty and not suffer lack but when it would come is what it could not predict but called for their unity of purpose in order to reach that goal. When the D-Day came on the farm it was sudden without any sermon or incitement from any quarters and the animals got their freedom on a platter of gold.

Suffice it to say that it is clear from the fact of history that the dominant and exploiting group in any society are always in the minority, whilst the vast majority of the people always belong to the oppressed and exploited class. However, to quote Harold Laski,’’ the mind of man cannot be permanently habituated to tyranny, and as Dr. Danquah once wisely said, a stage is reached when the ass kicks against his master, it was to be expected that the masses would, as they in fact did (during the #End SARS protests), cultivate intense hatred for their oppressors, and nurse secret hopes of one day turning tables against them

A greater percentage of a country’s population are the youths. Year –in year out, they leave schools searching for non-existence jobs. An idle hand is the devil’s workshop. Viable and sustainable jobs must be created and made available for school leavers at all levels. Kudos to the government for an increase in the allowance of Youth Corpers but this is not enough. After the NYSC year, grants should be made available for them as take-off or start-up to begin whichever venture they prefer instead of roaming around searching for security men’s jobs after graduation as a civil engineer or a master’s degree in business administration.

The cost of governance is too heavy. The government must work fast on the reduction of the salaries and allowances of counselors, chairmen of local councils, senators, and the house of representative members put them on civil service grade level, and let us see who truly wants to serve his fatherland. I’m very sure many of them will think twice before contesting for an election. This measure will reduce flambouyant lifestyles these elected officers live and displaying their wealth on social media for people to see how many latest cars they have and the type of mansion they live in.

The president alone cannot do it. The solution lies in our hands as people with determined efforts to salvage our country from collapse. We should be bold and blunt to criticize ourselves because self-criticism is constructive criticism and just like fertilizer that smells bad, but makes crop to grow.

The trouble with Nigeria may not really be the type of political system we are operating but the issue is OURSELVES, our inability not to desire or ready for positive change. Those clamouring for war are missing it. War is not the solution to our multifarious problems. We need to jaw-jaw and not war-war. Let us redraft our constitution to be autochthonous, then we can be proud of ourselves as a nation

The central problem of man is economic; all other problems whatsoever are ancillary. As an individual, a man wants, above everything else, food, shelter, and clothing. After securing these necessities, he wants some comforts and then, some luxuries as well. These are the main pursuits of his life, either as a member of a family, a community, of a state or of a religious body His first loyalty is to his economic interests and his secondary loyalty will be given to any organization or institution which serves to promote these interests. What do we find in Nigeria today? Graduates of fourteen years still being fed by their parents; many could not even afford decent accommodation, not to talk of other comforts of life!

We don’t need the blind defense of the government. The EndSARS protest was a clear mind of the youths and the adults who have refused to talk probably because they are tired of talking. The Senate President has spoken. If the government refuses to act promptly and positively, we are all sitting on a keg of gun powder which may sooner explode. God bless Nigeria.

(Concluded)

By-Idowu ‘Tunde

 

 

 

 

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History

A   LETTER TO MY MOTHER IN DISTRESS- NIGERIA IS 60

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Dear Mother, It has been quite a long time you left us your children and the country you loved so much for another country. We, your children that you left behind will always remember you and the passion you had for Nigeria, the country you told us was filled with milk and honey.

I will try to update you about the past and present situations we are in as a people. I am conditioned to let you know that your dear country, Nigeria is now Sixty years Old.  I need to let you know that things have not changed much positively than you left it 20 years ago!

Can you still recollect the amalgamation of 1914 by the British you told us when we were young and also studied in the college? That, after the amalgamation, the country was christened Nigeria. That was the beginning of the journey as a nation with the parliamentary system of government. Remember, Mum, that you narrated to us and we also read about in the college that the civilian regime of pre-1966 was crippled by ethnic and political rivalries coupled with over-whelming regionalism. The army seized power as a cohesive, united, ‘corrective’ instrument. However, contrary to expectations, the Nigerian army proved beyond a reasonable doubt to be a reflection of ethnic and social deficiencies. The army who came to ‘save ‘us out of the array of corruptions and preserve law and order, aggravated it and was swimming in the ocean of corruption more than ever before under the civilian rule of the first Republic!

The people were fed up of military administration and were in search of a system of government which could salvage Nigeria’s peculiar problems and bring us the national unity. This landed us in the hands of Executive Presidency System of Government headed by Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). The four years of the first Nigeria Executive Presidency were four years of wrangling among party leaders. Let me remind you of some, because, then, I was a college boy at that time: it was four years of the constitutional and unconstitutional, four years of zoning and problems of zoning, four years of accord and discord, four years of political alliances and re-alignment; four years of the quota system as an instrument or policy of national administration, four years of a fragile economy and the continuous war on inflation; four years of Economic problems which the president could not tackle. They were four years of complaints and protests by our legislators, ‘four years of pistol and dagger’ during parliamentary sessions; four years of Mr Speaker walking out on Members and members walking out on Mr Speaker. All these notwithstanding, the first four years of executive Presidency in Nigeria was a determined effort by the operators to lay the foundation of the Nation Nigeria.

The government of Shagari was toppled by the Buhari/Idiagbon administration(then an army General) on 31st December 1983 on the allegation of corruption and ineptitude and remained in government until 27th August 1985 when  General Babangida( Rtd) came to power on 27th August 1985 until 26th August 1983. It was from one military government to another until a middleman Ernest Shonekan, a civilian was appointed to stand in the gap as an interim national government-28th August 1993-17th November 1993. Yet, on November 17th, 1993, General Abacha seized power and was in government until 1998 when he mysteriously died impromptu.

General Abdulsalami Abubakar came on board on 8th June 1998 and was there until 29th May 1991 when Olusegun Obasanjo of the People’s Democratic Party(PDP)  was sworn in as the new Executive President of Nigeria thereby putting a halt to military intervention in Nigeria politics(even though, Chief Obasanjo was a retired general in the army).

Late Musa Yar-Adua took over from Obasanjo on 29th May 2007 and thereafter former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was sworn in as the next President on 29th May 2010 also, under the platform of PDP and was in government until 29th May 2015 when another keenly contested general elections brought in the current President, Muhammadu Buhari on 29th May 2015(this time as a civilian President).

Dear Mum, judging by research on records Nigeria is blessed with intelligent rulers/leaders. Some of them have made some landmark achievements even though with pockets of inadequacies or weaknesses. For example, at independence, the Owelle of Onitsha, Dr Azikiwe Nnamdi, founded the University of Nigeria Nsukka with the objective of restoring the dignity of the ‘Blackman’ as the full-fledged indigenous university modelled upon the American Educational system. Zik postulated neo-welfarism but African political leaders failed to utilize it, and till date, African states are still searching for an appropriate ideological base for their socio-economic and technological developments. If Zik’s socio-political and economic ideologies available in his intellectual works, which if proactively utilized would certainly have led to recreating a new Africa, which he aimed at in his lifetime. Ditto Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who was the Prime Minister of the Old Western Region, who introduced Free Education in his domain. The free education could not be sustained and replicated in the other regions probably because of political imbalance.

The military also made some progress when they took power. For example, there were infrastructural developments of roads airport and railways and the creation of states and local governments. They also made an impact in the encouragement of regional cooperation-ECOWAS and keeping the unity of the country; establishment of NYSC(as a promotion of national integration), local government reforms, National Directorate of Employment(NDE), the introduction of new currencies, creation of new Federal Capital in Abuja, among others. However, because of their dictatorial style, corruption and mismanagement and waste of public funds and violation of human rights, the people were happy when they were booted out.

When Obasanjo came into power as civilian President, Nigeria witnessed the establishment of the EFCC and ICPC and strengthened the code of conduct bureau to fight corruption. He jailed Tafa Balogun (late Inspector General of Police, and Bode George. Also, Nigeria foreign reserves rose from $2billion in 1979 when he came on board to $43billion when he left office in 2007. Obasanjo secured an $18 billion debt relief from the Paris and London Clubs and got Nigeria out of debts. He also brought to Nigeria, Mobile Telecommunications (GSM) and discovered Charles Soludo and Okonjo Iweala who positively contributed to his administration and are still relevant today nationally and internationally.

Former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan also did his part even though he had a tough time in the saddle with the rise of insurgency and the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls by the notorious Boko Haram terrorists. It was alleged that he could have nibbed the insurgency in the bud if he had taken the issues seriously at the outset before it escalated. However, some of his achievements could not be wished away: Nigeria GDP rose to $503 billion in 2003 and over 25,000 kilometres of motorable federal roads from just a quarter of that number in 2011. He resuscitated the railways in the country after about 30 years of a break and recorded more than 50% reduction in food imports. He swiftly handled and healthily controlled the Ebola Outbreak.

The current President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is a ‘lucky’ man who inherited a barrage of problems from his predecessors, especially the Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen clashes with the locals, kidnapping and cybercrimes. All these problems are a spoke in the wheels of progress in the country and headache for the man at the centre and the country in general. Nonetheless, it was expected that a former war general would have made all these problems a walkover by now with all the technocrats, money and materials that have been deployed in this area.

Today, it may be the killing of a police chief, or scores of our soldiers; tomorrow. it may be the story of the abduction of a priest or village chief. It is worrisome.

COVID-19, the dreaded disease from a small town, Wuhan in China struck the whole world like a bolt from the blue and has devastated millions in the world today, Nigeria inclusive. We need to thank God that Nigeria is gradually stepping out of the murky and tide of COVID-19 under this administration but much is needed to be done to cushion the effect of the pandemic and allay the fear of citizenry in the areas of security and economic emancipation. Buhari’s government could also, like others before him, boast of some notable policies that affect the masses which are: fighting the gender-based violence, approval of some percentage of employment in the public service for people with disability, the introduction of Single Treasury Account (TSA)(to prevent fraud in the civil service(,’ Marketmoni’ and ‘Tradermoni’ programmes where affordable loans are provided to small and micro-scale enterprises to grow their businesses. Also, the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme was introduced where ‘over 9,960,729 children are being fed to keep them in school and improve their nutritional status (efforts should be made to monitor the continuous implementation of this programme because of various criticisms that have been trailing it especially diversion of funds meant for the programme that flew to private pockets in the middle of COVID-19 when the country was on lockdown! It’s good news that the ICPC has been able to trace the money-just 2.67billion!!

Dear Mother, Nigeria is sixty years (60) old. I enjoin you to always pray for your country you left behind because prayers can move a mountain as you always say. The only option for us staying here is to have the mind to salvage our country from all forms of misrule, corruption and selfishness prayerfully. We need to jettison the excess baggage slowing us down and give education and its funding a priority; when employment opportunities and vocational training and good health facilities even in the rural areas take the front burner in the country’s budget and not political rallies and campaigns, then we shall be at the promised land.

I will at this juncture, tell you my mind on this unique occasion of the 60th-anniversary celebration: We shall be more progressive when we begin to look out for each other rather than stand in the way of one another; when we begin to let others lead without our influence; when we disallow mismanagement of our diversity to crack the foundation of our nation; when ethnic jingoism and religious fundamentalism are not permitted to put things asunder.

When the stress on a rock is great enough, it would crack. We should not allow the country, Nigeria to become a sad metaphor for structural failure. Going by the Daily Trust of January 20, 2019,(which is still germane today)’’ you know that there is a challenge when nothing works except crime’’. When we have leaders but they allowed a huge camp of 300 million internally displaced people taking asylum in other places. What can we say of this? Somebody works in Katsina but sleeps in the Niger Republic. They are scared of sleeping where they work because of insecurity. We have a reason to celebrate at 60 but must not rest on our laurels. The world is watching us and we must not fail as a nation; unity, even in diversity should not be compromised.

On your behalf Mum, and we, still living in Nigeria, we are wishing the grandpa of other African Nations, NIGERIA, a happy celebration at 60 –Bravo.

By- Idowu Tunde

 

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Politics

VOTE-BUYING IN NIGERIA POLITICAL SYSTEM : A CANKER WORM

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There is no country that talked more about virtues of democracy than the United States of America According to World history, in 1919, there was the general agreement that democracy required governments to be based on elections and that governments should be answerable to the people (that is, people would be able to vote at regular elections to remove unpopular governments from power and to keep some control over what governments did with their power).

‘Democracy, it was agreed, offered a stable form of government’. The system had worked effectively in the USA for over two decades. However, elections in the developing world, especially in Africa, and Nigeria, in particular, have been characterized or polluted with considerable problems such as ballot box snatching, low voter education, electoral violence, vote-buying, and many other anti-democratic principles. To be precise and taking Nigeria as a focus, if elections do not tilt mainly around policy accountability, we shall continue to witness serious and negative consequences of economic development which will only make us be dancing in circles.

Vote-buying according to Uwamahoro’’ is when a candidate has chosen to pay for support, rather than compete fairly for votes; they show disregard for democratic norms and willingness to use illegal means’’. Vote- buying is not outrightly  green  to Nigeria electoral system or only restricted  to Africa or Nigeria, but our concern now is the way its gaining ground in Nigeria and its attendant  negative consequences  which outweigh its merits(if at all there are merits therein)

Vote-buying entrenches corruption in all strata of the political system. Once people are conscious that buying of supporters worked during the election, they tend to use the same strategy in other areas of governance. This would resort to poor governance and mediocrity which underplays electorates’ ability to hold their elected officials accountable. Potent issues such as pipe-borne -water, health and sanitation, education and unemployment are left unattended to or haphazardly addressed.

In Nigeria, there have been hues and cries about vote-buying. A lot of candidates’ credibility has been mutilated through vote-buying, yet nobody has been prosecuted or convicted. This lackadaisical attitude of powers that be deter young aspiring ones from running for elective positions because it portends, that money and not ideas or ideology or experience, is required to win an election. That is why we find the same set of the candidate and their children since independence in 1960 still being re-cycled in one form of political office or the other with the attendant godfathers that encourages vote-buying-‘ a do-or-die ‘ kind of politicking. Anywhere vote-buying is prevalent, there is the challenge of mobilizing and channeling their resources to buy the votes at all cost and eventually assuming power with a load of debts accumulated from greasing the palms of their supporters and possibly the banks for campaigning.

According to the international standards, ‘’in a true democracy, every citizen has the right to stand for office, subject to reasonable restrictions’’. However, in Nigeria, owing to the reasons afore-mentioned qualified candidates are somehow not registered to contest because of the inhibitions of the required huge amount of money to pay for registration thereby giving rooms for the ‘money bags’ politicians who have more than enough to roll out – and which they will surely retrieve immediately they are sworn –in into offices!

Vote-buying is an extreme manipulation of people’s will. Whereas, the will of the people is the bedrock of a truly democratic system. People elected into positions of power are not the true representative of people’s choice because candidates with fat bank accounts win; squared pegs are not in squared holes.

Wise men learn from the experience of others. It is only fools who prefer to learn only by their own experiences. The wise man would extract the good from any set of experiences which apparently ended badly and in failure. Let Nigeria learn from the USA where we ‘borrowed’ Democracy as a form of government. When did we hear of mass killings during elections in the USA or the UK? Yet, there were pockets of political disagreements amongst them. We need to set our priorities right.

Vote-buying is not helping us develop socially, politically and economically as a nation always referred to as THE GIANT OF AFRICA. We need to legislate against vote-buying with all SERIOUSNESS in order to leave a better legacy for the next generations. The government should use her resources to establish and equip our schools and provide employment for school graduates and stop wasting huge amounts of money on elections that may be compromised via vote-buying. Similarly, the populace must be RE-ORIENTATED while vote-buyers prosecuted and jailed if found guilty. The media of mass communication should be utilized to disseminate information and educate the electorates on the ills or negative consequences of vote-buying.

Although this might not be popular, it will be better to make elective positions unattractive. Elective positions, like the public service, should be placed on salaries according to their qualifications and experience just as it is in the civil service they will no longer bother their heads to buy votes

Adolf Hitler in 1934 to Ranschning, says, ‘’the man who is not ready to learn from his enemies and from them all, is a fool. Only a weakling will be afraid of losing his own inspiration by studying his enemies’’. Vote buying is a monster; an enemy in our political system which can eventually serve a death knell to our democratic system if not nib in the bud because it allows worse public policies on the altar of good governance.

By- Idowu  Julius

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