Thinking aloud before a nation unravels. Pat Utomi Vanguard Nigeria News

THE hate speech is  everywhere. They are coming from people you expect to be more responsible. The so called campaign adverts do more damage than the young people, on social media, who seem not to realize how Rwanda happened, even though one of them has generously been circulating a warning from the Sierra Leone experience authored by one Omar Bangura. Then there is Obasanjo in the broth. Quo Vadis Nigeria?

A quarter of a century ago I wrote a weekly column in this newspaper, The Vanguard. Its title was Thinking Aloud. And it appeared every Tuesday. That I find myself thinking aloud today shows, to use the title of a book by another Vanguard columnist of old, the late Pini Jason, that we are travelling A familiar Road. Sadly, this familiar road is looking like it is getting so much more dangerous we can reap more damage than the recursive economy we have erected from moving close to the brink ever so often and retreating from the edge of the cliff.

•Maj-Gen Muhammudu Buhari during his campaign rally in Ilorin, kwara State

The bottom line in this effort at thinking aloud is to remind political actors of their duty to campaign and not stoke conflagaration and to remember accountability for the consequence of their conduct. The Campaigns of 2015 have been more animated because the stakes are higher. For the first time in a long time there are equally matched Political Parties contesting the Presidency. Here tribute has to go to the Lion of Bourdillion, former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu.

The building of a strong opposition has been central to my own engagement in partisan political life. After eight years of fairly intense engagement on the matter, I literally threw up my hands in frustration before Sen. Bola Tinubu.

The former Lagos State Governor who had been in the process, decided it was time to get things done and he met with success. Instead of celebrating this success the 2015 seems to have moved elections into the new moral equivalence of war. Insensitivity to what makes competitive electoral politics work for countries is now in danger of making this good thing of a two party dominant system a threat rather than opportunity for the well being of the Nigerian people. Blood is beginning not to seem to matter. But those of a certain faith know how Abel’s blood mattered.

When I spoke at the Leadership Newspapers annual lectures a few years ago on the subject of Political Opposition and Political Parties I made the point that the raising of contending perspectives on the issues in governing, with the benefit of the education of voters, was one of the great benefits of multi party democracy. Surely the people cannot learn and vote right, better, with the hauling of insults and digging up of old wounds, as they will if policies on diversification of the economy, job creation to deal with the scourge of unemployment; Corruption, which has clearly become a weapon of mass destruction, and how to better insure security of lives and property, are not more important than personal insults, religious and ethnic sentiments.

Spectres of violence

As frightening as the poisoning of the atmosphere in a way that raises spectres of violence, before, during and after the elections there is the question of how people think they can govern if there is so much bitterness between the actors. No one can govern effectively without the other, so democracies need to have a culture of moving on after elections with less sharp divisions between government and opposition, even when the useful tool of a shadow government exists. When the quarrels become personal and deeply bitter, as the kind of contention we are witnessing, has potential for, that cooperative engagement for nation building is denied society. Surely, the Nigerian people do not deserve such.

How come politicians, who have reached heights they may never have aspired to, but for opportunities that Nigeria provided, do not reflect enough on how these expressions of aggression and desperation can bring the whole house come tumbling down. How do not feel possible outcomes from such desperate games.

Casting my mind to how we managed to get to this stage I can see enough blame to parcel around. From the nature of political recruitment process, the material benefits to be made from politics, the poor education in history of politicians; a media not as alive as it should be to its social responsibility role; weak civil society and elders that have failed to be elders, all have blame as I do. The costs are already manifesting in economic decline, tense environment, escalating violence with amazing levels of loss of lives and lowered standing in the world, for Nigeria, if we read the foreign press on these elections.

How do you justify the vicious attack on the character of opponents. While both sides of the two leading parties could tone down on those kinds of personal broadsides, that amount to petrol and matchsticks in the minds of supporters, I must say that General Buhari has been the greater victim. In his media chat President Jonathan suggested he may not be in the know of hate messages flowing from people who act in his interest. He should make effort to find out.

One civil servant in fact said to me that the awkwardness of desperation flowing from incumbents was because the fear of a clean audit of the system by a cleansing new government frightened many civil servants and politicians indulged in an orgy of corruption and impunity. In the old wisdom of Machiavelli, in The Prince: those who profit from an older order will do everything to prevent a new order from coming about; while those who could profit from the new order do not do enough to bring it about because man is incredulous in his nature, not wanting to try new things until they have witnessed experience of it.

I often dare to add that those who could profit from the new order are usually in the majority and do not act in their interest. However, on this occasion I would point to the fact that where profit from the old order is criminal, as with the current pervasive corruption and impunity in the system, those who profit from the old order are more likely to be most desperate. The problem with such desperation is that it is enormously short sighted to let personal desperation bring a country to ruin, because in the end even if they temporally uphold the old order, the people ultimately get desperate enough from the weight of injustice that the House falls, in their uprising for justice.

Like in Liberia and Somalia or Rwanda, they trade their private jets and fancy cars for refugee camps or police cells, awaiting transfer to the internal criminal court, whereas only a few could have been used as example if the new order had been allowed to arrive.

Sacred trust

But it is telling of how much rot we have all allowed the system to degenerate into that people who have the sacred trust of agents superintending the Commonwealth are so scared that a cleansing new order might come about. This is why a premium part of my prescription is that no matter the outcome of the elections, a primary duty would have to involve a reform of the rewards of public life, recruitment into political parties and positions in public office and citizen monitoring of public management.

The rewards of power in Nigeria are quite unhealthy for good governance. We must push for a political culture that emphasizes the simple life for people in power. Beside humanizing power, which is important for democracy, as different from the current distance and disconnect of the public office holder in Nigeria, it makes having office so alluring that pursuit of it, becomes the favourite chase of scoundrels, rather than people who can give service. We need to get rid of motorcades, dramatically reduce or get rid of the presidential fleet, or government jets, prosecute public officers who avoid commercial flights, except in attenuating circumstances, and charter jet aircraft for local travel. We should also bring security votes under some oversight, and limit discretion in deployment of public resources.

Presently political parties across the board disappoint on how they recruit and select candidates. If character were a premium we will have limits to the swings in loyalty. In the main it remains about cash, not competence, commitment, credibility and a passion for service, with only occasional exceptions from the rule.

Unfortunately, as I feared, the postponement of the elections, no matter the truth of the motivation for such a shift, has only intensified this sense of desperation. The emotions boiling in people for and against one candidate or the other has converted the radio phone in show into a stream of venomous outpouring of hate talk. If they only knew it was how the chant ‘cut down the tall trees’ took hold in Rwanda and exposed man’s bestiality in the golden glow of sad sunshine.

Cautioning moderation

We must, as we say in Nigeria, exclaim: it is not our portion. But ejaculatory prayer is not enough. We must work and pray. And to work here begins with politicians speaking prudently; elders acting wisely, and cautioning moderation, and the media and civil society getting politicians to focus on the issues while INEC forces a pulling off of messages that smear others. Then there is Obasanjo.

May God give General Obasanjo temperance of nature and as an elder wisdom to make what point he thinks is useful, with learning from the Clintons on Bushes who seldom speak on the extant order and are, therefore, not subjected to rain of insults I hear pouring down in torrents on a father of the nation, from people as young as not to have been born when Abacha held him in the Nigerian Gulag.

As we act and pray, I trust that Nigeria will rise up again, like the phoenix from this low point it has fallen, because the cost is high. The Business class seats on major commercial airlines into Lagos had dropped so low a friend on a well known flight from London had only three others sharing the cabin, the stock market fell eight percent in the week following the postponement of the elections and was ranking with Ukraine as among the most challenged in the world. Desperate politicians hardly think economic costs to the people.

In many democracies in the world that I know many office holders and Leader Wannabes would rather bow out with grace than let their country suffer such for the sake of their ambition. For some reason love for country in Nigeria is still at such low stock that many who lead us would rather our stock crash than their fortunes.

We must keep hope alive but the truth is that the polity is sick, the economy is unwell and I am not feeling quite so good myself. So let the deliverance ministry go to work. We need dry bones to rise and walk.

P.S     The forgoing lines were written before General Olusegun Obasanjo’s dramatic tearing up of his PDP membership card. While that is within the rights of the individual in freedom of expression I hasten to plead that elders have a duty to calm tempers and not pour kerosene on troubled waters.

Troubled waters

For some time I have been ‘harassing’ the elders I am friendly with, General Gowon, Gen TY Danjuma, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Aliyu Gusau and others that they must speak caution and peace to the land so history not treat us as some have unfortunately had to be treated as I look at the Middle East, Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere, even as the world looks to an age of progress.

I have done it so often that some of these elders jokingly or seriously begin to warn me as I come towards them. February 16 was a cause of great fright for me. I hope now that people who failed to understand why I once suggested the incumbent should gracefully step away to save the country these kinds of moments will understand. Add to the events of Abeokuta the frenzy of support for General Buhari in Maiduguri that was of such a pitch he could not even stay on at the rally as a change desperate people poured out their hearts. Our country is polarized we need the calming balm of statesmen.

Listening to radio call-in shows and hearing the passions for and against I begin to fear that the politicians need to read the Omar Bangura piece and begin to educate all that the key to the future is for all to be inside the house pissing out, than for some to be outside the house pissing in. Veritable words from Lyndon Baines Johnson, the former US president, which the Malaysians adopted as Mantra for their vision 2020 process.

Again I like to recall comments I made at lecture to mark the 60th birthday of Pastor Wale Adefarasin, a few years ago. Ironically the speakers were the now APC V-P nominee, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and myself. I gave examples from Liberia and Somalia of elite of Somalia and Liberia and what they, were reduced to in refugee camps and Osinbajo who served on an assignment in Somalia cited an example he witnessed.

The key is for all to remember that Nigeria, and the future of our children come bigger than all our egos. So let them arm themselves with Olive branches and know that to allow a country like this become a version of Dante’s inferno, the hottest part of hell will be like deep freeze, compared to what they reap as against the path of immortality, in erecting peace but encouraged violence.

  • Pat Utomi, Political Economist and Professor of Entrepreneurship and founder of the Centre for Values in Leadership was a Vanguard columnist in the 1980s

Ndigbo, Buhari and March 28 presidential election: Hector Ukaegbu Sun Nigeria Newspaper

Alex Ekwueme

For a non-Igbo, it is, perhaps, dif­ficult to understand the deep-seat­ed, almost visceral, general dislike Igbo people seem to have for presi­dential candidate and former military strongman, General Muhammadu Bu­hari. Actually, there is a long list of griev­ances Igbo can point to about Buhari, and you have to go back in history to know them. But I argue in this essay that the Igbo have to take a deep breath and re­think the issue of Buhari and realise that it is in the interest of the Igbo to support Buhari in the presidential election that is right around the corner.

The problem with Nigeria, Gen. Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu once said, is that the mediocre people are ruling the intelligent people. The Igbo emerged from the 1967- 1970 civil war to meet a Federal Govern­ment strategy to marginalise and emasculate their leadership. Among the victorious Nigerian civilian leaders, Chief Anthony Enahoro promoted a plan to detain all civil­ian Igbo political leaders to find and punish those who played roles in the Biafran rebel­lion. (It is ironic that this great Ishan man would, in his dotage, fight for the rights of the ethnic nationalists in his organisation, PRONACO.) The government of Gen. Yakubu Gowon, whether openly or covertly, officially or unofficially, carried out a policy of denying permission to any foreign investor, who wanted to set up a business in war-ravaged Eastern Nigeria (the erstwhile Biafran territory), which could benefit the Igbo and their neighbouring tribes – the Ika Igbo, the Ikwerre Igbo, the Okrika, Kala­bari, Efiks, Annang, etc. These post-war military governments permanently refused to give visas to Irish Reverend Fathers and nuns to return to Igboland, to punish them for serving the Igbo during the civil war, for distributing food and medicines and caring for orphans. Their man, Anthony Ukpabi Asika, the civilian governor of East Central State, then cemented the purge of Irish Catholic influence by nationalising their mission secondary schools and setting Igbo education on the path to decline.

The implementation of this policy of dis­crimination continued until the civilian gov­ernment of President Shehu Shagari came to office at the end of 1979. Meanwhile, with northern generals, looking over his shoulder, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo as Head of State built industrial plants everywhere in the country, except Eastern Nigeria.

After Shehu Shagari was overthrown from office, the military governments of Gen. Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Sani Abacha, all of whom had been mid-level officers during the civil war, resumed the policy of the marginalisation of the Eastern Region and the emasculation of Igbo political leaders. These military governments also made sure that no Igbo commissioned officer rose past the rank of brigadier, most were just without cause retired when they became majors. The military authorities of those years remained afraid of Igbo soldiers, and these enabled Middle Belt officers to control the Army and carry out coups at will. This situation persisted until President Obasanjo ended that covert policy when he came to office as a civilian president in 1999. And not coincidentally, there have been no military coups since then.

The Igbo have a justifiable dread of Nigerian military officers, who were natives of Northern Nigeria and who participated in the civil war. These officers and their rank-and-file soldiers had carried out mass rapes and sexual enslavement across Igboland during the civil war and at the war’s end, many of these soldiers had looted vehicles and other property, as they overran Biafra. Then, finally, the Igbo, the Igbo business and political leaders, lost all their cash holdings as the Finance Ministry of Chief Obafemi Awolowo awarded them the grand sum of 20 Nigerian pounds per man for any amount of money owned in Nigerian banks prior to the war. It was akin to what Swiss banks did to Jewish survivors of the World War 2 Holocaust. Talk about Gowon’s Rec­onciliation, Reconstruction and Rehabilita­tion!

Before it was overthrown, Shagari’s Na­tional Party of Nigeria (NPN) government had decided to build the large petrochemi­cal plant – which Gowon had previously earmarked for construction during the 1975- 1980 second National Development Plan. (The first Plan was for 1962-1968.) The entrance of Gen. Murtala Muhammed and Gen. Obasanjo derailed the implementation of that Plan. Burdened with other matters, such as the general elections and transfer to civilian rule, Obasanjo pushed the project to the incoming civilian government. Shagari’s government decided to build the plant, touted as the largest industrial project in Africa, at the border of Rivers State and the old Imo State, in the Obigbo area, near Aba. Dr. Michael Okpara (the former Premier of the Eastern Region) on his return from exile in Dublin had joined the ruling Hausa-Fu­lani-dominated NPN, as he told my father, Dr. Basil Nnanna Ukegbu, so he could get something for the Igbo. Like Ojukwu, he had stayed away from Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Igbo-dominated Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP). Locating the project at Obigbo was also one achievement of Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Shagari’s Vice President.

Shagari’s government, in turn, pushed the petrochemical plant construction to its sec­ond term, as it preferred to use the money Obasanjo had left behind to fast-track the development of Abuja, a project where a substantial number of NPN party men could receive building contracts they could later resell to make quick money. Obasanjo had told the incoming civilian administra­tion to go slowly with the Abuja devel­opment, which this writer considers the mother of all white elephants. Obviously, the engineering giants, which were bidding for the contract to construct the petrochemi­cal plant – Technip, Snamprogetti, JGC, M. W. Kellogg, Chiyoda, Foster-Wheeler, Lummus, etc., did not stand to give hun­dreds of party operatives any contracts that could be resold. In any event, the Shagari government was overthrown before it could embark on the project.

Then came the military government led by Muhammadu Buhari. Buhari visited all the states in Nigeria so to say, introducing himself to his subjects. He went to the 17 states, including Rivers and Cross River that shared borders with the two Igbo states, Imo and Anambra. The message could not be louder: He had a thing against the Igbo. Imo (today’s Imo and Abia) chiefs then decided they would not come to welcome him but were pressed to change their minds by the military governor, then Col. Ike Nwachukwu. One of Buhari’s first policy decisions, as approved by the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC), which had only one Igbo representative, in those days usually a mid-level naval officer, was to summarily move the site of the proposed petrochemical plant to Onne, where it now sits. I said the Igbo were lucky not to have that great environmental pollutant of an industry at their backyard.

Buhari’s punitive treatment of the civilian governors he and other military officers chased from power is well known although people now tend to imply in their state­ments that the Buhari-led junta imprisoned only Southern governors, notably Sam Mbakwe, Jim Nwobodo and Ambrose Alli. But the junta imprisoned northern gover­nors as well. Remember the case of the Kano State governor, who tried to justify the presence of the funds discovered in his official residence: “Government money in government house…what is wrong with that?” And like something out of a spy thriller novel or movie, the Buhari govern­ment also engaged in a failed bid by Israeli mercenaries in a failed attempt to kidnap from a street in the Bayswater area of West London, the fugitive Federal Transport Minister, Umaru Dikko, and spirit him un­conscious in a crate by air back to Nigeria for trial.

When the Buhari government, in 1984, issued a decree banning Africa’s first private university, Imo Technical Univer­sity, the measure outraged a lot of people in Igboland. Many people in the East believed Buhari wanted to crush the attempt by Igbo to escape the trap of quotas placed on qualified Igbo sons and daughters, seeking admissions to Federal Government-run Nigerian universities. Despite information that most members of the AFRC favoured the continuation of the university, which had just a few months earlier received the backing of the Supreme Court, Buhari signed a decree literally behind the backs of the other members of the ruling council. Buhari cited copycat universities, as the reason for his action. Imo chiefs sent a plea through Military Governor Ike Nwachukwu for Buhari to ban the others and leave Imo Tech alone. This was a university backed by a consortium of American universities, in­cluding Rice University, Houston; Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta; Tuskegee Institute, Alabama; Worcester Polytechnic; and Illinois Institute of Technology. The national newspapers in their editorials condemned the move to ban the university. Insinuating that the university was being sponsored by the CIA, Buhari’s decree stated that no foreign institution or persons can sponsor or contribute to any university in Nigeria. Tell that to Vice President Atiku Abubakar and his American University of Nigeria, Yola.

Around April 1984, the Buhari junta issued a decree, changing the design of the Naira. His aim, it quickly became appar­ent, was to punish Igbo traders he thought were trading in foreign exchange for their import business. In those days, the Naira was traded in Bureaux des Changes (BDCs) in London. So, travellers with Naira could exchange them for pounds sterling on the streets of London, like you could do for the dollar or Lira or francs or Yen. Arriving in Port Harcourt International Airport from the USA via London at the time, passengers were subjected to intense searches by three levels of security: the Customs, the NSO (now DSS), and the Police. There were police checkpoints every mile or so on all the highways in the old Imo State. For me, I went through Aba to Owerri and a few days later to Lagos via Onitsha. The checkpoints ended at the Onitsha Bridge and none could be found from Asaba to Benin or anywhere else thereafter. But then irony upon irony: Not long after, 54 suitcases of cash ferried to Nigeria by Saudia, the national airline of Saudi Arabia, was impounded by the Murtala Muhammed Airport Customs led by the Comptroller, Atiku Abubakar, who later became the Vice President. The hoard of cash, it was said, belonged to the Emir of Gwandu and were proceeds of currency trading being done with Nigerian pilgrims, who came to Jeddah for the Hajj. We all know that Buhari’s ADC, a major, took trucks to the airport and seized the cargo. When the press exploded, Buhari brushed them aside and appointed the Emir, Chan­cellor of the University of Maiduguri, ap­parently to show them they were powerless.

Igbo have very powerful reasons to dis­like and mistrust Buhari. But I say it here that although Buhari may have had some deep-seated animus for the Igbo, he is not the same man he was as a hot-headed, inflexible 40-year-old in 1984. During his short political career, he has had to endure the backstabbing, the double-cross, the insults, betrayal from his fellow northern politicians. He has learnt to be cautious in his dealings with his fellow northern lead­ers. He knows many of them don’t like him. Shehu Shagari for one. The late Umaru Dikko for another. All those others, like former Borno State Governor, Mohammed Goni; he may have unjustly imprisoned, will never like him.

I remind the Igbo that the politicians of Northern Nigeria have always aligned with the Igbo. The Northern People’s Congress and the National Council of Nigerian Citizens aligned to form the two civilian governments of 1960 to1966. The northern­ers did not break the alliance. The civilian government came to a bloody end because of the action of five junior army officers, four of them Igbo and one of them Yoruba. But no Igbo politician had any inkling of the coup that these misguided young men carried out that was not only a disaster for the Igbo, who were basically already in control of the country, but led to, perhaps, a million dead Igbo by the time the ensuing civil war was over.

Then in 1980 the Hausa-Fulani domi­nated NPN and the Igbo-led NPP entered a ruling alliance to form the government of Shehu Shagari. To reiterate, the Igbo and the Hausa-Fulani always had their political differences but they always had alliances that worked. When Alex Ekwueme vied for the PDP nomination with Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, northern politicians led by Shehu Shagari supported Ekwueme while the northern military officers in power supported Obasanjo and funded and coerced the latter’s subsequent victorious march to the presidency. In late 2010/early 2012, some notable Igbo politicians, led by Dr. Ekwueme, Senator Ken Nnamani, accompanied by younger leaders, such as Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, moved to line up the Igbo to support the northern candi­dates in the PDP presidential nomination contest, primarily to endorse the principle of rotation, and to continue the traditional Igbo-Hausa/Fulani political alliances. But their move was blocked by the actions of Igbo young Turks, who were looking out for their own benefit and not those of the Igbo race. The Imo State governor locked out the group when it wanted to meet for a scheduled conference at a civic centre in Owerri. The young generation of mediocre leaders, the kind of people with little intel­lectual ability, empowered financially since the civil war by Nigerian military dicta­tors, insisted on supporting Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and chose not to see that if Igbo gave their full support to the Hausa-Fulani to complete the remaining four years of what would have been Yar’Adua’s and the North’s eight years, in the next presidential election (2015), the Hausa-Fulani would support an Igbo presidential candidate. And the Hausa-Fulani have never broken their words to the Igbo.

While the knowledgeable Igbo leaders sadly sat by, votes all across Igboland were inflated 100 per cent for Jonathan. Where voter turnout was no better than 30 per cent of registered voters, it was said to be 90 per cent, dishonesty in broad day light. Not that the Igbo voters did not support Jonathan up to 90 per cent, but the people simply didn’t show up to vote.

It is a different situation today. That kind of rigging cannot take place this year. The Igbo still have an opportunity to do what is good for the tribe. There is no Igbo politi­cian at the present time that the Yoruba can die for. But there needs to be. If the Igbo go ahead and reject the Hausa-Fulani at the upcoming polls, can Igbo votes alone propel any Igbo candidate to the presidency in the next go around? No. One must get it by building alliances. And the North – the Hausa-Fulani in particular – is a formidable, undeniable bloc.

The Igbo must come to terms with the situation. Not only would voting massively for Buhari help to build an alliance with the Hausa-Fulani for the future, Buhari’s vic­tory would also help the Igbo economically, and a good economy is their lifeblood. Here is why: Industry has practically vanished in Nigeria and millions of educated Igbo are languishing, unable to find gainful employ­ment. The incompetence and greed of the people in Jonathan’s government have meant that the disposable incomes of many Nigerians have fallen and the effect is now worsened by the decline in the value of the Naira in the foreign exchange market. Therefore, imported goods cost a lot more now than most Nigerian consumers can afford. What this means for Igbo traders is that large quantities of their goods will be left on their shelves and their warehouses unsold. And they are unable to pay back the money loaned to them by the banks.

Lack of electricity caused by the incom­petence, corruption and greed of the PDP governments has led to the closures of the few manufacturing plants opened by Igbo in Nnewi and Aba. Government money is just stolen with impunity and smuggled out of the country. Top civil servants in Abuja have registered dummy companies and award fake contracts to one another, and crowd out legitimate companies from doing government business – a vice that Gen. Murtala Muhammed once called “abuse of office.” President Jonathan’s mind-boggling inability and unwillingness to confront official corruption headlong has led to mass poverty among the youths, which has resulted in the spread of the Boko Haram menace and Igbo businesses in the affected areas of the North have been decimated. Jonathan cannot carry out the promises he made to the Igbo because his key officials, all over the federal ministries and departments in Abuja, have carted away the money to their private bank accounts in Nigeria and Dubai.

The Igbo have to do a trade-off here. They can continue living under the malad­ministration of Goodluck Jonathan or they can return to the table to re-negotiate with their previous allies of the Hausa-Fulani and elect a man, who can and has shown that he can root out corruption and heal the giant of Africa under a civilian system with its checks and balances. In the same vein, I urge Muhammadu Buhari, in the company with some of his fellow Northern political leaders, to sit down in a conversation with authentic Igbo leaders, soothe the hurts inflicted on the Igbo over the years, and begin a new chapter of what previously was a fruitful relationship between two of the biggest tribes in Nigeria.

Jega working with APC to rig elections alleges Fani Kayode setting the propaganda stage to remove Attahiru Jega

Femi Fani-Kayode, Director of Media and Publicity of the organisation, has claimed that the Independence National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Prof. Attahiru Jega may be working with Nigeria’s main opposition party to rig the forthcoming elections.

Fani-Kayode made the accusation at a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday, alleging that, Jega have made the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) available to voters in places where General Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress candidate is popular.

“The matter is that INEC has failed in its responsibility to produce and distribute PVCs to about 34 per cent of registered voters who would require the cards to vote in the elections.

“This brings us to the issue of statistics of PVC distribution and collection, which we believe Prof. Jega, as a person, acting in concert with some forces of retrogression, is playing games with.

“We express our concerns today that Jega may have decided to aid the APC to rig the forthcoming elections through the manipulation of the production, distribution and collection of PVCs,” he said.

He wondered why the collection rates of PVCs in the North Central, South-South, South West and South East regions assumed to be pro-President Goodluck Jonathan, were much lower with the highest being 57 per cent.

He noted that the North West zone which includes Katsina, the home state of Buhari, APC presidential candidate, had the highest collection rate of 80 per cent.

He also wondered how come the North-East also had 75 per cent collection rate when the three states in this zone, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, had been under the attack of Boko Haram insurgents.

“Pieces of information at our disposal have shown that Jega has had meetings with APC stalwarts in Dubai and other cities in the world to perfect this wanton conspiracy against 23 million eligible voters.

“Besides, we have information that the PVCs that Nigerians are scrambling for are not in Nigeria and will not arrive before the elections.

“These PVCs are still in China and Prof Jega has strategically delayed their arrival to suit his electioneering permutations,” he said

2015 Election: Jonathan’s Risky Call- Olusegun Adeniyi


I saw the postponement of the presidential election coming the moment the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), made his ex-cathedral declaration at the Chatham House in London. By publicly casting doubts on the preparedness of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) at a time the commission said it was ready, Dasuki had put the credibility of the polls in jeopardy were it to be conducted on February 14 as earlier scheduled. It therefore came as no surprise that the service chiefs would come up with their “Advisory”, through the same Dasuki, that they needed six weeks to defeat an insurgency they had been fighting for years with mixed results.

However, now that the elections have been shifted forward, the only person I worry for is President Goodluck Jonathan. In all his private and public engagements last week, INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, kept emphasizing that his commission was even more ready for the 2015 polls than it was four years ago and that the misgivings from the military/security chiefs represent the only impediment to conducting the polls as scheduled. He stated the same in his 12-page memo (with annextures totalling another 20 pages) presented to the Council of State meeting last Thursday which I am privileged to have read.

Since the NSA and the service chiefs are appointees of the president who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, it was Jonathan’s call that was being conveyed to Jega that, in view of some extenuating circumstances, the elections could not go on as scheduled. Yet the real winner in this debacle is Jega because, truth be told, INEC cannot claim to be ready given the problems with the management of Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) distribution. But to the extent that the elections were rescheduled under the pretext of what many would consider no more than security subterfuge, if things go wrong within the intervening period, Jega now has a strong alibi to fall back on: his hands were tied.

For us to understand the current situation, let me put out the figures as presented by the INEC chairman to the Council of State. As at February 4, according to Jega, of the 68,833,476 Nigerians registered to vote, 45,098,876 persons had collected their PVCs representing 65.81 percent. What would happen to the remaining 34.19 percent of prospective voters was the issue in contention.

Here is the breakdown given by Jega at the meeting: of the 1,396,162 registered voters in Abia State, 1,073,799 had collected their PVCs, representing 76.91 percent; of the 1,559,012 registered voters in Adamawa, 1,073,799 had collected their PVCs representing 80.68 percent; of the 1,680,759 registered voters in Akwa Ibom, 1,328,714 had collected their PVCs representing 79.05 percent; of the 1,963,173 registered voters in Anambra State, 1,222,002  had collected their PVCs representing 62.25 percent; of the 2,054,125 registered voters in Bauchi, 1,745,441 had collected their PVCs representing 84.97 percent; of the 610,373 registered voters in Bayelsa, 386,125 had collected their PVCs representing 63.26 percent; of the 2,015,452 registered voters in Benue State, 1,132,187 had collected their PVCs representing 56.18 percent and of the 1,934,079 registered voters in Borno, 1,320,667 had collected their PVCs, representing 68.28 percent.

Similarly, of the 1,175,623 registered voters in Cross River State, 859,690 PVCs had been collected representing 73.13 percent; of the 2,275,264 registered voters in Delta, 1,556,476 had collected their PVCs representing 68.41 percent; of the 1,074,273 registered voters in Ebonyi, 714,351 had collected their PVCs representing 66.50 percent; of the 1,779,738 registered voters in Edo, 1,062,370 PVCs had been collected, representing 59.69 percent; of the 732,021 registered voters in Ekiti, 496,536 PVCs had been collected representing 67.83 percent; of the 1,429,221 registered voters in Enugu, 761,185 PVCs had been collected representing 53.26 percent; of the 881,472 registered voters in FCT, 464,769 PVCs had been collected representing 52.73 percent; of the 1,120,023 registered voters in Gombe, 873,698 had been collected representing 78.00 percent; of the 1,803030 registered voters in Imo, 949,921 PVCs had been collected representing 50.23 percent and of the 1,831,276 registered voters in Jigawa, 1,460,620 PVCs had been collected representing 79.76 percent.

Also, of the 3,407,222 registered voters in Kaduna, 2,976,628 PVCs had been collected representing 87.36 percent; of the 4,975,701 registered voters in Kano, 3,190,417 PVCs had been collected representing 64.11 percent; of the 2,827,943  registered voters in Katsina, 2,245,303 had collected PVCs representing 79.40 percent; of the 1,470,648 registered voters in Kebbi, 1,232,357 PVCs had been collected representing 83.80 percent; of the 1,350,883 registered voters in Kogi, 773,197 PVCs had collected representing 57.24 percent; of the 1,142,267 registered voters in Kwara, 738,594 PVCs had been collected representing 64.66 percent; of the 5,905,852 registered voters in Lagos, 2,267,039 had collected their PVCs representing 38.39 percent; of the 1,242,267 registered voters in Nasarawa, 995,068 PVCs had been collected representing 70.75 percent; of the 2,014,317 PVCs in Niger, 1,250,379 PVCs had been collected representing 62.07 percent and of the 1,829,534 registered voters in Ogun, 666,752 PVCs had been collected, representing 36.44 percent.

The situation was no different in other states. Of the 1,524,665 registered voters in Ondo, 824,715 PVCs had been collected representing 54.09 percent; of the 1,407,107 registered voters in Osun, 995,562 PVCs had been collected, representing 70.75 percent; of the 2,415,566 registered voters in Oyo, 1,205425 PVCs had been collected representing 49.94 percent; of the 2,001,825 registered voters in Rivers, 1,899,041 PVCs had been collected representing 58.44 percent; of the 1,611,929 registered voters in Sokoto, 1,310,003 PVCs had been collected representing 81.29 percent; of the 1,340,652 registered voters in Taraba, 1,079,333 PVCs had been collected, representing 80.51 percent; of the 1,099,970 registered voters in Yobe, 824,401 PVCs had been collected representing 74.95 percent; of the 1,495,717 registered voters in Zamfara, 1,495,717 PVCs had been collected representing 69.92 percent.

Those were the figures reeled out by Jega at the Council of State session. Interestingly, while so much focus is on the president, I understand that the people who actually were desperate to have the elections postponed were the PDP Governors, especially those of them who would be leaving office by May 29. Because of the way many of them had mismanaged the party primaries in their states, it would be difficult for their anointed successors to win if the president loses and that accounts for their desperation.

However, there were also misgivings by the presidency. If the presidential election holds this Saturday as earlier scheduled and the president wins, many believe that it would be easy for the opposition to reject the outcome, especially if the margin of victory was less than the number of prospective voters who were not availed their PVCs. On the other hand, if the election went on and the president lost narrowly, it would be difficult for him to abort such a concluded process even if he had convincing arguments that he had merely short-changed himself. The conclusion drawn was that INEC is not ready for the polls.

So before the Council of State meeting, the position of the president, and that of the party, was that the elections should be postponed. The argument was that by virtue of Section 132 (2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, there was time to make adjustment. The Section provides that “an election to the said office (presidency) shall be held on a date not earlier than one hundred and fifty days and not later than thirty days before the expiration of the term of the last holder of that office.” That was the subtext to the Council of State meeting.

At the meeting, Jega presented his report, reiterating that he was ready for the polls. The first person to speak after his presentation was the NSA, Dasuki, who harped on the renewed efforts by the Multinational Forces to dislodge the Boko Haram insurgents and the need to shift the elections forward. The service chiefs and the Director General of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) followed with similar presentations. With the floor now open for discussion, Buhari was the first to fire a salvo against the idea to have the elections rescheduled. He said all the reasons adduced by the military do not warrant postponing the elections, especially when, according to him, soldiers have minimal role to play in the election process.

With Buhari done, the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, presented what appeared a detailed position of the APC as to why the elections had to go ahead.  He looked at the possible implications of such a postponement from both the legal and political prisms, with the conclusion that it would not bode well for the country and the president. However, the Cross River State Governor, Mr Liyel Imoke countered Fashola’s arguments with what also appeared the PDP position as he went beyond the issue of Boko Haram to that of the preparedness of INEC. Some of the issues he raised included the “lopsidedness” in the distribution of PVCs nationwide, the fact that the Card Readers to be used by INEC had yet to be tested and that the electoral officials to use them have not even been trained.

At that point, according to sources, Jega sought to respond and was given the floor. He explained that most of the misgivings being expressed have been factored into INEC plans. He, however, added that it was unrealistic to expect a hundred percent turn-out of voters at elections as there is no such thing anywhere in the world. To this, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Godswill Akpabio reportedly countered that Jega was wrong. Akpabio said there is a difference between people who may choose not to vote even if they have PVCs and those who cannot vote because they have been denied what ordinarily should be their rights. He said elections cannot be credible in situations where millions of people could not get what would enable them to exercise their franchise.

In asking INEC to go ahead with the polls since the commission said it was ready, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, added that the advisory role of the Council of State does not extend to election matters. To that, the president, who had evidently been well-briefed, drew the attention of Tambuwal and that of the meeting to the Third Schedule (Part 1) of the 1999 Constitution, especially Section B (6) which states that the Council of State “shall have the power to (A) advise the President in exercise of his powers with respect to the…(4) the Independent National Electoral Commission (including appointment of members of the commission).”

In his own intervention, General Ibrahim Babangida argued that since INEC said it was ready for the polls, the real issue before the Council was on what to do about the four states where the security agencies said they needed more time to deal with the insurgency. Babangida now asked whether it was feasible to conduct elections only in 32 states. The president interjected quickly that such election would end in fiasco. I have it on good authority that some people in the administration had suggested this idea to Jega in November last year and he said any such election that excise a section of the country would not pass the test of credibility or even for that matter, legitimacy. So the president knew that succumbing to such an idea would be politically suicidal for him and he rejected it outright.

However, from the way the meeting went, it was evident that positions had been taken along party lines. At the end, the responsibility as to what to decide was pushed to INEC but the real drama was announcing the “decision” arrived at because for all practical purposes, nothing was decided as to whether or not the elections should go ahead or be postponed. With Governors Olusegun Mimiko, Rochas Okorocha and Bala Ngilari asked to brief the media by the president, the three rushed to the press room to grab the centre chair. Mimiko got there first and said no decision was taken and that INEC would consult and announce whether to postpone the elections or not which was the most accurate position as to what transpired.

However, immediately Mimiko stood up and they all appeared to be leaving, Okorocha grabbed the chair that the Ondo State Governor had been sitting on and also started to brief the State House correspondents. He said the Council had decided that the elections should go ahead. While that was not a true reflection of what happened, that was the slant reported in the media, which to be honest is a reflection of the mood of the public.

I understand that some people within the administration had toyed with two options. The first was to get the elections postponed (as it has happened) and that explains why many believe the military was used to derail the process, even if there were other compelling reasons for it. The other option, also canvassed by some hawks within the administration was to invoke Section 135, subsection 3 of the 1999 Constitution which states: “If the Federation is at war in which the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the President considers that it is not practicable to hold elections, the National Assembly may by resolution extend the period of four years mentioned in subsection (2) of this section from time to time; but no such extension shall exceed a period of six months at any one time.”
While I am not sure that the president was aware of the plot, the calculation of those who were canvassing this position was that with majority of the National Assembly members having lost out in the primaries of their parties hence not coming back, many of them would jump at any arrangement that offers them a six-month “extra time” to continue to perform their very lucrative “oversight functions.”

Fortunately, the president dispelled all the fears and insinuations in his media chat last night. He categorically stated that what is paramount to him was to secure the country, conduct credible elections and that if he loses, he would hand over to whoever is elected by Nigerians. I don’t think anybody can fault him on the basis of what he told Nigerians last night. However, many Nigerians feel concerned that the military is unwittingly being dragged into partisan politics. And nothing demonstrates that more vividly than the manner in which the Army dabbled into the certificate controversy involving the APC presidential candidate who incidentally was their former commander-in-chief.

Buhari had averred in an affidavit he deposed before an Abuja High Court that all his certificates were with the Secretary, Military Board, while submitting his Form 199A to INEC. But in an unsolicited but sinister intervention, then outgoing Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier-General Olajide Laleye, called a press conference to announce: “The Nigerian Army does not have the original copy of his (Buhari) West African Examinations Council, WAEC result or a certified true copy.”

Laleye, who said the briefing was necessitated by a deluge of requests from civil society groups and the media among others, over Buhari’s eligibility for any political office, went on and on to cast doubts on the credibility of the APC candidate before he ended by saying: “What I have said here is what is contained in his service records’ personal file. We have not added or subtracted anything.”

Since Laleye was waving to reporters a copy of Buhari’s military record, it was dishonest of him to say he neither added nor subtracted anything. For instance, a letter dated 13 June 1980 from Major General DeWITT C. Smith, Commandant of the United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania to then Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff, Lt General Alani Akinrinade, is also in the file Laleye was waving to the reporters and he did not mention it because it would not help his hatchet job. I crave the indulgence of readers to reproduce it in full:

“Once again it is my distinct pleasure to comment on the performance of a Nigerian Army Officer and also to report to you that Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari proved to be a most distinguished Fellow. He graduated with the class of 1980 on 9 June and while we do not have a class standings, it should be pointed out that his performance was outstanding in every respect.

“So that you may better understand the environment in which he worked and studied, let me briefly describe our academic program. The ten-month course, designed to prepare students for senior command and staff positions and to promote understanding of the art and science of land warfare, is the basic academic effort undertaken by all US Army War College students and serves as the basis for more specialized efforts during subsequent phases of the curriculum. During the common overview, the student examines the elements of national power in relations to specific issues which directly affect national security; studies defense management and decision making to include leadership and management of operational activities and the human dimension of command; and, considers the military planning and operations in key global regions.

“The advanced courses provide for study in greater depth on a wide variety of subjects to meet the individual professional needs of our students. During this phase, Brigadier Buhari concentrated on those subjects and areas that could contribute the most to his professional development. He took four courses for credit—‘African Realities and Prospects’; ‘Middle East Political Dynamics’; ‘Problems of Modernisation’ and ‘Comparative Communism’ and audited three other courses– ‘Defense Decision-making’, ‘Analytical Techniques of Management’ and ‘Fundamentals of Automatic Data Processing’. In addition, he arranged on his own to visit US Army facilities where he could further his professional understanding of logistics management.

“Brigadier Buhari is a man of extraordinary aptitude who demonstrated a broad knowledge of current international problems. His keen interest, sense of responsibility and solid grasp of strategic implications of the important global issues marked him as a key member of any student seminar. In fact, he was at his best in the ‘give and take’ environment of our seminar group discussions where students are encouraged to express their views even though they differ from the group consensus.

“A well read, articulate professional who demonstrated a vast range of knowledge in strategically related issues, Muhammadu was an active and contributing member of his seminar group. He could be counted on to weed through the peripheral issues and irrelevant discussions to identify the source of discussion or misunderstanding, and make appropriate proposals or recommendations to keep the discussion properly focused. His views and opinions were often sought, consistently on target, and highly respected by his contemporaries. He has an outstanding ability to isolate the key issues and facts and, where appropriate, propose recommendations which kept the discussion focused on the central topic.

“Brigadier Buhari’s thorough understanding of the major issues in the United States and the world reflected obvious research and analytical facilities far exceeding the majority of his contemporaries. His written efforts were ‘first rate’ and noted for their outstanding quality of research, logic and communications skills. Brigadier Buhari’s oral presentations consistently reflected those gifts of mind and bearing which are essential in command or group endeavors. His individual presentations were of exceptional value in that he avoided vague generalities and focused on the issues which involved hard, detailed choices.

“Throughout the course, Brigadier Buhari displayed a thorough understanding of the substantive issues at stake, together with a remarkable ability to deal with a wide range of complex issues simultaneously. He is a broadly-oriented officer who doesn’t channel his energies into narrow areas but rather seeks to improve his overall understanding of international issues. Muhammadu is intellectually curious, cooperative and does not hesitate to state his own views. He is also a good listener and always took account of what others had to say. Muhammadu’s ability to ask relevant and probing questions, his political sensitivity and intimate knowledge of current political-military problems made him one of the key motivators in his seminar group.

“Brigadier Buhari demonstrated an exceptional understanding of the complexities of military strategy and the process whereby forces to support a particular strategy are developed. He is a most perspective, intelligent individual who contributed a great deal to the seminar based upon his experiences in the Nigerian Army. Muhammadu was consistently able to provide the seminar group with a non-Western perspective and a surprisingly broad strategic view of the world. He was able, on many occasions, to effectively contrasts his own Army’s command and management philosophies and practices with the United States Army’s in such a way as to be beneficial and educational to all.

“Muhammadu is a most personable and engaging officer who earned the unqualified admiration and respect of his colleagues. His sociability and high ethical standards set him apart and when coupled with his other personal attributes mark Brigadier Buhari as an individual who will continue to be a significant contributor in his chosen profession. Muhammadu is a natural leader with an abundance of intelligence and broad experience and he demonstrated a rare capacity for continued development and growth. More so than other officers in his positions, he continually strove to improve his knowledge of his profession and to develop those skills required to contribute to the Nigerian Army in the future

“Brigadier Buhari was an active participant in the extra-curricular activities of the student body. In addition to his activities with his seminar in sports competition, he volunteered to be an assistant coach at a junior-level soccer team. He generously supported our community relations program by speaking on several occasions to groups in the local area. Muhammadu, his lovely wife, Safinatu, and his young family were actively involved in the social life of the College and were a credit to Nigeria.

“In sum, Brigadier Buhari’s wisdom and incisive and analytical mind identify him as being capable of discharging increasing degrees of responsibility in an outstanding manner. His insights into rather complex issues and ability to tackle the problems at hand indicate that he has exceptional potential in the armed forces of Nigeria and is worthy of the trust placed in him by your government.”

It is difficult to believe the American General was speaking about the same APC presidential candidate that we see on the campaign train but I have an idea of what may have happened to Buhari over the years. Before I do, I need to reiterate that I am still not a fan of Buhari not only because I have issues with his stewardship as a military Head of State but also because I believe the APC presidential flag-bearer is at heart a very parochial man. I guess Buhari has always been like that because even as an 18 year old, in his handwritten “application to sit for the RNA Qualifying Examination”, Buhari began like this: “I have the honour to apply for regular service in the Royal Nigeria Army. My name is Muhammadu Buhari and I am a Fulani…”

However, there are three things I can glimpse from Buhari’s military record. One, he improved himself tremendously in the course of his professional career because seven years before that strong testimonial from the US, as a Lt Colonel, he was just another “average Joe”, going by another testimonial from the United Kingdom. Two, something must have happened to Buhari after he was toppled as Head of State in 1985 such that we no longer see most of the intellectual attributes credited to him when he was in his thirties and forties. Three, it would seem Buhari has always been a man of integrity right from his youth because of the way words like “honest”, “sincere”, “straight-forward” are frequently used for him by his superiors at different times.

As a Lt. Colonel in the Nigerian Army between January and November 1973, Buhari attended the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. Of the 186 participants, nobody made a distinction; 18 were considered “above average” while 54 were considered “high average.” Buhari was among the 111 other participants that were given the “average” grade.

In his report, the Chief Instructor, Brigadier HW Kulkarni wrote on Buhari’s Knowledge and Ability: “A sincere and hard-working officer who is keen to learn. Has an average intellect. He possesses a working knowledge of his own Arm but his knowledge of other Arms and Services is just adequate in its extent and application. He can comprehend the implications of most of the situations and has imagination and commonsense to arrive at generally reasonable solutions. He can express himself adequately. Has shown keen interest and benefitted from the course.” On Buhari’s Character and Personality, the instructor wrote: “Tall, slim and well turned-out, Buhari is a quiet, unassuming and honest individual, with a mature and balanced outlook. Subdued by nature, he does his best for his team. Accepts criticism willngly. He is polite and somewhat shy; however, he mixes freely. Physically, he is quite fit.”

The final remarks came from the Comandant of the College, Major General SP Malhotra who wrote of Buhari: “Of average intelligence, Buhari is sober and balanced. Straightforward, simple and mature, he expresses his views freely when asked. Keen to learn. Sociable, though somewhat shy. Pleasant and cordial.”

I have brought out the foregoing because they are all in Buhari’s military record in possession of the Army yet the former spokesman would only release what he thought would damage the APC presidential candidate without considering the harm he was doing to the very institution he was speaking for. As Obasanjo, Akinrinade and several former military leaders have pointed out in recent days, dragging the military into partisan politics bodes ill for our country and that is where the element of gamble comes in as we approach the rescheduled elections.

To the extent that the responsibility for the peace and security of the nation rests on the president, it is important for him to look beyond the immediate to what he envisions as his place in history. While the president should work towards winning the rescheduled election, I strongly recommend to his handlers Chapter 22 of Robert Greene’s book, “The 33 Strategies of War” where the author borrowed from the thesis of the great German General, Erwin Rommel who once made a distinction between a gamble and a risk.

According to Rommel, both involve an action with only a chance of success but with risk, if you lose, you can recover whereas it is not so with a gamble where “defeat can lead to a slew of problems that are likely to spiral out of control”. Therefore, while some form of risk-taking is allowed in statecraft, a gamble is a different matter altogether and we can look at two cases that should help us in distinguishing one from the other.

First, a certain Obasanjo was spending his second and last statutory term in office as Nigerian president when he decided to procure a third term by bribing the lawmakers to amend the constitution.  When he failed, Obasanjo, who was all the while hiding behind one finger, retreated and told the world what he has kept repeating: he never sought third term! Today, the former president has recovered from the fiasco such that, as the de facto “leader of opposition” to the Jonathan administration, he could even bag the 2014 Leadership Newspaper Man of the Year award!

On the other hand, you have a Blaise Compaore in Burkina Faso who came to power in a military coup in 1987 and was first elected to a seven-year term as president in 1991 after resigning from the military. In 1998, he secured a second mandate in another sham election. But before the term could expire in 2005, he got the legislature to change the Constitution so he could seek a fresh five-year term which he won. He was re-elected for his second (and what was to be his final) term in 2010 but in October last year, Compaore started another plot to have the term limit removed from the Constitution so he could continue in office. The people kicked and the same military that he had been using to trample on their rights turned against the dictator. So within a matter of three weeks, Compaore, whose tenure was actually to expire in November 2015, was forced to flee his country in disgrace last October and is now a fugitive in Morocco.

Now to the message: Both Obasanjo and Compaore sought to hang on to power beyond their legitimate mandates but while the former was clever enough to know when he was beaten and retreated, the latter thought he could force the issue, oblivious to the fact that the world has changed. At the end, the tyrant of Ouagadougou was exposed as just another bloody coward who got a bitter lesson he would never forget from the same people he had oppressed for 27 years. The difference: Obasanjo took a risk, Compaore went for a gamble!

The pertinent question now is: Why is gamble not a recommended option for a political leader? Now I can close my argument with an “Advisory”, not from Dasuki this time, but from Greene: “With a gamble there tend to be too many variables to complicate the picture down the road if things go wrong. The problem goes further, if you encounter difficulties in a gamble, it becomes harder to pull out—you realise that the stakes are too high: you cannot afford to lose. So you try harder to rescue the situation, often making it worse and sinking deeper into a hole that you cannot get out of. People are drawn into gambles by their emotions: they see only the glittering prospects if they win and ignore the ominous consequences if they lose. Taking risks is essential: gambling is foolhardy. It can be years before you recover from a gamble, if you ever recover at all…”

Thisday Nigeria News

The Verdict By Olusegun Adeniyi;

Why I urged calm after polls shift, by Buhari


CNN’s Christian Amanpor yesterday had a brief telecast chat with All Progressives Congress Presidential Candidate, Muhammadu Buhari. Excerpts as transcribed by Gbenga Salau.

Reacting to the shift in Polls date

INEC said that they were ready to conduct the election on the date they fixed a year ago only for them to be forced virtually by the military that they could not guarantee the safety of their workers. However, since six weeks is within the constitutional time allowed, we asked our supporters to remain calm, resolute and obey the laws.

   You are a military general, why is it that the Nigerian military today cannot take on Boko Haram?

This was made clearer when the National Assembly attempted to conduct a hearing after soldiers gave interview to foreign media about being sent to the war front without weapon. The National Assembly attempted to conduct a hearing by getting the budget approved and inviting the service chiefs to come to tell them why is it that the weapons were not procured and sent to the soldiers under competent leadership. And this hearing was scuttled. In short, the misapplication or misappropriation of the resources provided by government for weapons is why the Nigerian military is unable to tackle Boko Haram.

 You just got a huge endorsement from Obasanjo, an ally of Jonathan, how do you react to that, what will that do for your campaign?

It will certainly bring more supporters to us and confidence to those who are sitting on the fence because General Obasanjo is highly respected and as far as the Nigerian nation is concerned there are no serious issues that could be discussed without people seeking his opinion and listening to him.

 Headlines around the world are portraying

this election as a choice between a failed president and a former dictator and you are the former dictator, have you changed?

All those things you mentioned, there is a degree of accuracy of what happened but it was done under military administration. And when the military administration came under my leadership, we suspended parts of the constitution that we felt would be difficult for us to operate under those circumstances. I think I would be judged harshly as an individual that what happened under military administration can be extended to a democratic system.

  What can you do to combat Boko Haram and the galloping corrupt in your country?

Boko Haram, we know how it started, partly the Nigerian military has arrested similar situation internationally but they have not been able to secure Nigerian territory, an area of 14 local governments out of the 774 local governments.

I believe that this problem will not be too difficult for APC government because we know the Nigerian military is competent. It is making sure that the money voted for equipment and training are properly utilized

Nigeria Guardian News

Leaked Ekiti Tape: I dare Obanikoro to go to court — Falana

Femi Falana



Popular lawyer, Femi Falana, has attributed the shift in the dates of the general elections to the leaked tape alleging the rigging of the Ekiti State gubernatorial election last year.

Speaking at the Black History Month and Dr. Beko Ransom Kuti Memorial Program in Lagos, Wednesday, Mr. Falana said some of those implicated in the plot, who were threatening legal action, should think otherwise.

An audio recording revealing how some Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, chieftains connived with security agencies to rig the Ekiti State election was released by an army officer last week.

At the meeting, as evidenced by the recording, prominent officials of the PDP were heard discussing strategies for rigging the 2014 Ekiti governorship election, a poll in which the party eventually won by a landslide.

But some of the actors, including Musiliu Obanikoro, a former Defence Minister, and Ayo Fayose, who defeated the incumbent governor, denied being a party to the plot to rig the election and questioned the authenticity of the recording.

Mr. Obanikoro had also threatened a court action against news organizations who had published the conversations in the audio tape.

Despite their denials, the Minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, who also attended the meeting, confirmed Sunday that the tape was authentic. He however disagreed with the context of the discussion, saying the meeting was never about plans to rig the Ekiti State election.

Speaking Wednesday, Mr. Falana said that none of the participants in the recording had successfully challenged the army officer’s account of the incident.

“I understand that Mr. Obanikoro (whom he described as a ‘thug’) says he will go to court. I can assure you here, I dare him to go to court. He can’t. It’s not possible,” said Mr. Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

“One of the reasons they postponed the election last week is that disturbing revelation by that Captain. That is what they wanted to do for the entire country. That revelation has sent them back to the drawing table. They now have to re-strategize.”

Mr. Falana criticised President Goodluck Jonathan for “embarrassing” the country with his repeated trips to the Holy Land, instead of channelling such funds to job creation.

Since he became the President in 2011, Mr. Jonathan has travelled for pilgrimage twice.

“I was reading the papers yesterday, the president said in violation of the peace accord, that governors in the north have not been sending Christians to Jerusalem. In other words, they have been sponsoring Muslims to Mecca,” said Mr. Falana.

“Please tell the president that there is no provision in our law for sponsoring anybody to Jerusalem or Mecca.

“Section 10 of the Constitution provides that the Nigerian State shall not proclaim any religion as an official religion. Therefore, appropriating billions of Naira every year, wasting money to send people to Jerusalem or Mecca is illegal.

“If you must know, less than seven per cent of Israelis are Christians, so they make jest of us. When you descend on them, that you are there to worship Jesus Christ, they’ll be like ‘are these people Ok?’”

Mr. Falana also insisted that the general election must hold and whoever emerges winner should be allowed to govern the country.

“And I’m challenging Edwin Clark and others, all those old men with expired ideas. Femi Okurounmu and others,” he said.

“We never saw them when we went to the streets of Lagos and Abuja to proclaim Goodluck as acting President. You were in the streets of Lagos, where were these characters? They were nowhere to be found.

“In fact, quote me. Baba Clark called me in one of our protests, ‘Femi, my son. Please keep it up. We from the Niger Delta cannot join this struggle now.’ I said why sir? He said ‘because he’s our son.’ I said what has your son got to do with the quest for justice?

“Professor Wole Soyinka, at the age of 71 (he was actually 76 then) led us in the protest. Please tell them this country belongs to all of us.”

On the issue of deployment of soldiers during election periods, Mr. Falana noted that nowhere in the Nigerian Constitution, Electoral Act, or the Armed Forces Act was a provision made for soldiers in election.

“So when they told Jega that they are going to be busy in the north east and they will not be able to secure the election. Please there is no provision for those Service Chiefs to police our election,” said Mr. Falana.

“Under Section 76, Section 116, Section 132, and 117, it is the exclusive responsibility of the INEC to fix dates for election. Only INEC. Not the president, not the NSA, not the security chiefs.

Knowing that, they then came in fraudulently by saying that they cannot guarantee your security.

“They have not been able to crush Boko Haram in six years, what magic are you going to perform in six weeks? Please we reject their fraudulent claim.”

Mr. Falana maintained that it is the duty of the police to maintain law and order in peace time.

“Soldiers have no business in town in peace time. Their duty is to defend the territorial integrity of our country, not to police election,” he said.

“That is the business of the Police. As a matter of fact, even Boys Scouts can police elections in Nigeria. You know why? On the day of election, there is restriction of movement. It is illegal for you to leave your ward for another ward. Only journalists, observers, and election workers can move round.

“So if everybody is restricted, why do you need soldiers to come and help you? To do what? But I will tell you why they need soldiers. You know why they need soldiers? To rig the election. To manipulate the process.”