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NIGERIA AND DILEMMA OF HER DEMOCRACY

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Except for the holiday declared by the Federal Government to commemorate the nation’s democracy day, no sufficient impacts of democracy had been felt by people. Nigerians are not really happy. Instead of people being happy, discontent and disaffection are visible everywhere due to the observed dysfuctionality in the various sectors of the economy and due to glaring evidence of poor governance in most states of the federation.

Three years into the Buhari’s administration, people have reasons to groan. There is widespread poverty every where. Though, the statistics released by the government made us to believe that the economic growth is back and consolidating. Yet, there are clear indications that people are suffering seriously.

The unfortunate reality is that the claim by the government that inflation has fallen for the fifteenth (15) consecutive months from 18.7 percent in January 2017 to 12.5 percent as of April 2018 had not really had direct positive impacts on the citizens and purchasing power of Nigeria’s currency.

The story of our nation is that of a country practising democracy without genuine democrats. Across the country, we have governors without democratic credentials. These greedy and selfish governors are still owing workers despite the fact that Buhari’s admistration had extended more than 1.9 trillion naira to State governments to enable them meet their salary and pension obligations especially in the face of dwindling oil revenues over the last two years.

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It is disheartening that the federal government had not succeeded in suppressing the menace of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen completely despite the military campaign and international support so far mobilized. However, the commitment of the present government to halt the menace cannot be underestimated.

In terms of education financing, the government has not in my view scored a pass mark. When one evaluates the quality of Nigeria’s education system, it is abysmally low. The prevailing situation across the country is that most institutions including public and private ones lack the quality personnel and facilities for effective teaching, research and community services. Worse still, factors of dissatisfies such as irregular payment of salaries and allowances of workers, arbitrary delay in giving promotion to deserving workers and lack of opportunity for training and development have made many of the Universities and Polytechnics staff to be unproductive and inefficient.

By measure of Nigeria performance in international relations, the efforts of President Muhammed Buhari in this respect are worthy of commendation particularly with bilateral agreements signed with China, United States of America (USA), United Kingdom (UK), Morocco, Switzerland and United Arab Emirate (UAE). Yet, the average Nigerians are still striving to feel the direct positive impacts of all these bilateral agreements.

One other cause of dilemma as the nation’s democracy grows is the issue of local government autonomy. In the present democracy, local governments are mere appendage of the states. It can no longer be regarded as a third tier of government. The Buhari’s administration will do the country good, if the local government can be made to be autonomous through constitutional and legislative processes.

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Despite the earlier pointed dilemmas, it will be unjust not to commend the present administration effort in fighting the war against corruption. The way the government has been handling it’s whistle blowing policy gives hope for a better future for the country. By extension, the fiscal reforms and plugging leackages in government finances are part of areas where Buhari’s admistration had succeeded.

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Again, executive recklessness and excesses continue to jeopardise the practice of democracy in the country as observed through the conducts of most of the state governors. With the enthronment and sustainability of democratic norms, principles and institutions in our country , the good people of Nigeria ought to have began reaping the fruits of democracy. Also, the governors of states have become overlords such that most of them now control the state Assemblies of their respective states. It will be difficult for any state to experience good governance where governors would not allow the state assemblies perform their legislative functions without interference. Most of the states House of Assemblies are toothless bull dogs. The National Assembly that ought to offer a sort of solace are also operating as enemies of democracy. The current National Assembly are dominated by brigandages.

In the present order, most members of the National Assembly give preference to oversight functions at the detriment of primary legislative responsibilities. This is a country where legislators feel the only measure of their performance is through empowerment projects. Obviously, the so called empowerment programmes are nothing but ruse. Until when true democrats in terms of ideological inclination and practices are encouraged to venture into politics, our lamentation will continue. Except we also allow people with sound minds and ideologically inclined enjoy the opportunities to occupy elective positions, people will continue to groan and our democracy will remain in a state of dilemma.

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Rahaman Onike
An author and public administrator,
writes from Oyo, Oyo State.

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National Issues

Sowore and allegory of the rat that saw tomorrow | By Festus Adedayo

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Many commentators on the attempted abduction of rights activist, Omoyele Sowore, right inside a courtroom of the Federal High Court, Abuja by men of the State Security Service (SSS), self-styled as the Department of State Services (DSS), have termed the occurrence tragic. I disagree. I tend to think that the tragedy is not that one person, out of about 200 million Nigerians, was visited with the raw brunt of a Mobutu Sese-Seko in Nigeria. The tragedy, to my mind, is that Nigerians still trivialize and euphemize the gravity of the calamity that is right here with us.

 

The tragedy is reflected in the fact that we do not realize how, with Muhammadu Buhari, we are all in trouble, without a single exception. The tragedy is further compounded by those who, on account of party, ethnicity, politics or religion, have, since Friday, been excusing, legitimizing or rationalizing the calamity that befell Nigeria on that black Friday, right inside that court room. Let us pause a while as I situate the gravity of the tragedy.

 

A tragedy of similar trope that I can readily recall is the fable of the rat, goat, cow and the landlord that I was told several decades ago. It is a story that is used to graphically paint the tragedy of group failure to confront an impending calamity from its infancy; it is our own version of German Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemoller’s poetic rendition of post-war cowardice of German intellectuals and some clergymen at the outset of Adolf Hitler’s macabre despotism and gradual massacre of groups in Europe, one after the other. While Hitler and his Aryan race incrementally decimated all the strata of society, there was a deliberate externalization, rationalization and trivialization of the calamity of his Third Reich, just the way some Nigerians have been rationalizing the Sowore tragedy.

 

Niemoller had captured the tragedy thus in such an engagingly penetrating poetry: First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. This poetry was also engraved on the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston.

 

Africa had her own attempt to rout collective action against tyranny before Niemoller’s, captured in an ancient fable but which possessed similar imperishable take-away.

 

A Landlord, who reared within his compound rats, goats, cows, and who was living with his wife, once came home with a rat trap. Opportune to sneak into where the trap was kept, the rat alerted the whole Landlord’s community that there was an impending calamity. Fazed by what they perceived as the rat’s attempt to externalize a problem solely his, the rest of the community wondered how the trap could signal an impending calamity to them. Frustrated by repeated attempts to get the community to collectively stave off the doom, the rat eventually gave Late Chief Bola Ige a handshake and embraced his sidon look philosophy.

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Then one day, when the Landlord had set the trap to catch the notorious rat in the compound, his wife mistakenly stepped into its menacing metal barbs and was critically injured. Believing that the wound could be treated at home, weeks of self-medication worsened the injury and a hospital visit later pronounced that the wound had courted gangrene. Guests from afar who came to sympathize with the family had to be fed, necessitating the killing of the goat. When eventually, the madam of the house died of the injury, the cow was slaughtered for the burial ceremony.

 

On Friday last week, the world was astounded at the raw despotism visited on Sowore inside the court by Buhari’s DSS. While so many people who have inner eyes to perceive the calamity that lies ahead for Nigeria saw the event as symptomatic of the berth of Hitler on the Nigerian soil, so many people have rationalized the attack. Some even claim that Sowore, having joined forces to unseat former President Goodluck Jonathan while supporting Buhari’s ascension into power, had literally ridden on the back of the tiger and no one should pity him now that he is venison for the notorious tiger.

 

If the guilt of yesterday were to be used as the crucifix, not many of us can stand the scalding hot iron. We foolishly disobeyed the promptings of some people whose inner eyes saw beyond the façade of a despot-turned-democrat whose visor Buhari wore in 2015. They told us, even from the start, that they could see well ahead the democratic calamity that Buhari would be.

 

Believing that anyone but Goodluck Jonathan would do, we consigned those wise counsels inside the trash receptacle. I had a friend who is a professor in the United Kingdom who warned trenchantly, ab initio, that Buhari’s tiger could never change its stripes and thirst for blood. We told him to shut his trap as the new bride was now a repentant democrat. Gradually, Buhari started to bare his fangs and right now, we are at a very dangerous cusp between full-blown despotism and pseudo democratic credentials of a man whose idea of governance is manacling voices of dissent.

 

Buhari’s kind of emerging despotism is the most deadly. He is blessed with a taciturnity that is uncommon among men of his ilk. Not many people can claim to know the content of his mind. Those who know him talk of a man who engages mentally nourishing materials seldom.

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He is fed on old ideas of brute force and even old ideas of governing a people. He possesses the old Uthman Dan Fodio idea of conquest of kingdoms and sparse idea of what to do with the conquered kingdom thereafter. He baits his foes with the same ruthless drive with which the lion baits the impala and when he descends on the victim, he celebrates his conquest by soaking his fluffy mane with its blood.
Buhari didn’t get to this level of ordering DSS to pounce on his victim inside the hallowed ground of the court overnight. His community – Adolf, Mobutu, Papa Doc, etc. don’t too. It was a gradual process. When he ordered the same DSS to storm the homes of judges in a Gestapo manner at the dead of the night, posturing to be fighting corruption, an admixture of political affiliation, religious connotation and belief in the power of an old military mascot, ensured that a panoply of kudos go to him.

 

Anyone who asked that a demarcation be made between corruption and justice was typecast as either a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or one of the relics of the corruption of the past. Lionized by the volley of claps, Buhari moved a step forward. The same DSS was unleashed on the National Assembly as hooded agents stormed the legislature. Again, this tyranny was greeted with claps and rationalizations across board. Emboldened, Buhari visited this same gruff on the former Chief Justice of Nigeria and before you knew it, earlier voices in support of the CJN were drowned when he brought out what he called Walter Onnoghen’s hands dripping with filthy oil from our collective broth. Then, he stomped on the religious Mullah, El Zak Zakky and his wife, threw them into the gulag and turned his challenged ear the other way, away from court orders. Repeatedly, his government has shown that the courts do not matter, even as he defecates on the order papers, while muttering diffidently the swear-word, dan buroba, shege!

 

Ibrahim Dasuki has been inside the Buhari gulag for years now for an offence that is bail-able and which some claim is an offshoot of a personal vendetta yet, we all look the other way, like those cow and goat, pretending that the tiff was between Gambari and Fulani which concerns us merely tangentially or not a jot at all. A recent investigative report by one of the newspapers said that many Nigerians are today in detention for daring to antagonize the new Fuhrer. Since this list of victims of power contains neither us nor our family members, we choose to externalize its debilitating effect.
Today, the power equation in Nigeria is such that assaults the spirit of equity which our forefathers swore must be etched in our hearts.

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A Northerner is the President of Nigeria, a Northerner is the President of the Senate and a Northerner is the Chief Justice of Nigeria. We all move about as if nothing is amiss. I cannot readily recall a time in history when this kind of malady ever happened in Nigeria. Even under the military regime, attempts were made to worship this hallowed god of equity in a Nigeria fractured by arcane ethnic configurations, plural culture, languages and all that. At the death of General Murtala Muhammed and the banner fell on a Southerner, Olusegun Obasanjo, to be the Head of State, Musa Yar’Adua had to be given double promotion so that he could assume the 2iC position that would give the power configuration some sense of balance and equitable representation. Not now, not under a man who believes that he was the representative of Fodio in assuring an ascendancy of his kin in the Nigerian equation.
When I see emerging despotism, I remember the example of 19th century famous and powerful Egba migrant to Ibadan called Efunsetan Aniwura.

 

Wealthy, indeed said to be one of the wealthiest Yoruba women that ever lived, Aniwura became a sturdy in unmitigated tyranny. She was reputed to be a wildly authoritarian Iyalode of Ibadan whose weapon of autocracy was to inflict capital punishment on erring slaves. Like her contemporary character, Sani Abacha, Efunsetan Aniwura was murdered one night in 1874 while she was deep asleep. Two of the slaves in her barn had been tasked with the murder plot, woven by Aare Latosa, the Ibadan king who enlisted Aniwura’s adopted son, Kumuyilo, who in turn engaged the slaves.

 

We all should gird our loins because the gruff manifestation in the court on Friday is a grim projection of what we will face henceforth. Though he has feebly denied having any plan for a Third Term, psycho analysis of power shows that acts like the Friday court crackdown are precursors to a full-blown despotism or a plan to totally cow the populace, penultimate the baring of a Hitleric fangs. While, in the words of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, I see sorrow, tears and blood ahead, I am however comforted that despotism has an expiry.

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Nigeria : A Nation Yet With Unfulfilled Pledge

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The functionalist behavioral scientists presented the evolution of human society by drawing an analogy between human organism and societal entity. They viewed human and social organism as a system in which their parts work interrelated and interdependently to maintain a healthy whole. While human entity consists of systems such as the nervous system, respiratory system, digestive system; the social organism (Society) comprises institutions like economy, education, family, government, religion as its system. 

Human entity also progressed from infancy to adolescence, and to adulthood, while society or a nation passes through progressional chain such as; hunting and gathering, horticultural, agrarian to the level of industrial society. The foregoing means that a nation like Nigeria with approximately 200 million inhabitants in an area of 920,000 km2 (360,000 sq mi) is subjected to growth just as a living organism.

It is yet hard to conclude that the expectations and dreams of Nigerian citizens , except few privileged ones , have been fulfilled, in spite of Nigeria’s 59 year existence as an independent nation. Is Nigeria still a fool at 59? Will it be a fool forever? Because a popular adage echoes that “a fool at 40 is a fool forever”. Though, life span of a country may be longer than that of a man, yet if a man cannot attain his appropriate position at age 59, he is likely to be considered a failed human. Even, as the ‘Giant of Africa’, can Nigeria nationale hope for a better Nigeria?

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Looking around, Nigerians daily see signs of hopelessness, retardation and backwardness which are antithetic to ” to life more abundance “, the slogan when Nigeria was granted a sovereign status in the 1960s by the then British Empire. It is only when a tongue is kept in the mouth that what has been displayed in Nigeria for fifty nine years (59) would be described as development.

Food prices keep rising, cost of living including accommodation skyrocketing, cost of education rising, yet yearly failure in exams and low quality outputs is the order of the day. Petroleum products prices keep rising from N11 per litre in 1994 to N145 per litre in 2019, yet state of infrastructure in Nigeria is deplorable, crimes and hostilities, the militant groups in the Niger Delta, Kidnappers and Bokoharam in the North among others, have assumed different dimensions in the land. The latter seems to be a reaction to injustice, which the leaders have allowed to permeate the land.

According to development experts, indices such as industrialization, Gross National Product (GNP), Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Capital Accumulation, Massive Investment in ICT like NigComsat and the newly launched one (s) ; even democracy, among others, cannot be used as yardsticks for growth or development.

Far back in 1969, it was Dudley Seers, a British economist who specialised in development economics that said the questions to ask about state’s development are : What has been happening to poverty and hunger? What has been happening to unemployment? What has been happening to inequality? “If all three of these have declined from high levels, then beyond doubt this has been a period of development for the country concerned. If one or two of these problems have been growing worse, especially if all three have, it would be strange to call the result ‘development’, even if per capita income had doubled”, Seers concluded.

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Premising on the conclusion of Seers, it is neither out of place nor over statement to conclude that Nigeria is far from development. If the nation is far from development, then, what is the root cause? Many causes can be adduced but chief and basic among them is LEADERSHIP.

Bad or ineffective leadership, including political and business leaders who run the nation’s economy, has been identified as the treat to sincere development in Nigeria and liberation of the Nigerian majority from poverty, hunger, homelessness and discomfort in its various manifestations. It is germane, not to deceive ourselves, to state that the type , the quality of person (s) put at the helm of affairs will determine the extent of progress recorded in the areas of socio – political, economic and human development, peace and tranquility that pervade a society.

With all these infuriating challenges, conspiracy of enslavement and pauperization by the imperialists in the corridors of power from the North to South, and West to East, when will that pledge and dream be fulfilled? May be at this juncture, Nigerian leaders should be reminded of the lines in the nation’s pledge which they have always forgotten.

“I pledge to Nigeria my country; to be faithful, loyal and honest

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To serve Nigeria with all my strength, to defend her unity….” Nigerian leaders , have you been faithful, loyal and honest with your fellow Nigerians? Have you been serving Nigerians with all your strength? Have you been defending the unity of your immediate constituencies, the country at large?

All these nagging questions require resolute answers

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Ex-INEC Boss, Jega, to Speak at UI

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As part of the activities marking the 71st Foundation anniversary and Graduation ceremonies of the University of Ibadan (UI), the immediate past Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Attahiru  Jega will today engage the nation as he delivers the University’s Convocation lecture.

 

According to the information scooped from Mr Sunday Saanu’s verified facebook account on Thursday, the title of his lecture is “Towards Credible Electoral Process and Sustainable Political System in Nigeria: What Role for Universities?”

 

Saanu, who is the Media Assistant to the University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Idowu Olayinka further added “the lecture comes up at 4 pm today, November 14, 2019 at the newly renovated Trenchard Hall of the University.
“All are cordially invited”.

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