Again, the paternity of the Nigerian state came up for consideration last week. Who exactly owns Nigeria? Is it the exclusive preserve of politicians, their kith and kin, their hangers-on or Nigerians?
Put differently, because politicians compete for offices that become vacant in the process of nationhood, are those offices, by that very fact, strictly their birthrights, to the exclusion of any other Nigerian? If those interrogations do not capture this ownership issue appropriately, the question can be put in another context thus: Who owns non-elective political offices? Are they spoils of politics, mechanism for developing the nation or rewards for political participation? These questions again came up for debate last week when the brouhaha erupted over the co-founder of transparency group, BudgIT, Seun Onigbinde’s appointment as Technical Adviser to Minister of State for Budget, leading to his resignation of the appointment.
As so many informed commentators have submitted, this pattern is becoming an unenviable profile of the Muhammadu Buhari government. It is akin to an animal kingdom where carnivorous animals hack down their fellow animals for meals. The comments have succinctly dredged the roots of the issue, so much that this additional one may be unnecessary. However, having been a victim of the trend too, an adumbration of the issue may just establish the implication for tomorrow for us as a people and governments in general.
Whether because of its pervasive influence on our lives or its massive implications for our existence, politics in Nigeria has become a major factor for society. It is like a double-edged sword: commendable because, with its pervasive influence, politics will no longer be a vocation that the most naïve in society engage in, to the exclusion of the informed and the educated. However, it is dangerous because all the shenanigans of politics and all its unenviable intrigues are replicated in virtually all facets of life and society. No matter how anybody may beatify politics, the truth is, even from the pre-colonial era when politics as a weapon of competition for offices was introduced, it was laced with dirty practice in Nigeria. The story is told of how, to castrate political opponents during the First Republic, all you needed to do was plant a corpse at the front of the opposition’s house and get the police alerted to the scene. The opponent is demobilized, for you to gain your desired advantage. This dirtiness has only mutated; it has not stopped.
Since the advent of the Fourth Republic, the divide between politics and governance has been so stretched thin that the spatial difference is almost non-existent now. This shouldn’t ordinarily translate to a potential crisis but for the fact that party politics, or put specifically, political party affiliation, has now become the defining element of our Nigerianness. What do I mean? Your political party, as against the other person’s political party identity, is viewed as the passport of entry into social relevance. Woe betides those who do not belong to either of the political province. This delineation of provinces is guarded so jealously that boundaries that do not belong strictly to politics and politicians are being ascribed to them. Unfortunately, even those who do not belong to political provinces have been sucked into the narrative of believing that non-elective offices are exclusive perks that belong to politics and politicians.
Elective and non-elective political offices as opportunities to enrich selves are inheritances from Britain. Colonialists posted to the colony came to those offices with preferential treatments that were the envy of their colonized subjects. They drove ‘big’ cars, earned fat salaries, huge allowances and were perceived as “big” men. When they ceded power to the natives at independence, in the bid to pattern their lives after the colonialists who just exited, the native “big men” also began to live big. Thus, a rat race for offices began which is worsened by the fact that government today is the highest spender, the place where you can get unearned money and access to them almost approximates access to the Kingdom of this earth. Today, access to government power is equal to the African pre-colonial conception of money ritual. In fact, it can be said that even the money rituals of that period cannot give as much unrestricted cash as access that government office gives.
Mr S. M. Afolabi, late Nigeria’s Minister of Internal Affairs, could be said to have put in perspective the perception of Nigerian politicians of political offices and their frown at “gate-crashers,” either from the other political parties or from people referred to as technocrats. He had upbraided the idea of Mr Bola Ige, an acerbic critic of Mr Olusegun Obasanjo even since his days as Head of State, being brought into the PDP-led government. The opportunity to serve as minister, Afolabi referred to it as come and chop. Since then, the latch on the door has been fastened and access to offices is viewed with hostility similar only to warfare.
The rat race for office is now a sprint of life and death. The doors are guarded and guided with brutal jealousy. The Buhari government is making this a bigger problem for the polity. Before it, though also guided, it was not this brutally restrained. Today, access to public office is such a close circuit that this gate-keeping pattern will henceforth be the credo or even policy of subsequent governments. Anyone who does not belong to the conclave of a particular party in government, no matter how useful to the growth of the polity, is mercilessly hacked and painted in bad colour.
It is a fallacy of inclusion to assume that anyone who is not for you is against you. This is the water-trough that waters dictatorship and makes it germinate. Dictators like Idi Amin Dada, Kamuzu Banda, Robert Mugabe and the like began in this unobtrusive manner. Their first step in office is the step that the Buharists take now. This is, carving out a province for themselves and spelling out membership of that province. Membership is restricted to only the bootlickers and the fawners of power. By the time this template is further taken to the next level, we end up in the hands of a Houphouet Boigny and his Yamossokuro Basillica-huge dictatorship.
Seun Onigbinde’s community of critics who engage government and keep it on its toes is endangered in a Buhari Nigeria. In its place are palace fawners who tell the King only what he needs to hear. This is why there is so much playing-the-fool at the highest levels of governments in Nigeria. Government Houses are readily seen as incarnations of pre-colonial African palaces where the king did no wrong and the Kabiyesi was not only infallible but incapable of being questioned. The moment we see a Buhari, for instance, as one whose infallibility is a given, then we have lost our country. Honest man that Buhari has been in the last four years or so, he occasionally shames the fawners who surround his palace. You will recall the whole gamut of lies volleyed into the public space by Buhari’s handlers while he was on medical vacation to the UK a couple of years ago. They denied that he was ill or that his ailment was very critical. When Buhari came back, he literally put all of them to shame by admitting that he was indeed critically ill and even underwent blood transfusion. Last week when the Presidential Election Tribunal pronounced him winner of the election, Buhari’s lickspittles again claimed that he was not in any way affected by the judgment, something in the mould of making a god of an ordinary mortal from Daura that Buhari is. Again, while playing host to those who had come to pay him a courtesy call, the President owned up that the Executive Council meeting was what doused his apprehension and tension.
The Onigbinde community, a tiny speck of which I am, doesn’t necessarily hate Buhari or his government, not even APC. PDP was hitherto a similar gross disaster in power. We may be excessive in our criticisms; we may be unreasonable sometimes; we may appear silly and even uncultured in the perception of our fellow countrymen, but our patriotism is very impregnable and certainly not of lesser texture than those who hold opposing views from ours. Some of us come out with a flow of acidic diatribes against infractions in government due to our frustration at the stagnation of Nigeria. We may be total disasters if made administrators but we should be encouraged to continue to ply our trade as a necessary blend with the views that are pleasant to the ears of runners of government. In fact, our diatribes against politicians and administrators of state should be recommended dosages to those in government so that, as they receive those flowery commendations from the groveling community that surrounds them, they will inter-mix them with our cudgels and will ultimately come out with policies that are forthright and beneficial to the polity.
When governmental offices are profiled as birthrights of politicians and grovelers by the altar of political lords, Nigeria would be the loser. Every government, either at the local, state or federal level, must keep an Onigbinde by its side to tell it the gospel truth. He belongs to the tribe of Julius Malema, South African politician, Member of Parliament and leader of a South African political party, Economic Freedom Fighters. Malema’s criticisms of ex-President Jacob Zuma probably helped to get a lesser evil in Zuma during his reign. Having said this however, the truth must be told that the interface between government and critics/academics in Nigeria, since the Ibrahim Babangida military government, has not shown that the marriage between governments and critics has paid-off for our country as the erstwhile critics become enmeshed in the ills they hitherto frown at.
The hounds of Twitter, Facebook and other social media avenues who make venison of the flesh of critic-recruits into political offices are fast harvesting renown of being the graveyards of those who can contribute their small quota to changing the face of our country. Most of them do not even know what the actual issues are. Their ignorance is advertised in the very bad language constructs of their interventions and their inability to identify core issues at stake other than those short quips that lack bite that they post. Some are recruits of politicians while some recruit themselves by virtue of their indolence. The carnivores of the social media probably do not know, or are too preoccupied with the consumption of the fleshes and blood of victims they devour for supper, that they fail to realize that each time they finish consuming those flesh, they wake up lost and Nigeria further at a loss.
Why Is Ajimobi’s Mausoleum A Subject Hypocritical Outrage? | By Maroof Asudemade
Nigerians derive a kind of unexplainable pleasure in brazen hypocrisy. The latest in their display of mischiefs coated in feigned outrage is about the grand Mausoleum constructed by the family of the deceased former governor of Oyo state, Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
This writer must confess that he held initially that the resting place was vainly flamboyant when the video of the Mausoleum was sent to him. But after making some enquiries as to the intent and purpose of the tomb, he’s convinced that there was nothing vain about it and that it’s the best way the Ajimobi family thinks it fit to honour and keep memories of their illustrious patriarch.
Mausoleum is a phenomenon that has been embraced in all continents of the world. It was invented by Phythius and named after King Mausolus, a Persian satrap of Caria in Harlicarnassus near the modern Turkey, whose grieving widow had the Mausoleum done to immortalise him. The large Mausoleum housing the remains of King Mausolus was reputed to be one of the Seven Wonders of the world! Since its invention, mausolea have been regular features of burial and internment arrangements, cutting across continents and religions, especially among royal, political, military and economic leaders around the world.
Mausolea are monuments. Monuments represent the histories and the heritages of peoples of the world. Without monuments, histories and heritages are lost to generations who need them to develop a sense of history and to recognise past glories in which they must exude pride. But when a people choose to sneer at a monument because of flimsy consideration of vanity, then, it’s no curse that such people already have courted extinction.
The ‘vanity’ that mausolea are tagged to be began and spread from ‘saner’ climes after which the insanity of adopting them in Nigeria afflicted us. Almost all known deceased leaders in politics, economy, royalty and military and professional endeavours had mausolea constructed over their remains in their sprawling premises. Mausolea came into the consciousness of Nigerians when the ever sagely Obafemi Awolowo died in 1987 and a mausoleum was constructed over his embalmed remains which visitors and tourists continued to troop to see even after many years before his corpses was decaying and he had to be buried appropriately. Since then, mausolea are being constructed by families of deceased eminent Nigerians as an indication of how immensely they cherish the lives and the memories of their departed loved ones.
When Mike Adenuga lost his mother, he spent several millions of naira to construct a mausoleum to house his mother’s remain. In Nigeria today, deceased eminent Nigerians who had mausolea built over their remains included Abubakar Tafawa Balewa in Bauchi, Sani Abacha in Kano, Olusola Saraki in Ilorin, Oba Okunade Sijuwade in Ile-Ife, Tayo Aderinokun in Lagos and a host of others. Even Dino Melaye built a world class Mausoleum for his mother’s remains! We can all see how vanity drives our eminent men and women to have mausolea that hold no pleasure to them built on them! Don’t Yoruba elders say ‘he who isn’t entitled to a bonus calls it unlawful’? Only a poverty of acute proportion will make one attach vanity to every luxury in life.
If all these eminent men and women mentioned above embraced vanity for having mausolea built on their remains, let me regale you with a burial story of a sincerely altruistic and the only truly radical and activist lawyer Nigeria has ever produced, Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi. No one can associate an atom of corruption to the late fiery lawyer! He lived a good life despite that he was an excessively incorruptible man. Yet, he planned his burial immediately he was told of his terminal lung cancer. He instructed that he wanted to be buried in gold casket! And, yes, Gani Fawehinmi was buried in gleaming gold casket! So, Gani too was vain! If Gani did not elevate vanity while alive, why would he elevate vanity in death?
No one is justified at all to wail about the vanity of life to the families of late Senator Abiola Ajimobi. What could be more vain than having to lose a man larger than his existence, an illustrious colossus for that matter? If losing Ajimobi to the inevitable death does not define life as vanity, one wonders what else will? Senator Ajimobi lived a good life, worthy of emulation in all ramifications. Yoruba elders say, ‘a dowry paid on a bride depends on how cherished the bribe is’. Therefore, it’s also apt to conclude that ‘Ajimobi was befittingly buried based on how so much he was cherished, loved and adored by his families’.
Is the word bankrolling derogatory? | By Onike Rahaman
Given the harsh reactions and ill-mannered responses of Femi Fani Kayode to the question asked by The Daily Trust Correspondent during the interactive session held with the journalists in the Cross River State yesterday, the action of FFK which has been largely condemned, considered as social misconduct and irrational forced me to carry out further search of the extensive meanings of the word ‘bankroll’ .
Up till now, I have not got any hints, tips or information on the derogatory meaning of the word bankroll to have prompted FFK outbursts of anger.Even my dictionary of insulting words didn’t include such entry.
Chief Femi Fani Kayode in the past few days had been touring some states meeting the governors in those states.
He was in Calabar the capital of Cross Rivers state when he was asked by Eyo Charles the Daily Trust Correspondent in the state that who is bankrolling his tour.
Fani Kayode became livid with anger and said, ” What type of stupid question is that?
Bankrolling who? Do you know who you are talking to? I will not take any questions from this man. What type of insulting question is that? Which bankroll? To do what? Who can give me money for anything?
Who do you think you are talking to? Go and report yourself to your publisher… Don’t insult me here… I could see from your face before you got here how stupid you are. Don’t ever talk to me like that. Who do you think you are talking to?”
While some people have blamed the reporter for asking a denigrating question, others insist Fani Kayode displayed pride as it is the duty of journalists to promote accountability. Who do we blame?
A. Eyo Charles the reporter.
B. Chief Femi Fani Kayode.
Semantics of the word that ignited the anger of Femi Fani Kayode:
1.Cambridge English Dictionary: verb. informal.
‘To support a person or activity financially’
‘To bankroll a person, organization, or project means to provide the financial resources that they need’.
[mainly US, informal]
The company has bankrolled a couple of local movies.
3. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English:
bankroll:Informal-to provide the money that someone needs for a business,a plan etc.
4. Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
bankrolled; bankrolling; bankrolls
Definition of bankroll (Entry 2 of 2)
: to supply money for (a business, project, or person.
5.Macmillan English Dictionary for Advanced Learners:
bankroll:to provide the money for something.
What then could have infuriated the former Minister and Lawyer with the question asked by the timid journalist for him to have acted oddly and reacted annoyingly in a way that has exposed him to public ridicule?
The whole scenario is a pointer to the fact that the man lacks emotional intelligence, maturity, decency and capacity to handle stressful situations.
Need for discipline in PMB’s cabinet to fight real corruption | By Abba Dukawa
With three cardinal programs of PMB’s campaigned promises, i. e Insecurity, Corruption and Economy, Nigerians expected effective and rebut fighting of Insecurity, Corruption and improved Economy in the country. It will be recalled that following the intense presidential campaign and the victory in the March 28 presidential poll in 2015 election. Let me start with corruption war. For long PMB had been pontificating about his desired to fight Corruption made Nigerians believed that he is capable to beat the previous administrations ‘efforts in anti-corruption war in the country and improved security and economy of the country.
To the extent that even the war waged by the administration against corruption proved to be toughest and it’s fighting back each passing day because there are several alleged corruptions within the administration.
The most disturbing point of war against corruption is becoming a subject of public scorn. There are several examples I can cite as proof of evidence but I will limit myself to a few. Nigerians may recalled less than two years of PMB’s administration , face its first litmus test in fighting corruption when a court fined MTN to pay billions of dollars to the government.
The most shocking of the administration error was the given approval of $25 billion contract awarded by NNPC without the input of the acting president at the time of the said approval PMB was lying in a sick bed in faraway London. This cast’s serious doubt in the mind of Nigerians.
In spite of highly celebrated profiled corrupt cases like ex petroleum minister, Diezeini Allison, Defencegate and PDP campaign funds, five years into the administration, there were no convictions of the alleged looters in this highly profiled corruption cases. The most worrying development is that the anti-graft war, which used to be his major feat, is now all over the place. Magu, the anti-graft Czar, has himself been accused of various infractions — some of them contained in reports submitted to PMB.
Did PMB heard Prof Pondei, NDDC acting MD, when he told a senate panel that he spent N1.5 billion as COVID-19 relief on the staff? Did you heard him brazenly told the committee that “we took care of ourselves”, he is still in office. That any of your appointees could make such a reckless statement on record shows how low they rate your anti-graft war.
There is extraordinary chaos going on between President’s power-drunk ministers and chief executive officers of the respective departments and agencies under their watch.
Did PMB knows that as a result of these infighting among the administration’s appointees are becoming a subject of public ridicule. Minister of labour who suspended the management of NSITF said he had PMB’s approval. Former MD of the Niger Delta Development Commission vs. Minster of Niger Delta, Dr Isa Ali Pantami Vs Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, NCC Executive Vice Chairman, Minister of Power Vs MD of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company, Minster of power Vs MD of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA)
Another episode of indiscipline was when police officers were deployed to the house of Mrs Joi Nunieh, former MD of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), to intimidate her on a day she was supposed to testify about the massive corruption in the agency. Latest episode of indiscipline was when the minister of labour, Dr Chris Ngige Vs James Falaki on the screen of a national TV when he called him Mushin boy and that he is VI Guy.
It is seem the government is indisposed to instill discipline within the ranks of the administration. Many Nigerians are asking whether President Buhari is the man of dependability Nigerians saw in him some years back. This is not the same person Nigerians ostensible brought into office in 2015, Buhari’s fear factor has gone which the corrupt people and other had on him disappeared, the fright notion of If Buhari catches you, one would bear the consequence also gone and no longer scares anybody, as we all can see even there is apparent lack of coordination and infighting among different agencies of government as well as key functionaries serving in the administration came to the front in the wake of the confirmation of the suspended EFCC chairman DSS, wrote to the senate to counter your choice.
If indeed those allegations are true, it should be a major indictment on Mr President, that right under his nose, all these things were happening and you did not act swiftly but the way the whole thing has been handled is damaging to the anti-graft war, and infighting among the appointees are hurtful to the administration integrity. Nigerians never expected negative things to happen under PMB’s stewardship and voters never thought he would head a government bedeviled with boggling financial recklessness of public funds, chaos, in fighting among the administration appointees and endless things which are discrediting his administration’s goodwill and the nation at large.
Dukawa can be reached at[email protected]
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Why Is Ajimobi’s Mausoleum A Subject Hypocritical Outrage? | By Maroof Asudemade