Candid Reflections

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In the last picture of you that I got from your mother, you looked pale and had begun to grow breasts. I never intended to be away for this long. It’s just that, sometimes, it gets so hard to retrace one’s steps when one misses the road.

It was never intended to end like this – your mother and I being flung apart, across thousand miles across two great oceans. No, that was never the plan. The plan had been to graduate, get the perfect job, find the love of my life, get married, and then, have you. Somehow, that plan did not come to be. The plan started out well but it all began to fall apart when I met your mother.

I met your mother at the university – at an odd hour and in the least expected place. I met your mother at a bar; during a fight. Your mother’s history before I came into the picture is too sordid. She had made really bad decisions and she had desperately wanted a new lease of life. Her desperation drove her to the bar, her frustration earned her a fight. Your mother was being beaten by a man over an extra drink she had refused to pay for.

She was drunk! I ended up paying for the extra drink.

Love found me when your mother staggered and crashed into everything she should have avoided. I feared that if I let her go all by herself, she would bump her head and be dead. So, I decided to help her home. She talked all through the walk to her room.

Gibberish they all were, except her name – Kafayat.

Benjamin meets Kafayat. How awkward does that sound, my pretty little angel? Fate brought us together again and we chose to be together after then. When we first met, your mother took her faith with a pinch of salt. A few months into our friendship, things had changed. She didn’t pray five times but she prayed the Jumat every Friday. Slowly and in inexplicable ways, I stopped the midweek services. The only time I attended church was on Sundays. Our friendship blossomed and prospects of a relationship came in sight. And though we knew how, vehemently, our families would stand in the way of a union as ours, but we ignored the warning signs and forged on still. Not only did we forge on, we forged you. It was in my final year that Kafayat announced that she was pregnant. Our families wouldn’t stay to hear about it. They called you a disaster. They wanted us to get rid of you but I wanted to keep you.

Your mother, was confused.

The plan changed – I had a baby before I had a job. No one from our families cared to help. I failed to meet up with every job test and soon enough, the frustrations that came with never succeeding set in. The love your mother and I had for each other began to wane in the heat of the struggle. An uncle in Boston offered to help us and so I had to leave you and your mom behind. You were barely four years old when I kissed your forehead at the airport and headed out to God’s country.

It was eight years ago I hugged your mother and promised to come back home and set all things right. It’s been eight years of nostalgia and pain. Eight years of chasing the green card; eight years in pursuit of happiness.

Eight years of hard-work, eight years of emptiness and waiting for a miracle.

In the last picture of you that I got from your mother, you looked pale and had begun to grow breasts. I never intended to be away for this long. It’s just that, sometimes, it gets so hard to retrace one’s steps when one misses the road.

I have missed all previous seven birthdays that you’ve had since I was gone. Work and time-zones were always my excuses and a pack of toys and clothes always killed the pain you should utter. However, on this train, I ran seven hours into the future to make things right. For the first time, I struggled to be the first to wish you a happy birthday. But just as I concluded this piece, I got a call from home. I was told you could not fight the scourge this time. I was told your cells were sickled away.

I was told you passed away some hours ago….

The writer, a storyteller, is on Twitter as @Santifemi

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Prayers for Stella.....?

That our President travelled to Jerusalem on a ‘low-key’ pilgrimage is no longer news; it wouldn’t have been much of an interesting journey if the hawks were not already circling over the OduaGate carcass he left at home, to seek the face of the Lord, for renewed spiritual transformation.

The ‘low-keyed’ pilgrimage, as touted by the Presidency, has produced more pictures than an average beauty pageant. We have seen the President in several pictures piously observing the religious rites, in the presence of his spiritual advisor, Bishop Reverend Apostle Prophet Pastor (BRAPP) Ayo Oritsejafor. Pardon my confusion on the title front, Oritsejafor’s outfits these days makes it harder to pin him to any particular title. I am as confused as the next person.

Of the pictures that have surfaced, without Nigerians resorting to leaked versions, Baba Oritsejafor was seen in his imperial splendor with the President trudging alongside him like a trusted advisor, listening to every word, head bowed and radiating that election-time meekness that was greatly exaggerated around the country. In another, the good BRAPP Oritsejafor was in the mood of prayer, violently spraying the prayers around and looking to the heavens to send down more blessing on the assorted crop of looters under his anointing. He wasn’t finished yet, as we say in Nigeria.

Then, came, several pictures of the “Lady in White Hat”! Redemption, throughout the ages, has been associated with white. Stella found hers, on Mount Olives in Jerusalem, by Jonathan’s side; lurking few rows farther from the limelight than she is used to. Her visit, as part of Jonathan’s delegation, has been one of the most incomprehensible ever undertaken by the president; and he is a man given to many ridiculous decisions more than humanly permitted.

At a time when serious graft and wishful-spending (or, what do we call spending N255million on two cars that we have even failed to sight, despite high-level investigations?) allegations were hanging on her neck, and Nigerians are up in arms, calling for her to resign or be sacked, she was firmly in the C-in-C’s graces.

The President, in his wisdom, had set up a diversionary Three Man committee to investigate the Aviation Minister before jetting out of the country same day, to be joined by the ‘Honorable BMW’ed Minister’ the next day. And while jetting out, he clawed Col. Sambo Dasuki (Rtd.), the National Security Adviser from committee duties, to help with whatever he planned to do in Israel.

You don’t have to be a genius to understand the thrust of my last paragraph. Jonathan the President, Sambo the NSA and probe committee member, and BMW’ed Stella on the same trip after a major corruption allegation back home is the kind of recipe Nigerians never imagined they would ever wake up to read. It shows a lack of seriousness on the fight against corruption. The president’s body language and actions over the life of this presidency has been one that has diligently and richly rewarded corruption. Alamieyeseigha, Bulama, Diezani, Adoke, Orubebe, Oduah, Otedola, Farouk…… are names that readily pops up whenever Jonathan and corruption are mentioned in the same sentence.

While it is easy to debate the seriousness of setting up a committee to investigate graft, when there are several qualified agencies of government that could have handled this within three days; the decision to go with Dasuki and Oduah makes it curiously incomprehensible. She was not suspended or temporarily eased out until investigations were over; instead she went in search of Redemption, alongside the President, to the Holy land with the Nigerian Moses – The BRAPP I mentioned earlier.

The temptation – which has always been a problem with the Nigerian public – is the fear that we might be overflogging the issue. Several people would be asking: ‘are we still on this?’, ‘what is the new topic for this week?’ and some would forcefully tell you to ‘give her a break; haven’t you guys pilloried her enough?’

That temptation is what we should avoid here. Nigeria is a country where the leaders feel we will move on; irrespective of what allegations is hanging in the air. They believe that after a few days of excoriation, we would move on to the next debate and all would be forgotten (and probably forgiven). We should prove them wrong. This might sound like a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ case but facts emerging are getting messier and dirtier; they keep pointing us in the direction of Stella Oduah as the ultimate culprit.

Amidst all the self-congratulatory parapoism and decoration as JP in Israel, we need to remind them that there is no peace yet, at home. If those in the President’s entourage could shun BRAPP Oritsejafor’s patronizing prayers on Stella Oduah, the ‘Mene Mene‘ might just be getting bolder for the President to ignore.

The cars in question are said to be missing on the government’s official list of armoured cars available anywhere in the country and every passing day seem to bring its own set of discovery; and with it comes the question: in the face of all these allegations and findings, that even raises doubts on whether the cars were actually purchased, why has the President failed to act decisively on Stella Oduah?

It could be that she has finally found redemption on Mount Olives. But we need to keep prodding and shouting on the top of our voices. This is one issue we should over-flog, over-talk about, and over-report in the news. This is the stand we need to take!

 

I’m @deboadejugbe

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Despite overwhelming temptation to write about Stella Oduah’s BMWgate, I have tried my best to ignore the tugging from that particular topic. Though it grieves me that Nigeria has now sunken so low that, even the President, feels she did the right thing in purchasing those vehicles at that ridiculous and irresponsible price; to prevent one of our exclusive “acts of God” from befalling her.

The battles on Social Media, the defense of her right to waste public – and unbudgeted – funds by many, the ethnic coloration and tribal sentimentalism, the goof played out by NCAA, the gender innuendos, the hunt for the whistleblower and the stupidity of it all still plays monopoly in my head. I just can’t understand it.

Now that we have gotten that out of the way, maybe we should talk about something else.

What the hell! We might as well indulge ourselves a little and serenade the atmosphere with the smoke puffing out of the manor of transformation; in all the glory that its agenda can muster. When the news broke that the bearer of Nigeria’s exclusive ‘act of God’ had purchased two BMW 760Li High Security armored vehicles for N255,150,000 ($1,594,687.5 – using N160/$1), the pro and anti-Stella campaign went into a frenzied overdrive on Social Media.

The cost of the vehicles is a bone of contention. The need for the vehicles brought up its own unique discussions. The reason behind the purchase is still unknown; save for the flimsy excuse that it is the practice world over to have such vehicles at the disposal of aviation executives. The cost on human lives is yet to be calculated, while its symbolism in the face of one crashed plane and a couple of almost-crashed others remains a mystery. The process (due or undue) used in procuring the vehicle is yet to be explained. The excoriation itself is deafening.

I decided to check for myself, the cost of an armored High Security BMW 760Li 2013 series vehicle and here is the result: I built for myself a custom model at BMW London for a price of $190, 584 (including delivery, but excluding taxes, clearing and licensing). My waka also prompted me to check unhaggle to see if anything is different but I got the same pricing. I know where you are going. You are thinking there must be a reason for the difference in pricing. Yeah, you are a genius! Corruption!

Even if we conclude that extra features would have driven the price up, I think it is safe to say whoever believes it should be at a ridiculous price of $797, 343. 75 per vehicle is crazier than me. There are talks of witch-hunting the whistleblower for being such a bad example to civil servants (on a transaction that should have been public knowledge in the first place) and when that diversionary tactic didn’t work as well as envisaged, they switched to ‘tribal-mode’ and ‘ghost-mode’ (apologies to Phyno) in the defense of the minister.

Our President, a man known to condone and encourage corrupt practices saw nothing wrong with the ridiculous purchase and queued behind his minister, dismissing the noise made by Nigerians as “No cost is too high to protect public officers who are carrying out desired changes”. We agree with him, but I have questions for him.

What are the desired changes that are happening in the Aviation sector – Painting and re-flooring of the airports? Are we to conclude that these changes include shoddy handling or maintenance of aircrafts that has caused crashes and several near-crashes? How come “an act of God” is now too much of a risk to bear for our Aviation minister? Was the money used in this ridiculous purchase budgeted for? If not, where was it sourced? What was the bidding process used? How many companies were involved in the bidding process? Who vetted the documents of purchase?

Now, let’s leave the ethical questions about the procurement. Let’s assume that as one of the NCAA spins claimed through Fan Ndubuoke is true: “I can only tell you that cars were bought by the NCAA for directors and general managers. I wouldn’t know who got what. And it was well publicized,” You bought these cars, at those ridiculous prices, for directors and general managers? How many of these vehicles were procured at these prices, and for how many directors and general managers? Can we physically inspect these vehicles, as they were bought with public funds? Can First Bank of Nigeria and Coscharis clarify their involvement in this deal? Where was the Auditor-General of the Federation when this purchase was sanctioned?

This is a time when public scrutiny is on our finances. A time when the Federal Government is defaulting in its statutory duties to the federating states; a time when ASUU, Doctors Union and every other association of note are threatening to shut down the country because of FG’s failure to honour agreements made with them. A time when the FG has admitted it is getting harder to meet its objectives, but the fueling of the corruption chariot has remained in full throttle.

I know we may think that we are on a wild-goose chase as always but I know the noises, at a time, will get unbearable for them – and us – and we might decide to do the right thing by overrunning them. Our fairy princess of the skies, Stella, has bequeathed us her fairy-dust of corruption, from that same jar that Diezani poured hers. The common denominator here is President Goodluck Jonathan. He approves of their flagrant abuse of power and unencumbered show of corruption; they are probably untouchable or indispensable because they are spreading their master’s gospel. No one is getting fired or probed for this, live (or deal) with it…

As usual, the next scandal is just around the corner. I think it’s here already. NAMA has been dragged into this exciting conversation with the four Toyota Tundra jeeps and four stretch limousines they allegedly donated to the fairy Princess. Get ready for more actions, we live in exciting times.

Don’t despair, luck do run out and it just might run out at the right time for the Presidency. But for now, let’s keep shouting and asking them what happened to these transactions.

Or, we can use Princess Stella’s exact words when questioned about issues raised by the critics of her airports remodeling job: “Who the fuck are they? Who the fuck!”

I’m @deboadejugbe

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In late 2012, I wrote an article on this platform titled “Nigerians: Guilty as charged?” where I did a little elaboration on the Nigerian problem, the people and the overflogged mantra of “Leaders alone are our problems”. Some people praised the effort while some felt it didn’t properly reflect the position that, the Leaders still are the only problems we have as a nation.

A few months after that article, I wrote another piece on YNaija titled “Social media votes and the pitfalls of ignorance” where, using the FCT Municipal Elections (where PDP won 5 of the 6 councils), I lamented the low turnout of people despite the noise made on Social Media to that end. My thrust was that: Social Media, for all its advantages and defining ability, is still isolated from the ‘very’ real world, in Nigeria. It is one thing to sit and wage warfare from the anonymity and exclusion of your homes and another thing to stand to get counted when it really matters.

Just last Sunday; my friend, Collins Uma more or less echoed those same sentiments in his article “New Media, New Delusions” where he did his best to give it straight to the deluded among us, who feel Social Media is an end but not a means to an end in itself. Now, it is not a crime to embrace this medium religiously. The crime is not in believing that it is a very good social tool that can help advocacy; it is in the delusions that it is the final nail in the coffin of those who pilfer our commonwealth. We tend to assume that a rant is enough, rather than the beginning of the job of extricating Nigeria from their grips.

Take for example, the recent Senatorial by-election in Delta State. It is a grim reminder that irrespective of the noise we make on Social Media, without living in the real world and meeting real people, the rants and cries will just be what they term them as: cries from the children of anger.

For those discerning enough about our Social Media stratification, you’ll understand that it mirrors exactly the same values we are working against in the real world. A cursory look at our national problems tells its own story vividly; there is a class war and those with means are doing everything possible to silence or drown out the voice of the larger population. These could be in form coercive behaviours, inducement with baseless but enticing gifts, outright dismissiveness to make them feel worthless, threat of making things awkward in the larger scheme of things if they don’t play ball etc. they are many.

Wikipedia describes a social issue as “an issue that relates to society’s perception of people’s personal lives.” Going further to explain that “when a large enough sector of society is affected by an issue, it becomes a social issue” A further reading into those classifications and those applicable to our society shows that, part of our major social ills involves: unemployment, infrastructural decay, a sinking economy, social disorganization, caste system, inequality, education, partial mass media, crime and justice system, hate crimes, “valence issues versus position issues”, illiteracy, security, discrimination etc.

This is where stepping on toes becomes inevitable.

Let’s discuss one or two of those issues that could easily be entwined with Social Media to explicitly make my points clear. We can clearly agree that most of those who troll on Social Media do so for want of more productive things to do; hence unemployment, sinking economy, education, illiteracy would suffice as a reasonable explanation for some of the things proposed by majority of the social media population. It is the same as seeing unemployed and uneducated people in our daily lives.

For all the stories that I have been writing; “Caste system and valence issues versus position issues” is where I am coming. There is this stratification on Social Media that screams an “us against them” mentality. Those with large followership assume the divine right to lead ‘the rest’ irrespective of qualification, age, intelligence or whatever we run after in the real word. This mirrors the ways our politicians carve a pedestal for themselves in the real world. Those without the patience to lick boots or follow-follow gets pushed out and derided, and left for the wolves to devour.

Majority of the issues we discuss falls within “valence issues versus position issues”. Wikipedia coming to my rescue once again: “valence issue is typically a social problem that is uniformly agreed upon……while; position issue typically outlines a social problem in which the popular opinion among society is divided.” These are the same issues politicians pay lip service to while they go about looting the treasury. We overwhelmingly move in the same direction, with the caste system I mentioned earlier doing its best to make the majority toe a particular line.

These directions are generally accepted as the next step. Be it our ranting/frustration about the Government, ASUU strike, Economy, Abortion, Tribalism, Legislators etc (mind you, I’m part of this caste system, it is not a dig at a particular person or group), we make the noise and raise the roof. Now, when it comes to backing up those positions with actions, the majority miss the point. Just like the way we discuss elections in our various homes but everyone fails to get up on Election Day and those we claim to be fighting, organize themselves to massively rig (a substitute for winning in Nigeria) and get returned to office.

Our lives are mechanically driven by our everyday sentiments that: “forget that, it won’t matter in the scheme of things”.  The last #OurNASS protest was an eye opener. The students were on forced holidays and they were on hand to actively mobilize on social media with the promise of participating en masse to send a message to our “Legislooters” but on the D-day, there were no students to be seen. We only had people who left their jobs to protest for the students – that were home due to unfavourable government policies in education.

To cut the long story short, my point is that whoever PDP fields in the Presidential Election in 2015 will emerge victorious. That is not an admission of defeat, but a reminder that PDP is not flesh and blood. They represent ‘wickedness in high places’ and those who genuinely want them out will have to use social Media as a tool rather than making it the ‘only war’. We have to take the campaign to street corners, malls, schools, places of work, churches, mosques, social gatherings and everywhere we can. Otherwise, it’ll be “Delusions Continua”, “Rigging Acerta”.

 

I’m @deboadejugbe

 

PS: Here is wishing Chinedu Ekeke who celebrated his birthday on October 14th, many more successful years on earth. And to my Muslim brothers and sisters, I say Barka de Sallah; Send those meats this way.

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The Amaechi bandwagon is getting more interesting and a tad ridiculous as the days roll by. Right from when the “arrogant governor” stepped on her Excellency, Dame Patience Jonathan’s toes, he has refused to leave us in peace. Today, it might be Amaechi and Jonathan while tomorrow we’ll talk about Amaechi and Wikes or Amaechi and Okonjo-Iweala. The one constant figure in our political landscape is now Rotimi Amaechi and it is for good measure too.

For those who find it hard to relate with or understand all the fuss, –this writer included – just go along with it for the entertainment value. If in doubt, just pick up a newspaper and see the different faces of Amaechi splashed across its pages. The blurred lines of what is really the point of the crisis got blurrier when he cried out to ordinary Nigerians to fight for him. Amaechi has a very small brain, pardon my usage of that word. With the number of graft allegations and cases that has followed him over the years –House Speakership to Governorship- he is a tough sell on the sympathy front.

It is funny that the same Amaechi, who lambasted and pilloried those ordinary Nigerians – who he now runs to for help – labeling them as too timid to sustain a revolution, adding that “those who genuinely seek change would never be afraid of guns” is in dire need of undeserved sympathy. That he runs to those same docile set of people to save him shows how desperate and small-brained he truly is. Now that he has taken his case to the NHRC; we can conclude that he now understands how it feels to be helpless – and hopeless. We’ll keep enjoying the show. My prayer is that the president becomes more unreasonable and irrational in dishing out this pot of soup to Amaechi; it would enliven the political atmosphere.

For a nation struggling with infrastructural developments, not for want of money, but for scandalous and atrocious spending, Nigeria occupies a very unique position in the world. We run around issues, ignoring the major problems and servicing the general ignorance that our inputs are not really needed to push for the next level. I sympathize with calls for a Sovereign National Conference and I can’t, in totality, lambast Jonathan’s present efforts at that, but we might just be chasing the wrong horse down the stream, here.

However curious is the timing of this move, as we all know that the president needs all the straws that he can grapple at, presently. More curious is that same Jonathan had on Wednesday, February 15, 2012 carpeted the idea of a Sovereign National Conference when he set up the Presidential Committee on Outstanding Constitutional Issues, headed by Justice Alfa Belgore.

This change of heart is incredible and unexpected, short of diversionary in the journey towards 2015. And while we are at it, we shouldn’t forget that this is just an advisory body saddled with establishing modalities for the “National Conference” – The Sovereign was conspicuously missing when the president inaugurated the committee. Parapoism reenacted? A way to cover his many sins? A political masterstroke for 2015?

Far from being a killjoy; I just hope that this almighty advisory body understands what a Sovereign National Conference means; doing away with all organs of government and transferring their powers to the Conference. The modalities they are saddled to establish are things known to every passionate Nigerian. We want a conference with no no-go areas, one with elected representatives for the purpose –not the handpicked balloting of the Obasanjo-confab, one that has the power and authority to make far-reaching and binding decisions after the debate, one whose interest is in evolving the best way to make Nigeria work (or not)……and at the end of it all, we expect that a referendum will be held to put the popularity of all agreements to test and give it a final seal. Can we get that?

While we are still waiting for the Advisory Committee to come up with something; can we remind our elected representatives that getting Nigeria on the right path should not wait for a conference? Fixing power, roads, education, legislooting at the National Assembly, ridiculous budgeting processes, corruption, productive and proactive governance are things we elected those at the helm of our affairs to solve. If the kitchen is too hot for them, and Nigeria’s problem has overwhelmed them to the point of grey hairs, they should just run out of the kitchen and let us hire a new cook. We don’t need a conference to know that much!

Last week was a really sad one for the people of Ondo State and Nigerians in general. One of our perpetually troubled sectors, Aviation, experienced yet another mishap that claimed several lives. The spate of recent air crashes in Nigeria is worrisome and at a time when we could have learned from previous occurrences and use that to declare an emergency on the sector, we keep piling on more bodies.

Who should be blamed? Dana Crash still remains a bitter pill, because of the several claims that proper checks were overlooked before the June 3rd, 2012 event. The cargo plane crash in Ghana happened in June, 2012 while Danbaba Suntai’s October 2012 crash is still fresh in our memories; it preceded the Bayelsa helicopter crash that killed General Andrew Azazi, Gov. Patrick Yakowa and “others” – as reported in the Nigerian media – in December 2012. Add that to the averted crash of Kabo Airline’s Saudi-bound plane that crash-landed in Sokoto and the pictures becomes grimmer.

For a plane to crash less than a minute after take-off shows there were problems that could have been detected if proper checks and maintenance were carried out. The plane was said to have lost one engine after take-off; the question is: what happened to the other engine that couldn’t enable the plane land safely? I am a layman in these issues, but these seems to be basic questions and the more the inquests into crashes are shrouded in secrecy, the farther we’ll be from finding a lasting solution to these unnecessary deaths. The aviation sector shouldn’t be run as a cult, it is highly unprofessional.

My thoughts are with the families of every soul that boarded that ill-fated plane; it is hard to understand, only that we know the authorities could have done more to safeguard your lives from our flying tombs. We hope this will serve as the final bitter episode that will make them sit up. We share your losses as a nation and that is why we cry out in unison that “Our skies must be safe!”

Finally, for Stella Oduah – Aviation Minister – to term this air crash as an act of God is insensitive, idiotic and irresponsible. Is this act of God exclusive to Nigeria?  Are these the type of people we have in government? Couldn’t she have gone to Ghana to inquire why the only crash they have had in a long time involved a Nigerian cargo plane? Do these wall gecko-ed brains understand grief, decorum and social pact? Stella Oduah only deserve to serve in a government that is being run senselessly. End of!

I’m @deboadejugbe

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In Unity We Stand; In Planning We'll Progress

I will like to wish all Nigerians a happy independence day. Irrespective of our sadness over the past, the concerns for the present and the apprehension over the future; we have come a long way. Celebrating 53 years is a testament to that and the focus shouldn’t be on the past – it is gone. The present is a lesson in irony and the future only present snippets of hope, not a radical departure from the status quo. There are lessons to be imbibed as we embark on this journey and 2015 can either be a bus stop or just a speed-bump in our quest to recapture Nigeria from destructive and corrupt elements. This journey starts with a reflection of what independence day means to us.

While we are waiting for the PDP to understand why they are in government; we also need to let the opposition know that they are doing nothing to gain our trust and confidence, hence the appeal to them to learn from the mistakes of the party they criticize. Here we use Olusegun Mimiko’s election in Ondo as an example. Rather than releasing a statement whenever the PDP or the Presidency sneezes, the opposition should focus on the tangibles and drive the business of getting Nigeria back on the right track.

Nigeria’s political evolution can be likened to a rocking chair. So much movement and effort, but no tangible result. We have huffed and puffed around the same set of problems for eternity and after everything is juxtaposed, we always realize that we’ve not moved an inch. Same places. Same problems. Same set of expired people jostling to solve them. Same set of docile populace receptive only to glorious rhetoric and executive hooliganism. While we criticize the government to no end, it looks like the opposition is garbed in the same cloak, just looking for their turn and then, everything remains the same or becomes worse.

Here are some lessons the opposition parties could put to good use ahead of the 2014 and 2015 elections, in order not to become the man they criticize. We want that glorious future promise, badly:

I. The focus should be the PEOPLE and not PDP! A progressive party should be built with the people in mind. You can’t make PDP the focus of your alliance and forget about what the people stand to benefit from it. When you focus on the people and their problems, it’ll be easier to be on the same plane with them and I can assure you that it translates to votes. Mimiko and Labour Party focused primarily on the people despite the several heaps of mud thrown at him. He had an election to win, a people to satisfy and cater for, these things should matter more than fixation on a particular political party.

II. Imbibe internal democracy. This should be non-debatable. How else will the people recognize your respect for democratic norms if your party can’t uphold internal democracy in its conduct? Make no mistake about it; these things always have a way haunting back in general elections. When aggrieved members leave because they were disenfranchised by undemocratic means, many more will follow and their blocs will send you a message in the major election. It’s a pity that PDP demonstrates better internal democracy than some of our supposed “democratic parties”.

III. Sell the people a programme and not propaganda. In the Ondo elections, while the ACN was busy throwing tantrums and casting aspersion on the person of governor Mimiko; PDP was campaigning and selling itself to the people and Labour was consolidating. Olusola Oke, the PDP candidate gave the people more to think about with issues raised and their contents, though it was a bit too late to rewire them. The ACN presented regional integration that wasn’t working too well for some other SouthWestern states. The result made sure some lessons were learned in this regard. The people want you to make a commitment on what you’ll do to better their situations and not highlight what the other parties are doing wrong; they know these things better than you.

IV. We get the Romance, what’s the plan? Having a candidate with impeccable academic record, perfect diction or excellent oratory skill is romantic, but it doesn’t guarantee that food will magically appear on our tables though. How do you plan to turn around the people’s woes? How do you intend to combat corruption? What plans do you have for our flawed electoral system? How watertight is your manifesto? How committed are you to the manifesto and your promises? Drafting an excellent manifesto is just an assignment and a mere white elephant project; anyone can do that in this age of information. Without the commitment of implementing the manifesto, you will have succeeded in crafting a piece of jargon with no use. Then, what is your ideological leaning as a party?

V. Learn to move on and regroup when the people speak. While there is a perpetual distrust of the electoral process in Nigeria, not all contested elections could have had a different outcome from the ones announced. The major gladiators all know this, but due to ego or lack of insight, they challenge every result. It helps no one and not them in the least, as the people see them as bad losers and it further taints a tainted electoral and judicial process. Take a leaf from Hon. Dimeji Bankole and Dr. Bode Olajumoke, both of PDP, who conceded elections just hours after results were announced by INEC. They have become excellent examples to follow. That doesn’t mean that when you’re genuinely aggrieved, you shouldn’t seek redress in court; learn to respect the process and the verdict even if it doesn’t favour you.

The people are politically more conscious than before. Touting godfather-ism, voter apathy, electoral violence, threats of apprehension, vote buying, rigging, breakdown of law and order, impersonation, ballot box snatching, intimidation and the likes won’t stop them from exercising their constitutional right. The earlier our politicians note this, the better they’ll know what is needed to be done.

We can never exhaust these lessons, but we might eventually keep oscillating around the same points if we decide to expand more. If the new “Mega Party” and other opposition can make the people their focus, the journey of dislodging PDP from the center becomes half-solved. In my experience though, they always learn too late in the process but they have been presented with a glorious chance to create history and champion a new cause for our polity now. Stop fixating on the PDP and sell us your programmes, time is running out.

Will they take my advice? Only time will tell.

 

I’m @deboadejugbe

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Recently, former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, declared via a post on his website that he bought a house for his mum as a fourteen year old. Ordinarily, it would have passed for a butt of joke and we’ll move on to better things, but this is Atiku, there must be a reason for making such statements and our suspicions—a national pastime—is legendary. I share such legendary sentiments and I will echo them in this piece.

Trying to justify his wealth and subsequent business conquests that should have granted him immunity from EFCC harassment, he had declared that:

It never mattered that I had a history of business success prior to entering politics. It never mattered that from the moment I bought my mother a home as a 14-year-old boy, I was running various businesses to provide for my family.”

This is the latest in the ‘reform Atiku’ propaganda that has seen him become very vocal and visible on social media, trying to chat with Nigeria youths on ‘moving the nation forward’ and consequently sell himself to them. Good for him, you might be tempted to say.

It is however curious that, despite several statements where he praised certain ideologies and programmes of previous governments, he has missed the boat so horribly on what the grouse of the younger generation is, with him and his contemporaries. In another recent post on his blog, he had praised the level of education he received as a kid and directly linked it to why he has been successful. I’m not yet successful, but the level of education I have attained has been my saving grace so far and it was obtained through tears and blood not any special government intervention; so, I have faced my own adversities in spite of government policies and that hasn’t been my main thrust in any of my interactions with people. Here is where I disagree with this 419 business of currying the youth votes as Atiku is doing presently: he is far from reformed.

In his blog post where he is pushing to award a full scholarship to a (emphasis intended) young Nigerian whose essay trumps all others on the unique subject of “how to save Nigeria’s educational system”; he said:

“I have always talked about how I attended school very much against the wish of my late father. My dad was actually sent to prison for barring his son from access to education. As my biography makes clear, I only started attending school after the authorities put my father in jail. Amazingly, this poor boy who could have missed the chance of an education grew to occupy one of the highest offices of the land. This is the power of education; it holds the potential to transform lives by liberating human beings from poverty, ignorance and disease.” 

It looks like Atiku is so much in love with his own words that he has forgotten he is part of the problem. How many “poor boys” in Atiku’s bastardized Nigeria will have the chance of reechoing such nostalgic sentiments as his? I have some questions for him:

Where was the money used in building your university sourced? What is the average fee paid by students in your university? Why, during your tenure as VP, were you busy building your own educational empire for the sole purpose of profit, rather than helping to develop the educational sector that was in dire need of a savior? What steps did you take, as VP, to rectify the anomalies in our educational sector? How many poor/average Nigerians—those you claim to love deeply—can attend your university without their parents selling off their entire inheritance?

There is more. This comment, made anonymously on the “Mum’s house” story, says it all:

Alhaji Atiku, I am assuming that your holidays were for a full three months in one calendar year and you did not pay any taxes on the money you were paid? Or did you save over two to three years working the same job? A likely story. The chances you guys had then, hmmm? Now a graduate of a Nigerian University cannot even afford a day’s meal never mind, buying one for his mother as well. So much for the havoc you guys wrecked on the system, amassing wealth for yourselves!

So, according to Atiku, he bought a £9 house for his mum at age 14. He was able to do this with a holiday job that paid him £3 monthly remuneration and he saved all this to buy the said house for his poor mum. The real question is not that he couldn’t have done it, but that he has been grafting public funds for long. Things that could have happened are: He evaded taxes, never ate, never paid for transportation and never bought all those things his poor mother couldn’t have afforded for her. All the same, his story is not straight.

And if by a stroke idiocy, I’m tempted to believe his story in its entirety, I will ask him these questions: How come, with all that you enjoyed from the authorities as a kid, you never tried for once to replicate these programmes in catering for the common man? How come the school you have decided to float, with personal or looted funds, doesn’t give a damn about the ordinary Nigerian whom you claim to be fighting for? Oga, why haven’t you been to USA lately? Please do, to shame Obasanjo once and for all. In what party should we expect to see you next week? You have a knack for sampling them all.

Atiku have never been straight and I’m sorry if that sounds harsh, but you lost your credibility with the voters, despite initial support because of anti-Obasanjo sentiments, when you gallivanted from different parties just to satisfy your personal ambitions which prevented you from seeing the big picture. The present romance with social media and the youths won’t redeem you sir! You are part of the problem and you have consistently made it clear, even with present posturing, that you remain a solid part of it. We can’t trust you because all you are doing now are just for self-preservation and continued relevance in the scheme of things.

Your admission that you bought a house at 14—if true—and the praise for the education you received through the efforts of the authorities while you were young is a testament to the fact that you know the problems, you understand the issues but you don’t give a damn about a solution. Just like Goodluck Jonathan, whom you have pilloried to no end, you have no reasonable plan other than just running for president. Because you refine your words better doesn’t make you a better candidate, just a smarter one. Give it a rest and leave us alone! We are busy trying to get Nigeria out of the mess you and your likes dragged her into.

 

I’m @deboadejugbe

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In his usual fiery self, Nasir El-Rufai had stirred the hornet’s nest when he granted an interview to the Sun Newspaper last Saturday. He answered questions on many issues; Presidency under Jonathan, Buhari, APC, CAN and several others. As far as I am concerned, he is free to throw punches at Jonathan and whoever he deems fit. This is still a democracy and people are still guaranteed the freedom of speaking freely on National or private issues, so far they are true. The presidency, reactionary as they are, through Mr. Reno Omokri has already lambasted him. Petty to a fault.

The major point of the interview has been CAN’s response to his attack on their President, Ayo Oritsejafor. El-Rufai without mincing words had labeled the fiery pastor “the propaganda chief of the PDP. He lacks credibility……” juicy words if you ask me.

The man was not done. He went on to summarize his thoughts on Pastor Oritsejafor as: He is not a religious leader. He is a religious pretender. From his statements, he is a bigot, he is an ethnic irredentist and no one should take him seriously. It is sad that such a person is the head of CAN. So, he can say whatever he wants to say but we know who he is working for, we know who gave him his private jet. So, why should we worry about someone like that? He has zero credibility.”  Those were choice combinations that CAN couldn’t ignore; they let out their vicious scream almost immediately.

They had compelled the ‘noisy Mallam’ to shove it up his…… and book an appointment with a psychiatrist to determine his level of ‘craze’ or ‘grace’ as it applies accordingly. They brought up the subject of the expired and erroneously classified ‘Jesus tweet’ retweet and sent a subtle, veiled and conditional ‘holy threat’.

Permit me to extract from their glamorous statement:

“We can no longer fold our hands and allow Christian leaders to be abused by no person than el-Rufai. We can no longer take it; enough is enough. Anytime he abuses Christian leaders and Jesus Christ, we Christians will let him know that he has many forces to contend with.” 

“The fact that el-Rufai in his tweets abused our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and Christians ignored him doesn’t give him the impetus to make unguarded comments about Pastor Ayo (Oritsejafor) who is the leader of Christians in Nigeria. As Christians, we respect other faith and never have we abused the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111, who is the leader of Muslims in Nigeria. The fact that Christians are not violent doesn’t mean he should go far with his utterances. He is not in a position to tell us who should be the leader of Christians in Nigeria.” 

“It was this same el-Rufai that was abusing Buhari when he was in the cabinet of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo that is now fighting ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Obasanjo.

 “We want to let Buhari know that his problem with the country is el-Rufai. It was this same el-Rufai that was abusing Buhari when he was in the cabinet of Obasanjo that is now fighting ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Obasanjo and all the fingers that fed him just because he has lost out of the PDP hoping that when Buhari becomes President in 2015, he would be given a job. 

We are giving el-Rufai seven days ultimatum to inform Nigerians and the world the person he claims to know that gave Pastor Ayo his private Jet. If he fails to do that, we will open up on him and his dirty life. El-Rufai stinks to the highest heaven. He is morally depraved and lacks credibility.”

I’ll like to meet whoever drafted this petty statement and give him a holy smack. WTH! Do you have to wait for him to insult your president before exposing him if it is in public interest? Are those in the executive arm of CAN this silly to resort to idiotic retort? Does it have to be Muslim versus Christian all the time? I really don’t get it; El-Rufai tweeted/granted his interview as a private citizen of Nigeria, he did not take the Christians on or CAN for that matter. He expressed an opinion about Ayo Oritsejafor as a person and it is up to readers to weigh the sensibility of his words and expressions, deduce and put him in his place – if necessary. Christians have equally lambasted Oritsejafor. Why didn’t they cry over it? And by implications of their statement, it seems Pastor Oritsejafor is on a higher pedestal than Jesus Christ.

For CAN to go defensive, unbearably silly and threaten to expose El-Rufai’s moral depravity when pushed to the wall, says more about them and the cult of an organization they run. Wouldn’t it have been wiser to disprove El-Rufai’s claim on the private jet or the near-silly way their president purrs anytime the presidency calls than the silly, irresponsible and religiously childish statement they have released?

El-Rufai might have been too harsh in his statements, but it necessarily doesn’t make them untrue or derogatory. We have had to listen to Asari Dokubo, Wykes, Oronto Douglas, Reuben Abati, Doyin ‘Lion’ Okupe, Labaran Maku, Reno Omokri and several others weave their stupidity around words, castigating reason and canonizing devilish intents. Never did they respond to these statements by cautioning these men but their president jumps on his high horse whenever Buhari or El-Rufai sneezes. Why won’t they respond? And to add substance to the arguments, El-Rufai wasn’t wrong.

Forget El-Rufai. Forget the great Muslim-Christian debate. Forget CAN. Now, just examine the attack and the subsequent threat it elicited. Examine Pastor Oritsejafor’s previous statements and posturing. Some people build, some people destroy but those who stay in the middle are the real villains. CAN have not been a religious body for a while, joining NLC, TUC, NANS etc. in ignominy. They are the religious arm of the presidency and their president flaunts it at any opportunity given, so a little jolt isn’t bad to remind them of their responsibilities. Have they checked out how the Sultan of Sokoto carries himself around lately? If not, they should. It might teach them a thing or two about civility and decorum. That’s all.

 

I’m @deboadejugbe

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Photo courtesy Leadership Newspapers

I can’t even pretend that I am not happy with all the political higihaga, kirakitaism, crinkum crankum and meleske (apologies to Hon. Obahiagbon) the PDP is embroiled in at present. I’m actually one of the happiest people in this country now, as PDP has finally pressed the self-destruct button that engineered an implosion from within. For the entire arrogant BS they have fed us over the years as the only party that has never been factionalized or imploded, the gloves have finally come off and we can now see the leprous hand they have taken eternity to shield from us.

On March 11, 2013, Ohimai Amaize wrote a piece on Ynaija, titled “APC, heal thyself first” where he carpeted the youths of then yet to be registered All Progressives Congress (APC) and went on a mini-rant disguised as pseudo-intellectual musings to appease those who expected him to be objective, despite eating the PDP’s political pounded yam—according to him. While many didn’t see through his twisted understanding and application of political ingenuity, I had to reply him within minutes of reading the piece. My reply accused him of being a tainted witness and went on to paint him as lacking integrity and the necessary understanding of what the Nigerian dream is all about. Maybe I was too quick to totally dismiss his assertions.

In that piece, he quoted a passage from Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, which I will reproduce below, emphasis mine:

 “It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their oppressors. The latter, as an oppressive class, can free neither others nor themselves. It is therefore essential that the oppressed wage the struggle to resolve the contradiction in which they are caught, and the contradiction will be resolved by the appearance of the new man: neither oppressor nor oppressed, but man in the process of liberation. If the goal of the oppressed is to become fully human, they will not achieve their goal by merely reversing the terms of the contradiction, by simply changing poles.”

It is obvious he can’t see the wood for the trees or he would have written a letter to the chairman of his party citing the passage. Like an unordained prophet who pronounces critical failure and heavy burden on those who he sees as the opposition, his chosen passage has a word for his masters at the PDP: Let the new man, the new PDP, resolve the contradiction the PDP has found itself. It is simply a taste of their own medicine.

When the PDP was planning its last convention, little did Nigerians know that there was a silver lining in the cloud. Atiku, their ever-present, ever-grumbling, ever-ready and ever-ambitious prodigal son had blown the rumoured cracks in PDP wide open on live TV; this he did with the help of several leading members of the party when they staged their walkout and held a parallel convention that produced leaders of the ‘new PDP’. Suddenly, all was not well with the PDP. The exact thing that had kept them together—greed and the perpetual hunger to milk our treasury dry—had destroyed them.

We knew this day would come, going by everything that has been happening of late. It started with President Jonathan doing everything he could to scuttle the plans of Rotimi Amaechi to win a second term as the chairman of the useless, but powerful, Nigeria Governors Forum. We were taught new ways to solving arithmetic the Nigerian way. 16 was greater than 19 at the elections while in Rivers House of Assembly, 5 was greater than 27. I questioned everything I learned in my mathematics class; suddenly my teachers and lecturers came across as dumb and stupid—I was never taught the critical mathematics formula that the PDP and her cronies devised in arriving at their conclusions.

Apart from the palpable tension that the dissension has caused, we have been treated to a new level of idiocy and a total disregard for everything lawful by Bamanga Tukur. Tukur, who 30 years earlier in 1983, was the governor of the defunct Gongola state (present Adamawa and Taraba states) displayed how little he knows about the political process and the laws guiding party activities in Nigeria. He had threatened to declare the seats of elected PDP officials who identified with the ‘new PDP’ vacant if they don’t withdraw their support. What he failed to realize is that the law does not side with him. These party members did not defect to another party, they only identified with what they see as the authentic leadership of their party.

Even if they had decided to jump ship to another party, the grounds on which their seats can be declared vacant no longer exist; the PDP is a factionalized party. They have genuine reasons to leave the sinking ship that the PDP is. What I think Tukur should be concerned about is how his party, the ‘old PDP’, is inching towards minority in the National Assembly with every new assault and display of naked, uncouth and corrupt power. The latest of which security agencies, on the order of the IG of police, sealed off the secretariat of the ‘new PDP’ acting on a phantom court order that was granted by the offices of Tukur and Jonathan.

Bamanga Tukur is a raging, toothless and paper lion whose only power is the backing of the President. A president who lacks the finesse and understanding to distinguish between state and party matters; one who has released the security apparatus of the country to the chairman of his faction of the PDP (I like the sound of that) to use as he likes. The intrigues of this present arrangement are not lost on us: we now have three major political parties, APC, old PDP and new PDP. The more numbers the ‘new PDP’ gets in the National Assembly, the fainter the Goodluck Jonathan presidency becomes and that is what the evolving faction brings to the political chessboard.

I honestly don’t give a damn about the ‘new PDP’ or the ‘old PDP’ and whatever intrigues they have embroiled themselves in; I just want to stick it to their teeming admirers and voltrons—whose daily obsession is in another party and how they run their affairs—to face their problems and stop nosing around what they can’t understand. I will say this with all the seriousness, conviction and satisfaction (on their woes) that I can muster: PDP, Heal Thyself First before acting as a physician who understands the complexity of others’ sicknesses. That’s all.

I’m @deboadejugbe

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I wrote this a while ago. I had something else in mind to share with my readers today, but the continued joke that the Federal Government is turning the education sector into, piqued my attention. It compelled me to share this with you again; as we all know that we tend to repeat the same mistake countless times and still fail to learn from it as shown by the present ASUU strike. The article is necessarily longer than what we are used to in this column but is meant to achieve something. Kindly read and let me have your thoughts and I promise to give you something unique next week. Thanks.

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“Now let’s have no more of these useless meetings.” – Animal Farm

“A meeting is an event where minutes are taken and hours wasted.”- James T. Kirk

******

It is what it is; some people are wiser than the rest while some are dumber than others. It is in this same vein that we have, foolishly-wise individuals, marching across the whole place, lost in their definition of progress.

Confusing? I know. I can’t seem to understand what I’ve written myself; such is the wonder that our oxymoronic Federal Executive Council (FEC) exudes in the present dispensation that we’ve actually stopped wondering where the next drama would come from – it is however guaranteed. I was working on a satirical piece about death, taxes and FEC’s never ending ‘proclamations of nothing’ when I got a publication on their last meeting’s deliberations; it made for good comedy as it was Labaran Maku, the usual suspect, that was sent to relay to the press.

Rising from its maiden meeting of the year on wednesday, 9th of January, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of Nigeria, through Labaran Maku (Information Minister) and Ruqayyatu Rufa’i (Education Minister) announced that it has approved the establishment of three new federal universities in Gashua, Birnin Kebbi and Gusau in Yobe, Kebbi and Zamfara States respectively. Sounds like good news! Let’s give them a round of applause.

*CLAPS FURIOUSLY*

This gesture, according to them, is a fulfillment of the government’s policy of siting a federal university in all the states of the federation. We also got to know that Eight out of the Nine universities approved in 2012 have since taken off, except the one in Otuoke in Bayelsa state, delayed due to the flooding in the area. Good news ehn?

Here is how Premium Times reported Rufa’i and Maku’s justification of the move:

“To justify the imperative to create more universities at this time, Mr.Maku painted a grim picture of the decline in the country’s education system, noting that only 10 per cent of school leavers get admission every year into higher institutions nationwide.

Ms. Rufa’i said about 1.3 million school leavers seeking admission into higher institutions every year compete for less than 200,000 available openings in the existing institutions.

If the decline in the country’s education system prompted the establishment of more universities, it’s a case of barking at the wrong tree. Using the excuse that only 10 per cent of school leavers get admitted into higher institutions as a basis for establishing more universities, in the hope that our education will suddenly get sorted out, is watery and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

The bad chunk in their ‘good news’ is that they seem to be genuinely assured that what they are doing is the solution to all our education woes. They revel in the ‘good news’ and make merry, moving to the next one. I, for one would have loved it if the education sector can be cured by such simplistic proclamations from the FEC, but it can’t and definitely won’t.

I would have expected those in the FEC that passed through the walls of the Nigerian university system – even as it were then – to take a look at themselves and let us know if our universities are graduating intelligent and creative minds. The President passed through the system – earning a PhD – and so does Maku too. If the number of higher institutions we have is a reflection of how good the sector is, we shouldn’t have any problem then. Is Maku displaying any trait whatsoever that he attended a higher place of learning? It’s up to you to answer.

What are essentially the qualities of a good university? There are so many, but they would be collapsed into three for the purpose of this article:

I. Qualified teachers and professors.

II. Able management.

III. Good Infrastructure.

On 21st of august, 2012 in Yenagoa; President Goodluck Jonathan lamented that 60 per cent of university lecturers in Nigeria have no doctorate degrees. He went further to talk about how they’ve provided schorlarships to help them study in any part of the world, but in reality, how much of this is true? Is Goodluck not a product of the Nigerian PhD system? Prove to me that he deserved it. Where are the good managers in our university environments? Guaranteed that there are some, but with infusion of politics into the appointment of vice chancellors (VCs), what hope is there for our institutions? Can we in all honesty affirm that all our federal universities are blessed with good infrastructure? Then what is the point of going on an establishment spree when most of the universities on ground are just glorified secondary schools?

What are the dangers inherent in the present approach of siting a federal university in every “sitting room”?

I. Reduction in Basic Funding: Establishing new universities reduces funding for existing ones – in our case, as there is no extraordinary allocation going into that sector. The university system is presently underfunded and this has affected every facet of its development. No good facilities in most schools; couple that with lack of qualified lecturers and the rise in “political managements”, you’ll get my point. If the existing universities are well funded, they’ll be able to function to their maximum capacity and take care of more students, thereby invalidating the “increased admission” argument.

II. Depletion of Manpower in existing universities: With nothing less than 60 per cent of present lecturers lacking the requisite qualification to teach in the university environment and our universities presently having 30,000 less staff than required, establishment of new universities will further spread the qualified ones thin. Most of our lecturers combine teaching in two or three academic institutions to make ends meet at present. The new universities will draw their teaching staff from existing ones; this will eventually affect the sector as non-qualified ones might be brought in to fill in spots.

III. All the universities (existing and new) won’t be able to maximize their potential. By the time you couple Reduced funding (of the already under-funded) with the migration of qualified staff from existing universities to new ones, what’s the essence of having new ones when quality won’t be guaranteed?

IV. Lack of recognition of graduates of Nigerian universities by the government and the labour market. It’s easy to scoff at my susggestion, but we are already witnessing this in every facet of our national life. The government prefers the Havard, Yale and Purdue trained brains to handle our growth. To compete with those revered institutions, the government lacks the basic skills to understand the enormity of the problems the sector is facing and how to solve it.

Early 2011, while reacting to the pathetic state of Nigerian universities in the global ranking, former executive secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Peter Okebukola said that “the sector had eight imperatives which are: to create a vibrant research culture; ensure that it fully discloses information, especially on its websites; maintain a stable academic calendar; improve facilities; exterminate “cultism”; comply with student-number capacity; concentrate on strengths while avoiding duplication; and build strong international links.” To me, he failed to say in clear terms, what the problem is.

Labaran Maku has painted the picture of a government ready to solve the problem in the education sector; can we ask him what percentage of the 2013 budget is allocated to the education sector? Of the N4.9trn budget, a paltry N426.53bn is allocated to the education sector. This figure represents just 8.7% of the budget. Now, compare it to Ghana who allocated (for 2012) 31% of her budget to education and Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Morocco, South Africa and Swaziland who allocated 30%, 27%, 26.4%, 25.8% and 24.6% respectively; tell me who is likely to get the better results, with graduates who are trained to excel in their chosen fields. Don’t forget that in this same budget that has failed to positively allocate funds to our education sector, N1.3Bn has been budgeted for food expenses in the state house.

The minimum budgetary allocation to the education sector as demanded by UNESCO is 26 per cent, which going by the 2013 budget, should be N1.274Trn. If the President and the FEC are truly committed to the education sector as they want us to believe, adhering to the “minimum 26%” should be an easy task. If they truly care about the nation’s development and building up of the youth, who are cheekily referred to as “leaders of tomorrow”; that minimum should be the starting point. If the 26% is met, we can now focus on real development and proper monitoring of funds disbursed to the universities to ensure that they are spent judiciously.

How can we save to accommodate the 26% if we don’t have additional resources to bank on?

I. Reduction in the present number of new federal universities in the country. Our focus should be on quality and not quantity. Let’s raise and support technically gifted individuals who would have the best of equipment to learn, carry out research and be a blessing to our advancement thrust as a nation.

II. Reduction in the number of political office holders and their huge “unaffordable” salaries. Cut down on your ministers Mr. President. The Vice President of the United States of America manages 15 departments (Ministries, as called in Nigeria); they include: Agriculture, Commerce, Defence, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labour, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veteran Affairs. We can emulate that and cut back on the waste of space and resources we presently dangle as ministers.

III. Let us reduce this over-bloated National Assembly. There is nothing wrong in having one senator per state plus one in the FCT; and complementing that with two houses of representatives members from each state and the FCT. Let’s demistify this legal embezzlement going on in the legislature, we need to make politics less attractive and focus more on human development. When 25.1 per cent of budget overhead accrues to a legislature that knows little about their functions; who only sleep and snore whenever the AC in the chamber comes alive, you know there is trouble.

IV. Recover, without further delay, the monies that have been embezzled in the oil sector. Let’s try Diezani Alison-Madueke and her cronies in an unbiased court.  Doing this will give us more funds to address any deficit encountered, due to our 26% education budget implementation.  

V. Guaranteed stable power supply. There can be no improvement, advancement or proper development with the present epileptic power supply we tout as “getting better”; let’s feel the change and not the talk of an elusive and derisory 5MW that wouldn’t even power an Olympic village. We need uninterrupted power supply to build a sustainable economy which in turn will open up the market, creating new jobs and absorbing some of our jobless youth / graduates.

If we can improve on education and implement some of the ‘stupid’ measures I have suggested, we will definitely be on our way to proper growth as a nation. My concern as a lowly citizen of this country is that the government is confused; Implementing policies for political patronage under the guise of “satisfying federal character” requirements while neglecting the basic point of governance – The People.

I’m @deboadejugbe