Commentariat

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Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello

When Alhaji Yahaya Bello took oath of office on 27th January 2016 as 4th executive governor of Kogi State, many people concluded hastily that the state may have finally fallen into the hands of a new breed spurred to ‘change’ its destiny towards ‘new direction’

Bello, 41, the first Ebira man in modern Kogi State to attain such political height came to power amidst political uncertainty that greeted the demise of the then APC gubernatorial candidate in the November 2015 election, Prince Abubakar Audu, while election results were still being collated.

Bello became Abuja’s preferred ‘heir apparent’ to APC/Audu’s votes. Faleke, late Audu’s running mate, lost out in a powerful game to succeed his then principal.

During his inauguration, Bello expressed the urgency of his vision: NEW DIRECTION, and how his humble background would shape his style of governance to meet the needs of ordinary Kogi people. During the speech, he broke down in tears, an act that earned him the title of a cry-cry governor.

Who knew?

Did you know a man who became governor by providence will turn his back on his people and waste the golden opportunity to create a we-can-do-it image for young Nigerians alike and the Ebira ethnic minority he represents?

The people of the state and sympathetic Nigerians are already ticking the below average performance box against his name. This is so because Bello hasn’t been able to live up to expectations. Governance under him has been lackluster and uninspiring, to say the least.

The state of infrastructure in Kogi is in bad and dilapidated shape and even the roundabouts built by late Abubabkar Audu, his fellow party leader and whose votes he inherited, were demolished upon his assumption office, citing unsubstantiated reasons like where Igala (dominant) ethnic group buried charms. That is illogical.

Since Yahaya Bello grabbed the mantle of leadership in the state, nothing has changed. It is hard for him to pay workers’ salaries. However, in a bid to secure the calmness of the judiciary and the lawmakers, it was alleged that he bought exotic cars for them in what has been described as a ‘welfare package’.

Governance is even much more than paying workers’ earnings. That’s basic. Building a world class society and advancing citizens’ desires in a competitive global community through provision of infrastructures is the tap root of good governance. 

The majority Igala ethnic group who held sway for 16 years failed. Bello shouldn’t go down with them on that road, and it shouldn’t be reason for him not to perform.

Even though it took president Buhari almost one year to nominate/submit a replacement for barrister James Ocholi who died in a car accident last year along the infamous Kaduna – Abuja road, it is perceived, and rightly so, that Bello doesn’t really care about Kogi representation at the federal level.

Education has completely collapsed in the state. Most tertiary institutions are either on strike or on temporary break due to none payment of teachers’ salaries and other sundry issues.

Healthcare is in comatose. Last year when the governor clandestinely jetted out of the country to seek medical solution for his eyes, it became clear that our health system has failed.

I understand these things are not peculiar to Kogi state, but other state governors are making frantic efforts to ameliorate the sufferings of their people and residents in their domain. Fixing healthcare system isn’t rocket science. But the arrogance of those at the helm of affairs in Kogi state does not even allow for citizens’ engagement and contributions. That is why the governor, despite the challenging time, will go ahead to employ over 50 personal aides thereby contradicting the very reason for the never-ending staff verification exercise: lean workforce.

In the light of all these, governor Bello is expected to create a positive sociopolitical environment to enable him quickly as a matter of urgency unite, first, members of his political party in the state, then extend the same gesture to other ethnic groups who feel marginalised and angry in the ‘new direction’ of things.

While it will be disrespectful to suggest to the governor to take administrative tutorial at Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), one had expected that given his working experience at the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation & Fiscal Commission  (RMAFC) where he rose to the rank of a Chief Accountant, Bello should have been schooled in administrative procedures. Governance shouldn’t, and can never be confined to the spontaneity and the dictates of his Chief of Staff, Edward Onoja.

I enjoin the people of the State to continue to keep faith and remain calm in the face of governmental provocations and abandonment; they should look beyond the moment and ensure that leaders who truly and sincerely care for them are elected in future elections.

Moreso, Governor Bello may be reminded that he embodies the image of young Nigerians and all Ebira on his shoulder and he should never let them down. They waited for this opportunity and now that providence has offered it through him, he should look beyond personal aggrandizement and make efforts to ink his name indelibly in the book of time.

Shehu Audu @IGONO

Indigene of Kogi State

 

 

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Last week, the Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump stunned much of the world—and, likely, himself—by defeating his Democratic Party rival, Hilary Rodham Clinton, in one of the most contentious elections in American history. Trump’s triumph—considered highly unlikely by most pundits and pollsters—will be the subject of scholarly essays as well as popular and research tomes. Entirely unheralded, Trump’s election is certain to send students of American presidential politics back to the drawing board.

For months, Mrs. Clinton—whose husband was a beloved president from 1993 to 2001—led in virtually all the reputable polls. The few polls that had Trump leading were derided for their faulty methodology. In much of popular perception, the last three months of the presidential campaigns resembled a veritable coronation—of Mrs. Clinton—happening in agonizingly tedious slow motion.

Of course, the Democratic candidate’s campaign had its wrinkles. She was dogged by questions about her decision, when she served as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, to use a private email account to conduct her official business. Did her action enable such powerful nations as China and Russia to hack her correspondence and compromise US interests? The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) investigated her—twice. And twice, FBI director James Comey concluded there was nothing in her email transactions to warrant indictment.

Still, it’s likely that Mrs. Clinton was hurt by her response to the email controversy. She seemed to balk at the idea of releasing all the emails to investigators. She “outed” Colin Powell as the person who advised her to use a private email. She claimed that tons of the email had been deleted, an assertion that proved misleading. And she told investigators numerous times that she could not recall key details of certain issues.

There was nothing she did that a battalion of male American politicians have not done, or would not do. Yet, as the first American woman to bear a major party’s flag in an election, such peccadilloes as fibbing, evasiveness and concealment—rather commonplace among male politicians, including her husband—were held against her.

She faced other challenges. Her opponents alleged that, as Secretary of State, she had failed to create a strong enough wall between government business and the fortunes of the Clinton Foundation, founded by her husband. No smoking gun was ever found, but Wikileaks (which seemed to take an inordinate interest in the election) released email that suggested that her office took favorable notice of certain individuals who had made handsome donations to the foundation. Beyond the desperate avalanche of Wikileaked documents, a tribe of authors published books that accused Mrs. Clinton of crimes light and grave. One of the most widely circulated books, “Clinton Cash,” was made into a documentary available on Youtube. It purports to establish that Secretary Clinton used her office to grant favors to individuals and countries that gave huge donations to the Clinton Foundation or paid astonishing speaking fees to former President Bill Clinton. Nigeria came up in the category of Mr. Clinton’s high speaking fees. He reportedly collected $1.4 million for two talks in Nigeria, said the author of “Clinton Cash.” That’s $700,000 a piece. And the author further claimed that the former president’s going rate at the time was a figure just north of $200,000.

Some commentators have blamed Mr. Trump’s shocking routing of Mrs. Clinton on racism and misogyny. I believe those factors were present. After all, however well President Obama has done in office—bringing back the US economy from a deep recession, for one; restoring dignity and intelligence to the White House—there were some Americans who treated him as an interloper, indeed as an alien who had stolen his way into the sanctum sanctorum of American power.

Mr. Trump was a major, apparently widely admired voice for those Americans who regard Mr. Obama as an impostor. In fact, his political credentials were secured by his illogical contestation of the incumbent president’s birth in the US, a condition necessary to hold the highest political office in the US. Did he believe it, or was he venting a mischievous, even diabolical untruth out of racial animus? If he did believe it, then his mental capacity is called into question. If he was merely out to make political capital out of an assertion he knew to be false, then we must chalk up his moral deficit.

It’s clear that many voters were unwilling to cut Mrs. Clinton a slack they routinely offer to her male counterparts, including her main opponent and vanquisher in last Tuesday’s election. It was as if voters were determined to forgive Hilary little or nothing, but to hold little or nothing against Donald. I can’t claim to know why exactly. Some wise pundits have suggested that the Republican candidate’s counter-intuitive style—making enemies of Mexicans, Muslims, strong women, immigrants—translated into a move of genius: consolidating his white, working class base while grabbing enough votes from among the groups he pilloried to coast to victory.

I’d suggest that Mrs. Clinton also had a hand in her disastrous outing. Following her party’s convention—during which documents released by Wikileaks proved that the party establishment undermined her main primary challenger, Bernie Sanders—she might have hit the ground running. Instead, she sometimes came across as smug, carrying on as if she’d bagged the election. As Mr. Trump traversed the country, speaking at rallies and risking saying foolish things to the media, she preferred to zip from one fundraising event to another. It was as if she believed that the candidate with the most cash would be the automatic winner. That poor choice sustained the impression, justified or not, that the Clintons were too obsessed with cash. Not only did she cocoon herself in fundraisers, she also kept reporters at bay, doubtless dreading questions about Benghazi, the email controversy, and the Clinton Foundation.

My hunch is that her instincts proved self-sabotaging. And when she finally began to engage with voters, she appeared to play shy of trumpeting her own qualifications. Rather, her campaign often resorted to the argument that Mr. Trump was simply a scary—or scarier—prospect. I wonder if her campaign’s appeal to the benignity of her negativity—as opposed to the malignancy of Mr. Trump’s—did not contribute significantly to dooming her quest.

Whatever one’s take on last week’s electoral contests, it seems to me that Nigeria has several lessons to learn. First, contrary to the impression that INEC often leaves, elections can—and should—be smooth affairs. As results rolled in last week and it emerged that Mr. Trump was going to win, the US stock market went into shock, and at one point was down more than 700 points. Yet, once the networks reported that Mrs. Clinton had called her main opponent to congratulate him—and after Mr. Trump’s calm, gracious post-victory speech—the market rallied, soaring to a record high the next day.

It all goes to show what happens when a people have achieved some sense of national pride and identity. Mr. Obama, who had fought hard to prevent a Trump victory, spoke in a conciliatory, statesmanlike manner, further steadying nerves. US national interests trump Trump and Clinton and Obama. It’s a lesson we need to imbibe in Nigeria.

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It was panning out as a slow news weekend in Nigeria’s social media space until Jidenna (who quite frankly we’d never heard of before yesterday) happened.

Now that we know better, Jidenna is a Nigerian-American singer whose full name is Jidenna Theodore Mobisson. In an interview he granted VLadTV, Jidenna said he’s suffered as a light complexioned Nigerian so much that when he arrived Africa’s biggest economy to bury his father, he came with plenty of AK47s and military commandos for fear of being kidnapped.

Just so that it doesn’t seem like we made that up, here’s Jidenna Mobisson in his own words:

“I have had a particular type of upbringing that is not the traditional. Whatever the traditional is for a light skinned mixed African American. I am Nigerian-American and more specifically I am Igbo American, Igbo being the ethnic group where I am from and that means you are in the South East of Nigeria.

“You are way from the city so it means when you go to your village you are the only person or one of the few people that look like you. In my case, our family is light. Therefore when we go to our village, when I actually buried my father I had to bring in a lot of AK47, I had to employ military commandos because when you are light skinned, you are a heavier target for being kidnapped because you are seen as more valuable. You are seen as white therefore you have money.

“You are American therefore you have more money. If you have more money then you are easy to kidnap and if you are easy to kidnap then we are going to get you. So for me being light-skinned in Nigeria, in our family, it was difficult. We have been hounded. We have been robbed. Our family has been assaulted. We have had a lot of issues. You can say these to a family that is dark skinned color. They may or may not have these experiences but for us we have always been the target but when you come to America, its the opposite. The police may look you over. They may not pull out the gun faster the way they would have done if you were darker.”

According to Jidenna, light skinned persons are more valuable in Nigeria, therefore AK47s and military commandos have to be compulsory companions if you happen to be laiskin around here.

It was all Twitter Nigeria needed to explode…..

It began with a show of support

There was the small matter of how Jidenna looks…

And the knives were out..

There were those who couldn’t be bothered and who like us, didn’t know who Jidenna was

And there was some help

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The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is His Excellency, President Goodluck Jonathan. That’s common elementary knowledge right?

Well, have a look at this screen grab of Channels Television from its live coverage of a Peoples Democratic Party election rally in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
Patience

 

While the vast majority of folks will correctly perceive that as an error on the part of the on-air graphics editor (or whoever is in charge of these things), some people may think otherwise. As an observer on Nairaland put it, “I think they are right.”

 

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Arguably one of the loudest voices in Aso Rock, the Senior Special Assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Doyin Okupe is making yet another swanky public pronouncement.

This morning, he took to Facebook to share his views on the President’s odds (he called it an “announcement”) for the election which takes place in eleven days. Here is a tweet with a screen grab of Okupe’s post.

 

 

A few observations may suffice.

1. We are not sure of Mr Okupe’s methodology in arriving at these numbers. On Twitter, he cited an unnamed polling agency who conducted a survey which was “very close” to the figures he shared on Facebook.

 

If we concede the point that the polling was done in the South-West (which we’ll assume is a reference to the south western part of the country), how did Mr Okupe arrive at his figures? What methodology was employed in crunching the numbers? There is no apparent explanation for that.

2.  Some of the figures make for fascinating reading. For example, according to Okupe, the President will take the lion share of votes in such states as Ebonyi, Plateau, Cross River, Edo, Benue, Lagos, Taraba, his home state Bayelsa, which a former associate this week said he’ll struggle to get “even 25%” of the vote, and somewhat surprisingly, Boko Haram hit Adamawa which is currently in the throes of emergency rule. What about Borno and Yobe, the states at the epicentre of a national security crisis? He predicts half of the electorate in Borno and a quarter of Yobe’s voters will give the President a second mandate. Call it playing it safe with his boss’s chances or just reflecting what is established political orthodoxy – the President polled similar numbers in 2011 in those parts.

3. If Mr Okupe’s intention was to change the state of the online political discourse, which need we say is not going the President’s way at the moment, then his next tweet illustrates the sheer futility in publishing the ‘poll.’

 

So why bother?

In any case, if you are familiar with the way Mr Okupe rolls on social media, he is a sucker for effusive displays of online accolades and unabashed praise. In other words, if you say something good about him, he’ll re-tweet it lightning quick.

 

The reaction to the poll has been fairly muted for the time being. However, some big names have weighed in on the ‘poll’, revealing a few things we were not clear on before now. Take for example, public commentator and one-time presidential wannabe, Dele Momodu’s post on Instagram.  

Uncle Doyin Okupe, with this prediction you won’t have to pay the $20k bet you had with me if Jonathan wins!

A photo posted by DELE MOMODU (@delemomoduov) on Feb 3, 2015 at 5:19am PST

 

Oh well, Mr Momodu, he wasn’t going to say that his boss would not secure a second term as the nation’s commander-in-chief, was he?

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Mutiny is one of the cardinal sins that members of the military, or any regimented institution, for that matter; needs not commit. This, methinks, is to ensure the preservation of an enduring command and control structure in the military, being an institution that thrives on the giving of orders, and the obedience of same. In its most liberal sense of usage, mutiny involves a conspiracy among a group of soldiers to oppose, change, or overthrow an authority to which they are ordinarily subject.

The caveat in the foregoing paragraph that needs be stated, is that such an authority or law, must be lawful. Thus, would it be mutinous to disobey an unlawful order? Your guess is as good as mine.

In the case of the recent sentencing of twelve soldiers to die by firing squad, by a court-marshal of the Nigerian Army, there has been a groundswell of public opinion calling for leniency for the convicted soldiers. This is surely not unconnected with the circumstances that led to the so-called mutinous acts. It was reported that prior to the said mutiny which allegedly involved the firing of shots at the motorcade of their GOC, the soldiers had protested their deployment on a mission along a route that was succeptible to Boko Haram ambush without adequate preparation to counter the terrorists. They were reportedly compelled to obey their others, which they did, resulting in the killing of several of their colleagues. They were reported to have gone berserk when the lifeless bodies of their comrades were brought in to their barracks.

Without going into the knotty details of the incidents and circumstances surrounding the mutiny, several questions beg for answers.

Is it acceptable for superiors to allow their incompetence or outright complicity in corruption-induced sabotage of operations, to lead to the deaths of soldiers? Are soldiers disposable pawns in a chessboard of possible sellout by those who should ensure the soundness of operations? Is it lawful to send soldiers into battle without the requisite arms, ammunition, equipment, and other supplies, needed to boost their morale and give them operational advantage over the terrorists? Since when did justice begin to receive such an accelerated dispensation in Nigeria? What has become of the sundry allegations bordering on insider-collaboration with terrorists? Are there no punishments for manifest failure of commanding officers to competently lead their soldiers to operational victories?

Whereas we must advocate strict discipline, reflected in obedience of lawful orders in the military, we must not condone the needless and avoidable butcher of Nigerian soldiers because their superiors failed, through commission or omission, to provide the enabling environment for soldiers to effectively discharge their duties. This is supposedly a democratic dispensation, and as such, military authorities must be subject to civil rule. The President should order a holistic review of the circumstances that led to “that” mutiny. The generality of the soldiers need their morale to be boosted as much as can be. They need to know that all is being done to give them advantage over the enemies of Nigeria. They need to understand that justice in Nigeria is equally served on the high and on the low, on the governing authorities as well as on the people being governed.

Further, while deciding the fate of the convicted soldiers, we must ask ourselves whether the soldiers actually wanted to kill their commanding officers. Is it possible for that number of soldiers to conspire to kill their superiors and ended up killing no one, or even causing the injury of the target? Or, is it that the military is now turning out soldiers that cannot kill who they set out to kill?

While insisting that justice ought to be served on errant public servants, it is important to factor-in the nature of justice, and the implications of that justice for the overall good of the land. The military high command should temper justice with mercy. This is not a time for the Army to turn the guns on its own fighters, whose major offence is wanting a better deal, albeit going about it wrongly. If a review proves that the soldiers had no provocation to act mutinous, then, all well and good. But should it be found that they had a bad deal, that they were programmed to be killed by default by the Boko Haram savages; then justice must be served on those whose action and inaction led to that mutiny.

Remember, that rebellion to tyranny (read, mutiny against incompetence and criminally complicit authority), is obedience to God.

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Ordinarily, someone like Femi Fani Kayode shouldn’t draw me out of essay writing/blogging retirement but since no one else is willing to gag our village mad man, I have offered to.

Who is Femi Fani Kayode? Why does he believe so much in himself? What makes this guy tick? Why does he feel the need to contribute to social and political commentary like a man with the attention lifespan of a wall gecko? Why does he always feel the need to be a voice on vital issues on national security?

These are the questions that I get asked everytime I discuss Femi’s latest garbage with anyone. He is so painful to watch. Someone who’s parents paid so much to get the best of education and life for only for him to turn out to be a village drunk/mad man.

A village drunk is everyone’s source of entertainment. He is the man that is funny to watch on display. Wh,o when everyone claps in excitement because of his insanity, he thinks it is actually an approval from his “fans”. He fancies himself a leader. Those who follow him only do for the humor. He is a confused man. An effort in futility.

Where do I even start to analyze the man that is Femi Fani-Kayode? As President Olusegun Obasanjo’s spokesman, Minister of Culture and, later, Minister of Aviation, he reeked and still reeks of failure in public service, mismanagement of funds kept in his trust, mal-administration and brazen abuse of office. Until a few weeks back, Femi Fani Kayode was being investigated by the EFCC in connection with the alleged misappropriation of N19.5billion (N19,500,000,000) before the Goodluck Jonathan-led administration wrote off his sins as part of the transformation agenda of the president which has also helped transform and sanitize the likes of DSP Alamieyesiegha, Peter Odili, Olabode George, Ayo Fayose, Iyiola Omisore, Adebayo Alao Akala and, most recently, Tafa Balogun (former Inspector General of Police) and Ali Momodu Sherrif ( former governor of Borno state and rumored Boko Haram biggest sponsor).

Political prostitution is not new in Nigeria, but for the Fani-Kayodes, it is a rite of passage. Femi’s father, Remi Fani-Kayode, was a member of the House of Representatives until he lost the Ife Federal Constituency to an independent candidate, Michael Omisade, a close associate of Chief Awolowo, all of them Action Group members.

Remi Fani-Kayode had pleaded with Awolowo to prevail on Chief Omisade not to contest as an independent against him. Awolowo’s reaction was that the electorate should be allowed to decide. Eventually he was defeated by Omisade in one of the shocking results in the 1959 federal elections. Remi Fani-Kayode, (Femi’s father) resigned from Action Group and joined NCNC, the platform on which he contested the 1961 elections to the Western House of Assembly. He won and became an opposition leader.

A year later, the crisis in Action Group led to declaration of emergency in the Western Region for six months. In January 1963, opposition leader, Remi Fani-Kayode, led his party members into a coalition administration with Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, as premier, with his new party, the United Peoples Party. Within weeks, Chief Remi Fani-Kayode and all NCNC members (except a lone star, Chief Richard Akinyemi) crossed the carpet, betrayed NCNC and joined forces for a new party, Nigerian National Democratic Party, NNDP.

Morally, Femi Fani Kayode is as morally bankrupt as Cleopatra of Egypt, as one who isn’t a moralist or anything. Femi surpasses the line drawn for public officers in terms of morality. Allegations from him being a drug addict who went into a rehab home in Ghana not so long ago to using his security detail to brutalize the boyfriend(s) of his numerous women might not be far from the reasons why he is almost always erratic.

Femi Fani-Kayode is a disease. With every sentence emanating from his lips embedded in pure human waste. Femi is also the definition of a small man. A pictorial definition of men who younger men should never grow up to be like.

Everything that Femi Fani-Kayode has done and will do has been done by someone in the past. People like Femi end up in history as people who came, saw and became ‘A’ Class dogs for other people. In the dustbin of history.

I must also use this medium to apologize for the strong words that may have offended the loyal readers of this column and to ask for the continous prayers of our readers for the president to remember Fani-Kayode and bless him with an appointment soon.

You can also follow me on twitter for continuous engagement @_Dolusegun