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What’s wrong with these end-time Governors?

By Reuben Abati 

I believe we all have that one family member who thinks that he or she has the right to intrude into your schedule and order you around. When they call you, they won’t give up until you pick their calls. And these people, they can call you liked a hundred times. Send text messages. Whatsapp. Report you to the entire neighbourhood.

They can be so ferocious, your phone will keep ringing non-stop, you would think the fire service is at your door. This is exactly that happened to me, for at least two hours, as I sat down to write this piece. I stubbornly refused to take the calls. Wetin? Some people can use the phone to harass and intimidate.  Ki lo de? I could neither think nor write.

I had other things in mind: the defiance of the Sudanese Professionals Association, for example. The people of Sudan want a new post-Omar al-Bashir order, a complete break from the past,  by all means. They have refused to accept whatever has been offered by the military council that took over after Omar al-Bashir’s ouster.

They want an immediate transition to civilian rule that is led by the people themselves not by soldiers. I am fully in support of the people of Sudan. Omar al Bashir is a shameless dictator. He deserves the place that he has now been given in the Kober Maximum Prison, the same place where he used to keep his critics and victims.

He also deserves a day before the court of justice: to answer for his crimes against humanity and the hardship he imposed on his own people. African dictators, like Percy Shelley’s Ozymandias, believe that they are invincible but we have seen them falling one after the other and there are more that should fall: Paul Biya in Cameroon, Yoweri Museveni in Uganda, Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo in Equitorial Guinea and Idris Deby Itno in Chad. Between 1993 and 1999, our own professionals used to be like present-day Sudanese Professionals.

We had the Concerned Professionals, who stood up and insisted on an immediate end to military rule in Nigeria. But that was then. Our professionals have all since taken to pepper soup and goat head, and to inanities garbed in the cloak of acquiescence and indifference. Many of them have developed pot-bellies.

They have eaten their own part of the forbidden Nigerian fruit, their mouths smeared with oyel, I mean oil. And hence: Professor Pat Utomi who was one of the original minds behind the revolt of the Nigerian middle class in the mid to late 90s Nigeria is now writing a trilogy on the complicity of the Middle Class and how that Middle Class has failed Nigeria. There are lessons for the Nigerian Middle Class in what is happening in Sudan.

I also had in mind the Easter Day killings in Sri Lanka, over 290 dead and over 500 injured in what looked like a pre-meditated, organized attack on churches, guest houses, hotels and other buildings. Coming shortly after the tragedy of Notre Dame de Paris, those who argue that Christianity seems to be under assault and that our humanity is under siege may not be too far from the truth. Sri Lanka is a country with serious ethnic and religious fractures, a little trigger could throw that country back into civil war and protracted humanitarian crisis. The response of the enlightened world is in order; the blatant act of terror has been condemned from the Vatican to Nigeria’s Aso Rock.

I wondered though, how our own Aso Rock picked up the tragedy in Colombo with such emotional clarity and promptly issued a statement. On Good Friday, there were reports of Christians being killed in Katsina-Ala Local Government of Benue State as they returned from church. The Nigerian Presidency apparently missed that, but of course Sri Lanka was in the international news networks, and our leaders in Nigeria hardly watch Nigerian news channels. But let someone fire a shot in the West Bank, or release a report in Washington DC, or a bullet in Yemen, there will be a buzz around Nigeria.

It is amazing how the yet unaddressed imbalance in the global information order leaves Nigeria constantly showing up at the lower end of the moral, governance and policy spectrum.

I was also thinking of the Sharia Council telling President Muhammadu Buhari to take national security seriously and protect Nigerian Muslims, and I thought the best message would be to insist that all Nigerian lives matter- Muslim, Christian or animist. I also read a story about the Minister of Finance saying Nigeria is mindful of its borrowings from the Chinese, Eurobond loans, the World Bank and the Africa Development Bank and how we have not even borrowed enough because we have not yet reached the threshold of borrowings within our peer group, and I felt like lamenting how poorly digested textbook knowledge sabotages Nigeria.

By now, Nigeria should be tired of all these half-baked ideas about debt-to-GDP ratio, and all these power point intellectuals who get to high office after a weekend course in Harvard where they learn nothing other than the ability to do power-point magic. Their village-type, poorly exposed bosses look at the power point and they think it is magic.

Pat Utomi may need to investigate the abuse of technology as an instrument of deception and theft in policy corridors, facilitated by the complicit middle class that he is disturbed about.

My head was trying to sort out these issues, even as my phones kept ringing, buzzing and tingling. The calls would not stop. The urgency was intimidating. The persistence was offensive. I picked.

“Yes?”

“I have been calling you since. If somebody is calling you, you should pick your calls.”  You know that kind of tone, sounds like the guy at the other end is holding a horse-whip and would apply it on your back, to beat the devil out of you, if you were available.

I smiled, knowing that the call will soon go off and you will be told later that the caller’s credit is finished. In Nigeria, callers don’t ever have credit on their phones, particularly if they are calling from hometowns. You ‘d have to call them back and send them phone credit later.

“Yes? Ki lo sele. I hope there is no problem. A ku odun oh. Compliments of the season. How are my children?” It always helps to be polite.

“Amosun ti tun bere oh. Amosun has started again. Jemila ori e ti jeun yo o. He is on rampage”.

“What’s the problem?” Ibikunle Amosun, also known as Senator Ibikunle Amosun (SIA) is the Governor of Ogun State, Nigeria, (2011-2019).  Amosun ran for the Senate from Ogun Central, his Senatorial district in the 2019 general elections, and the people of that constituency decided to send him to the National Assembly which sadly has become a retirement home for former Governors who need a resting place and for all kinds of malcontents without measurable ability- the reason Nigeria’s National Assembly is progressively incompetent.

Amosun also wanted to impose one of his boys as Governor of Ogun State; he even chose candidates for all the seats in the election, but the people rebuffed him. They rejected his Gubernatorial candidate and voted majorly for the All Progressives Congress, the party that brought him, Amosun to power, and which he rejected to go and form a rival party, a platform he deployed to treacherous use in one of the most classical cases of anti-party politics. But Amosun is not giving up. He lost the election. He was humiliated, but since the elections, he appears set on a revenge mission.

“Amosun has sent caterpillars to Kuto market. He wants to demolish all the shops including Mama’s shop. Call your sister quickly, so that they don’t destroy the shop.”

Mama means my mother. She died in 2013. In her lifetime, she rose to be an Iyalode of one of the key groups in that market and the state. The caller was so hysterical that her shop will be demolished. But wait a moment, if Amosun wants to demolish the entire market, it would be wrong to worry about personal spaces.

“Caterpillars are already in Kuto. They say Amosun has asked them to demolish anything in sight”, I was told.

It is barely four weeks to Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s end of tenure, but he seems to find it difficult to withdraw as Governor of the state. His minion having lost the Gubernatorial election, he has since embarked on a desperate mission to tie the hands of the Governor-elect, Prince Dapo Abiodun. He is creating booby traps for him.

He is laying land mines. If what we know is so bad, how about other acts of mischief that are not yet in the public domain? Since the Gubernatorial election of March 9 in Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun has refused to conduct himself after the fashion of a gentleman. He and his chosen candidate have refused to congratulate Dapo Abiodun, the declared winner of the election. Instead, Amosun, using the power of incumbency has been busy appointing permanent secretaries, general managers, and board members.

These new appointees are not going to work with him. They will work with a new Governor that will be sworn in next month. Is it morally right, intelligent or correct to act so mischievously? Amosun has also embarked on the demolition of houses and structures while announcing new projects by the state government.

In Abeokuta his hometown where the people voted for him to go to the Senate because they believe he used the office of Governor to help his own Egba people, Amosun has been busy demolishing houses and shops in Adatan towards Moore junction, Adigbe, Lafenwa market and now Kuto. The people’s interpretation is that Amosun is targeting political opponents and their areas of influence.

But his main target is Dapo Abiodun, the Governor-elect. There are uncompleted projects across the state. Amosun is not focusing on those uncompleted projects in the twilight of his administration. He is busy destroying things and creating new problems. It may take Dapo Abiodun a whole four years to correct the damage that Amosun has created since the election of March 9. Whose interest is being served? Even President Muhammadu Buhari who may not need handover notes is asking for handover notes.

In Ogun State, Amosun has refused to set up a transition committee. The Governor-elect has a Transition Committee and 10 working groups. But there is nobody to talk to on the other side because the Governor has refused to recognize the people’s will.  Amosun can beat his chest in his wife’s presence in “the other room” and remind her that he is still the man in Ogun State – good for him- but each time he does that he should keep an eye on the clock and the timelines of history.

It is sad that our democracy in Nigeria continues to create little tyrants. Amosun is definitely not alone and this is not in any way, a partisan comment. In Oyo state, there was once upon a time a man who called himself “the constituted authority”.

He too demolished buildings and punished anyone whose face he didn’t like. His name is Abiola Ajimobi. He was also once a Senator, and he became Governor. As Governor of Oyo state, he was a male version of the legendary Efunsetan Aniwura, the bad woman of Ibadan politics. Not even the Olubadan could talk to Ajimobi. He trampled on the traditional institution and surprised even his own most ardent admirers.

Why and how do good men end up as villains in Nigerian politics? I have no clue yet. It is sad that in Oyo state as in Ogun state, we have been hearing stories about the outgoing Governor behaving badly. Ajimobi also wanted to go to the retirement house in the National Assembly. The people have rejected him and also rejected the candidate he wanted as his successor. Ajimobi has not been smiling since then. He too has been behaving like a bull in the China shop.

Ajimobi is just probably slightly better than the out-going Governor in Imo State, Rochas Okorocha who also wants to go to the National Assembly. INEC won’t give him a Return Certificate because INEC insists he forced the state Resident Electoral Commissioner to declare him winner under duress. Okorocha wanted his son-in-law as his successor, but the people of Imo state refused. They voted instead for Emeka Ihedioha of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In Imo state, the people have rejected Okorocha’s “Iberiberism”, whatever that means.  Ihedioha should humour Okorocha after May 29, by erecting his statue at the market place so the people of Imo State will for long remember the “Iberiberism” known as Rochas Okorocha.

These are only three examples of the end-time Governors in Nigeria. Their two-term tenures have ended but they want to retain control and remain in charge. This is not the first time we would see this withdrawal syndrome on display. Power is like opium. It is addictive. Once you take it, you get hooked. End-time Governors probably deserve some kind of rehab treatment.

They must learn to let go. There must be legislation banning all departing Governors from making last minute bank withdrawals, contract approvals, demolition of houses and shops, and new appointments. The rule that a serving Governor is in power till the last minute is made for decent people, not for the types we have seen in Nigeria. The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should be more concerned about these rogue, end-time Governors than the politics of the 9th National Assembly.

Nigeria and the Misery Index: Not a miserable country

By Reuben Abati 

In a Report titled The Misery Index 2018 authored by Dr. Steve Hanke of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, Nigerians have been labelled the sixth most miserable people in the world.

The misery index was introduced in the 1970s by Arthur Okun, an American economist, author of the seminal work, Equality and Efficiency: The Big Trade Off (1975). The original index considers such factors as unemployment rate and inflation rate.

It is a formula, a methodology as it were, consistent with what is known as Okun’s law, but modified subsequently by Harvard Professor, Robert Barro and Professor Steve Hanke. The latter releases a Report annually.

He tells us that: “My modified Misery Index is the sum of the unemployment, inflation, and bank lending rates, minus the percentage change in real GDP per capita. Higher readings on the first three elements are “bad” and make people miserable. These are offset by a “good” GDP per capita growth which is subtracted from the sum of the bads. A Higher Misery Index score reflects a higher level of misery, and it’s a simple enough metric that a busy president, without time for extensive economic briefings can understand at a glance.” 

In the 2018 Report which is basically a forecast of what to expect in the year 2019, Hanke identifies Venezuela as the most miserable country in the world, followed by Zimbabwe, Argentina, Iran, Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, South Africa, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Egypt and Ukraine. . Is Nigeria the sixth most miserable country in the world? Where is Syria? South Sudan? Somalia. Steve Hanke’s Report does not necessarily cover all the countries of the world. But certain points are clear from his submissions.

First, the Misery Index makes the point very clear that economic growth is linked to the people’s prosperity and happiness. Countries that suffer from stagflation are likely to have very miserable citizens.

Second, lack of economic growth or a poor economy can result in political and social crisis as we have seen in Venezuela where inflation rate is said to be above 6,000% and Zimbabwe where inflation is allegedly over 97%, although this has been disputed in other evaluations which unlike Hanke’s Index, accommodate the employment rate in Zimbabwe’s informal economy.

Third, good governance, leadership and political stability are important factors for macro-economic growth. The least miserable countries in the world as seen in the Misery Index 2018, would also seem to have strong leadership, and institutions and a certain measure of stability.

Fourth, poverty should be avoided because it could lead to misery. Fifth, the state has a responsibility to prevent the growth of poverty and promote economic growth.

It is important to break down and outline some of these well-known, elementary points because I see a tendency in this season to ignore external rankings or politicize them. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has already jumped on the back of the Misery Index to say that the Report confirms the party’s position that Nigeria’s economy “has virtually collapsed under Buhari.”

The Hanke index does not say that the Nigerian economy has “virtually collapsed”. It says the people are among the ten most miserable people in the world. It is an economist’s index not a political review.

Nonetheless, there are certain basics that should be established. Indeed, unemployment rate in Nigeria is about 23. 10 per cent (Q3 2018, an all-time high between 2006 and 2018. Youth unemployment according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) is even higher. Inflation rate is about 12%. Food inflation is higher at 13.5%. Recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria reduced Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) to 13.5%, down by 50 basis points from 14%.

Nigeria’s GDP growth is 1.8%.  Compared to statistics from other parts of the world, these Nigerian statistics paint a gloomy picture. Unemployment rate in India, for example, is 6.1%, Canada (5.8%), Australia (4.9%), United Kingdom (3.9%), Germany (3.1%), Ghana (2%), Cote d’Ivoire (2.6%), Saudi Arabia (12.7%) etc.

There is also no doubt that the Nigerian economy has gone through major contractions in the last five years. The sharp drop in the spot price of oil depleted the country’s reserves, created a foreign exchange crisis  and soon resulted in recession.

In 2016, Nigeria faced the consequences of a negative growth of up to 2.3 %; in 2017, inflation was as high as 18%. In September 2018, the Economic Intelligence Unit of The Economist Magazine and the HSBC Research Unit predicted a gloomy economic prospect for Nigeria in 2019 and also jumped into the troubled waters of analyzing Nigerian politics, with predictions about the likely outcome of the 2019 Presidential election in Nigeria. Both the ruling party in Nigeria – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Nigerian government kicked. They told the “experts” to keep their opinions to themselves.

The EIU/HSBC in retrospect got the political analysis wrong (PDP lost the 2019 Presidential election, APC won) but the economic projections remain relevant and instructive. The Steve Hanke Misery Index Report may have been influenced by the EIU report.

Rather than dismiss it however, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Presidency (Hanke insists the message is so straightforward even a busy President can follow it) should study the report and attend to the messages about economic growth and the careful management of certain indicators to deliver prosperity to the people. Nigeria’s palace economists may quarrel over the statistics and the methodology, but not the common sense.

But is Hanke’s description of Nigeria as the 6thmost miserable country in the world accurate? Even if the Nigerian economy has not “virtually collapsed”, can misery be affirmed strictly on the basis of unemployment rate, inflation rate and lending rates? Does poverty necessarily translate into misery? Is the correlation absolutely given?  Nigeria ranks low in this 2019 Misery Index, just as it ranks low on the Human Poverty Index and the Human Development Index – these are challenges for governance and leadership. But does all that mean that Nigerians are miserable? The word misery connotes unhappiness, distress, wretchedness, hardship, suffering, affliction, anguish, sadness, sorrow, melancholy.

I think there are gaps in the Hanke Misery Index in terms of the parameters adopted; perhaps a more holistc assessment of the connection between economic growth and a people’s response as individuals and communities may have shown that economic prosperity and growth do not necessarily guarantee a people’s happiness. There may well be more misery in all the developed countries of Central Europe taken together than may be in Kenya or Cape Verde.

There are perhaps certain anthropological factors, a certain kind of neuroscience that accounts for a people’s happiness rather than cold macro-economic statistics. In 2011, Nigeria was classified as the happiest place on earth in a Gallup Poll and its people as the most optimistic. This was within the context of widespread underdevelopment, and all forms of social sector crisis.

Nigeria’s status as a happy country was again confirmed in a World Values Survey in 2014. It is noteworthy however that in 2018, Nigeria was listed as the 91sthappiest country in the world, and the 5th happiest country in Africa in the World Happiness Report. OBv iously so much happened negatively in Nigeria between 2014 and 2018. But the sum indication is that as at 2018, Nigerians were adjudged happier than they were between 2014 and 2016.

How then can we suddenly become the sixth most miserable country in the world a year later? The difference is who is looking at what. The UN 2019 Happiness Report, for example, focusses on the human being and community, on relationships, or the neuro-science and the anthropology of happiness, rather than economic indicators.

The World Happiness Report is more reflective of the Nigerian situation in my view than the Misery Index. We may have moved from being the happiest people on earth to the 91stin the world, a reflection of the existential crisis that Nigeria faces, but the word misery does not quite capture the people’s true essence.

My point is as follows: the measurement of happiness or its antonym, misery is perhaps more subjective and experiential than academic and statistical. Culture and context should matter. Nigeria has been described as one of the poorest countries in the world. The country faces a problem of low level insurgency in the North East.

Corruption is rife. Reports of all shades of violence are common place. The country’s wealth is concentrated in a few hands. Steady economic growth is a challenge. But we the people are not in misery. There may have been a slight increase in cases of suicide and depression in the country since 2015, but generally Nigerians are a resilient lot.

The average Nigerian is imbued with a fighting spirit.  If people in other countries go through what Nigerians have gone through and are still going through, such countries would have imploded. But Nigeria has not collapsed because the people’s fighting spirit is unique. In the midst of risks and vulnerability to poverty due to economic mismanagement by Nigeria’s leaders, the average Nigerian continues to forge ahead.

These are people who don’t give up easily. They believe that tomorrow will be better. When they are faced with election rigging, voter intimidation, outright theft of public resources, these are people who are likely to say: is it not four years? “Let them come and do what they want to do and go away.”  When people get killed and are abandoned by the roadside, you’d be surprised that with the corpses lying in open spaces, some Nigerians can just pull seats together and begin to have a drink, a few metres away from a decaying body.

There is no weekend when there is no celebratory feast in a Nigerian community: flashy attires, expensive cars, exotic drinks, musicians waxing lyrical, and the men and women dancing away with no care in the world. I do not know any other country in the world where the parties and celebrations are as elaborate as the parties we throw in Nigeria.

The Misery Index is talking about high unemployment rates in Nigeria. This is true but the people are so resilient, they manage to get by. They have learnt to move beyond their governments. Nigeria is the biggest market in Africa. Those who cannot get formal jobs find other things to do.

Come to Lagos, Dr. Hanke. Some of the young ladies you would see on the streets of Lagos and on Nigerian Instagram are from very poor backgrounds and they have no extra-ordinary skills, but you are likely to see them driving expensive cars, wearing bespoke clothes, the type that Kim Kardashian cannot even afford.

This is the “small girl, big God” generation that puts a lie to all that talk about misery in Nigeria.  Besides, thuggery and cultism are considered professions in Nigeria, and regarded as more profitable and influential than medicine, law or engineering. Thugs and cultists are patronized by political leaders and they are well-paid for their efforts, particularly during election seasons.

It is only in Nigeria I guess, that a security guard, earning less than a $100 a month will have three wives and 10 children while his own employer will be struggling to maintain a family of four. It is also in Nigeria that you will find a civil servant having five wives and two concubines, even when he has not been paid a salary for 24 months.

Misery? Professor Steve Hanke is an applied economist. He may not have visited some of the countries covered by his study, but in the case of Nigeria, he should not rely on textbook statistics. Unemployment rate, lending rate, inflation rate, GDP per capita may make sense to the economists, but those things sound like voodoo to the average Nigerian.

The people live in a zone that is beyond theory. The average Nigerian is not intimidated by the gap between the very rich and the very poor, for him or her, there is a religious, rather, a spiritual side to this thing called poverty or inequality.

The Nigerian is told by the large population of prosperity evangelists in the country – Muslim, Christian, and animist – that he or she can become rich overnight. In Nigeria, you can see a man as poor as a church rat in January and by December he has a mansion in his village, attended to by a retinue of hangers-on, all very happy, and he too has become an employer of labour and he is likely to pay salaries more regularly than government! Nigeria is the ultimate headquarters of trade-offs; not even Arthur M. Okun could have imagined that.

The Nigerian character and attitude both raise questions about the true nature of work, employment, economic growth, or the meaning of misery beyond the theories and “forecasts”. The other question is: what is the integrity of the applied data?

Jimi Agbaje and freedom misconception

By Olusesan Daini,

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”- Martin Luther king Jr.

Being sincerely disposed to error is excusable, but activating ignorance and making deliberate attempt to walk a population of 26 million people into the proponent’s political frenzy will not be accepted in Lagos state of today.

Perhaps, the Jimi Agbaje, Lagos People Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship Candidate, recent utterance in public and inscriptions on campaign banners, that Lagosians needed freedom, at a time when Lagos is been unanimously considered the dominant and major contributor to Nigerian economy,  goes against Oxford Dictionary, which defines freedom as a state of having free will; the power or right to act, speak or think freely.

Could it be that the governorship candidate has separate meaning contrary to world accepted definition  of freedom such that gave him the right to portray Lagosians, the 21st century citizens and indigenes, as having deficiency of free will and lacking the power or right to act, speak or even think freely, the position of which obviously indicated how Mr Agbaje thinks about average Lagosian – a person with no right whatsoever.

Moving away from core issues and riding on emotional chagrin, Mr Agbaje goofed to have portrayed Lagosians as lacking political and democratic freedom. First, it must be noted that democracy is a game of number anywhere in the world. At a point in this country, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) was the ruling party by majority decision of Nigerians; today, it is the All Progressives Congress. Also, states have been won and lost by both parties as reflection of the freedom Nigerians enjoy to make choices in the political space. Lagos is not different. One Permanent Voters’ Card is equal to one vote, and that Lagosians have continuously preferred the APC government based on conviction on the party’s ability to deliver good governance does not translate to lack of freedom whatsoever.

In APC’s Lagos State that gives no political and democratic freedom to Lagosians in the context of Mr Agbaje’s definition of freedom, six federal constituencies and six state constituencies were won by the PDP candidates in the 2015 general election. Three out of these 12 seats are currently being occupied by Lagosians of Igbo descent. The longest serving Publicity Secretary of the party and longest serving Commissioner of Finance are both of non-Yoruba ethnic origin.

Mr Agbaje’s attempt to launder his political deficit on the threshold of freedom fighting is not a goal! Also, claiming to wash Lagos financial mess under the APC is like wearing a fragrance to perfume shop to impress the owner. On two occasions that Mr Agbaje has contested to become Governor of Lagos State, his main financials were host of popular names on the looters’ directory who were members of the PDP and have participated in mindless looting of our national treasury.

The reign of PDP saw needless blockade of developmental strives such as independent power plan project, creation of additional 37 Local Governments, repair of Federal Government Roads under concessional plans, harmonisation of State traffic enforcement agency to provide assistance to Federal Government’s on federal roads within Lagos and lots more. All these anti-development policies were firmly supported by Agbaje in his several utterances on the matters. In fact, he supported the freezing of Lagos State allocations from federation account for three years during Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

At a point, Agbaje, the proponent of mischievous freedom agenda, threatened Lagosians and the entire Yoruba race that Nigeria would explode should PDP lose Lagos State and Presidency in the 2015 general election. According to him, “Niger Delta militants would unleash terror”, which indeed came to pass before they were curbed at the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government in 2015.

PDP is a party badly damaged leaving no trusted person of integrity as member till date – that is the platform Jimi Agbaje has been running and considers best for the good people of Lagos State.

On economic freedom, only three per cent of the State’s population have their wealth affiliated with earnings around politics and governance as active party members or serving political appointees; the rest 97 per cent are out there succeeding as industrialists, entrepreneurs, career personnel and creative talents. Lagos State is a place where someone with two pairs of shirts and trousers can become a billionaire in another one year due to enormous opportunities and freedom that are abound. No single person is capable of controlling Lagos State’s economy to himself because it is vast, diverse and limitless under a competitive economic atmosphere.

Agbaje’s attempt to divide Lagsosians along emotional line and drag them into campaign of denigration under the guise of freedom advocacy is a ruse, unpopular, uninteresting and does not represent a clear, unambiguous manifestoes for ensuring a greater Lagos, which Agbaje’s has failed to concentrate his efforts on but which APC’s Babajide Sanwo-Olu is critically addressing.

The 21st century thoughts respects facts, evidence, clear vision and deliverables in the political manifestos, which is the key thing that sells before electorates in Lagos State. As a multi-cultural and diverse ethnic base, Lagosians want issues addressed not sentiments capable of dividing the people. Agbaje needs to hearken to President Barrack Obama’s truism that any politician who divides the people for the purpose of winning election will not be able to govern them as divided people; neither would he be able to unite them back as a government.

I don’t see Lagosians trading their peace, continuity, steady development and unity they enjoy for any flimsy coax. That Agbaje thinks Lagosians lack free will, the power or right to act, speak or think freely is the biggest insult to an environment that would have been the fifth largest economy in Africa if it were to stand as a country. Agbaje is tactically misrepresenting thoughts of Lagosians, dismantling their intelligence base, reducing them to C class citizens akin to a war torn societies around the world.

Undoubtedly, Mr Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has, in his brief media appearances, demonstrated proficiency and ability to take Lagos to a greater level given his vast knowledge for 13 years. Mr Sanwo-Olu has served as Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Commissioner for Establishment, Training and Pensions and Managing Director of the Lagos State Property Development Corporation spanning through three successive administrations of Governors Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Babatunde Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode consecutively.

Lagos State is the present and future of Nigeria. It is therefore very clear that only a person with clear ideas, experience and proven track records in governance is worthy to assume exalted position of a Governor of Lagos State, not an emotionally riddled and inconsistent fellow.

Daini is the Director, Media and Publicity, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu Independent Campaign Group (BOSICG) and Chairman, Igbogbo Bayeku LCDA.

Iya Kabiru and Other Stories

By Reuben Abati

“Iya Kabiru must be the luckiest woman in Nigeria today”

“Who is that? I don’t know anybody so-called”

“You don’t know Iya Kabiru? But you know Baba Kabiru?”

“Do they know me?”

“This is the problem with you. You only think about you, you, you. I am sure when I tell you now who Baba Kabiru is, you will jump up and say you know him”

“Look, just say what you want to say. I have too many things to worry about other than this your D.O. Fagunwa story about Iya Kabiru. Today is a busy day for me not a day for idle talk”

“Hey, don’t get worked up, chill, my friend. Iya Kabiru is the wife of Governor Rauf Aregbesola, the comrade Governor of Osun State who is leaving office today after eight years in office. Kabiru is their first son. He got married last year. Many people who know the Governor call him Baba Kabiru.”

“So, what has that got to do with all the serious issues of survival that Nigerians are worried about. You know you should be more responsible. You can’t go about gossiping about other people’s lives.”

“I don’t gossip. I am trying to say something very serious. By the time I am done, even you will learn one or two things. Essentially, I am trying to review the eight years of Aregbesola as Governor in Osun State.”

“I tried to follow his stories. The man says he did not collect salary as Governor, even though he ate government food, used government cars…Good for him. But as for me.. I don’t like the role he played in the last Gubernatorial elections in Osun State. He practically imposed his own successor on the people of Osun State. We can’t have outgoing Governors behaving like dictators and insisting that they will hold the future of the state in their palms. And to think he is a Comrade like Adams Oshiomhole.”

“That is not what I am talking about. Osun state people are not protesting. I can’t come and be weeping more than the bereaved.”

“I know. But I thought you wanted an assessment of Baba Kabiru’s eight years in office. So, let us do it, since today is effectively his last day in office”

“Yes.”

“For example, he says he has no bank accounts anywhere. He has no money and he has only the house that he built before he became Governor. He is happy that he was able to transform the lives of the people of Osun State.”

“With Opon Imo. The tablet of knowledge. Ogbeni Till Daybreak. Let me help you. He also says he is leaving a state behind that has the lowest poverty incidence rate and the lowest unemployment rate in Nigeria.”

“He built roads and schools.”

“I know. I know. But what are the people of Osun themselves saying? What is the impression of the civil servants who were denied salaries for months? I will prefer to hear from the average man on the streets of Osun. But that is not what I want to talk about.”

“You want to talk about Iya Kabiru”

“Yes. I want to congratulate her. And I say, Iya Kabiru, e ku oriire o.”

“What of the Governor himself? You don’t want to congratulate him on his successful completion of two terms in office?”

“I will leave that to people like you. My big take-away from the exit of the Comrade Governor is the statement he made about his wife, Iya Kabiru. He told the people of Osun State that he has been an absentee husband for eight years. He was so busy as Governor, he had no time for his wife. He wants to go back to Iya Kabiru and “enjoy each other”. He doesn’t want to go to the Senate like others in his shoes, he just wants to go home and spend time with Iya Kabiru.”

“And how does that affect you?”

“You don’t get the point? This is the era of women empowerment. Our Governors should not get to office and become absentee husbands. That is an abuse of human rights and a violation of the integrity of the other room! If I had my way, I will recommend immunity for wives from the absenteeism of husbands. If there was more time, I would recommend that Mrs Aisha Buhari, the wife of the President, should lead a movement to defend the right of women who are married to politically exposed men in office, not to lose their rights of access and enjoyment with their husbands. Public service should not interfere with the rights of wives!”

“You always like to trivialize things.”

“No. When Comrade Aregbesola was asked what his regrets could possibly be, and I consider that an important question, his memorable response was that his being Governor did not allow him to enjoy his wife for eight years. He now wants to go and enjoy his wife. For me that was the most profound thing he said.”

“How profound! I thought you would raise serious questions. Will his successor become his stooge? Will Aregbesola continue to rule over the state of Osun and treat Gboyega Oyetola as his proxy? Is Aregbesola now a Godfather pulling the strings from the corner? Will the new Governor Oyetola be his own man? Is Osun going to revert to its constitutional name, that is Osun State, or will it still bear the strange name: The State of Osun?”

“Why should those things bother me? The one that I want to reflect upon is the absenteeism of Aregbesola as husband for eight years! And I identify with Iya Kabiru on this special occasion, marking the return of her beloved husband to full-time husband duties.”

“It is not your duty to intrude into other people’s privacy. What are you driving at? What the man says about his wife is not our business. He probably was talking more about truancy rather than absenteeism.”

“Na you sabi. I am saying congratulations to Iya Kabiru, all the same. As an advocate for women empowerment, I congratulate her on the many good things ahead: this special honeymoon that awaits her, in the loving hands of Baba Kabiru. And I say Iya Kabiru, e ku amojuba. E ku oriire, lopo lopo. In nine months, please invite us for a rice-and-soup-very-plenty-naming-ceremony. Triplets by the Grace of God!”

“You are very ridiculous. You are off limits”

“My friend, don’t be hypocritical. If our father, the Iku Baba Yeye himself, the Alaafin of Oyo, at 80 plus is still celebrating the arrival of babies, not just babies, multiple twins, Baba Kabiru must show proof of his own statement in nine months as a true son of Osun.”

“You are absolutely incorrigible. Who told you the only way a man can show affection to his wife is to put her in the family way. Is that what you call empowerment”

“I am just very happy for Iya Kabiru. I am overjoyed. Politics turned her husband into an absentee husband. Now, out of office, her husband says she will now be her project. Alihamdulilali!”

“I don’t see how Aregbesola can leave politics. Politics in Lagos and Osun. He will still be busy.”

“But with Iya Kabiru fully attended to. And by the way, Aregbesola should leave Lagos politics alone. He should stay in his own state of Osun.”

“You are crazy. Did you drink anything this morning? Can we change this subject?”

“On one condition”

“What condition?”

“You will congratulate Iya Kabiru”

“Okay, congratulations Ma. Thank you for standing by Governor Aregbesola through thick and thin. One yeye man in Lagos says you are the one we should congratulate”.

“Say it in Yoruba”

“Iya Kabiru e ku oriire o. E ku ti ipadabo Baba Kabiru o.”

“Only God knows how many women out there who have to deal with the challenge of having absentee husbands because their husbands are involved in the public arena. Such women are the true heroes of Nigerian democracy.”

“You know when you say that, what comes to my mind really, is the plight of the wives of the many soldiers who were killed recently by Boko Haram terrorists in Matele, Borno State. It is one thing to have a husband go to the battle-field, if he is absent, you at least know where he is and that he is busy, but to have him die on the battle-field, never to return, that is tragic. I feel for the widows of the fallen soldiers of Matele..”

“I am not satisfied with the way the Nigerian government has handled the matter. Obviously, Boko Haram has not been technically defeated. Has Alhaji Lai come up with anything yet?”

“Alhaji Lai? No, please. I watched a video of the attack that was in circulation over the weekend. I was horrified. The Boko Haram terrorists caught the Nigerian soldiers off-guard. They ambushed them and mowed them down. Sad. Very sad. I later saw a social media tweet by someone who said he saw his father in the video and the family has not yet heard from the Nigerian military. I also saw a post by a woman who cried out over the loss of her husband. Each time a soldier dies at the battle-front, many lives are affected.”

“118 of them. Just like that.”

“The government is obviously overwhelmed.”

“What really can government do? Terrorism is the new tragic reality of the age. It is the worst form of inhumanity known to man. It leaves governments in a bind; it drives society to the edge. It disrupts the order of values.

“There is a lot that the Nigerian government can do.”

“Please, this is not about politics. Don’t bring politics into this.”

“Who is talking about politics? I am saying our soldiers need to be better equipped and better protected. When a man signs up to be a soldier, he knows that he has signed up to die for his country if need be, but that does not mean he must be served up like barbecue to the enemy. Why are our military bases so porous, so poorly defended? Why is it so easy for anyone to get a military uniform? When our soldiers fall at the battlefront, what are the protocols for informing their families and managing the communication process? We need to professionalize the Nigerian military. If we must rely on technical assistance from other countries, let us do so. When our soldiers die, there must be special grants for their widows and survivors, to be paid for life if possible.”

“I will add another point. Any service chief that is not ready to focus on the job should be changed. Nigeria’s security chiefs should stop attending political rallies and meetings. We want soldiers in uniform, whoever wants to do politics should remove his uniform and wear agbada.”

“Anyway, the President has said that the loopholes that led to the fatalities will be blocked once and for all. I take that to heart.”

“Yeah, he spoke a whole week after the incident. I am surprised nobody is making an issue out of that.”

“You never know. May be the President was busy at the time. And a President doesn’t just talk. He has to consult and be briefed.”

“What is that? Busy doing what? Donald Trump talks every day. He is on twitter every morning, commenting on anything that catches his attention. He is involved.”

“This is Nigeria. This is not the United States. We have our own way of doing things here, from the Presidency to the man on the street. The President could have been busy for example, preparing for the 2019 Presidential debate.”

“Which debate? You think he will agree to participate in a debate?”

“Why not? I will like to see him in the debating hall, taking on issues with the likes of Omoyele Sowore, Oby Ezekwesili, Kingsley Moghalu, Tope Fasua, Donald Duke, Obadaiah Mailafia and of course Waziri Atiku Abubakar. Let him defend the “Next level” and let Ezekwesili and Sowore take him on.”

“I see you are not a nice man at all.”

“How? There are things the President can and should talk about. You have been lamenting over the killing of soldiers, for example, but look at what the Federal Government has just done for policemen.”

“And what is that?”

“Yesterday, the President approved more pay for Nigerian policemen. He approved the Rank Salary Structure Adjustment for policemen”

“No wonder”

“No wonder what?”

“There is this policeman that I know. I saw him and his wife yesterday evening. The two of them were laughing like jackass. I have never seen them look so happy. I thought something was wrong. So, it is the salary increase?”

“Let’s just say policemen deserve to be happy too. But it is not enough to increase their pay. Nigeria is heavily under-policed. We need more policemen. Like the military, the police should also be better equipped. They need better training. Clean uniforms. Decent barracks. An average policeman should be a university graduate, not a primary school drop-out.”

“Why are you saying policemen should be graduates, when most of your politicians don’t even have secondary school certificates? Sometimes, I don’t get you.”

“I know what I am saying. Every policeman should be a college graduate. You don’t understand. It is a next level thing. Nigeria can only move to the next level if we all begin to think out of the box.”

“Like your thoughts on Iya Kabiru eh”.

“Ha. Iya Kabiru! A hero. Someday, she should tell her story: the story of the big sacrifice her husband made as Osun State Governor!”

Aig-Imoukhuede and the initiative for public governance

By Reuben Abati

A week ago, I stumbled on an article titled “Africa and the burden of Leadership” (The Guardian, Nov. 7), written by Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, banker, investor and entrepreneur, former Managing Director of Access Bank Nigeria, our compatriot. The piece was actually excerpted from a speech he delivered at the graduation ceremony of government and public policy students at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, UK, in his capacity as founder of the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG). The AIG was founded by him in 2014.

The piece made me curious and I had to check out the Africa Initiative for Governance online. In this age of “google-it” or what others call the “white man’s oracle,” if you are in doubt about anything or you are looking for information, just consult the google-oracle. So I googled it to double-check some of the information already provided in the article before me.

Indeed in 2014, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede founded the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG) as a not-for-profit, private sector-led Foundation to promote good governance and public sector reform. Every year, since 2016, the AIG, in partnership with the Blavatnik School of Government has provided post-graduate scholarships for a Masters in Public Policy (MPP) programme at the University of Oxford. To date, persons selected from Nigeria and Ghana have benefitted from the programme. Five of them graduated in November 2018.

They are expected to return to their home country and become change agents in their country’s public sectors. Five other AIG scholars enrolled for the MPP in September 2018.

Every year, the Foundation also awards the AIG Fellowship to an outstanding public official in Nigeria or Ghana. To date, Professor Attahiru Jega, former Chairman of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the immediate past Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Georgina Wood have benefitted from the Fellowship.

The AIG is involved in partnership with the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHCSF) to give teeth to a 2017-2020 Federal Civil Service Transformation Strategy and Implementation Plan to ensure the transformation of the Nigerian civil service, and general public sector reform. As recently as October 2018, the Africa Initiative for Governance(AIG) sponsored and facilitated a session: “The Unfinished Business of Reforms” at the 24thNigerian Economic Summit held at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja, FCT. I further discovered that my friend and brother, Olusegun Adeniyi sits on the board of the AIG. I recall that he actually once wrote a piece on the initiative when it was first launched.

Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede is a member of the emergent generation of Nigerian wealthy men and women, the 80s generation that made its money in the last two decades, from banking, finance, securities, real estate, oil and gas and just about anything that could be turned into money as the decades progressed.

This rise of new money in Nigeria as different from “old money” (represented by the the Odutola brothers, Dantata, Ibru, Ojukwu, daRocha, Fernandez etc) also seems to have coincided with a rising consciousness about the need to give something back to society, that is philanthropy or social responsibility. There has been, in Nigeria, a re-definition of capitalism, in terms of a more benevolent construction, and the rich man as a responsible man of community and an agent for social good.

What has been seen, therefore, is the growth of institutions and initiatives devoted to the public good or ostensibly so, with too much money seeking to do much good. Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group, and one of the richest men in Africa, has the Dangote Foundation. Jim Ovia, owner of Zenith Bank, has a Jim Ovia Foundation, and is founder of the Jim Hope Schools. Tony Elumelu, Chairman of the Union Bank for Africa (UBA) runs the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) which has been supporting and grooming entrepreneurs in 44 African countries. Of all these efforts that I know, the least publicized in my view is the Africa Initiative for Governance (AIG). Or to put it differently, in a country where a Foundation that distributes food to the poor, and another small one that gives out second hand clothes, are much better known, a Foundation like the AIG which focusses on reform, governance and policy deserves more aggressive publicity – not to promote ego, but to inspire a much broader debate about its goals and objectives.

The only significant thing I notice however is that the acronym of the Africa Initiative for Governance is AIG. The founder, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, is also more popularly known as Aig, a shortened form of his name. But greater publicity for the Foundation should expand access to the opportunities it offers. This is my point. How many persons in Nigeria or Ghana are aware of the scholarships and Fellowships on offer? Who knows that the Foundation exists? Aig-Imoukhuede may assume that the work of the Foundation will speak for it. These days, Foundations speak, and they should speak for themselves.

It remains for us to interrogate the foundations of the initiative, and some of the points raised in Aig-Imoukhuede’s article. The original assumption is that the civil service is the engine-room of a country and that for a country to function effectively, attain a competitive edge and for democracy to work, there must be in place a development-oriented civil service in place. Aig-Imoukhuede obviously believes as shown in his piece “Africa and the burden of leadership”, that the failure of African states is a function of the failure of the bureaucratic machinery in those countries, and that reform is required to reverse the trend, rediscover lost glory and reposition African countries for progress.

There is a touch of nostalgia in this. Many Nigerians growing up in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s in Nigeria will remember a country that once worked. Chinua Achebe referred to this when he titled one of his books, “There was once a country”. In that country referred to by Chinua Achebe, there may have been small corruption within the system, tongue and “tribe” may have differed, but Nigeria was a country that worked.

There was in place a state bureaucracy that provided opportunities and service for the average citizen. We had in the country some of the best schools in the sub-region, if not in the entire continent. Scholars from around the world came to teach at the country’s universities; there were foreign students in Nigeria as well. As a secondary school student, some of my teachers were from Pakistan, India and other parts of the Commonwealth. As an undergraduate, we had Faculty members from the United States, France, UK and Canada. Nigerian roads were fixed by a department called PWD, that is Public Works Department. In those days, teachers were special citizens because students and their parents celebrated them and appreciated their value.

A school principal or a primary school headmaster or headmistress was definitely a member of the local elite. There was a Sanitary and Hygiene Department at the Health Office. Today, Nigeria ranks second on the ignoble, global list of countries that are guilty of open defecation due to the absence of public latrines! There was regular power supply in those days. Nobody had any need for a generator. Today, every home is a power station. You have to generate your own water, your own electricity too. The situation is so bad that the Federal Government has had to declare a national emergency on water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).

AIG believes that the narrative can be changed and that new thinking can produce a new Nigeria. Aig-Imoukhuede is convinced that public sector reforms focused on human capacity development and institutional capacity building can change our circumstances.

The truth is that there have been many public service reforms in Nigeria as has been convincingly argued and rigorously analysed by Tunji Olaopa, our former Perm. Sec at the State House who in a few days will be delivering an inaugural lecture as a Professor at the Lead City University in Ibadan. (see for example: Tunji Olaopa, Managing Complex Reforms, Ibadan: Bookcraft, 2011, 315 pp). Nonetheless, in spite of all of those reforms, Nigeria remains classified as a “hesitant reformer”. Countries like Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, and Kenya are ahead of Nigeria. Nigeria remains resistant to new thinking.

Aig-Imoukhuede through the AIG, wants to intervene from within, through private sector injection, into the policy making process. His entry route is education. He believes that if the private sector can invest over time, in human capital, create a pool of public policy experts who have been schooled in some of the best institutions in the world, when such individuals are injected into the system, they can make a difference. He even intends to set up a public policy university in Nigeria where such new thinkers can be produced.

I get the point about human capacity investment. Many countries in the developing world have learnt to recruit into their bureaucracy only the best and the brightest available. In India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, you must be really smart to be a civil servant. It is understood that what happens in terms of the management of the state determines everything else.

In Nigeria, our civil service system has been overtaken by nepotism, lack of merit, incompetence and complete disregard for critical thinking. The same Nigerian civil service that once produced Super Permanent Secretaries (including Philip Asiodu, the late Allison Ayida and late Hayford Alile), now produces ethnic champions, looters, “area boys”, and closet politicians. Aig-Imoukhuede believes that a carefully groomed and intellectually exposed new elite can create a revolution. He has taken the strategic step of involving beneficiaries from Ghana and other African countries.

I assure Aig-Imokhuede that he may end up having more success stories from Ghana and elsewhere in Africa. But that does not mean he must give up on his own country. He made his money here and he has an obligation to contribute to the re-making of the country of his birth. The path he has chosen is much better than donating money to politicians who do not understand policy or the developmental process that will produce a better society.

It is a much wiser way of spending his money than acquiring additional wives or side chicks, living large like an octopus, dressing like a coxcomb, or becoming an embarrassing face of capitalism. My worry is this: when the new bureaucratic elite that he is helping to create through first world education return to Nigeria or Ghana, how do they fit in, into the rot in Nigeria especially? How do they fit into the prevalent culture of anti-intellectualism?

A Masters in Public Policy (MPP) from Oxford is great but is Nigeria’s civil service today, ready for Oxonian intellect and competence? What is the guarantee that some of AIG’s products will not end up elsewhere in other countries where they may be better valued? Aig-Imoukhuede wants to create 21st century technocrats for a 19thcentury system in Nigeria. Will elite public policy education also prepare his beneficiaries for the primordial constraints of the Nigerian public sector?

Let me simplify that. In Oxford, and I believe in the elite school that Aig-Imoukhuede wants to build, they will teach things like planning, processes, innovation, creativity, efficiency and outcomes as parts of the bureaucratic engine. How will the AIG agents when they return to Nigeria respond to their other colleagues who in the first place are holding strategic positions because of Federal Character and whose secondary school certificates cannot be traced and who have never been to anywhere close to Oxford? How will they relate with the horde of civil servants who will leave the office before noon every Friday and will not return?

How will they deal with a system where records are not kept and nobody wants to keep any record because of an established “Guardian syndrome” – the this-is-how-we-have-always-done-it mentality that has always made new thinking impossible in the Nigerian civil service? The plan is to train AIG Fellows to think modern, post-modern even, but what should they do with that other colleague who during the weekend had been shown wearing a masquerade attire and prancing about with a primitive sword in his hands, and paraded as the chieftain of a 9thcentury society?

I am not knocking AIG’s emphasis on human capacity development and institution building. I am trying to problematize what they propose by saying that there is a whole lot more beyond the development of a new skills-set, and a new generation of thinkers. Nigeria failed first at the level of values, culture and ideals before its public service followed suit and failed. The entire country itself needs to be re-built before the input of private institutions like AIG can be better felt. We need a different kind of leadership: a leadership that values ideas and the capacity of human beings to make a difference, and a governance system that is driven by ideas and a competitive spirit.

Nigeria cannot afford to continue drifting. It is the reason many of our capitalists are beginning to jump into the fray to see what they can do from the private sector-end to reduce the spread of institutionally generated madness. It is probably in their enlightened self-interest to be seen to be actively creating new currents within the country, and an enabling environment for capital to thrive, but we should hold Aig and others at the higher end of the spectrum: their love for country.

The founders of AIG and similar others have proven one point: that leadership is a collective responsibility and more so, between the public and private sectors. In doing so, they all hold up a candle to future generations and offer hope that some day, this country will reach the turning point of progress. AIG doesn’t want Nigeria and the rest of Africa left on the tarmac. That’s fine. Nigeria needs to board a flight to a higher destination…

The Spirit of the Jews in Squirrel Hill 

By Reuben Abi,

What was assaulted in Squirrel view, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States on Saturday, October 27, was not just the 11 persons that died and the six injured, or strictly the Jewish community in the United States. It was an assault on the entire humanity itself.  It was terrible. It was horrendous.

It stands condemned by all right-thinking members of the human community. We note for record purposes, that the children of YHWH have been victims of hate, terrorism and intimidation all through history, but a gun-man, Robert Bowers, 46, walking into a synagogue on Sabbath day, wielding guns and hate in his heart and gunning down innocent persons and injuring others is the height of the terrorism and intolerance that a chosen race has suffered over time.

The people of YWWH could be terrorized and slaughtered but it is written in human memory that they will forever live. But even that is no lasting consolation. The world must be made safe for all – regardless of race, ethnicity, colour or gender.

The latest case of hate crime in the United States further raises questions about gun control – the need to take a second look at the spread of guns in the United States and the readiness with which agents of hate pull out those guns to commit evil at all levels.

But it also draws attention to power relations; those who feel oppressed are bound to rebel against their imaginary oppressors, and they may choose wrong targets as victims of their depression. In Robert Bowers mind, that is the assailant’s mind, is the assumption that Jews, wherever they may be, no matter their circumstances, are oppressors. The hate in his heart takes us back to Egypt, the Crusades, the Granada massacre to the Holocaust.

He is a memorialist, a recorder of hate, with deep-seated evil in his heart. President Donald Trump has called for the death penalty, but even death may not erase or cancel the memory of hate in the minds of others like him. A world in which a group, any group at all – national or local, is made to feel like targets reminds us of the vulnerability of all humanity.

Jews, after more than two millenniums, from Egyptian captivity to the Babylonian threat, to Hitler, came to regard the United States and Israel as their places of refuge, away from centuries of persecution.  But now, not even the United States is safe anymore. Not even Israel is safe.

The world in which we live, needs a re-set, a rethink beyond primordial ghosts and binary thoughts that threaten human relations at all levels. The man of the skullcap must be able to live with the white supremacist and the community of persons with dark sins, and the Arabs and everyone else, to respect the values of difference, diversity and inclusivity. This is the lesson of the shootings in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh, over the weekend – the need for a world without racism.

Anthony Anenih: A personal and political portrait

By Reuben Abati 

Anthony Anenih, the political leader, chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party who has died aged 85, was one of the most important figures in the story of Nigeria’s return to civilian rule, and a founding father and a major influence in the party that ruled the country for an unbroken stretch of 16 years.

I knew him and was privileged to know him, even more closely, when I assumed office as President Goodluck Jonathan’s official spokesperson and media/publicity adviser. For four years, we worked together and met regularly. We lived in the same neighbourhood in Asokoro, so it was very easy to pop into the Chairman’s house on my way to work, or on my return journey.

His doors were always open, but even more so because he took a very keen interest in the government and the Presidency and it was not before long that I became an errand boy between him and the President.  He referred to President Jonathan as his son, even if he did not make a public song and dance out of that. He told me many stories about how the PDP emerged and the journey of President Jonathan to the Presidency of Nigeria.

“This my son, I love him. I want the best for him, but he doesn’t always listen to me”, he often told me. He would now give long stories about how certain persons that should never have been given positions emerged as President Jonathan’s lieutenants. It was not in my place to respond to that. He also often talked about some other pieces of advice that he gave the President. “Can you tell him, I want to see him tomorrow?” Despite his larger than life image, Papa Anenih was a very humble man in the face of authority.

Perhaps because of his police background, he understood protocol, hierarchy and authority. He always asked for permission to see the President which was never denied. The President also visited him regularly at home. That was the extent of his influence. But it was not just the President that went to his house to pay homage. Whenever I visited, there was always a long queue of persons who had come to see him. He had the ears of the President.

He was the Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees. He also had the advantage of age, and a reputation that preceded him.  He was a power broker, and a Godfather, not just nationally, but also in his native Edo State and the entire South South where he had fought many political battles.

Anenih first came into public consciousness through the old Bendel state chapter of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in 1981. President Shehu Shagari who was seeking a second term in office had gone to visit the former military Governor of the Midwestern State, Samuel Ogbemudia, to solicit for support.

Ogbemudia agreed only on the condition that Anthony Anenih, his friend, a former policeman who was then  Chairman of Yakon Group of Companies would be anointed as the Chairman of the party’s branch in Bendel state. The following day, Chief Tayo Akpata who was the Chairman of the NPN in the defunct Bendel State was removed. Akpata’s  exit marked the beginning of the Anenih phenomenon and legend.

 In 1983, President Shehu Shagari won the second term election in Bendel state and nationally. Anenih was considered the architect of the victory, at least in Bendel State. He would show up later in the Ibrahim Babangida government as an equally influential political leader. He helped Babangida to fix a few things. In 1992, Anenih further became the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). In 1993, the SDP with M.K.O. Abiola as Presidential flagbearer won the June 12, 1993 Presidential election. That election was annulled.

Anenih again re-emerged in 1998 as a deputy campaign co-ordinator for the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Campaign Organization. Obasanjo won the election and emerged as President. Given Anenih’s unbroken record of success as a superintendent of electoral issues, he became knows as “Mr Fix It’ – the man who could fix any political problem.  In 2002, he led President Olusegun Obasanjo’s re-election campaign for the 2003 election.

Anenih came into solid prominence during the President Obasanjo years. He was a power broker in Obasanjo’s government. His name may not have been known outside Nigeria, but at home, he represented the true and complete incarnation of the politician as a man of action. There were many malicious legends about him, though: they said he “chopped” the money meant for the construction and rehabilitation of Nigerian roads in his capacity as Obasanjo’s Minister of Works, but no one could point to any evidence of criminal conviction.

They said he was a political fixer, Mafia-like, so they called him “Mr. Fix-it, but no one could doubt that he was a strong man of influence whose word carried weight. He was a co-fighter in the struggle to establish a democratic order in Nigeria after many years of military misconduct. He was a back-bone to the front-liners. He fixed, so says the legend, whatever needed to be fixed, and he delivered, particularly for President Olusegun Obasanjo: the soldier and the policeman locked in an instructive esprit de corps.

He and President Obasanjo with whom he fought many battles were different in temperament and they eventually clashed, but it is good to recall that whenever they worked together, they complemented each other.  Anenih was originally a policeman. Not too many Nigerians like policemen. Anenih retired as a Commissioner of Police, but he probably did more for the police out of office to the extent that his example helped to dispel the pervasive impression that the Nigeria Police is a community of bumblers.

He was a solid public figure with a strong voice. He had friends everywhere, not because of the positions that he occupied but because of his belief in the Nigerian project. In a country where persons of minority extraction are often marginalized, Anenih became a standard bearer for the politics of inclusivity. The people of the South South owe him a debt of gratitude for the manner in which for decades, he helped to centralize their cause in the Nigerian conversation.

Even if they may not readily admit it anymore, many persons from the South South owe their pre-eminence in contemporary Nigeria to the pathfinder role played by the likes of Anthony Anenih, after Adaka Boro, after Anthony Enahoro, after Ken Saro Wiwa etc.. Anenih’s exit may well create a deep and lasting vacuum, but we can not yet make a final affirmation on the extent and impact of that.

As a private person, Pa Anenih was caring, kind and attentive. I want to explain what I mean by this. There are persons who claim that he was a tough husband and that he had issues in that area. I don’t know about that. Whatever happened in the late statesman’s other room, should not be the focus of our assessment of his place in the larger picture of Nigeria.

He is survived by wives and children – they should deal with their private issues, after the passage of their patriarch. My own private experience is that he was a very kind and generous man.  He was a gentleman who, in his later years, was most willing to assist every one who crossed his path. He was blunt though. He helped those he thought were deserving of his time and attention.

I recall that he had his own contacts within the Nigerian media, and he always insisted that I should attend meetings of that group because he wanted to use it to assist President Goodluck Jonathan. The first time I attended the meeting some of our colleagues were full of complaints.  Papa Anenih waded in. He smoothened the cracks. He re-assured our “very powerful” colleagues. We met now and then thereafter. The most difficult job in the Nigerian government is the management of the media.

I was lucky to have had the support, advice and guidance of the likes of Papa Anenih. The progress we made may not have been well appreciated throughout our tenure, but apparently, the Jonathan administration is beginning to look better than good, years after. I want to thank Papa Anenih for the leadership, the contributions and the support that he offered and from which our office benefitted.

I will like to say, however, that the last part of Papa Anenih’s life was perhaps, the moment of his decline. The younger members of the party went to his house to pay homage, but they thought his ideas were dated in the age of technology. This was the case despite the fact that he followed them everywhere at 80 plus and he spoke at every rally. He was strong. He was present-minded.

He was energetic. Long before the 2015 elections, he prepared a media campaign strategy document which he asked me to give to the President, and he asked that he would await an opportunity for further discussions. The biggest challenge old men face is that they end up being looked at as dinosaurs. Nonetheless, Anenih attended rallies and helped to mobilize the grassroots. He offered his ideas. I don’t think he got the appreciation that he deserved in his twilight moments. Even his own state Governor undermined him, playing across all fields, trying to grab the space.

Anenih was even accused at a point of anti-party activities in the matter of Imo state. In his own state, Edo State, also, Adams Oshiomhole as Governor and his agents dismissed him and accused him of irrelevance. His harsh critics were wrong then as they are now. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not here to open a can of worms, but to pay tribute and respect the memory of the dead. Anenih’s death on the eve of the 2019 elections is a major loss for the Peoples Democratic Party, for Edo state and for progressive Nigerian politics.

We commiserate with the people of Edo State on the passage of their illustrious son, Anthony Akhakhon Anenih, who rose beyond his local beginnings to become a man of nationalistic influence and a Nigerian statesman. When he was around, he made a difference which is what every human being of worth should seek to do. He is now in a place where neither malice nor mischief can reach him. Anenih, the man and the legend has departed.

Those who speak ill of him should worry more about the end of their own journey. They should also remember that he left a book behind. He told his own story.  So, I say this: Let the living deal with their many debts and agonies.  Anthony Anenih played his part… And now: “Holy Father, in Thy mercy/Hear our anxious prayer/Keep our loved ones, now far absent/’Neath Thy care…/So mote it be.”   Travel well, sir.

Nnamdi Kanu as “Wailing Wailer”

By Reuben Abati

Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the separatist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) movement suddenly resurfaced in Jerusalem, Israel at the Wailing Wall, after his one-year disappearance that resulted in speculations about his whereabouts. Kanu has since issued a statement through Radio Biafra in which he denounced the Nigerian state and boasted that no Nigerian court can do anything to him.

Before disappearing from sight, under the cloud of the invasive Operation Python Dance in his home state of Abia, IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu had accused the Nigerian government of trying to kill him and destroy the Biafran movement that he leads. He has now been quoted as saying: “(The) Nigerian court is a kangaroo court. I did not jump bail. I left because the court failed to protect me. I shall not be honouring the court. I cannot be tried by a court I do not recognize. Nigeria cannot jail me.”

Whatever may be the quality of Nnamdi Kanu’s grievances, he must be told in clear terms that he cannot make such claims of superiority to the state as he has done. No non-Nigerian can even say that Nigerian courts are unacceptable and yet engage in acts that could have implications for Nigeria’s sovereignty.

Kanu says he escaped during the invasion of his home by Nigerian soldiers. We have condemned that invasion – its manner, style and intent. We have defended the right of indigenous peoples to ask for self-determination, under the right circumstances. But no other Nigerian, including Igbos, believes that Nnamdi Kanu is superior to the Nigerian state.

He is on record as having said: “I am Nnamdi Kanu, no mortal flesh can kill me. They have not given birth to that very person. Since they didn’t want me to come to court, I shall come back to Biafra land…” If no mortal flesh can kill him, why run away then? Ple-a-se! Some other reports indicate that when Nnamdi Kanu returns, he will bring “hell”. I am not sure that is a correct public statement to make. I do not see many Nigerians who are looking forward to a promised “hell”. They are in hell already.

And they are not likely to rely on the words of a man who vanished, when the Nigerian hell became too hot, but he is now bragging that he will return and lead his followers to a hotter part of hell. When and if Kanu returns, (he is probably just bluffing), he may find a smaller crowd behind him. What will he say to the many families who lost loved ones and property while he and his own family fled to safety? “I owe my survival to the state of Israel”, Kanu says. “I want to send my solidarity to @GovAyoFayose”, he purportedly added.

There may be politics tied to Nnamdi Kanu’s return. Why now, when an Igbo man, has been named by the opposition party as Atiku Abubakar’s running mate? Is anyone using Nnamdi Kanu as a curve ball to frustrate the Atiku-Obi ticket? Who dragged him out of whatever hole he crawled into, now to use him to play politics? However, by his conduct, and utterances,

Kanu has watered down the potency of the revolution that he leads. He disappointed many. He has also failed to realise that while he was absent from the battle front, the dynamics of the revolution changed.

He wants to hold a Biafra referendum. The only referendum Nigerians are interested in at this moment is a referendum on the Buhari government. Nnamdi Kanu and associates should tarry a while. You can’t just jump off the train of revolution and expect to jump back, at an opportune time, from the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, with a ticket made of spittle and a sheet of prayer requests.

The “Oshiomhole must go” coalition

By Reuben Abati

Chief John Odigie Oyegun, former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) must be having a good laugh wherever he is. If he is just finishing a meal, he can afford to pick his teeth and belch from the deepest part of his biological system, and even turn up his nose as he asks for a glass of water. He can also look around and thank Karma for being kind to him, as he gulps down the water and reflects on the circumstances of the APC since he was shunted aside and Adams Oshiomhole, former Governor of Edo State and former labour leader, supplanted him.

Oyegun’s waterloo was the election in Ondo state and the emergence of Rotimi Akeredolu as Governor, and before then, his power-tussle with some key stakeholders in the South West wing of the ruling party. Oyegun was accused of being disdainful of reconciliation within the party, and not willing to work with some prominent stakeholders. He was seen as an obstacle to party cohesion.

He was sacrificed. His place was taken by Adams Oshiomhole. Oyegun took his humiliation with absolute equanimity and has not since then uttered any fighting words nor has he openly worn his hurt on his sleeves. If he is aggrieved, it would be difficult to find enough evidence, in this season of extreme emotionalism, to prove that such is the case. But if he has been so studiously silent, why we do we think he should laugh and pick his teeth?

Our answer is as follows. His successor, Adams Aliu Oshiomhole, in less than one year of supplanting him has blown nearly all the bridges of goodwill and conspiracy that brought him to power as Chairman of the ruling party. In October 2017, 17 APC governors plotted to remove John Odigie-Oyegun as Chairman of the ruling APC. He was accused of being too close to only 7 out of the 24 APC governors in the country then and that he was using his position to the advantage of the purportedly famous 7.

These seven Governors were named as Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Mohammed Abubakar (Bauchi), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Yahaya Bello (Kogi), and Samuel Ortom (Benue). They were called Oyegun’s “anointed Governors” with whom he was ruling the party. The loyalists of John Odigie-Oyegun at the time insisted that Adams Oshiomhole who had left the Governorship of Edo State and was looking for a job – so they alleged – was the man behind the anti-Oyegun plot. The detractors took their case to President Muhammadu Buhari. Oyegun soon lost his job. Oshiomhole replaced him.

But right now, in what looks like poetic justice, Oshiomhole is at the point where Oyegun was in 2017, and I dare say, he is in a worse position. We are told that 15 out of the 21 Governors of the APC, are now collecting signatures to force the National Executive Committee of the APC to unseat Adams Oshiomhole. In 2017, 17 APC Governors out of 24 wanted Oyegun out. Today, it is not just even 15 Governors that are against Adams Oshiomhole, there is a coalition of APC Presidential aspirants and you can add to that, other aspirants at every level in the recently concluded APC primaries, who are calling for Adams Oshiomhole’s head.

They accuse him of extortion and fraud. They say he has become “a cancer to APC”. Since his assumption of office, Adams Oshiomhole began to carry on like a “little Hitler”- that is what his own party members say behind him – and don’t ask anyone to come forward to say so publicly. Oshiomhole having won the crown of Chairmanship began to pound the floor like a conqueror. He issued threats to Ministers and threatened to sanction them if they did not listen to the party. He in fact began to sound as if he was President of the country. At more illumined moments, he even tried to do the job of the Minister of Information, party spokesperson and presidential spokespersons. He projected himself as a bundle of exaggerated enthusiasm and ambition.

The recent party primaries exposed the limits of Chairman Oshiomhole’s over-reaching politics. The Governors that were against Oyegun were 17. The ones that were for him were 7 as reported. In less than one year of taking over, Oshiomhole is far less popular. Under his watch, all the alleged pro-Oyegun Governors are biting their fingers. They have been battered, crippled, harassed and humiliated. Nasir el-Rufai almost had a heart-ache trying to prove his relevance in Kaduna politics.

The same with Rochas Okorocha of Imo. In Plateau, Simon Lalong began to sound openly like a member of the opposition. Samuel Ortom of Benue chose the option of defection back to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Yahaya Bello (Kogi) is neither here nor there. He follows wherever the Buhari tide flows. But the real issue is that even the Governors that used to be anti-Oyegun and pro-Oshiomhole have turned against Oshiomhole. They don’t want him anymore. In the same manner in which a majority rose against Oyegun in 2017, they have risen against him. This time, the problem is not coming from just Governors, but members of the National Assembly, and all the way down to the grassroots.

Evidentially, the APC, with Chairman Oshiomhole’s NWC in charge, conducted problematic primaries in states like Edo, Ogun, Delta, Rivers, Imo, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kano, Oyo… with negative results. Oshiomhole deployed the powers of the National Working Committee and his influence as Chairman, but he alienated the party’s power base. For this reason, the state Governors and other critical stakeholders are up in arms. In Ogun, Ibikunle Amosun does not understand why some Godfathers in Lagos and Oyo state will be allowed to have their way and he would not be allowed to have a say in the choice of his own successor.

In Zamfara, the Governor even threatened to take the law into his hands if his importance was ignored. In Kaduna, Governor el-Rufai’s arch-rival, Senator Shehu Sani is on his way out of the APC, into another party, and that has split the party in Kaduna state. In Lagos state, the party’s incumbent Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has been left in limbo, dangling between survival, a lost bid for a second term, and the threat of impeachment around his neck.

On October 21, Oshiomhole, through his aide, issued a statement saying that the reason there is a rebellion against him is because he has been a champion of party supremacy and internal democracy within the APC. Nobody believes that wordy, rambling statement. What is clear is that the party primaries conducted by the APC under Oshiomhole’s watch have been far from transparent.

They have been divisive and disruptive. The state of the APC right now, as I have argued elsewhere, is where the PDP was in 2015. Too many APC aspirants feel that they have been marginalized and excluded because Oshiomhole working with other actors, has hijacked the party. His argument that he is being persecuted because he is insisting on party supremacy is unimpressive. The APC party primaries were riddled with double standards and a descent into fascism by a man once known as a comrade. Oshiomhole may have committed the error of too much identification with the master. He talks about party supremacy. Those who use that phrase should be diplomatically reminded to double-check the source and quality of their knowledge.

They like to quote the United Kingdom, but not even in the UK is the party absolutely supreme – people hold on to their right to differ and be independent. Nobody votes in the House of Commons or the House of Lords like a robot. That is why Prime Minister Theresa May doesn’t have the absolute support of either her cabinet or the parliament on the question of Brexit. In the United Sates, the jurisdiction that we model our democracy after, nobody is a zombie under the banner of party supremacy. That explains the prolonged debate over the suitability of Brett Kavanaugh as a nominee for the US Supreme Court bench, despite the 51-49 majority in favour of Republicans. In Nigeria, the party Chairman expects party members at all levels to be zombies who take directives from the party. Adams Oshiomhole has not been defending party supremacy. He has been defending the supremacy of Adams Oshiomhole, and that is why he may lose his position as Chairman of the party.

Two things: we must remind ourselves that Governors are very powerful members of either ruling or opposition parties in Nigeria. They control the grassroots for the party and when their party is in power, they wield even greater influence. In either the PDP or the ruling APC, they insist on the control of the party through indirect primaries. In the last APC party primaries, the National Working Committee of the APC marginalized the Governors by voting for direct primaries, despite an earlier agreement that some latitude will be allowed based on the peculiar circumstances in each state. In handling the petitions from the various states, Oshiomhole ignored what had been previously agreed. The tragedy for the APC is that President Buhari is reportedly on the side of the party and Adams Oshiomhole.

President Buhari may support Oshiomhole but can he afford to go into the 2019 elections with a broken, damaged party? I may have predicted the implosion of the APC somewhat too early, but it seems to me that with Oshiomhole now asking the “Red Cross” to save him from drowning, the ruling APC in Nigeria, may have finally arrived at the crossroads. In 2015, the PDP talked about changing the game. The APC said they were bringing change. Now, the pre-election circumstances of the ruling APC may well be the game changer for the 2019 Nigerian Presidential and general elections. My simple view is that while changing Oshiomhole on the eve of the game may be the inevitable outcome of his own self-inflicted nemesis, perhaps the APC needs to beware of the lessons of history. If he is removed, there will be no orchids for him. If he survives as Chairman, the APC will still pay a price. The APC faces a Hobson’s choice.

Obi as Atiku’s gambit for unity

By Daniel Moses Achimugu

The choice of a former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi is the wisest political move by the PDP Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.  It is particularly and symbolically significant because it comes at a time Nigeria is ever divided over the issue of power rotation, justice and equity. Given the increasing agitations across the country arising from complaints of political marginalization and exclusion, the selection of Mr. Peter Obi as running mate to Atiku would go a long way to reassure the people of the southeast that no section of Nigeria is too small or too insignificant to be ignored in the affairs of the country.

Frustrations feed agitations and these separatist tendencies in the southeast can only be addressed by elected leaders who are just and broadminded enough to understand and respect our diversity. Atiku Abubakar has demonstrated enough courage and sincerity by acknowledging the fact that justice and equity is the foundation of building and sustaining a strong political union or federation.

By appointing a broadminded Igbo politician like Peter Obi as his running mate, Atiku leaves no one in doubt that he means business in his commitment to restructuring. The Waziri Adamawa believes in creating a better and fairer society. He believes justice is the foundation for achieving sustainable peace, he believes in respecting our diversity and the importance of restoring trust and reducing tensions across the country. Therefore, the choice of Peter Obi is welcome because the two of them share the same vision for a better and prosperous Nigeria.

The timing of the choice and the quality of Mr. Obi cannot be faulted by any sincere Nigerian. At a time the Nigerian economy is gasping for breath, thanks to poor management, Atiku needs a running mate with a sound understanding of the economy and management of resources.

Mr. Peter Obi is not only a politician but also a technocrat and a businessman with sound experience. His intellect is unassailable, and his business and management experiences are important assets that can add value to the Atiku Presidency.

Atiku’s choice of Mr. Obi shows clearly that the PDP presidential candidate understands the challenges facing Nigeria. The success or failure of any leader depends on the quality of the team he puts together. As former President Obasanjo noted, “the economy doesn’t obey orders.” In other words, fixing the economy requires competence, imagination, vision and resourcefulness.

One of the greatest virtues of Atiku Abubakar is his passion for excellence. In this regard, the choice of Peter Obi as his running mate is a reflection of this passion. Fixing the economy is brain work. An economy is like a patient, if you left the patient at the mercy of incompetent doctors, he might ultimately die.

There is, therefore, a valid reason why Atiku always goes for the best and brightest. He always surrounds himself with men and women of excellence. He doesn’t have stomach for mediocrity. It is not by accident that he always assembles a good team in order to achieve optimum results. He has an eye for quality, hence his choice of Mr. Peter Obi.

With a combination of Atiku/Peter Obi ticket, the country can achieve a favourable business and investment environment that could boost the enthusiasm of foreign investors. No leader takes chances with the economy.

Like Atiku, Mr. Obi has a rich business background, which gives him a good advantage in the management of the economy. Modern governments are run like a business because of the sound emphasis on reducing waste in government and promoting efficient and prudent management of resources. A successful economy is the foundation of successful job creation initiatives.

It is against this background that we can understand the wisdom behind the choice of Peter Obi as running mate by Atiku Abubakar. No President can achieve much without a competent team. Obi’s choice is the early first signs that Atiku is truly commuted to giving Nigerian economy a shot in the arm.

Neither Atiku nor Obi wants to be in government to make money. Both of them are successful businessmen and therefore, the passion for service is their primary motivation for seeking public office at this time. You cannot fight corruption without adequately addressing the issue poverty and job creation. And you cannot achieve the goal of job creation when the economy is poorly managed.

With a combination of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, the Nigerian economy can be reinvigorated and put on a sound footing of sustainable growth. The economy is central to the success of democratic rule. A badly managed economy may leave the people ever poorer and make life more hopeless. No wise voter should vote themselves into misery.

A president’s success also depends on the quality of those he appoints to help him run the government. He needs a strong vice president with intellect, experience, vision and knowledge about the efficient management of resource. The choice of Peter Obi falls clearly in line with Atiku’s desire to build a robust economy and get Nigeria working again.

Daniel Moses Achimugu, a commentator on public affairs wrote from Lokoja