Loathe or love Kanu, he has fought better

By Atiku Abubakar,

For 35 years, Anthony Enahoro, Afenifere, Ben Nwabueze, OPC, ọhaneze, MEND, MASSOB, Awolowo, and other reputable Nigerians tried and begged for restructuring, the north rebuffed them.

No body even took them serious. Nobody listened.

Then a little known rabble-rouser ran a pirate radio station from his matchbox room in Peckham. In three years he made the hitherto unfashionable and impossible thing central to our national politics.

Elrufai was in London yesterday talking restructuring.

They fought in Ondo in a meeting on restructuring, there is a Yoruba declaration.

Northern elders are shifting ground while pretending to grandstand.

You don’t have to agree with his style, I also don’t, but you must be one pretentious clown if you don’t acknowledge that Nnamdi Kanu, loathe or love him, has achieved what all those people and organizations have been fighting for over 35 years without success.

He did it in three years. The mass movement he inspired became a huge threat to the establishment.

They had to take him out. Sadly, ethnic bịas and hate from those who accuse him (rightly too) won’t let folks see or acknowledge what this man has done.

The fire he lit up will definitely lead to something tangible happening this time. People aren’t ready to take no and platitudes for answers again.

This much you can concede to kanu without letting the hate you often accuse of him of get the better of you.

Dead or alive, the little rabble-rouser from Afara-ukwu Umuahia has secured his place in history.

In the final analysis, immortality isn’t how long you live. It is how long your name is remembered, and for good or bad, Kanu will be remembered for ages as the man that took aim at the very heart of the Nigerian political establishment and they rolled in the tanks to quell him.

That is something you must concede.

When history is made, the protagonists rarely know the consequences of the chain of events they unleashed.

But posterity will always remember.

Kanu has been many things to many people- uncouth, brash, hateful, obsessed, a charlatan, a clown, a messiah, a saviour, a fraud, etc. We can’t seem to agree. We must agree though that he has also been an agent of change.
Should the current fever on restructuring succeed, kanu should take credit for birthing it.

Atiku is the former Vice President of Nigerian between 1999-2007

Nigeria and needed true third force

By Azibola Omekwe

It evokes anger why after nearly 58 years of Nigeria independence, we are still battling to save country. Our mates and even younger peers have gone to the moon as well as have gone nuclear. They manufacture and sell aircraft on the counter.

Power supply does not blink in these countries, while we are grappling with who is performing and who is not. We are, however, grateful to Baba Obasanjo, for his perpetuity in intervening in our polity in his so long a “love” letter.

We are really grateful to Baba for telling the APC-led government to stop stealing our money while they sermonize that PDP is to be blamed for their lack of performance.

The government has suddenly discovered an art for its cluelessness.

PDP ‘misrule’ is to be blamed for paying subsidy on petrol nobody knows the giver nor the receiver, or even the amount. It is to be blamed for our medical personnel to dread going to work because it is a death trap.

What a hell for patients! PDP is to be blamed for the killings in Zamfara State, a scenario worse than Benue State while the state and federal officials are afraid to speak. It is to be blamed when it is a faceless cabal and not the president that is ruling Nigeria.

Of course, we can blame it on the Minister of Justice to go to court to stop senate from investigating Abdulrasheed Maina; while the president is ‘angry’ he was ever reinstated.

Nigerians have declared him wanted as a people while the relevant institutions are yet to do so. Of course, PDP’s 16 years of ‘misrule’ caused the scandals in the NNPC under Buhari as the Petroleum Minister.

Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo has often come to the rescue. While other former presidents traverse the length and breadth of Nigeria preaching peace and unity, he was bold enough to say corruption is worse than Nigeria has ever known. Baba is supposed to know.

He convincingly enumerated the sins of this government; that is irrefutable. The Oracle of the hills and the caves of Ota farm declared: Buhari forget 2019, go home and rest.

We commend Obasanjo to have spoken the minds of Nigerians to the president to take a deserved rest and join the fray of statesmen in advising Nigerians until death do you part.

The accusations on this government are weighty and there is no way Buhari can redeem himself out of it. Under this regime bloody clashes are uncountable, the highest in the annals of the country so far. That is unacceptable.

These and many more are the attacks and counter attacks of the political parties against one another.

At a point in time, Obasanjo’s party card came to the rescue. Since the government of the day was not performing, he tore it publicly.

Sometime ago when APC was at its best blaming PDP for its incompetence, he came with another antic that he actually did not tear the card and that he could use it to remove them out of power. And after the card phase, now heralds the third force.

The Third Force concept herein is metaphoric. It is the force that seems to fix those things that are beyond the available means or political power. This concept came like a beautiful toast in the best words to Nigerians.

It came jaw dropping and has caused the not so careful and anxious people to sit on the edges of their chairs. It is presumably made up of people who are not part of the political class. That is, with these guys, it is not business as usual.

One would quickly think these guys are from the galaxy and they have come out with the magic solution. A quick recall of how the APC came out with their masterpiece strategies.

You may require a third eye, perhaps a pair of binoculars, to look where the signatories of the third force are coming from. Big names, as usual. But lo and behold, when the major force behind the third force was mentioned one would quickly recall a diversionary Obasanjo.

Between 1999 and 2007 Nigeria had several billions of dollars from oil that cannot be accounted for today.

The mention of Buba Galadima’s name on the signatories is only laughable to see an exhumation of a ‘dead body’. Alhaji Galadima was a founding father of the defunct CPC that gave birth to the nightmarish APC.

His is simple: he fell out of favour with the APC and quickly turned into self-acclaimed activism against them; hence his participation in the third force.

One thing would quickly come to mind: does it mean if a system you supposedly actively initiated does no longer favour you or you fall out of grace with it, that now automatically makes you an activist? Senator Shehu Sani is a renowned activist yet he is in APC, even when they are not heeding to his quarrels.

At the sight of the name of a supposedly young man, Donald Duke in the third force, the multi billion Naira debt Cross River State incurred under him quickly comes to mind. And the mirage called Tinapa Resort quickly comes to mind too.

These are some of the core forerunners of the third force. Nigeria should be tired of a preservationist system – these are people that have been in the political class one time or the other. They are not coming from the blues. They have not even given Nigeria a clear-cut mission statement that is sellable.

It is a matter of nomenclature. We have had third forces right from Shagari’s reign. Buhari came to power in 1983 as a third force. PDP’s emergence in 1999 in our nascent democracy was like a third force. APC came like a beautiful bride three years ago, that was also a third force. Today, the christened ‘third force’ is chorusing.

The trend is now scientific. Nigerians can be told to forget the sitting government and welcome a third force, and when the third force fails, then reconsider a fourth force and this becomes generic to a fifth force and so on.

Governance is not about a clique of people with their intrigues. It is about a click on ideas to transform into a workable system that is sustainable. Cliques break but ideas stay. There is a need for Nigeria to build a workable system in line with this famous quote: “America has no government but a system”. Nigeria has just identified one: the restructuring to a true federalism that Atiku Abubakar is modelling now.

A prudent thinker like Obasanjo would have called Atiku Abubakar and asked him how this system that the latter is fore-running would strive and free Nigeria from the suffering since it is a novel theory.

It would only behoove on the theorist to tell Nigerians how the system would deliver an egalitarian society; how it would answer vexatious questions concerning cattle colonies; how it would make the leaders of the unit states go to work and stop relying on the central government; how the unit states would have to harness their resources; how an Ortom would not have to fill or make several fruitless applications to the Inspector General of Police and receive insults as a “drowning man” in Abuja before he swoops on perpetrators of dastardly acts in his state; how a state can be able to lend another money without waiting for the Federal Government for bailouts. The benefits are endless.

Why can’t Obasanjo embrace this groundbreaking idea together with the scholar and promoter behind it? It is a revolutionary theory in its right.

Lest we forget, brain efficiency and capability has nothing to do with age. Leadership has nothing to do with age – it has to do with what you have got to offer. Ideology is diametrically different from age discrepancy. After all, long awaited solutions do not come as picking something from the shelf; it comes after years of working the library, studios, laboratories, fields, etc.

Let us come to look at it critically: if it were an issue of young age, then states like Kogi would have been boasting of having the best governor but empirical findings look the other direction.

Having something to offer has to do with forceful research for solutions. With the nationalistic embrace given to the restructuring ideology, it is enough to say that restructuring is the true third force.

Omekwe is a former member of Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

Protecting Nigerian consumers

By Bolaji Odumade

It is often said that ‘consumer is king’. Again, it is common in this part of the world to hear phrase such as ‘consumer or customer is always right’.

Yet, in our nation, events playing out in our day-to-day life never cease to project consumer in any manner near being ‘chief’ not to talk of being ‘king’. What happens mostly in this clime cases of consumer being shortchanged, coined, cornered and underrated.

Then Oxford advanced Learner’s dictionary defines consumer as someone or a person who buys into goods products and services for utility purpose. It can then be assumed that any good, product or service that does not meet the need of consumer is not worthy of being produced and the manufacturers have no basis for being in business.

Many a times, consumers in Nigeria suffer untold hardship, hazard, deprivation and wastage of scarce resource because they are not in any way protected by the law. Even in exceptional cases of clear cut evidence of abuse, cost and time of seeking redress becomes a source of discouragement.

A case in mind is that of a young female small scale entrepreneur who took a loan to establish a small factory. She contracted a factory equipment company to supply and install the production equipment. Having paid the agreed costs, she was to get frustrated by the substandard nature of equipment that was supplied. Thus, she was in a double dilemma. One, she had a bank loan to repay. Two, she had an equipment that was useless to change.

Till date, as they say in local parlance, she is on her own trying to sort out the mess as the supplier feign ignorance concerning the inferior kind of equipment installed This, of course, is the tragedy of the Nigerian consumer. He is always on his own!

Every day in Nigeria, consumers are at the mercy of producer or the person offering the services being consumed. From goods, products and services, the story is the same. Outdoor advertisement, electronic medium, print and social media have become instrument through which consumers make informed decision on products and services that are supposed to meet their needs in addition to client’s service consumers direct persuasion. In advanced countries such as the United Kingdom, consumers’ protection is of paramount interest to the government. This is because consumers determine the destiny of the economy of any nation.

It is to this end that they are protected through multiplicity of Acts of Parliaments, through which government agencies, citizens and concerned lobby groups ensure that the market economy produces fairness and also ensure quality in goods and services people patronize. Their constitution also supports fairer terms in contracts for goods or services, while declaring onerous terms as unfair. Their constitution gives legal backing to ensuring that products that are potentially harmful don’t find its way into their country. It further puts financial regulation in place to make credit cheaper to access with full understanding of the obligations they have, when securing loans.

In a nation that was once colonized by British administration, one would have expected the Nigerian government to emulate policies such that enhances the growth of the economy and secure our society from needless wastage, security threat and dumping ground for all sorts of substandard products or services. Rather, the culture here supports the importation of sub-standard products, to the detriment of consumers.

Every day consumers buy products and services that fall short of minimum standard and expectation. Not even the inscription ‘SON (Standard Organisation of Nigeria) approved’ is sufficient enough to guarantee customers’ satisfaction. Many advocacy groups have made tremendous efforts in times past, giving voice to the voiceless; hope to the hopeless. In some instances, these groups have succeeded in using diverse avenue to register their displeasure over breach of trust, abuses and sheer exploitation of consumers.

While some culprits have saved face by addressing issues raised, others have ignored concerns of the advocacy groups. Sadly, rather than address the real issues raised by consumers and the advocacy groups, majority of organizations involved shamelessly take to lobbying policy makers to overlook their acts of gross negligence. So, consumers simply continue to suffer in silence.

But then, hope seems to be rising for consumers, especially those in Lagos as things might possibly change for the better soon. In view of its concern for the interest of consumers, the Lagos State Government recently enacted the law that establishes the Lagos State Consumer Protection Agency. The law, which was passed by the State House of Assembly in 2015, has since been assented by the state Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode. Under the law establishing the agency, a convict would be mandated to pay penalty considered appropriate by court as compensation to consumers’ whose right has been infringed on.

This could not have come in a better time than this. It is no longer news that Lagos state with its huge population is the commercial nerve center of West Africa. Consequently, Lagos is the hub of diverse commercial activities. Sadly, however, according to Governor Ambode, in-spite of this huge commercial standing, Lagos has to contend with the highest reported cases of daily infractions on consumers’ right. In view of its immense commercial rank; Lagos has a huge and growing industrial presence. It, therefore, becomes necessary to put in place reforms that will ease doing business in Lagos with due diligence that will enhance consumers’ satisfaction.

With a membership that cuts across both the public and private sector, the establishment of the Lagos State Consumer Agency is expected to in no small time stem the tide of consumers’ right abuses, not only in Lagos but in the country at large. It is hoped that the agency would really live up to expectations by ensuring that consumers are well protected. This can only be done if its officials refuse to compromise on the principles that set the Agency up. It is only in doing this that we can rightly affirm that in our own clime also, consumers are truly kings.

Odumade is of the Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja

Obasanjo and the extent of presidential powers

By Ruben Abati

More than a week after former President Olusegun Obasanjo released his state of the nation commentary and devastating assessment of the Buhari administration, it has remained the main subject in the public arena in Nigeria.

It is a measure of the stature, influence and capacity of the elder statesman that whenever he intervenes as he has done, he sets the tone for public debate and the country’s future political direction.

I have already commented at length on the appropriateness, timeliness, depth, brutal honesty and shortcoming of that statement on both television and radio, more than twice, but there is an additional aspect that the statement further throws up, namely the nature and extent of presidential powers to wit: should Obasanjo blame Buhari?

It is common practice in Nigeria for political commentators, either on the streets or in formal situations to make excuses for Presidents, either serving or retired. You are likely to hear statements such as: “The President is a good man, it is just that he is surrounded by bad advisers and ministers”, or something like “Buhari is not the problem, the problem is that he has been hijacked by a cabal, or as the view was once expressed – “a cabal is now in charge!” The powers, style and limitations of the President are hardly ever placed in proper context. Proponents of the positivism of Presidential powers always speak in terms of “Good President, bad aides” in the Nigerian Presidential system, contrary to the norm that the buck stops at the President’s table.

President Obasanjo’s various assessments of sitting administrations adopt a different orientation. He holds the President personally responsible for the performance or non-performance of his government.

In his recent statement on the Buhari administration, he thus characteristically accused President Buhari of nepotism, lack of understanding of the internal dynamics of Nigerian politics, blame-passing, condoning of misconduct and outright incompetence. He more or less ascribes to the President of Nigeria the powers and the responsibility to provide leadership and ensure good governance.

In his view, in areas where the President lacks capacity, it is his duty to recruit competent persons to assist him and where and when he fails, he is still the one to be held responsible.

The underlying principle in Obasanjo’s statement is that those to whom power is bequeathed must be accountable for the exercise of such power. In his only reference to advisers in his intervention, Obasanjo uses the word “so-called advisers.” It is most unfortunate that in the various responses from government and its agents to the Obasanjo statement, there has been no attempt to take on Obasanjo on the issues.

He has been called names by hired voices, or system sycophants, and all he got from the Minister of Information was an acknowledgement note and a patronising “Baba-is-a-patriot”, tepid climb-down, without a word of defence on the substantial question about how the incumbent President has abdicated responsibility and failed the leadership test.

For me, there are a number of projected questions: Can a President actually be held responsible for the failings of the government he heads? Should the blame for an administration’s failures be heaped on the head of a past government and its officials? Who can be held liable in the circumstance – a cabal, former Ministers, or those exercising delegated authority? For whereas Obasanjo holds every President accountable, I have heard persons claim that he has no moral right to do so. It is even alleged that President Buhari cannot be questioned because he is answerable only to the people whose sovereignty he personifies.

President Obasanjo, by heaping the blame and the responsibility, on the head of President Muhammadu Buhari is drawing attention to the full extent of the ascribed and inherent powers of the President under the Constitution. The Nigerian Constitution in letter and spirit makes the Nigerian President an Emperor with near-absolute powers.

There may be checks and balances on his powers here and there, in terms of his having recourse to the National Assembly on certain issues and having to make consultations, but in totality, the Constitution confers on him a kingly prerogative, especially on matters of policy and its execution.

His powers are extensive and expansive. Under Section 5(1) of the Constitution, he is empowered to either exercise his powers directly or to delegate. His relationship with those to whom he delegates authority is akin to that between an agent and a disclosed principal.

Section 5(1) is instructive: “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive powers of the Federation – (a) shall be vested in the President and may, subject as aforesaid and to the provisions of any law made by the National Assembly, be exercised by him either directly or through the Vice-President or Ministers of the Government of the Federation or other officers in the public service of the Federation; and

Section 148(1) adds:

“The President may, in his discretion, assign to Vice-President or any Minister of the government of the Federation responsibility for any business of the Government of the Federation, including the administration of any department of government.”

It stands to reason therefore that whatever is done by those agents, lawfully and within the bounds of Presidential approval, are within the scope of the responsibility of the President. In other words, the President cannot pass the buck. So, is it right to say Buhari is a good man, but the problem is the cabal? Or to hold heads of MDAs liable for acts that were carried out with Presidential authority and approval?

The President is the custodian of the social contract with the people as defined in Section 14, and where there is a failure of consideration in this regard, the government is deemed not only to have lost legitimacy, the President is deemed to have failed. This is a key point in Obasanjo’s statement, which makes it notably different from similar interventions by him in the past.

The term or the group known as “cabal” is unknown to the Nigerian Constitution but the Constitution knows the President. Section 148 also recognises that Ministers are appointees of the President, exercising delegated authority.

This is why the National Assembly cannot impeach Ministers; they can only be sanctioned or relieved of their duties by their appointer, namely the President. Where the conduct of any government official is in question, it is important to establish whether or not such a person acted beyond the scope of the approval or directive given or whether or not such was ratified by the President.

However, no public official is allowed under the law to carry out an unlawful directive, where such happens, such a person is personally liable. In practical terms, this has been a source of problem. Nigerian Presidents function like Emperors. How many appointees can stand in front of a President and query his authority, or turn down his directive?

I align with the definition of responsibility in Obasanjo’s review of the exercise of presidential authority. For instance, there are cases in court against Ministers and advisers who served under the Jonathan administration over matters such as the spending of security votes and sale of oil blocks, but to what extent can they be held responsible for obeying presidential directives? Today, in President Buhari’s Aso Villa, the Chief of Staff in particular has been accused within the public domain of many things.

Does anyone really believe that a Chief of Staff can act on his own without Presidential backing and not lose his job?

When the matter of MTN’s underpayment of sanctions sum came up and the penalty sum was allegedly reviewed downwards after some consideration, the MTN Executive that was involved was sanctioned, and Nigerians asked that certain government officials should similarly be sanctioned, but to date, nothing has happened.

Could that have been the case without the President’s knowledge? In the more recent controversial case of Abdulrasheed Maina, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami who was accused of protecting a man who had been sacked from service on the grounds of embezzlement, pilfering and corruption, had said that he acted with the knowledge and approval of the President.

Can he possibly in the future be called to account for his action even when he was carrying out a Presidential directive, apparent or otherwise? After all, his explanation was further confirmed from the statement of the Head of Service to the Federation who said when the issue came up, she notified the President of the likely backlash.

When the National Assembly summons a prominent government official and he or she refuses to honour the invitation, can it be assumed that any Presidential appointee can be so dismissive of the legislature without Presidential concurrence? When recently there was a face-off between the Department of State Security, the National Intelligence Agency and the EFCC, with the intelligence agencies insisting that they or their former bosses cannot be questioned by the EFCC, could they have gotten away with it without Presidential approval? It is noteworthy that the intelligence agencies report directly to the President and take directives from him.

They relate to other departments of government only on a need-to-know basis. There is also that other matter between Dr Ibe Kachikwu and NNPC GMD, Kanti Baru, with the latter insisting that he had Presidential approval. Can either party be arrested in the future for “alleged corruption” in the light of the revelation by the Vice President, then acting as President, that he only gave “non-financial approvals?”

Our point therefore is that everything in our Presidential democracy revolves around the President. Whereas the Constitution, upholding the separation of powers, vests the authority of the other two tiers of government: the legislature (Section 4) and the judiciary (Section 6) in institutions, the 1999 Constitution vests executive authority not in any institution, but the person of the President.

The Presidency is not a collegiate; technically, even the Vice President has no powers. He can only function to the extent of powers delegated to him by the President, and even the very limited powers assigned to him can only be exercised under presidential directive.

This is partly why when President Buhari went on a medical vacation and Vice President Osinbajo acted as President, there were persons who accused him of becoming ambitious and trying to seize Presidential powers even when he had been granted delegated authority.

The second time the President travelled, the Vice President was directed to act only as a co-ordinator! The President is granted immunity from prosecution; while in office, he is regarded as a Messiah, such that even the powers of the National Assembly to impeach him in the event of “gross misconduct” or “incapacitation” are difficult to execute.

More than at any other time, the Buhari administration has further problematized the extent of the powers of a President by calling to question virtually every act and directive under the preceding Jonathan administration. If a President gave a directive and it was lawfully carried out, without the agent going on a frolic of his own, and without any wilful act of criminality, should such agents become the target of a witch-hunt? By stretching the matter in this direction, the Buhari administration may have created the basis for the growth of a political culture based on vendetta and the source of its own lack of vibrancy.

This probably explains why under this administration, delegated authority is being exercised with so much fear. The Ministers and heads of parastatals and agencies are so scared because they imagine that even when they carry out directives, they may be held liable tomorrow by a different government. Already, they are being told that they are the problem and not the President. Why shouldn’t a future government arrest and detain them and tell them that the execution of a Presidential directive is no protection? They may ultimately end up as victims of their current triumphalism.

By demonising former public officials, and undermining the powers of a past President to exercise power and authority through legitimate and lawful delegation, the Buhari administration may unwittingly make public service unattractive and set a disturbing precedent. Be sure, however that the Nigerian public in the future will still argue that “Baba is a good man, it was the cabal that caused his problems.” Good intentions alone do not guarantee good leadership: this is the underlying moral of the Obasanjo statement. Whether or not he can mount the high horse to say this is beyond the purview of this present commentary.

But here is the long-term challenge: Can a President who has been given so much powers under the Constitution be allowed to abdicate responsibility? Section 5(1) and Section 148, and other relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution on Presidential powers present grey areas that throw up jurisprudential questions that should be clarified and resolved. It is an issue on which Nigerians must make a value judgment: do we need to preserve the status quo or is there a need to review the extent of Presidential powers? There are two ways forward: a constitutional amendment of Presidential powers to make Presidents more accountable, more institution-based and less omnipotent, or a resolution of the dilemma through the jurisprudence of our courts.

Why I stand with Buhari

By Femi Adesina 

These are very difficult times in our country. Sad, mournful and dolorous times, as the New Year opened with killings in Rivers, Kaduna, Taraba, and Benue states, among others. Of course, there had been gruesome carnage on the Mambilla plateau mid last year, and bloodletting in Numan, Adamawa State, as well as in other places. Hell suddenly seemed to have enlarged itself against Nigeria. Sincere condolences to those who are grieving and mourning the loss of loved ones.

But instead of finding solutions, and joining to chart the way forward, some people are making political capital out of the killings. They are trying to use the orgy of bloodshed to advance their political interests, wanting to make it appear that it is a failure of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Faults are thick where love is thin. There is prejudice in Nigeria. Plenty. There is insularity, in prodigious quantity. There is animus, antipathy against anyone that is not of your ethnic or religious stock, or that belongs to a different political orientation or persuasion. If you meet him, kill him, if you can’t catch him, poison his footsteps, seems to be the singsong among some people. And as the build up to general elections next year gathers momentum, matters are made worse. Everything must be politicized, including wanton killings. There must be spurious handshakes across the Niger, and across the Benue, all for political gains.

But I stand with Buhari, and will always do. Why won’t you? Your snout is in the honeypot, licking the nectars of office, some cynics would say. Really? My bank balances do not indicate so. It is not just about money. It is about conviction. It is about believing in a man who can bring enduring change to our country, if we allow God to have His way through him.

Standing with Buhari through thick and thin is not about money, or the spoils of office, which are not even available in these lean times. In or out of my present position, I stand with Buhari. Sir Walter Scott wrote: “Other people’s resolutions may fluctuate on the wild and changeful billows of human opinion. Ours, now and forever, are anchored on the Rock of Ages.” In or out of government, I stand with Buhari. Why? You will get to know shortly.

There is strident attempt to defame, demean and de-market the Buhari government today. Who are those behind it? The crooks, thieves, freeloaders, who want business as usual. They hate probity. Their souls abhor accountability. They prefer the plunder of the past years, and can’t wait to see that epoch return.

They engage in all sorts of misinformation and disinformation. Hate speeches. Fake news. Under us, you had leeks, onions and garlic to eat. You were fed manna till you wanted no more. When you were tired of the fluffy stuff, we gave you meat, you gorged yourself so much, till meat began to come out of your noses.

They wouldn’t tell you about what William Shakespeare calls “the goodly apple, but rotten at the cheek.” They won’t tell you about humongous amounts of money made from oil, which stood at over $100 dollars per barrel for about six years, and which they looted to the last cent. Foreign reserves; depleted. Excess Crude Account; looted.

Federation Account; plundered. They turned the country to a wasteland, leaving an economy primed for recession. But deftly and sure-footed, the Buhari administration is building a new foundation for the economy, erecting an edifice that will stand the test of time, not a bubble that collapses with just a pinprick, not a will-o-the-wisp that vanishes in the midday sun.

That is why I stand with Buhari, and have stood with him since he was a military leader in the 1980s. I can trust this President. I can go to bed, knowing that my leader is not striking deals to fleece the country in the dead of night. I can trust that every money that comes into the coffers of Nigeria, will be used for the good of Nigerians.

Am I saying it is a perfect administration? Such has not been forged from the smithy of the divine powers. Every human enterprise will have its shortcomings, but on Buhari I still stand. I stand with him, and by him, any day.

Some people ask themselves: can we afford to be outside government for another four years from 2019? We would be dead! No access to the public treasury, which we know how well to abuse and plunder? To ravage and savage. They have spat into the sky, and collected the spittle with their faces.

Rather than let Buhari be, we would employ all the tricks in the books. Defame, demean, de-market him. Is he not Fulani? He is supporting herdsmen causing murder and mayhem round the country. Trumpet it from the rooftops, even without a scintilla of evidence.

He is sectional, and bent on Islamizing the country. He is fighting a one sided anti-corruption war. His war against insurgency is a fluke, not winnable.

They refuse to see massive investments in infrastructure, which would burst into full bloom in another year or two. Roads, rail, power. They refuse to see the rebounding economy, strides in agriculture and mining, all with good auguries for the future. They refuse to acknowledge the stock market, which recently recorded N15.78 trillion, the highest in the history of the country.

What of N1.3 trillion spent on capital projects in 2016? And almost the same amount for 2017? No, they rather imagine how much of that amount they would have pocketed if they were in power, living in obscene luxury, while the rest of the country went to hell, if it wanted.

They refuse to see the good things happening to the country. And none is as blind as those who deliberately refuse to see. All these and more are the reasons I stand with Buhari, and will always do. So that Nigeria can have a future and a hope. Our own Canaan, flowing with milk and honey.

After primitive fury was unleashed in Benue, and about 73 people were left dead, a sitting President eyeing reelection could also play politics with it, visiting and muttering the right words to impress the people. Nothing wrong.

But for President Buhari, action speaks louder than words. Action stations, he told the security agencies. The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations was first despatched, then the Minister of Interior, the Inspector General of Police himself, and then the Nigerian Army.

Consultations were held with the governor of the state, with Benue elders, and now, a committee headed by the Vice President, made up of nine governors, has been set up to proffer solutions to farmers/herdsmen clashes. Action truly speaks louder than words.

President Buhari has not thrown his hat officially into the ring for a second term in office. But they are in mortal fear of him running. Therefore, they do all they can to dissuade him. Malign him, paint him black, devalue him before the electorate. But they don’t know that there are many devices in the hearts of men, but only the counsel of God shall stand. If God has ordained President Buhari to be in power beyond 2019, human effort to stop it can only end in futility.

I stand with Buhari, because it is solid ground for Nigeria. All other ground I see, at least for now, is sinking sand. For us, for our children, for generations yet unborn, Buhari is engendering a new country, whose builder and maker is God. Let the wailers wail; endlessly. Let the heathens rage; till they render themselves hoarse.

Let them throw even the kitchen sink at him, they did worse in the build up to 2015. I stand with Buhari. I know his heart for Nigeria, and for Nigerians. Let people shed their prejudices. Let them eschew hate, and purge themselves of all malice. The future can only then be written in gold.

Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and publicity.

Between decamping and governance

By Azibola Omekwe,

The other day Dele Agekameh continued the hype of Atiku’s decamping from the APC to the PDP. It is clear it has generated a spirit that has possessed Nigeria in recent times.

The hullabaloo is buzzing, akin to Nigeria having successfully won the World Cup, or the Nigerian economy having overtaken that of the USA and China.

More to that, it is being believed to be a criminal thing since words like “political prostitution” were used to describe this lawful and basic right of a public figure who has been a champion in the public service, business and politics.

In a country where it is believed that most public office holders have skeletons in their cupboard, Atiku has thrown a challenge to the whole world for anyone who has evidence of any thievery by him to come forward with it.

The truth is that there are enemies of Nigerians who do not want him to be president come 2019. And they believe that the surest way to stop him is to tar him with corruption. But none has come forward to the challenge.

This is the most delicate open declaration by someone who has been in a Nigerian cash agency like the Customs Service and has been a Vice President for eight years. The person he is likely to contest against, in an apparent challenge to Atiku, dared him to go to the United States as if that country is more concerned about corruption in Nigeria than he who claimed he was going to arrest corrupted people and jail them.

But as at now, this purported austere president of ours who has led us in evidence against Atiku’s decamping is being linked to one of the best built residential estates in Nigeria.

Surprisingly, the press missed that. If I may ask, how can Atiku’s decamping raise dust more than an exuberant first family?

 The most shocking of all is how the media has decided to oblige the present APC-led regime by being diverted to talk about Atiku decamping. Why do we have to cast aspersion on what is lawful? We urge the media to rather look at Atiku’s character of sacrifice for democracy. What about his journey from grass to grace? Can the youth learn and hope in such a model? What is his position on restructuring and devolution of power? Why is he not intimidated by such a new national phase? We believe those are the things that should engage us. Why criminalise a lawful act?

Truth be told, this provides us with a choice come 2019. Should we undermine the opportunity of choice to talk about a lawful action which most politicians including the president are guilty of? If we enact a law that all Nigerian politicians who ever decamped be banned from politics, we might require a microscope to sift through those who never did.

Since the advent of democracy, the Nigeria media has shown itself to be the best guardian of Democracy. They had severally mobilized Nigerians to oppose obnoxious government actions. A classic example was the role they played on the occasion of bedridden late Yar’Adua. A major newspaper based in the north in collaboration with Obasanjo told Yar’Adua to give way for the necessary things to be done. Obasanjo said exactly what Nigerians wanted. That was the deadly blow that quashed the stalemate. Barrage of opinions ensued. And then death came calling and Nigeria moved forward. The rest is history.

In virtually every sector in the country, the Nigeria media has performed creditably. On Goodluck Jonathan, they preferred a Buhari replacement thereby throwing decorum overboard. Admittedly, while many worked behind the scenes for Buhari, a handful were objective, which automatically did not work in favour of Goodluck Jonathan. The ones who wanted GEJ out went on unsolicited whistle-blowing of everything he touched. It was a hysterical blitzkrieg. Some papers did what they did under the guise of for ‘God and Country’, and for ‘trust’ while a handful of them desperately wanted Jonathan.

Buhari won. High Chief Raymond Dokpesi spoke about the written and unwritten reasons GEJ lost that election. They are obvious. Perhaps for national expediency and the tragedy that has continually haunted Nigeria, nobody would be bold enough to come out to put it in black and white. In fact, it was better we let it be and face the restructuring we want.

 Coincidentally when Buhari came to power, executives of some popular media houses got appointed to ‘juicy’ positions. They are Nigerians. It is their right. They had been very critical of governance throughout the days of PDP. But we are lucky those that criticised the government came to power. Nigerians have never seen worse poverty like today. Bomb blasts have considerably been reduced with a great takeover by cattle herdsmen. There is increased insecurity on our roads. Nigerians are generally afraid to travel. Surprisingly, the media has gone to sleep on a general note. They are silent over practically everything that has gone wrong: joblessness, runaway unemployment, inflation and insecurity. They probably have decided to ‘siddon and look’ before they react.

 But how come they are now agitated about Atiku’s decamping when no doom statistics roused them? When foreign debt has attained a frightening position? Are they sold by the ‘righteousness’ of Buhari? How does righteous and austere living substitute for good governance? How can we trust austere character more than Nigeria’s future? Is it true that soon there will be an increase in pump price of petrol? Lest we forget, a section of the media, political parties and civil society had insisted there must not be increase in price of petrol during Goodluck Jonathan’s regime. But this administration doubled the price of petrol and wants to do so again. However, because ‘our mumu never do’, we saw nothing wrong with it. There is no need for a strike again because some people have crossed the bridge and are no longer sorrowful. They are however on guard against anyone who decamps and leaves their party for another to challenge them. They are sure of our gullibility to remind us of how staying in one party is morally right. But then they would have us forget that the political party they started with has gone into extinction. The government of the day has performed so creditably that some columnists have decided to partner with it to make sure Nigerians remain in the government party – apologies to Dele Agekameh. In fact, those who provided a platform to tell late Yar’Adua to resign are now commissioning already-made railway and dry port with no tangible start-up facilities in the face of poverty. That Nigeria would soon produce the highest population of the poor in 2018; what percentage would the north take under Buhari? All eyes on Atiku’s decamping rather, says the media.

Recently, Rotimi Amaechi accused Goodluck Jonathan of squandering the Excess Crude Account. Everybody was stupefied for this crass falsehood. In fact, the fight to squander the ECA as propounded by Amaechi was his journey to stardom then in opposition circles. We have not forgotten how Amaechi and his co-travellers rushed to court and defeated the government to bring the ECA for sharing. The future did not matter at all. But few weeks ago, he had the temerity to tell Nigerians that he fought to protect the ECA. Sadly, Atiku’s decamping noise completely dwarfs that part. The government machinery redirected our attention to a mere moral bias that is even lawful instead of reprimanding Amaechi for peddling falsehood. The media did not find it fit to rebuke the government for Rotimi Amaechi’s action. Our children, future leaders, have been taught one lesson: if you are feeding fat, nothing matters again. This terrible silence by a section of the media has sown a seed and raised falsehood to statecraft. But can it be admitted that this government has degenerated to this extent? We were told he is a man of integrity. In short, he is on the verge of rewarding Amaechi with re-appointment as a campaign DG. Telling lies apparently is going to be the thrust of this government.

But let it be clear, this government is not really against decamping even if it happens a million times. What made Atiku’s decamping distasteful is that he decamped from APC to a party that would unseat them. Just steal all the money you can, you could even be the most sought after guy in the EFCC. But all you need is to decamp to APC then walk majestically; the chief host of the party would be at the gate welcoming you with a lot of hype and razzmatazz. Then the EFCC will eventually understand. Then the money you stole will have gone forever. Even the media does not see such commando decamping as anything. Truth is, they have crossed the bridge and feel no more sorry. 

 Nigerians, remember nobody knew who reinstated Abdulrasheed Maina. By the utterances of his lawyer, it shows the man is in the good books of the government and the last has not been heard about him. The latest frivolous application of the Attorney General of the Federation before the Federal High Court shows the silhouette position of the government in Maina’s case. Nigerians have moved on despite Buhari’s henchmen knowing and protecting him. The Nigeria media and civil society that kept vigil in Abacha’s regime have been kowtowed. Emboldened by Nigerians pliability, the in-thing in town is that the dead and zombies are now on our pay roll! That is upping the stakes. Since some are preoccupied with Atiku’s decamping, ghost workers now hold sway. And if you complain too much, they will tell you it was a mistake.

Atiku has decamped from the APC to the PDP. We know. But how does that surpass the inaccurate lies that have characterised the fuel crisis since December last year? For the sake of hapless Nigerians, Atiku needed to decamp. Some are decamping to save their loot while he decamped for good governance that he is obsessed with. He can decamp for the sake of the Nigerian state. Remember, even a section of the media and the civil society have decamped from vigilance.

 

Hon. Omekwe is a former member of Bayelsa State House of Assembly.

Buhari at 75: Why God kept him alive

By Femi Adesina,

Let me begin by telling a story. On June 1, 2015, the day I resumed work as adviser on media to President Muhammadu Buhari, he had admonished me: “Adesina, always tell me the truth. That is what I want from you. In this type of position I have found myself, it is very easy not to be told the truth.

People will just tell you what they think you want to hear. But from you, I want the truth. As a General, I may argue, but please argue with me. Tell me the truth always.”

Based on that blank cheque I’d been given, I went to the residence one evening last year to see the President. That was the time there was deafening talk of hunger from different parts of the country. I wanted to be sure that the talk was not being filtered from the President.

Of course, I know him as somebody who reads newspapers religiously, and wherever we are in the face of the world, he asks for media highlights from Nigeria. So, he would not be unaware of what Nigerians were going through. But I still wanted to raise it with him.

“Mr President, there is hunger in the land, and people are complaining. I know government is doing its best, but I just want you to be aware,” I said.

Mr President responded: “I know, I know. I am aware of what people are going through. I have people in my own constituency back home, and I know the messages they send to me. But it is a passing phase. Our country was vandalized, and we found ourselves in this problem. But now that we are here, we will do our best. We will bring change to this country, and we are already seeing it in agriculture. This period of hunger will pass.”

It was prophetic. The season of hunger will pass, and is indeed passing. Anyone that is honest will admit that things are looking up in Nigeria. The ravening clouds shall no longer be victorious. They shall not long possess the sky.

I went away with one conviction from that night’s meeting: the poor matter very much to this President. He is not the type that people would tell they had no bread to eat, and he would tell them to eat cake instead. This is a friend of the talakawas, a man who loves ordinary people, and who wants their station in life to be improved. And those people know it. That is why they gravitate towards him, and repose so much confidence in him. He is their hero. Our hero.

President Buhari turns 75 years today. But some six months back, how many could confidently say this day would come for the ramrod straight man from Daura? How many believed the President would come out of the severe medical challenge that had confronted him? It all began as a routine vacation cum medical check up in January, and few days after, the rumour mill was on overdrive.

The challenge lasted till August, before the President returned home finally, and since then, he has been looking better by the day. Each time you now see him, there is a fresher glow, and you cannot but give glory to God on his behalf.

But why was President Buhari kept alive, so much so that he is turning 75 today? Why did he pass through the sea of infirmity, and he was not swept away? Why did he pass through inferno, and the fire did not kindle against him? Big question. I don’t have the answer, but I can hazard some guesses, based on divine principles.

Rigobert Song. Remember him? Song was the Cameroonian defender who played many years for the Indomitable Lions. He appeared at eight African Nations Cup tournaments, five as captain, and stood between Nigeria and victory many times. He became an idol, venerated by his countrymen and women. He retired to become a coach.

Then late last year, Song was not on song again on the soccer pitch. He had a near death experience on October 20. He went down with brain aneurysm, and was in coma for two days. Doctors battled to save his life, and he was eventually evacuated to France.

While the travails lasted, the social media was abuzz with news of Song’s passage. As someone who had followed his career over the years, I felt very sad. But this is the season of fake news. Song was not dead, he miraculously rallied back. He narrated his experience, which I found instructive, considering what our President also passed through:

“I did not know what was happening to me…I did not even know I was fighting between life and death…All these people, they put God in trouble. Because everyone in this situation, they were praying-this is what I keep in my mind-God would have been in trouble. Everyone was praying, asking, ‘God, please don’t do that, don’t take Rigobert.’ I say thank you everybody for making me come back.”

What song was Song singing? One of thanksgiving. Cameroonians who loved him bombarded God with prayers, ‘Please, don’t take Rigobert now.’ And God heard. He showed mercy.

That is the same reason President Buhari is alive today. Nigerians bombarded Heaven with prayers. With supplications, intercessions, pleas for mercy. Muslims prayed in mosques. Christians prayed in churches. President Alpha Conde of Guinea declared 24 hours prayer for his Nigerian counterpart. Prayers were going on everywhere, both at home, and in the Diaspora. I can imagine God telling Himself: ‘I must answer these prayers. These petitions are too many. I must answer.’

And God had mercy, a fact attested to by President Buhari himself. He said his return was a miracle, which only God could have done.

Why did God keep our President alive? The Holy Books answer:

“Blessed is he that considers the poor;

God will deliver him in the day of evil.

God will preserve him, and keep him alive,

And he will be blessed upon the earth;

And deliver him not unto the will of his enemies,

And raise him up from sickness.” (Psalm 41:1-3).

And this one in Surah At-Tawbah 9:128:

“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer, for he is concerned over you and to the believers he is kind and merciful.”

President Buhari is concerned about Nigerians, particularly the helpless, the ordinary people, and he has dedicated his life to serving them. And when he was near unto death, those ordinary people besieged Heaven with prayers. That Christian hymn says “dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.” And God truly answered.

There is power in goodwill, we have seen it work. It worked for Rigobert Song, and it has worked for our President. Have a heart for men, particularly for the poor, the lowly, and the downtrodden. And see God rise on your behalf.

Consider Tabitha (Dorcas in Greek), who lived at Joppa. She was full of good works, always doing good, and helping the poor. One day, she took ill, and died. Peter, one of the apostles of Jesus, was invited. He came, prayed, and said: “Tabitha, arise!” And the woman came back to life. That is what is possible, when you have a heart for the poor.

In his New Year message last year, President Buhari told the country: “Living in the State House has not alienated me from your daily sufferings. These challenges are only temporary, we are working to make things better.”

When news came a couple of months ago that Nigeria had exited from recession, what did the President say? “Until coming out of recession translates into meaningful improvement in peoples’ lives, our work cannot be said to be done.”

In another broadcast, the President had stated: “All my adult life, I have always earned a salary and I know what it is like when your salary is simply not enough.”

That is the man we follow, and serve. Millions would today follow him into battle blindfolded. Millions upon millions would vote him again and again, if he throws his hat into the ring. Happy birthday, Mr President. You have shown us how to care for the lowly and the poor, how to bear them in our hearts at all times, and how such pleases God, and brings mercy our way. Thank you for coming this way, thank you for offering yourself for service.

Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Give Nigerians development not poverty in empowerment disguise

By Abdulwaheed Usamah,

At rear of a tricycle, there was this sticker that caught my attention as I was driving out of Lagos University Teaching University (LUTH) at Idi-Araba just the other day, even though things seems alright to its rider as I stare on.

This article is not about criticizing or condemning political parties or attacking personalities but just to call power handlers and youths, who wail about corruption in public but smile whenever they receive their shares from national cake, to order, since whistle for another election race has been blown.

The sticker in picture, that form this piece,  has APC’s logo, an evidence that it is from the party, but the inscription that the advanced moving bicycle was gifted out as part of empowerment program, made me worried if Nigeria could ever witness proper development instead of poverty in politicians’ gestures disguise.

To me, a common Nigeria, just as President Muhammadu Buhari and his VP, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, sea of political offices’ holders and as well as states’ governors before their inaugurations into offices in 2015, If this is what APC call change prior to election,  it is far behind our expectation, and it is beginning of poverty.

I’m too certain that if the government could secure adequate power supply for the masses among other infrastructures that could help development in Nigeria, that innocent hustling with that tricycle would be more innovative and reason more beyond that gift that has blindfolded his future.

I learnt recently that about 3 million jobs were lost since inception of this administration, and there is no reason to disagree with that reports as evidence is there to tell and prove beyond reasonable doubt what the government is capable of doing.

Undoubtedly, President Buhari is doing his best but Nigerians should not forget that little is strength of a man in lions’ den, and it is a fact for faith to also fail him where journey seems endless.

Baffling the most is that governmental people travel abroad, to cities where they cannot cast glance off superb development that glare at them every steps they take while oversea, but still, they commit crime of letting such sights’ memories leave only in those places, making impossible replication of such achievement, that of which none of our Nigerian elites could cross its huddle.

I want to believe that the #nottooyoungtorun bill, which has bee moving from floor to offices of lawmakers inAbuja, is a scam, and an imagination that cannot fly in this present day where young people are even the politicians’ baggage carriers and lobbyists across corridors of powers.

Another election is around the corner, social media ‘influencers’, most of which are youth, are already sharpening their blades, anticipating for who among the politicians to work for, comes 2018.

Unsurprisingly, Future Award was held just over the weekend in Lagos, it would not surprise politic spectators, politicians filling the entire venue, even if it was not said, it is obvious that those would be seeking for offices they are at it again, with tricks of romancing gullible youth whom they believe their only problem are fortunes, and know no dignity.

Is Khilnani’s fraud case bigger than Lagos?

 By Abdulwaheed Usamah, 

The last may not have been heard of the case of Mr Deepak Khilnani, the British Chartered Accountant of Indian descent, who is accused of stealing over US$8.8 Million from his Nigerian partners. This is because it appears that Lagos State might lose its prime position as an investment destination as investors are believed to now be placing high premium on the willingness of a state judiciary to protect them against fraud similar to the one for which Mr Khilnani was being tried until the state Attoney-General abruptly withdrew the case midway.

Business experts believe that this review by the investment community, coming in the wake of the sudden withdrawal of the case against Mr Khilnani midway, is more than mere coincidence.

It will be recalled that allegation of fraud leveled against Mr Khilnani by his Nigerian partners at Green Fuels Limited, was exhaustively investigated by the Nigeria Police in 2013/14, which included a forensic audit by KPMG.

The then Lagos State Director of Prosecution, Mrs Alaba Alakija, in May 2015, duly commenced criminal prosecution of the case before Justice AtinukeIpaye in Court 10 of the Ikeja Division.

But despite being served with the summons, and regardless the court ruling that both he and his co-accused, Dr SushilChandra, had cases to answer in her court, Mr Khilnani, who reports have it actutally jumped bail at Zone 2 HQ in 2014, never once appeared in court.

Throughout, Mr Khilnani’s counsel, Lagos lawyer, Chris Okunowo, is known to have taken vigorous, often unusual steps to save his client from prosecution. These included personally standing bail for Mr Khilnani after he was first arrested in 2013 at MMA airport by crack detectives from Lagos Zone 2 HQ; then in 2015 by petitioning the Inspector General of Police in Abuja to review and possibly reverse the conclusion of the original police investigation carried out in Lagos.

A further effort was when Chris Okunowo’s Chambers filed a no jurisdiction, no case objection on behalf of the defence, regarding which Justice Ipaye on June 2016, ruled in favour of the prosecution and must answer the charges.

It was thus no wonder that after these repeated efforts to frustrate progress of the court case and, given the continued failure of the two accused men to appear in her court for arraignment, that in April-2017, based on the application of the prosecuting DPP, Justice Ipaye issued a Bench Warrant for the arrest of both Mr Khilnani and Dr Chandra.

But what did take judiciary watchers and legal experts by surprise was when the same DPP that had applied for and obtained the bench warrants then made a complete U-turn, and in June-2017 applied for Nolle Prosequi which, amidst widespread protests from human rights lawyers and staff of Green Fuels alike, Justice Ipaye ruled that she was constitutionally constrained to grant, and duly granted

This then appeared to have cast the case against the two foreigners into a judicial limbo of sorts. That is until a group of concerned lawyers under the aegis of The Incorporated Trustees of Laws and Rights Awareness Initiative (TITLRAI) sued the Lagos State Attorney General for wrongful application of the power of Nolle Prosequi .

In their case, which comes up for hearing on 12-Jan-2018 before Justice A M Lawal, TITLRAI prayed for the court to order the Lagos State AG to resume prosecution of the fraud case against Mr Khilnani and Dr Chandra.

No doubt, resuming the case against Khilnani and Chandra would go a long way to restoring the confidence of foreign investors and the Nigerian public in the Lagos State Judiciary, an institution which,following the incisive reforms instituted by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo SAN while he was A-G in the state, saw the Lagos State judiciary rise up to become the envy of other Nigerian States.

Only time will tell which way the wind will blow; for Khilnani, who having been convicted of fraud in London in 1996, now stands to escape justice in Nigeria. Or Nigerians who clamour for justice against acts of corruption that kill job creating and poverty alleviating investments.

A frolic on the Red Sea

By Femi Adesina

It was a gust of chilly wind that said Akwaaba (welcome, in Ghanaian language) to me in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, that night of December 1, 2017. We had flown for about five hours from Abuja, as President Muhammadu Buhari was to attend a summit on combating terrorism in West Africa, convened by King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The presidential plane touched down at King Hussein International Airport at 8.15 p.m local time (7.15 p.m Nigerian time) and a cold embrace was what Aqaba offered. It was winter, and the city gripped you in a forceful bear hug that was icy cold. Nobody taught me before I made a dash for the vehicle that was to take me into the city.

I had checked the weather condition online before we left Nigeria. I was told 11 degrees cold. I was ready, but nearly not ready enough. That cold hug was more like six degrees. Incidentally, that turned out to be the only very cold evening, till we left Jordan three days later.

Three state governors-those of Osun, Kogi, Niger- had accompanied the President on the trip. I was in the same car with Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State. Did the protocol people know that this was my own very governor, or it was mere coincidence? Well, we had a good conversation as we rode into the city.

The governor talked about the historical significance of Aqaba, how some ceasefire had been negotiated in the city in the past, how it is the economic nerve centre of Jordan, how the country has no petroleum or many other mineral resources but was quite prosperous, and above all, how Jordan was an oasis of peace in a region characterised by almost perpetual turmoil.

I was intrigued, and decided to write a travelogue after the trip.

So, this piece you are reading, was inspired by my discussion with Gov Aregbesola of the State of Osun, during the 15 minutes ride from the airport to the Intercontinental Resort, Aqaba.

Presidential trips are normally busy, very, very busy, as you have to keep Nigerians back home and those in the Diaspora updated on the activities of their President. But this trip was peculiar, in that it was about security, and not everything needed be reported. There was, therefore, some time for leisure. I used it. Wouldn’t you?

My room at the hotel overlooked the Red Sea. You only needed to draw your curtains (which I did on Saturday morning) and you were confronted by the majesty of the sea, with the waters shimmering in the early morning sun. The poet, John Keats, had written about feasting one’s eyes on the glory of the sea.

“O ye that have your eyeballs vext and tir’d,
Feast them upon the wideness of the sea.
O ye whose Ears are dinned with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody-
Sit ye near some old Cavern’s mouth and brood,
Until ye start as if the Sea Nymphs quired.”

And that was what I did. I feasted my eyes on the wideness of the sea. It was blue, expansive, as far as the eyes could see.

Blue? But this one was supposed to be red. Well, in 2011, I had visited Israel, and while heading for the Taba border to cross into Egypt, for an expedition to Mount Sinai, I had passed by the Red Sea. It was blue, and I had taken our tour guide to task. This was how I conveyed the explanation in a piece published in Daily Sun on December 2, 2011:

“But is that sea really red? Not actually. Why is it then called the Red Sea? The water is actually bluish, as in any other sea, but the surrounding mountains are brown in colour, something like the hue that is called ox blood. So, in the afternoon hours, when the sun is at its peak, the mountains cast a reflection on the waters. The incandescence turns the waters almost red….So, what better name for the sea? The Red Sea.”

Since there was some time on our hands, before the bilateral meeting between President Buhari and King Abdullah II, on Saturday, I called some of the media people on the trip: Abiodun Oladunjoye, a deputy director in the Media Department of State House, Ismaila Chafe of News Agency of Nigeria, Rashidat Yusuf of Mitv, and her camera man, Kelvin Okeke. “Let’s go tour the city!” They were game.

We trooped into a bus, accompanied by a guide named Mustapha Abughalion. For the next hour, we were footloose in Aqaba, seeing many points of interest.

First port of call was the bank of the Red Sea. Aqaba is a desert city. In fact, it is said that it experiences rainfall only about twice or thrice a year, but God has compensated with the Red Sea, which brings some moistness to the atmosphere.

And the sea is the source of commerce for the country. Different holiday resorts dot the long coastline, and these are patronized by people from all over the world. In 2010 alone, it is on record that Jordan received over 8 million visitors. Aqaba was also named the Arab Tourism City for 2011.

There is also the Port of Aqaba, which is the only one in Jordan. It was rated as Best Container Terminal in Middle East by Lloyd’s List in 2006, and we saw brisk business going on there.

Jordan is located on the tip of the Red Sea, between Asia, Europe and Africa. Aqaba is in southernmost Jordan, with a population of about 200,000 people. Another major city and capital of the country, Amman, has about 4 million people.

In a country of about 9 million, Jordanians are five million, while the rest is made of people from Palestine, Syria and Iraq, most of whom came as refugees. Jordan is quite hospitable.

Aqaba is neat, squeaky clean. Street sweepers are seen on duty, picking even the tiniest specks. The traffic is very sane, with disciplined drivers. No stress.

A city called Petra is a World Heritage Site. Other tourist attractions, about 100,000 nationwide, include the Dead Sea, near Amman, the River Jordan itself, where Jesus was baptized, in fact, Jordan has been custodian over some holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924.

The two main world religions, Christianity and Islam, have venerated sites in Jordan. Al-Maghtais is believed to be the site where Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, while Mount Nebo, Madaba and Machaerus, are also in the country. Moab, Ammon, and Edom, in biblical times, were located in today’s Jordan.

Archaeologists have found what is believed to be the site of the world’s oldest church in the country. It dates back to 3rd Century AD, slightly older than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Both date back to 4th Century AD.

Though Jordan is about 98% Muslims, there is an indigenous Christian minority, about 5,000 of whom live in Aqaba. The city has several churches, and one Christian school, Rosary Sisters School.

Among holy Islamic sites in Jordan are shrines of Prophet Muhammed’s companions (Peace be upon him) like Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah, and Muadh ibn Jabal.

Aqaba is about 20 minutes away from Saudi Arabia, and we drove till we were five kilometres away, before turning. One could see the longing in Rashidat Yusuf’s eyes. She would have given anything to be able to get into Saudi, and perhaps, do a quick Umrah. Some other time, Hajiya.

Surrounded by tumultuous countries, bordered directly by Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iraq and Syria, how come Jordan is so safe? Apart from the November 9, 2005 bombing of three hotels in Amman by Al-Qaeda, killing 60 people and injuring 115, there have been no incidents. Internal security is quite high, and Jordan has good relationship with the West. It also has a peace treaty with Israel. King Abdullah II is known as a man of peace.

Health care in Jordan is world class. In fact, medical tourism yielded over 1 billion dollars in 2010. Jordan is rated top in the region, and 5th world overall.

I had some options in my spare time on the third day. I could go scuba-diving, or take a cruise on the Red Sea. Scuba-diving? I shouldn’t be like the cricket that got so well fed, and burst its own tummy. Any form of diving was ruled out. You go diving so faraway from home, and mischief happens to you, the wailing wailers would have a field day, laughing till they fainted.

With Oladunjoye and Chafe, we paid for a cruise in a glass boat on the Red Sea. Why is it called glass boat? The bottom is made of glass, so you could look at the seabed. One could see all sorts of creatures in the sea, the flora and fauna.

We saw different species of fishes, water snakes, sea turtle, sea weed, wreckage of boats, and so many other things. Under the sea is a treasure trove.

The boat was captained by a teenage boy named Yahaya. I could feel my heart moving into my mouth as we got into the middle of nowhere. Coward! Yes, I agree. I have sailed on the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and many other seas.

But I am still a coward where water is concerned. Chinua Achebe wrote that we often stand in the house of a coward, to point at the ruins of the house of a brave man. I agree. Yahaya obviously saw the fear in my eyes, and he gestured that I should not panic.

I chuckled as I remembered my wife. If she could see me, she would have exclaimed: “This man, is this what I sent you to Jordan to do?” But she didn’t know until I was back from the voyage. Men and their escapades!

Human beings can fear, instead of exercising faith. It is natural. In the middle of the deep, I began to scare myself. What if a mighty wave came, and submerged the boat? What if the engine suddenly stalled? What if fire broke out? What if the boat ran out of petrol? What if… Get thee behind me, Satan!

The only fright we had was when we met a military gunboat on patrol. It was at top speed. The waves it created made our boat bob up and down, and it was an uneasy experience. It subsided after some time.

To appreciate the glory of God, take time to go out on the sea. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament His handiwork, says the Good Book. In another place, it says “they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonder in the deep.” Every man needs that experience.

There were big seafaring vessels we met. Only God knows what part of the world they were coming from, with all sorts of names. Chakra. Costa Mediterranea. Shark’s Bay. And many others.

After about an hour, when we sighted our hotel right by the seashore, it was pure relief. The sail had been good, I’ll recommend it to anyone who has the heart for it. It sure has therapeutic value. But was I glad to step on solid ground again? All other ground is sinking sand.

This was terra firma. Water was terra incognita. I’ll rather have my feet planted on solid ground at any time.

Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari