Monday, 30 April 2012

Hard View (Who Benefits?)


WHO BENEFITS?

So, the National Security Adviser, Owoye Azazi, thinks that the current offensive unleashed by the phantom menace, Boko Haram is a premeditated blueprint carefully coordinated by specific Northern elements slighted by President Jonathan’s ignominious decision to dishonour the gentleman agreement for power shift that the ruling party had by contesting the 2011 and possibly the 2015 elections? At least that’s what I think he meant last Friday when he addressed the South-South Economic Summit in Asaba by blaming PDP and its zoning formula for the current insecurity in the country.

If Mr Azazi’s explanation on this matter reminded you of the kind of statements that our First Lady would ordinarily make but with better diction, you are not alone. For several days since his statement, I was completely perplexed as to why the most senior security officer in the land would make such an exact declaration at the time and the place that he did. I mean, hear I was thinking that this kind of information was sort of sensitive, classified and not supposed to be revealed publicly until a solution had been reached. But, in all honesty, it really did seem as if the Chief security officer was genuinely frustrated at what seems to be his interpretation and indictment of Northern efforts to scuttle President Johnathan’s administration.

Apart from what looked like a rather contradictory and injurious homily, it was disappointing for a nation that houses 250 different ethnic tribes to be confronted with a chief security officer that appeared to reinforce the kind of bigoted fantasy and racial canard which he seemed so perturbed about in his speech. By making the statements that he did, in the location he did, at the occasion he did, Mr Azazi cut the same silhouette as the insensitive, dogmatist, provincial elements he accuses of hounding the president.

But that aside, the real issues with the NSA’s statement cuts far beyond the chimerical and capricious conspiracies tailored to fit ethnic validation and primordial interests. For starters, it is imperative at this point for Nigerians to demand a full clarification from the NSA. For the chief security officer of the land to give semi-cryptic messages at a time when Nigerians are being slaughtered about the very thing that is slaughtering them, just does not cut it. It is unacceptable for the NSA to play word games on who he thinks is responsible for the present massacres while at the same time our fathers, mothers, siblings, children, friends and neighbours are being targeted by this unspecified fiend. The statements he made suggest that the security services are well aware of those individuals who are the driving force behind Boko Haram. But if this is the case and if the NSA’s suspicions are authentic, then why are the people in Kaduna, the students in Kano, the children in Maiduguri, the parishioners in Taraba and the pastors in Adamawa living in fear of moving an inch lest they be the next victims? It really is mind boggling that in a country guided by a constitution which declares no one to be above the law, ‘supposed’ known terrorists and conspirators would be allowed to unleash their criminal might at will. Unless the NSA was merely playing guessing games and lending himself to the gallery of the regional machinations we have all heard, then he has a responsibility to expose the names of those he believes are pupating Boko Haram. Better still, he has a duty to arrest them.

Even if Northern political elements were somehow orchestrating the offensive in some warped design of gaining economic and political allowance, as the NSA seems to suggest, the truth of the matter is that the way in which the Boko Haram offensive is playing itself out has got to then be the worst plan ever devised. It would literally be giving a new meaning to the term, ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’. With the kind of acrimony targeted specifically towards the core north by virtue of the Boko Haram attacks, at this rate it is doubtful whether a northern Muslim could win a presidential election in Nigeria today if one were held. The bottom line is that the very fabric of the north is the main entity being destroyed by the offensive. It is the north, its people, its unity, its chances, its existence that is worst affected by Boko Haram. So in that respect, the idea is what? For the north to destroy itself in order to somehow punish President Jonathan? I may not be an expert in Suduko, but somehow that rationale just doesn’t seem to add up. It just doesn’t. If there were a northern force trying to ease out President Jonathan and if they were as powerful and determined as he National Security Adviser suggests, then would it not be easier for them to opt for the Military option? It’s not like they have not done so before.

With no apparent sense of irony, the NSA made these controversial statements about the president’s entry into the political race forming the catalyst that provoked Boko Haram’s current onslaught. He spoke about how the concept of the zoning formula of the PDP nurtured regional grievances. But he said nothing of the actions of the president himself in violating the very zoning formula that the PDP thought would keep peace and a sense of inclusion for the whole country. Mr Azazi spoke of how Boko Haram’s offensive disadvantages the Jonathan presidency, but said nothing of how the region worst hit is the most disadvantaged by the violence. Neither was there any acknowledgement that the violence creates the biggest crevice along religious lines that the northern entity has ever seen; the kind of fracture that can never be for the benefit of the north as one entity, the kind that is certainly not in the north’s interest.

He indicated the notion that after the 2011 elections, aggrieved northern politicians funded, trained and armed the sect in order to hold on to a power that they deem belongs to them. That may possibly be so, but not once did he point towards the likes of the Chief Edwin Clarks, the Tony Aneneihs, whose appetite for remaining in the corridors of power at every cost is probably more palpable than the appetite of those he accuses. The apparent need for such forces to remain in power is no different to the elements that the National Security Adviser says have lost out. And if it’s no different, then that yearn for power that the NSA accuses the north of must be a Nigerian avarice or probably just an African avarice. We bare witness to it everyday when African leaders refuse to vacate office. President Jonathan being a classic example himself!

But in perhaps the grossest pronouncement of condescending, the NSA hinted that the president was a target because of where he comes from and that all those who opposed him do so because of his qualification as a South-South son ruling the country. As a northern Katsina woman who publicly spoke against my own States’ people when the likes of Turai Yaradua and Tanimu Yakubu were acting like cannibals at a buffet of raw meat, that notion is an insult. The majority of Nigerians today oppose President Jonathan, not because he is from the South-South or because he is from Bayelsa state, but because they feel disenfranchised by his government since the fuel subsidy debacle. Nigerians are angry with him because after electing him to power, he has not shown the zeal to protect and unify the nation. He has shown little initiative in bringing to book those that have pillaged this country dry. He shows little interest in guiding us and being the strong leader Nigeria needs.

There is little doubt that there is more than meets the eye in the whole Boko Haram affair. An unknown force with the might and desperation to unleash the most lethal form of destruction must definitely be fuelled from somewhere. But as we get closer to the day when those who are really behind Boko Haram will be exposed, we must be cautious with the accusations and declarations we make.

The one thing I have learnt from this very heartbreaking Boko Haram affair is that no theory is a valid theory because every time one forms reasoning, the next bomb comes and dispels the rationale of it. But the one thing I know for certain, and I know this purely from basic logic, is that whoever is sponsoring Boko Haram is sponsoring them in order to benefit from their actions. So maybe the question we should really be asking ourselves in determining the true face of Boko Haram is not, “Who are those behind Boko Haram?” but instead, “Who benefits from the actions of Boko Haram?” Maybe the National Security Adviser should think about that!

Article Written By Hannatu Musawa
Twitter- @hanneymusawa

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Hard View (Our Nation Nigeria; In Constant Discord)

This week I’ll disburse my intersperse in a verse,
‘Coz the state of our nation has gotten much worse.
The adverse dismal figures in our economy purse,
Has led to diverse cries of government’s perverse.
The quest of extremists to put people in hearse,
Has immersed this wee nation in constant disperse.
The black gold we live on, I observe, is our curse,
‘Coz the fuss we traverse on it, puts us in reverse.
But the one thing that coerce us to go in adverse,
Is our submerse of this ethnicity hatred we nurse.
As one nation, one people who are vast and diverse,
Let’s look to each other. Lets learn to converse.
 
Our nation Nigeria; in constant discord.
Our stowed vast potential; untoward, unexplored.
The hoard of our ward can’t afford basic board.
The cord of our union is deplored and abhorred.
My fellow Nigerians, we must be reformed.
Our union restored, once again in accord.
We owe to our brethren this one great reward.
We owe our Nigeria to the Almighty Lord.


Wait!in my evaluate is the contaminate in our state,
Where extremists and mad men cultivate so much hate.
For only an ingrate, one whose brain is in desecrate,
Could create an estate and conjugate to incinerate.
They impersonate O. Bin Laden and translate all their weight,
They assasinate poor Nigerians in every dictate.
Their spate to intimidate and make this country separate,
Has dictate a debate on how we can relate.
I won’t hesitate to state my infuriate
At those who abominate and use Islam as bait.
We have got to eliminate, castigate and ameliorate
Those who equate freedom fighting with bomb detonate.

Our nation Nigeria; in constant discord.
Our stowed vast potential; untoward, unexplored.
The hoard of our ward can’t afford basic board.
The cord of our union is deplored and abhorred.
My fellow Nigerians, we must be reformed.
Our union restored, once again in accord.
We owe to our brethren this one great reward.
We owe our Nigeria to the Almighty Lord.

Now the other grave issue; it seems Johnny will run,
His 2nd or 3rd term, when this tenure is done.
When the President begun, he seemed so much fun,
One big hat and no shoes, people liked him a ton.
Not to be overrun, he stood in the sun, he lifted his head, said,
“My daughters, my son,
Just give me chance to have my own turn,
If you vote for ‘Umblerra’, I will go only one!”
On that premise, Nigerians made sure he had won,
An election that didn’t go to a rerun.
Now his words he does shun in the spun of a pun.
“Electricity, peace, Siryou’ve given us none,
By 2015, you might just be outdone!”

Our nation Nigeria; in constant discord.
Our stowed vast potential; untoward, unexplored.
The hoard of our ward can’t afford basic board.
The cord of our union is deplored and abhorred.
My fellow Nigerians, we must be reformed.
Our union restored, once again in accord.
We owe to our brethren this one great reward.
We owe our Nigeria to the Almighty Lord.
 
 
The blight of our plight might soon call it a night,
‘Coz the youth of the nation seems ready to fight.
To get back their country forthright and up right.
To rewrite all the slight that our leaders invite.
They ignite their new flight, all on internet site,
Where Twitter and Facebook are their new guiding light.
They assemble to fight for Nija’s Human Right.
They write a new smite to end government’s benight.
They stand at a height. disregard every fright
Use all their might to indict corruption outright.
Inspite all this effort, government’s not quite contrite.
Youths, double your effort for our flag green and white!

Our nation Nigeria; in constant discord.
Our stowed vast potential; untoward, unexplored.
The hoard of our ward can’t afford basic board.
The cord of our union is deplored and abhorred.
My fellow Nigerians, we must be reformed.
Our union restored, once again in accord.
We owe to our brethren this one great reward.
We owe our Nigeria to the Almighty Lord.
 
From our increase of fuel and electricity drool,
One could swear that this nation was an April’s Fool.
From our lack of good school, people looking like ghoul,
Nigeria’s a Thule that’s in constant misrule.
It’s cruel that our leaders use us as a tool.
It’s sad that our fortune is their private pool.
From London to Paris, right to Istanbul,
Only our government treats us and our people like mule.
Who’ll save this great nation? Who’ll give us renewal?
Who’ll fight for Nigeria, give her a new Yule?
Folks, the challenge is ours to make corruption uncool!
Folks, the challenge is ours to reclaim back our jewell!

Our nation Nigeria; in constant discord.
Our stowed vast potential; untoward, unexplored.
The hoard of our ward can’t afford basic board.
The cord of our union is deplored and abhorred.
My fellow Nigerians, we must be reformed.
Our union restored, once again in accord.
We owe to our brethren this one great reward.
We owe our Nigeria to the Almighty Lord.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

HARD VIEW (BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF 2015)


THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF 2015

1,090 days to go and the battle for the soul of 2015 has already begun! And as we eat up the days in our march towards D-Day, the magnitude of the total lack of seriousness of the opposition in its approach to 2015 cannot be done justice within the limited space that I have to write this piece. It was this same lack of seriousness and courageous strategy that has led to the series of opposition defeats since the inception of this 4thRepublic.

If doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is indistinguishable from insanity, then our opposition political parties have totally lost their minds. If the opposition continues to repeat the mistakes of the past elections while expecting a different result, then they would have proven to Nigerians that either they are not interested in taking power or they are party to an increasing garbled political ritual where politicians become either serial victims or become compromised on principle. If they however, decide to do what the vast majority of desperate Nigerians expect and unite under one umbrella and use that umbrella to present a fresh combination of candidates, then they will be worthy of the privilege to occupy the uppermost space in public office come 2015.
  
All the opposition parties in Nigeria have several things in common, one of which is that none of them has tasted real power at the center.  But the most glaring of their similarities is the fact that none of them have thus far demonstrated a culture of strategy and foresight.  Politics of purpose is often what they tell us to be their hymn, it is one that they preach well, but it is also one they have not practiced. None have been able to get into the highest office. They say they can, but the fact remains that they have not. And unfortunately, the signs point to an increasing probability that they will never get that priviledge unless they shed their ego and get smart about capturing power.  If political opposites like the UK Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats can align together in the interest of capturing power from the then ruling party, The Labour, it is amazing that Nigerian opposition political parties, that don’t even have any real ideological differences cannot.  If they continue with this dumb political attitude, then the opposition will eternally be left to wander in the political wilderness. The PDP will make sure of that.

Contemplating the year 2015 seems such a lifetime away. After all, 2012 started not too long ago. But if anyone was in doubt as to whether it is too early to begin preparing for 2015, they need only to look at the activities within the PDP to know that the race has well and truly begun. With their PDP campaign machinery already set in motion, their spin doctors ferociously spinning, their matchete men alledgedly influencing court judgements and their publicity mafia planting all sorts of stories in the media, we can just about make out the colour and form that the race within the ruling party will take.

-And at the red corner, weighing in with a mighty incumbency advantage, we have President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, 55, the C-in-C himself and the leader of  the giant of Africa. At this very stage, after the PDP caricature convention, it should no longer be a secret that President Jonathan might desire to seek re-election as president despite the fact that he had given his party his word to the contrary. The issue with the president presents quite an interesting situation. Apart from the fact that the president will surely cut the silhouette of a man that has no honour, who doesn’t keep his word, the general belief is that he has every right as a Nigerian citizen to contest for a second term. However, there is a school of thought which believes that Jonathan would not be eligible to contest the presidential election again, since he has received the oath of office twice under the 1999 Constitution. But under Section 137(1b), “a person could be disqualified from contesting the office of the president, if he had been elected into that office on two previous occasions” and since the president has technically only been ‘elected’ once as President, he qualifies under this provision. At some point, there may need to be a statutory interpretation of the section in order to fully clear the president. If the president gets the go ahead and eventually decides to contest, there are no guesses as to the type of tactics he may use to ensure his victory. Between the gung-ho manner in which he stomped on Timipre Sylva and the impenitent way he imposed Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, the president has made it clear that he is taking no prisoners. The more reason why the opposition should start it's own 2015 preparation immediately.

-Following closely behind the President is the vice president, Architect Namadi Sambo, 58. Loyal to the president in his capacity as the number two, but not so loyal to the extent that he also appears to be eyeing the same position as his boss come 2015, the VP has an uphill task. In any ordinary global political setting, Vice President Sambo should be reassured in the fact that he will be best positioned to take over from the president come 2015, but ‘Hey’, this is Nigeria and in Nigeria, we don’t exactly follow the rules or civilized conventions. Already the signs of cracks in the ambition of the Vice President are showing, with some alledging that the Court of Appeal judgement which overturned the victory of the CPC and ordered the former Kaduna state governor, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi to be sworn in as the senator representing Kaduna North Senatorial district at the National Assembly was part of a grand master plan that puts the former governor back in a position where he could fight the vice presidents ambition from their common base. A further hindrance which the Vice President seems unable to conquer is the fact that he has a limited political base, especially in the region of which he is from. The Northern public and leaders seem livid with the VP, with some Northern leaders going as far as to say that, “Vice President Sambo has demonstrated a lack of understanding of the plight of the North" or that "the Vice President does not have the interest of the North at heart at all”. It probably would be fair to say that in his ambition to succeed his boss, the VP is going to face monumental obstacles on several fronts.

-Quite high up on the probability scale is Senator David Bonaventure Mark, 64, the senate president who, it is alledged, has already flagged off his presidential campaign for 2015. Ideally this officer and gentleman seems well prepared for the role but Senator Mark would meet a brick wall if the president insists on seeking re-election. He is said to be an incredibly nice and gentle man, is arguably the most successful Senate President we have ever had, and he remains one of the most respected public office holders we have at present. He is a brilliant adminstrator and very strong leader with vast experience, patience and tenacity. Coming from the North Central zone, he would be a good representative from that area, save the fact some believe he does not have a strong northern political base.

-Another possible candidate impossible to overlook is former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, 66. Some say, ‘the fear of Atiku is the beginning of wisdom…’ The former VP is like the  proverbial cat with nine lives. Even though his bid in the last election was shot down at the primary stage, the fact that he was able to be nominated out of several Northern heavyweights in the Northern consensus struggle is a testament to his political strength. Atiku has also alledgedly flagged off his 2015 presidential campaign but his chances in the ruling party are remote. The PDP is not the same one as when he was VP.

-Yet another candidate that appears to be warming up for the 2015 race is a man that has a more serious case of 'diarrhoea of the mouth' than any other person in government. Ordinarily,  as one of the more intelligent shinning lights amongst the governors, the Chief Servant, Gov Muazu Babangida Aliyu, 57, would be a good candidate to consider. But with statements like, “We thank God that Buhari did not win the presidential election in the country; we would have been goners by now. People like that will not win election because God judges people by their intentions" and several such attributed to him, the Chief Servant is as good as a political pariah to the vast majority of Northerners. Even with his brilliance, carriage and pedigree, for the Niger State governor to win a presidential election in Nigeria, he would need the kind of mighty leg up and ‘heave-ho’ characteristic of PDP in collaboration with INEC. But it may be literal suicide to try any such thing in 2015.

-In 2009, political pundits had said of him, “he’s a better alternative to Yaradua”. In 2011, he said of the north, “those championing a Northern presidency are uncivilised…And if Northern opposition to President Jonathan continues, the country should simply be broken up…” In 2012, those who have followed his utterances said of him, “Ah... So he was strategising to run for President all along.” Whatever the reality is, a list of possible contenders for president from the PDP side cannot be complete without mentioning the name of Alhaji Sule Lamido, 64. Whether he has what it takes to pull the feat off is anyone’s guess, but in his favour, being at the source of PDP power for such a long time has got to count for something.

-Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako (rtd), 70, needs no introduction due to his Naval, Agricultural and political pedigrees. His passions and achievements in these areas speak volumes about his dedication to success. ‘But-for’ the emergence of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who hails from the same state as him, Governor Nyako would have been a strong contender for the ticket. His age may also a big negative for him.

-A man that once looked like the perfect candidate before events superseded his potential is Senator Bukola Saraki, 50.  Coming from the Saraki Political Dynasty of Kwara State where family members have held top elected offices since the First Republic, he showed political might by edging out his father in 2011 in the scheme of Kwara politics. As one of the more outstanding and effective governors during his tenure, the Senate would have been the catalyst  that could have catapulted him into the A-List of presidential aspirants. But instead, his actions left a bitter taste in the mouths of Nigerians when he effectively stuck the dagger in his sisters’ back by ferociously blocking her gubernatorial bid, then taking her slot in the Senate in the most Brutus-like manner. “He wanted to put a stop to the unfair Saraki dynasty in Kwara”, people said…”Err, then why is he still in government exactly?” "Pot.., Kettle.., Anyone...?"

-Even though in 2009, he spoke in favor of automatic re-election of all political office holders who exemplified themselves in the discharge of their responsibilities, Governor Gabriel Suswam, 48, of Benue State might now hold the view that the automatic re-election of all political office holders in the 2015 election is not such a good idea after all.  Because if there is going to be any chance for him to fly the PDP flag, President Jonathan cannot be automatically re-elected as the party's standard bearer.

While all these intrigues and preparations are taking place in the PDP and personalities are being named, the opposition parties are yet again being left behind and are probably waiting for the eleventh and a half hour to start talking with each other on whether a merger, alliance or coalition would be the strategy and the personalities to be considered for the presidential ticket. It really shouldn’t take a genius for the opposition to be told that facing the 2015 elections separately as individual parties against the PDP is a stupid thing which leaves slim chances of winning the election. Neither is it complicated algebra for them to realise that it would be mandatory for them to form a coalition of  the opposition that would leverage their different and disparate strengths. That is the only way the PDP rigging machine can be effectively disabled. Unless the opposition parties are expecting Speedy Gonzales to somehow morph out of their television sets sometime in 2015 to get their coalition going, talks of unifying under one umbrella should have started seriously the very day that the 2011 elections were concluded; it should have started yesterday! When you fail to plan, you plan to fail and that appears to be exactly what the opposition is doing again. They are planning to lose. But they will likely win if they get serious. The PDP can be taken out but only if members of the opposition unite and fight the election as one body and present candidates that the whole of Nigeria will be excited about.

We are at a time now where Nigerians should no longer have to choose from a shallow pool of existing political big-wigs in the PDP or the same old candidates in the opposition. We are at a time where the opposition needs to start pointing a magnifying glass towards a deep reservoir of young talented Nigerians capable of winning, and delivering for the opposition and the Nigerian nation. Just like the PDP, there are a number of prospects that the opposition establishment needs to start looking towards. And they must start talking to each other NOW. These names are not in any order of importance and are by no means exhaustive.

-The first potential comes to the fold with an anti corruption package, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, 52. Even though he showed a brave effort as the ACN presidential candidate in 2011, he made his name as the pioneer chairman of the EFCC. While some bring up the issue of his performance in 2011, no one can deny that this Anti-Corruption Tzar is more than ever, a key prospect and a good candidate to consider for the opposition any day. Nuhu is honest, honourable, capable and qualified. Maybe that would explain why the government is always clamouring to have him in the fold sorting out their onerous issues. A Nuhu candidacy would come with an added advantage; the presentation of the most beautiful, smartest, kindest, most presentable, most honourable and most eloquent first lady that this nation would have ever seen.

-I don’t know what it is, but there’s something very endearing about the next potential; Governor Peter Obi, 50. Since bursting onto the stage in 2006, he has ruled the wonderful people of Anambra with pride and, as they say, has rewritten Nigeria’s political history. By being the first governor to remove an incumbent, regaining his seat after an impeachment and being the one to set the precedent of four years tenure for governors, Governor Obi has literally written his name in political gold. He would most definitely be a great presidential candidate for any opposition.

-It is safe to say that the one name that has been repeatedly mentioned all over the country as a prospective candidate is Governor Babatunde Fashola, 49. As if the whole country has fallen madly in adoration for him, the governor of Lagos seems to have caught the imagination of a country that has had a dearth of good leadership. By literally doing what he was elected to do, transforming the face of Lagos and being very popular, it is a must for Governor Fashola to be on anyone's list any day. He would be an amazing contender for the opposition if people could overcome the fact that there could be a potential South West president so soon after Obasanjo’s 8 years. An opposition presidential/vice presidential ticket, missing the name of Governor Fashola in 2015 would probably characterise the biggest goof the opposition could make.

-Another name that is currently being whispered in several quarters is Sam Nda-Isaiah, 50, publisher of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group, owner of this newspaper. The no nonsense and incorruptible Straight Shooter gives a new meaning to the term, “Straight, Hard & to the Point”. Basically he says it as it is, no matter who will be offended, as long as it is in the public interest, he always says it as it is! His anti-corruption and pro-good government views means that he knows how good governments are run. He is well respected and accepted within the opposition groups. He has been with them from the very beginning, providing intellectual support. A Sam candidacy would be very interesting because it would present an ace in the hole for the opposition due to his unique position of being one of the few people acceptable to the entire Muslim North and Christian North and can also be a bridge between the North and the South. As if channelling the spirit of the Late Great Sunday Awoniyi, the candidacy of Mr Sam will likely 'fix' and have the potential of uniting the North, both Christians and Muslims alike, in the vision of Sardauna’s united Arewa. Even though he is aligned mainly to the CPC, he is also accepted by the ACN, and is an associate of General Muhammadu Buhari, the CPC leader and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the ACN leader.

-Then there is the man whose qualifications and credentials reads as long as the credit section in Aliko Dangote’s bank ledger book, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai, 52. While he is a current chieftain of the CPC, Mallam El-Rufai was once a key minister of the Obasanjo government and one of the most competent ones at that. He is known to be a very hardworking and brilliant man and is accredited as the only FCT Minister to have transformed and revolutionised Abuja. "My Goodness, how different (in a bad way), the FCT is without him!" Sunday Trust wrote a story a couple of days ago about a prospective 2015 presidential election campaign. There's no doubt that he would be an incredibly effective candidate and would be a breath of fresh air and certainly is not a personality that the opposition can afford to overlook. He comes with an immense following on the social media and the brains to match any challenge.

-Whenever he comes out with his trademark Safari Suit and does that trademark bounce up the stairs, it’s as if he is just about ready to run the New-York Marathon. One of the more apparent characteristics of Governor Adams Oshiomole, 58, is that he is an action man of no apology. From his days as the leader of the Nigerian Labour Congress to his current position as governor, Oshiomole has kept a level and focused head in governance. There is little doubt that this head of one of the most wonderful and interesting states in the country would also be a trump card for the opposition.

-A man that has proven himself beyond the shadow of a doubt to be a titan in Nigerian politics is the Asiwaju himself, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, 60. By singlehandedly, through sheer political sagacity, turning the whole South West from PDP into the opposition, Tinubu has shown that he is not a man to be messed with. He is the leader of the ACN and also a pillar of the opposition in Nigeria. And even though some believe that the presidency shouldn’t go back to the South West so soon after General Obasanjo, it is crystal clear that whatever happens in the next 3 years, the Asiwaju is absolutely key to any prospective opposition victory in 2015.

-They say a “a woman was taken out of man; not out of his head to top him, nor out of his feet to be trampled underfoot; but out of his side to be equal to him…” If there is one woman that is equal to the task of matching these men pound for pound, it is Mrs Obiageli Oby Ezekwesili. There is no doubt that this brilliant and accomplished Chartered Accountant is more than suited to carry the reigns of the top job. As a vice president of the World Bank's Africa Region, the candidacy of Mrs Fantastic would put a huge Cheshire cat smile on the faces of Nigerian women and an even bigger one on the faces of Nigerians, were she to win.

-Never in the history of this nation has there ever been a more dapper, suave, sophisticated and eloquent office holder than the former Governor of Cross River, Donald Duke, 51. With Donald Duke, it is a case of, what you see on the outside matches the inside because as a brilliant lawyer and administrator, he comes as a complete package. If one had any doubts as to his ability, they need only to glance at his resume where they would see his contributions in urban development, environment, tourism, the creation of Obudu Ranch, the initiation of Tinapa Resort and a record as the only governor in 2006 to be specifically mentioned as ‘not’ being under investigation by the EFCC. He would, no doubt, be another winner.

-The opposition would be very lucky if a man with the pedigree and prestige of Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, 51, was to fly their presidential flag come 2015. When the blue-blooded career banker and Islamic scholar was nominated as the CBN Governor in 2009, there was a little fuss because he came from the same zone as the then President Yaradua. But all acrimony soon vanished when Nigerians realised the fabric that this Einstein was made of. With his international recognition as an exceptional banker and his radical anti-corruption campaign aimed at the banking sector, Sanusi Lamido has everything and more of what an opposition looking to win an election needs.

-From his involvement with one of the greatest Nigerians to ever live, Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, to his exile and persecution by the Military Junta to his presidential outing in 2011, Chief Dele Momodu, 51, is one man that can not be left out in a list of prospective opposition flagbearers. In his career as a publisher and journalist, Dele Momodu has shown that he is always ready to fight for one thing; the rights and freedom of Nigerians. An opposition cannot be a good opposition without a clear conscience and as the former flagbearer of the National Conscience Party; he might just be their man.

Anyone who appreciates the delight of baking knows that no dessert cake is complete without rich, sugar-soaked icing. In order to complete and package this beautiful gateau that the opposition has to win the election with, General Muhammadu Buhari has to be included. Indubitably, for any opposition to win an election in Nigeria, the General has to be part of the process. However, in order for the opposition to grow, the time has come for General Buhari to step out as a contestant and step in as an elder Statesman and a guiding light for the opposition. If the opposition are to get it right this time, they must recognize that it cannot be done without the visible participation of General Buhari, whose leadership between 1983 and 1985 was one of the bright spots in our nation's history. It is doubtful as to whether there is any other politician in the whole of Nigeria who commands the kind of adulation and crowds that General Buhari does within his region and people. But, even with that adulation, it is crystal clear that there are obstacles which have not been overcome in the last three presidential elections and are likely not to be. With his experience and overt guidance, he has the power to contribute to the success of any opposition by campaigning, asking, telling and urging the tens and tens of millions of his loyal supporters to come out and vote for the opposition candidates in the same way they would had it been him. He has the power of delivering the vast majority of the Northern votes to the opposition. It is time for a new generation of leaders with a novel approach to move the opposition and our nation forward. With the full support of the General, the opposition will find themselves in the best winning, strategic position that they have ever been.

If the opposition uses foresight, they would realise that this is their chance to break away from the constant chronicle of failures that have characterised their existence since 1999. Any of these fine gentlemen above, backed by the support of General Buhari, would give the men in the PDP a serious run for their money. Given the right combination of any of them, they have the potential of attracting a new generation of voters to the polls and most importantly, they have the potential of cutting across religious, regional and ethnic divides. The opposition has the tools, now the challenge is to assemble those tools using tack, focus and most importantly, ’strategy’.

With the right combination of strategic candidates flying the flag of a one united opposition party and the frustration people are feeling towards the PDP, there is no reasons why the opposition shouldn’t win the presidency come 2015. In the last 13 years that the PDP has forced itself on Nigerians, the party has caused a lot of pain, anger and anxiety to the masses. With the dwindling economy, regime of injustice, their disregard for the rule of law and anti-corruption laws, serial bastardization of elections,  record- breaking unemployment levels, total lack of healthcare, non-existence of security, stagnant railway system, erratic power supply, increasing poverty, creation of a few billionaires as opposed to 160 million paupers and increasing ethnic tension, Nigerians are sick and tired of being ruled by the same cult, election after election; a cult that has given this country absolutely no development, no hope, no justice and no future. 
  
Time is ticking folks; the urgency for the opposition parties to be responsible to all Nigerians has arrived. The opposition has got to stop whining about the unfair political arrangement in Nigeria and get their act together. Unlike the past where proposals were bandied about on the measures of a formulation of a single opposition to the PDP, debates were underway and passions stirred, while nothing came of it, this time it has got to be different. This time, tangible programmes have to be put in place to prove the opposition is ready to respond to this clarion call. The only chance the opposition parties are going to have at scuffling power away from the ruling party is to stop paying lip service to unity and unite.

Nigeria deserves to have a luminous political setting where people are given the best possible options in the leadership contest so that the prospect of better capacity in government can be utilized. But if the quality of choice is limited, it reflects on the voters, as demonstrated in the last election.

Nigerians know what they want, even though they are often somewhat blas√© about it. I truly do have faith that, given the right choices, at the right time, they will make the decision likely to steer this country in an opposite direction to the disparaging one we have been dragged on in the last 13 years. And if the opposition gives Nigerians something credible to defend, the populace won’t accept any Chimpanze business once INEC starts monkeying around; the march to reverse the removal of fuel subsidy has shown us our peoples might. 2015 has got to be that time; perhaps the last time for a long time, to ensure that the effervescence required to bring Nigerian politics back from the abyss is seized upon.
  
The task will be daunting but it will not be impossible. The litmus test for the leadership abilities of the Nigerian opposition leaders is their initiative in embracing this challenge. Can Nuhu Ribadu, Peter Obi, Babatunde Fashola, Nasir El-Rufai, Sam Nda-Isaiah, Adams Oshomole, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Oby Ezekwesili, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Donald Duke or Dele Momodu heed to the opposition voice of reason; who are scream for unity, who yearn for greater political space, who are desperate for a viable platform where they can choose a capable leader to carry the flag in 2015? I honestly, really do think, given that platform and backed by the ‘overt’ support of General Muhammadu Buhari, any of these fine, upstanding persons are up to the challenge, should they wish to take it. The Nigerian constituency has made the call for the opposition to present a united front and competent candidates. The call is loud, and the message is clear: the opposition must unite. No longer should the Nigerian leadership be auctioned to the highest bidder by the few that refuse to live up to the declaration of democracy, transparency, term limits, patriotism, honour and good governance.

2015 is not just about who gets to move into the Aso Rock address, it goes to the very base of how we want to continue as a nation and how we want to continue practicing our democracy. This year is the most crucial period for the opposition. It will be a time that will call into question their internal governance design, integrity, commitment, tolerance, public spiritedness and seriousness. We only want our votes to count for a candidate that can stand up and represent and a candidate can only be victorious when the voters can count on him. Can we count on the opposition to unite and give life to this challenge by uniting and emerging with exciting, new viable candidates that have been unanimously endorsed? If the opposition cannot do this, if they cannot unite against the behemoth of PDP, would there be any reason for the voters to have faith in them winning the election or of running the country for that matter?
Ladies and Gentlemen, there is approximately 1,090 days to go for the soul of Nigeria 2015…May the battle begin!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Hard View (NORTHERN PSYCHASTHENIA)


NORTHERN PSYCHASTHENIA

Psychasthenia, obsessive-compulsive-disorders, compulsions, nervous breakdowns, obsessions, unreasonable fears or any other psychological disorder.  It seems almost inevitable that in this day and age most of the world is on the verge of one of these universal conditions. With all sorts of challenges worldwide; the economy, the wars, the intolerance and the conspiracies, who isn’t going through some kind of psychological disorder right about now? But the disorder that has been weighing heavily on my mind is the one that Northern Nigeria is at present going through.

Northern Nigeria is at this very time a region that is suffering from a very bad case of psychasthenia characterized by unity-phobias, religious-obsessions, violent-compulsions and excessive poverty-anxiety. Northern Nigeria; a region filled with baron, beautiful, undulating landscapes, amazing scenery, beautiful flora of evergreen trees and native bush, sparse prehistoric arid dessert-like Saharas, home to the most fertile land within a backdrop of the most spectacular display of agricultural tapestry. It’s hard for me not to feel awed by my home land every time I think of its grace, its people. But despite all that is wonderful in Northern Nigeria, its beauty and its cocktail of tribes, cultures and complicated multi-layered issues, there is something very wrong in our Northern Nigeria of today.

The fact that the situation in Northern Nigeria has essentially been a main talking point, shows that the breakdown Arewa is going through is weighing on many other minds. If we cut right to the chase in dissecting the issue at the heart of our present Northern psychasthenia, we find that the problems facing Arewa today are primarily about a fundamental lack of justice. A lack of transparency and tremendous corruption conducted and condoned by the past, present and likely future leadership of the North. St Augustine quotes that, “in the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery?” And perhaps nowhere at this present time can this be truer than in Northern Nigeria.

Trailing near injustice is a great ethical degradation that never used to be part of the Northern identity. This ethical degradation has everything to do with power and money. And specifically a Northern power on the decline; paranoid, empty of glory and threatened by everything, even the shadows.

In the past several months, since it became apparent that President Goodluck Johnathan is likely to be an ‘African’ extending his stay in power, so called Northern leaders have come out from hibernation to cry ‘blue murder’. Leaders whose silence, at a time when carnage ravaged the north in the form of the Boko Haram brutality, was deafening, have all found their voice to cry foul because “Johnny seems to want a second… or is it third term?”

Also, northern heavy weights have come out to odiously challenge what they call the great injustice in the current revenue structure and sharing formula where the Niger delta states get approximately N24 billion a month of fiscal allotment, while Northern states collect N4 billion. At this point, even with the asymmetrical revenue formula, it is doubtful as to whether the average Northerner gives a toss on how much Jigawa State collects as opposed to Akwa Ibom state. It’s not like the money actually trickles down to the vast majority of the public anyway.

Whenever real issues face the north such as our dwindling agricultural sector, our sparse educational challenge, our emergent dichotomy and the violence that is eating away at us, our rulers, elders, leaders often meet the news with an almost catatonic silence. And instead of adequately addressing those issues which incidentally are the real plagues of the north, they do what all hapless leaders do when they don’t care; they look the other way. But the minute that the issue centres on who should be the next president or monies to be collected, our northern leaders have a way of standing up first and shouting the loudest, as if those are the issues that ordinary northerners are concerned about.

Honestly, with no ostensible sense of irony, Northern leaders speak of the presidency being the turn of the north, but they say nothing of the fact that a good number of them were instrumental in renting out and mortgaging the supposed turn of a Northern presidency when they supported a very cruel Obasanjo at the time he hoisted a gravely ill man on the throne at a time when the North was given its chance. When Obasanjo insisted on anointing Late Umaru Yaradua as president, everybody knew he was not the best option the north had. None were more convinced of this than the governors who frequently complained of the late Presidents’ non participation in their governors’ forums. Yet when President Yaradua was chosen, all the northern governors kept mum, none of them spoke out against it.

Northern rulers complain about the revenue sharing formula, but say noting about the fact that the present revenue that the north is receiving now is in no way reaching even 5% of the Northern population. Neither has there been any acknowledgement that the majority of Northern Nigerian youth have a grim future because they have no education. At the time that the basic education scheme was introduced, we were told in a manner of a pep talk given to slightly obtuse children that it would benefit the North more than any other region. But since its inception, instead of our children being in the class rooms, they are out on the streets begging and waiting for word on when the next sectarian violence will start so that they can participate and no ruler has found a voice to speak out about it.

Yes, our leaders speak a lot; they speak about what the North wants, of what they think the North should get, but they have not spoken a word of what the North really needs, the true reasons for its failures, the renditions, the lack of education, the dearth of unity, the emergency. Northern injustice, Northern ethical degradation; these all play a part in giving the North the psychasthenia that is so abound, they all play a part in giving way to the hydra headed monster which is  corruption.

Corruption is a concept that, unfortunately, is so familiar to all Nigerians. And corruption means something to Northerners and when you break it down, what it means is this. There is no other place in the whole of Nigeria where the class divide between the rich and the poor is more obvious than it is than in the north. Since independence, Nigeria has been ruled by a Northern ruler for an approximate total of 38 years out of 52 years, yet in every corner of Northern Nigeria, millions of people can barely afford to feed their families. That in a recent Forbes listing of the richest Africans in the world, at least four northerners claim the slots in the top 40, including the top spot, yet several northern states have the highest incidence of poverty in the entire country. Littered all over the length and breath of Nigeria are Almajiris and beggars of a Northern origin. Religious bigotry and sectarian hatred in the north has become so intense that it has formed an identity even to the most objective and exposed within us. For every national examination sat in this country the aggregate of the region with the lowest candidates is the north. The regional bloodletting and consummate violence; which has been the by-product of the injustice in the society is getting worse.

It is when one sits down to really consider some of these inconsistencies and tries to relate them vis-à-vis each other that one can appreciate the attitudes that contribute to the erosion of the north. An inconsistency that was borne by injustice, selfishness, bad leadership, lack of foresight and every other factor that has contributed in bringing the North to its knees.

These facts are all well known; constantly people write and debate about them. All the goals and the ideals that this, once upon a time, giant within the giant of Africa has ever had, has been lost and is totally missed. We missed our goals because since the passing of Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto (yes him again), the North has had the misfortune of a short-sighted leadership that truly either doesn’t really care or doesn’t realise their part in the decay of the ideals of being a northerner and the accord that once made the North a force to be reckoned with.

There it is and as difficult as it is to say, this is the crux of it, the stark reality of the plight of the North, this psychasthenia we are suffering from. So the next time that our leaders, rulers and elders speak out on behalf of the North, they should please give the North a break and speak out, not on selective issues that affect them directly, but on the real issues that are truly plaguing the heart of the north, the issues that give way to this terrible case of psychasthenia Northern Nigeria is suffering from.

Article Written By Hannatu Musawa
You can follow me on Twitter- @hanneymusawa