SOLUDO’s SOLUTION OF ANGER AND INNUENDO by @elrufai May 10, 2013Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: Nigeria, Soludo, the accidental public servant
Nasir El Rufai
Long before the publication of The Accidental Public Servant, I had decided to resist joining issues with whatever commentators wrote in response to the book by way of either attacking the author or its contents. It is a narrative of my experiences and views, and I would simply invite others to document theirs. Many of those that commented on, or ‘reviewed’ the book had not even read it in full. Others had decided long before it was published that they would attack El-Rufai and whatever he writes, while a few others were simply going to be unhappy with how they were presented in the book as being less than perfect. When one writes a 700-page book, one has to take a deep breath and allow others the slack to write a few pages in response, however disagreeable or abusive.
When I wrote The Accidental Public Servant, there were no illusions that its account would be uncontested. As I have said repeatedly, it is simply my account of the people and events that defined my years in public service. I took several precautions (such as double-checking from the copious notes and diaries of events that were taken after every major encounter – about forty seven note books in total) of ensuring that it is a truthful, balanced and fair account of my experience. I do not have a professorial memory, so kept daily journals of events including verbatim records of statements. I am delighted that I took the time to write it, and I once again encourage others who have been privileged to be in the public service to similarly record their experiences. Those who may choose not to write books can still contribute by responding to specific issues mentioned in my narrative on which they may have other information, however critical or contrary to my account.
Professor Charles (I have always called him Charles because that is how we were introduced. I have never gotten used to calling him Chukwuma) Soludo approached me at the end of the recent thanksgiving service for my sister, Oby Ezekwesili, to complain about some of the assertions in my book concerning him. He denied that he owed his consulting jobs with the World Bank and other institutions to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. He denied being mentored or taught by her father. He added that he had not read the entire book but would send me two pages of his initial observations. I encouraged him not only to do so, but publish it and work on a book documenting his experiences. Knowing Charles as I do, I had no doubt that he was already doing that and the first episode has now been published in his fortnightly column in Thisday.
Thus, his rebuttal did not come as a surprise; given that I encouraged him to do so as I have nothing to hide. Even so, it is shocking that he chose to sensationalise his version of events by describing The Accidental Public Servant as intellectual fraud. There is a question mark in the title of his article, but the last sentence of Charles’ diatribe restated his magisterial conclusion. He went further to provide his own definitions of fraud as “an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual” or “as course of deception, an intentional concealment, omission or perversion of truth”; only to stop there! Fraud has a technical and legal definition and if Charles had bothered to consult his lawyer, he would have gone beyond the ‘online definition’, but that is another matter for now.
It is illogical to contest someone’s CV with him in the absence of contrary and superior information. I therefore concede to Charles’ account of his professional odyssey prior to his being introduced to us in 2000 by Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, long before joining the Obasanjo government in 2003. The logical question therefore is how any of the examples he gave of the errors in his resume would without more, rise to the level of fraud? Why would I intentionally deceive the world that Soludo’s tenure as governor of CBN started in mid-2005 rather than May of 2004? This only occurred when one of the book’s editors thought the 2004 date was wrong and ‘corrected’ it but that escaped subsequent editorial reviews. What is the personal gain to me in describing Soludo as a protégé of Professor Okonjo or how did the description damage him when he just referred to the same Professor Okonjo as “respected”? So, Charles needs to substantiate how any assertion, error or omission in the book amounts to “fraud” per his definition.
After that, I do not see much that is significant to warrant a clarification from me. One friend on Twitter observed that Charles’ polemic had so much anger and little substance that he truly sounded as angry as a woman scorned! Much of Charles’ response is enlivened by innuendos. He repeats the frequent charge about my ambition for the presidency in 2007, a charge that is untrue but that is often echoed as if that ambition, if it existed, is akin to treason. Charles knows that I do not consider illegitimate his desire to be governor of his state or his current hopes to be a presidential running-mate. But he should know better than most that ambition for office is not the only reason for being active in politics. Since Charles has claimed that I ‘schemed desperately’ to succeed Obasanjo, he should please tell all – inform Nigerians what I did, who was involved and spill the beans! Virtually all the narratives in The Accidental Public Servant about Charles involved others that are still alive, and if he said I made them up, perhaps he should state his version and invite others mentioned to invalidate my claim instead of calling anyone a liar just because he did not like the way his conduct appeared in the book.
Charles was introduced to me by Ngozi, and that was the foundation of our professional relationship and friendship. As far as I know, it was also Ngozi who proposed his name for economic adviser and Oby (and her husband) took him to Obasanjo several times before he was appointed. If Charles is denying that this happened, that is fine. It does not change the facts, and those that did what they did know what they did or did not do! Why is Charles so hurt that others have helped him? Is he suggesting that he had won the Nobel Prize in Economics and that is how Obasanjo got to meet and appoint him?
Charles presented his jaundiced interpretations of what I wrote in clear language as my views in his piece. For instance, there was nowhere in the book that I wrote that ‘Ngozi was power hungry.’ She was pragmatic and realistic about power relations. How does that equate to being power hungry? Charles is playing with words in a patently dishonest way, knowing that many that will read his piece have not read the book, but he is not the intellectual fraud! Charles also asserted that I forced myself on the economic team and “destroyed it”! Was it El-Rufai that composed the membership of the team? When and how was the team single-handedly destroyed by me? As far as I know, warts and all, the economic team kept on working till May 29, 2007. Again, I invite Charles to educate us all now, bearing in mind virtually all the team members are still alive and around, even after he stopped attending its weekly meetings.
In the book, I wrote that Charles did many things to ingratiate himself to Obasanjo, one of which was to attribute every good ‘idea’ to the latter; not actual achievements, since there were few in the early days. Charles’ response was to misrepresent what was written, just as he knows that there is no weight to the claim that appointees under a presidential system cannot claim credit for their work. To acknowledge the opportunity President Obasanjo gave me to serve, and the support he provided to help us succeed at the FCT is very different from pretending that only the boss had any ideas on how to administer Abuja, or that he oozed perfection, presidential system or not.
Charles also came out guns blazing questioning my narratives of events involving his new mentor Atiku Abubakar, and Nuhu Ribadu and Obasanjo. In Charles’ views, these three people made me tick in government and I should be eternally grateful. Charles has not read the book. If he did, he would have come across all the instances in which I gave each of them credit for what they did right and how they contributed to the work I did. Unlike Charles who makes people believe they are perfect when he needs them, I was consistent in and out of office in pointing to those I worked with where I believe they went wrong Just as I was self critical of my own shortcomings. In Charles’ vocabulary, that is ingratitude. In mine, it is simply utilitarian sycophancy to attribute perfection to imperfect mortals because they are likely to help one’s career next week!
Charles claimed that I pleaded with him to provide technical assistance to BPE. That is false. That conversation just never happened. Those familiar with BPE know that we hired people either as regular public servants, individual consultants called ‘core team’ members that work full time in the organization or investment bankers and consulting firms like lawyers and accountants that provided periodic transactional services as needed. Charles and his economic consulting firm did not fit into any of the three categories. I appointed him to the membership of two reform steering committees – Competition and Anti-Trust and the Industry and Manufacturing Reform Committees along with persons of the calibre of Pat Utomi, Oby Ezekwesili, and Aliko Dangote. I was the coordinator of both committees as DG of the BPE, with Ibrahim S. Njiddah, now a presidential assistant doing the day-to-day management. I am now learning from the Charles’ piece that he single-handedly did the work of the Competition Reform Committee for free. I did not realize that all the other notable members did nothing! Well, thanks Charles, but Steering Committee members got hotel accommodation and were paid sitting allowances by the BPE, so I do not quite understand what was meant by asserting that you did the work free of charge.
That leaves us with asking Charles to detail the fraud he alleges was attendant to the efforts we made to restore the Abuja master plan. He claimed that my ‘vindictiveness’ nearly ruined the exercise. Really? There is need to say more right on this away. I am challenging Charles to substantiate these innuendos with names and details of my alleged vindictiveness in his article since everybody knows that my service at the FCT is a matter of public record that has been investigated by several institutions unsympathetic to me, and all Abuja residents know about and still comment upon it.
The rest of Soludo’s article was spent blowing his trumpet of banking consolidation with his characteristic modesty! The dismissal of Charles’ over-hyped banking consolidation in The Accidental Public Servant therefore appeared to upset him more than anything else. He is still under the illusion that his ‘revolution’ changed our lives the way GSM licensing did! No one needs a single 234Next to see through the hype and the disingenuous comparison. Banks like First Bank, UBA, Union, Zenith IBTC, and GTB needed no consolidation. They had sound business models and were doing well without it. Soludo’s consolidation abolished investment banks and regional banks, while creating a few ‘big’ banks with funny names many of which were either comatose by 2009 or had to be subsequently saved by the Sanusi Lamido Sanusi rescue exercise. It is pathetic to measure the success of consolidation by the number of banks in the top 1,000 banks in the world. Did that ranking translate into increased lending to the real sector, greater employment opportunities for our people and intensified mobilization of savings in the way the GSM revolution did? No way, only massive margin loans to create a stock market bubble, engender insider lending and incestuous relations between regulators and operators in the industry.
The kind of targeted interventions needed to fill the gaps sustained by some of such policies were opposed by Soludo unless the ideas originated from him. As CBN governor, Charles did all he could to frustrate the attempts to establish a national mortgage system and was openly critical of Ngozi’s drive and contributions in getting the Paris Club debts written off for the simple reason that the the credit might go to others not Soludo!
Charles is free to beat his chest and claim that the deformed baby called consolidation was a revolution, but today many of the the poster-children of the policy like Intercontinental, Oceanic, Finbank and Spring Bank are history, the banking-stockbroking rock stars are facing prosecution, and with N4 trillion spent to prevent the collapse of his revolution. When Charles’ memoirs are published, those that either witnessed it or had to clean up ‘the world’s fastest growing financial system’ will have their own views. And it will be good for the country. After all, it has been said that every story has at least three sides, my version, your version and the truth which lies somewhere in between the two. If one refers to a book one finds disagreeable as intellectual fraud while insisting that a cancer one created that has cost nearly the annual budget of the federal government to treat, so far, as a resounding success, then what more is there to say? It simply points to the moral and psychological mind-set of such a person.
Tags: Governance, Nigeria, Politics, Youths
YOUNG VOICES – SEUN FAKUADE
‘Trained as a Microbiologist from Obafemi Awolowo University, ‘Seun Fakuade is Founder at Bedazzle Media; a Brands, Multimedia and Publishing firm; Executive Director of Beacons Development Foundation Nigeria – a non Governmental organization that uses mentorship and community services to develop the human capacity and leadership core values of young people; and Team Lead at The BOOTCAMP.
Through his network and platforms, he has devoted himself to inspiring young Nigerians and believes that with integrity and diligence as virtues all Nigerians can collective guide Nigeria back to the path of growth, development and sustainability.
As he turns 30 today, ‘Seun writes reminding Nigerians that we are the Beacons of Change Nigeria needs for its rebirth and challenges us to respond to this patriotic call.
WHINE OR RISE: A CHOICE! By Seun Fakuade
“Those who oppose change, those who benefit from an unjust status quo, have always bet on the public’s cynicism or the public’s complacency”. – Unknown
What is the future of Nigeria: With its two types of law – one for the Elite, the other for the Poor; with 10.6millon out-of-school children, many hawk on the streets and expressways. What is the future of Nigeria with the high rates of child mortality; with the prevalent poverty rates; with the disparity between the rich and poor; with the conflict of interests between leaders and followers; with the incessant terror attacks from home grown organizations springing up across the regions; with deliberately corrupt or developmentally disinclined leadership; with the best, brightest and fittest amongst our citizens disenfranchised and shying away from partisan politics?
What is the future of Nigeria: with the undying rape on our value system; where our concern for embezzled funds is higher than our concern for the loss of lives; where our focus is more on infrastructure than those who will sustain them? (young people). Nigeria’s young people are angry, and they have a reason to be. At the high rate of unemployment, crime and violence are alternate resolves for many. What are we doing about our young people? How are we bringing them up? Have our elders given up on the young, or they are simply in a hurry to leave the stage?
Nigeria’s leaders are mostly interested in quick projects that can facilitate their win in the next election. Without citizens, most importantly young people, who are highly driven enough to engage in the political system through which an economic powerhouse/institution can be born; Nigeria’s residence in the doldrums will be long!
Political institutions birth economic institutions, which; alongside good governance, public infrastructure, propriety rights and good judicial systems; allow for a vibrant nation. Good Political institutions enable good economic institutions with the practice and right incentives for growth and development. A lack of the aforementioned are reasons Why Nations Fail. So what will give rise to the appropriate political institutions? Amidst the prevalent cries of “politics is bad”, how will Nigeria change the course of its erratic and epileptic growth curve?
For evil to stop, good people must be driven enough, with the will to fight and the right tactics to emerge a dynamic/robust system that checkmates that evil. The idea that politics is bad has been sold to us from time infinitesimal. I do agree to an extent: for good people, by shying away from politics, leave it to rot and to waste. Nigeria is typical of this. Who are the leaders of the 774 Local governments? The Governors? The head of institutions? Mainly ignorant bunches! Look at the Lawmakers: what are their interests – themselves or the people? Some thugs, some aching thieves!
Consequently, these decision makers repeatedly make decisions that insulate them from consequences that the larger society is much predisposed to. They live in gated compounds with massive security; they drink from refined water; they enjoy foreign health treatments; send their children abroad for; and enjoy other unprecedented benefits that consistently make them insensitive and unreasonable on a large scale.
If Nigeria must change, good people (importantly young people) must fight through the political systems, through the political parties, to win through and through. When we enable our political institutions with sound men, with the Character, Capacity and Competence to bring about change; other things will follow. The much needed national ideology of our nation, our identity; and the accompanying rise from the under-development rubble will only be consequential.
Our parents were sold the same lies: politics is bad. Look at Nigeria and the result of that lie! By constantly believing and living this lie, we perpetrate the status quo. Good people in those days ranted too, the newspapers and other forms of old media were their field of expression; but politics: No! they stayed away. It is the same today: our media is Twitter and Facebook. We are doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result! Madness!
The challenge to “how we can birth a great nation despite the rot in which it exists” is the consideration. Good people must go into politics as a cluster group of Change agents. We must be decisive to do it, even though we differ, in our color, religious inclinations, cultural orientation, and ideological beliefs.
We know many things: We know that our nation will arise when its citizens are brought up with high standard in education that creates many science and medical breakthroughs, many technological innovations that eventually liberate our nation by creating jobs and wealth and a solid economy. We know Nigeria will be a greater place if more people could get and acquire technical and resourceful skills and training that employers are looking for today.
We know we would be a greater nation if we stopped accommodating corruption, frolicking with corrupt men or granting them undue pardon. We know we are better off when women are treated fairly and equally in every aspect. We know these things and more to be true. We know that our challenges are humongous and incredibly daunting but we admit that they are within reach, they can be solved. I call you friends to rise and build this nation, destroyed after years over years of lethargic, tenacious cycle of selfish greedy leaders; of expropriation, shedding of blood, murders, killings, needless bickering and incredible animosities.
When we fix our political system, we can fix other things; importantly our constitution with its flaws. We must rewrite it and input the essence of our unity, OUR IDENTITY- the true meaning of being a Nigerian; not the poster face littered over the world, of corruption, of crime, of violence, of fraud, of poverty. We must redefine our nationhood, borne out of deep resolve and deliberations; and craft out extraordinary charters which our nation, its citizens and posterity will live by.
We must refuse the “we are the future” slogan. Now is that future. It is up to us to stand up, to be heard, sit-in, to protest, to dialogue, to discus, to lobby, to march, to organize, to vote. We won’t be content no more, to just sit back and watch. This is OUR nation, as much as its theirs. We have the same inalienable right to it as those who lead it do.
We must define and determine when that cynicism and complacency ends. Its why WE CANNOT WAIT ANY LONGER. It won’t be easy. Nothing worthwhile is easy. Martin Luther King Jnr didn’t have it easy. Neither did Mandela. No one of achievement has avoided failure — sometimes catastrophic failures. But they keep at it. They learn from mistakes. They don’t quit.
Will we allow the destruction and ultimate implosion of Nigeria continue? Will we allow our young ones grow up without the assurance of and for a better future? Will we arise to erase the poster dent that has plagued our nation for decades? Or as usual, restrain from politics, or bow to the pressure of the status quo, to the altar of corruption and repeat the same!? Will we dare to be that breed without greed or corruption that will, united with others; bring forth a new Nigeria? What will happen to those boys and girls if we don’t? Who will fight for them if we don’t? Who will give them a fair shot if we don’t fight?
Whilst we join PINigeria to relieve our nation of several years of being pinned down; or Enough-Is-Enough because we have certainly had enough; or Sleeves Up Nigeria for all hands are needed to work Nigeria to breakthrough; or the Future Project because we are the Future of Nigeria; or Beacons Nigeria for truly, we all are the Beacons of Hope and Change Nigeria needs. These movements are good but their impacts are limited compared to the diverse and vast role of government. Hence, we must also participate in the political process for a more robust and engaging fast track to Nigeria’s, and ultimately Africa’s renaissance.
Nigeria needs that new breed, without compromise, with the Character, Competence and Capacity to function effectively; with the moral reprieve and the restraints to become corrupted along the process. Nigeria requires you: the icon of integrity to engage and stand firm, participate and confront the political system and its machineries, with knowledge, with courage and grit to fight for your rightful place. Nigeria’s greatness is only known potentially. Her greatness will never materialize until those set of sound incorruptible and unflinching young men and women arise to birth it.
You are that Beacon of Change Nigeria so need for its Rebirth.
God Bless Nigeria
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT (2) by @seunfakze May 8, 2013Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, EDUCATION, MORALITY, POLITICS.
Tags: Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria, President
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Hello Mr President,
It has been a while since we last communicated. I have watched, the months passed, with depressing emotions, with overwhelming exasperations, with unhidden bewilderment, with unrestrained dismay how gradually we are descending into the horror of a dream: a nightmare. The spate of attacks on our land ( – morally, mentally, physically to say the least) in the past six months has left most of us speechless. What is more chilling: others are growing inured to the “new plague” and you sit, so it seems; less concerned if we live, if we die.
Many called you clueless, I joined that bandwagon for a while. I have since rescinded that statement. I duly apologize. You know what you are doing sir. You are deliberately indifferent or dangerously a wicked man discerning Nigerians should be scared of. Sometimes, I wonder how you sleep through your decisions. I wonder why you have advisers since your decisions have been bereft of one who has critical thinkers let alone objective counsellors. Your cronies love your reign, they cannot be bothered as your citizens are an hypnotized lot: always talking, never acting.
Lest i forget Mr President, you pardoned Alamieyeseigha. One wonders if you know the weight of debt he owes the people of Nigeria, of Bayelsa state descent. Mr. Alamieyeseigha through his thieving channels and wanton greediness sent many Nigerians to their early graves: massively under-developed Bayelsa – the untarred roads many with gaping holes; the wobbled and destabilized educational institutions; the various hospitals that could have been build and the very many ones without required infrastructure (many women bled to death). I will be right to call you his conniving partner since you were his loyal Deputy then, even now.
Your friend, and erstwhile leader Mr Alamieyeseigha bled that state. His reward for this shameful onslaught on the Nigerian people: a state pardon. Mr Alamieyeseigha is a corrupt and crooked thief; many who stole $1 worth of food to survive in OSUN state are dying in jail cells. Repeatedly, your moral flexibilities and decisions have shown how you enforce the dual Rule of law in Nigeria: one for the rich, the other for the poor. Double standards.
You passed a security budget that has been the highest in our nation’s democratic history, yet your administration has presided over the most unprecedented carnage in our history by home grown terror groups. I cannot blame the rise of terror solely on you, your predecessors policies, and misguided decisions brought us here. However, your decisions have exacerbated the situation than relieve it. One would assume your administration, with it’s rich security budget to checkmate the growing terror situation but your proposed harangue with them shows how weakened your position is.
The high jobless rates in Nigeria are repeatedly being met by a disgruntled, restless, cynical young who can’t wait to steal or make life unbearable for others. Truth be told Sir, I am getting tired. Tired: of sleeping with my eyes alert each time my gate door opens; of the deliberate disparities brought upon my community by decisions and policies you make; of the constant image of our young who hawk on our expressways; of your promises; of your insincerity and insensitivity.
A leader cares, has empathy, speaks from the heart to those he serves. We listen to your robotic lines from Mr Abati, the chameleon. They are without soul, without emotions: cold. You don’t even care anymore when lives are lost! In April, The US lost 3 people in Boston, days later, we lost hundreds in Borno. The US never rested till those hoodlums were captured; no amnesty or respite for those who deliberately kill its citizens. In Nigeria, that is a depressing contrast. Look at Baga, look at Bama. Our brothers and sisters in the north are blown up everyday; what do you care! At least they are not your people, right!
Dear Mr President, with due respect, you have no moral right or character to lead this nation. You lost that right when you sold your conscience. If it is possible within your remaining being, kindly resign. We are truly better off without you as our President.
8th May, 2013
Progressive Lethargy: APC and the Task of Refining Nigerian Politics (Open Memo to Nigerian Opposition Politicians – 2) @smlukman May 3, 2013Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: lethargy, Nigeria, opposition parties
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Progressive Lethargy: APC and the Task of Refining Nigerian Politics
Open Memo to Nigerian Opposition Politicians – 2
Party politics in Nigeria is for all comers where identity and values mean nothing. Members don’t need to have any special attribute. As a result, for instance, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is for everybody including the corrupt, ex-convicts, questionable Nigerians, etc. just as it also has a good mix of some of the good and positive citizens. The party doesn’t have to respect its members and make itself available to the Nigerian people. Democratic values mean nothing to the party. Elections hardly take place and when they do, the results can be vetoed by party leaders. It has gradually emerged as a party without democrats and permanently antagonistic to Nigerian people. At the same time, it proudly bears the name Peoples Democratic Party.
The fact of PDP’s control of the Federal Government and most state governments, which conferred on it the commanding control of the resources of the country since 1999 mean liberalised access by corrupt Nigerians and geometric rise of the problem of mismanagement, looting and theft of public resources. The outcome is that virtually every PDP functionary at party or governmental levels is contaminated with varying degree of the public treasury loot allergy. The absence of democracy and being antagonistic to Nigerian public has also resulted in very high membership turnover. The consequence is that the Nigerian political landscape at all level is littered with ex-PDP. Sadly, Nigerian politics is yet to acquire any capacity for healing or quarantining ex-PDP members, especially those that have proven cases of public loot allergy or public evidence of authoritarian amity.
Largely on account of combinations of lack of internal party democracy, high membership turnover and absence of values in our polity, almost all our parties have been infected with the public loot allergy in varying degrees. As a result of which both in terms of the different parties and the government they produce, poor services and contempt by officials to public outcry for good governance is a recurring characteristic. This is the progressive lethargy that today represents a major source of public frustration, cynicism and democratic inertia. It has in significant ways reduced democratic governance in Nigeria to a state of joke and clamour for national development to rhetoric. Nigeria is therefore a country without national development targets, a country where public officials govern with impunity, where citizens’ lives are at best statistical expressions, where the rise of anarchy and relapse to Hobbesian state of nature is the commandment.
Is this our national destiny? Is there any way to remedying this ugly situation? Do Nigerians have any hope that anything positively different can come out of any of today’s initiative? In terms of politics, is there a way to introduce some values and character to any of our parties? Can the effort towards introducing values and character also take on board the need to cure the public treasury loot allergy?
Almost every Nigerian is asking these questions with special interest mostly based on the hope that Nigerian politics can be refined such that public frustration, cynicism, democratic inertia, absence of national development, culture of impunity, loss of lives and property, anarchy and relapse to Hobbesian state will no longer be our defining feature. In response therefore our Nigerian opposition politicians have taken up the challenge and since January this year (2013) commence national negotiations to merge our opposition parties, notably ACN, ANPP, CPC and Okorocha-led APGA and have since February 6 announced agreement to form All Progressives Congress (APC). While for many Nigerians this is a welcome development, it is also being received with doubt given that many leaders of these parties involved in the merger negotiations are to some extent ex-PDP with varying levels of contamination and public treasury loot allergy.
This may only serve to reinforce public frustration, cynicism and democratic inertia. It demand for a conscious response from the merging parties, at least to stimulate public confidence that the new party, APC, will be founded with the capacity to, at the minimum, to provide healing for public treasury loot allergy and/or authoritarian amity. Somehow, perhaps on account of over confidence arising from the perceived high public support for the merger, our opposition leaders have almost ignored this expectation completely. Issues of leadership selection process for the merger, at best, insult public sensibility given the decision to vest the leadership of the merger negotiation in the hands of Chief Tom Ikimi.
Not even the choice of the name, All Progressives Congress (APC) and the fact that by any parameter, Chief Ikimi will never qualify as progressive moderated our opposition leaders. If anything, he is a conservative through and through who never hid his preference for private accumulation, private enterprise, capitalism, etc. Although, it can be argued that given the state of things in Nigeria, private accumulation, private enterprise and capitalism if founded based on application of rules, liberalised environment and equal access could represent progress. However given the antecedent of Chief Tom Ikimi, it is doubtful if his choice of private accumulation, private enterprise, capitalism, etc. is located in application of rules, liberalised environment and equal access. Besides, his democratic credentials as the foreign Minister of Gen. Sani Abacha’s administration and his role in the international defense of the criminal state murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1996 were certainly a huge mark that meant anything but progressive. Perhaps his role as PDP returning officer in the sham contest between Chief Obasanjo and Chief Alex Ekweme in 2003 is progressive credentials.
Nigerians have lived with this ‘progressive’ assault for about four months. Some commentaries, critiques and public opinions have drawn attention to this. In virtually all cases, the response is some subtle rationalisation, stubborn silence and meek arrogance. This could be a way of highlighting the prerogatives of our political leaders to take all decisions without worrying about public expectations including wrong choices of party leaders. This can only further fuel public frustration, cynicism and democratic inertia and consequently make APC to emerge only as a vehicle to entrench our progressive lethargy. With this kind of disposition, conservatives with strong authoritarian streak such as Chief Ikimi or any other person can emerge as leaders of APC.
Therefore, instead of emerging as a progressive party, one founded based on a commitment to social welfare services especially education and health, like the case of ‘people’ and ‘democratic’ in the name of PDP, ‘progressive’ identity will just be another taxonomy meaning virtually nothing to APC. With the presence of many ex-PDP, some with advanced signs of the public treasury loot allergy, problems of national development targets, impunity, anarchy and relapse to Hobbesian state of nature will remain our national commandment.
Our leaders in the Nigerian opposition parties negotiating the APC merger need to take urgent steps to redirect affairs so that APC truly emerge as a progressive party. Progressive loosely defined based on a strategy to develop APC as a party that can guarantee steady incremental positive changes in our political life. These incremental changes should take their bearing from good demonstration of commitment to develop a party that can regulate the conduct of every member. The starting point may have to proceed with strong commitment to guarantee fairness within the party. Progress in this respect will assume a reverse order and the calamity facing the nation will continue.
What should our opposition leadership do in order to guarantee fairness? There are three principles that can be recommended to guide APC negotiations especially the process of leadership formation. The first should be the need to address problem associated with combination of treasury loot allergy and authoritarian amity. The second will be the need to ensure fair representation of the parties in the merger process. And the third is the need to come with strong commitment to ensure equal representation of all parts of the country and interests in the leadership of the party.
It is important that the party begin to use the issue of principles as a guide moving forward given that by May 11, once ANPP and CPC successful hold their merger conventions, the next stage will be that of leadership formation. Given the reality of Nigerian politics largely being driven by personal aspirations, the democratic and progressive outlook of APC risked being sacrificed. This underlines the need to urgently appeal to our opposition political leaders so that they don’t recklessly squander the huge democratic opportunity the APC merger process present.
With respect to the principles highlighted above therefore, the first task before our opposition leaders is to take all the necessary steps to ensure that as much as possible all those holding principal position in the party can be adjudged to have tolerable levels of ex-PDP symptom, public treasury loot allergy or authoritarian amity. Principal Officers in this case should include National Chairman, National Secretary, National Treasurer and Chairman BOT. The process of leadership formation must factor a strategy for comprehensive due diligence, including public scrutiny. A situation where the approach is blind to ex-PDP symptom, public treasury loot allergy and authoritarian amity, can only result in creating a shadow PDP in APC.
The second issue is that once the principal offices are agreed, fairness requires that these offices are equitably shared among the merging parties. The factor that should determine equity must take into account the need for every party and all members to make sacrifice for the good of the country and enhance the electoral prospect of APC. To that extent therefore it may require the need to have an attitude of let go just so that unity is achieved.
The third bordering on the need to come with strong commitment to ensure equal representation of all parts of the country and interests in the leadership of the party demand that all parts of the country are reflected in the leadership. Given current perception whereby ACN is perceived as a South West party and CPC as a Northern party, and against the background of cynicism that the merger is mainly between the North and South West and ANPP is being relegated to a junior status in the merger, there will be the need to take conscious measures to factor a strong presence of all parties and all parts of the country among the principal officers of APC.
All things considered, it will appear that options before our oppositions politicians are limited. Unless our APC want to opt for a complete gamble with untested individuals for the positions of National Chairman, National Secretary and Chairman BOT, it will appear that based on current leaders of the parties, the best choices that would meet all the three conditions are Gen. Buhari, Asiwaju Tinubu and Chief Ogbonnaya Onu. All the three can be adjudged not to have ex-PDP symptom, no proven case of public treasury loot allergy and in many respect tolerable levels of authoritarian amity. Controversial as the assessment of these leaders would appear to be, it represented about the best in relations to other possible candidates within the merging parties.
Weighed against the advantage that with these three personalities – Gen. Buhari, Asiwaju Tinubu and Chief Onu – in the leadership of APC, three critical parts of the country are already reflected. The challenge then will be to proceed to recruit good leaders with, at the minimum, tolerable levels of ex-PDP symptoms, low cases of public treasury loot allergy and authoritarian amity from other parts of the country and interests.
Some of the areas that attention must be paid in constituting the leadership of the party include the issue of recruiting youths and women leaders. The way things are, if care is not taken, leadership negotiations leading to the emergence of APC leaders may reflect dominantly older people and mostly men. Since it is only logical that the leadership of APC will be constituted from among current leaders of the merging parties, APC risk coming up with a leadership whose youngest will be in his/her 50s. And since no age limit has been placed so far in the harmonised APC constitution for the APC Youth Leader and Deputy Youth Leader, people in their 60s or 70s may emerge as Youth Leader and Deputy. There is therefore the urgent need for our opposition leaders to consciously take steps to ensure the representation of youths (those under 35 years) and women in the leadership of APC.
Once APC is able to handle the task of leadership formation based on respect for principles; public frustration, cynicism and democratic inertia will begin to give way to confidence, support and participation in party activities. This is the only guarantee for electoral success in 2015. This demand that, first thing first, the process of APC leadership formation must get certain things right. It is must not be driven by purely personal aspirations of individuals, pure exercise of leadership prerogative, blind recognition for our diversities both with respect to identity and interests, etc. Our Nigerian opposition leaders must act based on principles as the qualifying credential for being a party of progressives!
Tags: Cowards, Nigeria
YOUNG VOICES – Introducing ‘Dada Olusegun
The rising popularity of social media among young people has become
such a nightmare for Nigeria’s rulers that are afraid of openness and
information symmetry, that the Jonathan administration is spending a
whopping $40 million to read their emails, romantic exchanges and other
‘subversive’ exchanges. Interacting regularly with young people on
Twitter and Facebook gives the older generation both hope and concern.
‘Dada Olusegun is one of those young people that have been making
positive contributions in cyberspace. He is just 25 years old! He
attended Awori Ajeromi Grammar School in Lagos and graduated from
Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Ogbomosho with an honours
degree in Pure and Applied Chemistry! Yet like many of the
multi-talented youths we have introduced on this column, Dada writes as
if he studied humanities, the social sciences or even literature.
Dada was very active along with Yemi Adamolekun, Japheth Omojuwa,
Chinedu Ekeke, Seun Fakuade, Zainab Usman, Momoh Adejoh and Amina Saude
Mohammed and numerous others during the #OccupyNigeria movement that
successfully resisted the imposition of the surreptitious Jonathanian
tax called ‘fuel subsidy removal’. He is a talented writer cum social
change advocate. He is a regular political columnist on #EkekeeeDotCom
and contributor on numerous online blogs and newspapers. He is a gifted
public speaker who is also involved in youth empowerment and
Today, Dada issues a call to action and appeals for Nigerian citizens
to end their lethargic acceptance of bad governance, looting and
impunity by claiming to be neutral. Indeed, Dada thinks such people are
simply cowards. Do you agree? It is my honour and privilege to
introduce another vigorous young voice, Mr. ‘Dada Olusegun for your
– Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
‘THESE COWARDS’ – BY OLUSEGUN DADA.
Let me put it this way: I have seen many things in my life. I have seen
certain people who treat passivity as some kind of heroic action. There
are people who say, “I just want my job, my family, and my religion and
I will leave politics out of my life.” Passivity isn’t heroic, it’s
cowardly! It’s the lazy man’s easy way out. But I see it beyond
Let me say this to those people: you’re idiots! While you’re asleep in
front of your own life, they are screwing you. While you shut your mind
to national issues, they are mentally gang-raping you. While you’re
living out your life, they are ripping you off; they’re pulling the
carpet from under you, tripling national debts that your children and
grandchildren will not be able to pay till they die.
You’re idiots for closing your eyes exactly when your eyes should be
open. You’re morons for thinking that the present day government will
take care of the people if not put on their toes and forced to do so.
You’re blind for thinking that the corruptly rich will not do
everything in their power to keep their stranglehold on you; you cannot
be passive while the missiles of corruption fall on your head and the
heads of your children. You cannot be passive while they destroy your
life and the lives of your children. You cannot sit there and pretend
to be neutral. You cannot be passive when people thousands daily die
due to negligence of government. You cannot be passive when the
military sworn to protect your lives and properties kill and maim you
and your children on the altar of the war against terror. You cannot
afford to be passive. No you cannot.
Your destiny is in your hands, the destiny of your generation and the
generation after yours. Let me tell you this: it’s either you become
politically active or you risk a complete destruction by those in
power. You either become politically active or your unborn children and
grandchildren will curse you even in your grave because politics is too
important to be left in the hands of “the politicians”. It is even
worse to leave it in the hands of criminals who know no difference
between state purse and personal pocket. Who will loot the entire
treasury, in the drop of a hat.
Our direct participation in politics both now and during and after
every election is compulsory for the growth of the society and the
welfare of the humans living in it. Our contract must never stop with
voting anyone into power, but prevailing upon them to perform. Only
with our direct participation in politics will power truly belong to
Enemies of Nigeria are on the prowl, only our combined voices can throw
them out. The Edo and Ondo state gubernatorial elections have shown
that it is possible for us as a people to resist all forms of electoral
I also understand that your ilk, the Mister-mind-my-business, didn’t
participate in the Edo election. Your church and family and job and
business and holiness and righteousness were all more important to you
than the good of the society you live in.
When the vigilance of those you call fools now cause those in power to
get responsible and build roads, you will want to drive past them. When
they build good schools, you will want to pull your kids out of the
low-quality but unreasonably expensive buildings called private
schools, to put them in the government owned ones.
We saw how your ilk in performing states pulled their kids out of those
private schools when they saw that a responsible government can
actually build good schools.
You sit under your religious leaders who enjoin you to honour thieves
in government with their silence and you swallow such messages without
thinking them through. What they fail to tell you however is that
without the Reverend Martin Luther Kings’ of yesterday, there could
never have been a Barack Obama today.
You are an enemy of this country.
But the country must move on with or without you or your cowardice
masked in passivity. We will defeat all the enemies and put our nation
back on the path of growth and change.
Did I hear you say I insulted you? Well, whatever I say here will be
better than what your great grandchildren will say on your grave, if
this nation fails.
Wake up, my friend, wake up!
Invite to THE BOOTCAMP May 1, 2013Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, EDUCATION, POLITICS.
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It is my pleasure to invite you to the inaugural BOOTCAMP conference, which also serves as the platform for the formation of the Community service club across schools. With this initiative and your invaluable support, we hope to actualize many of our key value projects in the communities across Nigeria.
The BOOTCAMP program is designed to ensure citizens civic engagement in the democratic process, by building core leadership values and strengthening of democratic values through mentorship and social entrepreneurship amongst young Nigerians. Starting in 2013, across schools, communities and in partnership with other philanthropic platforms, civil organizations and well meaning Nigerians; The BOOTCAMP platform hopes to re-invigorate and energize young people across Nigeria to participate in inclusive democracy using mentorship and social entrepreneurship as strategic tools.
We recognize that building Active Citizens will go beyond the electoral process, hence The BOOTCAMP. Actively engaging them in debating key issues that have a direct bear on their lives, including Policies & Good Governance (including ways to demand accountability and transparency in government spending), Education, Infrastructure & Sustainable Development, Health, Human Rights; etc will ultimately enable them have pointers for debates, discussions and deliberations between themselves; during and after the electoral process.
The proposed establishment of the BEACONS/COMMUNITY SERVICE CLUB and LEADERSHIP EXPO/FUTURE LEADERS FORUM respectively across schools makes this summit a pragmatic platform for grooming and mentoring young Nigerians. Young ones in attendance from different Nigerian schools across the country will long for, and be motivated mentally, physically, psychologically and spiritually for a New Nigeria.
Speakers include Dr Oby Ezekwesili (Fmr Min. of Education & Fmr World Bank Vice President); Dr Tunde Bakare (Intl Centre for Reconstruction and Development); Malam Nasir Elrufai (Fmr Minister FCT); Mr Salihu Lukman (People & Passion Consult); Mr Gbenga Sesan (PINigeria); Mr Akin Oyebode (Stanbic IBTC); amongst many other inspiring young voices.
MENTORSHIP: Young ones are encouraged through a Mentor-Mentee process through school clubs to foster diverse character set values amongst themselves. The establishment of BEACONS Community Service Clubs (CSC) across secondary schools to help facilitate these discussions amongst young ones will be the characteristic hallmark of the BOOTCAMP platform. Mentors, as facilitators of these clubs, will teach and impart directly on leadership values such as Honesty, Integrity, Transparency, Accountable spending, Dignity in labour, Empathy; amongst other noble virtues in want in today’s leadership. We hope, through our platform, to encourage inclusive debates, discussions and development of pointed charters/blueprints on issues and challenges facing each citizen of Nigeria.
SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: The core civic engagements in social entrepreneurship will help us deepen social interaction amongst young ones, expand youth participation in democracy, strengthen democratic culture and values, and ultimately hold public institutions accountable. Ultimately, by raising these discussions across pockets in Nigeria, we will be able to build grassroots democratic engagement amongst young ones. This implies that young people are not only engaging in discussions but are enabled in addressing societal challenges by using core leadership values to deliver vibrant and transformative solutions to their communities. These CSC platforms help to build discussions and allow them practice lessons learnt with the provision of start-up grants (N50,000) for each participating school. This way, young people not only learn in an interactive engaging club but also have the required funds that will help them deliver any transformative idea/change they so desire.
These two key attributes of the BOOTCAMP platform will enable us build a capable and competent Replacement Generation as the next set of leaders in our nation. Our goal is to RAISE A REPLACEMENT GENERATION by strengthening values, culture and an engaging process in democracy amongst young ones; with keen strategy on mentoring and social entrepreneurship as tools for engagement. We believe these are key points to building an engaging young platform that will help develop young people across grassroots towards building a strong and vibrant future for our nation.
We ask you to join us on May 25, 2013 at the University of Lagos Main Auditorium in our quest to build a strong and New Nigeria.
Founder and Team Lead,
The BOOTCAMP NIGERIA
Tags: Nigeria, Salihu Lukman, Youths
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Nigerian Youths: Historic Challenge to Nation Building
Salihu Moh. Lukman
“If you wanna be somebody, if you wanna go somewhere, you better wakeup and pay attention” was the message of Whoopi Goldberg to her exuberant young students in Sister Act. At a time when everything was crashing, lawlessness became pleasurable, conventions no longer tenable and all initiatives end up producing negative outcomes, something different was needed. What? And how? These are issues that needed very practical, not hypothetical responses. In the context of a rigid Catholic setting and without really planning for it, a Whoopi Goldberg, acting as accidental Sister Mary Clarence, who on account of running from a criminal gang found shelter in a Catholic school offered unique and ingenious services that saved the school from closing.
That is the situation Nigeria require today. It is a situation that is best reflected in the lives of our young people – Nigerians under the age of 35, people born between 1978 and today. Unfortunately, these are category of Nigerians who have never experienced anything near a functional society, a society with guaranteed water, power, healthcare delivery, quality education, etc. Many, although born in our so-called urban centres, have never witnessed water flowing from public water source. They have never seen electricity from PHCN (NEPA) uninterrupted for up to 6 hours, sometimes less. Hospitals have regressed from what Gen. Buhari while overthrowing Alh. Shehu Shagari in December 1983 described as consulting clinics to public mortuaries and in the circumstances therefore most Nigerians when they are sick look for Babalawos of all types of miracle/magical healers across all religions rather than go to hospitals. The narrative is endless and pathetic. It basically mirror the lives of the exuberant youth in Sister Act, requiring something different to pull Nigeria out of its current mess.
One of the major challenge is the expectation that government initiative is what is needed to produce something different. In the circumstance, there is a dominant attitude among young people concentrating energy towards contracting relations with government, largely because of the notion of government being a reservoir of “free money” on account of which being in government or close to people in government may not be more than access to “free money”. And since our curriculum of education at all levels is increasingly becoming abstract, government for our young people is fictional and at best obtainable in foreign, mainly European, North America and in some ways Asian and South America countries with emphasis on China and Brazil. It is hard to explain to this category of Nigerians that our educational institutions were among the best in the world in the 1960s and 1970s. At that time, our Ahmadu Bello University, University of Ibadan, University of Ife and University of Nigeria Nsukka were in the league of Cambridge and Oxford. This is now Tales by Moonlight as even graduate from these universities produced in the 1960s and 1970s have to (or believe they have to) garnish their qualifications with some, often short term (in some cases one week) certificate qualifications obtained from leading commercial educational centres, mainly in the US.
Since the notion of government is that it is a reservoir of “free money”, politics simply means being part of the team that lead to the reservoir and eventually control it. The leaders of this political teams are mainly ‘successful elders’, mostly these graduates of 1960s and 1970s with few among them products of the 1980s and rarely any of the 1990s. These ‘successful elders’ provide the finances largely based on personal aspirations for political offices, if you like aspiration to control part of the reservoir. Being a reservoir therefore it just means unregulated supply, not tied to any projected outcome other than transfer of ‘free money’ to ‘political loyalists’, which are often unreceipted. Because of the absence of projected outcomes, almost everything goes. Qualification is first and foremost raw courage and formal education, as they often say in human resource language, it is an advantage but not a requirement.
In the context of Nigerian politics whereby the major preoccupation of politicians is not about winning the support of citizens but preparing to rig mainly through ballot box snatching, writing results of elections, voter intimidations, etc. and against the reality that many Nigerians are unemployed or under employed with poor means, our young people become a major source of patronage. Based on this reality, it can be argued that politics is today the biggest industry, perhaps more on account of the amount of resources being expended but hardly on account of employment. It is an industry that is in the real sense worse than the informal sector of the economy. No records are kept, nobody engaged has anything near formal contract.
In terms of our young people, it is an industry that destroy virtually everyone on accounts of the dirty job of ballot box snatching which requires some levels of insanity on the part of the individuals carrying out the task. Insanity produced more by substance abuse. Alcohol are weak and not attractive. Like some officials at federal levels have promoted certificates from Harvard, etc. as attracting some jumbo pay package, at our local levels, the equivalent of Harvard is drugs and substance consumption by young people which enables them to execute all the dirty work for our politicians.
As a result, we have in our major cities serious cases of abuse of young Nigerians, resulting in high disorientation, psychological and psychiatric incidences among young people. Unfortunately, these are incidences that have assumed a reality of normalcy. Those affected are regarded as normal human beings with many protected by powerful politicians and sponsored to offer ‘protection’ to these politicians, which may include violent conduct.
This is predominantly our unfortunate reality today around which majority of our young people find themselves. This is a situation created by the generation of Nigerians that had good education provided exclusively by public schools, Nigerians that enjoyed good healthcare services while growing up, in summary, Nigerians whose humanity was guaranteed by a state that was responsive and responsible to all irrespective of status. Unfortunately, years after, these Nigerians have collapsed into a hobbesian state of mind and downgraded citizens, especially Nigerian youths to nasty and brutish condition thereby shortening their lives. It is a situation whereby our leaders regard government as their private estate and every other citizens, apart from members of their family, are animals that deserve no dignity. It is just about crude obedience without any decorum, more to produce a political victory resulting in taking control of position in government.
In the circumstance, our youths are coerced or drugged to playing very critical dirty role. Can this be halted? Is it possible to create a new reality similar to what we have in this country in the 1960s and 1970s? If the common saying that “the youths are the future” is anything to go by, negative answers here simply means that Nigeria is doomed. Already, the signs are evident and traumatising.
Perhaps, we need to remind ourselves that Nigeria as it is today is a product of inspiring interventions of young Nigerians into politics of the country. Names of people like Samuel Akinsanya, Ernest Ikoli, Kofo Abayomi, H. O. Davis, Adeyemo Alakija and even Nnamdi Azikiwe were young Nigerians who in 1933 formed the Nigerian Youth Movement (NYM) that challenged and ended the political dominance of the National Democratic Party led by Herbert Macauley. By October 1938, the NYM won elections for the Lagos Town Council. The same year, they launched the Youth Charter and in it they articulated their demands, which included opposition to the British indirect rule.
One of the important attributes of the membership of NYM was its diverse orientation, comprising leaders of other groups such as students, trade unions and other associations. Rather than being a source of division, it strengthen them. They utilise their diverse membership in these various groups to build an effective national campaign for Nigerian independence. A major plank of strength was their ability to give new radical orientations to Nigerian trade unions, students organisations and other associations based on which the campaign against British indirect rule and for Nigerian independence was given an active life.
Up to today, the political legacy of the generation of Nigerian youths of 1930s still has expression in our national life. It was a legacy that is manifest in especially the radicalism of Nigerian trade unions and students movement. More fundamentally, it was a legacy that was stimulated by levels of formal education. In many respect, it could be argued that the collapse of formal educational system in Nigeria since the mid 1980s accelerated the process of extinguishing radicalism out of Nigerian youths. Partly, as a result of poor access, but more on account of crash of standards, the energy, vibrancy, adventure and aspirations of Nigerian youths are weak, shallow and peripheral, if any at all.
Like the Nigerian leaders, aspirations is limited to material acquisition, which hardly go beyond cars, houses, marriage (in the case of men) and pilgrimage. It is hardly about development in terms of production, services, etc. which come with the requirement for infrastructural development. Everything is about personal consumption without even the modest effort to attempt to influence the source of supply. Against the background of high oil revenue in the country therefore it is possible to earn without labouring and many Nigerians accept this reality as normal.
A reality that is apparent is that such a perspective leads to the destruction of all organisations. With politics mainly about individual aspirations, organisational objectives are limited to the promotion of individuals. This could include sabotaging organisational activities resulting in death of organisations. On account of this, many organisations have crashed, some of our militant and radical organisations have lost their edge. New form of radicalism, very close to, if not terrorist, have emerged. Our old radical organisations have lost their youthful colouration either on account of completely being run by old guards or become appendages to interests that regards young people only as tools.
Organisations such as the Nigerian trade unions and student movement, which since the 1930s served veritable national political agenda have been reduced to legal expression with hardly any substance with respect to meeting the expectations of members. That is the unfortunate state of Nigerian trade unions and student movement. It is a situation in which even their primary responsibility of improving the welfare and lives of members has been compromised if not sacrificed. It is a sad complex reality that leaves Nigerians with virtually hopeless situation. It is a situation that requires something different!
As a nation, we need new organisations. These new organisations must have clear vision and driven by committed and selfless Nigerians. Above all, the organisations must be political. The truth is that as a nation, there is a deficit of national youth organisation with a clear political objective. The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), which played that role in the 1980s and early 1990s is today a commercial enterprise. None of our parties has bothered to develop framework for tapping the energy of Nigerian youths. The approach has always been short term, limited to using young Nigerians, often drugging them, to promote the personal aspirations of politicians.
Producing something different therefore should translate into getting any of our political parties to develop a clear framework towards the organisation of young Nigerians on a national scale. For such a framework to come with potential of contributing to pulling Nigeria out of its current mess, it has to have a component that seek to mobilise Nigerian youths around a demand for quality educational delivery, mass employment and social welfare programmes. These are issues that should be developed into charter of demands similar to those of NYM of 1930s and NANS of 1980s and early 1990s.
Like the NYM, it should have strong political objective. With more than 60 million Nigerians being young people below the age of 35, majority of whom are today unemployed, such a political demand has potential to produce the winner of any election if backed by strong organisation. A major drawback has always been that it is very easy to express all these but very difficult to get anything started. This is where our opposition parties negotiating the current merger to produce APC can produce superior commitment and to that extent as part of the rollout plans for APC produce a national youth political framework.
It can be readily predicted that this will not happen if initiative is to come from the leadership of the parties. What will make this to happen will be a situation whereby some young Nigerians are able to take the initiative and develop the framework and some organisational strategy. In order for this to be effective, it has to be nationally oriented. For instance, as part of the strategy to give the framework and strategy national coverage, in order to promote the demands for quality education, mass employment and social welfare on a national scale, seek to produce party youth leaders who are guided by the organisational strategy at all levels. In addition, since the challenge of achieving the implementation of these programme require budgetary allocations, it then means some representation in the legislative arm of government. Could such a framework and organisation come with a commitment to ensuring some minimum number of APC candidates for House of Representatives and Houses of Assembly in all states? Also, could the framework and organisation include strong mechanism for delivery?
These are not questions that should be answered with hypothetical answers. They require practical answers with clear vision, leadership and organisation. They are not answers that can be satisfactorily answered based on virtual activism. APC just need to shape the way forward and reincarnate the glorious achievements of Nigerian youths of the 1930s.
Nigerian shall be born again!
The Cost of Governance: Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai April 26, 2013Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: Elrufai, Governance, Nigeria
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The Cost of Governance: Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency
By: Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
In December last year, the National Assembly Joint Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) asked the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) to justify the N5.7bn budget for overheads and personnel for its staff of 249 for 2012. Out of the N5.7bn, a total of N4.95bn had been released. Analysis of the PPPRA budget further showed that N2.1bn was earmarked for regular allowances, and had been released and utilized even before the end of the fiscal year. What kind of work is the PPPRA doing to justify paying 249 people nearly N6bn in just one year? Why should government pay each staff an average of a lavish N23m annually?
While it is true that the political leadership makes policies, the bureaucracy and agencies of government are tasked with implementing those policies, and in certain instances, also initiate policies in public interest. Considering the poor level of implementation and recurrent reversals of public policies in the country, it is little surprise that Nigerians have been left with the short end of the stick. Yet while the quality of governance is abysmally low, the running cost of our MDAs remains one of the highest in the world.
Since the beginning of the examination of government by this column, we have focused on specific policy areas. The message, if anything is that save for a handful of exceptional CEO’s not of MDAs, this president, nor his coterie of advisers have done a decent job of formulating sound policies and focused implementation. Indeed, what seems to come across very clearly is that the Yar’Adua-Jonathan administrations have systematically destroyed organizations, systems and processes in order to expedite the unmatched plunder of resources that is going on with impunity. Whatever the truth may be, it would be worth our while to examine some government agencies to see what Nigerians pay for the personnel, policies and processes that have only led to growing poverty, ballooning unemployment, division, hatred and general decay. It is actually a fair question to ask if Nigeria still has a functional government.
Let’s consider the facts. It is a fact that unemployment in Nigeria is at an alarming 29.3%, a figure which has risen steadily since the Jonathan government started administering Nigeria some three years back. With government neglect and non-implementation of policies and budgets, Nigeria’s life expectancy of between 47 and 52 years, shows no signs of improving anytime soon. About 43% of our adult population is illiterate in all languages and do not have access to adult education. The country’s minimum wage is a paltry N18,000 and at nearly N7trn, Nigeria’s debt stock is going out of control. In an economy with all these ills, it is also a fact that a few public servants earn a monthly salary of N1.8m or an annual salary of about N23m that our legislature approved for PPPRA in 2012.
The PPPRA is an offshoot of the Petroleum Products Pricing Committee, which came into existence through the recommendations of the Special Committee on the Review of Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution in 2000. However, it was not until February 2003 that the Bill for its establishment was passed into law and assented to by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in May the same year.
Dr Oluwole Oluleye was the agency’s pioneer Executive Secretary and served for six years (June 2003 – July 2009), Mr Abiodun Ibikunle succeeded him and served from July 2009 to February 2011. Most recent are Engr. Goody Chike Egbuji (February – November), and Mr. Reginald Chika Stanley (November 2011 to date).
Among other functions, its prime responsibilities were to moderate volatility in petroleum products prices, while ensuring reasonable returns to operators; determine the pricing policy of petroleum products; regulate the supply and distribution of petroleum products; establish a data bank through liaison with all relevant agencies to facilitate their making of informed and realistic decisions on pricing policies and establish parameters and codes of conduct for all operators in the downstream petroleum sector.
Nearly a decade since its establishment, would we say long queues have disappeared from our fuel stations? With the very volatile fuel pricing situation, are things not even worse off now? How has the regulatory agency contributed to better pricing of petroleum products for Nigerians? Can it be sadly concluded that the PPPRA Act itself creates as many problems as it solves?
There is some serious limitation regarding the membership structure of the PPPRA. While the Act itself provides for membership of the top operational level of the agency amongst special interest groups like NACCIMA, MAN, NLC, PENGASSAN, Transport owners, Nigerian Media, NIM, NNPC etc. There does not appear to be a direct representation of the proverbial ‘common man’ whose good the regulatory agency should be serving.
Another lacuna is that the Act neither mentions nor addresses the existing powers of the Minister of Petroleum Resources and NNPC to regulate the downstream sector. This is in spite of the fact that the NNPC Act 1977 contains provisions empowering the minister, through the department of Petroleum resources to regulate the sector, including fixing petroleum product prices. Furthermore, the MPR/DPR has sole regulatory authority over technical standards, refining, and logistics in the sector under the NNPC Act. The conclusion therefore is that Nigeria currently has at least two regulatory authorities for petroleum products with responsibilities overlapping.
We may then ask what parameters or codes of conduct has the agency established for downstream operators? None. Except you choose to consider the stunning revelation before a Lagos High court in January last year by Mr Zamani, Assistant General Manager at the PPPRA Lagos zonal office, that the PPPRA only receives photocopies of documents required for processing subsidy claims and the fact that their relationship with marketers is based on ‘trust’. Is it not also under this regulatory body that worse cases of trillion Naira subsidy fraud in 2011 and 2012 have been found? Does this not all point to the ineffectiveness and lack of capacity of the PPPRA?
In 2012, the agency was allocated some N5.7bn which was 9.8% of the Petroleum Ministry’s total allocation of N59bn. Its entire allocation was for recurrent expenditure, with N76m for overheads and N5.7bn for personnel cost. One would notice the same trend in the 2013 budget; the Petroleum Ministry is allocated some N60.8bn and with a budget of N6.2bn, the PPPRA alone took about 10% of the entire sum.
In 2013, the cost of running this agency would increase by some 7% over 2012 figures. 98% of the Agency’s N6.2bn budget would cover personnel costs; plainly put, maintaining the staff of PPPRA in 2013 would cost a hefty N6.1bn representing an increase of 7% over the N5.7bn 2012 provision that the Legislature queried. Overhead expenditure is allocated some N69m and capital expenditure allocated a very pitiable N100m which would be used simply for the purchase of office furniture and fittings.
Is it not evident from these figures that this agency is only concerned with paying and receiving extravagant salaries at the expense of over 112 million Nigerians who live on less than a dollar a day? One would even wonder what good comes of all these Senate committee hearings if they cannot bring about desperately needed change like cutting recurrent costs and raising capital expenditure in MDAs.
The PPPRA as regulator has failed the oil industry and Nigeria woefully. It has become a major participant in all corruption cases plaguing the industry from price fixing based on questionable templates to its involvement and indictment in the trillions of Naira lost to oil subsidy scams.
Incidentally, the Orosanye Committee which was instituted by the Federal Government in August 2011 to amongst other things review previous reports on the restructuring of parastatals and advice on their relevance since observed that the 26-member board of the PPPRA is very unwieldy and should be reduced to a more manageable size of 7.
It also observed that with the ultimate enactment of the Petroleum Industry Bill, (presently in the National Assembly) and/or removal of the subsidy on petroleum products, the PPPRA would cease to exist. Considering this, the report recommended that the PPPRA and Petroleum Equalization Fund be merged into a single department in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources; and the bridging process of distribution of petroleum products be fully automated in order to eliminate abuses.
There is certainly a need for a regulator in the downstream sector, but this regulator must bring together the strands of regulatory authority that presently reside in the MPR, DPR, NNPC, PPPRA and create a single new regulatory authority that incorporates the institutional know-how of both the PPPRA and DPR within an empowered and more credible organizational and statutory framework. Can the Petroleum Industry Bill when passed provide that? Only time will tell.
HUNGER IN THE MIDST OF PLENTY by Nasir @elrufai April 11, 2013Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
Tags: agriculture, Elrufai, Nigeria
Hunger In The Midst Of Plenty
By Nasir Ahmad Elrufai
A good proportion of young people today were taught from primary school that agriculture is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Agricultural Science as a subject is part of our educational curriculum and therefore taught at all levels of education. In spite of the constant emphasis on agriculture as a core aspect of the Nigerian economy in paper, the sector long since ceased to be the main revenue source since the oil boom of the 1970s.
Agriculture is extremely important for the sustenance and development of a nation. Apart from its subsistence uses, it is potentially a huge employer of labour for a country as Nigeria which is blessed with abundant arable land. Agriculture is a means of boosting the GDP and export profile of a nation thereby also contributing to its foreign exchange reserves. The advantages are innumerable; it is therefore atrocious to know that this sector of the economy is not given the priority it deserves.
Israel is the poster child for a nation that has turned the odds in its favour agriculturally. More than half its land is desert and the climate is unsuitable for agriculture, yet, it is a world leader in agricultural technologies and a major exporter of fresh produce. Only 20% of Israeli land is arable yet it produces 95% of its nutritional requirements.
Nigeria on the other hand, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) 2011 statistics, has a total land area of 91,077,000 Hectares with an agricultural area of 76,200,000 Hectares. In simple terms, about 83.7% of the land in Nigeria is arable, out of which less than half is currently under cultivation. Not only do we have vast amounts of arable land, we also have favorable weather for year-round cultivation of crops.
In spite of the foregoing, Nigeria does not produce enough food for internal consumption. In fact, 2010 FAO statistics placed Nigeria as the 5th highest importer of rice in the world, 10th highest for wheat and 18th highest for sugar. Sadly, these are all products that can be grown locally and if managed properly, can be exported in the near future.
It is more saddening to know that Nigeria once shone in its agricultural sector around the post-independence era right before the oil boom. This was the period when agriculture was not as mechanized and technologically advanced as it is now. All these factors notwithstanding, Nigeria competed satisfactorily in world exports. The only produce which is still being exported reasonably and which Nigeria has consistently remained in the top five of world exporters is cocoa.
Nigeria was also the largest exporter of groundnut between the early 1960s and 70s. Devastatingly, there was a decline from around 1974 till date; these days, Nigeria does not feature among the top 20 groundnut exporters. The story of palm oil and kernel exports is not much different. Nigeria, which used to be the largest exporter, has hardly appeared among the top 20 exporters since 1980.
For a country blessed with so much food production endowments, the 2012 Global Hunger Index (GHI) scored Nigeria at 15.7. This index assesses all available data on hunger, undernourishment and the pattern of food consumption within countries, and the higher the score, the more serious the nation’s hunger challenges. According to the ranking, the score of 15.7 for Nigeria therefore indicates a ‘serious’ hunger problem in the country. Ironically, nations like Iran, Libya and Jordan which are substantially desert nations scored less than 5 on the GHI, indicating the near absence of hunger and malnutrition.
What exactly is the problem with past and current governments that the issue of food security – the adequate production and availability of food within the country is treated with such levity? Could it be that the daily provision of about N1m for each of the three square meals in the villa has deluded our leaders from the hunger that abounds just outside the walls of their abode? Are our leaders so disconnected from the citizens that they do not appreciate the hunger and malnutrition problems that many households face daily? Let us look at the 2013 federal budget for some answers or lack of them.
The 2013 federal budget makes a total provision of N81.68bn (1.7% of the total budget sum) for agriculture. Our previous analyses of states’ budget indicated that their typical budgetary provisions are only slightly better than the federal government’s – ranging from 1% to 7% of the total budget. Consequently, whatever we can deduce from the federal budget also largely applies to the states, and the federation as a whole.
In the 2013 federal budget, the sum of N48.73bn (about 60% of the total agriculture provision) is proposed for capital expenditure while N32.95bn is earmarked for recurrent expenses. In 2003, one of the most prominent decisions arrived at during the African Union (AU) Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa was the “commitment to the allocation of at least 10 percent of national budgetary resources to agriculture and rural development policy implementation within five years”.
Ten years after that declaration, Nigeria’s federal budgetary provision for agriculture is less than 2%, while the state’s average about 4% nationally. This is simply outrageous and unbelievable! While the agricultural sector’s contribution to GDP is laudable at N13.41 trillion in 2012 (the highest non-oil contribution to our revenues), the latent unexplored endowments indicate that slightly more attention given to the sector will restore it to its pride of place in the economy.
Scrutinizing the budget further, it is worrying to see how the largest proportions of the funds are earmarked for recurrent spending. This column believes that the agricultural research institutes ought not to be federal responsibilities even in distorted federalism – they properly belong to the state governments or in some cases under the relevant geopolitical zone, and not the federal government. The spending patterns of these institutions only confirm that position. For instance, the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (RRIN) has a total allocation of N1.16bn; its capital expenditure is N92.88m while the recurrent cost is N1.06bn. In other words, the capital expenditure of RRIN is about 9% of its recurrent expenditure. Fortunately, we ranked 14th in the year 2010 in terms of global rubber exports. In spite of this, we believe that if the funds were tipped more in favour of capital expenditure on research and development, extension and technical support services, we may just move up to be among the top five sometime soon.
Many more of these lopsided expenditures abound within the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. The National Institute of Freshwater Fish has a total allocation of N845.7m. Its recurrent expenditure gulps the bulk of the amount at N649.13m while the capital expenditure is N196.6m. Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service’s total allocation is N1.2bn, N275m of which is capital while recurrent is N918.93. One wonders what deliverables accrue to the nation and citizens from all the huge recurrent spending!
One MDA stands out for being different – the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN). This MDA further buttresses our point that more spending in favour of capital expenditure improves the performance of the sub-sector. Out of its N1.74bn budgetary allocation, CRIN intends to spend N973.56m on recurrent expenses and N765m on capital expenditure – a more sensible ratio. While the recurrent expenditure is still higher than the capital vote, the difference is modest and the percentage of capital expenditure is higher than most of the other MDAs. The likely outcome of this focus on capital investment (supplemented by better quality governance at states’ level in the geopolitical zone) is that Nigeria is still a top ranking cocoa exporter today.
For the agricultural sector to be restored as the mainstay of our economy, the spending priorities of the federal and state governments must genuinely reflect a national commitment to the sector. At the federal level, allocating less than 2% of the budget to agriculture, while the best states are allocating some 7% of their budgets for the same, is insufficient to enable us attain the food sufficiency we direly need, much less position us to be a major exporter of cash crops. The AU target of 10% of budget applies particularly more to the state governments where most of the actual cultivation and production of crops take place. Agriculture must be made a priority bearing in mind that our oil is a non-renewable, finite resource that will be exhausted sometime in the future, or replaced by greener or cheaper alternatives.
The budgetary allocation figures also need to be tilted sharply in favor of capital expenditure. Agriculture is a practical and ground-based profession. The enormous personnel costs incurred on redundant government employees add little or nothing to the development of our agricultural sector. Those monies budgeted for the research institutes need to be invested on the real or pilot production sites (farms) and the acquisition of the seedlings, fertilizers, chemicals and equipment required to make them boost crop output. Better coordination with infrastructural MDAs, aggressive investment in storage capacities, low-interest loans and greater extension and support services should command the attention of agricultural policy makers at states’ and federal levels.
Studies indicate that every US dollar spent on agricultural research produces nine dollars’ worth of added food in developing countries. Agricultural research which successfully drove the first Green Revolution in Asia can also do same in Nigeria. Obviously this does not refer to wasteful expenditure on personnel cost, engaging in excessive domestic and international travel, purchase of un-needed SUVs and other pea-brained budget heads that constitute the bulk of typical MDA recurrent expenditures. Worthwhile investment in biotechnological hardware, software and attracting the best and brightest minds to agricultural research will pay off in the medium to long term. Nigeria must attain food sufficiency so that the paradox of hunger in the midst of plenty will no longer apply to us.
COUNTING THE COST OF NIGERIA’s WATER By Nasir @elrufai April 5, 2013Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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Counting the Cost of Nigeria’s Water
By Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai
Not many Nigerians may know Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and fewer still would have any reason to. Born in 1772, he was an English poet who lived long before any notion of Nigerian nationhood was forged, but his most famous work, ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ which was written in 1798, aptly describes the Nigerian situation: ‘Water, Water Everywhere, Not a Drop to Drink’.
Through a press release on the 28th March last year, Sarah Ochekpe, the Minister of Water Resources said that the country would require some $2.5bn (about N396bn) to provide potable water for 75% of Nigerians. It is 2013, barely 2 years to the Millennium Development Goals target of providing water to the 75% of the populace and official release from the ministry puts the percentage of Nigerians with access to safe drinking water at only 32%.
If this picture is not bad enough, at a briefing in Abuja just before the Presidential Summit on Water, the Minister confirmed that Nigeria will not meet the MDG goal on adequate water supply by 2015 if the country is not willing to commit an annual budget of some N360bn for the next 3 to 5 years.
Consider the impact of the nation’s water situation on our health indices and you would see where exactly this government is taking Nigeria. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that about 361,900 people die yearly due to poor water and sanitation conditions in Nigeria, while the UNICEF estimates that 194,000 children under the age of five die from diarrhea yearly. Gruesome as they may be, these figures are the direct impact of federal, states’ and local governments’ continued neglect of this all important sector, and the Jonathan administration shows no signs of providing leadership that will turn the tide.
In light of these figures and the very little success that has been achieved in water provision, this column would today examine the federal budgetary provision for the water resources ministry with a view to addressing very pertinent questions like how much of the ministry’s N30.4bn 2012 capital budget was implemented? How much of Nigeria’s 267 and 92 billion cubic meters of surface and ground water respectively are currently targeted for the use of Nigerians? What were the gains of the much talked about Presidential Summit on Water? Has any progress been made in implementing the Water Road Map? What should the National Assembly be doing in this vital area of our national well-being?
In 2012, the ministry’s total allocation was N39bn or 0.82% of the Federal budget. N8.6bn (22%) was set aside for recurrent spending while N30.4bn (78%) was voted to capital expenditure. This sectoral ratio exceeds the 70% we have always advocated as the minimum for capital expenditure. The 2013 budget reveals an even better picture; the total allocation is N47.8bn consisting of a capital allocation of N39.8bn (83%) and a recurrent expenditure provision of N7.9bn (17%).
In an administration where costs seem to continuously escalate, the Ministry of Water Resources deserves some commendation as it is one of the few ministries with a reduction in its recurrent budget. The personnel cost for 2013 of N6.4bn is a reduction of about 6.2% from its 2012 N6.8bn figure. According to 2013 Capital Expenditure plans, some N17.9bn would be used to complete various irrigation projects across the country: 24 projects in North Central Nigeria, 21 projects would be completed in the North West, 18 in the South South, 11 in the South East, 9 in the North East and 7 in South Western Nigeria.
However, examining the figures closely, one notices that there is a 2013 provision of about N122.7m to complete the Zobe Dam in Katsina; there was a similar provision of the same figure allocated to the same project in the 2012 budget. Simply put, budgeting (and spending?) on this project in 2012 and 2013 would add up to N245.4 million. Incidentally, this same project was awarded at some N52m and was brought to about 80% completion by the Shagari administration by December 1983!
In February this year, the President announced the intention to host an overdue Water Summit with the theme ‘Innovative Funding of the Water Sector in Nigeria’. Unfortunately, Mr. President himself could not make out time to attend this all important summit; he was however represented by the much ‘freer’ Vice President Namadi Sambo. The highpoint of the occasion was the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and the Bank of Industry which would enable private investors in the water sector access loans with very low interest rates. This is an interesting development, and it is hoped that the MoU will be developed further to provide another source of funding the implementation of the water road map which President Jonathan launched with much fanfare in 2011..
The water road map has as its main objectives a 75% water coverage by the year 2015 which would increase to 90% in 2020. This might lead discerning Nigerians to question, if between 2011 and 2013, we have not recorded an increase of even ten percentage points of coverage, what hopes do we have of achieving moving from our dismal 32% coverage within the next 2 years?
A more realistic forecast must be made. According to the Water Sanitation And Hygiene (W.A.S.H) 2013 report, at our current rate of progress, the water target of 75% coverage will be achieved in 2033, 18 years after MDG target of 2015.
When the decay in the nation’s water infrastructure is considered, neither the executive branch nor the federal government cannot be wholly blamed for this massive failure. The states’ and local governments bear most of the responsibility for the failure to ensure reticulation of potable water in our urban and suburban areas. The legislative arms of the states and federal government must be held responsible for part of the failure.
The national and states’ assemblies have a substantial say in appropriation decisions, so must be held responsible for any under-funding of the water sector at federal and states’ levels respectively. The legislatures’ law-making powers have not been diligently discharged as well. For instance, the bill for the establishment of a National Dam Commission has since been presented to the National Assembly. This bill which would establish a commission whose sole responsibility is maintaining and upgrading dam infrastructure is worth revisiting, revising if need be, and passing into law. It is obvious that if a bill like this is passed and the commission set up, the pitiable state of Nigeria’s oldest dam, the Kainji dam would probably be reversed.
In spite of our combined 359 billion cubic meters, our inland water systems of about thirteen lakes and reservoirs both of which have a surface area of between 4,000 and 550,000 hectares, Nigeria is still classified as a ‘water short’ country. From all indications this government neither has the vision, nor the political will to bring Nigeria out of its present crisis. Thus, the sad reality is that more Nigerians may die from water related illnesses, while the ministry continues with its current budgeting practices. For most Nigerians, the words of Coleridge, ‘water, water everywhere not a drop to drink’ rings true today, as when it did when it was first written over 200 hundred years ago.