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AMERICA: NOVEMBER 8 & THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE November 9, 2016

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, ECONOMICS, MORALITY, POLITICS.
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On November 9, many across the world woke up to a new reality: President-elect Donald Trump. As a Nigerian, I am glad I will not have to say that in any capacity.

Commentaries have since kicked in. Even though it is less than 24 hours, it is interesting to notice that everyone now is an expert on the outcome of the US election: offering similar sentiments and scientific evidence on why Hillary lost. The same election that has dumbfounded historians, media, reputable pollsters, and economists the world over.

It is now clear that projected voters who failed to turn out for Hillary led to her loss; but the impact of this loss (to her and believers around the world in a glass-shattering dream) will linger for a while to come.

Going forward.
Trump’s mandate reflects on populist nationalism accompanied as usual with less specifics: economic growth rhetoric (even if many low pay jobs are done by immigrants), anti-immigration: close borders, build walls; and shockingly, offer sweeping crude and proven failed security tactics to challenges confounding our world.

Trump rhetoric won over a disgruntled, angry and frustrated middle class who blamed job losses to stifling business environment and trade deals that has shortsighted America (job losses to China and Mexico).

This despite America’s economic growth (jobs) which steadied from the recession 8 years ago (Obama has brought about 11 million jobs since the 2008 redefining – a 73 month consecutive job growth).

With platitudes, he intends to restore job growth with little or no specificity, no concrete economic paths out for his “winning big” economically.

He has promised to “replace and repeal Obamacare” and render about 26million people without a competent replacement health policy.

The implications of a Trump presidency reemphasizes the everlasting axiom: all politics are local. Here is an unusual person who went against a system and stood viciously against it; offering sound bites, and playing to the sentiments of an angry demography, indeed populist ideas to the wide majority of angry and frustrated voters.

With Trump, scandals rather energized – than deter – this core angry base especially against an equally untrusted, though more experienced, alternative in Clinton. This is a man who delights and feeds on shocking declarations bordering on the incomprehensible to the unbelievable: from murdering people in New York to groping women.

When America nominated Trump, I expected a win. I did this because I have been involved in elections in my home country Nigeria, and at one point, a performing incumbent was replaced by a man of similar behavior as Trump. Once Ekiti State happened, I knew America could (even if the anthropology differed)

Although there is more to this narrative, the clear verdict so far is that the world is rallying against globalization; from Britain’s outcome to America’s.

However, Trump’s win (even if a judgement of American voters) is still not a win for me. I could never and will never, in good conscience, vote for a man of Trump’s caliber: economically ignorant, intolerant, bombastic, arrogant misogynist, and above all a racist who’s promoted (accentuated) the divisions in America to heights unseen.

I am ashamed that someone with perverse ideas (protectionist, right winged, etc) and ideals (accused rapist, woman grabber, sexual assaulter) just became the president of the free world. America, we hail thee.

Away with 2016 and its woes.

2017 cannot come soon enough.

November 5, 2016

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, ECONOMICS, EDUCATION, POLITICS.
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GIVE THIS SOCIAL INTERVENTION A BEFITTING FACE!

Aliyu (not his real name) has just settled in Abuja. He is one of Nigeria’s poor, he barely spends $2 a day on feeding. $2 daily post-inflation is N940, that is N28,200 monthly. How can an intervention scheme at N30,000 involving jobs suffice if you add transport fare of N8,000 (N400 daily) to his feeding cost! This besides other personal and family issues (clothing, and health challenges)

When exulting the policies and programs of government, numbers are important. The Federal Government of Nigeria this week announced the provision of 200,000 jobs in which N30,000 will be paid as monthly allowance.

Launched under the Social Investments Programmes (SIP), the program aims to “effectively and efficiently touch the lives of Nigerians especially the poor and unemployed.” This is intended to run for a period of two (2) years. The impact of this on the budget will amount to a sum of N144 billion. This is a massive 28.8% given the whole SIP is N500 billion, one which the President already asked for N180bn intervention.

The impact of economic stimulus injection in the economy in the United States of America is most salient as the November 8 elections draw to a close. The Labour Department of the United States announced an added 161,000 jobs for the month of October, a 73-months of consecutive job gains contrasted with October 2008 where 603,000 people increased the number of unemployed to 10.1million people.

In a country with sparse economic data on jobs provision or real unemployment rates (considering that not all unemployable are captured within the National Bureau of Statistic’s unemployment claims), there is a need to accurately turn the page and offer new narratives on the provision of jobs and especially, the impact of such jobs on the economy. N144 billion is a lot of stimuli if well utilized, especially in an economic downturn. Thus, while the jobs provision scheme is laudable, questions arise:

  • How did the government arrive at or derive the N30,000 for the unemployed and poor since the criteria for programme intervention draws on “effectiveness and efficiency?” What analysis is being provided to reach this monetary conclusion?
  • What is the selection criteria for the poverty alleviation policy program: efficiency and or effectiveness issue, or equity? How exactly will N30,000 effectively and efficiently touch the lives of these beneficiary Nigerians? This is significant especially seeing the inflationary trends (and Aliyu’s case study)
  • Given it has not been expended and seeing we are already in the third quarter of a recession, what led to the delay of this program? How serious is the government and lawmakers about injecting life into the economy?
  • How will the program be sustained? Given N144 billion will have been expended in 2 years, will the recipients be abandoned after 2 years? What happens after the 2 years expiration of the project? Are recipients absolved into jobs program across board? What is the transition into full labour market economy? Or is this another NYSC beautifully rebranded?
  • Who implements these projects? How are middlemen and corrupt practices avoided? What monitoring and evaluation mechanism are employed?
  • What economic impact will these social intervention program bring to the economy: is it taxable or is it pension-viable (doubtful because of its short term)
  • What productivity improvement will it result into? How engaged will they be in impacting the economy? What lifelong skills are they being trained with? How will these skills impact the economy on a long-term basis? How does this fill the void for skills needed within the workforce?

The SIP represents a social transfer scheme, and I believe that this policy will result in an overall positive social impact if well implemented. Given scarce or dwindling resources, economic efficiency is the most important rationale for analyzing social cost benefits. Thus, the efficiency of implementing a policy/program differs greatly from a policy program criteria selection based on efficiency.

As such, a much better argument (by the FG) for effectiveness and efficiency of the poor as criteria selection would mean a reduced number of projected employed (100,000) and improved monthly (N60,000) pay, which helps Aliyu while retaining the N30,000 monthly pay justifies equity as criteria selection! Both still arrive at N6 billion monthly pay.

Again, the Nigerian Government loses the narrative of this “laudable” economic injection by not fully expatiating on the ripple implications of these job provisions given it is an attempt at expansionary fiscal spending. Provision of jobs boosts spending confidence and helps families (social intervention) and equipping of workforce contributes to human capital development.

Other ways the Federal Government would have leveraged on this program implementation to shape national conversation include:

  • Net social benefits: taken the social benefits on the people vis-a-vis cost analysis to the state (especially with numbers and implications on families)
  • Economic impact of this project on the economy: given that these jobs helps to restore confidence in spending and in the markets. (Government spending – especially on productive sectors of the economy – adds confidence to the market and improves aggregate demand)
  • Long-term implications of the intervention: economic growth is the number of people involved in a productive economic activity, and these definitely qualifies for long-term growth if well designed.
  • Equipping a competent workforce, bridging skills and improving the employability of citizens in Nigeria. Low skills remains a crucial challenge for employers of labour in Nigeria, as they have to grapple unemployable people with low value adding skills within the workforce.

Using crunched data, projected economic forecast and overall social impact and channeling the crucial takeaway from the economic program to Nigerians through its communication channels; the government would have effectively managed the narrative of short/middle term social rejuvenation and long-term economic impact of the stimulus.

By failing to expand and stir crucial conversations while expatiating on the benefits of job provision and sustainable plans, the government again loses control over encouraging critical discourse which will embolden and validate its actions as well as an opportunity to allow citizen’s inputs, participation, and engagement in government programs.

Amongst other qualities, this administration came to power as a viable alternative to an ineffective incumbent. So far, it is losing the core strengths of its overwhelming mandate, worsened by a terrible communication gap: a similar ineffectiveness with which predecessors were measured. How these lapses escape this government dumbfounds me!

Oluwaseun Fakuade

@seunfakze

 

NIGERIA, AFRICA & THE LIBERAL AGENDA May 31, 2016

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In April 2016, I had taken to Twitter, the microblog platform, to express my views concerning Nigeria’s ailing economy under President M. Buhari. Amidst persistent calls to salvage Nigeria’s economy had been the most unsettling (for me) but widely perpetuated wisdom: devaluation. On twitter, I had argued that the dangers of allowing peddled economic panacea for struggling African economies without reason were incredibly high.

Unfortunately, given Nigeria’s economic sustainability strategy (over-dependence on oil), and serious financial dilemma in Nigeria; the clamour to accept Western economic ideology – neoliberalism – as the panacea for economic quagmire was not hard to see. President Buhari chose (still choose) to ignore the IMF and instead, borrowed from China to address economic concerns.

It is not hard to see why Mr. Buhari believes devaluation could be harmful to Nigeria’s economy. Devaluation benefits, essentially, an export-driven country, much-developed economies. It hurts importation. It improves the viability of export and also increases employment (as export-based companies sometimes have to add labour to meet export demands in the international scene.) Besides, owing to international capital flight, Nigeria currency is already depressed with the reserve base suffering with the pegged exchange. There seem not to be much to gain from much devaluation, except intense hardship!

Nigeria’s exports are few, besides the negligible agri-products and of course crude, which we end up importing in a refined form (more cost if we devalue.) It is a tough choice to be President at this point, seeing the hard choices and the severe trade-offs between pluralistic economic policies.

I had written a paper on International Political Economy, analysing the impact of International governmental organisations (IGOs) in Africa in the past decades. I had stated the mixed outcomes overall but categorically, criticized the failures of the IMF and the World Bank in Africa.

The crises of the 1970s plunged most African countries into financial doldrums, and the conditionalities set by the IGOs included (amongst other things) austerity measures. In Africa, this was part of the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP)

The IGOs, by many standards, brandished western policies which were not essentially suited for African societies; given the weak institutions, lopsided political leadership as well as the stringent conditionality upon which most of them were based. With their bowls, African countries approached the International community; and remember, beggars cannot be choosers!.

Many of the African insolvent nations, poor countries in short, suffered from wide-ranging economic challenges. These challenges were not meant to be addressed with the generic solutions or applied at the same time. But African leaders, challenged by logical thinking, their greedy self-interests or an eagerness to soothe western conditions of globalisation (to save face from domestic crises and uproar) accepted the band-aid. The panacea was the same: just open your markets, lower your tariffs, and cut spending; and everything will be alright!

I had written this paper in-depth based on wide research. Agricultural tariffs and manufacturing exports were the source of many African economies. I had looked at many cases for my arguments; certain that the IMF and its sister organization, the World Bank, were fully aware of these shortcomings too.

I had seen the weak infrastructural mechanisms of African states, the uncompetitive manufacturing standards and manufactured products, the weak or failed institutions, and the bad managers: African corrupt leaders and bureaucrats. The IMF’s policies, needless to say, came upon heavy criticism because of the terrible outcomes. Africa is not alone in this post-mortem regret. The IMF had applied the same band-aid during the South East Asian crises of 1997.

I had also argued about FDI and the implications of MNCs with green and brown investment conditionalities, evasive tax mechanism for host African countries, or the wildly touted selective success stories of privatisation. Ironical, global financial liberalisation had both helped South Asian economies to boom and also led to its eventual plunge.

The IGOs argue for openness, yet proposing for expenditure cuts at the same time (austerity). They ask African states to open its fledgling economies to the dictates of foreign capital flow, a weak manufacturing base, and the high risk of premature capital withdrawal when markets fail.

I had argued, not against free markets, but against the unwholesome acceptance by African leaders without thought on the local economy, without consideration for its markets, without regard for its manufacturing base or industries or its competitiveness standing. I had written this paper for my respected IPE lecturer, Razeen Sally. I expected the worst!. Writing a paper essentially against the band-aid of free markets was/is not going to bring many friends. Not even Paul Krugman got away with such!

Very few dispute the benefits of profitable trade. However, African intellectuals today still think or mostly believe this strategy, that unconditional open markets/liberalisation are the best way at stirring and improving ailing economies. Through their selective arguments, they canvass for devaluation, austerity, conditionalityity of trade, financial liberalisation (FDI without conditions), amongst many other liberal ideologies as the way towards economic growth and development. A short revisit of history about markets will perhaps do us justice.

The pre-war (first and second) growths of the hegemons have been on the precondition of manufacturing and heavy protectionism, with occasional trade in-between. Japan, South Korea, U.S.A, Britain, Finland, Germany, to mention a few; were economies whose advancement came at the exception of this much-touted ideologies. Today, having achieved economic sustainable stability; the hegemons canvass and advocate liberalism as their magic wand for economic growth, the IGOs as their tools.

Neoliberals explain China’s growth by virtue of its open economy. I daresay partly true. Despite its openness, China’s economy would most likely not experience such growth were it not for years of building skills, and achieving competitiveness through selective economic strategy, and opening gradually too.

China’s manufacturing prowesss is because of its selective approach towards neoliberalism.  Today, it is still the world’s most mercantilist nation, with preconditions for FDI, skills transfer and severe protection in many cluster sectors. It simply copied and applied the same handout through which Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and others grew.

The IMF recently came out with an article highlighting what seem as a mixed evaluation of austerity, a liberalism tool of the IMF. In this report, the IMF research economists, cloaking the failure of IMF policies, weighed the exaggerated application of neoliberal agenda in the spate of economic shocks the world over.

In castigating the overplay of austerity, the report downplays the impact of other liberal economic measures that were proposed and sold to Africa, and which have played devastating role in African economies over the years. The IMF even challenged George Osborne‘s view for austerity as a panacea for the UK’s struggling economy in 2010. The same austerity championed for Africa!

For African states to truly grow, they cannot rely solely on the panacea espoused by the West and its “seasoned” economists especially when it does not work for Africa’s own advantage. It is high time African leaders stopped being the puppets of ill-concieved ideologies. For this to happen, there has to be a new thinking, or a thorough way of looking at policies that have failed (and still fail) to bring economic growth. This will require new-found courage and desire to be the exception.

This is where I support Muhammadu Buhari. I hope the painful steps towards economic growth can be smooth and quick; and that through the 2016’s budget, expansionary spending  in the productive parts of the economy (tapered with other economic policies) to can ease the ecomomic hardship. Truly, for me, the most important point is to identify what the obstructions for growth are and address them with laser precision, rather than apply the band-aid that appeals but truly ineffective.

With a population boom incoming (400million by 2050), I also believe this is the time for Nigeria to start getting serious with a compelling blueprint for its economic strategy: skills for the future, and a diversified economy based on manufacturing and not just export of commodities.

Will this happen?

Oluwaseun Fakuade

 

RENEWED FOCUS ON MANUFACTURING, NOT JUST MINING, TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH January 25, 2016

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img_6431On 29th December 2015 I made frantic calls home to reassess the true dollar exchange rate to the Nigerian Naira. When I left Nigeria in July 2015, the dollar: naira exchange was $1: N157 and in the black market, it was N196.
On the 29th of December, it was N300 at the Black market (varied prices) and the official rate a little over N200. Needless to say, this halted my effort at finalizing an international transaction initially quoted at reduced exchange rates.

The impact of oil on Nigeria’s economy has volumes of articles written on it. The impact could not be more noticeable than now. Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari faces a multi-pronged challenge in resolving the economic decline in Nigeria. Besides diversifying the economy, commitment to providing social infrastructure, corporate policies (taxes and reliefs) and recreating a business friendly environment that encourages investment are not only crucial but necessary in reinvigorating the struggling economy and sustaining it.

Nigeria has huge challenges ahead especially seeing the volume of public and social infrastructure requiring attention. These were a core part of the President’s campaign as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The President canvassed and campaigned on increased infrastructure and social welfare. I am not convinced of the need for a salary for the unemployed and it remains to be seen how viable or realistic or sustainable the program will be.

The economic focus and emphasis of President Muhammadu Buhari rest on wealth creation; from job creation and diversification of the revenue base while securing its borders and ensuring the country is viable for foreign investment. The belief is that economic growth premised on the successes of businesses, will hopefully spur economic growth and create mass employment. However, the ease of doing business in Nigeria still remains a difficulty given the challenging and prevailing socio-economic and political factors.

He also emphasized on a diversification of the economy (revenue base) during his campaign. However, while being the first President to embark on a non-oil budget, it is unclear, for instance, how much of the revenue accruing from taxes or this diversified economy will go to establish or rebuilding the manufacturing sectors (if at all.); manufacturing (and exports) represents a significant economic activity spurring economic development. The need to reassess and reevaluate industrial and trade policies or the focus of manufacturing has never been more important.

One important priority should be on export. Export will drive economic growth, both from efficient production capacity and mass employment. By export, I mean the export of finished products/ commodities and not raw materials. Increased government expenditure on infrastructure (roads, energy, customs, and others), improved ease of doing business or policy reform on tax incentives and other sustainable practices will lead to expansionary growth. To achieve this growth, clear direction on these parameters need to be communicated.

Many facts from UNECA point Africa in the direction of where it is missing (missed) the true opportunity to drive iconic economic growth: manufacturing. 16% of global cotton exports in 2012 came from Africa. Of this 16%, only 1% were finished cotton products: only 1% of the global export were already manufactured/processed from raw materials into final products.
Take Nigeria for instance. According to ECA, crude oil exports were $89billion in 2012 and, in turn, Nigeria spent $5billion importing refined oil back. Why? Nigeria’s comatose oil refineries.

Also, export of finished products from manufacturing of raw materials in Africa rather than export of raw materials will truly improve the rise of African economies. Truly, Nigeria’s renewed commitment to a diversifying source of economic growth is a welcome development but will it be enough?

Mining other resources will add the much-needed boost to economic growth. However, will Nigeria export the mined raw materials or start developing specific industries to turn them into final products for export?
Unfortunately, skewed Trade policies and African leaders’ handling of economic growth (lopsided policies, lack of will to fight for better trade policies, improve capacity for manufacturing, etc) and even institutionalized stealing (corruption) amongst other things; has led to the stagnation or in most cases, the decline of growth of African economies. I must salute the resilience of the government however in the pursuit of true justice especially on recent corruption cases that crippled the Nigerian state.

What trade policies will restrict Nigeria’s commitment to the export of finished products? If any, does the President have the necessary political will and leadership grit required to push an African trade (industrial) policy review that favours African export of finished products? Or will Nigeria (Africa) continually become the prey grounds for developed countries or dumping grounds of processed foreign exports?

Faced with pressing public concerns, some of the promises made could be delayed in order of priority. Nigeria’s economic realities require its leaders to be forthright, pragmatic, honest in helping to shape public opinion on its promised programs while employing precision-driven policies to address national challenges. In reassessing his promises, President Buhari needs to employ more direct communication strategies in speaking to Nigerians.

If Nigeria will truly rise, every citizen has a stake in making it so. It is, however, hard to make already frustrated citizens to participate or sacrifice in any rebuilding effort if they have no feeling of shared responsibilities. What Nigeria needs now are necessary reforms that will payoff on the long-term, accompanied by clear communication strategy from leadership; even if these reforms will attract intense criticism and derisory bipartisan attacks, rather than embarking on unsustainable populistic measures.

‘Seun Fakuade

MPA Candidate,

Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy,

National University of Singapore

Twitter: @seunfakze

Facebook: Oluwaseun Fakuade

NIGERIA, MY BEAUTIFUL…. October 1, 2015

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  Nigeria, my beautiful. 
The indices of governance may not be bright today. The challenges facing us may look daunting. The aspirations of many leaders may definitely be at starking contrast with the yearnings and hopes of millions of citizens and well wishers. Our nation definitely has gone (and is going) through many faces of endless bickering, division and animosity amongst it’s ethnic conflagrations.

But…..

We have hope.
We have faith.
We believe.

That….

From this rubble
From these broken pieces
Will arise, a new nation
Led by leaders of articulate vision and strength of character

A new generation will rise
Unbroken in her resolve
Unwavering in her support
Resilient, determined, and purposeful
Leaving all selfishness aside,
Focused With one obligation, one demand, one aspiration:
To Make Nigeria A Great Nation.
Happy Independence Day

NIGERIA
THE HEART AND PRIDE OF AFRICA

Nigeria: 2025  July 8, 2015

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Year 2025 is ten years away. This is apparently The future of emerging African economies. How prepared are you for the shifting wealth of cities and nations? By 2050, Nigeria will be third most populous nation on earth with about 400million citizens. Incredible opportunity for economic viability. 

Question is: would we have resolved our diversified and confounding challenges by then? Would we be ready and prepared for the incredible opportunities that such pool of growth brings? And would we be prepared to leave for posterity a better society than we currently have?!

#NigeriaRising 

CHILDREN’S DAY: ANYTHING TO CELEBRATE!!? May 27, 2015

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5G4A0498-1 5G4A0499-1

The Chibok girls have been kidnapped now over a year, and in many minds, they are better forgotten than remembered amongst the countless and daunting challenges facing our nation. Tragically, we cannot forget, the families cannot forget their children are still missing, nor can well meaning people forget. Without hope, what are we? Many children who can attend schools form a “fortunate” or privileged class in Nigeria. A lot others cannot attend school: deliberately because of choice (poverty, supporting their parents in hawking, amongst others) or by decision of leaders (dis-incetivized through lack of teaching conditions/resources and infrastructures).

On Monday, I travelled to a community in Birnin Gwari Local Government of Kaduna State, where for the past 10 years, no child had attended any form of schooling in the community. No individual in that community speaks English Language. Needless to say, communication was a difficult ordeal for me given my shambolic ability to communicate in the native language: Hausa. Likewise, I travelled to Sanga local Government in Kaduna State yesterday 26th May, 2015 where I had the rare unfortunate privilege of witnessing firsthand the inhumane deplorable condition under which our children were learning. Nigeria ranks the nation with the highest number of out-of-school children (10.5million), this should naturally propel leaders to a reflective and decisive mode in solving the issues obstructing our children from their educational pursuit.

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Educational reform centred on curriculum, teachers training and welfare, and infrastructural development for our children should ultimately be the focus of leaders. Not so as I witnessed across my 6 days sojourn around Kaduna’s 23 local government area. Sanga (Gwantu community) particularly captured my attention because in about three of the schools i went to, the children were “learning” out in the open; not because they needed some aeration but because their school infrastructure had actually collapsed.

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In many of the schools, community partnership and help were more than the attention and concern sought from government. Not only were teachers morale low, in some cases the teachers were visibly absent. Kaduna state, according to records, has earned about N600bn since 2007 in federal revenue. How this has been spent remains a mystery. In a state where many health centres have little to nothing in equipment, besides the General hospitals where you hardly find a sitting doctor, one wonders what Governor Ramalan Yero had been up to. I visited four General hospitals, and sojourned through the pothole ridden roads; they are nothing to write about. For me personally, anyone who took advantage of state resource and expropriated public funds deserve to face the full wrath of the law if found guilty after prosecution.

People die daily across these uncompleted roads, mothers and other patients are dying because of lack of resources at our hospitals and our nation is imperilled because our children are not learning at all, many discouraged from attending schools and others have resorted to crime. We cannot continue as a nation where and when there are no deterrents for crimes perpetrated by thieves and rogues in our leadership positions.

Emma Ezeazu: Tribute to a True Nigerian Across Borders by @smlukman May 24, 2015

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Emma Ezeazu, former President, National Association of Nigerian  Students (CLO) – 1986 – 1988, former National Secretary, Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) – 1990 – 1992, former Executive Director, Community Action for Popular Participation (CAPP) – 1992 – 2000 and until the early evening of Monday, May 18, 2015, Executive Director, Alliance for Credible Elections (ACE) died after long protracted illness. He died at the age of 52 after clearly more than four years of health challenges. Everyone that may have encountered Emma in the last few months would have certainly noticed that he was going through very trying times but one thing that is also veryclear was that he remained his determined self. Partly on account of that, conversations with him never focus on his personal health. Rather, it remained as usual around politics and national issues.

 

I first met Emma sometime in 1985 while attending the meeting of Patriotic Youth Movement of Nigeria (PYMN), which was the coordinating body of all Marxist movements in higher institutions across the country. Through the PYMN, Marxist movements were able to control the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). Centraltherefore to the deliberations of the 1985 meeting was the issue of NANS convention, which was scheduled for early 1986 and Zone D covering campusessuch as UNN, UniPort, UniCal, UniBen, etc were by NANS constitution to produce the Secretariat – President and General Secretary. Emma Ezeazu and Jonas Awodi were introduced to the meeting as leading cadres of the UNN-based Marxist Youth Movement (MYM) and proposed NANS’ candidates respectively for the positions of President and General Secretary from UNN.

 

I was introduced to the meeting by the then NANS President, Hilkiya Bubajoda and the General Secretary of the ABU based Movement for a Progressive Nigeria (MPN), Ado Yahuza. I was introduced as a representative of Students’ Liberation Movement from College of Advanced Studies, Zaria.

 

That 1985 meeting had representation from many Marxistmovements from Nigerian universities, notably, UniJos, ABU, BUK, UNN, UniBen, UniCal, Ife, Kwara Tech, etc. Attending the PYMN meeting for the first time was to say the least very intimidating. The debates were very antagonistic and highly academic. They reflected sharp Marxist tendencies that at least challenged every delegate to study Marxism deeper especially if one hope toparticipate in debates at the meetings of the PYMN. 

 

The Jos 1985 PYMN meeting, which held at the Secretariat of the then Civil Service Technical Workers Union on No. 3 Tafawa Balewa Way started around 9 amon a Saturday and ended in the early hours of the following morning of Sunday around 5 am. Attending the Jos PYMN meeting convinced me that revolutionaries are knowledgeable people and student activists as revolutionaries in the making are very hungry for knowledge. I still recallsome of the intimate personal discussions we had with Bubajoda and Ado Yahuza on our way to and from the meeting. Ado Yahuza was very emphatic that activists must aspire to make 1stClass. This was in some ways much later corroborated by Chris Abashi of blessed memory and Labaran Maku. 

 

Femi Ahmed, popularly then called Sandinista was the one that introduced Emma and Jonas Awodi to the Jos PYMN meeting as General Secretary of MYM. I remember very well that my only contribution at that meeting was presenting the report of the state of the movement in our campus, CAS Zaria. Emma certainly, although attending the PYMN meeting for the first time, made more contributions largely because he was far more advanced bothacademically and ideologically. He was already a postgraduate student in UNN.

 

I must confess that I left the PYMN meeting very confused because some contributions around the debate on the state of the nation was too advanced and there were often lengthy references to Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. I remember asking Ado Yahuza and Bubajoda that does it mean that to be able to contribute to debates on the PYMN floor, one has to be able to quote at length Marx, Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin? Both Ado and Bubajoda unanimously made the point that some of the references were just empty and often out of context. They cautioned that I must not go about studying Marxism with the objective of memorizing Marx, Lenin or any other person, but instead seek to understand the central message and logic of analysis.

 

Some weeks after the meeting, there was a follow up meetings of the PYMN. I wasn’t able to attend some of the meetings but was privileged to be briefed by our ABU comrades – Ado Yahuza and Bubajoda. I was made to understand that the issue of NANS secretariat moving to UNN was settled with Emma and Jonas Awodi as respectively candidates for President and General Secretary. The debate shifted to the issue of which campus will produce thePRO. The contest was between UniJos and UniLorin. This came to be part of the deliberations of the Zaria PYMN meeting. Interestingly, Movement for Advancement of African Society (MAAS) Jos came to the Zaria meeting with two camps. One led by John Odah, who was the PYMN General Secretary and second led by Victor Olisah who was NANS Vice President (National Affairs). While JohnOdah argued that the MAAS candidate for NANS PRO was Labaran Maku, Victor Olisah argued that MAAS candidate was a different person. However, Adoga Ibrahim of UniLorin was also a contender for the NANS PRO. Eventually, the decision of who will be the PYMN sponsored NANS candidate for PRO was shifted to the pre-convention PYMN meeting to hold in Kano.

 

This development and internal contestations within the PYMN set the tune for the Kano NANS Convention. Of course, faced with bigger contestation against the Nigerian state with clear state sponsored candidates, PYMN was able to reconcile its cadres and produced the Emma Ezeazu leadership. Labaran Maku eventually emerged as PRO.

 

Emma was to serve as NANS President under very trying times. Shortly after the Kano NANS Convention, authorities of ABU Zaria expelled Mathias Yohanna and Bala Hamid, student union leaders and on May 22, 1986 ABU students began a protest demanding the removal of Prof. Ango Abdullahi as Vice Chancellor. Police were invited and on May 23 four ABU students were killedincluding a female student, Farida Mustapha. The Emma Ezeazu’s NANS leadership immediately called for national protest.

 

Government responded with a ban on NANS and appointed Emmanuel Abisoye Panel of enquiry on the remote and immediate causes of the ABU Students’ crisis. In addition to banning NANS, the Federal Government also banned activities of students unions in all tertiary institutions. Emma Ezeazu’s leadership responded appropriately by refusing to accept the ban and continue to operate. In addition to the Abisoye Panel, the Federal Government also setup the Justice Akanbi Panel to among other things determine the role of teachers in the crisis. Akanbi Panel came up the notorious report that some teachers are not teaching what they are paid to teach leading to very aggressive state intervention in the content of university education in the country. The deportation of radical ABU sociology lecturer, Dr. Patrick Wilmot in 1987 by the Babangida administration was direct fallout of the Akanbi Panel report.

 

Armed with Abisoye and Akanbi Panels’ Reports, the Babangida government opened direct attacks on structures of students’ unionism in the country. Without barely any union leadership in Nigerian institutions, Emma was able to run NANS, often spending more time in SSS detention centres. In February 1987, he was arrested and was to face military tribunal with the potential danger of death sentence hanging on him. Students across the country were to rise in his defense and the Babangida regime was left with no option but to release him. 

 

To say, Emma was a committed student union leader will be an understatement. I believe there must have been a genetic factor in the constitution of Emma. His parents no doubt must have been very selfless to be able to accommodate his choice of activism and the periods of tribulation that he has gone through. There were periods between 1987 and 1988 that Emma, on the floors of PYMN cried out loud for the need to have a NANS convention. The realities on ground made it impossible for NANS Convention to be organized until mid 1988.

 

In March 1988, there was an attempt to hold the Convention in Jos and SSS virtually took over the whole of Jos, especially areas around Tafawa Balewa Way. As a result the Convention was aborted. But in June 1988, we successfully had the Convention in Ilorin. Interestingly, two issues that were very clear to us were that the government had a different strategy. Instead of stopping the Convention, the government wanted to take over the leadership of NANS. Candidates that had no prior knowledge of NANS came to Ilorin to contest for NANS leadership. One of such was the President of Bendel (now Edo) State University, Ekpoma who came to contest for President. He had no prior knowledge that NANS President is a joint ticket with the candidate for Secretary General. He was flamboyantly dressed with a walking stick. 

 

The second issue was that the NANS Secretariat could not make it to the Ilorin Convention as Emma and other student leaders of UNN were arrested on the eve of the Ilorin Convention. In the circumstance, Labaran Maku was the only member of Emma Ezeazu’s NANS leadership that was present at the Convention. Part of the reason responsible for this was also that most of the Comrades have graduated and have moved on. Shortly before the Convention Bamidele Aturu (also of blessed memory), who was NANS Vice President National Affairs, has graduated, served in Niger and was recognized as one of the best NYSC member but rejected his award. He graduated with 2/1 from Adeyemi College of Education, Ife. Having rejected the award, the government claimed that it was his NYSC discharge certificate that he rejected. Bamidele responded by going to University of Ife to enroll in a law degree programme. Until his death about a year ago, Bamidele was one of the successful lawyers produced from the ranks of student activists. 

 

The address of Labaran Maku to the June 1988 Ilorin Convention scared the government candidates. Once Labaran announced that Emma could not attend the Convention because he was arrested and that everyone aspiring to be part of NANS leadership should be ready to go to jail, my only challenger from Ekpoma, when called upon to respond to his nomination voluntarily stepped down. Eventually, all positions were contested unopposed. In the end, out of about 18-member team, only about four of us ran the activities of NANS. I lost my Secretary, Yiluk Isa Almasihu, immediately after the election as his father who was a Deputy Commissioner of Police forced him to resign. 

 

As student activists, our vision has always been political. Between the late 1980s and 1990s, human rights and trade union organisations became our destination. Emma Ezeazu went to Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) as National Secretary and he opened the space for people like Chima Ubani, Lanre Ehonwa, Ogaga Ifowodu, Abdul Mahmud, Emma Edigheji and many others. Those that went to the trade unions include Yahaya Hashim, Salisu N. Muhammed, John Odah, Chom Bagu, Issa Aremu, Chris Uyot and Didi Adodo. 

 

Our relationship with these organisations opened the space for us to contribute to the struggle against military dictatorship in the 1990s. Having left the CLO in 1992, Emma moved to Abuja and took up the responsibility of establishing CAPP. CAPP was certainly not as successful comparative to CLO and ACE. For Emma, however, one can say without any fear, he was very unhappy that we have failed politically. Between 2011 and the time of his death, we have had a lot of reflection and we are in agreement that we made big time blunder in 1998 when we decided not to participate in the Abdulsalam transition program. We both came to the conclusion that we must retrace oursteps and engage politically.

 

In 2011, we held series of consultations and agreed that our mission in politics should be long term and must not be reduced to aspiration for a particular position. But one area we debated but had to accept to disagree was the ambition of Emma to contest for Senate in Abuja and not Onitsha. I felt Emma would have made more successful impact in Onitsha. Emma disagreed on the grounds that he is only known in Abuja and he is not ready to go back to Onitsha and start negotiating to appropriate the profiles of hisparents. With such strong positions, Emma engaged the process of APC formation in Abuja, aspired for House of Representatives but lost the primaries very marginally. 

 

Unlike many of us, Emma engaged politics on his own terms. He refused to allow the dominant perception of playing politics based on how much you accumulate and therefore eventually simply buy the ticket. More than anything, for many of us Emma represents the future Nigerian politician. In the coming days, months and perhaps, the next four years, our APC leaders, standard bearers will face the challenge of producing new generation of politicians.Otherwise, electoral storm similar to the one that produced the defeat of PDP will confront us again.

 

It will be incomplete to talk of the politics of Emma without bringing out the fact his nationalism being unpretentious and without any border. At a time when everyone is returning back to his ethnic group, Emma chose to integrate himself with the Gwaris. He worked hard and selflessly for the Gwaris. There is no contest; the Gwaris as their own. One can say confidently, Emma was born an Igbo man and died both an Igbo man and a Gwari. In our generation, Emma is about the only Marxist that practically lived based on Lenin’s dictum of recognizing your own nationality but never campaigning for the hegemony of your own nationality over others.

 

The legacy of Emma is Alliance for Credible Election (ACE). It is one of the success stories of organisations established by generation of activists. While I am confident that members of the Board of ACE must have been working round the clock to address the challenges facing the organization with the unfortunate demise of Emma, it is also important that other patriotic Nigerians demonstrate commitment to strengthening ACE. Not just because Emma is associated with ACE but because the future of our country and nation depends on credible elections. Emma’s life and politics provides the nexus for both intellectual and organizational actions for credible elections. 

KADUNA DESERVES BETTER May 22, 2015

Posted by seunfakze in EDUCATION, POLITICS.
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Kafanchan through Kurdan

Kafanchan through Kurdan

My last school site yesterday was an array of two “blocks” of mud filled classroom. Animal excretion and broken benches made for most of what was inside. I held my breath, took the shots, and decided to leave. I had had enough for the day.

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Passing through the shortcut from Kurdan to Kanfachan yesterday, after 12 hours of going through Southern Kaduna; the last path to cross was (probably not surprising) a makeshift “bridge” the community had finally constructed. I had complained severally through the bumpy ride across that shortcut as we had to severally alight to push the car through sinking mud and murky waters.

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This bridge is the community’s gateway through Kafanchan, and it is unfortunate that through their many pleas, the government of Kaduna state has failed them. The bridge is shaky, weak, and i held my breath while our car passed through this “bridge of death”. A government that has earned over 600bn in 7 years can do better than this. Besides, i support, in full, the due prosecution of those who contributed to mismanaging the funds that accrued to Kaduna within these years. Our children, citizens and society needs justice.

Hopefully there won’t be any heaven for corrupt people.

Ekiti: The Loss Of Innocence by Vincent Bamigboye, MD May 19, 2015

Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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To all Ekiti sons and daughters, home in Ekiti State, in Nigeria and in the diaspora, no news is good news these days. One was born in Ado-Ekiti to parents who were from Oye-Ekiti and spent virtually all the teenage years in Ekiti. One still remembers the beautiful fertile land and the undulating hills, spanning Efon-Alaye to Omuo-Ekiti, from Moba to Ikere-Ekiti.

These beautiful hills gave Ekiti her name. One closes one’s eyes and beheld those days of innocence of the late 1960s up until 1980. Those were days when the only house in Ado-Ekiti with a walled fence and a gate belonged to Chief Ajibade, the Egbedi of Ado-Ekiti.

No other house, not even the palace of the revered Ewi of Ado-Ekiti, had a fence. The then revered Oba Aladesanmi Anirare II had no reason to shield himself from his subjects.

You could wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and make a leisurely trip to your farm and return at ten in the night without being molested by anyone. Virtually everybody was his brother’s keeper. Children could rely on adults to take them home if they lost their ways.

Being the most homogenous of all Yoruba clans, the Ekitis were very protective of each other. All you had to do was open your mouth, utter the local form of greeting ‘o kun o’ and you would be fed, watered and cared for, wherever you went. All these are now lost to history in Ekiti State and it is so painful that one could cry.

Where did we go wrong? Ekiti State of Nigeria, home to about three million people was carved out of the then Ondo State by the Military Government of General Sani Abacha on October 1, 1996.

It was an independent celebration present for the Ekitis who had agitated for a state of their own because of the marginalisation experienced, being part of an incompatible association in Ondo State.

Unlike the other states created before then, Ekiti State got no take-off grant from the Federal Government but all Ekitis rallied round to make sure that the new state had a smooth beginning. Ekiti people have always been fiercely independent, proud, stubborn, single-minded and protective. We resent being dictated to by anybody regardless of his or her status.

We took to Western education as a means of forging on in life without having to depend on our neighbours. We are reputed to have scored a lot of firsts in production of Professors in the country with pioneers like Professors Adegoke Olubummo (one of the pioneer Nigerian Professors in the field of Mathematics), Adeyinka Adeyemi (first Professor of Architecture in West Africa).

Things started going wrong in Ekiti with the coming of the politicians. One must say that Ekiti, even in the pre-independent era, had never been a single-party people.

In the First Republic, the Action Group of Chief Obafemi Awolowo was dominant but had stiff competition from National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe.

The Second Republic of 1979 -1983, before Ekiti State was created, pitted Chief Akin Omoboriowo (an Ekiti man) against Chief Michael Ajasin from Owo – both of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). Chief Omoboriowo decamped to National Party of Nigeria (NPN).

Out of respect for the national leader of the UPN, the Ekitis preferred Chief Ajasin against one of their own. The resultant rigged general election of 1983 and the violence that attended it led to the collapse of the Republic.

With the current Fourth Republic, the Alliance for Democracy (AD), an offshoot of the UPN won the Governorship of Ekiti State in 1999 in the person of Otunba Niyi Adebayo.

The A.D lost to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – an offshoot of NPN in 2003 – in a much-disputed election in which Mr. Ayo Fayose assumed the governorship. Mr. Fayose was impeached by his own PDP House of Assembly members in October 2006.

A state of emergency was declared in the state by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, and retired Brigadier General Adetunji Olurin administered the state till April 2007.

The Governorship election of 2007 was won by Engineer Segun Oni amid extreme violence. Oni was removed by the Appeal Court while the mantle of leadership fell on his rival Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), an offshoot of AD.

The government of Fayemi was defeated, in another disputed election, by a political bruiser in Ayo Fayose who is the current Governor of Ekiti State.

The state hasn’t enjoyed significant peace or development since the advent of the Fourth Republic. The likes of Chief Ayo Ogunlade, Chief Deji Fasuan, Chief Afe Babalola etc, who fought for the creation of Ekiti State must be having a lot of regrets about the monster they helped in creating.

The most present and current danger are the advent of excessive criminalities in the forms of armed robbery and kidnapping of innocent citizens for ransom.

Within the last one week, the former Chief Medical Director of Ekiti University Teaching Hospital Ado-Ekiti, Dr. Patrick Temi Adegun, his wife Kikelomo, an Obafemi Awolowo University Lecturer and a Hospital Staff Nurse have all been kidnapped in Ekiti. Armed robberies have become rampant with banks afraid to stay open sometimes. Criminality begets further criminality.

What does one expect from a State where electoral violence is the order of the day, where Judges were beaten up for daring to hear complaints, where 19 elected House of Assembly Members were ousted by seven members, where the ousted 19 members were only interested in their salaries and other emoluments to the detriment of their constituents while threatening an elected Governor with impeachment?

When kidnapping was rampant in Anambra State, their then Governor Peter Obi pulled all the state’s apparatus – Executive, Legislative and Judiciary together and confronted the menace head-on.

Perpetrators were sentenced to death and their properties were destroyed or confiscated. Criminals look for soft touches.

Ekiti State currently represents one and that is why they are here. Instead of bickering, the current political actors should pull together and save Ekiti State from these hoodlums. Otherwise, history and posterity will be unkind to them.

• Bamigboye, Consultant Gynaecologist lives in the U.K.

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