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POLITICS OR GOVERNMENT by @babatundejnr March 31, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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4 comments

In the last couple of days, the debate on joining a political party took the centre stage among the youth (at least on twitter and blogs). It quite interesting to read analysis of article from pro and anti political party campaigners.

I will not like to join the band of opinions on either or not to join a political party but I’ll like to share some thought on something I think is far more important than political party and that is government.

As we know, politics is the same anywhere in the world but government is not. Another fact is this, that politics does not change but government change. Therefore, if the large population of the Nigerian youth is going to join a political party or not, it important that we define ways of changing government.

A brief history of our democracy shows that we have witness three President within the last 13 years and with each President, we have seen different policies both economical and socially. Yet in the last 13 years, we have not witness different politics and there is no celestial prophesy that years coming would be different.

So before you pick that political party membership card, think about how you can change government. And changing government is not about changing the leadership of those in government-Nope! It about fixing government. It about fixing the rot in the institution that praise corruption and mediocrity. It about fixing our decay infrastructures.

There are lot of challenges facing our democracy today. From the continuous internal terrorist attack, to the security challenges of kidnapping and arm robbery. You’ve to define how to logically solve these problems. Nigeria government is a breeding “space” for corruption, every aspect of present or previous government encourage corruption, how do you intend to fight corruption.

There is absolutely no need flogging this issue, if you’re going to join a political party, think about a workable plan on how to fix government. And if you don’t see a need to join a political party, device a way to help fix government. As much as more can be done while “inside” government, much can also be done outside government. Fixing government is the priority and that should take the center stage.

Best Regards

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OPPOSITION POLITICS & LESSONS OF SENEGAL by Nasir @elrufai March 29, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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The West Africa has found itself in the news recently for two diametrically opposed phenomena; the coup in Mali just six weeks to national elections and the just concluded run-off elections in Senegal. The Senegalese elections are especially poignant for many reasons. A careless observer would quickly see Macky Sall’s win as a revolution that came unannounced but the signs and symbolisms were always there that even Abdoulaye Wade saw them early enough. I came in contact with the realities of Wade’s possible fall almost two and a half years ago but I will leave that bit to the latter paragraphs of this piece. Senegal’s political space has had Abdoulaye Wade’s fortunes as a central theme so it would be apt to outline his story through Senegal’s democratic history.

Abdoulaye Wade has been a major player in the elections of Senegal since 1974 when he founded the Parti Democratique Senegalais (PDS) as a Labour Party until the party adopted Liberalism by default with the laws of Senegal permitting the existence of only three parties with three distinct ideologies. With two already taken by the other parties, Wade’s party opted for Liberalism. Wade ran for the presidency for the first time in February 1978 against Leopold Sedar Senghor, garnering a respectable 17.38 per cent of the votes. He lost. He contested the Presidential elections again in 1983 and 1988 after a two year stint at the National Assembly from 1978-1980. He placed second behind Senghor’s successor Abdou Diouf each time. Wade again lost the presidential elections in February 1993 having only managed 32 per cent of the votes compared to Diouf’s 58 per cent.

The 2000 elections brought Wade a different kind of fortune. He received 31 per cent of the votes but the incumbent, tall and gentle Abdou Diouf failed to win a first round majority for once. Wade won a historic runoff on March 19, 2000 with 58.49 per cent of the votes having enjoyed the backing of candidates from the first round including the third placed Moustapha Niasse. Wade then took the reins on the 1st of April, 2000, putting an end to the forty year rule of the Socialist Party. He got re-elected in 2007 beating his former Prime Minister Idrissa Seck, once considered his protégée. Wade has since amended Senegal’s constitution over a dozen times, as he sought to increasingly weaken the opposition even as he grew even more autocratic in style by increasing executive power through the several constitutional amendments he pushed through parliament. Abdoulaye Wade an educator, lawyer, professor of law and economics, with certificates in psychology, mathematics, sociology, physics and chemistry ought to know better but it goes to show that the possession of a Phd. is no guarantee for results or of integrity in leadership.

Wade foresaw his own possible political mortality last year. He was not unaware of his diminishing popularity in Senegal. He made moves to check the possible repercussions off that receding influence on the electorate when he tried through his party to change a part of the constitution that requires a president to be elected with an absolute majority of the votes – 50 per cent plus 1. The “Hare” as the cunning Wade is called in Senegalese politics had sought to reduce that requirement to plurality of votes cast with a minimum of just 25 per cent.

Thousands of protesters marched and gathered outside Senegal’s parliament throwing stones and other objects, immobilizing the city in the process. Police dispersed them but they had done enough to themselves dispense with Wade’s penultimate quest to stay in power for a 3rd term. Wade later withdrew the draft legislation. His final push for the power to stay in office beyond 2012 did pull through as the country’s Constitutional Council on the 27th of January 2012 approved Wade’s third term bid. He did run and acknowledged on the 27th of February, a day after the elections that he had failed to win a majority. Had Wade’s 2011 proposed 25 per cent barrier pulled through, his first round numbers of the highest votes cast but of 34.81 per cent of the total, would have been more than enough to have him win the elections. He lost the runoff to Macky Sall polling 34.20 per cent of the votes to Sall’s 65.80 per cent. Sall will be installed as the 5th President of Senegal on the 3rd of April, 2012, in sha Allah. The rest they say, is history but before these historical events, something happened in 2009 that persuaded me that the Senegalese opposition had found the secrets to defeating the incumbent.

While a Mason fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, I became very good friends with two outstanding Senegalese citizens – Mrs. Naye Bathily and Fode Ndiaye. Just before our graduation, a family friend of Naye’s had just defeated the son and heir-apparent of Mr. Wade to be elected the Mayor of Dakar. One thing led to another but while still in exile, I was invited to Dakar, the capital of Senegal in October 2009 by its new Mayor Khalifa Sall. I arrived in Dakar at a time President Wade came under fire from the international media for paying a departing IMF official some two hundred thousand US dollars in cash, calling it “an African parting gift”. That remains another chapter in his twelve year legacy of roller-coaster leadership in Senegal.

It was more than a visit for me though; it was part of the Mayor’s quest to institutionalize reforms in the capital. My two weeks’ stay saw myself and two of the secretaries who served with me as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory present our ideas and views on the city management priorities Sall’s administration had set for itself. Some of the objectives were ideas of a Town Council Team, including initiatives in Land Use/Town Planning, Waste Management, Transparency and Accountability to the residents of Dakar. They were projecting a “New Face, New Life” idea for the city at the beginning of a 5 year term.

We had comprehensive sessions on Town Planning, Land Use, Education, Health, Culture, Sports, Waste Disposal, Relocation of Markets and the like. With Dakar being home to well over a third of Senegal’s population, Mayor Sall had a lot to. At least two things were not working for him though, the constitution vested a lot of control of the taxation, land and administration of the city in the hands of the central government, coupled with the fact that Khalifa Sall had just shockingly beat President Wade’s son Karim Wade at the polls – you see why a Wade is not losing to a Sall for the first time.

Sall, a member of the Socialist Party (PS) had scored 81 of the 100 votes cast by municipal councillors to emerge Mayor. The March 22nd, 2009 local elections had voters who were fed up with rising prices and fuel shortages in Senegal, overwhelmingly vote for the opposition coalition Bennoo Siggil Senegal in key locations including the capital. That was the first major blow to Wade’s then nine year dominance of Senegal’s politics and a first indication of what was to come in 2012. There are lessons for Nigeria’s opposition groups to learn from Senegal’s very poignant recent democratic process.

The era of playing the opposition for the sake of it must either come to an end soon or we leave our people at the mercy of political actors who do not see anything wrong in having produced 112 million poor people, more than the population of any other African country. If the bigger evil called the PDP must be defeated at the polls, we must do things much more different from what we used to do – the first step is realizing that PDP’s current crappy governance will consume us all in the end. The second is to moving from the politics of self-enrichment and personal promotion to one that recognizes overriding public interest. Forming a broad-based political coalition that brings together disparate platforms of the good is the next step necessary to dislodge the toxic aberration running the country.

Senegal’s opposition saw the power of a coalition when together they handed President Wade resounding losses in local elections 3 years ago. That was the testing ground for the realities we see in Senegal today. Even though they yet again ran on different platforms in the first round, a previous alliance made it easier for them to align for the runoff and the results are there for everyone to see. When I spoke to Sall and his group in October 2008 about the possibilities of Wade rigging the elections, they were shocked at even the idea. It was obvious the thought was alien to them and they said that much. They were not bothered about rigged elections because they knew the people of Senegal will just not accept it, be part of it, or be paid money to do it! It is never going to happen, they added.

We will not have a democracy to be proud of as long as some political parties value themselves as successful when they present candidates that “then succeed” at the polls no matter how unknown or unpopular these candidates are. Democracy is about the majority and as long as we continue to have puppet-esque political parties, Lilliputian candidates and corrupt arms of governments that simply pursue their self interest, we will continue to have policy accidents, increasing corruption, unabashed ineptitude, abuse of law and order, insecurity, injustice and the likes as it is the way and norm of the current power brokers in Nigeria’s national political space.

What are the lessons the Nigerian opposition are learning from Senegal? Do we now see that to beat Nigeria’s biggest nemesis and evil, an early alliance starting with the local and early polls would prove very useful? Confidence must be built with opportunities such elections offer while trust is engendered through understanding as we seek to defy the ‘do or die’ politics of the powers that be to help provide the much needed leadership our people crave and need for meaningful growth and development.

Thirteen years of democracy under this dispensation has come with much more pains, poverty and penury for our people than joy. We have moved forward at times but taken giant leaps backward. The leaps and reforms the Obasanjo years set in place in many sectors have since been eroded by careless leadership, wanton corruption, unabashed cronyism even as our debts rise in inverse proportions to projects and infrastructural provisions on the ground. It has been a case of growing national debts with poorer outcomes and zero results. If this is allowed to continue, we would have just been mere spectators that had the opportunity to take the bull by the horn, but lacked the courage to do so. Then we would have failed to birth the desired leadership that would secure our future, that of our children and grand-children.

Senegal our little brother has shown the way, and just as Khalifa Sall’s team told us how they were desperate to see Nigeria play its role as a leader on the continent, it remains to be seen if those of us that chose to be in opposition will take a cue from Senegal’s example and light the new order of change for Nigeria. It is the only way we will end the rule of these thieves of our future – the leaders squandering our resources today, providing little or no infrastructure and social services, thus ensuring they steal the future of our youths, children and generations unborn.

# SAVEOKE – THE STORY SO FAR March 23, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in MORALITY.
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On behalf of Okeoghene John Ighiwotho and his family, we the Federal Government College, Warri Old Students Association (FEDGOCOWOSA) 1999/2000 set, wish to say a Big Thank You to all Nigerians for the response to our call for financial assistance. Words cannot express how deeply we appreciate your efforts.

It is our pleasure to announce that the Executive Governor of Delta State, His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan (a distinguished alumnus of our great institution), has agreed to take up the entire bill for Oke’s surgery in India. At the moment, Oke is receiving medical attention at a Medical Centre in Lagos, in preparation for the trip to India. He will be travelling within the next few days.

We want to use this opportunity to extend our gratitude to the amiable governor, His Excellency, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, for his thoughtfulness, kindness and love. This is exemplary and it is our prayer that he receives the reward of this service to humanity. We also very specially thank Linda Ikeji for bringing Oke’s story to the social media sphere through her blog. You have shown kindness and empathy and we are grateful for your effort. You are a hero and we celebrate you. But for your effort, Oke’s story would not have received the traction it did in the public domain. You have shown how potent the social media can be in enhancing the cause of humanity. Thank you very much.

We also specially appreciate other Nigerians who have contributed in no small measure to this cause. We appreciate Kathleen Ndongmo for her kindness and perseverance in ensuring Twitter users got to hear Oke’s story. Thank you very much. We thank Oluwaseun Fakuade, Nasir El-Rufai, Ufuoma Ejenobor, Uche Jumbo, Ediongsenyen Umoh, Chioma Chuka, Nigerianewsdesk and others too numerous to mention, who constantly retweeted Oke’s story.

Most of all, to all well-meaning individuals and organisations who made selfless financial contributions, offered prayers and extended their hands and voices of friendship and love, we say thank you. God bless you all.

To all FEGOCOWOSA members, Old Students of Command Day Secondary School, Ojo and OAU (CLF group) we say thank you. This couldn’t have happened without your support.

We hope more Nigerians extend their hand of support for Oke. If you are still willing to contribute financially to him, please feel free to do so. However, this will not be expended on his treatment but for his rehabilitation after the treatment as well as to support Oke’s transition back into a normal life. As we are all aware, his education was thrown to a grinding halt due to uncertainty around his health so here is an opportunity for us to facilitate his getting back on track.

This experience for us, is an indication that Nigerians and humans at large have not lost the values of kindness and brotherhood. We believe that with this exemplary attitude portrayed in the struggle for Oke, we can join in building a bright future for ourselves and generations to follow. Thank You and God Bless!

 Federal Government College Warri – Old Students Association, Class of 1999/2000

(OLUWASEUN’s COMMENT: It is a thing of joy to me to state here that without YOU friends, we would not have this happen.

Appreciations to my dear friends on twitter: @rosanwo @omojuwa @ekekeee @fowora @rmajayi @okshorty1 @oluyomiojo @shecrownlita @payme @bifarin @tee_hide and so many others who constantly kept tugging and retweeting the #saveoke hastag. It’s our joy that this happened

Thanks to Malam @elrufai OFR, @futurekash. Special Thanks to my dear mums @obyezeks @laurestar, Your support are immeasurable)

God bless Nigeria

I am @seunfakze

STILL ON FAILING STATE & FADING PEACEKEEPERS by Nasir Elrufai March 23, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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Last week’s column on our nation’s peacekeeping failures ruffled more than a few feathers both within the defence establishment and corridors of executive power. That was expected, because when those wasting our resources in the name of our defence become exposed in the way our peacekeeping capacity has rapidly deteriorated, all kinds of motives will be imputed to divert attention from the wanton looting of the defence and security budgets going on between the presidency and the agencies concerned.

Far more humbling and sobering for me were the number of military officers, both serving and retired that called, wrote, tweeted and sent emails to confirm the essence of what we wrote last week, and offered further stories, anecdotes and facts about the general decline of our once-proud military and peacekeeping capabilities. It seems according to one commentator, that the Nigerian military now has acquired all the sad constituents of decay that have bedeviled the country. We will share some of these today, looking a little closer at the quantity and quality of the equipment of the Nigeria Army, facts about the declining levels of our peacekeeping capacity and the disorganization and mismanagement of our defence infrastructure in the last few years.

The backbone of any Army is the Infantry, Armoured and Artillery Corps. They are the ones that fight the wars. All other corps largely provide support services. Let us look at information published in Failed States – 2030 authored by some colonels of the US Air University in 2010. So consider first, some of the equipment holdings of the Armoured Corps of the Nigerian Army, of the 129 T-55 main battle tanks owned, 29 are out of service. Similarly, only 36 of 150 Vickers Mk 3 battle tanks are functional. Out of 120 AML Reconnaissance vehicles, only 40 were functional in 2010, and only four Saxon Armoured Personnel Carriers were operational out of 75. No wonder, we can only send a few broken-down APCs to Darfur.

Take the Artillery Corps. They initially owned 48 155mm FH-77B Howitzers but only 25 are working. Out of 200 122mm D-74/D-30 Field Guns, only 84 worked in 2010, while all the eight 122mm BM-21 rocket launchers we had had broken down. The anti-tank weapons cache is slightly better, though pathetic by the standards of modern warfare. We have 3,000 RPGs for the entire Infantry Corps, explaining why our soldiers in Darfur cannot have any to repel rebel attacks. We had 240 of 3.5″ RL M20 anti-tank guns but when you have a country where equipment continually depreciates with no effort or resources put into maintenance or replacement, barely 10% (24) of those guns are functional. It does not get any better; only 12 of the 50 40mm Bofors L/60 air defense weapons are still doing what they were purchased to do. The list goes on and on with barely any of the categories having all their equipment ready for the defence job for which they are meant. And yet, we budget over nearly 1.2 percent of our GDP on defence!

It is also sad to note that one brand of the Armoured Personnel Carrier, Cobra which is in the holding of the Nigerian troops in Darfur is a topic of jest amongst other country contingents. It is reputed to be Chinese manufacture, but the engines were sourced from another country. The Cobra APCs are not up to 7 years old, yet they have all broken down. In saner climes, whoever purchased such refurbished contraption should be court-martialled or put on trial, but in Nigeria, he probably got a promotion and national honour!

Apart from our major military equipment which to a large extent are broken-down, there are quality issues with the personal equipment such as boots, blankets and bullet proof vests, which to say the least is pathetic. Some of the troops deployed to UNMIL in August to September 2010 lacked beds and mattresses; some had only mattresses, while others slept on the bare floor, and the conditions have not changed for the better.

As is usual in the case of Nigeria, the decline in quantity and quality of defense equipment is ironically not as a result of funds allocated to the sector; instead it is quite the contrary. As the government allocates more resources to the sector, there is a corresponding decline in the quality of our peacekeeping capacity. It is also evident that the defence ministry specializes in purchasing sub-standard equipment that are not durable. There appears to be no procedure or consideration made to replace already broken-down equipment until the troops are left with nothing thereby giving room for a huge allocation to be made for the purchase of such equipment which eventually never happens.

Besides the sorry state of defence equipment, the quantity and quality of the peace-keepers are on the decline. Quality, as shown in last week’s article, is a function of training, both in hard military fighting skills which we demonstrated in Congo in 1960 and ECOMOG in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s, but are unfortunately losing as shown by the ease with which our troops are being routinely disarmed and killed in Sudan sometimes without fighting back. Training in “soft skills” required in modern peacekeeping operations to address human rights and sexual exploitation, disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR),etc. are absolutely necessary to enhance our peacekeeping capabilities. These soft skills training has never been our forte and it is disheartening to observe that no efforts have been put towards changing the status quo.

Quality is also measured by logistic capability of the contingent which includes the capacity and ability to transport a contingent to and from theatre using a nation’s own air force, how it maintains those troops in the theatre in terms of feeding, medicals, accommodation, water, sanitation, minor engineering, transport needs and recreation. This is the area where countries make the money UN pays them for logistics but Nigeria scores abysmally low here and our soldiers are among the worst in almost all operations we participate. Apart from loss of money, there is the attendant loss of prestige in fielding a rag tag army that cannot cater for itself while other national contingents from even poorer African countries are doing far better with Ghana, Rwanda, and Ethiopia just to mention a few.

The MOU signed in January 2008, between Nigeria and the UN for troops deployment to UNAMID in Sudan, provides that Nigeria will be paid a sum of $83,422,020 each quarter, all things being equal, for deploying 4 infantry battalions. However, out of this amount, for a particular quarter, the country was only able to claim, a paltry $15,902,122.07 thus losing a whopping $67,519,897.93. If one takes into account that the MOU was signed in January 2008 at the beginning of UNAMID, an operation which is still ongoing, and also the fact that the logistical situation of the Nigerian units in the operations has not improved since then, and may have even deteriorated further, the losses as at present (2012) would be colossal as Nigeria would have lost a total of at least $804 million since the operation started, a potential revenue loss of N128 billion, or nearly a third of the defence budget in 2012.

Sadly, in UNMIL, the Nigerian units were rated lowest among all national contingents deployed to the operation meeting barely 60% of COE obligations thus forfeiting another $325,196,93 for the corresponding period. In typical fire brigade manner, the Nigerian government made the necessary minimal purchases for the contingents to ensure that the Nigerian units were not deactivated following the threat by the UN to do so.

Nigeria was until recently, the biggest African contributor in terms of quantity to global peacekeeping. Quantity is assessed in terms of the number of military and police peacekeepers that each member state contributes to the UN peacekeeping. The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, towards the end of 1999 began to display and keep monthly records of peacekeeping contributions by each country. The countries are then ranked in order of the total number of peacekeepers they contribute monthly to the UN.

It is interesting to note that for more than 3 years unbroken, Nigeria was placed fourth largest contributor to UN peace operations behind only India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, and also the largest contributor among African countries. Unfortunately, once again, rather than improve, Nigeria has slipped back a place from December 2011 to number 5 and Nigeria’s fourth position is occupied by Ethiopia, another less-endowed African country. Another record which Nigeria held up till the end of 2011 was being the highest contributor of female peacekeepers. Once again, the position has been taken by South Africa.

Until recently, Nigeria held top mission leadership positions in the UN such as Special Representative of the Secretary General, Force Commander, Deputy Force Commander, Sector Commanders and Police Commissioner. This no longer obtains due to the deterioration in the quality and quantity of our peacekeeping contributions. For instance, Nigeria lost UNAMID command to Rwanda when General Agwai was not given an extension. Nigeria also lost some positions in UNMIL Liberia. Currently, only Ambassador Ibrahim Gambari of UNAMID and General Moses Obi, Force Commander UNMISS occupy such posts. A contributory factor to Nigeria losing such positions is the dysfunctional selection process into the peacekeeping force that allows for people to be sent for missions not based on their abilities but on who they know. Eventually they compete with the best from other countries and as expected, cannot beat the competition and meet the rigorous standards of the UN.

Finally, corruption within the Nigerian Army is a major mitigating factor to any meaningful progress in the defence sector. Rather than use the UN peacekeeping reimbursements (which are not claimed in full due to our poor performance) gained from participation in peacekeeping to better equip and train the armed forces, these monies are diverted for political interests such as funding political campaigns. In 2010, there was a case where the national,assembly raised queries regarding funds earmarked to buy equipment for peacekeeping which was never spent. The issue died a natural death as soon as the relevant committee was “carried along” in Nigerian political parlance!

In conclusion, the hard earned reputation of Nigeria in international peacekeeping gained through the efforts of late General Aguiyi-Ironsi, Generals Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Olusegun Obasanjo and T Y Danjuma, as far back as 1960 is about to be lost as our contingents are now rated among the worst in terms of training, logistics and professionalism. Even the fighting reputation we used to have no longer exists as all it takes to disarm our ill equipped troops are rag tag bandits. Something needs to be done. Is the commander-in-chief listening, or do all Nigerians need to take up arms against the state, become militants, insurgents or terrorists to attract his attention?

IFY: MADAM NAIRALAND March 21, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in MORALITY.
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2 comments

I read, with unpretentious disgust and outrage, the unsavory remarks of one “Ifyalways” on nairaland, Nigerians feast on ugly news, but the case as that of Okeoghene John is saddening, depressing and unfortunate because it is an attempt by IFY, or whatever she is called to gain glory in the case of Oke.

It amazes me how a fellow Nigerian took pride in releasing quite degrading reports about another being, who is in pains, and contrary to her report, heavily suffering from Diabetes. At a point, I asked, “what did Ify derive in the derisive article she wrote?” “what’s her motive?”. If a whole Delta State delegation had believed Oke, who did Ify see? But trust most Nigerians won’t see this side!

It is unfair in the eventual to see that her article almost caused some of us our image and credibility, as we (Japheth, Chinedu, Rosanwo, Kathleen, etc quite a sum of twitterers) had devoted time to the fund raising and the tweeting to raise awareness for Oke. It would have been said we were a bunch of scammers on the long run. Many had come to ask us to disclaim the article and verify her statements. Having responded (see previous blog), it is imperative we remind Ify of her insincerity of purpose, the deceitful and wicked gesture with which they treated a lot of Gullible Nigerians to plates of lies.

I am tempted severely to release Ify’s number so as many as possible can let her know Nigerians do not deserve the attention of glory seekers, or busy bodies but true, investigative and honest fact-finding journalists (if perhaps that is what she seeks) but i’ll let it pass. I have very little respect for dishonest/dubious people. Her actions seriously hurt me and totally undermined our efforts to saving a fellow citizen of our great nation (although down-trodden at the moment).

May God bless Oke as he prepares to go for his treatment.

May god bless the efforts of all who contributed to making this a reality.

May God bless the Delta State government for their love.

God bless you.

Please click on the attached document to see for yourself Ify’s “wise” submissions on her NAIRALAND page

I am @seunfakze

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#SaveOke: JOHN OKEOGHENE March 21, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in MORALITY.
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When Okeoghene John’s case was brought to my notice on Saturday by 11:35pm, it was more of sadness as regards the state of his health and annoyance at what neglect in the health system of Nigeria had caused many Nigerians. In response to the deplorable state in which his situation was found, many of us made an urgent commitment to making sure he receives all the attention he deserves, both in fund raising as well as making sure the necessary government institutions know of his situation.

As at today, Oke has sums over #2million in cash (and some in trust already raised) for his case. Also, we are pleased that he has received the attention of the Delta state government; all thanks to you. Many have doubted the veracity of his health, these pictures were gotten at exactly 8:49pm tonight from the lady who had been on Oke’s case and to whom we owe all the gratitude of the disclosure (Ejiro Gegere @ejirogegere12).

Please find attached pictures of Oke at home and in the hospital where, at present, the Delta State government is providing support for him.

God bless you all friends, for your efforts nd support.

I am @seunfakze

NIGERIA – CURSE OF LEADERSHIP : PRESIDENCY March 19, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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I have never totally taken any President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria serious. Why would I? Most of the ones I was fortunate to know were child of circumstances, unwilling, begged, coerced, indecisive at first, incapable but imposed upon the people. The list goes on!

Start from (Baba) Olusegun Obasanjo, he was selected from prison and imposed on Nigerians after a “hand of God” prevented death from snatching him during Late Abacha’s reign of terror. He was lucky to be alive, never knew he would become a President again. He was practically begged to be president. Such was his lucky ascension.

Take Late Umaru Yar’Adua, he came to power owing to the king-making prowess of President Obasanjo. He never wanted to contest, he was (amongst the votes from the Governors forum then) the least qualified having ranked 36 out of 36 eligible governors. Obasanjo (through PDPs coalition with INEC) made him President.

Goodluck Jonathan makes “luck” synonymous with all his political achievements. He is reputed to be Nigeria’s only politician who never truly intended/campaigned for an electoral post (until last year) and attained lofty positions. We are aware of why he is President today, a fate that would have been shared by thief-in-prison Mr Ibori. Jonathan’s precedents as leader in various capacities show his unpreparedness.

Given this analysis, we find our nation bedevilled with individuals who run the country as an object for trial and error, seldom taking the bull by the horns, with indiscriminate luck, with carefree attitude.

No President in the history of Nigeria has set up as many committees as there is within a short time as President Jonathan. His transformation is potent with empty promises, broken trusts, amongst other things. Olumhense sampled most of our President’s vows here. A list fraught with deceitful and unfulfilled promises.

What is the priority of the Jonathan administration?

President Jonathan has been praised as a man with a good heart, but he lacks the character to be the president of Nigeria. Not only is he uncharismatic and unable to inspire confidence in his people, he lacks the will (as seen in many capacities) to push through reforms that can improve the state of the Nigerian nation.

I am not looking for a saint in a President, at least not in the generation above mine, but I am looking for one who is Transparent, sincere, realistic, accountable, and who has the will to see through policies and reforms that will result in growth and development of key sectors of our nation.

The problem of Nigeria, as is many African countries, is of a lack of Strong Leadership at all tiers, but mainly from the head: the PRESIDENCY. Structures and systems are critically lacking in our polity because government/leaders have failed to provide and enable such with the apathetic onlooking disposition of the citizenry.

Will Nigeria Change?

Nigeria has one of the most expensive democracy’s in the world, runs a bogus government with unprecedented waste and yet fails to develop its state. Nigeria has at least 70 ministers for a nation of 167 million people whereas the United States of America with over 300 million people has just 20 ministers. We clearly know which one works!

50% reduction in the combined salaries of our Ministers, the dual ministeries and agencies, our legislators when put to sectors like Education, Agriculture, etc will produce better results in sound graduates and employment opportunities (not minding an increase in foods, and export products). The vision of the Presidency is easily seen from its budget.

We’ve admonished ourselves to be patient with our democracy as being young and still growing. At this rate however, can we keep up without any implosion? Can the Nigerian state survive the clueless leadership that runs it without checks and balances?

Is there hope? Without men/women who have the zeal, capacity and character to effect change (brought to power through the polls), Nigeria’s stunted growth will remain either stagnated or improved over a wasteful period of time.

What can change: sensitizing the generality of the people on the democratic process, engage in legislative acts, demand change from our leaders at crucial times (like the fuel subsidy scam) using the right means, asking for more frugality and demanding for a drastic cut in excessive spending, resolving our long-standing ethnic/tribal & religious issues respectively, etc.

As long as tribal/ethnic & religious issues becomes more relevant ahead of core competence and character in a candidate vying for electoral position; Nigeria may not change.

As long as primordial sentiments take hold of our sensibilities, so long as we consolidate an unbridled regional hegemony over institutions/systems/structures that will produce results, Nigeria may not change.

So long as we whip up divisive sentiments instead of supporting people who range outside our interest/scope but with the will to effect change, genuine transformation may be far from Nigeria.

Nigeria, at the moment, is severely cursed with weak leadership, but we, through active participation, enlightenment and engagement can reverse this. We can turn around this boat starting from the grassroots, the streets, the communities, and cities; one person at a time.

Soon, it will be time to elect another set of leaders. Will we be ready? What will we do to put strong leaders at our helm of affairs?

YOU have a Choice

I am @seunfakze

NIGERIA – CURSE OF LEADERSHIP (2) : LOCAL GOVERNMENTS March 19, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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6 comments

In Nigeria, for a long time now, the Local government arm of governance has been an over-looked aspect of leadership. Unfortunately, this has been a huge oversight on the part of the citizenry. The Local governments presents the best and closest way of effecting long-lasting changes in the lives of the masses. Being close to the people, and as rightly empowered by the constitution (please click here to download); the Local Government SHOULD have the highest impact in the development index and growth curve in the localities of our dear nation.

Local governments are empowered to provide street roads, street lights, good water amenities, primary health care centre, primary schools, sanitation, and other menial responsibilities as directed by the constitution. Is that the case? What will it take to cause an awakening of the localities? What will it cost to engage our local governments to rise up to their duties and challenges? Before we proceed, let me inquire: do you know your Local Government chairman, the councillors, or those directly responsible for making life easier in your communities? If you don’t, do you care to know?

FEDERALISM is only preached and not practiced in Nigeria. Rather than have a system where the individuals units function independently but in agreement with one another (state by state and central government), what we have is a Unitary system in which too much power is concentrated at the centre. Has this helped us? Power concentration at the centre hasn’t much helped Nigeria, since most of what needs to be done, in certain predictable ways, are “directed” from powers above.

AUTONOMY of the local governments, an act presently pushed by the senate contravenes the act of Federalism in itself. Since Federalism implies the controls of regions, provinces, territories and by a central government; the local government should be empowered to function on its own. What needs to be done is to separate the state accounts from the local governments so that they can function as required without the control and directive of the state. The attempt to provide autonomy to a local government that is already empowered to be autonomous by an act of constitution is a misunderstanding of Federalism.

MDG funds are provided in different amounts to local governments (even from international organizations and United Nations) to help assist in the facilitation and implementation of MDG goals. The MDG goal should ultimately improve life and remove a lot of individuals from the poverty rot but this is not so in Nigeria. Most of the funds designed for MDG attaintment are squandered away and used in various unintended terms. Recently, Ekiti state govt. got a provision of N2.6bn to 13 Local govts, amounting to N200m each per LG. If citizens fail to monitor this, and enforce the Fiscal Responsibility act in assuring the precise and detailed use of the funds, it will be squandered. Every state provides these funds, in varied amounts though, but do we monitor? Do we find out how they are used?

The amounts earned by our Local government leaders, asides the various ones they steal or loot, is unbelievable. INSTANCES: Lagos state which has 20 LGs recognized by the FG but runs a local government system of 57. So, whatever the FG sends to it monthly for 20 LGs , it shares with 57 LGs. Councillors in Lagos earn N170k while LG chairmen earn N250k. Compare that with another state: Niger. Niger State Chairmen collect N400k monthly (N250 basic and other allowances making it so) while councillors earn N250k (N130k basic). Don’t forget most of these men are near illiterates in many states. (the one I served under couldn’t say more than “good morning”) and most of us went to school!

IMPLICATIONS: While we fund, enable and provide local governments with so much wealth, they stab us (citizens) in the back. We provide them salaries, provide them resources and every other benefit to make the discharge of their duties possible. What do they do in return: they ignore their responsibilities/jobs, sit each day in their offices, chatter away (eat Kilishi as seen in AMAC) and at the end of the month, collect their salaries asides other funds misappropriated or looted. My LG chairman (when I served) built three hotels amongst two jeeps (an Armada and a Land cruiser). He was a secondary school certificate holder. He is called “Arole Obasanjo”. What about your Local government chairman? What about your councilor? Do you know what they earn and other funds they “chop”? Do we care? Can we see the result of our apathy? What will change?

WHAT WILL YOU DO? In the past couple of weeks, I have been involved with citizens activities in a satellite part of Abuja, called Karu (BEACONS). I have noticed the abuse of power and neglect of responsibilities instituted on local governments at the level of leadership. Alongside other friends, we found out that communities are not only neglected but citizens lack information and a means to engaging their leaders. Citizens are not only oblivious of the responsibilities of their government in general ways, but ignorant of the huge allocations and resources made available by the FG and at the disposal of the Local government to discharge its responsibilities. What will it cost to monitor the usage of these funds? CITIZENS PARTICIPATION. (Citizen Participation)

Nigeria Is not about to change with the continued siddon-look measures we employ. Until we, through all means legal, occupy their spaces, monitor the progress at the localities, demand for a discharge of responsibilities, ask for a record of frugal spending as provided by the FoI & FR acts, engage in political deliberations and town halls on how to move the societies forward; it’s still business as usual. In Nigeria, it is obvious we can’t sit and ask government to work, we must DEMAND them to. When they fail in these demands, we may then #occupynigeria in the streets, local governments, and the states as applied. An #occupynigeria will never happen until people are empowered to seek and demand change by means empowered by the constitution.

I ask you to Arise Dear Compatriot and reclaim your nation by #occupying your local government.

I am @seunfakze

NIGERIA – CURSE OF LEADERSHIP: CHIEF SERVANTS March 19, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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3 comments

They wield immense power. Their office comes with such. A considerable sum of them are illiterates, a few known thugs. They have influence. They abuse such power. They are called Governors, tagged with the decorations of HIS EXCELLENCIES.

Someone tagged them as “Emperors”, this title aptly fits Chief Servants, the State chief Executives, the Number One citizen of states in Nigeria. If you live somewhere close to Governors in Nigeria (as is observed in Asokoro, Abuja, Nigeria) you would observe the title “Emperor” as succinct a description.

Many times I lose count on the number of escorts that accompany governors, the entourage they amass, the paraphernalia of their office, the flamboyance that surrounds them. If you’re a stranger in Nigeria, you may misconstrue a passing governor’s entourage for a popstar, or rock legend; the Late Michael Jackson readily comes to mind. One would wish such extravagance comes with intelligence. Check their budgets and you are shocked!

Recently, Malam Elrufai put state budgets in Nigeria under his critical perusal. Having written about 2 states, Bauchi & Lagos; many state budgets mysteriously disappeared from the websites and from public scrutiny. It’s no gain-saying how he tried to shed light on so many cogent issues we may have overlooked. Many of the highlighted points point out waste, careless and reckless appropriation of resource and a clear lack of foresight. Are we doomed?

Today, many corrupt ex-governors are living large off the loot they got during their tenure. Away from the reach of toothless EFCC, the list goes incredibly high. Like Ibori, they are kingpins, and these lot are models young people to live a life of selfishness than true service.

Historically, premiers of regions in Nigeria had their focus on how to improve the lives to which they were committed, for leadership, to them, was a burden. Not today.
Owing to negligence/apathy in politics from genuine citizens in what is characterised as a dirty path and untold corruption today; we have installed, “elected” more medicres and thieves as governors than before. What if we never had a liar and thief as ibori but had a performer instead?

How are States fairing in Nigeria? How are they administered? Until we find other objective critiques as done by Nasir Elrufai, it may be hard to judge. What however is visible, is the unbridled materialistic exuberance of state governors and the empire they run.

Typical of the Presidency, state Governors run a bogus government, keeping staff members, PAs, SAs, SSAs, etc in proportions we may consider alarming. It seems, in retrospect, like many governors are desperately trying to out-do themselves in the size of government they keep.

If the size of government run by governors is anything to go by, Nigerian states should be a lot better right now. Is this the case? No! Are there justifications of bogus governance, (resulting in many wasteful spending) run by governors in growth and development?

In Nigeria today, almost every house is itself a local government, operating it’s democracy at it’s best:- provides power (generator), water, health, and other resources basically expected to be provided by the government. Why do we have a democracy?

Why do we have state governors? What are their roles? Are they performing these roles? What can we do to engage in the democratic process? What are we doing to improve our states? It’s precisely 1112 days to another regime change in many states; what will change?

Looking at some of the spending allegedly incurred by government institutions, are there justifications for this? Salaries of public servants are not open to the public, encouraging massive corruption and indiscreet spending.

SECRETARY TO STATE GOVTS.: Secretary of state governments don’t earn less than N30m monthly in wages and allowances. These excludes the cars (varied across states) that belongs to them.

COMMISSIONERS in states have 5 cars attached to them, serviced and fueled by the government. Hotel bills are paid by the state, even when they are not in use, and mostly used for girlfriends! Each official travel, like fees paid by the states (80k nightly) also include trips for personal matters. Their PAs get the same treatment.

PAs, SSAs, SAs share closely similar fate. Fares for official trips by Special advisers, Senior Special advisers and Personal assistants to governors on many-unbelievable-matters will shock you. Many claim to be progressives but enjoy the same spending,salaries and allowances indiscriminately dished out in many circles.

We may not truly appreciate the depth of the waste that accrues from the big government run by these emperors until we collate in totality the number of Commissioners, The SSAs, SAs, PAs, Consultants, and others on the payroll of the state government. We have access to many of these people but are bold enough to ask questions?

What will change if our generation steps into leadership positions: continue the same method of spending? Why are allowances for public servants so high? Should the few be made to enjoy at the detriment of the lot?

What will change if you became SSA, SA, PA to someone in government tomorrow? Collect the same salary we presently criticise? What will change when you become a Commissioner?

What is the objective of Public servants? What is the meaning of public service? Is its meaning not lost on us today?

It is 1112 days to a new democratic dispensation. I write this piece with hope, with belief that our actions, from now, will translate in positive change In 2015.

What will change? How will you bring change?

The ball is in our court.

Every generation charts a new course for itself.

We have 1112 days to a new beginning.

Your actions Count

I am @seunfakze

NIGERIA: THE CURSE OF LEADERSHIP (1) March 19, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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17 comments

It’s no news. The curse of leadership plagues Africa, and Nigeria is chief amongst its beneficiaries. In the past couple of weeks, I made a clear determination to steer clear talking about the government without being able to do anything about it. Yesterday, however, I was forced to speak in clear terms about the new hike in House of Reps’ members salaries.

Nigeria, generally observed and agreed, is a nation blessed beyond belief but, as at today, a nation in abject poverty, confused leadership, and obscurity. Many articles, opinions, suggestions, etc have been made about Nigeria in the recent past. More of this critical but constructive viewpoints have been adjudged by the very objective minded as poignant, relevant and indeed requisite for all those leaders who wish Nigeria well.

It is depressing, that several years of democratic huge investment in Nigeria has yielded no fruitful gain, rather, a downturn in development and growth. As at today, Nigeria, acclaimed giant of Africa is growing albeit in retardation to the amusement of the very many. What is our problem? This article is the beginning of some series I’ll be looking to. I ask that we follow through to allow for constructive review.

Is Nigeria under a curse of Leadership? Is Leadership Nigeria’s greatest challenge? Is it corruption? What will we do about it? Will there be an end? Are we at a tipping point? Is there hope? Is there a way out? I would love you to take a little glimpse of the present crop of leaders who govern our affairs, starting with the lawmakers and others in subsequent articles. These are the leaders we have employed during the past elections, and some appointed, to serve our interests. Most of these leaders, colect huge funds from the Federal govt and not only spend them lavishly but steal others. This is just a tip of the iceberg but hoping you Have your fill!

NASS MEMBERS: Their salaries quarterly comes to N45m (N15m monthly) Given tht they are 109 that makes it 19.62bn a year.
HOUSE OF REPS. MEMBERS: their newly improved salaries come to N27m (N9m monthly) quarterly which gives N32.4bn a year. Combined these two salaries gives N52.02bn a year! 409 Nigerians earn N52.02bn a year. I mean 409 out of 160+ million people; meaning 0.00025563% of the entire population! Where is the opposition? CPC, ACN, labour? Birds of a feather! (Read more on the increases salary here: http://africanspotlight.com/2012/03/nigeria-house-okays-n38-8bn-jumbo-allowance-for-members)

If these so called “representatives” earn this much, do you expect them to defend the hapless & helpless majority against a cruel government or it’s policies? Wondering why they allowed President Jonathan to violate and abuse our rights to gather peacefully at Ojota and protest non-violently against the harsh and deceitful fuel subsidy policy? You know why! It’s why they ignored the presidents N3m per day meal and instead jerked up the budget. They now earn N9m per month. They are the people’s enemies. Senators, only a week ago, collected N1.3bn worth of Jeeps, divided between 109 of them gives N11.9m each. Which road will they ride it on? The same poor haggard roads? Madness!

Corruption is rife in Nigeria, it’s our national nickname. Only 2 days ago, we were served to another national comedy when SEC boss alleged lawmakers were trying to secure a N44m bribe from her agency. Only yesterday, a permanent secretary was said to have stolen N2bn. Only in Nigeria.

This is it. Nigeria has never worked, and may never work If we don’t rise and confront this system.
The combined salaries of the House of Reps. members and Senators in a year gives N52.02bn. For sitting to say “aye” and “nay”. What do these leaders contribute to earn so much? What are we paying them for? In the same country where millions are starving, where millions are impoverished; where poverty is high and on the increase! In the same Country! Dear Lord!

Obviously, we can’t go on like this. It will take a fight. The slavery our children will be subjected to will known no bounds. We are enslaved by our very own, our blood, our kinsmen! They ridicule us with their plunder, getting audacious with every unchecked loot they take from the system. Once we can ensure frugality at the legislative, they will exert pressure on other sectors. We have allowed those meant to keep a check on the system become loose. Insanity! I can never entrust a primary school to any of these looters, they will ruin it!

We are close to a tipping point..a point where we are being reminded daily of why we should save our nation from their destructive hands. We are at a point where we must make strategic efforts to sacrifice now so we can gain tomorrow, for Nigeria amongst other issues, is not yet a country. Not yet!

How did we end up putting these guys at the helm of national affairs? How did we put those who keep pushing up waste and spending more? Most of these lawmakers are personal failures in their own system, hence the Need to amass wealth by all means possible.The wastes from Nigerian leaders, when put together, will revive our refineries, build schools, equip hospitals, et al. Is this why we were told to “sacrifice a little”?

What do we do? We must demand a cut down of these wasteful salaries accruing to the national assembly, at least 50% cut. We Must OccupyNigeria, this time strategically and ready for each and every move of the government. To achieve this, our ideology and strategy must be full proof, must be near-perfect! The enlightened man must get to the ordinary man. We need the middle class because we have to occupy again or we die in this slavery.

The ‘ordinary man’ keeps quiet, hardly knows ; the ‘enlightened’ hardly engage them or ‘walk the talk’. This must change. When we enlighten and empower the common man, he would need no coercion when the elastic limit is reached! The streets, the grassroots; that’s where the power lies!

Leadership failure. Leadership curse. Leadership collapse. This is Nigeria, at present, the land of the living dead.

We need a re-awakening!

Something must happen.

This is the beginning.

Forever @seunfakze on twitter

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