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#SaveOke: BACK & BETTER June 30, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in MOTIVATION.
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Oke, our friend who left Nigeria for a surgery in India, is back in Nigeria. Arriving today, Oke went through 3 major operations and his leg is in cast right now. He will be going back to India in September. Before he goes back, he will be on regular medical check up with an hospital in Nigeria.

This is to keep you informed of his development; and also to say thank you to all who contributed to the money raised then and to Delta State govt for coming to his rescue. Nigerians are good people, thanks for saving Oke’s life.

Attached are some of the pictures sent to us on his arrival.







Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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Collapse of the Banking System
During this period under military rule, there was no rule of law. No one followed any law; building contractors made up their own “laws” as did bankers. In November 1992, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) declared 46 banks as “insolvent.” Alhaji Abdulkadir Ahmed, the CBN governor, “pinpointed huge debts that are doubtful or bad, fraud and forgeries, boardroom quarrels and inept management” (West Africa, Feb 1-7, 1993; p.148). The governor explained further that:

“Most Nigerian banks, especially the state-owned ones, have poor loan portfolios — for state government-owned commercial banks, the proportion of classified loans (bad and doubtful) was 66.3 percent in 1991; while the proportion of privately-owned banks was 32 percent, and for merchant banks (all privately owned) the classified loan portfolio was only 27 percent (West Africa, Feb 1-7, 1993; p.148).

Fraud soon started to threaten the integrity and stability of the banking system. Between 1988 and 1990, fraud cases rose 800 percent. In 1991, for example, a total of N360.2 million was lost. Of this, the loss to privately-owned commercial banks was N25.5 million and N28.3 million for merchant banks. The bulk was incurred by state-owned banks. In May, 1993, the CBN took over the management of five state-owned banks: African Continental Bank, Cooperative & Commerce Bank, Mercantile Bank of Nigeria, New Nigeria Bank and Pan-African Bank. In January, 1994, the CBN revoked the operational licences of two banks (Financial Merchant Bank and Kapital Merchant Bank) for “total erosion of their capital bases and dissipation of the depositors’ funds” (African Business, May 1994; p.31). Three weeks later, the Republican Bank Limited and Broad Bank of Nigeria Limited, were suspended. But few of the fraudsters were prosecuted as most had fled the country.

To bring sanity into the banking system, both the government and the CBN resorted to desperate ad hoc measures to mop up excess liquidity. On April 5, 1989, the CBN it issued a directive that the commercial and merchant banks should within 21 days recall all loans and advances with offshore guarantees and collaterals, since such loans were guaranteed with foreign exchange that should have been repatriated. About N1.03 billion (or $144 million) was involved. The directive sent panic in the banking system. Nineteen banks could not comply with the 21-day ultimatum.

In May 1989, the government followed CBN action by ordering all government agencies’ to withdraw their funds from commercial and merchant banks and other non-bank financial institutions. This order “spread fears that some banks were about to collapse” (African Business, Oct 1989; p.25). Panic set in, triggering a run on the banks. Though the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation was established in 1988 to protect depositors against bank failures, only N5,000 was covered, exposing large depositors to bank failures. “One notable multi-millionaire caused panic when he gave his bank the mandatory seven days’ notice to withdraw his N200 million ” (African Business, Oct 1989; p.25).

To be fair, the CBN’s culpability in the banking crisis was limited. With a gun pointed at its head, it lacked room for independent action. Even when it took an independent action, this could always be overridden by the marauding federal government hijacked by a military junta. But the CBN exacerbated the banking crisis with its own autocratic style of management. In April, 1993, CBN yanked a whopping N33 billion ($1.31 billion) from the vaults of the banks. Before banks could recover from the cash squeeze, CBN introduced Open Market Operations, selling N250 million in Treasury Bills. But in late August, CBN reversed itself and “released N1.5 billion in the form of loans to bail out 14 banks which were adversely affected by the withdrawal of government funds from the banks” (African Business, Oct 1989; p.26). But “By Sept 1, 1993, literally all the banks were unable to meet their obligations to customers. Depositors were in most cases not allowed to withdraw amounts in excess of N1,000 (in some cases, even less), irrespective of their credit balances” (African Business, Oct 1993; p.17). The banking system had in effect collapsed.

Decay of State Institutions

State institutions and commissions became paralyzed. Laxity, ineptitude, indiscipline and unprofessionalism thus flourished in the public sector. Of course, Nigeria had a police force and judiciary system to catch and prosecute the thieves. But the police were themselves highway robbers, under orders to protect the looters, and many of the judges were themselves crooks.

“On Oct 16, 2001, armed robbers had operated for about four hours along the Osogbo-Ikirun road, dispossessing their victims of valuables. Villagers in the area subsequently mobilized themselves and descended on the suspected robbers. They were however shocked, according to reports, to discover that the persons caught at the scene were a police inspector and other policemen. “When the policemen were accosted, they fled into the bush abandoning their vehicle. The inspector was however caught and subsequently beaten up by the angry villagers. Reports of the armed robbery prompted police authority to send two patrol teams to the scene, but on arrival, the teams were attacked by the mob who accused them of complicity in the robbery operation. A total of three police vehicles with registration numbers PF 5737, PF 5730 and PF 5660 involved in the whole incident were all lying in the bush at the scene” (The Guardian, October 17, 2001).

In another case,

“Two Nigerian policemen were among a gang of eight armed robbers arrested as they attempted to snatch cars passing a major Lagos bridge. Police Assistant Superintendant Paddy Ogon said the two, whom he declined to name, stopped cars crossing the 3rd Mainland Bridge linking Lagos island and the continent while their accomplices forced the passengers out, robbed them and snatched the cars. Acting on a tipoff, police stationed detectives at points overlooking the bridge and caught the robbers and their police colleagues redhanded, he said” (Daily Times, 11 August, 1998; p.3).

“Nigeria had aany fine lawyers, but the judiciary wis tainted by trials settled with bribes. It had fine academics, but universities were tarnished by the trade in diplomas. It had respected chiefs, but the nobility had been mocked by the sale of chieftaincy titles. In many ways, the institution which has suffered the most under this military regime was the military itself. `Military men are not soldiers anymore’ is a common Nigerian observation (The Economist, 21 August 1993; Survey, 6). Nigerian cities have fire departments, but often there is no equipment. When a three-story apartment building and a bakery were destroyed by fire in Umuahia “one volunteer, Mr. Timothy Nwachukwu, said that the fire service did not help because they had no working vehicles” (African News Weekly, 24 February 1994, 12).

Institutional break-down and the failure to provide the most basic essential services created an environment inimical to development. The cost of doing business in such an environment increased enormously. Simple, routine applications took weeks to be approved. Security of persons and property could seldom be guaranteed. Increasing production became chancy, given intermittent disruptions in the supply of electricity and water.

There were no checks against brigandage. The worst was the military — the most trenchantly perverted institution in Nigeria. In any normal, civilized society, the function of the military is to defend the territorial integrity of the nation and the people against external aggression. In Nigeria, the military was instead locked in combat with the very people it was supposed to defend. Wole Soyinka (1996) handed the postcolonial soldiers a blistering rebuke:

“The military dictatorships of the African continent, parasitic, unproductive, totally devoid of social commitment or vision, are an expression of this exclusionist mentality of a handful; so are those immediately postcolonial monopolies that parade themselves as single-party states. To exclude the sentient plurality of any society from the right of decision in the structuring of their own lives is an attempt to anesthetize, turn comatose, indeed idiotize society, which of course is a supreme irony, since the proven idiots of our postcolonial experience have been, indeed still are, largely to be found among the military dictators.” (139).

A simple rule of thumb on Nigerian development emerged: The index of economic well-being of the country was inversely related to the length of time the military held political power. The longer it stayed in power, the greater the economic devastation. Said African News Weekly in its September 1, 1995 editorial:

“No military coup in Africa has produced a vibrant economy to replace the bankrupt one it set out to redeem. In almost every case, the army boys have imbibed the ways of the corrupt politicians they pushed out of office and even taken their crookedness to a higher level” (7).

Fed up with their antics, West Africa magazine, in its June 20-26, 1994 issue, offered them this advice:
“Military people belong in the barracks not in the corridors of political power. Since independence, Nigeria has had an obscenely high number of military governments; they cited corruption and waste if taking over from a civilian government and something else if overthrowing another military junta.
Needless to say, the Nigerian populace is fed up. The armed forces cannot claim not to realize this. If a soldier should become bored, he can always go and play ping pong; it is good for keeping fit. (1078)

The military soon became the most thoroughly discredited institution.A Nigerian pro-democracy activist, Arthur Nwanko, wrote devastatingly from jail:

“National wealth and resources have been scandalously pillaged by a band of armed bootyseekers and their retinue of civilian collaborators. Not content with the destruction of the economy; not content with inflicting enormous social dislocations on the polity; not content with raping democracy; people and fundamental rights; not content with instituionalizing corruption as a national art form; and not content with causing the decay of the nation’s agricultural, industrial, and social infrastructure, including the environment, the health and educational system through their planlessness and visionless leadership, these singleminded despots have moved into the area of violating the nation’s honor, sense of worth and dignity, and through that caused the massive debasement of the humanity of Nigerians in the eyes of the rest of civilised humanity” (Post Express Wired,. 17 June 1998).

The longer they stayed in office, the less they had “upstairs,” becoming “hardened coconuts.” In fact, one of them, V.I. Okafor, a retired Nigerian army Captain, confessed: “We are perceived as a class of marauding mediocres, vast in wastefulness, corruption and all sorts of vicious behavior a class devoid of men of honor and integrity, a class enveloped in infamy” (The Vanguard, 14 July 1998, 2). Yet, within six months of assuming power from the late General Sani Abacha, General Abubakar granted himself the country’s highest award, the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic. He also honored all past military heads of state, with the exception of the late General Sani Abacha. Some honor!

Nigeria’s military rulers proved themselves to be most incompetent in handling any task. When they took on the task of shepherding the country through a transition to democratic rule, they rather made the transition process itself permanent! From 1980 the ever-competent military vagabonds tried on NINE occasions to return the country to democratic rule. On the ninth attempt, they even annulled the June 12, 1993 election, which was won by the late Chief Abiola. The Lagos newspaper, Weekend Concord reported that the Supreme Court judges had accepted Mercedes Benz bribes from head of state, General Babangida for a favorable ruling on the annulment. The judges employed one of Nigeria’s most prominent lawyers, Chief Rotimi Williams, to file libel suits against the paper, claiming $40 million. The Concord objected, complaining that the case would come up before the Supreme Court — that is, the judges would sit in judgment on their own case! But the “Chief Justice ruled that he was competent to hear the case and far from throwing it out, sought an accelerated hearing for the case” (New African, May 1994, 41).

It was during this period that Nigeria’s military regime pompously offered South Africa “technical assistance” for its transition to democratic rule. Mr. Banji Oloruntegbe, the executive secretary of Nigeria’s National Committee Against Apartheid, said that “Nigeria will train 500 black South Africans as part of its technical assistance to the world’s youngest democratic country. The training which will begin soon, will educate South African blacks in the key areas like local government, customs and immigration services, taxation, budget and communication development” (West Africa, June 6-12, 1994; p.1005).

The most egregious display of incompetence occurred in Nov 1995 when Abacha’s military regime set out to hang human rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa on trumped-up charges of treason and murder. It took FIVE attempts to execute the dastardly deed because of equipment malfunction. An irate Kwesi Obeng of University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, wrote “to register his protest and revulsion at the way African leaders have been disgracing the black race. Just look at the way Ken Saro-Wiwa and Co. were hanged like pigs without the benefit of an appeal” (The Ghanaian Chronicle, 18-22 January 1996, 4).

When it comes to beating up and shooting unarmed civilians, Africa’s security forces can do with efficient relish. But how really courageous were the security boys? On July 23, 1998, Colonel Anthony Obi, Osun State’s military administrator, strutted pompously to deliver a speech at a state function at Osogbo in the southwestern part of Lagos. As the Daily Champion (24 July 1998) reported:

“Panicstricken Nigerian officials ran for safety when first a rat and then a python, apparently drawn by the smell of the rat, made a sudden appearance. The officials leapt up from their seats when the rat, described as having a “long snout and offensive smell,” appeared from beneath the carpet by the high table. Colonel Anthony Obi, Osun State’s military administrator, and his entourage nervously returned after security agents intervened and killed the beast. (p.1)


Posted by seunfakze in Uncategorized.
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The Constitutional Vacuum

Customary law is the cord that keeps a traditional society together; the Constitution is the yarn that weaves the fabric of a modern state together. Without it, a nation becomes an anarchy or a police state in which citizens have no guaranteed rights or freedoms and their obligations to the state are not defined. Also ill-defined or non-existent are the functions of state organs or institutions, such as parliament, the judiciary and the security forces. Under a constitution, parliament, for example, provides oversight over executive actions and the role of the judiciary is to ensure that the rule of law is upheld. Without a constitution, there is no oversight over the executive, which means the head of state can literally do whatever he wants. Further, without a constitution, there is no law for the judiciary to uphold except decrees or diktaks from the executive. More importantly, democracy, separation of powers, checks and balances are all non-existent without a constitution. Neither are the principles of accountability, transparency and probity which vanish completely because there is no rule which stipulates how the head of state, the chief justice or the police chief should be chosen or held accountable and by whom.

The absence of a constitution also has deleterious economic consequences. The constitution defines the parameters within which economic activity can take place. Since there isn’t one, nobody is sure what constitutes a legitimate business activity or not and uncertainty prevails, which discourages investment – the key to economic growth and development. This creates a situation where hordes of businessmen must seek “approval” from the head of state before undertaking a venture and the head of state, often crooked, may demand a bribe or percentage share of the business before granting approval. Even business contracts become meaningless. Suppose a businessman wins a contract to construct roads. Half-way through the contract, suppose the government arbitrarily cancels the contract. Under a constitution, he may sue the government for breach of contract but there is no constitution. He might take the case to court anyway but there is no constitution which authorizes the court to hear such cases. Or the president can order the judge to throw the case out.

Socially and more generally, a nation’s life hangs in abeyance when there is no constitution. Since there are no clearly defined rules or laws, uncertainty prevails. Nobody is sure about what is legal and illegal or how to deal with one another. In such a situation, people or groups may fall back on their traditional (customary) laws, religious laws or make up their own “laws” as they go along. The police, civil servants, armed robbers and even scammers may do so as well. A tapestry of “laws” comes into existence and applied an ad hoc basis. There is no predictability as these ad hoc laws can change suddenly. Inevitably, a clash of laws frequently occurs. Ordinarily, a constitution resolves such clashes but there isn’t one, which means they must be resolved by the head of state. And when one is dissatisfied with his verdict, there is no guaranteed right of appeal.

More pernicious and incurably damaging are the effects on the youth. In the absence of a constitution, they grow up without knowing the principles and values that serve as a glue holding the nation together. They don’t know what is right or wrong and what is social or anti-social. These young people become increasingly confused, disaffected, lost, and restless. Poorly educated and jobless, they have few role models with moral stature. The value system has collapsed because there are no values celebrated by a constitution. Hard work and entrepreneurship no longer assure success and wealth because what one builds can be wiped out in an instant because there is no rule of law.

Disenchanted by their own society, the youth become susceptible to radical ideas and drift toward religious extremists — not just the Islamist fanatics in northern Nigeria and Somalia, but also the Christian variety (the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda) and the traditionalist (the Mungiki sect in Kenya). Some seek escape in rickety boats to Europe. Others turn to crime (drug trafficking, Internet scams), prostitution, and extremist groups that seek violent change.

In sum, the absence of a constitution breeds lawlessness, government dysfunction and retards economic development. The moral and value system collapses in a constitutional vacuum. The youth become disoriented and lost. It is like driving on a road without traffic laws. One would be lucky to reach one’s destination in one piece.

Military Rule in Nigeria – No Constitution, No Rule of Law

After seizing power, the first thing a military junta does is to suspend the constitution. Libya is the African country that holds the record on such suspension. After seizing power in 1969, Col. Muammar Khaddafi ruled without a constitution for 41 years. Togo is next, checking in with 38 years. Nigeria clocks in third with 29 years of military rule without a constitution. Here is the slate of military dictators that ruled the country:

• GENERAL Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, Jan 16 to July 29, 1966
• GENERAL Yakubu Gowon, Aug 1, 1966 to 29 July 1975
• GENERAL Murtala Mohammed, July 29, 1975 to Feb 13, 1976
• GENERAL Olusegun Obasanjo, Feb 13, 1976 to Oct 1, 1979
• GENERAL Muhammadu Buhari, Dec 31, 1983 to Aug 27, 1985
• GENERAL Ibrahim Babangida, 27 Aug 27, 1985 to Aug 26, 1993
• GENERAL Sani Abacha, Nov 17, 1993 to June 8, 1998
• GENERAL Abdulsalami Abubakar, June 8,1998 to May 29, 1999

All were generals. From Jan 16, 1966 to March 1999 – a period of 33 years, the military monopolized power except when briefly interrupted by the civilian government of Shehu Shagari (Oct 1, 1979 to Dec 31, 1983) and the three-month interim administration by Ernest Shonekan (Aug 26 – Nov 17, 1993), leaving 29 years under military rule. It was during this period that the destruction of the Nigerian state began.

Reckless government spending by military vagabonds squandered away Nigeria’s oil bonanza. There was no constitution or institution to check government profligacy. The economy tanked in 1986, forcing the Babangida regime to seek relief from the World Bank to address the economic crisis. But one crisis after another followed each other. The currency, the naira –once the strongest in West Africa – collapsed. By 1993, the banking system was on the verge of collapse.

State institutions began to decay and crumble. Government ministries failed to deliver basic social services such as clean water, health care, sanitation, education and electricity. Nigeria’s Electric Power Authority (NEPA) was nicknamed “Never Ever Power Again.” Institutions such as the Police and the Judiciary deteriorated. The social fabric of Nigeria – whatever was left of it – began to shred, the government ceased to function, the moral and value system started to collapse, corruption began to spiral out of control and a whole generation of Nigerians was lost. In historical terms, 25 years is generally considered a “generation.” Therefore, a whole generation of Nigerians was reared without knowing the constitution, its value or significance. About 60 percent of Nigerians today are under 40 years old, meaning the vast majority were raised in a constitutional vacuum. People hold the government in abject contempt, regarding the government as irrelevant in their lives. Said Simon Agbo, a farmer in Ogbadibo, south of Makurdi, Benue state capital: “I heard we have a new government. It makes no difference to me. Here we have no light [electricity], we have no water. There is no road. We have no school. The government does nothing for us” (The Washington Times, Oct 21, 1999; p.A19).

By 1998, Nigeria was a certified coconut republic where common sense had been butchered and arrogant idiocy was on the rampage. There was no rule of law; bandits were in charge and the victims in jail. The state-mobile was essentially kaput. Nigeria, then, was a thoroughly wasted nation. So much potential, such wealth in natural resources and such dynamism in its people but all squandered. Said Linus U. J. Thomas-Ogboji, a Nigerian scholar:
“Nigeria, the comatose giant of Africa, may go down in history as the biggest country ever to go directly from colonial subjugation to complete collapse, without an intervening period of successful self-rule. So much promise, so much waste; such a disappointment. Such a shame. Makes you sick” (African News Weekly (26 May 1995, 6).

Former head of state, Gen. Abdusallam Abubakar, himself admitted the serious economic deterioration for the country as a whole: “Every human-welfare and development index measuring the well-being of our people is on the decline. Currently, we are the world’s 13th-poorest nation. Given our resource endowments, this sorry state is a serious indictment” (The Economist, 29 August 1998, 45). Nigerian scholar Felix Oti lamented that:
“We have come to be regarded as empty vessels that make a lot of noise. There is a difference between academic intelligence and common sense. The latter is the motor that effectively and successfully drives the application of the former. Unfortunately, the average Nigerian intellectual, though overwhelmed with the former, fails to exhibit enough of the latter to be taken seriously. The very same squabble is just a replica of what is, and has been, going on in the Mother continent — the inability to put heads together and form a united front; the root cause of Africa’s many problems (African News Weekly, 21 April 1995, 22).

Recall that the situation in Nigeria and many African countries can be described as: Bad driver, bad vehicle, bad roads and ANGRY passengers FED UP with lack of progress. Changing the driver without fixing the vehicle is pointless as the new driver would also land in another ditch. But since the 1970s, that is exactly what has been taking place. The dilapidated state vehicle remains kaput.

Reckless Government Spending

The discovery and exploration of oil fields in the early 1970s led to a booming economy. Oil quickly became the dominant sector of the economy, accounting for more than 90 percent of exports and providing the federal government with 80 percent of its revenue. As money flowed into Nigerian government coffers, military dictators went on a spending spree. They frittered away the oil bonanza on extravagant investment projects — a new capital at Abuja with a price tag of $25 billion, and highly ambitious Third Development Plans, upon the false projections of oil output and revenue. Agriculture was neglected and food imports rose rapidly. There was no accounting system as there was no constitution.

In 1981, oil prices fell precipitously. Export receipts plummeted from $22 billion in 1980 to $10 billion in 1983 and then to $6 billion in 1986. To maintain income and the consumption binge, Nigeria borrowed heavily. Its foreign debts quadrupled from $9 billion in 1980 to $36 billion in 1990. Federal and state budgets sank into deficits. These were financed with the accumulation of more debt and the depletion of international reserves. External imbalance caused difficulties with debt servicing and forced the country to go into arrears.

To help improve balance, the Economic Stabilization Act of 1982 was passed by the civilian Shagari administration. Stringent trade controls, the rationing of foreign exchange, a restriction on import licenses, an increase in duties, and the initiation of an import deposit program were adopted. These measures however failed miserably and an economic crisis emerged in 1983. Growth rates turned sharply negative. The GDP growth rate in 1983 was -6.7 percent; non-oil sector growth fell to -9.3 percent and petroleum sector growth to -2.5 percent. By 1985, the distortions in the economy had reached alarming proportions. The exchange rate was grossly overvalued and the budget deficit out of control. The government resorted to heavy domestic borrowing from the banking system to finance its profligacy.

Economic Ruination

The supreme irony about Nigeria’s economic development is that, despite the flow of substantial oil wealth, the country entered the new millennium with real income per capita of about $290 today, which is nearly the same as it was at independence in 1960 and saddled with a foreign debt of $30 billion. About 60 percent of Nigeria’s population live on less than a $1 a day. The drop was more dramatic in the 1980s during military rule. In 1980, income per capita stood at $1029—the fifth highest in Sub-Saharan Africa. By 1990, it had dropped to a woeful $266. This sharp decline in economic performance was not due to external economic adversities but to grotesque mismanagement and brazen, unprincipled looting.

Back in the 1960s, 70 percent of Nigeria’s 110 million people lived on agriculture and the country was a major exporter of food. Benue state was known as the “food basket of the nation.” By 2000, Nigeria exports only cocoa, rubber and palm products and imports rice, corn, wheat and sugar (The Washington Times, April 13, 2000; p.A17). The value of food imports reached $3 billion in 2005.

The Collapse of the Naira

To stem the tide of inflation and rescue the economy, Maj-General Buhari changed the currency in 1984. It was a replication of a resounding policy folly by an economically illiterate military dictator, Fte./Lte. Jerry Rawlings in Ghana.

In February 1982, the military government of Ghana (the Provisional National Defense Council—PNDC) demonetized the 50 cedi note. The public was asked to deposit these notes in their banks in return for chits that were supposed to be redeemed later but never were as it was a ruse. Ghana shut its borders for two years. The official reasons were: to mop up excess liquidity in the system, to crack down on tax evasion, to punish corrupt politicians, and to render useless large amounts of the currency circulating outside the country. Additionally, the exercise was intended to crush currency smuggling and thereby shore up the external value of the currency. The government insisted that “the withdrawal of the 50 cedi note was not against the poor or the genuine rich but rather it was meant to withdraw excess liquidity in the hands of a few greedy and corrupt businessmen” (Daily Graphic, Feb 24, 1982; p.1). The other official reason for the currency change was to reduce excess liquidity in the banking system and ease inflationary pressures.

However, this was criminally dishonest. Borrowing from the central bank to finance soaring budget deficits was the primary source of excess liquidity in the system. Even Ghana’s own 1978-79 budget statement admitted that “over the past 5 years, more than 70 percent of every budget has been financed by the Bank of Ghana, resulting in the injection of substantial amounts of money into the economy” (p.2; paragraph 6).

On February 13, 1982, exactly one day after the deadline for the deposit of the demonetized 50 cedi notes in Ghanaian banks, the PNDC announced that those whose bank balances exceeded 50,000 cedis would be subject to investigative probes to determine their compliance with tax obligations. In one stroke, this inane policy shattered confidence in the currency and dealt a devastating blow to the banking system, from which it took decades to recover. Traders and innocent farmers, who had toiled and placed their savings in old currency under mattresses, suddenly found them worthless because they could not meet the deadline. Billions of the old currency were thrown into rivers.

In 1984, the Buhari administration copied exactly the same idiotic measure and in one stroke destroyed the value of the naira. At that time in the 1980s, the naira was even stronger than the dollar. It was the preferred currency for trading in West Africa. To facilitate trade and convertibility, most traders plying West African routes carried naira.

The official reason for changing the currency was that “there was too much money in circulation” (West Africa, May 28, 1984; p.1106). Nigeria’s Central Bank director of domestic operations at the time, Chief Nwagu, argued that the change was necessary to demonetize the N2 billion illegally acquired by corrupt politicians and held outside the country (West Africa, May 28, 1984; p.1107). But the fact of the matter is, when corrupt politicians rape and plunder their country, they take the booty out in foreign exchange, not in naira.

When Nigerians deposited their old currency to exchange for the new one, “persons who had deposited up to N5,000 were informed they would have to produce their tax clearance certificates, showing that they paid their taxes over the last 3 years, before they could be allowed to withdraw any money” (West Africa, May 28, 1984; p.1108). This was exactly the same ruse military dictator, Rawlings pulled off in Ghana. The Buhari regime changed the currency and sealed the country’s borders, ostensibly to “catch big-time hoarders who had tucked money away overseas” (West Africa, May 28, 1984; p.1108). Nigeria reopened its borders in March 1986 after two years of closure.

Those who take the local currency out of the country are generally illiterate traders and migrant workers who have no access to foreign exchange at the central banks and therefore use whatever currency that is acceptable to trade along the West African coast. Why should these innocent traders be punished for the actions of corrupt politicians?
When “the news of the exercise (50 cedi note demonetization) leaked out, many people in Accra and other parts of the country went on shopping spree, before the Feb 12 deadline to get rid of their notes” (West Africa, Feb 22, 1982; p.536). Exactly the same phenomenon was observed in Nigeria: “Several people went on spending sprees, buying among other things, cars, air-line tickets, anything that could later be sold” (West Africa, May 24, 1984; p.1106).

In Nigeria, the public responded similarly — shunning the banking system – just like in Ghana. To attract funds, banks offered fantastic rates for short-term deposits — 6 months or less. The banks had considerable difficulty attracting funds for long term. In both countries, loss of confidence and flight from the currency, also drove people to hold foreign currencies, which they could only obtain at the black market. The results were soaring black market rates and thus declining external value of the currency — a result clearly opposite to what the currency change was intended to achieve. Within one year, the black market rate for the cedi jumped from 40 to 100 to the dollar. In Jan 1995, the rate was 1,200 cedis to the dollar. In Nigeria, N1 exchanged for a dollar in the early 1980s. By Jan, 1995, it had reached N100. The naira, whichwas the preferred legal tender among West African traders, lost its pre-eminence because traders who held large amounts of old naira outside Nigeria suffered heavy losses because they could not get into Nigeria to exchange the old for the new naira as the borders were closed.

The currency change exercises in both Ghana and Nigeria were maddening. If the military juntas wanted to mop up excess liquidity from the system, they should have looked at their own profligate government spending. According to Ralph Osayameh, president of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, “The cause of that is government expenditure” (West Africa, Feb 1-7, 1993; p.153).

And if they wanted to catch corrupt politicians, they should have gone after those gallivanting under their very noses. What did innocent traders and peasant farmers have to do with excess liquidity and corruption for them to be punished by rendering their savings in the old currencies worthless? If a genuine currency change is necessary, there should be no deadline, nor should the borders be closed. As it was, the change was not genuine but a ruse.

Nigerians chose to keep their money balances outside the country after the currency change. Who would keep their savings in a Nigerian bank and be subjected to probes by military coconut-heads? The Morgan Guaranty Trust Company estimated that Nigeria’s foreign debt of $32 billion would have been only $7 billion had there been no capital flight (Business Week, April 21, 1986; p. 14). Capital flight accelerated in the 1980s as policy zig-zags further undermined confidence in the banking system. By 1990, as the Lagos National Concord (Aug 16, 1990) reported, the staggering sum of $32 billion owned by Nigerians in foreign bank accounts was equivalent to Nigeria’s huge foreign debt. As a result, commercial banks in Nigeria still have difficulty attracting deposits, having to offer spectacular rates for short-term deposits — 6 months or less.

Buhari was overthrown by General Babangida, who seized power in 1985, but he was no better in terms of economic management. He respected no rules. Laid-down budgetary procedures were flagrantly skirted by top government officials. In 1986, Gen. Babangida publicly bragged that Nigeria would never seek any relief from the IMF or the World Bank. Then his administration secretly signed a SAP agreement with the IMF to rein in extra-budgetary spending and escalating defense expenditures. But even before the ink on that accord had dried, he had started the formation of his own private army (called the National Guards). He ignored the agreement and showered the officers of the Armed Forces with gifts of cars worth half a billion naira. In July 1992, his military regime took delivery of 12 Czechoslovakian jet trainers (Aero L-39 Albatros) in a secret deal believed to be part of a larger order made in 1991 year and worth more than $90 million. Earlier in 1992, Nigeria had taken delivery of 80 British Vickers Mark 3 tanks, worth more than $225 million.

Heavy outlays were made on grandiose investment projects with little economic viability. Among them is the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, which was commissioned in 1979. It cost more than $3 billion, never produced a single sheet of steel and was eventually grounded in the 1980s. Another was the Aluminium Smelter Project at Ikot Abasi at a cost of $1.2 billion — 60 percent more costly than a comparable project elsewhere in the world.

In August, 1987, Gen. Babangida limited debt-service ratio at 30 percent of export revenue, sending foreign investors scampering for cover. On March 5, 1992, the foreign exchange market was deregulated but in December, trading was suspended for about a week to probe irregularities. Foreign exchange controls were re*-imposed in Oct 1993 when Gen. Sani Abacha seized power. Believing in the power of the gun rather than the market, he fixed the value of the naira at N22 to the dollar. Interest rates were also pegged, stifling bank profitability and pushing several banks to the brink of financial collapse. In Jan 1995, Gen. Abacha reintroduced the second-tier system, leaving the official rate fixed at N22 to the dollar while the rate on the parallel (autonomous) market was N80. Nothing, it seemed, had been learned.

By Jan 1988, the Structural Adjustment program had stalled. The banking system was in disarray. Financial controls were either non-existent or hopelessly ineffective. To finance its reckless spending the Babangida administration borrowed heavily from both the commercial and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), injecting excess money into the economy. The money supply registered a staggering 43.9 percent growth, against a ceiling of 15 percent. The rate of inflation accelerated. In March 1989, the rate was 45 percent compared to 25 percent a year earlier. Were these not the same reasons why the currency was changed in 1984 – to mop up excess liquidity? A banking crisis was looming.

NASARAWA’s BUDGET OF SOCIAL INCLUSION by Nasir @elrufai June 29, 2012

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In analyzing fiscal performance across the various regions and political platforms to assess the various state governments in delivering their electoral mandates, our focus this week is on the small, North-Central state of Nasarawa. We took a fortnight’s break to allow for the ventilation of contrasting views on Anambra’s misguided and profoundly dysfunctional budget.

Nasarawa is the only state in the country which succeeded in electing a Governor under the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) to replace the PDP incumbent. The CPC is a leading opposition party that stands for integrity, social justice and good governance and with the election, the hopes for a Nasarawa which exemplifies diligence, accountability, exemplary leadership and judicious use of government funds were hinged on Umaru Tanko Al-Makura from May 29, 2011.

Governor Al-Makura was trained as a teacher at the College of Education, Uyo and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He went into the private sector in 1978 via Almakura Nigeria Limited which imported and serviced agricultural and industrial machinery. With the capital accumulated, he ventured into real estate and property development in Abuja and other locations under the name of Ta’al Nigeria Limited.

He began his foray into politics from his student days in Uyo, which continued in ABU Zaria, culminating in his election as NPN Youth Leader of the then Plateau State around 1980. Al-Makura was one of the founding members of PDP in Nasarawa state in 1998. He defected to the CPC in 2010 and contested in 2011; ousting the then incumbent PDP governor of the state Aliyu Akwe-Doma.
Nasarawa state, known as the “home of Solid Minerals” was created on the 1st of October, 1996 by the Abacha Administration. It is bound in the north by Kaduna State, in the west by the Abuja Federal Capital Territory, in the south by Kogi and Benue States and in the east by Taraba and Plateau States. It is the second least populous state in the country just ahead of Bayelsa with a total headcount of 1,869,377 as at 2006. Nasarawa’s population today should be at par with Botswana (2 million) and higher than those of Gambia (1.8million) and Gabon (1.5 million).

Since its independence in 1966, Botswana has had one of fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world and this was mainly achieved by their exploration of mineral resources in the country. Gabon on the other hand, depended heavily on manganese production for revenues until oil was discovered in the 70s. Ironically for Nasarawa, other than the minerals in its adopted alias, not much has been done in the area of mining.

The state has several proven reserves of Barite (750,000 MT), glass sand, salt/brine, kaolin (45,000 MT), tourmaline, sharp sand, tin, marble, coal, semi-precious stones including aquamarine. It has ample arable land where almost any crop can be grown. The major crops grown include maize, rice, sorghum, millet, cowpea, groundnut, yam, cassava, soyabeans, beniseed, melon, bambara nuts. Nasarawa state has huge tourism potentials. Potential tourist attractions include the Farin Ruwa falls (comparable to the popular Victoria Falls in Zambia), the Eggon rolling hills and caves and Hunki Lake in Awe.

According to the NBS Poverty Profile 2012 based on data up to 2010, of the population of the North Central zone, 61.9% is relatively poor, 57.4% is absolutely poor, 38.6% is food poor – an irony indeed for a zone with such generous agricultural endowments. In North-Central, 59.7% live on less than a dollar a day. Ideally, the region should have the lowest food poverty rates but the South-South (35.5%) and South-West (25.4%) score lower in that regard. In terms of absolute poverty, the region fares better than the other northern counterparts but is worse than all the southern regions. In the region, apart from Niger, Nasarawa has the lowest food poverty (26.8%), absolute poverty (60.4%), and relative poverty (71.4%). The income inequality rate impressively reduced by -2.7% between 2004 and 2010. Nasarawa’s poverty incidence is relatively high at 39%, which means that more than one out of every three persons is poor: compared to one in seven for Lagos, and more than half – 58% in Yobe, the poorest state in Nigeria.

Nasarawa has an unemployment level of 21.6% similar to the National average of 21.1%, as compiled by the NBS in 2010. Besides Benue in the region with a higher figure (25.4%), all other North Central States have lower unemployment rates with Plateau having the lowest (14.4%).The figure is high compared to Ekiti state(14%) which was created in the same year. On a slightly brighter note, Nasarawa is the 18th easiest state to do business in Nigeria according to the 2010 World Bank rankings. It ranks 12th in terms of ease of starting a business. Rather than have unemployed people loiter the state, the government has a unique opportunity to encourage entrepreneurship and small businesses.

Educationally, the state’s recent history has not been impressive. A look back some years ago, for which data is available, WAEC pass rates of 5 credits including Mathematics and English have continuously deteriorated; 2004 (5.84%), 2005 (4.72%), 2006 (3.01%) and 2007 (1.77%) under incompetent PDP misrule. The North Central zone has the lowest adult literacy in any language (61.9%) and Nasarawa is one of the least literate states in the North Central region (47.5%). The 2011 UTME figures are not any better. The state had the lowest percentage for the average cut-off mark of 180 and above in the zone with 43.2% while Kwara had achieved a 74.8% pass rate. Hopefully, the current CPC governor, with his teaching background would focus and channel more resources to education.

These statistics sadly are a reflection of the norm in the northern part of the country with low literacy rates, poor WAEC pass rates, poor UTME performance, pathetic healthcare and the battleground of insurgencies in the country. In the process of our analysis, it is important to play close attention to what the spending priorities of the government are in the light of specific developmental challenges they are faced with.

So what should Nasarawa State be doing in the face of these endowments and challenges? Has Al-Makura’s spending priorities departed from that of the predecessor PDP government? Are Nasarawa citizens getting some benefit from voting out the PDP? Is the CPC government any different?

The Nasarawa state CPC government initially presented a budget of N97.6bn which was reviewed upward to N104.9bn by the PDP-controlled state assembly. The 2011 budget contained 46.1% recurrent and 53.9% capital components. The approved budget for 2012 is an increase of 28% over the 2011 amount. The budget is to be financed with Statutory Allocation – N47.3bn (45% of the budget), IGR from MDAs- N13.2bn (13%), grants – N15bn (15%) and loan draw-downs of N10bn (10%). The amount of loans taken by the state is commendable given that the neighbouring state of Bauchi borrows over 40% of its annual budget, and just a year ago, when Al-Makura took office, he inherited debts of about N60 billion and a Paris Club loan refund of $113 million (N17 billion) that mysteriously vanished in the last month of the PDP administration. It is worth mentioning that Nasarawa receives the second lowest amount from the Federation account, with Ekiti at the bottom. Indeed, for the years 1999-2008, it collected about N155.5bn when a state like Rivers received N1.1 trillion in the same period.

Of the N104.9bn budget, N42.5bn (40.5%) is earmarked for recurrent expenditure and N62.4bn (about 60%) for capital spending. While this obviously falls a little short of the 70% capital requirement for meaningful development which the state is in dire need of, it is the highest we have seen for any state budget analysed so far, and nearly 7% higher than that of the predecessor PDP government. The recurrent budget is further broken down into personnel cost of N25.1bn (23.9% of total budget) and overhead cost of N17.4bn (16.6%). It goes without saying that the state’s IGR of N13.2bn can cover just about half the total personnel costs. The recurrent revenue estimates all fell short of actual receipts in 2011 except FAAC, yet all 2012 estimates are above those of the previous year; which optimism gives cause for concern.

The sectoral breakdown of the budget is as follows; about N2.5bn (3%) for Agriculture, a commendable N14.1bn (14%) for Education, N5.5bn (6%) for health, N5.1bn (5%) for water resources and all related agencies, a whopping N18.4bn (18%) for works and transport and a paltry N600m (1%) for tourism and culture. The Secretary to the State Government gets about N7.6bn and somewhere in there exists a N2bn provision under the title “classified expenses” that is the security vote for the state.
The direction of investment in physical and human capital is commendable. Al-Makura has ramped up budgetary provisions for township roads, urban water supply, schools and healthcare facilities in significant ways. Nasarawa was also the first state to implement the new minimum wage of N18,900 for its public service even though it is not a rich state. Al-Makura’s social policies which put women, children and physically-challenged people as vulnerable groups for preferential and cheaper access to education and healthcare are also unique in the zone. Al-Makura’s private sector discipline has been brought to bear with the identification and removal of ghost workers amounting to nearly 18% of the workforce under the predecessor-PDP government.

Public health facilities in the state increased between year 2000 and 2009. Primary health care; from 417 to 698, secondary health care; 13 to 19 and tertiary remained 2 over the years. Sadly the bed to patient ratio in 2009 was 1:1854.While it is not so much about the increase in number of facilities, reports concerning the state of healthcare facilities in the state requires urgent attention. The Al-Makura government has recognized the dilapidation of health facilities and has dedicated 5% of the budget to begin restoring them to acceptable standards.

The agricultural sector has potential to be a major revenue source for the state because like the neighboring Benue State, agriculture is the main economic activity in Nasarawa State. All the major crops are produced in every local government area particularly yam and rice. The budgetary provision includes procurement of fertilizer and seedlings as well as agricultural mechanization equipment. Even though Nasarawa is a small state, budgeting 3% for agriculture needs to be increased going forward. One way to improve the lot of farmers in the state may be to convert the Karu International Market to an Agribusiness Centre and Farmers’ Market that services the needs of Abuja residents and environs. More needs to be done in enhancing the agricultural value chain in Nasarawa and of exploiting the mineral resources so that the state does not just bear the name but lives it.

Public opinion seems to be in favor of the Governor Al-Makura visibly within the short period he has spent. Nasarawa has numerous benefits being a neighboring state to the FCT. One of such benefits can be derived from provision of lower-cost, high-quality residential and commercial facilities in the border towns along the Karu-Keffi corridor. An airport to service Abuja in the future should not be ruled out, in addition to the planned airstrip to serve the administrative capital of Lafia. Infrastructure such as this, a railway connection, etc. can be built that will service the FCT and generate significant employment and revenues for the state. The state also has huge tourism potential especially with the Farin Ruwa Falls which could be transformed to a domestic getaway or an international holiday destination. Innovative policies and funding strategies need to be developed by the state to realize these potentials. Al-Makura’s entrepreneurial skills will be tasked to the limit here. I am confident he will live up to the billing.


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Awakening the Sleeping Giant: Making Nigeria Work Again (I)
George B.N. Ayittey, Ph.D.

One insightful way of describing

The myriad of Nigeria’s complex and inter-twined problems can be daunting and debilitating in unraveling or solving. Some Nigerians yearn for another military coup for a military dictator to knock heads and solve their problems. This proposal, in my view, is out of the question. First, the record of military rule in Africa is abysmal. Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Togo, and Chad, among others including Nigeria, were all ruined by military coconut-heads. They were all generals. Even General I.B. Babangida (rtd), himself remarked that: “Every military regime is a fraud. Anybody who heads a military regime subverts the wishes of the people”(The African Observer, Jan 18-31, 1999; p.6). Second, the entire West African region is fed up with military coups. ECOWAS will never support a coup in Nigeria. Witness ECOWAS response to the coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

Some Nigerians have suggested a break-up of the country. This is also a non-starter. Even the hopeless African Union would not support that because it would set a dangerous precedent for the continent. Africa has more than 2,000 ethnic groups and if each aggrieved group were to break away, we might end up with over 1,000 little “Djiboutis,” each with its own national flag, anthem and perhaps a Swiss bank account for its president. And Nigeria could also end with over 250 mini countries.

Still other Nigerians say a strongman is needed to end the nonsense and clean up the mess but this is a wrong approach. Remember what President Obama said in Accra in July 2009: “Africa doesn’t need strongmen; it needs strong institutions.”

Road Analogy – Traffic Laws

A useful way of analyzing Nigeria’s problems is to use a road analogy. In Nigeria, drivers are required to drive on the right and to stop at STOP signs or when the traffic light turns red. They must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or zebra crossings and must obey the speed limit. If they are making a turn, they must switch on their turn signals. They must obey one-way signs and so on. The body of these rules and regulations is called TRAFFIC LAWS. If ALL drivers obey the traffic laws, there would be sanity on the roads and it would be possible to get from Point A to Point B SAFELY and in good time.

Now, imagine a situation where only a few drivers obey the rules of the road or traffic laws. Assume some big buffoon thinks he can drive anyway he likes at whatever speed – even the wrong way. Assume another nitwit insists on driving on the left side of the road because he is left-handed. Guess what would happen on the roads. There would be horrendous carnage, chaos, fatal accidents, and wreckage.

Ever driven on the streets of Lagos? The last time I was driven through the streets of Lagos in 2009, I tried to find and count the number of commuter buses without a single dent on it. I couldn’t. I also tried to see if drivers would stop at traffic lights, if you could find them. Few did. I will never forget the taxi ride to the airport – at break-neck speed. My heart was in my palm, thumping. Obviously, driving in Lagos would be much, much safer if all drivers obey traffic laws. But the federal government couldn’t ensure that. It built itself a new capital at Abuja and FLED from Lagos!

This road analogy can be applied to the general Nigerian or most African societies. In any organized society, there is a body of rules and regulations which EVERYONE must obey and follow if the society is to survive, rejuvenate itself and progress. A society cannot exist without rules and principles that govern relationships between a person and other persons, the community, and the environment as well as handle problems that may arise within these relationships. A set of such rules, codified or not, may be termed “law.” Six may be distinguished: Natural, contractual, statutory, customary, religious, constitutional laws.

Natural law constitutes the body of rules people must follow in order to live and work in peace. First, they must avoid physical harm or damage to another’s work and property. Second, they must honor their obligations or contracts with others, and, third, they should compensate those on whom they inflict harm and whose property they damage. When people conduct their lives in this “live and let live” way, the natural order of human world is respected. There is peace and natural law prevails. The human world consists of many separate individuals, each capable of feeling, thought, speech, and action. Inevitable interactions create a web of inter-relationships and boundaries that separate one person from another in his words, works, and actions from those of other persons. When people respect that order and the boundaries that define it, they act justly – justice being nothing else than the will to respect the order of the human world and to recognize in word and action what belongs to another.

When people act justly, they refrain from treating another person as something other than a person or as some person other than he is and from treating what belongs to one person’s as if it belonged to another. They minimize and may even eliminate confusion about who said, did, or produced what. This in turn makes it possible to attribute responsibility, praise and blame, merit and demerit, to whom it is due. Thus, when people behave justly, they do not threaten one another’s life, freedom, or property, but act towards one another in peaceful, friendly ways. (van Notten, 2001; p.14). There are some groups who prefer natural law to laws promulgated by the state. For more, see this link: http://jim.com/rights.html

A contract creates a set of binding rules but it applies to only those who have specifically agreed to it. It is rather limited in its scope and does not empower a signatory to infringe upon the rights of others who are not party to the contract. The “contract” may be a verbal agreement or a promise to repay a loan in the presence of a “witness” and actions to be taken in case of default.

Statutory laws are “rules of conduct designed by government employees, legislated by a parliament, promulgated by a government official such as a king or a minister, and enforced by a police force controlled by that official” (van Notten, 2001; p.16). The police typically have a monopoly over the use of force or the weapons required for redressing injustices. In a dictatorship, statutory laws are decrees or diktats of the ruling despot. In a democracy, statutory law is “politician’s law.” The people have little say in its design, promulgation and enforcement. Their representatives do so in their behalf but there is no guarantee that they will do so or promulgate laws that protect life, liberty and property. Statutory laws can be oppressive. “While these powers (laws) are supposed to be used to defend every person’s right to life, liberty and property, the truth of the matter is that they are regularly used to restrict those very rights. Politicians do this with impunity by first establishing a monopoly over the country’s policing powers” (Heath, 2001).

Customary laws are not commands or legislated rules. They “are conventions and enforceable rules that have emerged and are respected spontaneously, without formal agreement, among people as they go about their daily business and try to solve the problems that occasionally arise in it without upsetting the patterns of cooperation on which they so heavily depend” (van Notten, 2006; p.15). Customary law does not mean every custom is recognized as “law.” However, when a particular custom is repeatedly recognized in a traditional court, it may become law.

Religious laws are by definition those laws that are derived from the Bible or the Qu’ran. For example, the Ten Commandments and the Sharia lay down laws, enjoining their followers to obey. Many of them are straight-forward injunctions such as “Do not steal.”

A Constitution may be regarded as a social contract between the rulers or government and the governed. Constitutional laws are those derived from the Constitution and when freely negotiated, is the law of the people, defining how their society is to be organized and governed. Constitutional laws specify the rights of the people and the limits of government. They are supreme, taking precedence over all laws. They are also sovereign, meaning they cannot be abrogated by one individual or political party with a majority in Parliament. The supremacy of Constitution law is due to the fact that a nation may be composed of different ethnic and religious groups. While each group may have its own particular laws, there must be one law – Constitution – that keeps or is binding on all groups within the nation.

Thus, every society must have some body of laws to govern itself by. For example, one does not arbitrarily go and steal or seize someone else’s property. All societies disallow that. Nor does one grab, rape and impregnate a woman if one wants to have a child. When everyone obeys and follows the same law, “the rule of law” is said to prevail, meaning it is the law that rules, not the whims of some autocrat. Thus, it is this body of principles and rules – or the rule of law — that stands between sanity or progress in the society and utter chaos or anarchy. Similarly, traffic laws are what stand between sanity and order on the roads and total chaos and carnage.

The rule of law is not something that is alien to Africa. Each traditional African society also has a body of principles and rules which everyone – including chiefs and kings – must follow. It is called customary law. It may cover a wide area — from nationality, land, chattels, marriage, testamentary disposition, defamation to modes of enforcing payment of debts. For example, ownership is generally recognized as arising from original acquisition or legitimate transfer by way of gift, purchase, etc. When a person applied his labor, superior mental powers or business skills to a piece of previously un-owned land and generated a product or developed an artistic motif, traditional law allow them to retain ownership of such land, product or motif.

In traditional Africa, one did not take the law into one own hands. There are customary ways of resolving disputes. A dispute may be taken to native courts – called gacaca in Rwanda – for a resolution. Among the Arusha of Tanzania, “there was a very strongly held value that disputes should be settled peacefully by persuasion and by resort to the established procedures for settlement” (Carlston, 1968:310). Similarly, the Tallensi of Ghana abhorred killings and violent resolutions of conflicts. For precisely this reason, they celebrated the Golib festival, during which all feuds and hostilities between clans were prohibited. This festival emphasized “the themes of food, harmony, fecundity, and the common interests of the people as a whole” (Carlston, 1968:109).

Customary laws enjoin respect for elders and parents, especially mothers. The elders are regarded as the fonts of wisdom and experience, while mothers are regarded as the pillars of society. This is captured by the African proverb: “Educate a man and you educate a single person but educate a woman and you educate an entire nation.”

Everyone, including chiefs and kings, are required to obey customary law. Even in the rigidly-controlled Kingdom of Dahomey in ancient times, Boahen and Webster (1970) found that,

“Although the king’s word was the law of the land yet he was not above the law. Dahomeans like to recount how king Glele was fined for breaking the law. When gangs of men were working cooperatively either on state roads or building a house for one of their members, it was a law that a passerby must approach the leader and make an excuse as to why he could not break his journey to assist in the work. Permission was almost inevitably given, the law being largely designed to reinforce courtesy. King Glele’s procession passed one such group without asking to be excused. He was stopped by the headman and fined many cases of rum and pieces of cloth for breaking the law…The fact that the kings of Dahomey (now Benin) were prepared to obey the laws they themselves created was the difference between arbitrary despotism and despotism which realized that its power and position rested ultimately, no matter how indirectly, upon the will of the people (p.108).

Traditional African custom required that the elders, the “old men” instruct the youth in native law and custom. As instructors, the elders were expected to be of good behavior and comport themselves well to serve as role models for the youth. Consequently, contraventions of the law by elders were viewed more seriously and punished more severely because the elders were expected “to know the law.” Consider the following cases from Schapera (1957):

Among the Kgatla, a man who had refused on demand to give up cattle that he was looking after for someone else was not only ordered to do so, but was also fined, `because he is an old man and ought to know the law’ (Kgamanyane Pilane v. Ntwai Moeng, 22/1938).

In a matrimonial dispute among the Ngwato, the husband’s conduct was found especially reprehensible , `because he is an old man, from whom younger people should learn how to behave’ (Dikeledi v. Makgoeng, 153/1938).

And in another Ngwato case, a village headman who had abducted another’s wife was fined more heavily than usual because in his position he was expected to set a good example to others (Monyanda v. Radipitse, 151/1938).

The chaos and carnage in modern-day Somalia is a telling example of what happens to a society when some groups refuse to abide by the SAME law. The road analogy is even more pertinent and applicable here: Somalia is a country where some groups refuse to obey the same traffic laws.

The Somali are ethnically homogenous and proud people. They are fiercely republican andbase their society on their customary law called xeer. They refuse to accept an alien system imposed upon them. Heath (2001) expressed it well:

“Most Somalis prefer their customary laws and institutions, which they call xeer. In their experience, the xeer constitutes the heart of the Somali nation. They believe that without the xeer the Somali nation would fall apart, lose its identity, forgo its solidarity, forfeit its civilization and relinquish its culture. The xeer is the cord holding the house of the Somali people together. Indeed, it is thanks to their customary law that the traditional political system of the Somalis took the form of a kritarchy, not a democracy.

But Somali politicians had other ideas. They hold the xeer in abject contempt and prefer contrived statutory law which will allow them to lord over the people. As van Notten (2006) noted:

“During the 20th century, the Somalis were subjected the heavy-handed policies of the colonial powers. These powers left a form of government behind that was at odds with indigenous Somali political culture. It took the Somalis 30 years to get rid of it and return to their pre-colonial political structure. Many problems arose in the course of this, but gradually the Somalis are resolving them. Foreign observers fail to understand what they are doing; they think the Somalis have been trying to establish a democratic government and constantly failing to do so. In reality, the chief aim of many Somalis is to clean their indigenous legal and political system of its foreign elements (p.139).

In short, the crisis and carnage in Somalia is due to a clash of laws. Not all are following the SAME traffic laws. The Somali prefer the customary law, the xeer. The colonialists, political elites and the Islamists prefer other laws. When the colonialist tried to impose their own laws on the Somali, they fought them and gained their independence. When dictators and political elites tried to impose decrees and statutory laws on them, the Somali fought them too and drove dictator General Siad Barre out of office into exile. Obviously, if the Islamist group, al-Shabaab, tries to impose the sharia on the Somali, they will fight it too.

Clearly, the solution to the crisis in Somalia does not lie in having a strongman impose the Ten Commandments on the people; they will fight it. Nor does it lie in breaking up the country. For one thing, the Somali are a one-tribe nation (ethnically homogenous), so one can’t have one tribe going this way and the others going the other way. Even then, Puntland and Somaliland broke away but no country has recognized them. The obvious solution is get ALL Somali to obey the SAME traffic laws.

Now, which LAW must ALL Nigerians follow and obey: Natural Law, Statutory Law, The Ten Commandments, The Sharia, or The Constitutional Law? If you said, the Constitutional Law, you are right but has it been followed? And what happens when the president holds the Constitution in vexatious contempt, refuses to follow it and blurts, “I don’t give a dam”?

We explore these issues next.

Ayittey, George B. N. (2006). Indigenous African Institutions. Dobbs Ferry, NY: Transnational

Boahen, A.A. and J.B. Webster (1970). History of West Africa. New York: Praeger.

Carlston, Kenneth S. (1968). Social Theory and African Tribal Organization. Urbana: University of
Chicago Press.

Heath, Frank Douglas (2001). “Tribal Society and Democracy” in The Laissez Faire City Times,
Vol 5, No 22, May 28, 2001, available at: http://www.afrifund.com/wiki/index.pcgi?page=CtrySomaliland

Schapera, I. (1957). “The Sources Of Law In Tswana Tribal Courts: Legislation And Precedent,”
​Journal of African Law, Vol.1 No.3:150162, 1957.

Van Notten, Michael (2006). The Law of the Somalis. Trenton, NJ: The Red Sea Press, Inc.



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Olusegun Obasanjo wants Nigeria to capitalise on its economic rise by adopting tougher anti-corruption measures. Photograph: Seyllou/AFP/Getty Images

At 75 and given to offering Yoruba proverbs to illustrate complex points, Olusegun Obasanjo, the man who led Nigeria once as a general and once as a civilian, has no time for mincing his words. “You are being euphemistic when you say lack of accountability. Call it corruption,” he says, from a hotel suite overlooking London’s Canary Wharf.

“There is no part of the world where corruption is absolutely eliminated. But [in other countries] that corruption has not been a way of life. When you are found, you are dealt with. And that’s what we need.”

Obasanjo was in the UK to promote investment in Nigeria, sub-Saharan Africa’s most populous country and its second biggest economy, not to mention one of the world’s most promising emerging destinations for international investors. Its gross domestic product is forecast to grow at more than 7% this year, following a decade of rapid expansion.

Against the backdrop of moribund markets in rich countries and fears about the slowing of many emerging economies, Nigeria, like Africa’s other larger nations, is attracting global interest. The country’s urbanising, increasingly wealthy and consumptive middle class is portrayed as fertile ground for consumer goods companies, while its vast reserves of oil and gas have taken on a new strategic importance as the Arab spring creates political uncertainty in the Middle East.

But for all the optimism surrounding Nigeria, inequity and underdevelopment remain. In Lagos, the commercial capital, Victoria Island has some of the world’s most expensive real estate. Yet that wealth sits cheek-by-jowl with artisan charcoal burners and hawkers eking out a living.

Many put this inequality down to the constant ebb-and-flow of kickbacks and bribes that have long been a feature of Nigeria’s political and business scene. In a country ranked 143 in the world on the Transparency International corruption perception index, civil society fights a perennial battle with institutionalised corruption, which has led to some officials – including some of Nigeria’s extraordinarily influential state governors – becoming dollar billionaires.

One, James Ibori, a former governor of Delta State in Nigeria’s south, was convicted this year of embezzling £150m and jailed for 13 years. Ibori, whose annual state salary of less than $25,000 (£16,000) was bolstered by the systematic theft of state funds, built up a portfolio of luxury cars and properties in the UK, US and South Africa.

Timipre Sylva, the former governor of Bayelsa State, was arraigned this month by Nigeria’s economic and financial crimes commission on charges including fraud and money laundering.

Since 2009, the crusading central bank governor, Lamido Sanusi, has had some success in cleaning out the banking sector, claiming high-profile scalps such as Cecilia Ibru, the former CEO of Oceanic Bank, who was jailed for fraud and mismanagement. Arunma Oteh came in to head the securities and exchange commission in 2010, attacking vested interests in the stock market – although she now faces accusations of graft that many see as trumped-up. The battle against corruption in Nigeria is one that seems to jump forward quickly then slide back as the wealthy and influential cut deals and mobilise against their accusers.

“Fighting corruption is not a one-night affair,” says Obasanjo, who made fighting graft a significant element of his manifesto ahead of his election in 1999. “Of course there are deep-rooted interests, and if you are going to deal with it, you have to deal with it ruthlessly and consistently. If you deal with it today and you then turn a blind eye tomorrow, it will come back with vengeance.”

While insisting that domestic change is central to the war on corruption, Obasanjo believes the responsibility is global. “The givers of most of the corruption in Africa are from outside Africa,” he says. “They do in Africa, [things] they would not do in their own countries. In my part of the world, we have a saying that the man who carries a pot of palm oil from the ceiling is not the only thief. He has an accomplice in the man who helps him to bring it down. The giver and the taker are criminals, and they should be treated as such.”

Obasanjo is now an “adviser” to a private equity firm, New World Capital, which is raising money internationally to invest in Africa. He is also working as a roving ambassador, facilitating firms’ entry into Nigeria and the rest of the continent, a role he sees as a public duty. He is no convert to what he calls “naked capitalism”, but hopes positive examples of business success will encourage avaricious minds to look for more legitimate routes to wealth.

“I still believe in the opportunities that Africa affords to make legitimate money,” he says. “Africa is one place I believe that if you are courageous enough, you get the money, you can invest and get 25% return on your investment annually. There aren’t many places in the world where you can get that return.”

• This article has been amended to correct Olusegun Obasanjo’s age

Culled from the UK Guardian, http://guardian.co.uk/ Authored by Peter Guest
Original post can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/jun/27/nigeria-olusegun-obasanjo-fighting-corruption


Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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VENTURES AFRICA – Nigeria’s Debt Management Office is set to offer 83.9 billion naira ($515 million) in debt, including 30 billion naira of 15.1 percent bonds due 2017 – the Oil-rich nation’s highest borrowing cost in five years.

This was made known in a statement posted on the Debt Management Office’s official website. According to the statement, the debt office is incurring the debts on concern of the current pace of inflation which is approaching the fastest in more than two years.

On Thursday, the office will offer debts and bonds that are due in 2017 to members of the public.

According to current prices on the Financial Markets Dealers Association website, yields on the existing 2017 notes had hit a record high of 15.71 percent on June 25.

In May, Nigeria’s inflation rate slowed to 12.7 percent from 12.9 percent in April; however, the rate is expected to peak at 14.5 percent in the third quarter of 2012. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), this will be the highest inflation rate since April 2010.

The banking sector’s policy makers led by CBN Governor Lamido Sanusi have held the benchmark interest rate at 12 percent this year from a 5.75 percent point-raise in 2011, in order to curb the naira’s decline and to combat the rising inflation rate.

Analysts and strategists across the continent are concerned about Nigeria’s current economic status.

“Inflation risk remains the blemish,” Dumisani Ngwenya, a Johannesburg-based Africa strategist at Barclays Plc’s Absa Capital, said in e-mailed comments sent to Bloomberg. However, there isn’t need for panic because according to Ngwenya, the dip in price growth in May is probably temporary.

According to Tola Odukoya, an analyst at Dunn Loren Merrifield Ltd. in Nigeria business hub, Lagos, the key factor driving the yields up is the sustained pressure on the local currency as a result of foreign investors’ profit-taking and moving their funds out of the market.

“We expect the yields of all the bonds to come out higher than that of the previous auction,” he said.

The rise in inflation rate could be linked to recent economic policies that were implemented in Nigeria. One of such is the inflation resulting from the increase in the pump price of gasoline due to the partial withdrawal of fuel subsidies in January. This has led to an increase in the pump price of gas from 65 naira in January to 97 naira a litre (0.26 gallon).

The economy has also been hit by a worldwide oil price plunge. As a result of the plunge, Nigeria’s benchmark blend (Bonny Light crude) has dropped 28 percent from a March 13 peak of $128.47 per barrel to $92.50.

The naira, which was Africa’s best-performing currency against the dollar in the first five months of 2012, has also been affected. The currency is now down 0.2 percent, currently trading at 162.65 naira per Dollar in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital.

In the same vein, Nigeria’s foreign reserves have recorded a deficit of $612 million to $37.1 billion as the apex bank has increased dollar sales at twice-weekly currency auctions, and directly to the market to defend the naira.

Nigeria is a nation of 150 million people and it depends on crude oil exports for more than 80 percent of government revenue and 95 percent of foreign currency income. According to the statistics office, crude oil accounts for 83 percent of Nigeria’s total exports in the fourth quarter.

The Author

Douglas Imaralu is a staff writer/copy editor at Ventures Africa. He is an English graduate with journalistic and project management (PMP) training; ample experience in digital advertising, broadcast and online journalism, and a knack for poetry and learning languages.

Follow Author on twitter @jefumare


Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, MORALITY, POLITICS.
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I have said it before, I will again: Mr President has the best opportunity presented by any circumstance or situation to disarm the most hardened of critics in the history of Nigeria but his actions continuously prove he’s unaware of the true luck he has been presented with. Being an accidental President, he has inherited many crises, which on handling well, could have presented and showed to Nigerians a Strong, decisive and understanding leader. But can you give what you don’t have?

Where do i start from: Mr President’s time has brought to the fore an unprecedented level of corruption in the system (take the Pension scam, and fuel subsidy as instances) and his subtle attempt at sweeping them under the carpet through several tactical provisions is amazing. Removing Oniwon and his team hasn’t solved it too, the fundamental problem still remains intact and the same. Removing the fuel subsidy too at a time and point when Nigerians least expected (regardless of how it proved important to) shows the resolve of a man who may thoroughly be misguided by his advisers.

Look at security, where in two successive years, we have paid the highest for in the loss of lives and properties despite having the highest quota in the budget. What about feeding, where we pay to ensure he grows fresh and fat while increasing millions of Nigerians grow lean and continuously malnourished daily? Look at the increasing spending of government funds? The continued waste of Ministeries and Departments?

What ONE THING has Mr President done right? Why does he pay his advisers to take the most wrong of steps? Or make the most depressing of utterances? Check Mr President’s utterances through our different national crises: fuel subsidy removal outfall, security challenges (Boko haram) many times claiming “it’s a burden we have to bear” “it’s our turn”. Many of our President’s utterances have showed how disconnected he his with our collective feelings and shows he truly does not empathize with us.

The I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn utterance of Mr President smirks of utter disrespect to the collective people of Nigeria, shows gross insensitivity and absolute recklessness of choice of word. President Obama would never dare say such to Americans, unless he has lost his mind! The utterances of Mr President displays his moral Character, we see him stressing how vehemently he challenged Late President Yar’Adua then on disclosing their assets. How on earth can he tell us “I don’t give a damn”? That is extremely daring, too confrontational, and in developed democracies where it’s citizens have not lost its minds, nor its legislators; Mr President would have himself immediately sanctioned/cautioned for his words or massive protests trailing such. But this is Nigeria; anything goes.

Our world-class docility as a people has brought us disengaged leaders whose conscience are seared and who knows they can get away with any word, action or process that satisfies them or gratifies their selfishness. Developed democracies are administered by a balance of citizen engagement and leadership action. We have left ours to leaders, we too simply Don’t Give A Damn!

It doesn’t take a smarty to know our constitution is sick, it’s gazing loopholes and void of decisive measures are represented in the crimes and corruption in the nation. Our moral code are nose-diving, our leaders are sleeping, the policies they sit through at their assemblies are often times hilarious and you would think most of these leaders are comedians when you read of their policies.

While the problematic constitution gives provisions for the exclusion of the President to declare his asset, as opposed to what obtains in nations whose leaders are compelled to be transparent or whose leaders understand the import of coming clean to the public; the position of the President on national Television through those strong “I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn” utterance shows the mind and working of a man who remains enchanted to do no good for a while.

Disclosing one’s asset as a public servant is one of the most convenient ways to earn the absolute trust of the people. Why would an accidental president not be interested in doing this? Does this reflect growing concerns of his insincerity of commitment to transparency and accountability? Does this confirm our observation of his now-expanded empire? Does it affirm our suspicion of his huge financial purse? Does it show an increased financial account which may not represent the earnings of a public servant given the 3 years he has been in national light?

The verdict is out: Mr President Doesn’t Give A Damn what we think!

I am @seunfakze

THE #DANACRASHACTION REPORT (with account details) June 25, 2012

Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, MORALITY, MOTIVATION.
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4th June, 2012 was a black Sunday for Nigeria. On that day, a commercial flight belonging to Dana Airline had crashed in Lagos into a building and its parts into four adjoining ones; killing all on board and other families on the ground. The nation was thrown into great mourning. This had been one of the most vivid and unfortunate air mishap in a while. Almost everyone had someone involved in the crash, or a family friend or friend of a friend.

On Monday, 5th June, 2012; notably Seun Fakuade (@seunfakze) and Kathleen Ndogmo (@kathleenndongmo), used social media platform Twitter to launch, then an immediate and initial relief material response call across the nation calling for friends and loved ones not only to mourn and eulogize those who had departed but help those different families who had been displaced by the crash with material (non-cash) donations. The Plan was simple: use distress calls to help gather relief materials in the country. These generated many responses with loving friends helping the effort by tweeting and retweeting critical information that proved to be significant to the success of the effort.

The relief collation was given a timeline frame of 4 weeks to ensure collation, stock taking (inventory of materials) and ultimate distribution. This was divided in 2 week phases of Collation and Distribution. Twitter was ultimately used to kick start and sustain this relief effort, while Broadcasts via Blackberry helped served its purpose too. Volunteers sprung across Nigeria with LAGOS- @babatundejnr, @teni_beauty2, @shecrownlita (then in Nigeria), @kathleenndongmo, @wildeji, @realebony, @nisots @dupekila; KADUNA (whispringice), BENIN CITY (@thisiseseosa), ABUJA (@seunfakze @4yusuf, @abangmercy, @peckyugo), ILE-IFE (zebbook), IBADAN (@gboukzi) and very many others who would have preferred to remain anonymous but whose efforts cannot be overlooked as critical to the continued success of this effort including @kwamiadadevoh, @mrsleevesup, @omojuwa, @dupekilla, @jodusolu amongst many silent heavyweights.

Given the urgency of the case, other daring and loving people came on board beyond Nigeria, in the UK with @topeolowu and @forumeditor (non-Nigerian) noticeably helping to spearhead the drive from the onset. Others include @olaoluwakite, @abdullahiaborode, @shecrownlita (who then was in Nigeria and who played a significant role while in Nigeria), @Zaraliscious, amongst many innumerous helpers.

Many Nigerians expressed doubts and cynical venomous responses trailed our collective effort to the Dana Crash relief collation. Notwithstanding, materials came in from Lagos and beyond. We took much consignment of goods and relief materials and was provided a storehouse at the RISE place. A temporary shelter home was temporarily rented around the suburban of Ogba, where our unyielding volunteer effort produced partitioned makeshift flats to house the families of 5 (at first) then 15 altogether.

We owe to @wildeji, @shecrownlita, @babatundejnr, @teni_beauty2 the gratitude and appreciation of making the daring and visionary effort of the Shelter which till date houses these Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

The inventory of the materials began in earnest and the first batch of relief efforts went out in a week in food items, mattresses, fans, a generator donated and fueled by Jubaili Bros. We had many helpful bailouts along the way which helped speed track the effort material collation across Nigeria. For instance, Abuja collation material had ABC Transport provided us with a N6,000 rebate after we had explained to the Manger of the intent of the goods. Thus the initial N18,000 became N12,000. The N12,000 was paid from the N2,000 that was provided by one of the volunteers (@ofastupidwoman from Clothes4Love) and the N10,000 from the N100,000 provided by a loving Nigerian. In all, N102,000 was provided from Abuja and details of the spending:

N12,000 for transport of goods through ABC with @4yusuf, @seunfakze and @abangmercy as witnesses

N4,000 sent to @whisperingice so as to send the Kaduna goods

N16,000 to clear UK goods at the airport; witnesses are @seunfakze and @teni_beauty2

N1,000 for transport to store; witnesses are @seunfakze and @teni_beauty2

N6,000 for transport of distributed relief materials to Shelter place for IDPs witnessed by @seunfakze, @wildeji, @realebony

These sum gives a total of N39,000 spent altogether leaving a balance of N63,000.


Huge relief materials were transported from the store to the Shelter and first set of relief materials have been given to 9 present families out of the 15 families (IDP). Attached are pictures (and videos forthcoming) which we hope you will find time to go through, detailing the processes of signing and with family members. The other 6 families would also get the first set of the relief materials when they present themselves during this week. Let it be clear that accommodation at this shelter were paid by some of the generous Nigerians and were handled with the landlord directly without interference. This accommodation will lapse on 15th July, and these IDPs will be forced to the street if we fail to provide an alternative for them. We hope to solve their accommodation as soon as we are able to


From the onset, we vehemently refused attempts to accept monetary cash as evident in all of our tweets owing to the cynical nature of Nigerians. Notwithstanding, we embarked on cash collection having being pressured by many in the Diaspora who wanted to contribute and even here in Nigeria. Also, we felt we may have earned the trust of many through the #SaveOke project that most of us had partaken in recently. Several banks were approached given the urgency of the situation; of these three @gtbank came to our rescue; providing Pounds, Dollars and Naira currency accounts for use.

The DANACRASHACCOUNT is a PUBLIC TRUST ACCOUNT and as such, NO MEMBER of the DanaCrashAction had knowledge of the details. Let it also be clear that no one can anyone access it outside the account signatories who are notable and reputable Nigerians. Till 9am this morning, no one knew the detail of the account, nor has anyone being able to access it. Unlike the #SaveOke initiative where we had a day by day update of the account, we had no ACCESS to this account as we were not directly involved with its discharge. This is needed so as to ensure transparency and absolute accountability as well as to ensure PUBLIC TRUST is not violated. This is thus the details of the account UNTOUCHED, UNUSED, UN-ACCESSED.. (CLICK THE FOLLOWING LINK) FINANCIAL ACCOUNT DANA_CRASH04Jun2012-25Jun2012


The first of the final phase of distribution began have been done to these IDPs, the concluding parts will come these approaching weeks.

The accommodation of these IDPs will hopefully be sorted out too giving the account status and hopefully the help of others.

For the team, in Nigeria and abroad; it has been three weeks of unbelievable synergy, coordination, fast flurries of emails, calls, arguments and absolute love. Gratitude goes to YOU DONORS without which we would never have witnessed the joys on the faces of these IDPs, nor the cries, or the bond that has since existed between many unknown Twitterians.

It is not over yet; the DanaCrashAction website will launch soon featuring the collation of all the efforts, the intricate details, the list of Donors, the list of volunteers, the selfless contributions of all, the events (memorial, events, etc). We owe the effort of all concerned to make this work.

The team is proud, and we hold our head high despite the distrust from many quarters.

Thanks for YOUR unwavering support.

We made it through.

God bless you

I write as ‘Seun Fakuade

With the consent, and on behalf of the TEAM at home and abroad,

@seunfakze @KathleenNdongmo @BabatundeJnr @Wildeji @teni-beauty2 @topeolowu


1. The second report will contain details of other expenses at the shelter and other ongoing developments.

2. Attached — comprehensive listing and pictures (videos to come) of donated items to IDPs, including evidence of some payments, scanned evidence of accepted materials by IDPs, and the FULL FINANCIAL REPORT OF THE DANACRASHACTION ACCOUNT. TO VIEW THE FULL IMAGE, CLICK ON THEM. Enjoy!

Donated_Items_to_IDPs_Batch_2 DANA_CRASH04Jun2012-25Jun2012


Posted by seunfakze in CHANGE, POLITICS.
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Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, on 8 June 2012 wrote an article in his Thisday Friday column captioned “Anambra’s Budget of Misplaced Priorities”. The contents of the article are clearly mirrored in the caption, prompting Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State to respond that “Only Anambra People Can assess me” as reported in the Thisday of 10 June 2012. From its title, the message of Governor Obi is that El-Rufai is not a stakeholder in the affairs of Anambra state and has no business assessing his performance.

As a background to my comment, I wish to presume the context under which El-Rufai’s article has been read in Anambra State, hence the response by the Governor which might have reflected the views of his Advisers and other officers of his government.  

If indigenes of Anambra State are among the most educated, most successful in business and in the professions as El-Rufai observed, how then has it become the business of a “mallam” to judge the appropriateness of the State’s budget and governance? Mallams, as they are known in Anambra State have three roles namely “maiguard”, “mai ruwa” and “mai nama”.

The maiguard stays awake all night to safeguard the master from being kidnapped by his fellow Anambra people, mai ruwa ensures regular supply of water from wells dug by his fellow mallams while mai nama, supplies meat to Anambra people.Anambra people also know that there exists a fourth category of mallams who are learned and among the best Nigeria can offer a class to which El-Rufai belongs.

Notwithstanding, Anambra people believe that they have equivalents of educated mallams, as they often rehearse that the State has produced unrivaled species, including the mathematical Chike Obi, Father Tansi that successfully made it to heaven and Power Mike that was the “strongest” man on earth while he lived. I imagine that the undertone of the response to El-Rufai’s article is that Anambra has sufficient qualified persons to judge its performance rather than an “outsider”.

The article does not doubt the competence of Anambra people to run a good government, having confirmed that “The people of Anambra State are known to be brilliant, enterprising and resourceful” and that “Most of Nigeria’s brightest professors, writers, public servants and politicians hailed from the State”. As a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, El-Rufai could be privy to the share of Anambra people in high political positions and the housing market in Abuja. His expressed puzzle is why the brilliance and enterprise of Anambra people have not reflected in the quality of development of the State.

Apart from El-Rufai, everybody knows that it is not well with Anambra State in any aspect of human life. I have met non Nigerians that asked why I chose to “come from that place”, thinking that I have a choice like Americans to determine my State. Where else in Nigeria other than in Anambra can people openly accuse their Governor of being an “araldite”, an acronym that the Governor’s hands are sticky that he cannot help himself and others from the public coffers. The point Governor Obi and other Anambra people should swallow is that the condition of Anambra State has become of such a national and an international concern that “outsiders” can no longer be shut out from proffering solutions.

Further, I rather believe that El-Rufai, like any other Nigerian, is a stakeholder in Anambra State. He is a contributor to the N36 billion that is expected to flow from the Federation account to Anambra State in 2012. If the money is rather shared among Nigerians (as some people suggest), El-Rufai will be entitled to his cash share in place of Anambra State. The presence of his brother mallams that provide indispensable services of security, water and meat in Anambra State is also a justification for El-Rufai to wish the State well. Therefore the views expressed by El-Rufai should be examined by the government and Anambra people for whatever they are worth and on this note, I hereunder further comment on them.

I think it was on purpose that El-Rufai kicked off his write up by recapitulating Governor Obi’s background and the tortuous struggle the Governor has gone through to claim and sustain his mandate. He reported that Governor Obi has a university degree in Philosophy and had served as chairman of a Bank. These are rare attributes of a typical Anambra man that rather prides in his accumulation of wealth but lacking in the level of education and decency that can earn him the chairmanship of a bank, a position that requires a general perception of being clean. Governor Obi’s background in Philosophy is an enviable footing for leadership. While other disciplines focus on and deepen knowledge of an aspect of human quest, Philosophy envelopes all and seeks to rationalize and find reason for all actions of man.

In ancient civilizations and even in modern developed nations, Philosophy and related disciplines are for the nobles while the rest chase disciplines that guarantee them economic survival. By recalling Governor Obi’s credentials and struggle to retain his mandate in the article one is reminded that such a labour deserves not to be in vain to Anambra State. Thus, if Governor Obi, with his background in Philosophy, relative financial stability at a young age and a determined fighting spirit to keep his mandate, does not get Anambra right, the time of restoration for the state remains indefinite.Another clear message from El-Rufai’s article is that Anambra State is not financially independent. The Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in Anambra State in a month cannot pay the salaries of civil servants in that month. Precisely, the budgeted IGR in 2012 can finance only three-quarters of the salaries of civil servants. The Federation Account pays one quarter of the salaries and all non-salary expenses, including all capital projects, petrol for the Governor’s vehicles, food at the government house, Awka and allowances for traditional rulers. In America, States do not receive allocation from the federal government and if Nigeria were to operate like America, Anambra State will go bankrupt and liquidate in the first month of the transition.

The position of Anambra is made more precarious by the fact that the State cannot claim surrendering tangible revenue to the Federation Account. Lagos, Kano and a few other non-oil producing states are not as vulnerable as Anambra as their IGR can at least finance their recurrent expenditure. Does this situation suggest that the brilliance of Anambra people has been put to work in managing the finances of the State?El-Rufai pointed to the alarming poverty level and unemployment rate in Anambra State and expressed disappointment that the government is not doing enough to solve the problems. He criticized the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS) and the Anambra Youth Reorientation and Empowerment Program (ANSYREP) as being incapable of revving up the production base. Governor Obi would prefer critics to visit Anambra to see the “right things” his government is doing. What are the good works a visitor will see in Anambra State? Peer Review? King Solomon of Isreal did not publicise his good works before the Queen of Sheba heard of it and embarked on a trip to Jerusalem to see for herself.  

The only solution to poverty and unemployment in Anambra is to expand economic activities in the State, period.  The role of the government is to create the enabling environment for the private sector to flourish and for the enterprising Anambra people to invest at home. All such programs as ANYSYREP and other handout therapies will not solve poverty and unemployment. In economics, they are called short-term palliative measures while waiting for the long term solution. I believe that if the government creates an enabling platform for economists and other professionals to design and implement a growth plan for the State, the future of the State will take an upward bound trajectory.

My summary of the analysis (or critique) of the Anambra State budget by El-Rufai is that the budget scratches the back of every sector at a rate that is no more than the annual deterioration of that sector. There is no sector where the planned action and budget are capable of making a difference and in fact this is the basic weakness of the Anambra Integrated Development Strategy (ANIDS). Health, Education, Agriculture, Environment (Erosion), Housing, Water and other sectors are being massaged but by the time Governor Obi leaves office, all these sectors will remain in about the same condition Governor Obi met them. What then will be the achievement of Governor Obi?

A popular igbo proverb says that an effort without an achievement is tantamount to idling. El-Rufai has referred to Governor Ngige as a performer based on his rule for about three years. I do not come from the same Senatorial zone as Ngige but the only tangible sign of government we have seen in my area since the return of democracy in 1999 is the road constructed by Ngige. From Igbo ukwu (the town of former Governor Ezeife), through Uga, Umunze and to the farthest part of Anambra South East at Owerre Ezukala our vehicles and tires speak well of Ngige.

In my State constituency where the Deputy to Governor Obi comes from, there is nothing to show of Governor Obi’s six years of governance. Despite the area being the most populous rural area of the State that is blessed with bountiful arable land for root and tree crops, the agricultural harvests waste because there are no feeder roads to join the Ngige link road. In this area, there are no functional hospitals (except for mortuary services), no new school facilities other than the ones built by churches decades back and no public water supply. What then is the invisible Anambra Integrated Development Strategy that Governor Obi is spending the State budget on?

Governor Obi has two more years to vacate the government house at Awka and if he maintains his extant record, he will be judged a failure. So far, the government of Governor Obi prides itself of not stealing government money, of not focusing on one sector, and of doing better than some other States in the South East and in Nigeria. In the city of the blind, a one-eyed man leads the way. Yes, I am happy to have a governor that does not do what he is not supposed to do as per misappropriating public funds, but I will be happier to have a governor that does what he is supposed to do with the State funds.

The write up by El-Rufai is an alert to both Governor Obi and the rest of Anambra people and despite the poor rating I still believe that it shall be well with Anambra State. God’s gifts to Anambra people shall not be in vain.

Dr. Chidozie Emenuga, Economist/Mason Fellow, Harvard University is from Anambra State and wrote this from the USA. Carnage in Zaria, Kaduna and DamaturuThe bomb explosions in Zaria and Kaduna, the so-called reprisals and counter-reprisals have once again placed my home state under siege. I thought that with the pains and experience of the sectarian and ethnic crisis of the 1990s, we will never experience this kind of senselessness and needless killings.What saddens me the most is that bigots on both sides of the religious and ethnic divides count how many Christians or Muslims were killed, instead of recognizing the sanctity of human life and recognizing that every human life massacred – Muslim, Christian or Atheist, affects our common humanity.

What is strange is that the authorities have arrested many insurgents, both Christian and Muslim, without a single one being tried. In the case of the Zaria church bombing, it is clear that the authorities withdrew soldiers guarding them the night before the so-called Boko Haram insurgents struck. Who gave the order to withdraw them? We will never have answers because it appears the Federal Government wishes these attacks to continue unabated.

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