MR PRESIDENT, THESE TEETHING PROBLEMS WON’T HEAL THEMSELVES

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“We voted for a President, not a baby”. Rinsola Abiola

The statement above, made in reference to former President Goodluck Jonathan’s seeming lack of grasp of the issues holds true even today. To say that President Muhammadu Buhari has sauntered from one avoidable misstep to another since his almost one year ascent to Nigeria’s pinnacle of power will be stating the bleating obvious.

From his now characteristic ineffective snail-like pace of governance, to the palpable irritation he gets at the slightest scrutiny of his policies and decisions, one could see that the honeymoon between the septuagenarian and the Nigerian masses is well and truly over. This much can be discerned from the recent nationwide protest by Labour Unions in response to a 45% hike in energy tariffs by the Electricity Regulatory Commission. Ordinarily, Nigerians with their high sense of benevolence ought to have accepted this electricity hike as a necessary sacrifice they need to make for the greater good of all. But the President along his team has squandered so much goodwill within a short time that people are no longer ready to sit it out and give him that benefit of doubt.

This is not to say President Buhari has not being delivering the goods, NO! A cursory look into certain critical areas of the polity will show a distinct and marked improvement from the past. The issue of Boko Haram insurgency has and is still being fought with all the determination and seriousness it deserves. Under the leadership of General Buratai, the no nonsense Army Chief, Boko Haram elements are being routed, degraded and subdued by the day. Nigerians, long held captives are being rescued from enclaves and terrorists camps. There is a renewed sense of hope in the Northeast that the war is being won.

Another important component of the Buhari policy is the avowed war on graft and institutionalized corruption. The President has true to form, gone after the high and mighty in his obsessed fight against state theft and misappropriation. This is truly commendable, especially now that the government is facing a relentless economic pressure from the collapse of the oil industry.

However, it is in the little things that President Buhari comes up short in my opinion. The seeming lack of finesse, tact and attention to detail in his pronouncements and governance style have gradually simmered to the surface and it’s glaring that there is a huge gulf of disconnect between what Nigerians are experiencing to what the President thinks they are experiencing. This much was evident when the President admitted his ignorance of the fact that Nigerians were having their accounts restricted from accessing foreign currency ranging from vital needs such as payment of school fees, to lesser needs such as ordering for pizza.

That one year on, government appointees are still struggling to put a right foot forward is evidently worrying. This is clearly evinced in the rather embarrassing glossed up stacks of paper they ironically christened the ‘Budget of Change’. In what can be described as this administration’s lowest moment- and trust me there’s been lots of lows lately- the President failed to provide the much needed scrutiny and oversight required for such an important task as preparing and presenting a workable budget for the nation. The result is a terrifying, rehashed, bulked up, ‘cut and paste’ version of previous years sorry excuses of misappropriation they call BUDGETS.

Quite frankly, I’m at a lost on what needs to be done here, because either the President’s men aren’t giving him sound advice or he’s obstinately rebuffing them. Whatever the case, something has to give and the President needs a clear vision on what to do and how to do it. I know the task of governing over a hundred million, mostly cynical Nigerians is a tough call, but if there’s any person with the leverage and good will to successfully do so is President Muhammadu Buhari. This is the reason why it hurts deeply to see him commit such avoidably embarrassing gaffes that could prove costly and perilous in the end.

It is our prayer that the President begins to connect the dots and set his eyes on the bigger picture for the sake of all. God help us.

Abdulmalik ‘Kaizen’ Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq

 

 

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IN KADUNA, THE CAMELS ARE COMING HOME TO ‘ROOST’

IN KADUNA, THE CAMELS ARE COMING HOME TO ‘ROOST’

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Few people in Nigeria today elicit as much waves of reactions and passions whenever their names are mentioned like the diminutive Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai. From his early days as an ‘accidental’ public servant to his later years as a socio-political analyst and partisan politician, El-Rufai has always picked the biggest of fights with the biggest of fighters. Obasanjo, Atiku, Former President Jonathan and even President Buhari have all at one point or another fell victim to his all too familiar razor sharp criticisms in the past. With El-Rufai, there is no place for indifference, you either loathe or love him, and the man has both disciples and antagonists in equal measure.

Regardless though, one thing that even his most fervent detractors have conceded to is his capacity to get things done. Whether he’s on a self serving spree or championing a cause for the greater good of the collective, El-Rufai has been decisively known to produce results. His greatest strength lies in his ability to conceptualize, organize and structure a cause, project or the likes with such dexterity that leaves no one in doubt as to his capacity. His deft touch and rigor in almost everything he pursues produce results that are hard to deny. It is alleged that at some point during the Obasanjo years, El-Rufai was practically Nigeria’s chief economic driver, the unseen hand omnipresent in every major policy framework of that administration.

Of course his methods can be argued to be somewhat unorthodox, perhaps unethical even; and has earned him a Machiavellian type reputation as a ruthless, underhand schemer who will not hesitate to pull down any and everything in his way up the ladder of ‘success’. Tales abound of his cut throat machinations and how he isn’t beholden to anyone other than his over bloated ambition. Whether or not all these are true, his legacy, like everyone else’s is left to the historians and their books.

So when El-Rufai decided to throw his hat into the political ring in Kaduna State, it is with bated breath that I prayed he wins because of the belief I have in him of being able to rejig and transform the fortunes of his people. Kaduna State for all intents and purposes isn’t just any other State.  Without prejudice to my Kano peeps, Kaduna is the heartbeat of Northern Nigeria, the melting pot of everything that historically reminds us of just how unique and beautiful Northern Nigeria can be. Over the years though, Kaduna has steadily stagnated and even slid further into infrastructural and socio-economic decay. Bedeviled by rising poverty and plagued by incessant ethno-religious clashes, Kaduna needs a leader with the requisite vision, courage and capacity to pull it from the precipice. And true to form, El-Rufai set out to work almost immediately he was sworn in by making some important pronouncements and taking some far reaching decisions like the directive of setting up a single treasury account with the CBN to streamline and efficiently monitor all government funds or the cancellation of the wasteful State sponsored pilgrimage of Kaduna citizens or the abolishing of the patronage system of fertilizer distribution that has hampered productivity in the state for years now. Perhaps more telling is his insistence on appointing seasoned technocrats, experts and passionate young men and women into his cabinet. From appointing the highly cerebral Prof. Andrew Nok as Commissioner for Education to the very passionate frontline women’s rights activist Mrs. Hadiza Bala Usman as his Chief of Staff to the 36 year old UN accomplished Muhammad Sani Abdullahi who sits as Commissioner for Budgeting and to 29 year old Special Assistant on Due Process, Hayatu Lawal, whose credibility I can vouch for, one is not left in doubt as to the preparedness and intentions of Gov. El-Rufai.  These for me form part of the crux on why El-Rufai should be supported entirely by the people of Kaduna.

El-Rufai-threatens-to-sue-newspaper-over-story-on-assets-declaration

Suffice to say, El-Rufai loves controversy and controversy loves El-Rufia as much; and it didn’t take more than a minute before he found himself caught up in the eye of another storm yet again. This time with the very large community of street hawkers and beggars; whom the Governor had given a marching order to stay off the streets of major Kaduna cities. This is in response to the spate of suicide attacks that have become recurring decimals in Kaduna and environs. Another knotty issue that has placed him head on with the local community is the state Government’s decision to embark on a land reclamation program; which auspiciously means demolition of every structure that is adjudged to have encroached into government land in schools, hospitals and other public institutions. No doubt, on the face of it, both policies seem fairly justified and even highly appropriate given the ambitious dream El-Rufai has for the state. However as with every state policy, there are downsides and side effects which every responsible and responsive government needs to fully take into consideration and come up with counter strategies to ensure the rights of the people is upheld and not abused. In the case of street hawking and begging, the government needs to do a holistic structural analysis as to the remote and immediate causes of such unfortunate phenomenon that has sadly become the face of most towns and cities in Northern Nigeria. This analysis would enable the government to come up with both short and long term solutions to this perennial problem.

Regarding the land reclamation program, what should be of utmost concern for state officials is the strict adherence to the extant laws in formulating and executing these policies. Like my sister and friend Hannatu Musawa drew out in her brilliantly written article, the state government cannot afford to sidestep the law in its pursuance of righting anomalies, no matter the urgency or temptation to do that. This will help it avoid a litany of court cases that it could be dragged into, which will inadvertently derail and frustrate the pace and agenda of the administration. I expect Governor El-Rufai to be discreet in wielding the big stick on property owners. I expect a thorough review of the policy with the objective of sorting the knotty and tricky issues of proper compensation to those property owners who legally acquired said properties. I expect that the government sensitizes and carries all stakeholders along in this arduous, painful but necessary task because no policy, no matter how well intended or fashioned out will bring about the desired results without the full corporation of the people it is hoped to benefit.

I was confounded lately when I read reports in the media about a rift between Governor El-Rufai and the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Comrade Shehu Sani. A few inquiries and it appeared that an ideological wedge had crept up between Governor and Senator on how best to lead the people of Kaduna, especially as regards the two issues earlier discussed. In subsequent interviews that followed, the Senator accused El-Rufai of being an ultra conservative rightist whose elitist grandstanding is inimical to the interests of the poor and downtrodden, a constituency to which he claims to belong and represent. Now I normally would not care to analyze this political friction between two adults, but I was somewhat taken aback by Shehu Sani’s invectives on the Governor. Judging by his years as a refined civil rights activist and freedom fighter that’s gone to hell and back, I expected Shehu Sani to handle whatever ideological differences between the two of them with grace and dignity by being a bit more sensitive and aware of unnecessary drama running to the media with mouth agape could cause.

Diplomacy and tact are rudiments of leadership, without which those who find themselves in such privileged stations end up making a total mess of it all. These are early days and it is rather premature for one to start getting enmeshed in such unnecessary conundrums. Initially I defended Shehu Sani’s rights to criticize the Kaduna State government especially seeing as how Elrufai’s groupie-fandom on social media began to savagely attack and pick him apart. But I too, must confess have grown disappointed in the man’s recklessness and penchant for unguarded and needless utterances in what can only and sadly be described as cheap shots at attention seeking and nothing more. What business is it of ours whether you stepped down for El-Rufai or not? What matters is that El-Rufai, for all the good and bad reasons, has been elected to serve his people, regardless of when, how and who stepped down for him or not. Populist grandstanding of the kind exhibited by Shehu Sani does not auger well for the health of the political clime. You don’t, as a leader, start a fire in the thick of summer. You don’t begin to set up a people against their government, which thus far has shown every desire to do nothing but promote their interest and well being. In all this, I must commend Governor El-Rufai for turning a deaf ear to Shehu Sani’s goading of him. If the intention of the Senator is to pick a fight, then I’m sorry, El-Rufai as earlier stated, loves BIG fights only.

At this critical point in time, constructive criticisms are what’s needed from stakeholders on how best to implement state policies and not tweeting bland subliminal poetic salvos at political enemies, both real and imagined. I will advise the Senator to concentrate on his role of formulating far reaching and important legislative bills and agenda for his constituency and leave the business of running the state to the duly elected executive officer. Indeed, our dear activist Senator will do well to allow sleeping camels lie.

 

Abdulmalik ‘KAIZEN’ Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq

DOGARASATION OF THE 8TH ASSEMBLY AS NORTHERN NIGERIA’S ELIXIR

DOGARASATION OF THE 8TH ASSEMBLY AS NORTHERN NIGERIA’S ELIXIR

Femi-Gbajabiamila-Dogara-Yakubu

“This victory that we celebrate today won’t have been possible without God, the Sultanate and others across the country. For us who are Christian minorities in the North, we should acknowledge that this victory we are celebrating here today was made possible by the intervention of the Sultan and others. We should know that there is a new thinking in the North. We owe it a duty to make sure we unite our own part of the country. My emergence as Speaker is as a result of the support of all major tribes of Nigeria, and all faiths”  Rt Hon. Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria

From a bitter but closely fought Speakership contest, to some WWF themed rancorous sessions, to a few jabs and punches and brazen attempts at carting away with the House mace; the 8th Assembly of the lower House couldn’t have taken off to a more tumultuous start. Last Wednesday’s fracas in the lower house was a national eye sore to say the least, made even more so by the presence of young students in the chamber at the time our (dis)Honourables were engaged in a free for all bout. But how did we get here? One might be tempted to ask.

 I do not intend to rehash the events of the past weeks that saw Hon. Yakubu Dogara from Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Constituency, Bauchi state emerge as the Speaker of the 8th Assembly of the Lower House, narrowly defeating Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila from Surulere 1 Constituency, Lagos State. But what played out that fateful day on our home screens across the country was a culmination of a tricky and quiet proxy war fought from the serenity of Bola Tinubu’s Bourdillon enclave in Ikoyi, Lagos all the way to the imperial palace of His Eminence, The Sultan of Sokoto. For most of us who followed the political processions quite keenly, we knew right from the APC victory of March 28th that the next political war frontier was the National Assembly Leadership race; though I must admit I didn’t anticipate the magnitude of the spectacle to be this gigantic and gripping. Both young, fine lawyers in their own rights, Femi and Dogara are both protégés of two men highly gifted and versed in the art of political scheming and power play. While Femi is seen as an out and out Tinubu man, Dogara is more or less considered by many a Tambuwal lackey. Both have long before now been fully prepared and pepped up for the Speakership job, that is why the idea of one stepping down for the other never ever came up. In the end, Hon Dogara, on the back of a united PDP front was able to just nick it, a situation reminiscent of how his friend and benefactor Governor Waziri Tambuwal became the Speaker of the 7th Assembly in 2011.

For the record, I did root for Femi Gbajabiamila to become Speaker. I have seen him on the floor of the House as head of the Minority, and more than once, he’s shown great candor, a measured temerity and a cerebral grasp of the issues at hand. I’ve heard not a few people describe him as a humble and natural leader of men. A friend of mine who’s well acquainted with him simply surmised; ‘Femi is really a decent human being’. Asides his personality, I also felt the APC as a party had every right to in a way determine who amongst its legislators becomes the Speaker of the House. This is standard practice in most democracies the world over. Of course how it went about it is subject to debate, but with Femi being officially adopted by the APC as its preferred candidate for the job, I felt there was a need for Hon. Dogara Yakubu and other contending actors to toe the party line and submit to its dictates. I believe for a fledgling democratic party like the APC, party discipline and supremacy ought to be upheld and made sacrosanct in order to achieve some sense of balance and calm. However, the deed is done and Rt Hon. Dogara Yakubu is today the number four citizen of Nigeria and it behooves on the APC leadership, warts and all, to start some getting used to the fact. On his part, Hon. Dogara Yakubu must begin the arduous task of first reconciling with over a hundred lawmaker colleagues of his from the APC who didn’t vote for him and still feel he betrayed the party by striking a deal with the PDP lawmakers; a task I must add he seems already handling quite well. Also he needs to reach out to his party and sort things out because he needs the party as much as the party needs him too.

My reason for today’s epistle is the impending consequences, if any, of Hon. Dogara’s speakership on the socio-political landscape of Northern Nigeria. By way of a premise, contrary to the widely held notion by most Southerners, Northern Nigeria is not a monolithic assemblage of Hausa-Fulani speaking Muslims only. Rather it is a disparate, multi-faith collection of people of different ethnic coloration who have lived together for centuries, in harmony and turmoil both. I find it rather jejune whenever Nigeria is reduced to the simple ‘Christian-South Muslim-North narrative’ by those who ordinarily should know better. That Hausa is the dominant language spoken by over two thirds of the people from Northern Nigeria doesn’t make everyone from that region a Hausa man or woman. In Adamawa State alone, there are well over twenty ethnicities, each having its own distinct identity, culture and norms. It is typical to find a Hausa speaking man from the heartland of Kano state who is a born Christian. Or a Christian Fulani grazer from Kebbi State who was born and brought up that way. These are facts we simply cannot wish away. Northern Nigeria must be understood and appreciated for its complexity and diversity; I believe that is the surest way to begin to solve the myriad of issues it’s contending with.

To say Northern Nigeria today is economically paralyzed is simply saying the obvious. With an impoverished and a growing hungry population haunted by an evil, murderous deviant group led by a half-crazed haranguing lunatic, Northern Nigeria is at its darkest and weakest moment ever. This woeful situation is rather paradoxical when one considers the ostentatious and lavish lifestyle lived by its minority political and social elite. Add ethno-religious intolerance to this volatile mix and what you have is a mistrustful and hateful conclave of poor people lacking a central voice and leadership; whom are constantly a hearsay away from maiming one another and razing valued properties in the name of religious riots.

Rt Hon. Yakubu Dogara is a Christian, an avowed one some say, from Bauchi state. He is of the Sayawa ethnic extraction from the Bogoro/Tafawa-Balewa axis of the State, a place notorious for its constant ethno-religious skirmishes and sustained heightened tensions between rival ethnic groups. In Bauchi State, it is true that people from that area by convention and tradition are not fully taken into account in the socio-political equation of the state. They have been relegated to the back burner for years now and are seen as pariahs. I know this for a certainty because being from Bauchi myself, I’ve witnessed firsthand how at the mention of Bogoro LGA, an individual is being looked upon with such disdain. This I must say is indeed quite regrettable and should be addressed if we are to make any head way going forward.   

In Northern Nigeria today, subtle and even more outright acts of marginalization is truly well in play in various communities. My good friend, Mark Amaza, a Christian from Borno State is very passionate about minority rights and has written quite extensively on the need for greater tolerance, respect and freedom to be afforded to other ethnicities other than the Hausa-Fulanis. Mark has severally claimed that it is rather seemingly impossible to get State permission to build Churches in certain parts of Borno State. And even the Hausa-Fulani themselves do suffer from this ethno-religious intolerance in certain communities where they find themselves in the minority. For instance, in Plateau State, the Hausa-Fulanis have been forced for years now to take a backseat and watch as affairs in the State are run by their Jukun and Birom ‘brothers’. They feel no sense of belonging or entitlement whatsoever. I have Hausa friends from Plateau State who cannot obtain Indigene certificates from their Local Governments Areas and usually have to cross over to neighboring Bauchi State to obtain one simply because they do not bear the names Dalong, Nwanchok and the likes. Getting an admission into State run educational institutions for the Hausa-Fulani community in Plateau is as impossible as a camel passing through the eye of a needle.

So what does a Yakubu Dogara Speakership mean in all of this? It simply means ‘hope’. The hope that a Northerner can grow to become whatever he or she aspires to be regardless of religion or ethnic background. The hope that the Leadership of the two major religions in the North, the Jama’tu Nasril Islam led by the Sultanate and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) can work together for a common purpose. The hope that this could be the ignition needed to spark off a long journey of soul searching, reaching out and healing of old and new wounds amongst the various ethnicities in Northern Nigeria.

In spite of this all, I am not naïve or oblivious of the great challenges that lie ahead. Hon. Yakubu Dogara becoming Speaker of the Hosue will not suddenly translate to Alhaji Ibrahim from Zamfara State liking and tolerating Mr. Tuluk from Adamawa State or vice versa. It will not suddenly stop these bands of restless young men across various Northern communities from torching the nearest church or mosque at the slightest provocation. It won’t suddenly quell the feeling of animosity and mistrust that has lingered on for centuries now in the hearts of men. However, what it can do in the interim is offer a window of opportunity for true healing and reconciliation. It is up to the relevant stakeholders to see this as what it is and try in every way possible to set the tone for a truly united Northern Nigeria, which shall usher in both economic and social prosperity. So help us God.

 

PS: The term ‘DOGARASATION’ first appeared in Malam Adamu Adamu’s article of Friday 26th June 2015 in Daily Trust Newspapers.

Abdulmalik ‘KAIZEN’ Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq…

THE GOODLUCK-BUHARI RELAY: THOSE DAMNED SHOELACES

THE GOODLUCK-BUHARI RELAY: THOSE DAMNED SHOELACES

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May 29th 2015, standing in the pavilion beside my good friend Rinsola Abiola, whose face was by then soaked in her tears, a smiling gap toothed, tall lanky septuagenarian waved to the crowd with clenched fist as he was chauffeured in a fancy military automobile round the Eagle Square, Abuja. General Muhammadu Buhari had just taken an oath to become the leader of the biggest black nation on earth. That singular act sent waves and waves of reverberations not just across Nigeria but the world over, as everyone heaved a huge sigh of relief that indeed Nigeria’s fledgling democracy had finally come of age. In between sobs and tears, Rinsola kept murmuring barely audible words, from which I picked out the phrase; ‘we made it’. That reminded me of the campaign period and how in my own little space, I became a vocal, visible and staunch advocate of the Buhari cause. I remembered how I jumped on the campaign train from Portharcourt, to Kano, Lagos and Abuja. I remembered the lavish fund raising dinner we had at Oriental Hotel in Lagos and how after much hassle with men my father’s age, I was able to get an epic selfie with the charming Daura born General. I remembered how my social media presence was riddled with the Buhari story, to a point where some loved ones felt I was too open for comfort in my advocacy for the Buhari Presidency. I was offered sincere advice to tone it down a bit for fear of any repercussions I could suffer in my place of work should Goodluck Jonathan win the elections instead. I remembered queuing up for hours under the scorching sun to vote and thereafter setting camp outside INEC office till the early hours of the next day when results from all seven (7) Local Government Areas in my zone were collated. I remembered keeping vigil in front of the TV as INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega meticulously led us on a journey of mathematics, time, precision and how to handle unforeseen work hazards like the ‘Orubebe quagmire’ he encountered. Remembering all that and more and standing there beside Rinsola and her teary eyed face was my proudest moment as a Nigerian.

And when finally President Muhammadu Buhari spoke, it was with that all too familiar stern, sincere and unwavering tone he is accustomed to. He made some pronouncements which fell between the bandwidth of the realistic and grandiose, occasionally sending the by then emotionally laden crowd into feats of hysteria whenever words like corruption, Boko haram and the likes left his mouth. But the highlight of that historic speech was perhaps when he said ‘I belong to everybody, and I belong to nobody’; an oxymoron of sorts pregnant with so much wisdom and message that it prompted a fierce international debate over whom it was specifically directed at. On twitter we, the twittering collective children of anger, all wondered just ‘who the owner of that sub was’.

 Time, though absolute in form, still remains a relative phenomenon based on what perspective one chooses to view it from. Three weeks into the Buhari presidency and the fairytale ‘honeymoon’ seems to be well and truly over. Nigerians are now split into two groups in their assessment of it. Notice how I said the Buhari ‘Presidency’ rather than the Buhari ‘government’, because in my opinion and perhaps that of the majority of Nigerians, we are yet to have a ‘new’ government. The first group, the vocal majority, to which I belong to, believe that President Buhari and his wobbly party the APC have failed to kickstart the engine of governance, giving rise to unnecessary speculation and volatility which is affecting his ratings and by extension the general health of the nation. The second group, the patient minority, to which my wife belongs to, believe that Buhari needs all the time in the world to get it right, arguing that after all life is a marathon and not a sprint. I sharply disagree with this line of thought because of its simplistic approach to the complex and dire situation of our nationhood. Think of it as a 4×4 relay race, where former (the irony in this title though) President Goodluck Jonathan, having sauntered rather erratically through the 400 meter track, has finally, with great difficulty and reluctance handed over the baton (Nigeria) to President Buhari and instead of maintaining the onward seamless motion, he’s rather stopped to…wait for it…’tie his shoe lace’ because he reasons that should he go on without tying his shoe lace, he might get tangled up and stumble on his tracks. While his fears are legit, I however fault the timing of it. President Buhari had 400 meters to tie his shoe lace as Goodluck Jonathan was running to handover the baton to him. Why wait till after the handover to start tying those damned shoelaces???

Regardless of the excuses given, from the late handing over of important official notes by the outgoing government and other sundries, President Buhari ought to have by now appointed key personal staff and a few advisers who should have swung into action with all the machismo and bravado of a government fully intent on tackling the pervasive lingering problems bedeviling Nigeria. Less I’m construed; by swift action, I do not mean that President Buhari should come up with a fast, cure-all formula for Nigeria’s diverse malaise, NO! I do not expect to see a drastic curbing of corruption within his first three weeks in office; neither do I expect a high surge in kilowatts of power generation. I do not expect a sudden disappearance of queues at the petrol stations or the worthless naira notes in my wallet appreciating in value overnight. On the contrary, I still expect to be shackled down by a drunken police constable should I refuse his demand of a fifty naira ‘for the boys’ token. I still expect to meet the same pothole which almost broke my car’s axle on my way to work the morning before. I still expect Arik Airline to arbitrarily delay my flight from Portharcourt to Abuja by EIGHT golden hours without the slightest courtesy as a ‘sorry for the inconvenience’. In spite of all these and more however, I expect that three weeks into the life of any government, a certain level of confidence should have been built up in the Nigerian psyche. I expect major announcements being made. I expect some fluidity and motion, even if it’s mere vibrations. I expect for instance, a state of emergency declared in the energy sector with a clear, fine blueprint of stringent measures to be taken to overhaul the sector with a mandate of bringing succor to the suffering Nigerian masses. Less for the Boko Haram issue which I laud President Buhari’s immediate and rapid response, the Presidency seems to be in a fix as to how to go about the other businesses of governance.

But get this straight, we might for our entire majority be wrong in our feelings towards the Presidency. Buhari might after all have a clear workable plan for Nigeria up his sleeves, waiting for the right moment to unleash and ‘wow’ us all. Unfortunately for him and his people, a successful government is run based on both facts and perception. Ask former President Goodluck Jonathan on the role of perception management in governance, and you will get a solemn treatise on what could, might, and ought to have been done differently to save his failed legacy. His uncontrollable consistent gaffes and that of his wife, the established cold nonchalance of his government to the plight of Nigerians and an inept reactionary media crew all served up to set him up for the historic plummeting he took at the polls in March. Sometime ago, I had an interesting conversation with a direct and one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Goodluck administration. After a long back and forth over the performance of his benefactor, I got tired and asked him to sincerely look at the growing number of people falling below the poverty line, people who can hardly feed much less cloth or shelter themselves. To which he answered, to my chagrin, that this is a normal routine and trend the world over. That as long as we have a capitalist system in place, there will always be a growing number of both the RICH and POOR classes. That conversation for me summed up the Goodluck administration. While Nigerians saw rising poverty, the Jonathaninas saw rising wealth. While we cried over Boko Haram, they rejoiced over old refurbished locomotives. While we pointed to growing unemployment, they screamed ‘biggest economy in Africa’. And so it went, until karma, in its habitual blatant manner, settled our case finally in JEGA’s majestic electoral court.

 Inherent in all these is a lesson worth learning for President Buhari and his people. They should never isolate themselves from the feelings of the Nigerian people. They shouldn’t build tall fortresses of illusions and grandeur to surround themselves from us. They should rather extend a loving hand of trust to the Nigerian people and break the cycle of mistrust between the government and its people. They should build a formidable proactive media team that is able to discern where the current flows and lead us in line.

Finally, a good leader needs to at every moment in time be able to read the mood of the nation and key into that and sway the tide favorably to his side. Call it propaganda, good PR, deception or whatever word you can find in your dictionaries, but President Buhari needs to take charge and come out to lead Nigerians with as much vision, gusto and surety never witnessed before in the life of the Nigerian state. This is so much needed because never has the nation’s resources seem eerily meager compared to its over bloated idling population. Regardless, this bleak present has never seen a brighter future. So help us God.

Abdulmalik ‘KAIZEN’ Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq…

EXTREMISM: A BABY WEANED ON THE PULPITS OF NIGERIA’S CHURCHES AND MOSQUES

EXTREMISM: A BABY WEANED ON THE PULPITS OF NIGERIA’S CHURCHES AND MOSQUES

Jonathan-Adeboye-2

In Nigeria today, we are all extremists. Extremists in our prayers, extremists in our pilgrimages, extremists in our fasting and extremists in every way we approach religion. Asides Abu Shekau and his marauding band of lunatics, who display their brand of extremism through violent animalistic tendencies; Nigerians, generally display theirs in different fashions with varying degrees of finesse. My dear friends, religious extremism is simply the abuse of religion, whether inadvertently or not, whether for selfish, inordinate gains or for honest, altruistic means.

As I type this, I’m certain renowned agnostics and atheists like Richard Branson, Stephan Hawking, Julainne Moore, Keira Knightley and even our very own latter day atheists like Mubarak Bala are having a field day mocking us and God; not because God is deserving of their mockery but rather as a result of what we have turned God and religion into in Nigeria today. Nigerians are perhaps the most religious people on earth today. Indeed, the first export outside Nigeria after corruption is its unflinching religiosity. Religion, or the sense of it, permeates every sphere of our daily lives so much so that a first time visitor to Nigeria could be forgiven for thinking that Nigeria is one huge religious carnival, because of the sheer number of churches and mosques around.  I’m no statistician, but if the number of churches and mosques per head is an indicator of a people making heaven, then I’m sure Nigerians have already booked their first class ticket for that heavenly journey. Now before I am labeled a heretic and clamped down upon, let me state for the record that I am an avowed Muslim, a practicing one. I say my prayers five times a day and try as much as possible to live by the dictates of my religion. However, we must as a people begin to ask ourselves the painful and hard questions. Questions like why, despite the millions of daily prayers we send to God for over a century now, are we still ravaged by poverty, war, hate, hunger, diseases, and a countless other malaise afflicting our nation? Why, despite our songs, praises and dance are thousands of Nigerians killed yearly by preventable road accidents, collapsed buildings, armed robbery, and kidnappings? Why, despite the millions of Nigerians keeping night vigils in worship places every Friday of every week for the past 100 years, do corruption, impunity, bribery, theft and social injustice and inequality still persist? Why, despite the millions of those of us that travel for holy pilgrimages, do lies, enmity, bigotry and ritual killings, pervade our social lives? Why, despite having God bless us with crude oil, have we chosen to import refined petroleum products instead? Why, despite spending over $20bn on electrical power, do we still have darkness all around the country? Why despite our claim to God, does God seemingly favor other somewhat ungodly States over us? Why, despite our unabashed ‘love’ for God has God simply refused to ‘love’ us back? My quick answer to all these is nothing but the way we reach out to God and our sense of (un)organized religion. From my little understanding of God, I believe we are his vicegerents on earth, sent to carry out his works and assignments here. That if he finds it pleasing and worthy enough, he admits us into his gardens beneath which rivers flow. Otherwise, we suffer the consequences thereof. In Nigeria today, we seem to have this simple logic twisted in and out, so what obtains today is that we have collectively abdicated our responsibilities to God alone and expect him alone to solve our myriad of issues and still be benevolent enough to admit us into his gardens. Now I am not insinuating in any way that what we ask for is beyond God, what I’m simply saying is we cannot box God into a corner and expect him to submit to our whims and caprices which are out of his divine plan for us. When God commands that we be fair and just in our dealings with others, Nigerians would rather cheat and take the shorter route and still expect God to ‘move’ our ministry. When God says educate yourselves, so you can build bridges, roads and hospitals; Nigerians would rather remain illiterates, unproductive and lazy and yet we still wonder why nations like Dubai, Turkey and other lesser countries treat us with contempt and draft up stringent VISA policies to restrict us from going to their countries. When God declared a five (5) year bonanza on high oil prices, serious nations were busy either saving for rainy days or building lasting infrastructure while Nigeria was busy producing jet flying clergies and declaring a free for all ‘chopping’ season from the Northern Sahel down to the Niger Delta creeks . Today we are rattled by a collapsing economy and looming hardship that is set to consume us all if informed, responsible and decisive steps are not taken.

Now back to Nigeria’s different brands of religious extremism. Off the top of my head I can cite at least a dozen examples; I’m sure you have more. I don’t know what you will call it, but I see extremism when a leader, for good five years, absconds from his cardinal responsibilities of leading a people with truth and a will to serve, only to appear in several church gatherings weeks to his reelection, knees on ground, face sober and calling on ‘men of God’ to pray for him and the nation. I see an even worse form of extremism when these so called ‘men of God’, who ordinarily, should know better oblige him and tacitly endorse and ask their congregation to support him; not minding that this is a man who in all respects has failed in his duties to both man and God. I see a pitiable form of extremism when the gullible congregation ‘receives’ these ‘prayers’ hook, line and sinker with extreme fervor not realizing the series of nocturnal meetings and monetary transactions that precede such brazen mockery of the kingdom of God.

I see extremism when an Imam, bearded of face and holy book in hand, mounts the pulpit to urge young men and women to join Osama bin Laden and his ilk and spends half his sermon calling out and shaming public officials only to be found months later feeding fat on government contracts offered by same public officials he ridicules and soliciting for casual relationships with young women from his hotel room in London. I feel a certain form of religious extremism when young men and women of productive age, whom out of sheer docility just sit on their behinds and become idle societal degenerates and watch as the world flies by with the silly hope that ‘God will provide’. No I’m sorry but God will not provide. God will rather hold on to his bounties, until that moment in time when you are ready to innovatively apply yourself and become a useful component of the society. I find it extremely extreme when a tepid President in cahoots with his political party and the national security apparatus deliberately subverts the electoral process only for some people in leadership position to come out advising Nigerians to take it in good faith, that it is nothing but the ‘will of God’. Such uncharitable toying with the name of God is rather despicable and unfortunate.

Nigerians, though religious, disrespect God highly. They mock his majesty by their skewed and insipid understanding of his grace and mercy. They hide behind the garb of religion and commit all sorts of atrocities imagined. This is why today we have con men in flashy suits and pants with burnt hair making a fortune off unsuspecting ‘religious’ Nigerians. It is same reason why we have scammers in long overflowing robes and turbans at the corridors of power hoodwinking the greedy with outlandish tales of fortune and blessings that only feed their ego. Until Nigerians get serious with God and religion and understand that he has ordained for us truth, hard work, justice and other societal values, then I’m afraid we will only keep moving between these religious extremes; blind, deaf and dumb. So help us GOD.

 

Abdulmalik Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq. Do follow. Thank you…

THE APC: A PARTY COUNTING ITS VOTES BEFORE THEY ARE CAST

THE APC: A PARTY COUNTING ITS VOTES BEFORE THEY ARE CAST

APC LOGO

 

“…I can assure you that we (APC) will win between 28 to 30 states on the first ballot…”

                                                                                                Senator Chris Ngige 

“…we have visited so far 32 states and I can assure youth that we (APC) will win in all of them”.

An APC Chieftain in Admawa

“baba me I just dey wait for Baba Buhari’s inauguration…”

                                                                                                Aliyu, a University student

           

These are interesting times to be in Nigeria indeed; that despite the dual headaches of insecurity and a crippling economy, Nigerians, millions of them are upbeat about the prospects and possibilities of the coming general elections scheduled a few days from now. That for the first time in Nigeria’s democratic journey, we have a fledgling opposition party dragging and urging a somewhat reluctant and deflated self-acclaimed ‘biggest’ party in Africa to participate in the coming polls, is indeed somewhat short of a miracle. That a party in power for almost two decades is accusing an electoral body it set up entirely by itself of bias against it, is simply dumbfounding. That an incumbent who gleefully signed a peace accord at the behest of the international community will throw all caution to the wind and resort to cheap blackmail, mudslinging, and religious polarization of the electorate against his opponent is truly beyond me. That the government is shadowy and aggressively pushing- by proxy- for ways to scuttle the electoral process either through its postponement or other shady means yet to be made manifest, is frankly perplexing. Perplexing yes, but not unexplainable. I have written here of how the President, by his actions and inactions is General Buhari’s chief campaign officer. The President has simply squandered all the goodwill accrued to him 5 years ago. What we are seeing today is a very strong political structure (PDP), imploding and undoing itself because it has over-stretched its capacity for impunity and abuse of democratic ideals, both within and without.

The PDP’s travails have incidentally coincided with the birth of a new political structure (APC) determined to wrestle power away from it. The PDP malaise (read impunity) and internal contradiction (read zoning wahala) were allowed to fester for too long, and has allowed the APC time to grow in strength and confidence. That Nigerians today are unanimously crying for ‘change’ in whatever size, age, or qualification (LOL) is an indictment on the PDP and its years of waste and jamboree. That the APC-a caricature of strange bedfellows wedded by necessity- is seen by most Nigerians as the better alternative speaks volumes of how low the PDP has dropped the bar. I digress.

Today, I’d like to dwell on the APC and the newfound confidence (read cockiness) exhibited by its officials, members and sympathizers over the upcoming general elections. Buoyed by its boisterous and frenzied domination of the media, especially the new media, the APC along with its teeming neophyte volunteer groups are in their minds ready to move into the Aso Rock Villa in a few days. Indeed, the positive feedback from a plethora of quasi opinion polls, both online and off, has also gone a long way in nudging the feeling in the APC that FeBuhari 14 is but a formality. I’ll have to admit that indeed I have also been caught up in this web of cockiness. I have at various times declared that the elections is fait accompli, judging by the mood of the nation at this moment; but it will be foolhardy for anyone to think that the PDP will just lie like a carcass and allow the APC to just stampede over it and march on to victory.

But perhaps more than anything, what serves to feed this unbridled optimism in the APC camp is the tremendous outpouring of goodwill from millions of Nigerians across the length and breadth of the country. I have followed keenly the APC Presidential rallies across the country and even had the privilege of attending one or two, and I must say that the passionate reception accorded the APC Presidential campaign team is perhaps unprecedented in the history of Nigerian politics. Even in key PDP states like Benue, Kogi and Ondo, the frenzy and love which the average man on the street has shown the APC train is simply amazing. If elections were held on the basis of rally turnouts, then I must say the APC has nicked this one. The APC campaign reminds me pretty much of the Obama ‘Yes We Can’ campaign in many respects; from the innovative crowd funding strategy, to the deft use of social media and the engaging of thousands of volunteer foot soldiers, it is obvious the APC has studied the Obama ‘blueprint’ quite keenly. The APC has been able to appeal to a new bloc of voters in their millions whom hitherto have been somewhat apolitical and skeptical of the country’s political system. Indeed a friend of mine who is despite voting for President Jonathan recently admitted that the APC campaign is simply exciting.

Now this is where it gets serious, that inspite of all that I have said above, the APC is not home and dry yet, in fact in my humble opinion, it is far from it. That indeed it is possible, very much so in fact, for the APC to lose these elections fairly and squarely to the PDP. I’ll explain how. The story is being told of the unforgettable 2005 Champions League final match in Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul between AC Milan and Liverpool FC football clubs. Leading by three goals to nil heading to the break, the AC Milan dressing room was a carnival of sorts, with some players reportedly even popping bottles of champagne as Head Coach Carlo Ancelloti was giving the halftime team talk. He had to reprimand and remind them that the battle isn’t won and dusted just yet. After 15 minutes of team talk, the 2nd half whistle was blown by referee Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez and the rest as they say is history. The APC today stands at the cusp of history, but like AC Milan, the battle is not won just yet. There is a very thin line between confidence and cockiness. While confidence allows you to realize your capacity and also appreciate that of your opponent, cockiness on the other hand exaggerates your capacity and seemingly lessens that of your opponent.The consequence of this can be found in another analogy I wish to share if you would permit me. At the famous battle of Uhud, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had instructed some of his men to station themselves atop the hill of Uhud and await further orders. Upon sensing victory, some of these men, overconfident, abandoned post in quest for war bounty and that singular act turned the battle on its head and cost the Muslims victory on that fateful day. This is similarly what the APC is walking into. Sure, drumming up tales of victory, as encapsulated in the three statements by APC officials and enthusiasts at the beginning of this article, is a shrewd and effective strategy that saps the confidence and energy of your opponent heading into any battle. However, equally more important is the key aspect of matching such grandiose victory tales with uncommon action and commitment. I’ll have to admit, the APC as a party has thus far shown tremendous capacity and resolve to square up to the PDP pound for pound; what I am worried about is the attitude of its avowed cult-like followers who seem to so far just enjoy the carnival with candy in hand cheering idly the APC to victory albeit from the sidelines. There was this one time I had an hour long passionate lamentation with a friend on the pitiable state of the country and how it is ripe for a 3600 turn around. Before saying goodbye, exhausted, I casually asked if he had his PVC or made any attempt to collect it; Hmmmm, let’s just say I was left hugely disappointed. But my friend’s story is not an isolated one, so many exuberant young men and ladies today desire for ‘change’ but they want it served on a platter with a milkshake to go with it. And if you think the PDP will accord you such five star world-class reception, then my friend I pray you wake from your doomed slumber. In case you are reading this and still lost as to my fears for the APC and the possible rude shock (God forbid) that awaits it, post-elections, I’ll indulge you and give you a lowdown of just how the PDP, seemingly battered, could still claw its way from the jaws of defeat and deal a decisive blow to our collective aspirations. Let’s be clear about one thing, the PDP has never been known to fight fair. Even when it is poised to coast to victory as in the 2011 general elections, the PDP had to make sure it was a decisive one by systematically toying and tempering with electoral figures. So no flamboyant ‘peace’ accord signed for the cameras will make it abandon its tried and tested tactics. Not even globetrotting America’s Secretary of State John Kerry can ‘talk’ the PDP out of employing all the subterfuge measures at its disposal to ‘win’ this elections. Make no mistake; the PDP’s old age mantra of ‘do-or-die’ politics is still very much alive and kicking despite the President’s pretentiousness to the contrary. Allow me to make this point clear, for the typical Nigerian who dreams and yearns of a departure from the status quo, an APC defeat means simply the death of that hope and dream, and all he needs to do is to wake up and recoil back into that hard knock life he is well accustomed to. However, for one to truly understand the costs and consequences of a PDP defeat to its members and beneficiaries, one has to put oneself in their newly acquired shoes (LOL). Theirs is like Manchester United or Real Madrid being relegated to the lower leagues. It is simply not fathomable or acceptable. It potentially marks an end to their lazy avarice and primitive acquisition of the national wealth. It marks the beginning of a long and overdue political exile for most of them. For the docile ones amongst them, whose only trade is feeding fat on inflated, bogus government contracts and patronage and who incidentally form the majority; a PDP defeat simply means a stagnated life of nothingness and mediocrity, as they lack the relevant skills set to apply themselves and make tangible strides of their efforts. That, my friends is what a PDP defeat means to Nigeria’s teaming elites.

So heading into the final lap of the race to Aso Rock, expect more dirt being thrown by the ruling party, expect more phantom groups calling for all sorts of absurdities to derail the electoral process, expect a dozen kangaroo courts being set up by questionable judges deficient in character ready to pronounce ‘miracle’ judgments against the opposition, expect more military and DSS crackdown on opposition figures. With the ruling party armed with a war chest the size of a country’s budget, expect billions of our national wealth exchanging hands, expect bags of rice buying human souls, expect corrupt INEC officials looking the other way, expect all manner of expectations from the PDP and its acolytes.

All these however shouldn’t dampen the spirits of a people determined to forge ahead. So beyond the fanfare of posting pictures online with the outlandish ‘iHaveDecided’ catch-phrase, I expect Nigerians desirous of change to walk into this final electioneering lap with cautious optimism and an uncanny resolve to effect that change which they seek. I expect Nigerians to ‘go to the mattresses’ with all that they have. I expect eligible voters to collect their PVCs and encourage others to do the same. I expect voters en masse to come out and vote and protect their votes. So for APC and its change agents, indeed it is too early in the day to begin counting its votes before they are cast. So help us God.

 

Abdulmalik Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq. Do follow, thank you…

THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH: ANATOMY OF A DROWNING MAN

THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH: ANATOMY OF A DROWNING MAN

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It is said that for most people, there come moments in their lives when certain events happen which unravel their inner selves for the whole world to see and consume and which will go on forever to define their true being and core. For our dear President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan these moments are coming in the speeches he’s been giving of late as he seeks another four (4) year mandate from the people of Nigeria. Hear him:

“How much did Jim Nwobodo stole? (sic) Money (sic) not up to the price of a Peugeot and Buhari (sic) regime send (sic) him to jail; is that good enough?”

“They came with promises but immediately they came in, what they did was to jail Jim Nwobodo for 301 years.”

“…they said that is the way to fight corruption. So immediately I suspect your uncle, I can just crate him and throw him into Kirikiri. Is that the way to stop corruption?”

 “In 1983/84, what they called discipline as a post-graduate student instead of reading my book, the whole night I queued up to buy two tins of milk. And they say that is discipline.”

“We cannot run the government as if we are in the medieval age; we cannot run a government where somebody said he would throw people into jail. You are not a medieval king…”

“What happened in December was that IPPIS, software for processing salaries, — sometimes people steal through salaries- and some federal government agencies including some ministries tried to divert funds to pay some allowances. The system is scientific, it is not a human being, and as long as money meant for salaries is about to be diverted to other things, it shuts down. Those departments of government were shut down; this is the only way that you can prevent corruption.”

“And somebody who wakes up and tells young people of 23 years old that he wants to fight insecurity, ask him when he was the head of government did he buy one rifle for a Nigerian soldier.”

The above statements credited to our President at the PDP Presidential Rallies in Lagos and Enugu last week perhaps more than ever give us a clear insight into the mind of the man charged with the responsibility of leading Nigerians to the ‘promised’ land. His philosophy about stealing as can be deducted therefrom is not really in the deed itself but rather in the quantum of it. That is why he wonders why a man like Jim Nwobodo will be locked up in jail for stealing an amount not more than the worth of a common Peugeot vehicle. Mr. President was amazed that the Buhari led government could sentence Jim Nwobodo to three hundred and one (301) years in jail! It sounds so sacrilegious that an individual could be subjected to such ‘cruelty’ for mere stealing. He thinks only a ‘medieval king’ like Buhari can carry out such acts of cruelty. Personally I excuse the President for his bewilderment at Buhari’s ‘medieval’ acts; for how do you expect a man like himself with no sense of history, both modern and ancient to grasp and appreciate the import of the justice system the world over. I’m sure he hasn’t read about Chamoy Thipyaso, a Thai lady who in 1989 was given the world’s longest sentence for corporate fraud of 141,078 years. Allow me to bring our dear President to America, whose aura and modernism seem to tickle his fancy every now and then. I doubt our President has heard of Bernard Madoff and his infamous Ponzi scheme and how the ‘medieval’ US justice system sentenced him to one hundred and fifty (150) years in jail. Another American, Dwight York, leader of the Nuwaubian Nation religious group was convicted of child molestation and financial crimes and eventually sentenced to one hundred and thirty-five (135) years in jail. Instances of these and more litter the pages of history; if only our President would care to pick up a book today. Left to Mr. President no person should have to go to the famous ‘kirikiri’ maximum security prison. Perhaps this explains why despite the unprecedented cases of graft and fraud that’s been perpetrated and uncovered under his government, no single Minister or Aide of his has been charged to court much less convicted of any wrongdoing. For Jonathan, the unaccounted $20bn in the NNPC is a mere token that doesn’t warrant any hullabaloo or much ado. The N32.8bn pension scam is mere kids’ play that probably deserves a stern warning and nothing more. His outlook about stealing is the reason why Stella Oduah, a former Aviation Minister, is on her way to the hallowed Senate chambers and not the Kirikiri Prison in spite of her role in the BMW bulletproof car scam. That is also why his political godfather DSP Alamieyeseigha, an infamous, cross-dressing, cross-Atlantic money launderer was granted State pardon and like Stella is also headed to the Senate chambers. It is also why his ‘darling’ Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke is easily able to secure surreptitious court injunctions against appearing before the National Assembly despite the staggering questions of abuse of office looming over her head. Perhaps one has to steal in astronomical figures, say our National Budgets worth, before one is deemed as deserving of a slap on the wrist by this government.

The statement regarding his disdain of having to queue up ‘the whole night’ to buy two tins of milk during General Buhari’s regime reveals his personal discipline or the lack of it thereof. At a time when such universal ethos of discipline, righteousness, and commitment are totally missing in every sphere of our national lives, one expects the number one citizen to be able to stay off-board and project a sense of character worthy of emulation. I wonder what I’d tell my 7-year-old nephew tomorrow if he tries to shunt a line after he’s watched his President on TV crassly disapproving of queuing up in line. A President, asides giving executive orders is first and foremost a role model worthy of emulation. He is the one we all look up to when lofty virtues have become scarce and ill manners have blown off the roof. But what then happens to a society where rather than personify such virtues, the President is choosing to tow the line of a common motor park tout?

Something the President said in Enugu that made me fall to my knees crying and laughing at the same time was the issue of late payments of salaries for December 2014. The reason he proffered for this was as incongruous as it was ludicrous to say the least. Citing the fact that his administration has developed an ingenious way of ridding out payment of ghost workers from the salary schedule of Federal government workers by introducing an IT based centralized payment system which some -in his own words- ‘IT boys’ came up with, the President attributed the late payments to attempts by some heads of parastatals to access the system to ‘not necessarily steal but maybe’ pay out some allowances which caused the system to lock itself, thus causing the delay. Walayi when I heard him struggling to mumble those words, time seemed to stop for a moment as I froze thinking ‘what tha hell did I just hear?’ I concluded that either the President scanned his audience and decided to play on their foolishness as they cheer him on or he is totally out of his depths and has lost touch of reality all together. So the President would want us to believe that all heads of Federal government parastatals tried accessing the platform and that all of them got locked out and that for several days, his ‘IT boys’ were unable to unlock the system? How a President seeking reelection can mount the podium and tell such bare-faced stupid lies is absolutely beyond me; but we move on. Asides appearing unnecessarily agitated and angry, the President made several statements that frankly were quite shocking and unbecoming of his office. Having charged the opposition to running an issue based campaign and leave the mudslinging, one would expect the President to in the least let his attack dogs instead; the Okupes, Renos and FFKs to drive the dirty side of his campaign.

On his claim that no government had equipped the armed forces like his and even going ahead to suggest that the Buhari administration did not buy one rifle for a ‘Nigerian soldier’, I feel the President unwittingly shot himself in the foot; for no sooner had he made those claims, than records began to surface online showing that indeed the amount of weapons purchased by General Buhari’s government in one year was more than what his administration purchased in three years. To think that this boastful claims and grandstanding is coming from a Commander-in-Chief that has consistently refused to lead from the front, deciding to rather keep a safe distance away from ground zero, is not only laughable but highly disappointing.  Again I urge the President to borrow a leaf from his almighty America; where its Presidents are known to every once in a while pay visits to troops at the war front just to shore up morale.

Like the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola once remarked, this elections is a referendum on Goodluck Jonathan’s performance in office; nothing more, nothing less. It is an X-ray into the last six (6) years of this administration, to critically assess it on the issues that matter to most Nigerians. To modify James Carville’s famous phrase, ‘it’s the insecurity and economy stupid!’ At a time when most Nigerians, especially those in the Northeast sleep with their eyes open in fear of insurgent attacks, when more than a million people have lost their homes and have become refugees in their own land, when more than ten thousand souls have perished due to acts of terrorism the last year alone, when virtually the economy of the Northeast has been decimated by war, when Nigerians watch helplessly as the naira takes a downward plunge by the day and people in droves are being pushed further below the poverty line, when sacred elite cows are shielded and supported by the State to loot the country dry and jet around the world in their private aircraft, when job seekers are being led by government officials to their graves on the pretext of job interviews, when executive recklessness takes center stage and tramples upon citizens rights of free speech and assembly, at a time when all these and more affect the Nigerian voter, the President has nowhere to hide and must come clean and explain to Nigerians why they should trust him with another four years. So the President can go about blaming the whole world but himself of the ills and wrongs affecting the nation, one thing he cannot wish away though is the issues on the minds of most Nigerians. The Nigerian voter, admittedly not the most sophisticated, knows to a certain degree exactly that which he wants for himself, which is nothing more but a better and dignified life.

Concluding, personally I feel the President is making it easier by the day for the opposition with the way he’s going about with his speeches. I have opined that General Buhari’s chief campaign officer is none other than the President himself. It is his gross incompetence and shambolic handling of the Nigerian State for the past six (6) years that serve as a beacon of light shining the path for General Buhari to Aso Rock. And for Goodluck Jonathan to unwittingly unravel himself the way he does through those shoddy excuse for speeches is like gift wrapping the presidency to the General even before the race has started. See you all on 14th FeBuhari.

 

Abdulmalik Ibrahim tweets as @ibmaleeq. Do follow, thank you…