Exclusive: The will of the people shall prevail 

By Muyiwa Olayinka

“Let the will of God prevail over our land”This is Nigerians’ prayer. Nigerians are deeply religious. God does not make mistakes, it is the people that make mistakes. God gave us the power to choose our leaders. Diid we make a blunder in voting Mr President in 2015, with present state of things in Nigeria? Nigeria remains more divisive since independence in 1960.

The government derives its authority from the sovereignty given by Nigerians.

The sovereignty lies with the people, it can be exercised constitutionally, if President Buhari fails to fulfill his campaign promises.

There had been calls for restructuring and federalism. Unfortunately, the President has been adamant and resistance to the call. He refused to set the machineries in motion to adhere to the wishes of the people. He has repeatedly spurned the demand. The President is so brazen in his hard stance because there is no provision, within the constitution to force him to do the needful.

By being rigid, the President has polarized the nation along ethnic and religious lines. There are discordant tunes among the different ethnic groups. He has not helped matters with his body language and his actions in office

Through his pronouncements and appointments into political offices, he has either consciously and unconsciously, put the interest of his ethnic group over others.

His party, APC, in its manifesto, made restructuring one of the cardinal pillars of the party, but as the political leader of the party, he has consistently jettisoned it.

The party lacks mechanism to force the President to implement it. The party is so fractious that the Board of Trustee, meant to be advisory organ, is yet to be inaugurated two years after it forms the government.

One needs to understand President Buhari’s political evolution in order to understand his political philosophy. He represents the core conservative northern Nigeria that wants to maintain the status quo. What is the status quo?

The Hausa Fulanis of the northern region had always believe the nation belongs to them and others regions are seen as appendages of Nigeria. The northern region were given more representatives, at the Federal level, as a result of its land mass. This lopsided arrangement was initiated by the colonial leaders before independence. Currently, the northern region has more states, collects more revenue from the Federation account. It has more representatives at the federal parliament than the southern region.

This has been sustained over a long period of time through dubious and acrimonious national census figures. In addition, the election that brought Buhari to power was based on sectional sentiments. It was not out of place when Buhari maintained he would consider the 97% of people that voted for him against the 5% that voted against him.

Instructively, the northern part of Nigeria voted for him massively in the 2015 general elections against his opponent from the southern part of Nigeria.

His predecessor and opponent in 2015 election, Dr Goodluck Jonathan conducted a national conference in 2014 in an attempt to solve some of the nagging national problems.

The conference paraded a broad spectrum of brightest Nigerians that cut across all spheres of human endeavor. The document was submitted but was not implemented before the general elections of 2015. I questioned the sincerity of Jonathan in organizing the conference. Jonathan’s sincerity was in doubt because he did not make any attempt to implement any of the recommendations before he lost his reelection.

Nevertheless, the document made far reaching recommendations. Many Nigerians have called for the implementation of the draft document but President Buhari has vehemently refused. Sadly the document is gathering dust at the national archives.

He came to government with a mindset to maintain the stronghold of power for the north. He has never hidden the desire of making up for times lost by the north, as a result of the untimely death of his brother and kinsman, former President, Umaru Musa Yar’adua.

Unfortunately, Buhari has been bedeviled of an undisclosed illness.. He had been receiving treatments in a London hospital.

He practically relocated abroad to attend to his failing health. The consequence of not tackling perceived marginalization and restructuring has made the Igbos (from the south east), consistently calling for secession from the federation.

In the north, the Arewa Youth Vanguard in Kaduna, gave the Igbo residents a terminal date of October 1 to exit. Some sections of the Yorubas (from south west) are calling for Oduduwa nation, and sadly too, the Niger Deltans (from the south south) were asking all non indigenes to leave their region. All these agitations were mounting when Mr President was receiving medical treatment abroad.

President Buhari eventually spent 104 days in London before returning . When he came back, many were relieved, expectant that their leader would have a change of heart, be able to heal wounds and mend broken fences. Many lined the streets of Abuja, Kano, Bauchi, and Katsina (his home state) to celebrate his return and welcome him back.

The rejuvenated Mr President, as the father of the nation, should have closed ranks, acts like an elder statesman and reconcile all warring factions.

Instead he made a national broadcast, giving orders to heads of security agencies to ensure security and enforce the unity of the nation at all costs

In his words, he said “Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood. The National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse.

The national consensus is that, it is better to live together than to live apart. I am charging the Security Agencies not to let the successes achieved in the last 18 months be a sign to relax”.

Many felt that the speech was vague and somewhat arrogant.

They were disappointed with the broadcast because it fell short of the expectations of many Nigerians. The expectation is that the President would use his authority and his experience to address the challenge thrown up by a quit notice given to the people belonging to a particular ethnic group in a section of the country. They thought he could have called to order the purveyors of hate speech, not only in a particular section but across board.

It was offensive to the sensibilities of Nigerians because it failed to address national discourse during his long sojourn abroad. Such vexed issues such as worsening separatists agitations, federalism and restructuring, security and national cohesion.

With his address he failed to gauge the mood of the nation and lost the opportunity to redeem the autocratic image of his government.

Former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili tweeted the President missed a golden opportunity to address the national question. The leader of foremost Yoruba leader and a member of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said the President did not gauge the mood of the nation before making that address.

The truth is that we can not be living a lie in Nigeria. The hardline posture of Mr President will inadvertently drive the agitators of secession and separation underground and the consequence may be catastrophic. Mr President ought to learn from countries like Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, that are fighting internal wars.

Since the inception of the fourth republic that started on May 29th 1999, successive governments have failed to address the fundamental issues. Issues like devolution of powers to the federating states, resource control, empowering the local government units and expunging obnoxious laws that negate the principles of federalism from our constitution have been on the front burner.

Past governments have persistently avoided all these contentious issues by paying lip service and applying cosmetic approach. Buhari made it worse by foreclosing the discussion of these issues.

Nigeria cannot run away from these problems. We must create a conducive atmosphere to sit down to discuss them. No amount of military might, martial laws or issuance of decrees will subjugate the will of the people. The earlier we know this, the better. It is better to jaw jaw than to war war.

No matter how highly placed such individual could be, including Mr President, he cannot have the monopoly of knowledge, or wiser than majority of Nigerians. Defending the interest of his ethnic stock against the interest of rest of the nation will boomerang. I hope this resistances do persistent cries of marginalization will not push this country to the brink of precipice.

The northern resistance will bow to the general will of the people. Even President Buhari’s stubborn posture cannot stop the will of the people.

The will of the people shall prevail, it is only a matter of time.

 

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The power of civil disobedience and collective protests.

By Muyiwa Olayinka

I once said that the Resume or campaign contributed to the quick return of Mr President. He felt their impact in Europe that he had to do something really quick about it.

He packed his luggage and ran back home because he knew the protest will turn out to be messy and embarrassing

While responding to some of the governors visiting him in Aso rock, a newspaper reported this:

Some Nigerians in the UK had held an all night protest against Buhari ’s long absence from Nigeria at the Abuja House between 5pm on Friday , August 18 and 9 am on Saturday, August 19, 2017, asking him to either return to Nigeria to resume work or resign so as to allow a more capable person to lead the country . During his meeting with governors , Buhari , however, said, “ I am very happy with the national prayers that cut across religions and ethnicity ; people were praying. “ In fact , some groups in London came and sang the national anthem and asked that I should go back home. Indeed , I have come back home. I hope those who went there are not stuck there. (I hope ) they will come back and join us. “ Those that are stuck there with the Brexit , I hope they have weighed the implications that it won’ t affect them , including those that have property there. “ Those who are not paying tax here; I hope when they sell their property there, they will bring some of the money here. We need it very badly here .”

This is to tell you that you are consequential in the affairs of your country.

The people living in Europe know the power of protest. It is really sad that Nigerians at home do not know their rights. While Charly Boy was protesting many did not agree to join his protest. He was castigated and ridiculed.  He accused his fellow artist, 2face Idibia, of not joining the protest. Some even said his “mumu” just started when he was nearly killed at Wuse market in Abuja.

Even in social media, some people in a mischievous manner posted some old pictures of Charly Boy when he rode on a bike with the then President Good luck Jonathan. They were inferring as if he was being sponsored by Good luck Jonathan. Some wrote ridiculous post like “Corruption is fighting back”.

Some of us have to examined ourselves properly because it portrays a generation that is bereft of ideas I still read some argument along party lines, depending where one’s bread is buttered. Some could not look at the bigger picture that our country is drifting into a pit of abyss.

At times you wonder if some have lost their brains with posts you read in the social media.

Are we this stupid? We continually celebrate our Emperors or slave masters to our detriment and generations When are we going to ask real questions about how our nation has been brought to this ignoble status.

A serving President left his duty post for 104 days and some still have the temerity to start talking about re electing him in 2019, when he has not fulfill his utopian promises

The President has not deemed it fit to disclose the nature of his illness. Didn’t he owe us this simple information if he considers the fact that majority of Nigerians voted for him in 2015. Public funds were spent to treat him yet he has not made a disclosure about his health status. Many Nigerians are unlucky and have died as a result of minor ailments.

I think there is something wrong with some of us in Nigeria.

What we could not do in Nigeria, many brazed against the odds in London to force our President back home to resume the job he asked and signed for.

Shame to our collective lukewarmness.

Kudos to Charly Boy and others

Second African  longest President stands down for election, endorses his lackey as a successor

 

Some African leaders are just power hungry, ruling for 38 years but in his magnanimity refuses to go for another term due to illness. We have to credit him at least, in African context, his counterpart in Zimbabwe is still holding on to power despite failing health.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos 74, did not copy his senior, President Robert Mugabe 94, who has consistently held on to power despite his failing health.

President Dos Santos can  be likened to a man locking a door but still holding onto the keys.Dos Santos positioned his children in all the key sectors of the economy.

 His daughter Isabel dos Santos is the richest African woman according to Forbes magazine.

Clare Spencer of BBC  in Luanda did a a comprehensive report on this African President as Angolans go to the polls to elect the next leader.

Angolans are preparing to go to the polls to choose a new president. But although the country’s long-serving leader is standing down, he and his family do not seem ready to give up power.President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 74, has been president of Angola since September 1979 – a total of 38 years.

While the colours of his ruling party – red, yellow and black – dominate the streets of the capital, Luanda, there are sprinklings of the yellow and blue of opposition parties.

Choosing his replacement marks a momentous occasion for a country where most people have known no other president.

But with his children in prominent positions in Angola, and the incoming president’s powers weakened, Mr Dos Santos is unlikely to be out of the picture.

The man hoping to take over from Mr Santos is Joao Lourenco, the current defence minister
While many credit him for leading the country to recovery at the end of the war in 2002, others accuse him of staying in office too long.

He is the world’s second-longest serving president, behind Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea.

He has also been dogged by rumours of ill health, after travelling to Spain for medical reasons and returning for a second time last month.

Speculation got so intense that his daughter, Isabel, posted a statement on Instagram denying that he was dead.

But it was before then, in February, that Mr Dos Santos indicated he would not run in the election and that Defence Minister Joao Lourenco would be the ruling party’s presidential candidate.

Holding on to power

Mr Dos Santos will continue as leader of the MPLA, and the powers of the incoming president have already been weakened.

Just a month before the election, Angola’s parliament passed a law that prohibits the new president from sacking the heads of the army, police and intelligence services for eight years.

Despite living in poverty, flags for the ruling party still adorn the houses in the poorer areas
Lawmakers also granted Mr Dos Santos a seat on the Council of the Republic which, Bloomberg reports, gives him immunity from prosecution.

As one politics expert, Dalvan Costa, put it to the BBC, the president is “partially holding on to power”.

He points to former Prime Minister Marcolino Moco, who he says put it like this: “He’s closing the doors but taking the keys.”

Power through his children

Mr Dos Santos’s children continue to have a lot of power in the country – not least Isabel, who holds the title of Africa’s richest woman, according to Forbes.

She was already a billionaire with a broad business portfolio when her father put her put her in charge of the state oil company, Sonangol.

As head of the company she is in a powerful position, given that Angola vies with Nigeria for top spot as Africa’s largest oil producer.

And Mr Dos Santos’s son, Jose Filomeno, was chosen to head a sovereign wealth fund set up to invest Angola’s oil wealth.

The president’s billionaire daughter Isabel dos Santos denies her wealth is derived from the state
While one daughter and son have influential positions in oil and finance, another son is in charge of entertainment.

Jose Paulino, known by his stage name Coreon Du, is a singer and a TV soap opera producer.

He reportedly said in 2013 that being the son of the president had been a hindrance to his career as people refused to play his music for political reasons.

Another, younger, son of Mr Dos Santos, Eduane Danilo dos Santos, came under scrutiny in May in the Angolan press after he bought a watch at a charity auction for a reported 500,000 euros ($587,000; £456,000).

The auctioneer was the US actor Will Smith, who was filmed saying he looks “way too young to have 500,000 euros”. Danilo later apologised, insisting that the money was a donation to charity.

How does the election work?
Every Angolan citizen over the age of 18 is entitled to vote, and voter registration is compulsory

Voters do not vote directly for a president. Instead, the leader of the party with a parliamentary majority becomes head of state

The 1992 constitution included the direct election of a president, but a new constitution in 2010 substituted this

MPs are elected for five-year terms by a mix of both proportional representation and a constituency-based system
‘Widespread poverty’

These incidents add to the criticism that, as Mr Dos Santos stands down, he has failed to spread the proceeds from the oil boom.

After appointing Isabel to run the state oil company, he was accused of nepotism by the anti-corruption body Transparency International.

It ranked Angola 12th in its perceptions of corruption index.

And the economy is one of the key election issues.
Prices have risen sharply, and it’s normal people feeling the pinch. A fruit seller tells me that what would buy me 10 oranges two years ago would now only buy seven.

So while Luanda is classed as the world’s most expensive city for so-called expats, there is still widespread poverty.

This will leave many Angolans wondering if whoever succeeds Mr Dos Santos will do a better job of spreading the wealth more evenly.

Clark: Nigeria’s Unity is Being Taken for Granted

Edwin Clark-

To different people, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clarkmeans different things. But to friends and foes alike, the elder statesman and leader of the Ijaw nation is an enigma. What is even the more curious about this Ijaw son is how at 90, he still combines the wisdom of his age with the vibrancy of the youth to culture the challenges that come with old age. Articulate, cerebral and innately fearless, Clark has been involved in the affairs of Nigeria from the onset. He has the history of the country at the back of his palms and recalls with ease, presence of mind and amazing accuracy, past occurrences in the polity. At 90, Clark remains very relevant and his views are still much sought after on national issues. In this interview at his Asokoro, Abuja residence, Clark bares his mind to Funke Olaode on the state of the nation, the Niger Delta, and the restructuring debate, amongst other issues. Excerpts:

As you celebrate your 90th birthday, what are your reflections on the state of the nation with respect to the many agitations going on at the moment?
Agitations, restructuring are not new to this country. My return from London as a qualified lawyer coincided with the first coup. And prior to that, we were at Igbosere on Lagos Island attending the Law School and I remember some of those who were involved in the coup were very close to me. The likes of Jide Alo, a civil servant and diplomat in Accra, Ghana, used to visit me and we would talk about what was going on in other parts of the world. When the coup took place in 1966, I was in Delta, practicing law and after the counter-coup a conference was constituted through elections. The delegates were elected from the Ward and I won and was a member of that Constituent Assembly in Benin.

What did we discuss? There were four papers: One was in white which says do you want the Unitary form of government. Another one in yellow asks whether we want a confederation. The third paper in blue says do we want a Federation while the last paper asks whether we want a breakup of the country. That was 50 years ago. We argued and sat down in Benin City to debate the future of Nigeria. The late Anthony Enahoro, who was one of the youngest parliamentarians then, had just been released from prison and he became our leader.

The conference at the national level was conveyed to debate these papers. We had three delegates from mid-west in the person of Ehahoro, Chief Onyia, who represented the Igbo speaking side. We went to Lagos to debate the proposed four papers mentioned earlier. The tendency, particularly the West and even the North, was that the country should break. But our team led by Enahoro (though I was one of the advisers) said we wanted one Nigeria that we should remain together. Let us have a federal system of government. Colonel Ejoor was the Military Governor of Mid-Western state.

After the death of Adekunle Fajuyi, the late Major General Adeyinka Adebayo became the governor of Western Region. Ojukwu was first the governor of Eastern Region before the war broke out. What was the war about? It was an agitation for the Biafran Republic. As said earlier, the agitation going on is not new. After the invasion of Biafra led by Ojukwu into the Mid-west, one Okwonkwo was later appointed as Military administrator by Ojukwu and the Mid-west was renamed the Republic of Benin. We all knew the massacres that happened in those days.

My take is that people should learn a lesson, because we have gone through this before and so many people died. And the clamour for restructuring going on, I think people are misunderstanding what is called ‘restructure’ because there has always been restructuring in this country. Even the military carried out restructuring: creation of more states is a restructuring, creating more local govearnments is a restructuring, adopting one type of government is a restructuring. What people are saying today is that Nigeria is a federation.

After the Richard Constitution in 1946, Nigerians kicked against it. Then Macpherson came in 1950, where decision was taken to adopt a Federal system of government considering the fact that Nigeria was made up of three regions: The West, East and Northern Regions. In 1960, we had independence, which had all these constitutions. What we are saying now is that let us go back to the 1960/63 constitutions, which stated the devolution of power and physical federalism. If in the past, western Nigeria was selling cocoa at high price and was able to introduce free primary education, able to establish the first television in Africa, built roads, Cocoa House, industrial estates in Ikeja and Apapa, Liberty Stadium, University of Ife.

In the Northern Region, Ahmadu Bello was able to do the same thing in the North. Azikwe was able to do a little with building of University of Nigeria, Nsukka. It was only University of Ibadan and University of Lagos that were established by the federal government. The lesson is that, that era of self-governance at each region put all the three regions on their toes to be the best, and two, that each region should develop at its own pace. That is why Western Nigeria got self-governance in 1959.

The point is that there should be (fiscal) federalism, that is, half of what you produce in your area should be used to develop your area; 20 per cent should go to the federal government and the remaining should be divided among the three. Again, in 1963, there was Republican Constitution and it didn’t change. And the Mid-west was created. I remember the West refused to share the assets and liabilities on the ground that they (Mid-west) did not contribute to the economy of the old Western Region. I was the Commissioner of Finance at that time. Today, Oodua Group of Company is one of the largest in the country and is being enjoyed by the six Yoruba-speaking states.

You mentioned that going back to the 1963 constitution is the only solution to the current agitations. But some Nigerians have argued that the country is indivisible. Again, experience has also shown this is an illusion because injustice has caused countries and unions to be dissolved. Don’t you think the unity of Nigeria is being taken for granted?
Yes, it is being taken for granted. Before, we used to say that the unity of this country is not negotiable. I can’t stay in a country, where I am a second class citizen. You can imagine a situation where every position exclusive of the areas that produce the resources of this country is being occupied by some people. This cannot work. We must sit down and dialogue. This agitation didn’t start now. It has been on since Jonathan was there, when Obasanjo was there. We wanted a National Conference.

Alao Aka Bashorun of blessed memory and others were agitating for Sovereign National Conference (SNC). It is when you have SNC that the decision is final like they had in the Republic of Benin, when they took a decision and the president had to leave office. But that has been the fear of various governments though. We agreed that we should have a National Conference, which we had in 2005 under the administration of Obasanjo. And because he Obasanjo wanted a third term and was not achieved, he threw away the reports and recommendations.

In 2014, Jonathan set up another National Conference, where 492 Nigerians of various ethnic groups converged on Abuja. We arrived at 600 recommendations and resolutions. Some of them to be included in the constitution while others were to be implemented such as having two accountant-Generals: One for the federation and the second for the federal government. There are so many things to be done but Buhari’s administration has aggravated the situation whereby all appointments are from one area.

For instance, NNPC with its headquarters in Abuja has nothing to do in Abuja here. That NNPC should have been in places like Port Harcourt, Warri or so because it deals with oil exploration and industry. Today, NNPC has a board of nine directors as members in which six members of the nine came from the North and only one from the Niger Delta. If there had been a groundnut oil board and you appoint five members from the south, you know what will happen. We have to sit down and talk about where to go from here.

What is your assessment of President Buhari’s approach to the Niger Delta agitations?
Well, we have no problem with that now, because when they started in 2015, I think the immediate reactions they had was that we were being misrepresented. We were former president Jonathan’s people and that certain steps should be taken. You know our boys were being arrested, account of Tompolo was frozen, our boys were removed from office, they are being probed, soldiers were taken to our place, because there was so much vandalism of pipelines and they thought they could solve it with military. The place was occupied by the soldiers.

There was a time I was coming back from Warri and saw the present Chief of Army Staff, who came to greet me. I asked what was happening and was told that the Chief of Army Staff came to Sapele to launch Operation Crocodile Smile, which means the soldiers will go to the rivers, the Creeks and all that. They did it but the production of oil was going down. They couldn’t reach the boys until I went in and called a meeting of our people that ‘enough is enough’ that we all belong to Nigeria and shouldn’t have the impression that because Jonathan is no longer the president of Nigeria everything should collapse.

After the meeting, we formed the Pan Niger Delta Forum and met for the first time in Warri last year August 2016. There were so many clubs but we managed to collapse everybody into one body. On November 1, 2016, I led a delegation of about a hundred to Aso Rock to meet the president, where we presented 16-Point Programme for dialogue. We have been waiting for that when the Vice-President decided to visit the Niger Delta. The boys have agreed to stop bombing and vandalising the pipelines. The government has now realised that military intervention will not solve the problem but dialogue. What we are saying now is that dialogue should take place as soon as possible.

With the dialogue on the way, does it mean you don’t foresee a return to the pre-amnesty armed agitation and restiveness in the Niger Delta?
Mind you, we have not discussed. And that is why I am calling on the federal government for dialogue on the 16-point programmes. Once they have agreed to open the Maritime University, we will have 15-Point programmes left to be addressed. The acting Vice-President made a statement that all companies should move their headquarters to the Niger Delta. If that is done we will discuss the remaining 14.

The Senate in May passed the first leg of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill. Are you worried that the issues in the oil producing communities of the Niger Delta that necessitated the petroleum industry bill in the first place might have been defeated or even complicated? What does this imply for the Niger Delta?
It is chaotic. It spells dangerous situation. We would not accept it. The bill passed recently by the Senate only provides, who should occupy certain positions and so on. They have renamed that one they said would impact the other. I am happy that the House of Representatives has disagreed with the Senate. Number two, this bill has been in that house for over 10 years and they have not been passing it, playing with the host communities. The bill said 10 per cent equity should go to the host communities so that they will know that their resources belong to them.

With that, the restiveness will go down because they cannot destroy what belongs to them. But some people in Abuja here believe we are there for them to exploit. We say no that the host communities must be considered and that is what Senate is running away from. And that is why they picked one and renamed it the governing or governance. This is unacceptable to us. We are not going to accept it and we have issued a statement to that effect that they should revisit it.

What do you reckon can be done to return Nigeria to the path of greatness?
In my own view, it is very simple: sincerity, equality and honesty of purpose. People should consider Nigeria first by being patriotic before their religion, ethnicity, and self. It is because we have all the powers in this world vested in the federal government that we have corruption today. There wouldn’t have been corruption if there is not too much money at the centre. That is why the country must dissolve power to the states. A situation whereby the local governments become the affairs of the federal government, which is not in the constitution, is unfair.

Bayelsa produces 30 per cent of the oil in Nigeria and have only eight local governments while Kano State has 44 local governments. When you come to the center to share the resources among over 700 local governments, you can imagine what comes to Balyesa State. We have been asking that the 13 per cent derivation should be increased. We have held several conferences and in the last conference, 18 per cent was approved. Today, nothing has been done to that effect. For us to belong to the same country that we will be proud of, we must love one another and be patriotic.

At 90, what are your reflections about Nigeria?
I’m not really happy. We are pretending that all is well while we are actually muddling up things, marching on without a purpose. I have regrets because the country I knew between the 50s and mid-60s was better than what we have today. All the physical developments you see in the three regions were product of yesteryears, because each looked after itself (though we are Nigerians living together but operating different constitutions and ideologies.)
Today, you have Joint Admission and Matriculation Board, JAMB, which cannot be relied upon. Education standard is going down. People talk about agriculture; that, I can’t see. As far as I am concerned, we have to restructure this country so that more power can go to the states. More money should be given to the states. Once they have more money, health, education and agriculture will go back to the states just like the days of old and Nigeria will be better for it.

Of three sick Presidents

By Minabere Ibelema

It is not much of a consolation, but we can at least rest assured that Nigeria is not the only country coping with the vagaries of an ailing president. Zimbabwe is having the same experience, and some say that so too is the United States. If there is any consolation in this for Nigerians, it may well be that the Nigerian situation is the least foreboding — to the extent that that can be said of Nigeria.

The illness of President Muhammadu Buhari is well known. He has been in Britain on medical leave for more than two months now. And he spent about the same time there in January and February apparently for the same undisclosed illness.

After a long silence on his condition, there is suddenly a flurry of information. First, it was first daughter Zahra Buhari responding to an inquirer that her father was “doing pretty good.”

Then first lady Aisha Buhari declared on Facebook that the “lion” is set to roar again and drive out the hyenas and jackals from the kingdom. And then, after visiting Buhari, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo confirmed the essence of the family hints.

“We had a very good conversation on wide-ranging issues and he’s in very good spirits,”Agence France Press quotes Osinbajo as saying. “He’s recuperating very quickly and he’s doing very well.”

It is not exactly clear to whom the first lady directs her oblique threat. There have been calls for Buhari to resign because of his prolonged ill-health, but those have come largely from opposition members whom Buhari can’t readily banish. That leads one to speculate that there may have been some “palace” intrigues. That is, among people that the president has the power to dismiss. That’s certainly something to watch on his return.

Of greater interest to the Nigerian polity is what to expect of Buhari’s health after he returns. His health problems were evident during the campaigns in 2015 and they persist till now. It all means that the 74-year-old is chronically and seriously ill. So his expected return is unlikely to be the end of his health leave saga.

As I have written before, the good thing for Nigeria is that it is in the hands of a capable acting president. I must confess that when Osinbajo, the lawyer and pastor, was announced as Buhari’s running mate in 2015, I was one of those who greeted the announcement with scepticism. Like many others, I thought it was a deft political manoeuvre to corral the Southern Christian vote. I still believe that it was.

Still, I am now a convert to the view that Osinbajo was a good choice. He has certainly proved to be a dynamic leader with a more astute sense of the political than his inexperience in politics would lead one to believe. One has to nod to a pastor who tells the faithful that it is not enough to fast and pray, that they have to work toward goals.

This is not to say that Buhari’s illness is of no political consequence. It is just that Nigeria is lucky to have a capable — and equally principled — fall back.

Corpse as candidate

In contrast, the situation in Zimbabwe is bordering on the macabre. There, first lady Grace Mugabe has vowed that even if President Robert Mugabe dies before the presidential election next year, his corpse will still contest the presidency. Yes, seriously. So, where Aisha Buhari is hopeful that her husband will roar again and drive away the hyenas and jackals, Grace Mugabe is vowing that her husband will retain power even in death. After all, what’s the point contesting the presidency as a corpse if he doesn’t preside thereafter?

Incidentally, the 93-year-old Mugabe vowed long ago that he would remain president until he dies. Now the wife is saying that that is not enough. To her, there is no point letting death end a 37-year presidency.

The talk of keeping the Mugabe presidency alive after his death wouldn’t have arisen had the hitherto age-defying president not begun to show signs of mortality. Like Buhari, Mugabe has been having stretches of time away from public events and he has made frequent trips overseas for medical treatment.

Besides deteriorating cataracts that have hampered his vision, he is reportedly afflicted with prostate cancer. And so he frequents cancer specialist hospitals in Singapore and Malaysia. His personal doctor reportedly told him in 2008 or thereabout to resign the presidency because he had about five years to live. He has surpassed that by four years.

Even then, there is no guarantee that Mugabe will live long enough to see through his candidacy in the 2018 election. In that case, the world may witness the first case of a candidate in a hearse cruising the streets campaigning for office.

Trump’s ill-health

Now to the United States. What is emerging from whispers to op-ed pages and legislative manoeuvrings is that the U.S. President Donald Trump is probably sick. Not pathological sickness necessarily, but mental. Nigeria has a plan for its presidential sickness and, bizarre as it may be, so does Zimbabwe. The U.S. case is much thornier. The basis for declaring a president mentally incapacitated is complicated.

Yet Trump’s increasingly intemperate Tweeter outbursts have made it something to ponder. When recently he tweeted an attack on a female talk show co-host and posted a simulated video of the president slamming an image of CNN in a wrestling match, even his fellow Republicans began to wonder aloud about his mental fitness.

“America’s leaders and allies are asking themselves yet again whether this man is fit to be president,” wrote Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post on June 30. “We have our doubts, but we are both certain that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show, ‘Morning Joe’.”

A number of American legislators agree. According to a Yahoo News investigation, at least 25 Democratic members of Congress have signed on to a bill that would create an oversight committee empowered to declare Trump mentally incapacitated. Even they know that it is a tricky proposition, but few doubt that it could become necessary.

Is Nigeria on the brink of another civil war?- Al jazeera

On the 50th anniversary of its bloody civil war, Nigeria is struggling to prevent another.

The Biafra question deserves a referendum, writes Soyombo [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]
Fisayo Soyombo

On August 1, 1966, after the collapse of last-ditch attempts by Nigeria’s power brokers to prevent the impending civil war, Lieutenant Colonel Odumegwu Ojukwu said only one thing would make the rebels cease fire: “that the Republic of Nigeria be split into its component parts; and all southerners in the North be repatriated to the South and that Northerners resident in the South be repatriated to the North”.

On May 30, 1967, Oxford-educated Ojukwu declared Biafra an independent state in the southeast of the country. On July 6, 1967, civil war broke out in Nigeria, which claimed more than a million lives in just three years.

Fast-forward to June 2017. Irked by renewed secessionist calls from the same Igbo ethnic group, a coalition of northern groups issued a quit notice demanding “all Igbo currently residing in any part of Northern Nigeria to relocate within three months and all northerners residing in the East are advised likewise”.

Although made 51 years apart, those two statements are strikingly similar. Since the first was followed by a war, there is real reason to worry that the second could prompt another.

Last week’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s civil war should have been an opportunity for Nigerians to remember the ills of war and to vow not to let it happen again. Instead, the voices of secession raged even louder.

Secessionist movement an indictment of past leadership

The resurrection of the clamour for secession five decades since the civil war is simply the result of serial leadership failure in Nigerian politics. When the war ended in 1970, Yakubu Gowon, then head of state, promised to “build a nation, great in justice, fair trade, and industry”. But he and his successors didn’t.

Although there is no evidence of efforts to specifically ignore the plight of the Igbo, generations of corrupt and selfish leaders have entered and vacated office with no real plan to rebuild the East from the ruins of war, neither have they done anything for the insurgency-ravaged North-East. They have been filling their pockets with public funds while ignoring a disenchanted youth and growing anger.

do anything, including sacrificing their lives, to actualise the dream of an independent Biafra.

Some 150 of them already died for this cause between August 2015 and August 2016. The series of military crackdowns on pro-Biafra activists was a grave error by the authorities as it has spawned clusters of bellicose Igbo youth who want to avenge their brothers’ deaths. Anyone who has physically met secessionist leader Nnamdi Kanu’s apostles, or read their viperous online comments, will admit that quite a number of them are seething with rage that can only be thawed by the highest level of tact from the government.

A referendum on the preferred system of internal governance is crucial, even though recent calls for fiscal federalism have come from politicians who are more interested in cornering the nation’s wealth than redistributing it for common good.

The absence of that kind of tact is arguably the reason for the escalation of the Biafra agitation in the last two years. After all, Kanu, the face of the secessionist movement, was little-known until October 2015 when the Muhammadu Buhari government arrested him and subsequently disobeyed court orders granting him bail.

He was eventually released in April this year, but thanks to that unlawful detention Kanu exchanged his freedom for undeserved martyrdom. Now, what should have been an intelligent campaign for self-determination has been entrusted to a man whose message is primarily driven by emotion and aggression.

‘Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable’

The most important question regarding the secession of Biafra is, of course, whether Nigeria’s unity is negotiable. President Buhari has said it a few times, and his vice – now acting – president, Yemi Osinbajo has reiterated it: Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable. According to them, secession is not and will never be on the negotiation table.

The superficial argument behind this claimis that the Nigerian Constitution is unequivocal in its exclusion of secession when it states in Section 2(1) that “Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

But Biafra is not a fresh secessionist movement – it is a 50-year-old idea. And, regardless of the grave shortcomings of its current proponent, a 50-year-old movement cannot be dispelled with a wave of the hand or by locking up the proponent or brandishing the Constitution. The Nigerian government must come up with an agreeable, realistic and practical solution to this problem.

In its ninth section, the same constitution provides for dialogue on the possibility of amending Nigeria’s indissolubility. But for this amendment to come into force, not less than two-thirds majority of state and federal legislators must support the move. So, instead of saying an outright “no” to Biafra, Buhari and Osinbajo should remind the secessionists of what they must do: lobby the legislature. Everyone knows the success rate is negligible, if not nil, but good luck to them if they succeed.

A referendum on internal governance

Importantly and urgently, Nigeria needs a referendum. There is palpable public frustration with a governance structure that allocates the lion share of the country’s earnings to the federal government while leaving states to scramble for crumbs. A referendum on the preferred system of internal governance is crucial, even though recent calls for fiscal federalism have come from politicians who are more interested in cornering the nation’s wealth than redistributing it for common good.

Now is the time to take the decision to the public court. Some may criticise direct democracy as the “tyranny of the majority”, but there’s no other option for a Nigerian state where the tyranny of the ruling minority is monumental.

Neither history nor currency is on the side of Biafra.

Only two secessionist movements have ever succeeded in Africa:  Eritrea from Ethiopia after 30 years of war, and South Sudan from Sudan in 2011 after 22 years of war – the latter still as war-torn as the pre-2011 Sudan.

Herein lies the lesson for Biafra agitators: Secession from Nigeria will not solve their problems unless accompanied by conscientious leadership.

Nigeria, meanwhile, must go back 50 years to draw its own lessons: These types of agitations can lead to war. If the south-easterners don’t want to stay, let them go. Fragmentation is a million times better than the devastation of war.

Fisayo Soyombo is editor of the ICIR (International Centre for Investigative Reporting)

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Open letter to Governor Aregbesola

By Oni Gbolabo

Dear Booda Aregbesola,
How are you and your immediate family sir.

I mean Kabiru, Mama Kabiru and others in the family. I need not to ask how is Osun state doing because am a citizen of Osun state, Ilesha west and a victim of your administration that started well like Saul in the Bible but ended in the coven of witch of Endor.

Saul started by speaking directly to God but ended with witches.

Not to waste time, here is my profile:

Oni Gbolabo, Ilesha west, a progressive, a fanatical supporter of APC with anger for what PDP did in Osun and in Nigeria.

Sir, bros never see my letter as insult but from Egbon to Aburo.  I’m boling with anger similar to what I used against PDP.

Party will go party will come I will remain an Ijesha.

Booda, your political expedition into Osun politics started when some “boys” saw that Ijesha must emerge as a governor.

Not because Ijesha was marginalized, no, we have gotten our fair share of governorship with Bola Ige, Erelu, Suyi Hastrup either as governor or deputy. Some boys came to you, few among them are Femi Omoniyi and Niyi Aluko Niyi  and others I don’t want to mention due to what they did later.

In order to propel the bid, the concept of iconic and symbolic Oranmiyan was initiated and popularised by these boys,  and some AD members who had suffered poverty and oppression in Ilesha. It took blood and agony for these people to sell you to the people. Why they so much doubted you as a bonafide and a descendant of Ijesha progenitor.

However, he who obsessed sees no fault “, meaning “eni ti a fe kii ni abuku”. I wrote as if I was paid just to be sure that we remove PDP which was just then a cancer of governance. Booda, I want to ask you few questions on that::

1. With your hostile stance against Ijesha which shown in your attempt to annihilate the pride of Ijesha land ( Ilesha Grammar School) by renaming it otherwise as anything you care to, what have we done to deserve this?

Is that what we will pay to have Roundabout/Imo – Breweries dualised?

Is it even possible you dualise anything with your stand now?. The best school that has produced great men of valour. Elders like Jakande and others cried yet you remain adamant with obdurate arrogance, Booda too bad sir.

2. Among those who brought you was Femi Omoniyi who left the fold with anger for some reasons which were personal but let me ask you this : what happened to those who remain faithful with unquestionable loyalty?

The highest was P.A without office, eating crumbles from those who emerged later when it was rosy not when court cases made you slim with fasting. Ask doctor Awopetu from University of Lagos how Night Vigil were done at Iyana-Ipaja for you then, all gone you are now above prayers?

May God forgive you, you need to pray hard for forgiveness.
3. Of all the five (5) officials in all LDAs (Local Development Areas) how many Oranmiyan Movement members made it?

How many groups did you consult? Just to pacify some hungry party jackals who still collected your money and campaign for Adeleke to caution your ‘I Know it all”.

I detest how PDP managed the state and turned it to beer joints without development or infrastructure which we wanted to prevent. You came with over 10km of roads in all local governments, a welcome development. But let’s analyze it. You have no executive chairmen therefore easily all allocations belong to you to spend therefore you cut cost but to wpreve10km

is good but we won’t be blind to the intricacies. Local government could be wasteful but using their money prudently should not be a tragedy for others.

Why do you still go further to owe salaries while some projects are going on? We all know you tried but salries should come up after work, if not all some.

Civil servants could be lazy people but pay them before you lay them off, at least there is agreement before employing them.

The most annoying thing is when you paid salaries a day before Osun west election. I almost wept because I almost cursed your advisers as the most senseless dullards ever assembled.

Why? Who advised you to disgrace yourself. Oh! Sorry you think loyalty is same thing as stupidity, Booda you are wrong. It means that you have this money but wanted them to know that you are the Alfa and Omega.  Same way you will go to Mecca with lists of appointees for weeks while people wait endlessly, ki lo de?.

Ask prominent people in APC in Osun including Amitolu The Rauf, ask PDP men like Wale Iyaniwura & co how much we bear to uphold your government yet we are boxed into your box of ego.

I was physically attacked, here you are as the Lord of the Ring.

Bros, may l know your landmark achievements in Ilesha?

Don’t mention Ilesha Grammar school sir, the Empire Building was built in 1934 with World War 1 specification, no mortal can penetrate the wall yet you want to demolish it after attempt to kill the name, awon alale Ijesha will prevail sir.

If you leave next year we Ijesha will change it back to IleGram its a matter of paint. I wrote you severally no response, anyway more important men did but your charm still dey catch us, it will expire next year constitutionally.
Again, why do you prefer to appoint men from Ogun and Ondo state? Is it because we are illiterates in Ilesha or other parts of Osun state?

Booda you annoyed me sir. What has hijab go to do with education and merging of Christians with Muslims?

Workers voted for your second term not because they are crazy but they believed that it will be better, the party men have no appointment, no cogent plan and even your Senators and Reps are spirits, although I wont blame them because I know they remit money to Osun purse.

Yes they too are very poor in information dissemination by cutting off from the constituency. I am stii a member of APC till anything happens but my constituency is HUMANITY and my SLOGAN is “UPHOLD THE TRUTH as an existential philosopher.
What to do Booda
***********************
1. Write letter of apology to all workers and ijeshas for your error.
2. Call all political groups and beg them, then compensate them from your security votes for the hunger they all suffered.
3. Return my personal money which is around N200,000 that I spent to come to Ilesha, lodge, buy trophy for people in the name of party because people called us party elebi.
4. Tell all aliens to go back: Sam & Sarah, alien contractors and appointees that are not indigenes. If not your descendants will found it hard to hold posts anymore.

***Above all do seven days fasting to beg God for disappointing your people.

Oro mi ko ju bayi lo,

Gbolabo Alaigboran Aburo.

Of lions, jackals, hyenas and other weaker animals

By Yomi Odunuga

If you mingle with the kind of ‘crazy’ acquaintances I meet on the social media, a day would hardly pass without you opening your ‘32’ to let off some steam. And you would have to believe me if I say that your problems must be more than Nigeria’s if the jokes shared daily by this set of people fail to ease your tension. Here, I’m not even talking about the MoFeTo Clan, which is increasingly gaining more leverage by the day as the one-stop-shop to laugh your sorrows off, begin and end your day on a lighter note. Well, if you don’t want to be a recluse, utterly immersed in the multidimensional problems plaguing this country, you’ll have to devise a means of laughing through your pain.

And that’s the gap the MoFeTo laughter skits and commentaries try to bridge. However, today, I speak of the postings by guys like Kolapo Abiodun, Emmanuel Ogheche, Olaleye Olawale and others who have made the art of political commentary, sauced with whimsical wits, such a delight to read. Take, for example, Abiodun’s mischievous interpretation of Hajia Aisha Buhari’s subtle innuendo about how the ‘lion of the tribe of Aso Rock’ would devour all the jackals and hyenas that have constituted themselves into clogs in the wheel of progress of the country, mischievously latching on the President’s protracted infirmity.

For Abiodun, it was time to situate the matter within the political dialectics obtainable in a big zoo called Nigeria (Ogbeche actually called it Zooeria). Kolapo’s words: “When the First Lady said the hyenas and jackals will soon be sent out of the kingdom, I begin to wonder maybe Nigeria is actually a zoo kingdom like the rascally Nnamdi Kanu once said. Maybe it is not also coincidental that Nigeria has been governed, time and time again, by animal experts. OBJ is a poultry farmer, GEJ is a zoologist and PMB deals in cattle.

Maybe the late Fela Anikulapo (the Abami Eda) was right when he described us a “beast of no nation” and “animal in human skin!” Quite honestly, Fela hit the nail on the head many years back. It is just that most people never took him seriously. Those that believed in his music couldn’t raise their voices above the maddening cacophonous ranting on the streets. Yet, somehow, we are all victims of the monsters we unleash on ourselves in the name of governance. If, indeed, powerful cabals exist in the corridors of power as it is being speculated daily, then we need to interrogate how we – a docile, ever fawning populace – paved the way for this monstrous arm of the government to fester.

Unless we opt to play the ostrich, we do know exactly what Madam Buhari was talking about when she spoke of jackals and hyenas. Or don’t we? Are we going to deny the fact that some persons are presently abusing their privileges as close confidants of our ailing President to chain down the wheel of governance? Or do we ignore the fact that the mischief and deliberate act of sabotage on display by the legislature ever since Buhari jetted out for medical treatment in London form the integral part of a developing democracy under siege? Are we blind to the vicious circle of motion without movement in the corridors of power and the sacrilegious report that some dunderheads would rather seek approvals from some proxy claiming direct contact with London than obey the directives issued by the Acting President? For sure, Nigerians did not start getting choked with the wrong end of the stick under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. The tradition has an unforgettable history under the endless reign of military jackboots while the so-called democrats borrowed a leaf or two from the aberration. It is for that reason that, oftentimes, the Constitution is always the first casualty in the power equation.

If the Constitution is given its prime place in representative democracy, I doubt if we would today be talking about some nebulous jackals, hyenas and all sorts of weaker animals trying to wrest the kingdom from the Lion King who happens to be Buhari in this instance. But because ours is a country run like an unstructured zoo (yes, most zoos do have structures), we have become yet another butt of jokes. You know it just occurred to me now that Buhari, or whoever was responsible for drafting his handover letter intimating the National Assembly of his desire to travel abroad while Osinbajo continues as “coordinator of government activities”, was up to some grievous mischief that is deleterious to engendering an atmosphere of law and order in The Presidency. I was one of the persons who didn’t take the joke that seriously until events started unfolding. Like Olaleye pointed out in one of his interventions on the matter, Buhari’s Freudian slip (if I may call it that) emboldened the hawks in the corridors of power to unleash their fangs.

Though Osinbajo has been painstaking in making the best out of a very bad situation, the gaps are too visible for one to conclude that he does not, in anyway, exercise absolute power in tandem with the position he presently occupies. So who are these cabals frustrating the works of the Acting President? They are the jackals and hyenas that dine and wine with their new boss but hold nocturnal meetings elsewhere, to circumvent his moves. Under the late Yar’Adua, we were living witnesses to how a previous band of hyenas and jackals made life hellish for the then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan whose misery was compounded by the fact that no letter was transmitted to the National Assembly before Yar’Adua was airlifted to Saudi Arabia for treatment. As the cabal spun one wicked tale after the other to perpetuate their evil agenda, a toothless Jonathan was eventually saved by the National Assembly which came up with a ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ that effectively gave him some authority until Yar’Adua’s eventual death.

If you really want to know how powerful the so-called cabal was, you may wish to read Olusegun Adeniyi’s book, ‘Power, Politics and Death’, where he dedicated some pages to the days of the cabal and how he watched scenes unfold from his privileged front row seat. It was obvious that this set of animals in human skin pushed Jonathan to his wit’s end with their stranglehold on power in the name of a boss that didn’t have the pleasure or presence of mind to know what was going on around him. It was, therefore, not surprising that the first casualty of the Jonathan presidency had to be members of the cabal. Yes, in cycles of similar events, history repeats itself. But you are wrong if you thought that lesson would have made Jonathan stronger by the time he mounted the saddle. Instead, Jonathan came in with a stunning revelation that as President, he was not the lion Nigerians wanted him to be. He said he was not also a Goliath or Commander in Chief. He would rather cuddle the attributes of a dove in power while others acted as the lions and lionesses under his reign. At least, we all know how that infamous romance ended.

Now that the present lion on the seat has been weakened by an ailment that is yet to be made public, we are back to the days of the long knives by these thieves in the night. Mrs. Buhari has aptly captured their wily shenanigan, hoping that her husband would be firm enough to tame them on his return. But then, wishes are not horses. For all we know, that might not be on Buhari’s plate for now.

The fact that Osinbajo had to make a few hours cameo appearance in London earlier this week at the instance of his boss was indicative of the fact that Buhari wouldn’t be coming home soon. He is on his third month, battling with an ailment that has seriously affected the lion’s capacity to roar. What a pity. Osinbajo’s words of reassurance that the President was high in spirit and recuperating fast, count for little. Haven’t we passed through this lane before? With that better-forgotten experience, we have become conversant with some tricks about political chicanery. This latest farce is evidently not far from it. First, Madam Buhari flew a kite of hope.

And, in less than 48 hours, came the palpable imagery of hopelessness by the Acting President. Our lion’s expected return from is tied to no fixed date and time. The anguish continues as the cabal grins with relish. And so, we are back to the whole charade in Zooeria where the jackals of power seem to be having the upper hand in this hazy political chess game. Some have said the visit to London should serve as a morale booster for Osinbajo to start acting like a lion if he doesn’t want to be consumed by the characters around him. Well, that is just within the precinct of conjecture as nothing has happened to warrant a belief that things would be different. Talking about leadership and animals, we don’t really know if Osinbajo has special interest in any. No doubt, he has comported himself with respectable poise and carriage, diplomatically avoiding the visible potholes put on his way by the jackals within and without. Would he hold for a bit longer or would be give in to the wiles of these despicable agents of doom as Buhari recuperates? Answer to that question hangs in the air as the pushing and shoving unfold in this animal kingdom where the weaker animals appear doomed to groan in the absence of the lion king!

SENATOR ADEMOLA ADELEKE: LET HIM DANCE!

By Remy Oyeyemi

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Senator Ademola (left) being welcomed by Senate President Bukola Saraki

Yes, that dance by the newly elected Senator Ademola Adeleke of Osun – West Senatorial district has been making the waves. It is all over the social media. Metric tonnes of sour grapes have been outpoured, and maliciously too. The sour grapes were not devoid of the usual hypocrisy of several of my friends still smarting from the pang of defeat. Most of what they say about the dance went beyond ludicrous and the ridiculous.

Suffering from selective amnesia, they are trying to fry the ebullient Senator – elect Adeleke for what the discredited Governor of Osun State, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola used to do with gusto. They are trying to tarnish the newly elected Senator with what Adam Oshiomole, former governor of Edo State has done with eulogies from their miserable sentries. They are condemning Ademola Adeleke for what El Rufai has done without them batting an eyelid.

More annoying is that these same hypocritical critics of Adeleke never saw anything wrong with his dancing when he danced with his late brother Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke, at APC rallies, waving APC flags to save Governor Aregbesola from disgrace during his campaign for second term. At that time, Ademola’s dancing was all well and good. It was alright then. It was okay then. It was acceptable then.

I watched the videos of his dances, the one with his daughter and the other celebrating his victory over tyranny in Osun. I couldn’t see what the hewers and hawkers of sour grapes saw. I could not fathom the reasons for their lamentations. I couldn’t figure out why they are weeping over someone exuding marinated happiness. I couldn’t.

The dancing of Ademola I saw in those videos, that jiggling and joggling by him; that non-beguiled beguine of his, that swirling, swiveling, swooning and swooping by him are emblematic of a free spirit. A spirit that is joyous, excited and enthused. In that video, he exuded a spirit that is unhindered, unpretentious and unperturbed. It is a spirit that is unbounded, unchained and unencumbered. It is a spirit that is unscripted, undoured, unsoured and uninhibited. No dreariness. No moroseness. It is a genuine spirit, and for real. I like it. I’ve got no complaints about it.

A beautiful heart devoid of gouging is what is being exuded, without any iota of duplicity. Happy and grateful to those who voted for him. All the complaints you hear are nothing but sour grapes that sprouted from pains of defeat and obvious bitterness. Employing their usual tool of heinous propaganda, they adorned putrid apparels of hypocrisy, pouting poisonous puffs to smear the joyful newly elected Senator Adeleke. That is what it is. It is why we all should not pant about the padded spat.

For all I care, Senator Adeleke can dance from Ede to Oshogbo and from Oshogbo all the way to Abuja. All that matters to me is the quality of his heart. How beautiful or ugly is his heart?How considerate is he? How caring is he? How concerned is he about his constituents, about the poor, about the vulnerable, about his people and his community?

If he is caring enough, considerate enough, concerned enough, it would be enough for me. Even, if his intellect is challenged, which has not been proven to be the case, such a beautiful heart as his, infused and imbued with love, care and affection for others, glowing with unalloyed joy, would carve out the requisite intellect required for his task and for his assignments in Abuja. We need a human being as our representative in Abuja. Someone with blood flowing in his vein, not counterfeit creatures.

Or of what use is a sharp intellect brimming with evil and unfettered sadism? What is the use of a stoic demeanor in a leadership that is bitter, vengeful, vindictive, cunning, calculative, duplicitous, diabolical, murderous and heartless? What is the use of a so called “serious leader” who revels in wrecking lives; destroying families, manacling the peace and progress of all?

Please, let Ademola Adeleke dance. Let him be happy. Let him be himself. All we need is his good heart. All we need is his genuine love for his people. All we need is his caring heart to help find solutions to the woes inflicted by Tinibuism on the people of Osun State. He knows he has to deliver. He is aware he cannot afford to fail, because if he does not deliver, we will call him out.

He is not new to service in anyway. His late father was a Senator and beloved by the people of Osun State. It was his legacy that paved the way for his brother, Isiaka Adetunji Adeleke to become the Governor of Osun in the first instance. Now he is also a Senator. He has a name to protect. He has a legacy to carry on. Leave him alone. Let him be happy. Let him rejoice. Let him dance!

Restructuring: My take

By Ochereome Nnanna

FOR me, Restructuring and True Federalism are not just words I heard from others and decided to parrot.

It is a serious business; the only antidote that if correctly applied will secure the future of Nigeria as a viable, durable and flourishing entity.

Restructuring and True Federalism go together in my book.

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress APC, Dr. John Oyegun, a man who retired as a Federal Permanent Secretary over 30 years ago and became the first elected Governor of Edo State 26 years ago, shocks me with his shallow appreciation of this concept. This problem appears to be widely shared among APC leaders. After two years of poorly ruling Nigeria and totally forgetting or denying most of their campaign promises, Oyegun and his co-travellers have been jolted awake to item Number 61 out of APC’s 81 pledges: Initiating action to amend the Nigerian Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties, and responsibilities to states in order to entrench true federalism and the federal spirit.

One of my primary reasons to opt for Restructuring and True Federalism is drastic reduction of the cost of governance. We will have the Federal Government and six (or eight) Regional Governments instead of the current 36 states and Abuja. Local or communal governments will be strictly the business of the regions, and they will be free to create such a number that their resources and the needs of the various groups within their regions can accommodate.

Another objective is the creation of what I call relative equalisation by splitting the country into zones, regions or federating units that are more or less equal to reduce dominance and marginalisation of which so many groups complain. No region can impose its real or imaginary population figure or landmass or natural (or self-imposed) disadvantages to keep other more progressive regions down.

They can decide to invest their resources on Arabic/Islamic or Western educational models. They can dump public resources on pilgrimages and mass marriages or deploy them to infrastructure and human capacity development. It will be their choice.

Another objective is to group Nigerians into their naturally contiguous and consanguine regions where they can cohabit in sub-cultures they feel at home with, subject of course, to the supremacy of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. When people find themselves in such enclaves of common brotherhood, they will spend less time and energy quarrelling over ego-fed distractions while investing much more on developmental activities within the overall picture of healthy competition with other regional rivals.

With larger groupings, economic and infrastructural development (such as rails, roads, power grids, industrial parks, agro-industrial value chain schemes and what have you) can be planned on grand regional basis which local and international capital can consider more viable than what mushroom, state-based schemes can offer.

So, in terms of structure, I am looking at six Regions consisting of the current six geopolitical zones, or eight Regions with one zone each carved out of the North and South.

The former Mid-West or Bendel State will return as a Region because there is very little socio-cultural link between the Eastern flank of the South-South (Rivers, Cross River, Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa) and its western flank (Edo and Delta).

The Eastern flank is more related culturally to the Igbo while the Western flank are Edoid with some cultural bent toward the Yoruba.

In the Middle Belt, something similar applies.On the one hand,the Eastern flank (Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa and Southern parts of Borno, Adamawa, most of Taraba and Southern Kaduna are predominantly Christians and feel harassed by the Muslim Sharia culture.

On the other,  the Western flank (Kogi, Kwara, Niger and parts of Kebbi) are more predominantly populated by Muslims and can conveniently form the second Middle Belt Region.

By so doing, Nigeria will be a balanced federation of six or eight Regions. It is only under such an arrangement that the current Federal Character principle in our Constitution can be operated without any part of the country being cheated.

As it is, the Federal Character principle still heavily favours the North even if strictly applied because they have far more states, local government areas and federal constituencies. These federating units were created by North-dominated military rulers (based on landmass and real or imagined population) to assert their right to rule after leading the nation in a war to push the Igbo bloc out of national contention.

The current thirty six states can never bring equity. The North will always be favoured while the South East will always be cheated. The Biafra agitation will never lose its relevance to its adherents so long as we maintain this 36-state structure.

It pushes the Igbo into an eternal, artificial Minority status as a result of their role in the system between 1966 and 1970. “True federalism” without Restructuring will be a permanent seal on the military’s win-the-civil war scheme to subjugate the Igbo nation and keep a section of the country forever on top of the rest. That is not the federal structure of my dream.

The agitation for restructuring, for me, is a call for freedom from internal colonial rule. It is a fight for the rights of the various socio-cultural and political blocs of Nigeria to stand on their own and struggle to develop at their own paces within the fold of the Nigerian commonwealth.

Anything short of this, I would rather go with Nnamdi Kanu as eminent lawyer, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba and legendary songstress who had devoted a large measure of her creative works extolling Nigeria’s unity, Onyeka Onwenu, have recently done. Restructuring and True Federalism is my own last card.

Having put this well-equalised six or eight regional structure on ground, we must go on and invoke the 1963 Republican Constitution for the administration of the country, perhaps, complete with its simpler, much more accountable and less expensive Parliamentary system. This constitution devolves powers to the Regions. It grants them the power to control and develop their resources. But it mandates them to pay a measure of royalties to the Federal Government to maintain our country, protect the constitutional rights of its citizens wherever they may reside, promote even development and defend the interests of its people in the comity of nations.

This is the most successful model of federalism we have ever practised. It is not a matter for conjecture. Rather, it is a tried, tested and proven approach which brought out the best in each of the regions in the past. Even the North that is now so diehard in opposition to devolution of powers and resource control flourished under this system.

It was the most offended of the four defunct Regions when the first military Head of State, General Aguiyi-Ironsi, first introduced the unitary government we now practice which we fraudulently call “federal”. We must leave the oil of the Niger Delta people to them. They need it to develop their region. There is none of the six or eight regions that I have proposed which does not have enough natural resources to take off with.

But most importantly, we should bear in mind that it’s the human resources (brain power), not things found under the ground, that bring about rapid development. It is primitive people who live by hunting and gathering.

Our oil rent-based economy is nothing but hunting and gathering. That is why we are a backward nation. Unless we restructure and devolve powers to the various localities of Nigeria, we will never have peace. We will never develop, and we shall never prosper.

Most importantly, Nigeria’s eventual disintegration will be the greatest tragedy out of Africa!