Finally, the stretched debate and extensive controversy over President Buhari’s ability to lead Nigerians to the so-called promised land is now over. On this, Nigerians owe Mr. President huge debt of gratitude, especially for his recent guileless revelations.
No sooner than President Muhammadu Buhari returned from a prolonged medical vacation in the United Kingdom (UK) and started making physical appearances at state functions than my heart momentarily leapt for joy.
The guess then was that there could still be optimism for Nigeria’s recovery. It did not matter that Mr. President had reportedly been on the hospital bed for the better part of 2017 during which governance was in abeyance and the ship of State was adrift.
Indeed, I was tempted to join the today supporters of President Buhari to rain curses on Governor Ayodele Fayose, the enfante terrible and Chief critic of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government for earlier insinuating that Mr. President was brain dead.
Actually, I told few friends that Fayose was a man whose hate for the Number one citizen was totally irredeemable. How could anyone have imagined such evil against our President, I wondered.
Of course, Buhari’s handlers helped to further confuse me, that the media, civil society and opposition political parties were wrong in speculating that the President’s health was deteriorating so badly that even if he returned from the UK, the man would at best be a vegetable.
These handlers insisted that their boss was as fit as a rake. All we heard, as soon as Buhari returned was ‘did we not tell you’. In fact, when President Buhari returned, what we saw on the outside was a reasonable variety of a brand new President even acting stronger than when he was elected in 2015.
Rapidly, suggestions about the President contesting for a second term in 2019 started emanating from his followers, most of whom are undoubtedly sycophantic. Again, they portrayed their benefactor as a bull ready for a long haul, as far as campaigns were concerned.
These so called loyal party men have also told anyone who cared to listen that there is no vacancy in Aso Rock Presidential Villa because Buhari won’t be leaving office in 2019. The clear message from Buhari’s band of followers is that the man is not only very fit but can also run for another four year term as president in 2019.
Despite how hard this may seem believable especially given that old age naturally steals a man’s vitality, yet every day, spin doctors are unleashed to convince us that it is an achievable project.
The utterances of President Buhari’s followers are no doubt many but recent statements credited to Mr. President during his “74 or 75” year birthday celebrations and the realities of the day have combined to raise so many contradictions that should give any discerning mind enough food to chew, especially on his continued stay in office and political aspiration for the 2019 presidential race.
That Mr. President, an aging human being, practically opened up on his clear case of emerging senility, no doubt eats up hope on his capacity. The consequence of his personal disclosures is that it has well affirmed the suspicions of many Nigerians over the failing competence of a President.
According to President Buhari: “I thought I was 74, but I was told I was 75. I have never been so sick…even the 30 months civil war (when) I was stumbling under farm of yams or cassava, but this sickness I don’t know, but I came out better.”
Again the President remarked that “All those who saw me before and when I came back said I look much better, but I have explained it to the public that as a General, I used to give orders now I take orders. The doctors told me to feed my stomach and sleep for longer hours. That is why I am looking much better.”
Some of these recent comments by the President of Nigeria on the state of the nation and his wellbeing have overwhelmingly confirmed some of our existing fears about the degenerating governance in Nigeria.
The President’s remarks which dominated the media have no doubt inflicted grievous concerns on some Nigerians about their future under the remaining months of the Buhari administration.
For avoidance of the doubt, let me state that old age is golden and it remains a divine gift which most men seek. However, from the above statements of President Buhari, it is obvious that Nigeria has a President who either likes cracking expensive jokes or a leader that had to be reminded of very fundamental things because of old age.
Whatever, it means to remind a man in the prime of his life of his age may not be too far from partial loss of memory or seeming senility.
This issue of Buhari’s disclosed forgetfulness should not be treated with levity because if a man cannot remember his age, what are the chances that he will remember why he was elected in the first place even when reminded?
Maybe this is why Mr. President recently appointed Senator Francis Okpozo of blessed memory as Chairman of a parastatal.
For emphasis , Senator Okpozo died about a year ago and the President commiserated with his family in the national media. Yet, the President forgot that he had wished the man eternal rest . It is possible that the President has forgotten too that dead men do not function, which is why he appointed into boards of agencies and parastatals the likes of Rev Fr Christopher Utov , DIG Donald Ugbaja(retd) , Garba Attahiru , Umar Dange ,Magdalene Kumu, Dr Nabbs Imegwu and Comrade Ahmed Bunza who have all transited to the great beyond.
The list of Buhari’s new appointees was also stultified with clear cases of redundancy of names, with some people appointed into more than one board. Sabo Nanono who was appointed member of the board of the National Agency for Science and Engineering, NASENI while also appointed chairman of the Board of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, NTDC, Kabiru Matazu was also appointed chairman of FCT Universal Education Board and also made to chair the board of Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta.
Then, there is the disclosure of the doctors’ instruction for Mr. President to have enough sleep, which according to him, is mainly responsible for his looking very fresh. Should this not mean that we now have a President who sleeps ad infinitum? Whereas important State matters might be left in the hands of surrogates and a corrupt cabal?
The truth is that those who think Nigeria has witnessed the worst profligacy since the country gained independence in 1960 under Buhari’s watch might have sufficient reasons to substantiate their claims. From budget padding to $26 billion NNPC scandal, from Mainagate to $48 million Ikoyi Towers and disappearance or outright stealing of houses and huge sums recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerians have witnessed the stealing of public funds in a manner never expected from a government that parades itself as a champion of corruption fight.
Simply put, Buhari may just be alone in believing that his fight on corruption is working.
Realistically, despite claims of corruption fight in Nigeria in the past thirty months of Buhari’s reign, no high profile conviction of indicted public officials has taken place. Of course, it is not surprising that under Buhari, the APC government has not been unable to fulfill its electoral promises since it came to power in 2015.
Obviously from the increasing suffering and hardships experienced by the majority of the Nigerian population in all sections of Nigeria, the ready conclusion is that the nation’s number one citizen has not exhibited the capacity to avoid what makes Nigerians miserable.
The recent fuel scarcity adduced to the government’s ineptitude at a peak period when Nigerians need petrol to meet their commuting needs, is thought provoking. Indeed, this does show that Mr. President may have forgotten that he was elected to fix Nigeria in line with the promises of his APC party.
Unfortunately, today, there is excruciating poverty in the land.
So, must President Buhari be reminded that it is his duty to restore public confidence in governance, arrest decaying infrastructure, improve power, halt the declining economy, bring back the chibok girls and ensure safety of live and property?
With all these failings, it is difficult to believe that the Buhari administration has a vision that can guarantee the future of the nation called Nigeria.
It’s enough that Nigerians will be compelled to endure the ruling party’s underperformance until 2019 but it would be democratically insulting and wicked to the many suffering Nigerian citizens for any fair minded person to engage in or encourage any activity that may suggest the re- election of a President that has disclosed that his doctors have in their wisdom advised him to observe excess sleep for the good of his personal health and survival.
For now, our dear President has spoken and it is just natural we show compassion as it is about a certainty of nature that man will get weak with age.
However, in our collective pursuit for a great Nigeria, the only assurance will be to seek fresh and able leadership in 2019.
The hope on Buhari has been quashed with abundant evidence on his dwindling competence, lack of fulfillment of the many promises of the APC and limited memory capacity.
Frankly put, the opportunity extended to President Buhari has been squandered and May 2019, will remain the expiry date of his failed leadership and wasted opportunity.
By Phrank Shaibu: Shaibu, a Public Communication Consultant writes from Abuja
That Lagos roads might be whole again
It’s that time of the year when people take stock of what went right and what went wrong or was left undone. As a Lagosian and a commuter who has traversed the length and breadth of this boisterous city and clocked so many miles on the roads in 2017, I think that I am competent to speak on how our roads can become whole again with a view to making life fruitful for all Lagosians in 2018.
Every progressive society depends heavily on efficient roads. It is against this backdrop that the current efforts of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode must be commended. The pedestrian bridges, flyovers, slip roads and lay-bys, paved area beside main roads, where cars and buses stop temporarily to let others pass, which now dot numerous major roads in Lagos have been a huge blessing in that they have eased vehicular and pedestrian movements especially at peak periods.
In order to consolidate on these gains and make our roads whole again, these three things need to happen. First, the state government needs to aggressively drive the water transportation system as a viable alternative means of conveyance via a public-private partnership model. How do we rationalize the fact that 30% of this state is covered by water and only 0.34% of over 22 million people living in Lagos State utilise this mode of transport? So clearly, there is need to ramp up efforts in this area.
Second, Lagosians must commit to being disciplined and law-abiding. This is because a lot of the traffic congestions which we experience daily and have resulted in unpredictable travel times, excessive loss of energy, and loss of precious man-hours can be tied down to one thing – indiscipline by road users. This is a non-negotiable deal breaker if we are going to reclaim sanity on Lagos roads.
Third and very critically, because our roads do not pay for themselves, the government must find innovative approaches to financing the roads and other transport systems. For example, some have argued that the current motor vehicle licensing system is somewhat lopsided, disjointed and anachronistic. In fact, other analysts have even argued further that the current rates for vehicle licenses are not commensurate with present economic realities and as such, there might be a need for increase or the government could simply introduce a road usage tax as is obtainable in other climes. Whichever way the pendulum swings, the government has got to be creative and tackle this in a way that is just and equitable.
It goes without saying that improvement to transport systems can enhance economic growth via cost reduction and increasing the reliability of movement for goods and people, thereby increasing productivity. Better transport systems have also helped to expand access to new markets for goods and services. Therefore, there is urgent need for the state government to prioritize and reinvest in this critical driver of future economic growth and competitiveness while citizens must play their roles in a law-abiding manner to create a win-win for Lagos State and allow the state remain the exemplar and shining beacon that it is for years to come. Indeed, and in truth, our roads will be whole again.
•Adeagbo, a Lagos resident, works in the creative industry.
Between Obasanjo’s Third Force and Third Fault
Is the leitmotif of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s proposal of a National Coalition (NC) geared towards a complete change of the modus of appropriating the structures of political administration in Nigeria or essentially targeted at stopping either President Muhammadu Buhari or former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, from becoming president in 2019?
If Obasanjo’s raison d’état is to sincerely contribute to the process of entrusting the governance of the nation in the hands of a set of new breed leaders who are more patriotic and more technologically-attuned to nation-building than members of the old guard who have mostly dominated the political terrain without adding substantial value to government, then I am in pari materia with him on the subject.
Otherwise, it will smack of egotism for the former president’s latest gambit to be located in his single-minded resolve to only ensure that neither Buhari nor Atiku emerges as president in 2019. The timing of his celebrated January 23, 2018 press statement seems to reinforce the likely thesis that Obasanjo is out to upstage the applecart of Buhari’s presidency and ensure that Atiku’s quest for presidential power, for the fifth time, is stymied.
Hate him or love him, the former president does not care as long as he is not encumbered in dancing to the political rhythm of his soul. He speaks truth to power even if his antecedents in office do not provide a strong moral ground for him to pontificate about proper conduct in office and/or exhort others to do what he either did not do or did but did not do well.
Funnily enough, as some people have said, Obasanjo’s uncanny way of presenting as a moral compass in Nigeria’s political terrain still baffles. This messenger may be problematic; his messages are always in apple-pie order.
He had gleefully exposed what appears to be the underbelly of Buhari’s government. He had spoken to the specifics of Buhari’s failings as president. Those who are passionate about Buhari obviously hate Obasanjo for the obtrusive deconstruction of their hero. The conversation around the purported failure of leadership under Buhari’s watch is raging to the discomfort of minders of his government and leaders of his APC.
But then, there is no doubt that Nigeria and Nigerians have suffered Obasanjo for too long with his inexplicable savvy to reinvent himself. I only hope that, this time round, he is not pushing his luck too far with his somewhat suspicious idea of a Third Force that will not be candidate-sponsoring.
This is the bugaboo in his suggestion on how to exit the gloomy picture that he painted about government and governance presently in the country.
What type of experimentation is that and what result is it designed to produce in a democracy where political parties are the platforms that can sponsor and have traditionally sponsored candidates? We are yet to get to the intersection where the platform of independent candidates will kick in to mitigate the tyranny of ruling parties, leading opposition parties and the rash of small briefcase parties.
Truly, I wonder how the Third Force will be able to actualise its agenda of birthing a new Nigeria without transforming into a party. Or is the Third Force going to direct its members, who have different political leanings, affiliations as well as sympathy and fidelity to vested interests with ambition to occupy public offices, to dump them and move into a party for the purpose of building and driving a nationwide consensus on the 2019 presidential power politics?
If the plan by Obasanjo and other promoters of the National Coalition or Third Force is to use it to mobilise Nigerians to enlist in the rigorous process of effecting a leadership change, it will not be out of place to contemplate who benefits eventually from the process. Who benefits? It may be too early in the day for dispassionate watchers of the political process to fathom, but the former president had already foreclosed some possibilities.
“Neither APC nor PDP” was his apocalyptic summation in the conclusion of his treatise with which he deconstructed Buhari as non-performing and, in a better way that he would wish Nigerians to see the president, incompetent.
I am sure Obasanjo has his answer to the question of a possible beneficiary of the intervention by a pan-Nigerian Third Force and this is what further renders his intervention suspicious. He is not that altruistic to allow the process to throw up someone that he probably has not predetermined.
He has always desired to control the presidency of Nigeria. That informed his first fault in 2007 when he coupled the Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan presidency. He discovered to his chagrin that he could not control Yar’Adua.
When Yar’Adua was terminally ill, he supported the call for his resignation. He unsympathetically spurned the secrecy around Yar’Adua’s health status. With the death of Yar’Adua, he gladly supported Jonathan to complete Yar’Adua’s term and to contest the presidency in 2011, thinking that the timid-looking man who grew up without shoes would be easily manipulable. He suffered a back-to-back disappointment under the PDP arrangement.
In 2015, he decided that the failed power contraption should be dismantled and he decided to promote Buhari’s presidency on the basis of a thesis that has now blown up in his face that anybody but Jonathan would be good as president. The perceived failure of Buhari accentuates the ugly dimensions of Obasanjo’s second fault under the APC deal.
Something tells me Obasanjo is headed for a third fault with his Third Force project. Because his leadership profile and antecedents in office are more writ large than his professed patriotism and love of country, the passion he is investing in the project is thus indicted on those scores. Yet, he would do anything to ensure that Buhari does not return as president.
Suddenly, it does not matter anymore to the former president that he is a member of the old guards that have benefitted so hugely from the infamous political structures with which they have perpetuated themselves in power. They gregariously deployed the structures to service their enlightened self-interests and to promote politics of prebendalism.
Without a sense of contradiction, and I stand to be challenged, Obasajo remains the greatest beneficiary of trouble-free access to national leadership, especially the full panoply of presidential powers in Nigeria’s entire political history. The prognosis, with which he has, without solicitation, assailed our sensibilities, in his characteristic avuncular and oracular manner, even if patently selfish, is fatality for APC and PDP. That is vintage Obasanjo!
He has now forcefully cut a niche for himself as political, not necessarily moral compass in search of a new leadership through the vaudeville of a fast-unfolding political dramaturgy. But unfortunately, his profile in self-adulation as a messiah of sorts, which is somewhat apocryphal, is now a subject of interrogation and derision by Buharists.
Those that have descended heavily on the messenger at the expense of the message are perhaps unaware that Obasanjo’s real politik is actually feeding on the circumstances and egregious failings of political leaderships afflicting the political economy presently. That is where the justification for his intervention lies. But as for his Third Force, time will tell whether or not it will unravel as his third fault.
•Ojeifo, editor-in-chief of The Congresswatch, writes via: email@example.com
Jacob Zuma out, Cyril Ramaphosa in
Jacob Gadleyihekisa Zuma is a strong South African politician. He served as the 4th President of the country with effect from the 2009 general elections until he was compelled to resign on February 14, 2018 by the African National Congress (ANC).
He was 75 years of age at the time he left office. Zuma also served as Deputy President of South Africa (1999 – 2005), but was dismissed by President Thabo Mbeki in 2005 due to an alleged bribe for which Schabir Shaik, his Financial Adviser, was convicted. Shaik was said to have solicited for the bribe for and on behalf of Jacob Zuma.
On December 20, 2007, Zuma was however elected President of the ANC after he defeated Thabo Mbeki at the ANC’s conference in Polokwane. On September 20, 2008, Mbeki resigned his presidential position after being recalled by the ANC’s National Executive Committee.
The recall was sequel to a South African High Court Judge, Christopher Nicolson’s ruling which found him wanting in his improper interference with the operations of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) including the prosecution of Jacob Zuma for corruption. After Zuma’s election in 2009, he was re-elected as ANC’s leader at the Mangaung conference on December 18, 2012.
He defeated challenger, Kgalema Motlanthe, by a wide margin of votes. He remained as President of South Africa after the 2014 general elections, and since then, his political party had suffered from declining acceptance in terms of popular support, consequent upon a growing dissatisfaction with Zuma as President. Zuma was also charged for rape in 2005 but was acquitted.
There was, after this charge, an allegation of corruption and fraud and on April 6, 2009, the National Prosecution Authority dropped the charges against him based on its reasoning that there was political interference.
This legal verdict was, however, challenged by the opposition political parties and as at February 2018, the charges were brought before the NPA, for reconsideration. Zuma was also found guilty of benefiting improperly from the expenditure of presidential official building, and the constitutional court unanimously held on 2016’s Economic Freedom Fighters Versus Speaker of the National Assembly.
The verdict was that Jacob Zuma failed to uphold the country’s constitution, which resulted in calls for his resignation.
It is worthy of note that his impeachment in the National Assembly failed to achieve its desired aim. He was therefore implicated in reports of state capture through his friendship with the influential Gupta family, known for its enormous wealth and influence.
The man, with many political lives, had survived several motions of no confidence both within the ANC and the National Assembly despite proof of evidence against him in almost all the charges against him.
On December 18, 2017, Cyril Ramaphosa was elected to succeed Zuma as President of the ANC at the Nasrec, Johannesburg conference. In the months ahead there was growing pressure on Zuma to resign his duty post as President of South Africa, which cumulated in his recall by the ANC. In this event, he had to face an impeachment threat in parliament, which resulted in his resignation on February 14, 2018.
Cyril Ramaphosa was eventually sworn in on February 15, 2018.
Ramaphosa, like Jacob Zuma, also participated in the black struggles against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He is the 5th President of the Republic of South Africa. He was also trade unionist and businessman, who is regarded as a very wealthy South African. He served as the Deputy President of South Africa from 2014 to 2018. On the day of his swearing-in as President, he promised to fight corruption.
This promise may not be an easy task for a man who is wealthy in South Africa. If Ramaphosa is properly investigated, his sources of wealth may not be very clean.
After all, the late Aristotle Socrates Onasis (1906 – 1975), made the sum of $1 million as profit in a business transaction, which may have resulted to fraud somewhere along the line.
It is therefore my candid opinion that Cyril shall not appear to be an angel in business transactions which gave birth to his wealth. He, too, was on the political front who operated his business within the context of the South African economy, during the period.
I may not be in a comfortable position to draw-up a conclusion that Ramaphosa was a saint, who was transparent in all his financial dealings and transactions.
It is extremely difficult for me to be faster than the horse on this matter, because there had been not a single allegation against Ramaphosa about his corporate interest or himself as Deputy President. Future political circumstance(s) shall unravel the sources of his wealth and business, on whether to give it a clean bill of health or not.
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