I have met the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar several times. He had come across as someone who actually believes that it is either we save Nigeria now or we allow it to wither. Pinpointing that the choice is obvious, he insisted that delay could be very dangerous. During our meetings, which touched on several issues about Nigeria, repeatedly, he kept underscoring this urgent need to repair and revamp Nigeria’s unity. He kept insisting that there is only one way to do this – bring peace through unfettered justice and sense of belonging to all.
The former vice president told me that the economy could only be a necessary corollary to peace ensured by justice. He insisted that a good economy would serve as a strong pedestal for the rehabilitation, refurbishment and replenishment of our health and educational services. “It is time we stop playing games with the destiny of this country. All of us must recognize that injustice is what is fuelling separatist agitations.
This has to be addressed. We can’t sweep it under the carpet any longer. All of us must embrace restructuring,” he volunteered. He explained further: “There has to be a politically conducive atmosphere for the country to move forward on other fronts for us to be able to address the challenges facing our people. It is not possible the other way round. All nationalities should embrace restructuring. It will establish trust among us all. It will renew our commitment to this country. It will go a long way to address the fears of various nationalities and make us stronger as a country.
We have to do it.” “I am very glad to let you know,” he made it clear to me, “that I have succeeded in convincing the elders in the North of the propriety of restructuring. They were totally against it initially. But I am grateful to Allah that I have been able to bring them around. It has been a difficult task, but we accomplished it. With the same attitude, open mindedness and determination, we can cooperatively take Nigeria to the next level.” I asked him, “You have been in politics for a long time. You have been the Vice President of this country.
Why do you have to be President?” “It is true; I was the Vice President of this country. But the way our constitu-tion works, you could only be as good and as effective as the President wants you to be. The President’s ideas are what you espoused. His policies, as inspired by the party manifestos, are what you follow and execute,” he explained.
He then added: “I want to be President to help put Nigeria on the path to the deserved greatness. I have what it takes to make this country work. I am the best prepared candidate for the Office of the President. I have not only learnt; my knowledge has increased. My vistas have improved.
My horizon has extended. My perspective has widened and my vision is much more consummated. I am much more matured. I am ready.” He then extrapolated, “I have policies on what to be done. From resolving our political crisis to bringing our economy to the digital age and making it competitive.
Reforming our education to revitalizing our health sector. Kneecapping institutionalized corruption and unleashing the great potentials of this great country. I am very ready.” His Excellency told me that he is not in the business of blaming anyone. “My business as the President of this country is to proffer practical, result oriented solutions.
It is to alleviate the sufferings of our people through a working economy and ensure peace through justice. “There is too much hunger in the country. The pervasive hunger has brought about seething anger. The injustice in the land has exacerbated the anger. We are sitting on a time bomb. We have to detonate it. We cannot allow it to explode.
We must rescue this generation from selfdestruct. We must give hope to the next generation,” he further explained. Ruminating, he looked into space and said as if soliloquizing, “I have what it takes to build a New Nigeria. I have done my homework. I have been tested. I am prepared. I will work to push and put my ideas on the party platform.
I look forward to working with other great, brilliant and talented patriotic Nigerians to actualize my dreams and vision for this country. I pray and hope that Nigerians would give me the opportunity to bring to bear my wherewithal on our present to chart the part for our future. I appeal to them to do so. I really do.” “I am in the process of putting my campaign organization together after which I will unfold the details of my agenda for the country,” he promised.
· Oyeyemi is a journalist and public analyst
Akeredolu’s one-year anniversary
Governor of my native Ondo State, Arakunrin (Mr.) Oluwarotimi Odunayo Akeredolu aka Aketi, will be one year in office on Saturday, 24th February. It has been one very drab and dreary year. Aketi has been damn too quiet and too, too cold for comfort. Is it that he is a silent worker and not a “noisemaker”, to quote President Muhammadu Buhari?
Does he want his performance only to speak for him? He must be told that in politics, what is not seen to exist does not exist. He has to draw positive attention, if not to himself, then, to our state, and grab the headlines. Perception is vital; governance necessarily must be action-laden. A leader must mobilise and energise his people; he must be seen and heard and cannot be self-effacing. He must exude confidence and fire our spirit.
He must convince; he must make profound statements. Gone were the days when we had quotable quotes from our leaders. As illiterate and anti-intellectual as Gen. Sani Abacha was, he left behind one quotable quote no one will forget in a hurry.
It is: “Enough is now enough”! Or who can forget that quote from the late Ooni Oba Okunade Sijuwade: “E jade ki e lo try best yin”? Leaders must inspire their people. Akeredolu is a well-educated, learned, and experienced person and shouldn’t have any problem in this regard!
Leadership is also about “action”; Aketi must wake up from his slumber and give us some action. He must begin to speak up and speak out. We want to hear him; the world wants to hear him. How will he draw attention to our state if he behaves like a monk or recluse?
I am sure he saw a monastery there when he chose to vie for the Government House. Last Thursday as I made my way to the airport in Akure to board an Air Peace flight to Lagos, I listened to a phone-in radio programme where my brother, Yemi Olowolabi, the Ondo State Commissioner for Information, featured. Yemi came late and I did not hear him offer any apologies. That was not good enough.
Yemi, however, is a gentleman par excellence; very polite, humble, respectful, responsible, and vivacious. My path and his first crossed when he was Chief Press Secretary to the late Governor Olusegun Agagu of Ondo State; some senior professional colleagues had put pressure on me to travel to Akure to help the Agagu government out with some of its media problems.
Yemi did not behave like many other CPS who would immediately see you as a threat and an enemy coming to snatch their job. He cooperated fully with me and we worked seamlessly. He gave me very useful lessons that enabled me settle down fast on the job.
The first was that while Dr. Agagu was the de jure governor; his younger brother, Pastor Femi Agagu (Chief of Staff), was the de facto governor. Once you had seen Femi, you did not need to see the senior Agagu, who virtually abdicated power to his younger brother. Incidentally, Femi is also a commissioner in the Akeredolu government.
Second lesson: We were to travel to Lagos to address a press conference and Yemi brought a paper for me to sign. I asked why I should and he said we must give the proverbial “brown envelope” I protested that we shouldn’t and he laughed.
He said, “Oga, your own generation was ‘thank you, editors’. You did your job and received ‘thank you’ but the present generation is ‘Ghana-must-go’” Grudgingly, I signed and Femi released the millions and we carted it to Lagos. At the Chinese restaurant venue of the event, I was not only surprised that Yemi was proved right; other things happened that must not be relayed here.
A week or so before the 2014 Ekiti governorship election, Yemi and I compared notes at the Trade Fair hotel, Ado-Ekiti; troubled by the feelers I was getting from my numerous readers as well as my own independent investigations, I had asked Yemi whether he thought Kayode Fayemi could win re-election. Both of us were rooting for Fayemi.
Yemi was sure Fayemi would win in all local governments and that Ayo Fayose would not win in any. I told him my reservations and findings, but he assured me there was no way Fayose would win a single local government. As it turned it, the reverse was the case. Yemi returned to his “Red Carpet” after that, before his latest appointment with Akeredolu. I must not forget to put on record his sense of duty during the high-wire re-election bid of Agagu.
That election was massively rigged and Government House was the epi-centre of the sordid act of votes doctoring. I had the privilege of a blow-by-blow account as resounding defeat was turned into resounding success but results could not be announced; tension was thick in the air. My phone rang in the morning and Mr. Depo Tewobola, one of the two-some who had sent me to Akure for the media consultancy job, said, “Bola, where are you?”
“Of course, where else but Akure where you had sent me.” “What are you still doing there? Don’t you know that state will burn any moment from now?”
I jumped out of bed, threw my things into the car and zoomed out of Owena Motels. Getting to NEPA Junction, there were bonfires everywhere already. The police advised me to go back but I elected to brave it. I drove through four bonfires to get to the outskirts of town.
A few kilometres to Owena my phone rang and Yemi said he was on his way to ferry me from my hotel to a safe house at Government House but I told him I had already escaped. He shouted for joy and wished me Godspeed.
Last Thursday on the radio programme mentioned earlier, Yemi reeled out a long list of achievements by Akeredolu’s government: roads everywhere; reduction in the backlog of salary arrears from 8/7 months to two; what they were doing about potable water supply, etc. If they have done that much, why are they not flaunting it? I heard the controversy over the stoppage or non-stoppage of free education in Ondo State; and the criminal silence of the state government over herdsmen’s rampage in the state is known to all. Except for a whimper from Aketi a while ago, herdsmen’s atrocities have grown into a monstrosity in Ondo State.
Aketi has fidgeted, trying the balancing act of juxtaposing the interests of the Abuja people who made him governor against those of the good people of Ondo State whom he governs.
Chief Olu Falae was kidnapped, his farm violated again and again and then set ablaze; herdsmen have sacked a whole council secretariat; they have invaded the airport; laid ambush on the highways; and have raped, maimed, and killed innocent people – Aketi has not only done nothing, he has not as much as found his voice. And this is what Hausa/Fulani leaders of all hues will not do for anyone. Whoever you are and no matter the good turn you have done them, they will never sacrifice the interest of their people for you.
Witness the travails of Tinubu and the mockery of him they are making at the moment! We have got to wizen up! While I congratulate Aketi on the occasion of his first anniversary, he must now begin to show a sterner stuff, which I believe he is made of. Dabo,’miyemi, ma d’usha yi meren non! I know Aketi has a good media hand in Yemi Olowolabi – except he is one of those governors who do not empower their media handlers.
2019: No doubt Atiku is ready
Permit me to add my petite voice to the euphoric voices already clamouring for Atiku Abubakar’s candidacy in the upcoming 2019 general elections.
And rightly so! A poorly-handled search for a presidential flag bearer by a discordance of characters over the years, has led the nation to an unfocused and unmitigated democratic debacle.
Many Nigerians have ignored the essence of our failing egalitarianism. We must acknowledge that we are the instigators of our bad leadership, since we have accepted and allowed mediocrity to shine over merit – as if it is normal – and naturally, we are left with no one to be blamed but ‘we, the people’.
We have been constantly reminded by the political hegemony that they know what our problems are and that they have the solutions, but they have never revealed how the solutions they proffer will fix the pervasive malady and incompetence of Nigeria’s leadership. It is in this vein that I have decided to help amplify the calls for the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to be given a chance.
I make bold to say that each time he threw his hat into the political ring to contest for the highest political office in the land, he had done so fully prepared and armed with a manifesto detailing his policies, vis-a-vis the implementation strategies from experts coming together from different strata of our economic, security and social endeavours – need I say, he has the intellectual capacity to select persons who can execute these tasks – even to the admiration of his political opponents.
Evidently, his philan-thropic lifestyle, his chains of businesses across Nigeria with thousands of employees have lent credence to the purposeful leadership he is equipped to provide.
One must also salute the boldness of those individuals and group of persons, who have shown maturity of political awareness as they speak up in support of Atiku’s candidacy for the 2019 presidential election.
Nigeria, due to its heterogeneous nature, is not a nation that can or should be governed by mere intentions and dreams. It must be governed with genuine and sound ideas in tune with the yearning and general aspirations of our middle class and the teeming youths.
The myriad of problems facing the nation at the moment cannot be wished away by mere lamentation and teethgnashing.
There’s need for concerted efforts by able-bodied and intellectually-gifted men and women of this nation led by a strong, dependable and reliable leadership to take us out of this self-imposed journey into the doldrums, and Atiku Abubakar will do that. He has passed the test of leadership at all given times.
Therefore, this is not a misplaced outburst. Atiku, beyond the shadow of a doubt, has demonstrated the capacity and fitness to lead this nation especially, at a time like this that wisdom is required to amend the torn fabric of our dear country. Finally, we all know that discontent, distrust, insecurity, unemployment and fear are perfect recipe for disaster. We avert such doom with Atiku Abubakar at the helm.
•Ladan writes from Gwarinpa Estate, Abuja.
Nigeria, Britain and the naira
The Nigeria’s history won’t be concluded without mentioning the United Kingdom (UK). The latter has hitherto remained a household name when discussing the former, particularly in the aspect of the country’s politics as well as economy.
It’s noteworthy that the UK comprises mainly the Great Britain and the Northern Ireland. If further split, the former consists of England, Scotland and Wales; among these three, the first two countries majorly constitute the Britain. Owing to both the population and landmass’ percentage Britain occupies in the bloc, the UK is usually referred to as Britain.
The Britain, which remains the prime sovereignty in the UK, has invariably been playing the role of a father in the Nigeria’s polity as a whole. The obvious fact that Nigeria was a British colony from the 19th century till it became an independent nation in 1960 can never be swept under the carpet or be forgotten in a hurry. The unending appreciation of the two countries’ bilateral relation cannot be unconnected with the aforementioned record.
Penultimate week, the UK’s Export Finance agency disclosed its intention to add the Nigeria’s legal tender, naira, to its list of ‘pre-approved currencies’, allowing it to provide financing for transactions with Nigerian businesses dominated in the local currency. By so doing, the naira will become one of the three West African legal tenders that the UK export finance has pre-approved for its means of funding transactions that promote trade with the UK.
It would be recalled that the Britain voted in 2016 to leave the European Union (EU). The awaited exit has persuaded London, the capital territory of the UK, to embrace a rethink over its trade ties with the rest of the world. It’s thus needless to state that the country is currently reviewing its existing trade and investment policies towards ushering in more suitable and beneficial ones.
It’s worth noting that in the last three years, severe dollar shortage in the Nigeria’s foreign exchange market caused by the emergence of lower oil prices, forced the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to allow the naira to float after it lost third of its official value against the dollar. This, therefore, is the reason the currency has not ceased to stagger within the period in review.
It is imperative to acknowledge that the pronouncement in question, if duly implemented, would go a long way in strengthening the Nigeria-UK bilateral cooperation, thereby easing the rate of importation of goods from the latter to the former. Since the naira would be accepted as a legal tender in the aforesaid foreign country, Nigeria importers can easily pay for goods and services over there with the use of the currency. This implies that the said set of traders wouldn’t need to queue at the Nigeria’s foreign exchange market to change the naira for dollar or pound sterling.
But if critically viewed, it would be realised that such a policy can cause overflow of the naira, which is presently in a pathetic mood. More so, the ongoing double-digit interest rate will equally soar the prices of the goods to be imported into the country from the UK since it’s understandable that borrowing is synonymous with importers. I’m afraid; these foreseen consequences might result to further depreciation of the naira.
Besides, the President Muhammadu Buhari–led government that is deeply concerned about boosting the country’s local market may not be favoured by the policy, which is likely to lead to another phase of over-dependence of imported commodities that has overtime bedevilled our economy. It’s not anymore news that the present administration’s mantra is anchored on diversification of the country’s revenue base. So, for this to come at a time Nigerians are encouraged to think home is enough reason to say that anyone that really means well for Nigeria is still sceptical over the actual merits that are attached to the policy.
This is to say that, in the long run, the monetary policy might mainly boom individual pockets to the detriment of the national coffer. Such resultant effect wouldn’t augur well for the country’s export base that’s seriously yearning for rescue, hence at the expense of her economy at large. Any fiscal measure that’s liable to benefit just a few individuals but impoverish the majority isn’t worth celebrating.
As much as the UK is apparently trying to boost the Nigeria’s pride in the international market by initiating suchlike policy, we mustn’t forget so fast that the former stands to be the key beneficiary of the initiative, hence the need for us not to be carried away by the euphoria that accompanies the news.
The good news is that, such an approach would make the naira to be more recognized and respected globally. On the other hand, it could also reduce the ongoing influx at the parallel market because most importers may have little or no business to transact over there, thereby returning the rightful status of the commercial banks.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that if critically examined, the naira might not get its fair share of the deal; that the naira might cry foul as the odyssey progresses; that it may end up causing the currency more harm than good. We must note that in any business or relation, every partner involved is more concerned about what his personal benefit entails. Think about it!
•Doc Nwaozor, the Executive Director of Docfred Resource Hub, writes via: firstname.lastname@example.org
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