Tinubu, PDP And The Road To 2019 By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, you must be wondering what this title is all about. Please, calm down, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, one of Nigeria’s iconic politicians, is not about to dump his party, APC, for PDP, the party he fought hard with others to sack from power just last year.
The reason for bringing PDP into this article which largely concerns the Tinubu conundrum is very simple and straight-forward. PDP has suffered calamities upon catastrophes since General Muhammadu Buhari sacked President Goodluck Jonathan from office. It is hard to imagine, or believe, that a party that held Nigeria by the jugular for 16 solid years could attain meltdown so soon and almost disappear into oblivion.
One would have expected PDP, despite its electoral misfortune, to provide a formidable opposition to APC and keep President Buhari on his toes but that has not been the case. APC has wasted no time in sending PDP to an early grave by throwing poisonous darts at it from every angle.
The war against corruption has been a most veritable weapon with stupendous impact used by APC to scatter most of the PDP apparatchik to the winds. The strategy was to weaken them by showcasing the humongous corruption that was perpetrated and perpetuated during their reign. The PDP brand was thus obliterated in a jiffy. Many of their bigwigs confessed to nefarious and horrendous crimes of looting and brigandage. They coughed up or vomited incredible sums of cash.
All entreaties and shouts of a vengeful witch-hunt against President Buhari fell on deaf ears. The more they screamed the more they were horse-whipped into submission and made to weep bitterly.

 

As if that was not bad enough, PDP engaged itself in a war of attrition and became a house divided against itself. It was only a matter of time before it crumbled like the proverbial cookie does. Today, PDP has become its own worst enemy with the brickbats being thrown at one another by members of what used to be touted as the biggest political party in Africa. How are the mighty fallen!
The aim of my piece this week is to attempt what I did in 2014 when I wrote a permutative article titled ‘In Search of Mathematicians’. That was how I predicted a win for Buhari when many pundits still doubted such possibility. I intend to do so again in this column by painting a picture of what to expect in 2019. If you think that year is still far away, perish the thought.
The battle for the next Nigerian Presidential election started as soon as the last one was lost and won. The hurly-burly of the elections had not yet settled down when the potential gladiators picked up their gauntlets in readiness for the next combat.
The ruling party APC has suffered its own casualties as a result of its self-immolating wars of anticipation. What do I mean? The new men of power are already thinking ahead and wondering who may be too ambitious within their own fold. Any of such recalcitrant and ambitious rebels must be cut down to size, no matter his or her contribution to past victory and glory. Without mincing words, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, is the first victim and he has suffered massive collateral damage on account of suspicion. APC itself has suffered almost fatally in the process. The only thing holding it together for now is the fact that it is the party in power and thus presumably has limitless opportunities to distribute largesse to the army of party operatives and their cronies.
By this time next year, as this government enters its third year in power, reality would begin to set in and President Buhari will begin to discover and see original animals in human skin.
I foresee and predict a re-alignment of political forces from 2017. President Buhari will be encouraged and persuaded to run a second term by those who are currently profiting from his government. It is only normal and it is their legitimate right. Nothing stops the President from seeking a re-election within our Constitution. The only snag is that many politicians are going to gang up against him because they see him as an outsider in politics who has benefitted from their massive support but in return has been messing things up for them.
If the President remains stoically stubborn and refuses to play ball with politicians, he would have to fight dirty to win his ticket. It seems to me that he would have to do everything to retain the loyalty of one man by all means, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. It is almost impossible for any candidate to become President of Nigeria without the overwhelming support of the Yoruba and their current generalissimo, Tinubu, in particular.
Tinubu derives his stranglehold on power from his iron grip on Lagos. Lagos is a microcosm of Nigeria. Whoever controls Lagos owns the commercial nerve-centre of Nigeria, just like the California of America. Tinubu has been very lucky in that his anointed candidates, Babatunde Raji Fashola and Akinwunmi Ambode, have been very cerebrally successful. The current Governor of Lagos State, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, is already set, after just one year in office, to surpass all expectations.
According to impeccable sources, Buhari may therefore be forced to risk and pick Tinubu as his running-mate if push comes to shove. Tinubu’s protégé, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is the current Vice President, who comes with intimidating credentials but may not have enough political muscle to deliver enough votes to the kitty. The dilemma for Buhari is whether he should buck the trend set by his predecessors, starting from Shehu Shagari, and jettison his Vice President, especially when a cordial and mutually respectful relationship exists between them. In addition, Osinbajo has been doing exceedingly well and he is seen as one of the few shining lights of this Administration.
There is also the fact that Prof Osinbajo is a highly regarded and esteemed senior Christian figure and the President has needed him to silence those detractors that consider him an Islamic fundamentalist.
However, I believe that the controversy that could ensue from a potentially volatile Muslim/Muslim ticket may have been fixed substantially. Firstly, there is a precedent set by Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola the acclaimed winner of the 1993 elections who picked a fellow Muslim, Alhaji Baba Gana Kingibe, as his running-mate and still won in Nigeria’s freest and fairest election to date. Secondly, though Tinubu is a devout Muslim, his beloved wife is a hard-core Christian and a top-notch member of the same Redeemed Christian Church of God as the Vice President. Thirdly, there is the fact that Tinubu supported a Christian, Akinwunmi Ambode, as his anointed candidate for Governor of Lagos State, a deft move calculated to pacify those who may wish to foment religious crisis and conflagration then and in the future.
Tinubu is believed by many to have served Nigeria meritoriously and selflessly by suppressing his own personal ambition for that of others and it is believed that the kingmaker deserves a chunky reward the next time around if he so desires. He is acknowledged as being one of the most knowledgeable leaders in Nigeria today and a lot of people feel that his background in business and politics could bail Nigeria out of the economic quagmire of the moment. He is known to be a practical politician who knows how to make the world better for most people.
If the hawks succeed in getting Buhari to snub Tinubu because of his perceived threat to the President himself, the APC may split like PDP did before the collapse of the Jonathan Presidency.
One potential candidate is hovering in the wings and that is the Turaki of Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who has never hidden the fact that he wants the Presidency by all means. My next permutation is that the former Vice President and Tinubu who are two of the three most powerful and influential politicians in APC today (the third is Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki with his firm control of the Senate) may combine forces to thwart a Buhari re-election bid. They have been old allies since the time of Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. If they join forces, it may therefore spell doom for those seeking the re-election of President Buhari.
After the seeming lull in the Buhari-Tinubu love, it seems the recent appointments given to some of Tinubu’s acolytes appear designed to assuage his feeling. But would this be sufficient to bury the combustive ambition of a man who believes he still has so much to give to his country?
The third option which also involves Tinubu in the mix is one on which for a variety of reasons Buhari chooses not to run again. Without doubt, there are several other forces contending for power in case Buhari decides not to seek re-election. In this category, Tinubu’s name still features prominently. No one can deny the ability of Tinubu to transform Nigeria the way he did in Lagos. It is presumed that Buhari may generously want to pay Tinubu back for the support he gave him. He may also want to leave a lasting legacy and shed the toga of an ethnic jingoist by handing over to a Southerner. If this happens, I foresee the visionary Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, a core Buhari loyalist, becoming Tinubu’s running-mate, notwithstanding that this is another Muslim/Muslim ticket. Many APC loyalists believe this combination may fly.
There is a fourth option and this is coming from the direction of PDP. The theory here is that PDP can still spring a surprise on Buhari and pay him back in his own coin. The PDP apologists believe the North has lost more under Buhari despite allocating many political appointments to the region. They are of the opinion that former President Jonathan did more for them and gave them access and respect than their own man Buhari who they accuse of being standoffish. This is the reason that many Northerners, apart from his kinsmen in the South South, have become the biggest promoter of PDP.

In case you think Jonathan is dead and buried politically, perish the thought! He still holds the biggest ace in PDP. In fact, many in PDP today see him as their best candidate in 2019 because some of his transformation agenda are beginning to come to fruition. They are hoping and banking on Buhari becoming so unpopular that Jonathan would be sorely missed by Nigerians who would practically beg him to come back.
The rising profile and the promotion of Jonathan in the international community is part of that systematic way of re-polishing, repackaging, redefining and preparing him for a return to power. Every attempt to smear him with a tar brush would be rebuffed by his die-hard loyalists who see Buhari as someone trying to kill any future role for Jonathan as Nigerian President. They are totally committed to ensuring that Jonathan is well protected between now and next year when serious politicking would have reached a crescendo again. The hope is that as a former civilian President, he can bounce back to power like President Mathieu Kerekou did in Benin Republic, when he returned in 1996 after quitting in 1991.
Who knows tomorrow?

Letter To The Islamic Feminist by @iNazeerr

Dear Islamic Feminist,

It is my hope that you are in a good mood today, for I do not hope to be on your bad side. This is my second article on feminism, so let me get straight to the point. Since you have chosen to give Feminism an Islamic side, I have few questions and comments:

I have noticed how the moment someone asks questions or casts doubts on Feminism you throw shades and resort to insults and name-calling, so I ask, is that a part of Islam, did Rasulullah react that way even to known hypocrites like Ibn Ubayy?
I would love to know why it is compulsory for me to support your cause, and, if I do not support your cause, does that make me a lesser human being?

You say you seek after equality between both genders, and the rights of women, So I ask, in what Sense? For, the Islam I know is a complete religion that granted women the rights of inheritance, right to own properties and more, over 1,400 years ago, before the white man/westerners even thought of granting women basic rights.

In Islam, men & women are equal before Allah, it is only their deeds that separates them. Nonetheless, men and women play separate roles in the society. Allah (SWT) said “And the male is not like the female” Al Imran (36).

Allah (SWT) also said “but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis”    Al Baqarah (233). This clearly shows a difference in roles/duties played. We are unique creations of the Lord. HE created us differently, internally and externally.

Women have always been the support system, the back-bone, the strongest pillars in Islamic societies, for the progress of the society depends on them. Women have always been given a high status in Islam, Rasulullah (SAW) said: “The most complete believer is the best in character, and the best of you is the best to his womenfolk” [Tirmidhi 1162]. There is no need for any competition because Allah (SWT) described Muslim men and women as “clothing or garments for each other” Al Baqarah (187). If truly your feminism seeks to fight for the rights granted to you by Islam, then all practicing muslims are indeed feminists.

As you demand for equality and respect, I hope you demand for it in all ramifications, not a lop-sided one. Using your ‘need for Islamic Feminism’ logic; I am certain you hear stories of men being maltreated by their wives too (which we mostly love to shove aside) I hope It is okay for me to start a campaign for men to be treated better by their wives and society, without you deriding me? Hope I can also start an ‘Islamic Meninism’ campaign using Hadith & Seerah that mostly speak about being good to men, as justification?

Using your logic of equality, I would also love more women to participate in not only corporate but menial jobs as well. Let’s drop the principle of being ‘gentlemen’ and ‘courteous’ as it might lead to misogyny. Let me just stay on my seat in a bus, for, If I stand for the pregnant or old lady, it is tantamount to me disrespecting women! Also, in the interest of equality, I ask, why should more women be given the upper hand in government agencies and parastatals, when at the same time they cry for equality?
My dear Islamic feminist, It is my hope that beyond the internet, in your home, you do not have an underaged girl that serves as your babysitter or maid, following you with your baby to school?

Are you sure you do not have a little 13, 14 or 15 year old that boils water for your kids to shower and go to school while she remains at home? I also hope you do not have an ‘almajiri’ that washes your plates and clothes, instead of going to school? Charity, they say, begins at home! If we don’t see you, God sees you…..

I also hope that you would one day stop deriding mature women in their life choices, choices voluntarily made; like a woman voluntarily choosing to wear a niqab or choosing to get married and having children without you looking down at her choices. I still do not understand why it is okay for an Adult to have sex with whomever, whenever she pleases but it’s not okay to get married when she pleases. Simply does not add up. At least, for me!

I would also love to know when and how you became the legitimate representative of all Muslim women and who gave you the sole right to determine what is oppressive or not!
My dear Islamic Feminist, In the words of feminist scholars Leila Rupp and Verta Taylor: Feminism ”is a contested term even in the present, and historical literature is full of kinds of feminists who would surely have had a hard time finding common ground: Nazi feminists and Jewish feminists, Catholic feminists and Islamic feminists, socialist feminists and utopian feminists, social feminists and national feminists” As Feminism in itself is contradictory, in an identity crisis. Who do you really represent? Are you really content with Islamic laws or you seek to cherry-pick and panel beat injunctions to fit your narrative? For, the Islam I know is about (social) justice for everybody, Muslims and Non-Muslims alike, and if feminism will lead us all to ‘Just’ societies then let us do it properly! Is your Islam greater than your feminism or your feminism greater than your Islam? That, by the way, is between you and your Rabb. I would just like you to search your conscience!

I know it is not compulsory for you (even if you’re a stay at home wife) to cook for your husband But should we discard various hadiths/narrations that discuss being kind to your husband/family? There’s this Hadith From Asma’ bint Yazid (in her capacity as a representative of the women) she complained to the Prophet (SAW) about women “being confined to the houses and bearing children while the men attend congregational prayers, funerals and other Islamic duties” AND “when men go for Hajj, they look after their properties, weave clothes and raise children” She asked, “will we not share with you (men) the reward?” The Prophet (SAW) turned (responded) saying “Understand O woman, and tell the other women behind you, that a wife looking after her husband, seeking his consent, and going along with his assent is equal to all that (i.e all that has been commanded to the men by the religion). She went back, her face, shining with happiness. This has been narrated by Baihaqee and also by Ibn Atheer in Usd al Ghaabah.

I pray that your face shines like that of Asma’ bint Yazid as you read this. This is not about either of us winning, rather, it is about seeking to understand each other. But let me categorically say this as a response to the insults and self-entitlement you mostly portray as you go about justifying feminism; I do not have to like you or your ideas, neither do you have to like me or my ideas, what I must rather do is, to respect the fact that you have a right to your belief!

Let me also say this; It takes an educated man to know his rights upon his wife and her rights upon him, BUT it takes the fear of Allah for him or her not to overstep.

At the risk of making this article too bulky, I shall stop here…for now.

Your Sincere Friend,

Nazir.

MY ADVICE TO THE RESTLESS NIGERIAN YOUTH By Dr Nura Alkali

1. Some of you got fingers burnt out of a passion for anything “Buhari”. This message is addressed to you, not the scammers who exploited your naiveté.

2. Note that PMB – as important as he is today – is only a symbol of our cherished values and not the values themselves. So, stick to the values even as you support PMB, and before next you join a group peddling his name, identify its motives; inquire on its leadership, and insist on seeing all relevant documents. You would take these measures before buying land to avoid being swindled, but between land and reputation, I’d rather lose land, so I’d inquire more before joining a group.

3. The women among you should please resist telling your intimate details to friends you meet on the internet, because once you two fight, and sooner or later women often do, rest assured of the world knowing those details – along with a sprinkling of lies to make them more credible.

4. If you want to make Nigeria better, do something that will last well beyond PMB’s tenure in office. Among many good ideas I saw recently on Facebook are public awareness campaigns to help educate boys and the girl-child; campaigns against women-trafficking and “baby factories”; and sponsored radio programs and jingles to dissuade female BH suicide bombers. They will all save lives and improve quality of life in our societies.

5. To achieve credibility, do not associate your activities with the presidency or seek financial contributions from public officials. Those are well-trodden paths in Nigeria’s corruption culture, and the farther you keep away from them, the nearer you are to your goals. The best way to fund NGOs is through membership dues. Imagine 10,000 members each contributing N2,000 a month (less than most people’s phone bills). That is N240 million yearly, which can build five classroom blocks or 10 rural health clinics.

6. If anti-corruption is your only interest, N240 million can go a long way in exposing corrupt public officials through citizen action committees, media campaigns, use of IT, and even hiring of 10 SANS to help prosecute the corrupt.

7. Restlessness is an asset when handled properly.

Do Nigerian Leaders Ever Watch Television? By @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, you must be wondering why I chose this title for my column today. If you wait a moment and you want to know the real reason, I shall explain in the next few lines. Television has become a most important platform in the world of media today. Its attraction derives from the simultaneous usage of audio and visual mediums. As a young boy growing up in the ancient city of Ile-Ife, I used to marvel at the magic behind this extraordinary human invention. As a “bush” boy, I actually imagined at some point that some people must have been smuggled into television boxes by those wizards and goblins called oyibo (White people). Till this day it remains the eighth wonder.

In those days, television was a rarity. It was mainly in black and white. Only one big man, Chief S.O. Fadiora, popularly known as Baba Larele, had television in our neighbourhood. We had the privilege of standing by his window to watch some programmes. This opportunity fired our imagination. We saw events from far-flung places. We watched football. We enjoyed musicals. We savoured boxing. Wow, Mohammed Ali was the greatest. We had to stay awake and endure the giant mosquitos making a feast of our exposed parts anytime he was fighting. Even Nigerian television paraded exciting programmes. The adverts were nice, decent and easily remember-able. Life was good and Television was a must watch for us.

If television was that important then, you can imagine how powerful it has become now with live broadcasts in vivid colours from any part of the globe. There is no subject under the sun that is not covered by television. You can virtually study from the comfort of your home. You can visit anywhere in the world without going near any airport. You can witness human advancement at the speed of light and the collapse of nations at the drop of a hat. The world has become one box office movie. Everything has been demystified and decoded. Television has of course been amplified and expanded by its social media variants through You Tube and other variants.

Where am I going with this preamble? It is simple and straight-forward. No serious leader should have excuse for failure. Ideas are available practically free of charge to those who need and want it. Power is no longer a product of abracadabra. Videos, smartphones, laptops, iPads, and others have contributed immensely to the growth of television. Social media has even done so much to bring information nearer home. Any information can be obtained without fuss or stress. You can build or penetrate any library in the world. Information is knowledge and knowledge is power. How come our leaders have refused to take advantage of the globalisation of anything and everything?

Someone sat down somewhere in Dubai and said he wanted to build the tallest building in the world which used to be the exclusive preserve of American cities. The same man sat down and decided that the biggest airport in the world can be built in a tiny Arabian desert. He didn’t have to travel or globetrot. Anything he wanted was handy at the touch of a button. He probably got ideas first from watching television and thought to himself I could do this better.

I got inspiration for this column this week from watching the Brussels, Belgium, attack on television. Even as I sit down to write this the whole world is still gripped and held spellbound by events unfolding in that country which are being beamed live on diverse global news channels. They’ve killed our sleep at night and replaced it with insomnia. My brain is pounding and racing with endless questions about why we are not able to replicate these things despite being blessed with some of the brightest and smartest human souls on earth.

The first lesson I expect our leaders to learn from watching the spectacle on television is that our present problems would never go away until we learn how to do things differently. For example, the war against terrorism is largely a matter of intelligence combining the resources available to different arms of security forces especially the Police. In Nigeria we drag the army out of their barracks to fight terrorists with weapons of war. Watching Belgium on television, the army plays a lesser role and they are called out in very extreme conditions. What this tells me is that we need to retrain and upgrade our ragtag police force. They can’t achieve much in their current configuration. They must be well educated, trained, equipped, empowered and remunerated. The Police is the umbilical cord that joins humans and society. It is not the Army or indeed other segments of the Armed Forces. It seems that we have allowed our recent past which has been dominated by military oppression and suppression to overshadow the activities of our security forces and how they operate. That is not the way of the world and it is not how we will make progress if we are to secure our people and even borders. The truth is that the military is ill-equipped for the task and role thrust upon it by our leaders not because they do not have the equipment but because they do not have the temperament and domestic savvy required for operations such as this. On the contrary all the military should do is to complement the efforts of the other members of the security forces like the Police, DSS and other ‘civilian’ security agencies.

The second lesson is the power of determination and tenacity. The Belgian government launched a blistering counter-attack after the bombs that reverberated through the airport and Metro. True, the security forces appear to have missed early warning signs, but they quickly made up for their lapses in the manner in which they responded to the dastardly and cowardly attacks. Since the bombings, the security offensive has been relentless and productive. What is noteworthy is that the media has been kept as informed as possible. The result is that the people, who are probably the most significant object of security, are fully involved in the security operation, contributing their quota by supplying valuable information, like the taxi driver who provided the valuable nugget of information that led to a second suspect being sought in relation to the Metro bombing.

Nearly two years after over 200 young girls vanished into thin air in Chibok, nothing tangible has come out of the search by the former and present governments. I appreciate the fact that the Government has apparently very recently rescued about 830 hostages from Boko Haram in Borno. In this regard one must commend the security forces and the Government. But this success merely highlights the dismal failure with regard to the Chibok girls after a couple of years. In relation to the missing girls, the body language was and continues to be very worrisome. Life seemingly continues as normal. What should have been a national tragedy uniting us was even politicised. The few selfless individuals who chose to draw attention to this unprecedented disaster were treated with disdain. In Belgium, about 30 people died and 300 were injured and the world was literally brought to a standstill because the government knew the huge responsibility bestowed on it. It was reminiscent of the attitude to the French shootings and killings earlier on this year. Our leaders get angry when asked to do their job. They take it personal, forgetting that this is one of the reasons they were elected into their positions in the first place. You become an instant enemy.

The third big lesson from watching Belgium on television is what I saw as efficient and coherent management of Information. Every department explains its role and achievement or challenges. I did not see any Information Minister, Special Adviser, Senior Special Assistant, Presidential Media Support Group, I Stand with the President Group, Special Adviser Social Media, Special Assistant, Chief of Staff, National Security Adviser and others competing to take charge of media. There was no cacophony of misinformation. No one harassed the Media. Even two prominent Ministers offered their resignations but were rejected. Government elsewhere would have taken hurried decisions before realising that sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t know. It would be impossible for new Ministers to know what to do in the middle of this crisis. Better to chase the hyena away before returning to the hen later.

The fourth lesson is the level of preparedness. Everything needed and necessary was ready and pulled out immediately the bombs exploded; ambulances, oxygen, blood, dogs, fire trucks, hospital facilities appeared in a jiffy. Even hotels were converted to emergency clinics. The nation and the world stood together. Effort was made to identify victims dead or alive. Within days so many suspected or confirmed terrorists were trailed and apprehended. I saw a sense of mission and commitment. There has been no attempt to trade blames yet. Errors have been identified and accepted. But people have moved on immediately because there is a common enemy to be overcome. No political party or politician took advantage of the brouhaha to advance personal ambition. It is obvious there are sharp disagreements and undercurrents here and there but everyone is doing what needs to be done for now. There is always time for recrimination later.
The fifth lesson I learnt from watching television is that Nigerian leaders are too flamboyant and ceremonial. Even in the middle of our intractable crises, we have refused to tone down the pomp and pageantry of power. Our leaders still waste our dwindling resources on over-bloated personnel. Our leaders still travel abroad with security aides in full military regalia. If they watch television and take time to study protocol and etiquette they would realise that their style has become outlandishly archaic. Why should journalists want to capture the speech of a President and they are forced to take pictures of two people because of an outdated security trend. As mundane as this may seem, it is one of the things that shows the world that we are not serious. I saw Nigerian First Ladies in the past roaming the streets of Washington DC and London with uniformed orderlies. Why are we so uncouth? I have not seen world leaders or indeed their spouses being obviously attended by uniformed men abroad. The truth is that effective and efficient security of leaders is now an unobtrusive thing. I often wonder how an Aide-de-Camp dedicated to taking a bullet for his charge can do so from behind the person? Indeed what can he even see from that less than vantage position that would enable him to protect his ward? Na wah!

I’m very convinced that our leaders must watch good channels on television. It is impossible not to do so given the preponderance of votes in their budgets for this purpose. We have a few Nigerian channels but something must be done to bring NTA up to date with the rest of the civilised world. It is shameful that a country as big and powerful as Nigeria is not able to run a world class television channel that would compete with CNN, Al Jazeera, Sky, Fox, BBC, CCTV News, French, Russian, Chinese and others now rocking the world and expressing the views of their home country owners. A nation as strong and powerful as Nigeria should have a voice of its own. This is what Nduka Obaigbeina is doing with Arise News and Tony Dara did with NN24 before it went under. These are geniuses who like their forerunners Raymond Dokpesi, Gabriel Igbinedion, Osa Sonny Adun, Steve Ojo, Busari Gbadeyanka, John Momoh, Ben Murray Bruce, Bola Tinubu and others invested heavily in television, a casino of sorts. Lack of enabling environment and too much government control has made television business extra tedious in Nigeria. A government of Change can turn things around for the better if it sets its priorities right. But it would amount to nothing or mere wishful thinking if the leaders don’t watch television or prefer channels that engage in hero-worship.

It is time for a CHANGE!

PENDULUM: THE MINISTERS ARE WORKING BUT INFORMATION IS SCANTY by @DeleMomodu

Fellow Nigerians, I have been greatly troubled by the spate of criticisms and vicious attacks against the Buhari government. You cannot blame me. I was one of those who went all out to campaign for the change movement. Naturally, we must take credit for whatever success President Buhari achieves and face the public odium for its failure, God forbid. My fervent prayer had been that Buhari will not fail because the disgrace would be too monumental for some of us.

I decided to go on a solo rescue mission hoping to make my modest contribution in the process. What I discovered through my interactions with some of our leaders is that majority have been too scared of talking for whatever reason. My unlettered mum used to tell me a Yoruba adage that “lack of effective communication is the beginning of foolishness and backwardness.
I have since had the opportunity of chatting hither and tither with some of the key cabinet members, officially and unofficially and realised that this government should jettison propaganda and let each Ministry provide its road maps to Nigerians. For example, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola is a super technocrat who has been saddled with so much. After our one hour long telephone conversation, he allayed my fears substantially on the intractable power problems in our country. He is meticulously plotting his paths through the labyrinth of electrical wilderness. Very soon, he believes, we shall enjoy some relief. He is not someone to be fazed on intimidated by daunting challenges.
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi is another Minister in charge of one of the most essential sectors of our economy, transportation. In the last few weeks, he’s been able to breakdown his plans and activities. I was very impressed when he acknowledged the foundation laid by former President Goodluck Jonathan and how the Buhari government would work assiduously to bring our transportation to its most modern level ever. His ideas are ambitious but practical.

I have been mostly worried about the petroleum sector. The long queues have returned with a vengeance. The price of oil has fallen globally and our fattest cash cow has been growing leaner. Dr Ibe Kachikwu is a brainbox I have known for decades. They don’t get better than him in that industry. What then is the problem? To change any system is not always very simple. Those who used to make easy money would do anything and everything to frustrate the changer. My probe revealed some of the obstacles militating against this government but slowly and steadily hope is rising.
Change is in the air. Although it has been slow in coming it is gratifying to note that the patience of the longsuffering Nigerian masses, especially in the area of delivery of petroleum products is going to be rewarded after all. I’m willing to wait a little more for the magic wand to blossom.

President Muhammadu Buhari has never hidden the fact that apart from the security situation and the fight against corruption his major love is to reproduce his feats in revamping the petroleum sector in respect of which he had two bites at the cherry, firstly as Commissioner for Petroleum under the military administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo between 1976 and 1979 and more recently as Chairman of the Petroleum Task Force (PTF) under President Olusegun Obasanjo. As it was one of the first acts of his present administration was the appointment of Nigerian and Harvard trained Dr Ibe Kachikwu as Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC). Kachikwu’s appointment was hailed as all those who know him as a first rate appointment and one likely to sanitise the petroleum sector after the tales of corruption and mismanagement that we had been regaled with. When Kachikwu was later appointed as Minister of State in the Ministry of Petroleum Resources thuds being the first person to combine the dual roles of Group Managing Director of NNPC and Minister no one batted an eyelid as Kachikwu had already distinguished himself as an astute manager of this depreciating national economic pillar and a savvy administrator capable of utilising and maximising the use of scarce resources.
It is also a demonstration of the fairness and objectivity of Dr Kachikwu that he has been quick to accept that some of the groundwork of what he has been doing at NNPC and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources was laid by previous administrations. However what he has excelled in is to bring his vast array of talents and contacts to bear in taking the NNPC to the next level by insisting that things must work rather than just jettisoning them. Thus he has intensified work on preserving the security and integrity of the pipeline network by combining more traditional methods of manual security with proven scientific methods. The result is that our pipelines are becoming more secure and we will soon begin to see the changes that have been rung.

In agreement with President Buhari that we cannot have refineries and still be importing petroleum products Kachikwu has gone to great lengths to oversee the revival of the ailing refineries in the country. It is clear that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources has taking the President’s marching orders to heart and he has definitely been making giant strides in this respect.

“For the first time, Nigeria’s refineries are now ready to work”, Dr Kachilkwu said at a press briefing on Tuesday. “For the first time, our refineries are ready now to work. Crude has been pumped from Brass to Port Harcourt. Pipeline is being used for the first time in six years. For the first time we are able to pump to Ilorin, we have not done that in 10 years.”
The Minister of State also said that NNPC has saved Nigeria N1 trillion in what would have been subsidy payments and a further $1 billion under an efficient and effective importation programme which he has put in place. He has also listed some other achievements in the petroleum industry in the short period of time that he has taken command of the sector.
He said the change at NNPC is only just starting, adding that NNPC which should ordinarily be a cash cow but has been seriously haemorrhaging in the past will be delivering profit in two to three months. He expatiated by stating that from the innovative trend of publishing reports on the Corporation’s activities Nigerians would see that the Corporation has gone from an average deficit of over N30 billion to N3 billion in a period of six months.
Dr Kachikwu added “If you continue on this tangent, this company should continue to show monthly profitability in two to three months. That would be dramatic, and that is even before we have even started – because we haven’t started.”

Looking at specific initiatives that Dr Kachikwu has deployed, the Direct Sales-Direct Purchase (DSDP) initiative seems to be one of the most dramatic. Kachikwu modestly attributes the adoption and unqualified success of DSDP to all Nigerians who through their suggestions and concern led to him and his team coming up with the final concept of DSDP. DSDP was adopted to replace the much maligned and abused Crude Oil Swap and the Offshore Processing Arrangement (OPA). The aim was to reduce corruption and introduce and entrench transparency into the crude oil for product exchange transactions carried on by the Corporation. To achieve this, the bidding process has been thrown open. In addition, because the assessment process is transparent and is based on the global and or national track record of performance of the respective bidding companies, the influence of the Minister or GMD of NNPC is greatly reduced. The effect is that bid winners are selected on merit rather than on the basis of ‘man know man’ so that the entire process can now be said to fully comply and be in tandem with global best practices.
Before the advent of DSDP, crude oil was exchanged for petroleum products through third party traders at a pre-determined yield pattern. However the DSDP option eliminates all the middlemen and gives the NNPC control of the sale and purchase of crude oil with its partners with the expectation that the initiative would save the Country at least $1 billion annually. In effect the policy is aimed at reducing the gaps inherent in the OPA and the losses incurred by the NNPC in the past.

Another positive outcome of the new arrangement is that it would help the country to grow indigenous capacity in the international crude oil business and generate employment opportunities for indigenous companies because the Minister is determined to encourage fellow Nigerians by ensuring that they are selected to participate in the initiative albeit through the transparent process that has been evolved.
The DSDP initiative also gives other government agencies such as the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Nigeria Extractive Industry and Transparency Initiative (NEITI), the opportunity to be a part of the bidding process in order to engender adherence to due process.

Notably Dr Kachikwu has implemented a price modulation policy which has rid the Federal Government of the burden of subsidy on imported petroleum products since January 2016. As Dr Kachikwu said on Tuesday “Look at the fact that with the removal or connivance on the removal of subsidy cost, you are saving the nation N1 trillion. For the first time this organisation is not worrying about where to get the next subsidy money or who is going to pay it.”
“But imagine what it looks like if you succeeded in identifying and doing all those. Imagine what it would look like if every business unit followed the same principles and monitored cost at those various levels.” For this reason Kachikwu has gone forward to unbundle the monolithic NNPC and established 5 profit units as separate entities with two further administrative units which owing to their very nature are supportive of the entire organisation.

Kachikwu said that for the first time, NNPC has met up with 75 percent of its responsibility to the federation account, highlighting the new ways of the corporation.
“This is simply through your 20 fixes; you deciding to cut costs, and to watch your expenses and there’s still a huge amount of expenses you still need to cut.
There is definitely more to come from this man as he next targets the elimination of the perennial fuel scarcity in the country.

AMBSAM MEMORIAL FOUNDATION

On 28th March, 2015, (the day of the Presidential and National Assembly elections) Epe, in Lagos State, was thrown into deep sorrow and mourning following the tragic death of five illustrious sons of the town in a boat accident. These young and promising gentlemen are Olakunle Adewale, Olawale Mogaji, Gbolahan
Mogaji, Muiz Bello and Shamsideen Agoro.

These young men were on election-related assignment to some remote villages in the Epe area where water transportation was the only means of movement. Whilst they accomplished their assignment they sadly didn’t return alive. A sixth person, Tunde Salawu, who was not involved in the boat accident also died about the same time whilst on election-related assignment. The tragic boat incident and the death of Salawu was unprecedented in the history of the town and brought grief and anguish all round.

The untimely death of these gentlemen takes on added significance when one takes into account that Epe is the hometown of the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, a governor who I admire a lot because of the silent but painstaking and decent way that he is continuing in the transformation of Lagos State and building on the legacy of his predecessors.

Given the circumstances of their demise and the vacuum apparently created at family level, the immediate consolatory step envisioned after the sad development was to institutionalize a programme that would immortalize them and keep them in our consciousness. In this direction, a group of concerned and public-spirited individuals established a not-for-profit, non-governmental foundation known as AMBSAM Memorial Foundation in honour of their memories. (AMBSAM is derived from the initials of the victims).

One of the objectives of the Foundation is to cater for the immediate dependents of the departed. The Foundation will also be used as a spring-board to alleviate the suffering of other less privileged and vulnerable youths in the community regardless of religion or gender. I associate with the spirit and intentions of the founders of the Foundation because all too often we give no regard at all to causes such as this. In other countries this kind of initiative is the norm and it is my hope and expectation that in the not too distant future tragedies such as this and the Lekki Gardens disaster as another instance will occupy our consciousness through overt acts and will not be swept under the carpet after a couple of months. My colleagues in the Media, both traditional and social, bear a huge burden and responsibility in this regard. We must never forget our basic humanity and there is no better way to remember than to remember innocent victims like those now honoured by the AMBSAM foundation.

The launching of the Foundation is slated to hold on Monday, 28th March, 2016 to coincide with the first year anniversary of the incident. The concept of the AMBSAM Foundation is salutary and should be commended particularly as it honours otherwise nondescript Nigerians!​