A Manifesto For The Future

Image by Tari Tekenah

Let us move away from the routine that has left the youth, the ordinary man and woman of our state on the outside amidst overflowing abundance both in resources and human capital.

The standard of living is going down. Unemployment, poverty and illiteracy is rising like they are competing for something monumental. There is a gap in the relationship between the state’s economy and youth engagement in productive activities.

A great percentage of our people live in the rural areas with serious ecological problems, low educational opportunities and little or no access to the internet. With the massive transformation the internet has on the global economy, we risk leaving a huge portion of our population at a disadvantaged position from which they might never recover in time to compete in a world that is becoming more global in every aspect. This should be an issue for us all.

This election is about giving you and our community the strongest possible voice in the decisions that will be taken in Bayelsa. Let’s help ourselves. With your support, I offer you a strong voice. I am passionate about community service. I will look to improving and making the most of the many opportunities that exist in our state. I will work hard for economic development, education, and employment opportunities for the youths in our communities.

I will make sure our community is not only heard, but becomes a compelling voice. Having people engaged, sharing ideas, networking for the overall development of our state.

The future we hope for is within our sights. I am asking for your vote. A vote for Theresa Tekenah is an investment for an assured future.

How APC Can Win Bayelsa 2019 Governorship Election, By Kesiye Newman

The performance of the All Progressives Congress (APC), in Bayelsa State, at the recently concluded Presidential, National and State House of Assembly elections can be said to be phenomenal, considering that the state has been under the rule of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP since 1999. 

In the last National Assembly election, the APC successfully wrestled two Federal House of Representatives seats out of five from the PDP, with one Senatorial seat out of three, in its kitty, whereas it had none in 2015.

The party also made a remarkable improvement in the state house of assembly election, where it clinched four seats out of the twenty three seats declared, as opposed to one out of 24 in the 2015 election, and there’s a likelihood of one or more seats coming its way subsequently.

In the presidential election, the APC garnered an impressive 118,821 votes as against it’s 2015 performance which recorded a paltry 5,194 votes. 

To build upon this success, the party must as a matter urgency present a united front, with a laser-etched focus, completely devoid of any acrimony as it gears up to confront the ruling party in the state come November 2, 2019, which the governorship election has been slated for. 

Though it is not time for the party primaries yet, but the feelers within the party, suggest some storm may arise in the party in the days ahead as the party prepares to pick its candidate come August 2019 that the parties primary election has been slated for. 

Political watchers are not anticipating the storm from the enfant terrible of the party, Eng. Preye Aganaba, known to be working in cahoots with external forces to cause disaffection in the party. Rather, the storm may likely come from the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural development, Rt. Hon. Heineken Lokpobiri, who is said to have an eye on the party’s ticket. 

Some political pundits are of the opinion that this could be a smart political strategy from the Honourable Minister, whose interest is seen as a bargaining chip to cut a deal with the leader of the party in the state, Chief Timipre Sylva, for another ministerial appointment in the new cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari. 

While it is within his fundamental human right to aspire for the ticket of his party, it is my humble opinion that Heineken Lokpobiri should be gracious enough to reciprocate the magnanimity of Chief Timipre Sylva, who threw a ministerial position at him on a platter of gold. He should consider the overall interest of the party, and support Timipre Sylva’s bid to clinch the coveted seat of power in the state.

Lokpobiri, has in all honesty, enjoyed an unmerited goodwill from Sylva, who handed him a ministerial position shortly after dumping the PDP for the APC, after he failed to secure his former party, PDP’s senatorial ticket that he lost to Foster Ogola in 2015. 

As it stands, the odds are not in favour of Lokpobiri, who even as a serving minister failed to deliver President Muhammadu Buhari, in both his polling unit, ward, local government and senatorial district. His performance even during the 2015 governorship election was unimpressive, and these are facts.

Lokpobiri isn’t known to command any tangible followership within his party that could be leveraged on, if he throws his hat into the ring for the governorship ticket. The same can be said about him even at the state level. It would therefore be quite an onerous task to get his party’s adherents behind him, if he wants to push through with his aspiration.

Another odd against Lokpobiri is the fact that he comes from the same senatorial district with the outgoing governor, Hon. Henry Seriake Dickson, who has ruled the state for about eight years. This factor would certainly work against his aspiration, as other senatorial districts would sure frown at Bayelsa West retaining the governorship seat of the state after its eight years spell. 

The PDP in the state is badly wounded at the moment, as it was shocked beyond words at the performance of the APC in the recently concluded elections, it would therefore go into the governorship election like a wounded lion, throwing all its arsenals into the battle for the soul of the state.

Though Dickson is not contesting again, but he would sure be at the forefront when his party, PDP, files out against the APC in the governorship contest. It is common knowledge to all, that for Dickson; all is fair in love and war, as such the APC cannot afford to go into the governorship contest with a candidate who does not possess the desired clout to match the PDP strength for strength. 

At the moment, only one person in the APC has what it takes to lead the charge against the PDP, and emerge successful, and the man is Timipre Sylva. Sylva still commands an impressive followership in the party and in the state, and should therefore be encouraged and supported by all party adherents, as the party seeks to take over government in the state.

The APC must ensure it capitalizes on the poor performance of the PDP in the state under the Dickson led administration, by projecting a common front, so it could defeat the PDP come November 2. 

Even the PDP knows that at the moment, Sylva remains its worst nightmare. Therefore, if the APC is desirous of victory at the polls come November sentiments must be put aside, as Sylva remains the best option the party has. Any other alternative would spell doom for the party.

With profound respect to the Honourable Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Rt. Hon. Heineken Lokpobiri, and other chieftains of the party who may have an eye on the party’s ticket, I humbly submit that they consider the interest of the party over and above their individual interest, and support the man that has shown capacity to get the party into Creek Haven, Government House, Bayelsa State.

 

 

Kesiye Newman is a Public Affairs Analyst based in Yenagoa.

The Rise of a Political Mogul

Blueprint: “I sit and ponder at my country, Nigeria. I muse and turn over in my mind how a series of the game plan by citizens, policy and decision makers have brought us to an administration which deserves a standing ovation. 

“On the far side of this layout are the APC chieftains, the likes of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Arc. Bulama Waziri and Bola Tinubu, among many. Now in a colony of political intellects,  with APC at the climax of mending loose ends within the party, I am coerced into anticipating greatness for Nigeria. Amongst this cluster however is a munificent man worthy of recall.

“A man who has perused time and strenght into this province, Arc. Waziri Bulama.

“Having served the party for over a decennium, he has made manifest of his interest for the APC national secretary.

“Bulama, who is very calm, and articulate will certainly complement the chairman’s personality, which heavily weighs towards innovation and reliability. If the decision makers make the right decision by shortlisting Bulama,  the two will unequivocally make APC a Brobdingnagian establishment.   

“As a stakeholder of the party, a woman, a youth and a member of Bulama Support Group, i am optimistic that this will happen. When i joined this noble cause it had just few members, within a span of one week i witnessed volunteers from all corners of the six geopolitical zones troop in thousands. 

“I have seen immense hope in their eyes; they yearn and thirst for Arc. Waziri to become the APC National Secretary. What took me aback is the secretary of BSG Comrade Paul Oyiborolume, and members of the group who have invested their time, resources and energy into the campaign for Waziri. The Founder of BSG Alhaji Ibrahim Waziri and head of strategy and planning along with members of the committee are at the apex of the whole lot, mobilising volunteers and paying homage to all corners of the country.

“This gesture is one that deserves an acknowledgement of merit. As an observer and partner i am obliged to give an enthusiastic recognition to the group. Thus, Bulama is a man we are proud of.

“It is to no surprise that Comrade Adams along with stakeholders of the party made a redoubtable and distinguished resolute in the campaign by selecting Bulama at the Zenith of the presidential campaign. 

“However, the APC which has whirled around President Muhammadu Buhari since inception will need to make tough, quick yet strategic conclusions as to who they hand pick for National Secretarial role. 

“With the exit of Baba Buhari in 2023 the party will have to construct robust leadership structures that will give it a unifying footing before this time. As a Nigerian and member of BSG, i anticipate that APC will put to use Arc. Waziri Bulama to serve as the National Secretary for the party.

“My reasons span from the fact that he is cerebral, modern, calm and has wisdom the party will definitely make good use. He has moved solidly from the grassroots to the steep incline of Nigerian politics. He gives us hope as a young people in Nigeria.”

Farida Ali Adamu, is the Co-chairperson, Media and Publicity Committee, Bulama Support Group.

Waziri Bulama For APC National Secretary

Following the victory of the National Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon Mai Mala Buni, who was recently elected as the Governor-Elect of Yobe State, North East, Nigeria, the APC is in the process of replacing its National Secretary.

Architect Waziri Bulama, had previously contested for the position of National Secretary during the 2018 National Convention of the party but being a peaceful man full of love for his statesmen and the APC at large, stepped down for Mr Buni to emerge unopposed after an agreement by leaders of the party from the North East geo-political zone where the position was zoned to.

Arch Bulama Waziri served as the Deputy Director-General (Coordination) of the APC Presidential Campaign Council in 2019. He also served as a member, Security subcommittee of the Ahmed Joda Transition committee, 2015. He was a member of Policy support Group of the APC Presidential campaign council, 2015.

He played a pivotal role during the merger and formation stage of the party when he headed the strategy and planning committee which gave the APC firm footing and ensured victory for the party in the 2015 general election.

Arch Waziri Bulama has the experience, skills, leadership qualities, administrative skills, political knowledge, to manage the affairs of the APC as National Secretary.

Arch Waziri is passionate about positively impacting the people and society at large through building a sustainable platform for future socio economic development. He has always demonstrated deep loyalty and sincere commitment to the ideals of the APC.

He is youth, gender friendly, and a strong supporter of women. I urge the leadership of the party to appoint Arch Waziri as National Secretary of our great party.

APC!

Next Level!

Save our Forests, Conserve Wildlife

The fact that government rarely cares for human beings in this country has diminished any thought of it caring for wildlife that has no value attached to it. 

If anything, wildlife conservation is a stuff that is forgotten and rarely mentioned whenever the authorities discuss priorities in policy thrust. This is very sad. The future is in jeopardy likewise the human populations except there is a change in mindset.

There is a symbiotic relationship between man and nature. Man needs nature to survive and not the other way round. No doubt, there are forestry and wildlife conservation laws in the country that are not enforced. This gives unbridled freedom to poachers and forest destroyers and no one seems to care. It is a tragedy.

Thus, the recent call by the Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) for stiffer penalties on deforestation and illegal trade in wildlife may be a lone but significant voice. The call is not new. There is no known policy initiative by any tier of government in the country to protect wildlife. The last thing on the agenda of authorities in the country is wildlife conservation.

The NCF had on the occasion of this year’s World Wildlife Day held the other day ahead of the International Day of Forest, called for stiffer punishment for forest and wildlife destruction.

The Head, Environmental Education Unit of the NCF, Mrs. Abidemi Balogun, said a lot more could still be done in the fight against illegal wildlife trade as well as forest preservations.

A recent report by experts said over 90 per cent of Nigeria’s forest cover had been destroyed by human activities while illegal wildlife trade is on the increase. The depletion is ongoing daily.

According to Balogun, many people are not aware that some of these animals are either threatened or endangered, noting that there is need for more awareness and proper sensitisation of the public as well as enforcement agencies.

No doubt, some of the major issues affecting wildlife and forest in the country include poaching, over exploitation, bush burning, weak forest policy, implementation, and illegal cutting down of trees.

Species of wildlife that are endangered include the Cross-River gorilla, West African lion, forest and savannah elephant and the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee.

This newspaper supports a suggestion that there should be stringent rules and punishment for anyone caught in the illegal acts, in this regard. Once there is proper awareness and sensitisation, individually and collectively, we will embrace the act of conservation and see it as our responsibility to mother earth.

It is a known fact that forests play a significant role in livelihood and ecosystem stability. But given the rate of forest destruction, Nigeria’s forestland may be reduced to grassland by 2050. This would, no doubt, have far-reaching implications, as forest dependent populations will be stripped of their means of livelihood.

Forests provide employment to over two million people through supply of fuel wood and poles and more than 80, 000 people also work in the timber processing industries, especially, in the forest zone of South-West Nigeria, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

To ensure that a significant proportion of Nigeria’s forest cover is retained, Balogun disclosed that the NCF conceived the Green Recovery Nigeria (GRN) initiative to address the problem.

The NCF sees the initiative as a grand project to remedy the situation, with the overall goal to firmly establish a forest rehabilitation scheme in 25 per cent or about 230, 942 square kilometers of Nigeria’s total landmass of 923, 768 km sq. from 2017 to 2047.

Furthermore, the support of government, private sector and individuals are key to achieving success in a large-scale forest rehabilitation project as the (GRN) in Nigeria.

While we appreciate and support the NCF’s GRN initiative and any other that may come up, it is important to note that forest conservation and wildlife protection ought to be a state and local government affair.

In terms of enforcement of the extant laws, the local authorities are better placed to do that. The Federal Government is far removed from the grassroots where the destruction and poaching are taking place.

The local people need enlightenment and sensitisation to appreciate the fact that destroying the forests adversely impacts their lives and future. 

It is needless to sacrifice the future just to meet immediate personal needs. The forests are our common heritage. There would have been no forests to destroy today if the past generations had not spared them. 

Yet, our forebearers who left the forests intact were not in any way richer. The knowledge base of today was not available to our ancient people who preserved the ecosystem.

The time has come for Nigeria to follow countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa regions where conservation is a national goal. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have enviable conservation policies that have global acclaim. 

In those countries, tree planting is part of every day life. Governments, organisations and individuals promote it. Of note was Professor Wangari Mathai of Kenya, founder of the Greenbelt Movement that revolutionised tree planting in Kenya with the planting of over a million trees.

Nigeria should review her forest and wildlife laws to suite emerging global trends. The issue of climate change, of which forests constitute a major factor, should spur the authorities to be proactive to save the country from possible environmental catastrophe.

The Guardian Editorial Board.

Kusa, Ndigbo in Lagos and Politics of Ethnicity, By Pat Utomi

I know Femi Kusa. He is a friend and a classmate. I knew of him from his Daily Times days. Then we met at the University of Nigeria shortly after the end of Nigerian Civil war. I have read his reflections on Ndigbo and the politics of Lagos. And have followed with considerable curiosity the Gale storm his article set off and some of the responses to his rebuke of Ndigbo.

My reaction has been influenced by a number of experiences from my own life’s journey. Two related to the times I shared with Femi at Nsukka, the other came from a few years later in Graduate School, in the United States. I shall start from the latter.

When I was at Indiana University, a certain professor of comparative politics and former Vice President of the University J Gus Liebenow remarked that it was a shame that some very bright African students were completing Ph.ds in economics, education and even political science and other disciplines with little understanding of the American system of government. He thought this particularly unfortunate because such people ought to be the kinds to turn to for light on how the American system worked, on return to their home countries. Who better to elucidate on the American way, in his home country than a US education Ph.d.

Liebenow, a Liberia expert, pushed for fellowship that could take some of the top Phd prospects from Africa, as interns, to the corridors of American government. He got his way. I turned out to be the first to be selected for this programme and went off to the US Capital, Washington DC as an intern in the Indiana Washington Office for rotation through the offices of members of the Indiana Delegation to the US Congress.

While the opportunity allowed me the bragging rights of engaging the American way in observing and asking questions directly of a Senator who would later become Vice President of the United States (Dan Quayle) and a

Congressman who would dominate foreign policy oversight from the House of Representative for many years, (Lee Hamilton), I suspect the opportunity advanced Liebenow’s goal because I have done many hours of talking, in the 38 years since that exposure, on how the American system works.

Some people at UNN were apparently not as smart as J Gus Liebenow. If they were, one of the Yorubas that ventured to Nsukka just after the Civil War, should probably not be one to raise issues of questionable charity towards a people he had ample opportunity to better understand.

In those days at UNN some of my closest friends were Yorubas: My classmate from Loyola College Ibadan, Gbenga Sadipe, Folu Ayeni, first class graduate and clas valedictorian in 1974, who would, with his wife Bose, found Tantalizers, years later; Ade Ogidan who would work at The Guardian for many years with Femi Kusa, and Ademola Ayegoro, among others. Most times we gathered in Baba’s room, a room next door to that of Clement Ebri, later Governor of Cross River State. It was part of a season in which things ethnic seemed peculiar to me. I was sometimes “one of those Yoruba boys”, other times a Midwest boy and at others an identity-challenged rascal. But I had fun, happy with myself and with everyone around.

My Yoruba tribe at UNN did not get in the way of association with my old school mates from Christ the Kings College Onitsha, so I had another cluster. What’s in the language you claim as mother tongue? Well, Femi Kusa and I, got a chance to leave UNN reflecting on this because at our farewell party Prof. Donatus Nwoga, the Dean of Faculty, gave a speech I still lift from till this day; and we got gifts of books. I am not sure if Femi got the same book I got but mine was a novel by the Kenyan writer Mugo Gatheru; A Child of Two Worlds.

When I read Femi’s piece, which has been called Xenophobic, and compared to the kind of remarks that set off genocide in Rwanda, what I saw was a spirit trapped in the desire to be modern but struggled with capture of the medieval. Femi is a smart and capable person and quite deliberate in what he does but we all can be trapped by things within and just outside of us. Human emotion is a subject that fascinates me.

This is why the work of people like Joshua Greene at Harvard, who draws from neuroscience and psychology to explain emotions and how people respond to the need for both cooperation and competition in the advance of human endeavor, intrigues me.

I was quickly inclined to send my friend Femi Kusa, Greene’s book Moral Tribes. Responding to Femi with fury will do little to change how he thinks of a people just as the passionate response in abuse tends to turn off. The vitriol in response, therefore seemed quite unhelpful from my point of view.

Adducing rational measurable benefits of cooperation and identifying faults in reasoning may better help a person struggling as we all tend to be, to locate themselves in the modernity/medieval mindset continuum, may help a little more.

The bigger problem for me is that many who vilify Femi actually live the shortcomings they point out on Femi. They are pockets of what they accuse him of but they do not publicly declare such. But if they show that Ondo State and Oyo States, with few Igbos, seemed to have voted like Okota, in Lagos, they may make Femi think. Did Femi think about that in coming to onclusions so divisive and threatening of cooperation? Why did such a
people who take over the territory of others vote a Northerner the Mayor of Enugu in the 1950s? There are many examples that could point a different way. But stereotypes reduced the pressure to think. They make life easy but potentially dangerous because they can perpetuate unreason.

In our earlier years in the department, at UNN, the Head of Department Ezenta Eze, taught a class on gestalt. The idiosyncratic furging of the shape of reality should not be dismissed. Some personal experience can shape a view others can consider jaundiced or biased. Condemning such outright may therefore be unfair. Maturity demands continuing sensitivity to the fact that people see reality differently, which neither makes them good, or bad people.

Identify politics is a significant point today in Nigeria. K. K. Komolafe of Thisday, in writing about my politics, thought, I should have run for office from Lagos rather than Delta. I know Lagos and are better known here, he submitted.

Femi Falana and a few others have suggested the same. Nothing wrong in principle, but maturity suggests to me that it is the early days yet for such.

My response to such prodding is a nice smile. Surely if we want to build a nation, then the nationality question has to be addressed. We can choose not to build a nation and federate or separate but we need to pace and try things before we decide.

Still, it does not mean anybody has the entitlement to denying me a right that is fundamental. Maturity must come from all sides. But what makes a difference is the conduct of leaders. As we saw with Yugoslavia, well captured by Robert Kaplan in Balkan Ghosts, once Josef Tito died the story was different.

The Filipino Professor, of Chinese ethnic stock, at Yale University, Amy Chua, years ago, wrote the book World on Fire, about ho globalization was stoking ethnic hatred against market-dominant minorities. In her list of such groups were Jews, Chinese minorities in places like the Philippines (her own ethnic stock) and Igbos of Nigeria. It is easy and cheap to attack such groups.

To be continued tomorrow

Utomi, Political economist and professor of entrepreneurship, founder, Centre for values in leadership

The Rise and Fall of Saraki Dynasty

The leader of Kwara’s crumbling dynasty has reportedly conceded defeat even as he urged his party to fight to the finish, apparently hoping for a political miracle in the gubernatorial and state assembly elections this Saturday.

The margins of defeat from the February 23 elections are indisputable just like the resolve of the electorate to break away from the past; a past characterized by cronyism, ineptitude, deceit and profligacy.

For over four decades, the Saraki political dynasty has held sway dictating who gets what in Kwara State. The patriarch of the dynasty, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, was very popular among his people due to his politics of inclusiveness. He consistently shared in their pains and joy.

This perhaps led to his election into the upper chamber of the Nigerian National Assembly and his emergence as the leader of the Senate in 1979. Saraki from 1979, installed civilian governors of Kwara State namely, Adamu Attah, Cornelius Adebayo, Sha’aba Lafiaji and Mohammed Lawal who ruled from 1999-2003. In May 2003, he fielded his son Dr Bukola Saraki who won two terms as governor.

Bukola led the affairs of the state from 2003-2011 before installing his crony, Abdulfatah Ahmed, as his successor. The younger Saraki, prior to the demise of his father about a year later, had taken over the leadership of the dynasty and was already dictating affairs of the state from his bedroom. Henceforth, he consistently deployed huge resources to win all elections in the state for his party and candidates. The last of such polls is the 2017 local government election which appeared largely manipulated in his favour. Less than two years later, Saraki and his candidates surprisingly tasted defeat for the first time in the February 23, Presidential and National Assembly elections.

The defeat of Saraki in his bid to return to the Senate as the sitting Senate President was excruciating, signaling the end of the dynasty. He lost the election with an unimaginable margin. Flying the PDP flag, the seemingly invincible Saraki lost in all four local governments (Asa, Ilorin West, Ilorin South and Ilorin East) that make up Kwara Central, his senatorial district, scoring 68, 994 votes as against 123, 808 votes garnered by his main challenger, Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe.

The Senate President not winning his own seat is a big deal, he was simply run out of town. Though the election may have been won and lost, the questions political pundits have been asking is how did Saraki lose this election to the APC candidate he defeated in the same contest in 2011?

The answers are not far-fetched. They are located in a dismal record of performance; Saraki acting as a thin god; re-cycling discredited politicians and the frustrations of an enlightened electorate encapsulated in the phenomenal slogan: O to ge.

The out-going administration under the leadership of Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed has been eight wasted years of misrule characterized by infrastructure deficit, disregard for welfare of workers and several unfulfilled promises. Like his immediate predecessor, Ahmed’s government has succeeded in impoverishing the people of Kwara further. Local Government Council and State Universal Basic Education Board workers are owed salaries while pensioners are also owed their gratuities. Many Kwarans are wont to rue the slow pace of infrastructural development, particularly in the last eight years.

Prior to his defeat, the Senate President believed he had Kwara in his grip and that the state is impregnable for any challenger on the politics turf. Saraki preferred to dominate the scene, deliberately avoided picking smart and popular candidates for elections. He held the fortunes of the state hostage for the last 16 years but Kwarans have had it all; the elastic limit of patience and suffering was overstretched here.

Another undoing of Saraki was his preference for consistently appointing same set of self-centred individuals into government positions. Some of them have been in government even before Saraki became the governor with no traceable impact in government and their community. For Saraki, he mostly preferred these set of people based on their loyalty to the dynasty and not for their competence or performance. It was therefore not a surprise that virtually all Saraki’s foot soldiers were defeated at their polling units.

For several years, many Kwarans especially the aged and unemployed youths were satisfied with receiving handouts from the dynasty in the name of empowerment. Not anymore as people of the state have now realized that for every plate of food or N1,000 worth Ankara they received from Saraki, he earns N100,000 from the state treasury.

The O to ge slogan, translated to mean ‘enough is enough’, was a masterstroke that resonated among the electorate and it became very popular through various radio programmes. It was a ‘quit notice’ to the Saraki dynasty that has brought untold hardship on the people of the state.

For all those who have been following events in the state, the Saraki dynasty has won elections when it enjoyed the ‘protection’ from the government at the centre. That was not so in 2015, but it rode on the popularity and wide acceptance of Muhammadu Buhari to triumph over the opposition. In 2019, alas Saraki had no federal might. The heavy security presence and clampdown on political thugs including the re-deployment of INEC officials and security agents he consistently bought over with his deep pocket, meant Saraki had no machinery in place to manipulate the outcome of the election.

The April 5, 2018, Offa bank robbery incident is one sin many Kwarans will for many years hold against the present administration and Saraki. Not that anyone is accusing Governor Ahmed and Saraki as the perpetrators, they created the environment for such dastardly act. Ahmed, as the chief security officer of the state, paid kid gloves to the issue of security, especially outside Ilorin, until the bloodletting incident that claimed about 33 lives, among them nine policemen. He also failed to create employment opportunities for the youths in the state. They became easy recruits for cultism and robbery.

Saraki appeared to have incurred the wrath of the people of Offa when he boasted on radio last December that he donated N10million to the families of the victims without minding the unquantifiable value of the 33 lives lost to the unfortunate incident.

Going to the polls this Saturday, Kwarans are determined to nail the coffin of a parasitic political dynasty for good. The indices are constant; it’s a resolve for total liberation.

– Bayonle Abdulkadir wrote from Alore Quarters in Ilorin.

Tomorrow Never Dies

America and Europe are again falling for easy lies over awkward truths

President Muhammadu Buhari has campaigned in this election exactly as he has governed since 2015, true to the values in which he has believed all his adult life: our security, a diversified economy and an administration free from the scourge of corruption and the sleazy mediocrity it fuels.

Buhari has not changed, and with good reason. Without these attributes, Nigeria will not know peace, prosperity or the rule of law: the only real foundations on which free and fair elections and genuine democracy can thrive. He is stubborn and resolute in defence of these values. This irritates quite a number in the elite, and especially those who, four years ago, thought that they could play the President and use his popularity to continue to steal and cheat the people.

These players have failed. They are angry but they have not yet given up. They have some unlikely allies. Our traditional friends in the US and Europe say they want nothing from Nigeria except free and fair elections. But if you look at what their representatives here actually do rather than what they say, the unmistakeable signs of a quite different agenda are plain to see.

It’s easy to forget where we were, a country falling apart, unable even to protect school girls and where corruption defined every aspect of so much of our public life and private business. Today our media ignore the revelations in a Milan court of how oil companies and fixers stuffed cash in suitcases and the nine-figure bank accounts of former PDP justice ministers and spy chiefs and Presidents. This failure goes beyond individuals or particular political parties, although it is true that our decline accelerated under the PDP after the end of military rule in 1999, a betrayal that Atiku Abubakar and many of his allies hope forlornly to revive and celebrate.

Our young people see only the devastation that has been visited upon them, too young to remember the vibrant rural economy that once gave us the wealth for the schools and hospitals we are only now beginning to revive.

They cannot imagine the rubber plantations where for decades Dunlop and Michelin made tyres for Nigeria and the world. The factories are long since closed. Our palm oil was once a world leader but it is only now, under this government, that we are reviving an industry on life support. We have timber, we have hardworking people – and yet we came to be importing even simple school desks and bedframes. We have so much of what we need for fertilisers, yet government after government preferred to let the plants we had already built go to waste for easy commissions on second-rate imports. Textiles used to employ thousands, and will do again, when we allow our talent fairly to compete on the international stage.

A major crude producer with four refineries that once delivered petroleum products for home consumption and export, Nigeria was reduced to importing petroleum products as if we were Burkina Faso or Bangladesh, not a leading member of OPEC. Our golden goose was starved. The military and the PDP took all the money, they didn’t pay oil partners what we owed and only now, after this government’s efforts, speaking plainly and finding real solutions, can we begin to grow exports that have stagnated for 30 years.

When our private banks collapsed (again) in 2009, the outstanding liabilities were N5.7 trillion. It is hard to imagine a sum of money, so vast, owed by so few, to so many. The list of decay is long. And yet this was the inherited culture of government – ‘to those that have, give more’ – that we have challenged, a culture where every declared reform was in fact a disguise to privatise profit and leave the rest of us with all the risk.

Nigeria has almost as many problems as we have people. But it also has all the resources to meet our needs, if they are properly managed and honestly marshalled. Think where we would be today, but for all the time wasted, the prosperity we would enjoy and the better partner we might have been to our friends in the region and further afield! Buhari is not a populist but he is popular because he is delivering on our most basic needs first.

Do our foreign friends simply not understand what is at stake, or do they actually want us to fail? We know we are not equal partners, and do not pretend to be so. In our own time in government, the US, the UK and the EU let us know subtly, and often not so subtly, what we should be doing on everything from currency reform to fuel deregulation and the import of toothpicks.

They have their own subsidies to protect key strategic interests, their farmers and steel plants, but condemn our own efforts to protect the poorest and most vulnerable from an unregulated market for food, transport and housing, or to create and protect space for new opportunities and innovation to flourish. This is not so much a question of policy, but integrity: we, at least, mean what we say. So many past governments in Nigeria did not.

Our transition has been difficult because Nigeria needs radical change, which we have been delivering, despite ingenious and often disingenuous resistance from vested interests and the business-as-usual brigade. Which begs the question: is there a difference between what suits Nigeria’s real national interest and what suits the interests of the Great Powers? The years of failure were characterised by hypocrisy and betrayal by our leaders, who were in turn easy targets for manipulation – much easier for foreign powers to manage than a government genuinely looking to repair and revive today so that we can build tomorrow. And tomorrow never dies.

I always knew that business-as-usual had a powerful self-interest in resisting CHANGE. I had hoped their tentacles did not stretch so far or so easily beyond our borders, that a good case, well made, would receive a fair hearing. In three and a half years in government, I have learned that decent argument and hard facts face stiff competition from vested interests that seem so easily to sway people who should know better. A convenient lie is not better than an uncomfortable truth.

Nowhere is this more clear than the contrived debate on the conduct of elections. Buhari’s commitment to the democratic process is a matter of record, time and again. All of the work to rebuild our public institutions, restore our values and recalibrate our future prospects can succeed only in a democracy in which the integrity of elections is sacrosanct.

Instead of judging Nigeria by our actions, it seems altogether too easy for foreign partners to be swayed by the expensive words of lobbyists. Riva Levinson has been hired by Bukola Saraki. She was trained by Paul Manafort and Roger Stone (both caught up in the probe into interference by foreign powers in the US elections in 2016) and guide earlier in her career to dictators like Siad Barre, unprincipled warlords like Jonas Savimbi, or frauds like Iraqi exile Ahmed Chalabi, the man who neo-conned the Bush White House. We are meant to be believe that Ms Levinson, like the others who are paid by one of the contestants, wants only to promote a free and fair race. And that it is only a coincidence that this language for hire is identical to what we hear from accredited diplomats!

By omission or commission, it appears it may actually suit our friends, deep down, below the pious words, to see Nigeria a basket case, begging bowl in hand, than the partner we could, should and will prove to be. And we have been here before. At the end of 1984, British diplomats predicted a coup against the then Buhari government, with whom London was quarrelling over everything from apartheid to economic policy (as we knew then, and as it turned out, Buhari was right). Glowing profiles of Ibrahim Babangida were prepared and telegrams of congratulation were drafted. Mrs Thatcher put the project on ice, at least for a few months, but it was not long before foreign powers concluded that their best interests would be served by people who told them everything they wanted to hear on democratisation and reform, but, as they could and should have known, meant precisely none of it. Nigeria lived through the consequences of this systemic deception. We lost so much in the 30 years after 1985, but nothing so precious as the loss of confidence in our values and what we as a nation could be.

In the 19th century, Lord Palmerston, Britain’s Prime Minister and one of the country’s most celebrated diplomats, observed that “nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.” We have been delivering on a programme to restore the rule of law, to build democracy and strengthen security, to deal with corruption and to create opportunity in a new meritocracy. It is a platform that helps tackle violent extremism, illegal migration, trafficking and financial crime. These are the very issues that are central to the interests of our foreign friends, and we are producing results.

Nigeria will make its choice on Saturday. It has never before had a government that has more clearly demonstrated through words and actions its commitment to transparency and the rule of law, protecting good judges and decent public office-holders from the corruption of their peers. Voters are free to move forwards to a better future or back to the desperate past from which we are now beginning to emerge. Our election commission is independent and has all resources it needs to do its job. We should all be wise to the risks, including partial and premature announcements of unofficial results from unverifiable sources, especially when one party has already declared well in advance that it cannot lose unless there is rigging. There should be no interference from any quarter, including foreign powers who say one thing but do another – exactly the formula that their friends here have employed for years to bring us so close to despair.

Abba Kyari is Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari

The Niger Delta We Need

I am a Nembe woman from Okpoama, Brass, in Bayelsa State. I grew up in Niger Delta and I’m very attentive and observing of my surrounding.

Concerning who should win or lead states in Niger Delta, come 2019, my position is that whoever wins should give us good governance.

Just yesterday, a political party supporter was killed in a rally, leaving many others injured. A Facebook friend was killed in Rivers State by unknown gunmen two days ago.

Six young boys in their early twenties were killed by rival cult group in Oduoha, one of the villages in Emohua, Rivers State, weeks ago. I am sure that cultism has killed over one hundred youths in Emohua and indeed has done lots of havoc to Rivers State and Niger Delta. And it is still doing so.

Then I ask: these boys who do not have any known means of livelihood, how can they raise millions of money to buy guns?

We need a Niger Delta where our boys are out of the creeks and back in offices and factories working for their daily bread without shooting and killing others.

We need an industrialised Niger Delta where our God-given raw materials, fruits and vegetables will be processed into numerous commodities.

We need a Niger Delta with at least 30 industrial estates, we need a Rivers State where soothes and carbon flares do not endanger our lives; we need a Bayelsa State where all children of school age are mandatorily in school under a robost scholarship system.

We need a Niger Delta with improved environmental policies.

We need a Bayelsa State where water will be processed into commodities and exported to other countries of the world where water remains a scarce commodity.

We need a Delta State where hospitals are excellently equipped and functional.

We do not need a Bayelsa State where all we know and talk about is building of infrastructure since 1996 when it was created.

We need a Niger Delta where there’s re-education of the people on sustainable environmental practices relating to forests and lands management.

We need a Niger Delta with good governance not bad governance. We need a Niger Delta where the people are willing to do the right thing rightly.

Good governance in Niger Delta is not about ethnic groups that make up the region, it is not about gender or gerontocracy. It is not about the leader been rich and the led being poor matrially and psychologically.

It is all about Good Governance, not Bad Governance.

2019: Festus Daumiebi for Senate

If excellence in academic pursuit is all that is required to get a ticket to the senate, the people of Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Kolokuma/Opokuma, Yenagoa and Southern Ijaw Local Government Area have no problem in the candidacy of Festus Daumiebi. A young Bayelsan who saw a path of strength in education and stuck to it.

As a little boy growing up in Igbomotoru community, Festus was known among his peers at the Baptist Day Primary School as a stickler for excellence. When asked why he carried out his duties and assignment with diligence, he once said “I fear cane” meaning that he feared to be caned by his superiors and elders. No wonder, the fear of cane, in order words the fear not to be reprimanded by teachers and other adults is a virtue that little Festus had since imbibed since early childhood.

This virtue was so much evident in his life that at about the age of nine, precisely when he was in primary five, at the Baptist Day Primary school, he was identified among his peers and found worthy to be made the senior boy in a school of over a hundred pupil.

At the secondary education stage, young Festus Daumiebi’s leadership qualities were crystal clear. At every class, he held a position and discharged his responsibilities to the admiration of all his teachers. His record of being the class captain from Junior Secondary class one, up to senior secondary class three is unbroken at the school.

The school was left with no choice but to make him the senior prefect after which he graduated with the honour of being the Best Behaved Student in 1998.

Talk of silver spoon, Daumiebi perhaps only read it in a book. He never touched one nor felt it. As the son of a grade 11 teacher and a full time housewife mother, he probably knew nothing but pure hardwork and entrepreneurship. If you ask him, he makes bold to say “I hawked local gin across villages for my parents to send us to school”. Local gin is the highlight of every social celebration in the old Bayelsa and Ijaw communities.

Daumiebi’s life after secondary education was not without turbulence. He recalled, “WAEC was unkind to me… My result was not released the first time…. I had to resit at Government Secondary School Okpuama. The setback taught me a great lesson. This early academic set back did not deter this aspiring senator, as he went on to study law.”

Speaking on how he managed to achieve the feat, Daumiebi said, “As a young man I have always loved to read and acquire knowledge from books as well as conversations with people. So when WAEC did not release my result at my first sitting, the pain caused me to double up my effort in reading. That was how I gradually developed habit for reading wide and for a longer time which is one of the natural requirements for the study of law.

“I first did diploma in Law at the Bayelsa State College of Arts and Science from where I proceeded to Niger Delta University, Wilberforce Island, where I graduated with a Second Class Upper Division. I was at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos campus and was called to the Bar as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in 2015.

“Looking back, I have no regrets choosing law as a career, because it agrees with my passion in life which is helping others solve seemingly tough issues, counseling and motivating seemingly helpless persons, as well as helping to put smiles on the faces of indigent characters. I recall back in the days at the Law school, Lagos campus, four of my colleagues had severe difficulties pushing through their studies because of obvious financial incapacitation.

“I mobilised a few other friends, formed a study group from where whatever each had he dropped for the wellbeing of the group. This was how the four guys survived the toughness of law school. I’m glad today, they are doing well in the profession. I wonder what other profession I would have done better.

Achieving such feat would not have been without the mentorship of some persons and to Festus, this is a fact that cannot be disputed, because according to him, “Talking about how I have fared in life, I owe the credit to a few people whom God had chosen and used as my guardians. The likes of Barrister Doctor A.J Beredugo whom I met as my lecturer at the Bayelsa State College of Arts and Science.

“He embraced me as a son. Indeed, Barr. Beredugo remained a father to all who came around him. He had delight in the success of his students. As he would always tell us “the future belongs to you young folks, grab it today through hardwork”. My relationship with Dr Beredugo turned to a family affair as I stuck to his apron’s string in life matters.

“As my lecturer also at the Niger Delta University, he showed me the intricacies of the knowledge of law. Even as he moved from the academics to public service, he carried me along as a surrogate and I can never deviate from the footprint he charted for me.

“In my political aspiration, the list of my motivators seem endless. From those who planted the seed in me and ensured that I do not derail. I am grateful to distinguished Senator David Cobbina Brigidi. He represented the Bayelsa central senatorial district from 1999-2007 and i was his youngest follower and close confidant till today.

“Distinguished Senator Emmanuel Paulker. Senator representing the same senatorial district from 2007 till date. I have worked very closely with him for the past seven years and i also managed his third term campaigns in the 2015 general elections. We have a towering relationship till date.

“Hon. Henry Daniel Ofongo. The member representing Southern Ijaw Federal Constituency at the green chambers from 2011 till date who was also a care-taker chairman of my LGA in the year 2003. He is not just a close associate but also a mentor with whom I have shared a fantastic relationship for as long as I have lived on Earth.

“Hon. David Lyon, the CEO of Darlon Oil & Gas Services. He has not just been a reliable friend which has metamorphosed into an elder brother but also a source of inspiration and indeed, a mentor.

“I am indeed grateful to these characters who believed in me and are always willing to show me the path to success”.

Festus Daumiebi is contesting for Upper Legislative House on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).