Friday, December 18, 2009

Democracy made in Nigeria: Government vide Email and Facsimile by an incommunicado and Sick President

“The President can exercise his powers through the vice-president and
ministers while on his sick bed and that is what he has been doing. For example,
the Chief Justice of Nigeria wrote a letter to the President and copied me that
he would be retiring on December 31, that the President of the Court of Appeal
has just retired and that their replacements have not been screened by the
Senate. I sent the letter to the Principal Secretary to the President who
transmitted same to the President who approved it and sent it back to me.”

- Nigeria Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael
Aondoakaa (SAN)

If the above quote beggars believe, be comforted that you are not alone. I bet many observers of Nigeria stunted political growth could not have imagined the latest meme from Aso rock. For the first time we have a sick president, who is purportedly ruling Nigeria vide email and facsimile from a hospital bed in Saudi Arabia. For weeks, President Umaru Yar'Adua has been hospitalized at King Faisal Intensive Care and Research Centre, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for what staffers say is a serious heart condition. With no clear successor, Nigeria is roiled by uncertainty and many of Nigeria prominent citizens have called for his resignation.

Curiously, Nigeria primarily law officer, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, came out with the above shocker and then went further to enthused as follows: “The powers of the President are not exercised territorially. Yar’Adua can exercise his powers anywhere in the world, on the plane, at the meeting of the United Nations or even on his sick bed, as long as he is not incapacitated by the sickness.” While this statement may be an accurate restatement of the letters of the laws, at least as it relates to the exercise of the powers of president of Nigeria, this is not the applicable, given the current scenario.

We know for a fact, that when the president of Nigeria travels to the United Nations, or anywhere outside the shores of Nigeria it is for a short duration of time certain and we not only see him exercise the powers of presidency when he represents Nigeria, he manifestly do so vide public appearances when he meets with other head of state and sign binding treaties on behalf of Nigeria. Most of these events are well covered by the press, local and international and Nigerian of all hue could clearly see the president in action.

It is also interesting that Mr. Aondoakaa, clearly left open the answer to the questions most Nigerian wants the presidency to answer and that is: Is the president of Nigeria “incapacitated by the sickness” he is suffering from? How can Nigerian confirm the bare assertions of the president aide that the president is ail and hearty without any proof whatsoever in the form of doctor’s report and photographs of the president working from his hospital bed.

Nigeria’s current constitution mirrored in large part, the Constitution of the United States of America, and the two constitutions required that the president by a letter addressed to the National Assembly is required to inform the senate president of his intent to proceed on vacation, at which point the vice president shall act on behalf of the president.

What we have going on now in Aso rock is an amorphous arrangement where the president’s physical and health condition is only known to his private secretary and retinue of “hangers on.” The latter in turn tells the country that the president is healthy and that he is exercising his presidential powers on a sick bed in far away Saudi Arabia.

How can anyone prove to Nigerians that the letter transmitted to the president at Saudi Arabia was read by him? How are we sure that the subsequent response by the “president” was not the work of some private secretary at the hospital? How can anyone confirm that the president was of a sound mind when he responded to the said letter, given the very serious ailment the president suffers from?

In an open and transparent democracy the president health or indeed any other government official are never shrouded in secrecy. Everything is done in the open. We know for a fact that this is not the first time the president had had to visit the Emergency Room of Hospital. During the presidential election campaign, I recalled vividly, the efforts by the staff of the then presidential candidate, and now president Yar’Adua to reach the media with the information that he is alive. I know a colleague who was even allowed to place calls directly to Yar’adua at his hospital bed and who talked directly with the president to clear up the issue of his health. It was clear then that they needed the people’s vote to at least claim some legitimacy with the electoral perfidy they later performed on the Nigeria people. And now that they are in Aso rock the Nigerian people do not deserve to know who is ruling them? This to me is the message being sent by the ruling People’s Democratic party to Nigerians of all hue.

To demonstrate the stupidity of the current state of events, even militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta, whom Yar'Adua brought into peace talks only weeks ago, now worry they have no "good faith partner" to negotiate an end to attacks that have cut into Nigeria's oil-dependent economy. The president health is of a great concern to all Nigerians and should not be micro-managed by “leeches and sycophants” who are hell bent on using a “comatose” president to further their destructive agenda on Nigeria.

Already the rumor mill is bustling with tall tales of the shenanigans going on in the corridors of power. Some of which may or may not be grounded in reality, but as long as the president health remains an issue available only to an exclusive preserve of PDP top echelons, Nigerians should not keep quiet. We should continue to ask for answers and demand that the “junta” in government follows the rule of law and the constitution no matter how abase their conduct may be.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


"Violence is taboo, for not only does it produce answers to please, but it lowers the standard of information." -Col. Robin Stephens on Churchill government refusal to torture German war prisoners

Nigerians are under siege by their own government. Millions of Nigerians are political prisoners in their own country. The “political jackals” ruling Nigeria have turned the whole country into a mass “concentration camp.” Their word is law and the rule of law meant nothing. Elections count for nothing! Accountability means how much they can steal from the coffers of government while the generality of the masses groan and grope in darkness. And now, a new twist by the new fangled “PDP-o-crazy,” it is called political “thuggerism”.

In the dying days of the second republic, one of the vaunted policies of the ruling elites then, particularly with Shagari’s National Party of Nigeria, is the use of thugs by politicians as entourage and cavalcade of motorcades filled with motor parks tout carrying cudgels, machetes and guns. The politicians of the second republic knew then that they are not governing the people by consent of the majority. It is as if they have reached a point when they realized the charade they called democracy no longer stands any credibility, albeit with their stolen mandate. They knew they lacked every modicum of legitimacy so they have to force the people to respect their power.

This is exactly where we are now, with our hard won democracy. We lost, they won! And now, they will not stop at the subjugation and subversion of democracy, they want to show us they are lords. Lords over our lives with a maniacal thirst and hunger for violence the worst of the Khmer Rouge goons will envy. Pick up any newspapers in Nigeria and you are bound to found a news report about an attack on Nigerian civilian masses that happens to cross paths with PDP politician’s motorcade and thugs.

In Ekiti, we read recently about how the governor of Ekiti state, his wife, “hangers on” and thugs personally arrested some journalist and bloggers monitoring the state during election and subjected them to slaps, violence and humiliation for daring to challenge their hold on power. And now, we read about the savage attack on the chairman of DHL, Otunba Ade Raheem Kolawole by the thug installed by PDP as chairman of Ilesa-West Local Government Council Area of Osun State. This by the way, is not the first time Mr. Fadipe had wantonly attacked the citizens, he sworn to defend and protect. And incase anyone thinks Fadipe is acting alone, just take a look at this excerpts from a news paper in Osun State, the “Osun Defender” on where Mr. Fadipe got his marching orders from:
“According to investigation conducted by OSUN DEFENDER on the alleged atrocities
by Fadipe during the week, the embattled politician was gallivanting around in
violence because he thought that Governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola was enjoying his
hostility against his people. Premising his action on the defence of the
embattled governor who suffered a political defeat in Ijesaland during the last
year’s controversial governorship election in the state, Fadipe believed that
the state helmsman, and his deputy who hails from Ijesaland would always shield
him even in the face of raw violence against his people. Meanwhile, records of
bloody political violence in Ilesa have been traced to Fadipe; but managed to
sail through from the long arm of the law, because of the suspected authority
backing. Thinking that he had secured a license for the monopoly of violence,
the rattled politician then constituted himself into a jungle-law, visiting
unguarded anger on the career officers and council workers at any slight

The message from PDP here is simple, “if you vote for us, we don’t care, we will win anyway. If you don’t vote for us, we will still win and then come after you with our thugs; we will installed that thug as your local government chairman or governor and then use them to unleash terror on your community.” Is this the democracy my friends and colleagues died for at Great Ife? Is this what we bargained for when we fought against military misrule?
The tale of bloodsheds and brigandage by PDP abounds all over Nigeria, from Anambra intra-party bloody duels to the war of cousins in Niger state, the fratricidal conflicts in Sokoto and of course, the upcoming presidential elections “tsunami”. It is evident that our dear country is in serious dire straits.
What with the economy at it’s lowest ebb since the days of SAP and austerity measures, an absentee presidency, a government runs by corrupt ex-governors and their retained counsel, who by the way, happens to be the attorney general of the federation, the ship of state of Nigeria is indeed heading for dangerous waters!
This is why I called on all well meaning, Nigerians at home and abroad to take one final stand for democracy during this upcoming presidential election. Yes, there will be violence, and yes the election will not count as the enemies of Nigeria enjoy the status quo! We can still make the difference by joining the pro-democracy forces within and outside Nigeria. If you are a Nigerian abroad, write a letter to your congressman and let him or her know that one out of every 4 black people is a Nigerian and if the next election is again allowed to be stolen by marauder in PDP, we may have a crisis of monumental proportion that will eclipse west and central Africa. The refugee crisis that may follow another Nigerian civil war will surely bankrupt the entire world economies. The whole world needs to act now, to forestall another Nigerian internecine civil war!
They need to insist on a transparent electoral commission whose chairman is nominated by the Chief Justice of the Federation. An Electoral commission with representatives from pro-democracy groups and other interest groups in Nigeria is imperative. The United States and other democratic country need to make it known to Aso rock that violence as a form of governing is antithetical to democracy. They need to insist that free and fair elections are prerequisite to democracy. The war on the Nigerian people by PDP must stop now!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ibori’s “Smoking Gun” Against Ribadu: Pathetic, Sickening and Laughable

“Patriotism is the last refuge to which a scoundrel clings” –Samuel Johnson

Sometimes you wonder if the so called Nigerian leaders ever think before they open their mouth. We learnt recently from the indicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori that the erstwhile EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu approached him on a plot to unseat a certain “sick Yar’Adua” through the use of INEC! I mean INEC! The same INEC hand picked by PDP stalwart to do their bidding? Yes, indeed if it sounds incredulous, you are not dreaming, this is Ibori’s damning evidence against Ribadu.

The allegation, which is a red herring in itself, is not worth responding to, but like everything in Nigeria if you don’t you are damned. If I were Ribadu, I will simply put out a short sentence asking Ibori to simply appear in London and stop taking cover under an entrenched corrupt attorney general in Nigeria. If you have nothing to fear, face a real prosecution in London and not the contrived “make believe” currently orchestrated by your retained counsel in Federal Ministry of Justice and the “comatose” EFCC.

Here is the good thing about the allegation; it gives us a window of opportunity to the workings of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua’s illegitimate government in Aso rock. I have often wondered why Yar’Adua buys into everything Ibori sells. I know the latter funded his campaign for presidency, but that should not make him a lap dog of Ibori. Well it’s clearer now. We know nothing scares Nigerian rulers, be it Abacha, IBB or Obasanjo like a plot to unseat them. Even if the allegations are contrived by a self seeking corrupt security chief or ex-governor as it is in this case. Nigerian insecure rulers will buy into it and hound the accused to the gates of hell.

We saw that playbook with Abacha and Al-Mustapha contrived plot against Diya and others. We saw that with Obasanjo’s allegations against Atiku. All you need to finish your enemies in Nigeria is to accuse them of trying to overthrow an illegitimate and totally insecure marauder in power at Aso rock. All hell will then break loose, the insecurities of the rulers in Aso rock is so real that they will stoop at anything to fight whoever challenges them. In fact they don’t care if the nation burns, as we witnessed through Abacha or if they upended the democracy that brought them to power as Obasanjo did with Nigeria hard won democracy. They see treason in everyone and everything. They are so insecure because they know they have no legitimacy.

There is however a more substantive part of Ibori’s ranting that needed to be addressed by Ribadu: the allegations that the latter requested funds for a certain EFCC football club and communicated with Ibori and a certain “businessman” who are being investigated by his organization. Ibori asserted that he had documentary evidence and should be made to produce them. One can only hope they are not the same “forged documentary” evidence he used to absolve himself of theft conviction at Abuja High Court. Ribadu should also be allowed to defend himself. It is clearly a conflict of interest if these allegations were true. But how do we know what the truths were. Ibori destroyed his own cause when he engaged in jejune allegations. We know he (Ibori) can get away with anything in Nigeria, since he currently controls the rein of justice through his hired gun in the Federal Ministry of Justice. We know he can’t lose with Michael Aondoakaa in charge, after all the latter hold his position due largely to Ibori.

It is interesting to read Ibori include our justice system in his nefarious plot. No one sane person will accuse Nigeria judiciary of the same corruption evident with our political class particularly in PDP. We know that our judiciary can be better managed by prompt and dedicated trial track, but the system works. It has a way of “weeding out” bad eggs, something we can’t say of PDP. In fact you get rewarded with higher post if you stole your way into an elective post in Nigeria, just ask Bode George, et al. The judiciary on the other hand swiftly dealt with purveyors of bad justice. Where are the Bassey Ikpemes and Ibrahim Auta of yesterday? Long gone with their name in infamy!

What Ibori confuses is that the judiciary does not commence criminal proceedings in Nigeria. The Federal Ministry of Justice does and who is in charge of the Federal Ministry of Justice? And as we learnt recently, Michael Aondoakaa’s law firm still have retainership from corrupt ex-governors, he is currently tasked with prosecuting.

Now, if Michael Aondoakaa’s Ministry of Justice, neglected to bring all the evidence against corrupt ex-governors before the court, you can’t blame the judiciary. In fact, we learnt recently that it took pressure from online bloggers before he reluctantly agreed to give fiat to EFCC to start prosecuting corrupt ex-governors. Here is where Ibori find comfort, he knows he can win in Nigeria and may spend the rest of his life in jail if he appears in London. The allegation that his wife and concubines whom he funneled stolen money through in London are behind bars is just an “argumentum ad misericodiam”- a mere appeal to pity. If you don’t want your third wife arrest and indicted, then don’t try and use her to launder stolen money for you. Period!

He also makes a ludicrous reference to Ribadu using Britain’s “colonial” justice system to prosecute him. First of all, I don’t think Ribadu has such powers. Secondly the Metropolitan Police department is not the same as Nigeria Police Force where personality and “who you know” determines who get prosecuted. With respect to the “colonial” connection: Is it now you realize Britain is our former colonial master? Why didn’t you check that fact when you are busy transfer Delta State statutory allocation to your British bank account? The last time I checked it was not Ribadu who kept millions of dollars in these “colonial banks” in Britain.
We know that Ibori may get away with the crimes he committed against the people of Delta state for a while, but the long arm of justice will eventually catch up with him one day, and that day will be for the people. As we say in Nigeria, “one day for the thief and another for the owner!”

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Everything Cries out for Leadership in Nigeria

"One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency."-Arnold Glasgow

The dearth of leadership in every facet of the Nigerian life is approaching an epidemic proportion. It is like an entrenched cancerous growth, the more you sliced it, the more gangeranous it gets. The saddest truth is Nigerian of all hue knows what ails their country, but like the proverbial elephant in the room, no one is talking about it; or rather those that should talk are benefitting from the status quo, so they stay mum.

The truth is even if more people talk about the rudderlessness of our nation, what are we going to do about it? Nothing! We are currently being held hostage by a government we had no hand in electing or selecting. The People's Democratic Party (Nigeria's nemesis party) consist of men who like their forbears of the 1980s, do not need our legitimacy before they rule us. We are a nation in bondage, tormented by impostors in Abuja who had only their self interest as guiding principle.

This week, I took out my pen and did a checklist on every sector of the Nigerian life, to see the type of leadership we have in place, and I must tell you, it is quite embarrassing. On the economy, we have the head of our stock exchange deeply involved in the Transcorp mess. And by her own account she had no idea how the corporation she ran as the CEO wasted over 2 billion investor's fund. Not too long ago, the doctors in our teaching hospital went on strike; they were quickly followed by University professors and academic staff of Nigerian university. Our attorney general spend his time defending corrupt ex-governors, than he does standing up for the constitution. Our press, the singular light we had during the dark days of Shagari's misrule is currently comatose. Journalist are 3 pence per diem and they will sing your praise if the price is right.

Our judiciary which had always stand up for the masses are so overburdened with backlog of cases that an electoral petition against a sitting governor recently took 4 years before a final decision removing the "election rigger" was handed down by the Supreme court.

One area of the Nigerian life that had always been a beacon of hope and light is the Nigerian national team-the Super Eagle of Nigeria. Sadly, the leadership here too is wanting. We have all but lost world cup slot to Tunisia due largely to lack of visionary planning by competent leaders; even though we spend large amount of money on presidensitial task force on world cup qualifier. We have a football federation tasked with managing soccer in Nigeria, supervised by the ministry of sports, with the House and Senate oversight in tow; and our president thought it fit again to assemble a money wasting task force whose only contribution is to junket abroad on national dimes. And yet we still can't qualify for the mundial in South Africa! Sadly, no one is asking any questions, it is just business as usual in Abuja.

As long as money is changing hands nothing gets done. The ship of state in Nigeria is tottering on the verge of collapse and our Nero fiddles whilst Abuja burns. Afterall, who will tell "oga teacher" that he just lost his father. Election, that tested mode of accountability for politicians the world over, means nothing to current politicians stalking our lands. Like one of them campaigned recently in Ekiti, "if you vote or not, PDP will still win."

It was the Late Chief Ganiyu Oyesola Fawehinmi who in his letter of rejection of Yar'adua's Greek gift reminded us of the sorry state of Nigeria in these immortal words:

Furthermore, since the President came to power on May 29, 2007, the masses of
our country have been groaning in unprecedented poverty as a result of lack of
direction, The directionlessness of the Federal Government has been
characterised by the following, amongst others: collapsed infrastructure, total
paralysis of the health sector at all levels, constant nationwide power failure
and the attendant negative effects on all sectors of the economy; pervasive
unemployment, thereby generating increased armed robbery cutting across all ages
of our people; debilitating homelessness, retrogressive educational programmes
and policies, which have made no Nigerian university to be ranked within the
first 500 universities in the world, and no effort is being made by the regime
to improve on the humiliating situation.Put simply, the Federal Government is a
total failure, worsened by lack of direction and leadership

We are indeed a nation in perpetual turmoil, bereft of visionary leaders, so join me in my prayer for leadership for our dear country:

GOD, give us men!
A time like this demands
Strong minds, great hearts,
true faith and ready hands;
Men whom the lust of office does not kill;
Men whom the spoils of office can not buy;
Men who possess opinions and a will;
Men who have honor;
men who will not lie;
Men who can stand before a demagogue
And damn his treacherous flatteries without winking!
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog
In public duty, and in private thinking;
For while the rabble, with their thumb-worn creeds,
Their large professions and their little deeds,
Mingle in selfish strife, lo! Freedom weeps,
Wrong rules the land and waiting Justice sleeps.
-Josiah Gilbert Holland

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Perfidious Hollowness in Dele Momodu’s “Shame on Us” Africa Tour

“Flatterers are the worst kind of traitors, for they will strengthen thy imperfections, encourage thee in all evils, correct thee in nothing, but so shadow and paint thy follies and vices as thou shalt never, by their will, discover good from evil, or vice from virtue. - Sir Walter Raleigh
There is something pernicious in a columnist who devotes himself in blaming the people of Nigeria for the folly foisted on the polity by the same leaders he devotes his entire career praising and adulating. That columnist happened by the way to be This Day’s gypsy writer: Dele Momodu, a self confessed purveyor of junk journalism, someone whose claim to fame is etched in flattery of celebrities; from Shina Peters to M.KO. Abiola; from Dora Akunyili to Terry Wayas of this world.

One can safely conclude that Dele Momodu had never found a government official he can’t flatter, because he never found a Nigerian government official he cannot patronize. The sad state of journalism in Nigeria is such that some of our journalism has turned patronage into a profitable enterprise. First they will take a deliberate jibe at a celebrity or political office holder, excoriating him/her for a well deserved non performance in office. Once you do that, pronto the particular politician will come running to you for favors. You then load your subsequent write up/column with the usual pejoratives praising their supposed “sagacity”, something you have suddenly discovered after you met with him/her.

Meanwhile, the people these so called government official are supposed to serve continue to suffer with little or nothing to show as democracy dividends. This indeed is where the likes of Dele Momodu hurt not only their credibility but the very institution of journalism that brought them into prominence. We all know that in journalism, to be persuasive, you must be believable; to be believable, you must be credible; to be credible, you must be truthful.

In his latest article in This Day, Momodu, consistent with his latest itinerary which allows him to junket around Africa on behalf of a corporate behemoth like Globalcom Network, get into a rhapsodic state of effusive praise for the host country president. What is not lost on us his readers is that we invariably know that this is usually a hollow attempt to launder the image of that president because it has recently approved GlobalCom business license.

Most salient readers knows that every time Mr. Momodu travels to any African nation two things will invariably follows: An effusive praise of that country leadership; be it Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and now Benin Republic, followed by an invective laden, crocodile tears about the sorry state of Nigeria. His latest installment follows his most recent trip to Benin where he found Benin to be an Eldora do where Nigerian are running in drove to due to the misrule of his friends in power.

The irony apparently is lost on him as he devoted three paragraphs in the same column to an effusive praise on President Umaru Musa Yar’adua; for settling a dispute between a member of his cabinet, and the Executive Director of National Communication Commission. He concluded that Yar’adua is a good man, because the latter reads newspaper.

My first retort is to yell, “Yes you are damn right he reads newspaper! I bet he reads your columns filled with flattery. After all, “the art of flatterers is to take advantage of the foibles of the great, to foster their errors, and never to give advice which may annoy.” When you keep blaming the customs man at Seme’s border whilst you excused the corruptions of ministers and ex-governors why will he not read the garbage you spew every week!”

The one thing that jumps out at me from his latest piece is the amount of "arguments" constructed on things like "I am beginning to think” , “it would probably”, “I should be able..” , “We were forced to think..”, “It was my conclusion”, “you probably...", "I bet you...", "I'm sure you...", and the like. Assumption is piled on supposition, mixed with profanity, and sprinkled with pejorative, in an endless series of virtuoso displays of muddled thinking. No serious attempt to think through the policy permutations that led to the status quo on both sides of the border. No serious effort made to excoriate the authorities involved in the misrule going on in Nigeria. No attempt to challenge the re-branding crusade of his patron, Ms. Akunyili.

It is as if Momodu’s tortured logic bestrides the gargantuan facts like a colossus. Why would any serious governmental official take such write up seriously? An exercise in flattery superimposed with a contorted attempt to blame the masses for the wrongs of their leaders. Like Samuel Johnson famous quote: “"Men who stand in the highest ranks of society seldom hear of their faults; if by any accident an opprobrious clamor reaches their ears, flattery is always at hand to pour in her opiates, to quiet conviction and obtund remorse."

One can safely opine that the “shame on us” tour of Momodu is better directed exclusively at the “us” exemplified by Momodu’s and his cohorts in power. It is self evident that the mischief of flattery by the likes of Momodu’s perpetuates the corruption going on in Nigeria; as Edmund Burke rightly pointed out “Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver; and adulation is not of more service to the people than to kings.”

Friday, July 10, 2009

Of PDP, Ekiti State Electoral Fraud and the Snub from Obama

"In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way." -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

When we warned the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that stealing elections has consequences they never listened, and now they know. The price for stolen electoral mandate in the 21st century world is rising and you either choose to live as a pariah in the committee of nations or respect the will of the people. Any tyrants, be it, Iran or Nigeria that will not allowed the will of the people to triumph in a free and fair election should prepare itself for world opprobrium. The days when dictators use the East, West divide to prolong the subjugation of their people, a la Mobutu Sese Seko, Haile Mengistu and Jonas Savimbi is over!

The current occupants of Aso rock in Nigeria don’t seem to get this message. President Umaru Musa Yar’adua encouraged by his co-traducers in PDP, conspired to steal the electoral victory, the Ekiti people won for themselves at the polls through “mago mago” electoral fraud and he expects the world to take him and his fraudulent government seriously? Nah! It is not going to happened. We are no longer in the 1970s or ‘80s, if you want legitimacy and respect from the international community, then have respect for the will of the people, a will that should be freely expressed vide the ballot box.

I often laugh when I hear the “misfit-minister” of information, Dora Akunyili, talks about her new money making scheme, i.e. the re-branding of Nigeria image. Here is the truth; nothing can re-brand our image better than having a free and fair election. What part of free and fair election don’t they get? Electoral disputes is bound to happen, but an open and brazen stealing of an electoral victory in the presence of foreign observers will neither get us a seat at G8 summit nor G400, (if they ever expand the field)!

Just this week, the senate published the names of debtors of failed banks. The lists read like a compilation of who is who in PDP. They are not just debtors, by the way, they were directors of some of these failed banks and they used their top perch atop the banks to give out loans to themselves. In a sane and democratic country, everyone on that list would have been arrested and locked up in jail awaiting trial or put on electronic home monitoring before trial like Bernie Madoff. In Nigeria, they are celebrated, in actual fact, one of them, who once had his daughter served as minister under former president Olusegun Obasanjo informed the press that he owed no dime. He made no explanation as to how the bank he founded and managed went under. Here is the problem these folks looked at themselves as being above the law, and they are. Why wouldn’t they? The senate that is probing them, are themselves mired in corruption saga every 3 months.

There is an internecine war going on in Niger Delta, no one in government in Abuja, have any clue on what to do to nip it in the bud. They have fumbled and wobbled through an obvious crisis that they knew going in. This is what happened when you win a kangaroo election. Which of you readers can recall any statement by President Umaru Musa Yar’adua before his election on how to address the Niger Delta? Zilch! What was his campaign position on the Nigerian power problem? None, because the election that brought him to power was not really an election but a selection by the ex-president Obasanjo. He picked whoever he fancied and anoints him to be president. There were no serious campaigns. No debates, in fact as a matter of principle no PDP presidential candidate has ever attended nationally televised debates organized by government owned NTA. It is beneath them to campaign for office. They have the power and they can do whatever they want. Who are we mortals to challenge their murderous stranglehold on power?

This is where we are in Nigeria; many countries in Africa are moving on to the 21st century. No thanks to Obasanjo, Yar’adua and the behemoth called PDP we are back in the Stone Age. Democracy in Nigeria is a big joke to the politicians, if it were not, they wouldn’t have laugh in our faces with that Ekiti election. The only folks who still take democracy serious in Nigeria, are the suffering Nigerian masses, who still troop out on Election Day to exercise their vote, even though they know, PDP will still play “hanky panky” with their ballot

Now, the PDP government wants President Obama to add fillip to their stolen mandates by visiting them in Abuja. It is not going to happen. When the Washington post correspondent asked a Nigerian official about the Obama snub, his retort is what snubs? He then made reference to the recent visit by the president of Russia as comparable to Obama’s visit to Ghana. What a dot! Maybe he thought the world is still stuck in the cold war era. That game is so ‘70s! Perhaps maybe they should made do with President Medvedev, their new found friend. More so, when you consider the fact that Yar’adua and Medvedev looks like marriage made in heaven. They are both childishly weak impostors. Imposed on their respective country by their predecessors, whose anti-democratic credentials is uncanny to say the least. They both have the enviable record of stealing elections, sending their goons to invade and close down independent press offices. They are both surrounded by corrupt oligarchs with stolen wealth. That is a marriage made in hell!

Even though it looks like they won a victory when they stole the Ekiti gubernatorial election, the war is not over yet. Every stolen mandate is a further nail in the coffin of the impostors in Abuja. They will fall like Abacha before them. They will rue the day they stole the mandate of the people. The Nigerian people may be patient, but they are not docile. They understand that their country is under subjugation by perverse, corrupt and mindless oligarchs whose directive principle is their belly; and whose obligatory service is first and foremost to their bank accounts. The hand of justice may be short now; it will soon grow to catch up with their perfidy! What else can we say, thank you Obama for ignoring Aso rock. You did not snub the Nigerian people. You snubbed their corrupt and apoplectic regime in Abuja!

Friday, June 26, 2009


This month I yield this pages to the nobel laureat, Uncle Wole:

Between amnesty and amnesia

By Wole Soyinka Friday, June 26, 2009

Bleak as the Delta situation appears to be, given the recent escalation of violence, we may actually be approaching a stage of possible resolution – touch wood! This is why, albeit with much reluctance, I feel I should respond publicly to the spate of entreaties and expressions of anxiety coming my way over my perceived adoption of a ‘siddon-look’ attitude towards the troubled region.

Such pressures have increased dramatically over the past few days, following – perhaps non-coincidentally - public responses by presidential candidate Pat Utomi, Ambassador Segun Olusola and others to President Yar’Adua’s latest offer of an Amnesty offer to Delta militants.
Let me begin by conveying my full endorsement of the position of these two. The offer of amnesty is worthless if it is not all-inclusive, and embraces those who are currently in state custody and/or on trial. The attempt in some quarters to confuse issues by refusing to separate the principled militants, such as members of MEND and its affiliates, from the opportunistic mercenaries and criminals, has always struck me as dishonest and diversionary. Separating the wheat from the chaff is a simple enough process, one that can be undertaken by a miniaturized Truth and Reconciliation version of the South African original, adapted to our own unique set of circumstances – and preferably with a change of emphasis that substitutes ‘Restitution’ for ‘Reconciliation’, keeping the latter on the agenda however as the implicit, ultimate destination. This has always been my position even over the South African process.
May I comment here also that the excitement over the ‘discovery’ of documents in one over-run insurgent camp, implicating well-heeled citizens as backers of the resistance has been nothing but amusing.

Did anyone seriously believe that it was nothing more a bunch of ‘rascals’ who have bent the nation, literally, over the oil barrel these past years? That ‘respectable’, high-placed citizens, including many not from the oil-producing region, did not share their yearnings?
Rascals? Extortionists? Hostage takers? Thrill killers? Since when was any liberation movement throughout history exempt from its quota of deviants! Was the Nigerian Federal Army itself even free of such human dregs when it was launched to prosecute a war dedicated, with all due sanctimoniousness, to ‘keeping the nation one’. We shall bypass for now, the question of what, and whose nation it has proved – an imperial delusion, or the genuine product of a people’s will? The urgent task for us at this moment to climb out of the pit of amnesia, recall that the army was not without its quota of psychopaths, looters, mass murderers and rapists – one of whom even became a Head of State, headed for a Life Presidency.

Those who wish to dispute that had better visit army records and find out whether or not Sani Abacha – whose name is still proudly flown on Abuja streets - had been recommended for dismissal from the military for ‘conduct unbecoming’ during the Civil War. Ironically, he obtained reprieve from yet another Head of State whom he later attempted to reward with a first-class ticket to the Great Beyond. These are not irrelevant asides – we must learn to cast a glance backwards periodically in dealing with the present. Records are also available, internationally, over the criminal conduct of sections of the Nigerian contingent of the ECOWAS ‘liberators’ in Sierra Leone, despite the heroic virtues displayed the Army as an entity.

My withdrawal into a seeming ‘siddon-look’ posture over the Delta has been inevitable, a product of disgust and bitterness over callously wasted opportunities. Disinterested but concerned interventions with the Obasanjo government, and next, its present offshoot, have not been wanting. I know of several – including from the diplomatic Corps, individually and as groups, speaking both for their governments and from their own concern as observers on the ground, but will restrict myself to the one in which I have been personally involved – the Nobel Laureates’ initiative.

That Commission, after a extensive visitation to the embattled areas, with frank exchanges with the people of the Delta at grassroots – or more accurately, at the deepest mangrove roots level – with government officials and representatives of oil companies, forwarded its recommendations to the government. The Nobel document, let me hasten to add, proved to be quite in tune with prior recommendations and agreements entered into between the government and Delta representatives. In tandem with his predecessor Olusegun, President Umaru Yar’Adua must be made to recognize that he shoulders a moral and political responsibility for failure to make a decisive breakthrough in the quest to terminate hostilities in the Delta region. Much of the toll of death and destruction could, and would have been avoided if only these two rulers had lived up to their charge.

I should reveal at this point that the Nobel initiative did not end with a transmitted report. David Philips, Secretary to the Commission, sought and obtained an audience with President Yar’Adua in New York during his visit to the United States for the 2008 THISDAY event – NIGERIA MEETS THE WORLD. He came away from that meeting with uncomplimentary observations on the lack of informed seriousness on Yar’Adua’s part over this ticking time-bomb. Phillips concluded that he expected nothing of value to emerge from his meeting with the Nigerian Head of State, any more than could be expected from the Commission’s report itself. He has been abundantly proved right. The Delta crisis is not the Middle-East dilemma, and does not require the high-powered serial rituals of negotiations that still characterize the Middle East, or indeed the Yugoslavia scenario in a not so distant past. The matter is straightforward. As MEND statements have periodically emphasized, the Delta crisis is the mere purulent tip of the Nigerian boil, now prodded into a violent eruption in a particular region. Over and over again it has been stressed that nothing but a holistic approach to internal re-structuring will serve the nation.

Not only is this historically inevitable, such an approach provides a context within which the aggrieved oil-producing areas can feel a genuine relatedness to the national question.
The stubborn retention of the status quo, and its manifest rejection by component parts, is at the heart of the Delta crisis. President Yar’Adua’s lackadaisical approach towards these contentious issues has become increasingly clarified as not one of governance indifference or lack of understanding, but of complicity through inaction. It is studied and purposed, the complement of the frenetic inaction of his predecessor. The only difference is that the Ota farmer fabricated a lot of deceitful motions – what I have termed frenetic inaction - to provide a cover for ensuring the status quo, while his successor cannot be bothered with such pointless exertion. His preference is the posture of a somnolent spider that has learnt to outwait and outwit noisome flies.

Is the Delta crisis an exception? Not in the least. The chronic concession of amnesty through national amnesia cannot extend that far, not even in this nation of self-censured memory. Parallels surround us in Yar’Adua’s treatment – or more accurately, neglect – of burning issues. Candidate for the most provocative is unquestionably the continuing retention of the INEC head, Maurice Iwu, in his theatre of gross abuse of national trust, where a people’s democratic yearnings have been treated with contempt and derision in the confidence of immunity.

It is not for nothing that MEND, in a number of its dispatches, has stressed not just the flawed antecedents of the Nigerian project in general, but the incorrigible cabalism of governance that makes a mockery of the democratic process, and thus robs the citizens of dignity and voice. MEND has interjected its communiques with reminders that the Delta contestation is a product of the desperate sustenance of the very immorality of the Nigerian state – and the continuing, corrupt desperation of power. That MEND took pains to state this in such stark terms is superfluous; even without this denunciation, the insolence of the democratic exercise of 2007 cannot be discounted as a crucial factor in the stiffening of militant intransigence in the Delta.
Governance is built on trust.

Trust is earned through transparent legitimacy. “ONLY A FEW TAKERS FOR GOVERNMENT’S AMNESTY OFFER” - reports an international headline. Surprise? “There is widespread distrust among Niger Delta’s Youths for government’s amnesty offers”, continues the sub-heading. Yes, indeed, that summative word – distrust! How has the Obasanjo-Yar’Adua diarchy acted to erase a distrust that began since Isaac Boro and his colleagues took to arms against a rapacious Nigerian state? What adjustments in approach – beyond tokenism - has the state made in its policies since the Ogoni tragic forewarning? Yet even far more ancient calluses of mistrust have been peeled off in other histories, and the Delta could have been relieved of its own by now, if the government had acted with transparent sincerity in general spheres of governance. After two years in power, can one objectively state that this is a government that deserves the trust of Nigerians?

Umaru Yar’Adua made several avowals of intent on taking office. He even backed his words up with one or two credible moves, such as disowning and dismantling his predecessor’s scaffolding of governance by illegality - witness his compliance with some long obstructed judicial directives and the bravura order of new investigations into unsolved political murders etc. However, just how far have these been pursued and sustained? Beside those few gestures, the nation has been confronted with nothing but the immobility of will, punctuated by sudden spasms that generate spidery vibrations, only to subside without any effective result. One’s anxiety therefore is that the Amnesty reach-out, and its potential, may end as yet another cocooned victim of purposed inertia.

Amnesty, after all, is something that Yar’Adua should know about. The Nigerian nation has granted his government an amnesty that has now endured two years, and is set to run its full four-year course. In my political dictionary, there is no political offence graver than organising, condoning, participating in, or benefiting from, the thievery of a people’s political will. On taking office through the gba’ju e tactics of the last incumbent, Umaru Yar’Adua made noises that conceded that a robbery had indeed taken place – an excellent starting point that paved the way for the people to reconcile themselves to what amounts to no more than a political Amnesty. But then, what steps has the beneficiary of this generosity taken to ensure that we put an end, once for all, to this cycle of electoral impunity that steadily takes its toll on a people’s forbearance? What are the concrete, not rhetorical measures taken?

The answer is easily read in the Uwais Panel report on electoral reform. Instead of principled and transparent pro-activity on the document, presidential efforts have been committed to attempting to water down or expunge critical recommendations, so that the commencement of implementation is currently stymied under procedural delays even as the next election looms ever closer. Knowing how ressure of time was deliberately fomented, then exploited, by the Head of INEC – the Institute for National Electoral Chicanery - it surely should be clear to the nation by now that our electoral organizing genius is, without question, being encouraged to utilize the same alibi of ‘decision-making’ to justify what is already looming as another electoral debacle, in which last-minute disorganization will be used to confuse and befuddle the electorate and the electoral process.

The tribunals - and judiciary – will then be coopted once again on the interminable rounds that surrender the electorate to another cycle of aggravated assault and eventual concession of – Amnesty to the seasoned, incorrigible, and cynical assailants. The fount of all electoral malfeasance rests firmly in the director’s chair. So firmly, so confidently is our man that he offered to instruct the United States of America how to run their democratic elections. Not surprisingly, that reluctant student, Barack Obama, decided to give the Iwuruwuru Nigeria Incorporated school a wide miss on his way through the African continent.

Other credibility gaps? Status quo – no, retrogression - on power generation. Status quo on electoral reforms. Status quo – no, again - retrogression on anti-corruption pledges. Related to that of course, the presidential ‘absenteeism’ throughout the Nuhu Ribadu travail and its nationally embarrassing denouement. The retention of an openly, repeatedly compromised Attorney-General, despite the spirited and elaborately argued case for his removal by the Nigerian Bar Association and others.

The unprincipled removal of the Head of the Law School, Lagos, for no other crime than presiding over a formal event, a normal feature of an institution that trains its students to be defenders of the fundamental right of free speech. For a president that swore to restore the integrity of the judiciary, and thus of justice, this certainly was a high water-mark of matching word to deed. Presidential torpor over the Halliburton scandal while the point man, the Attorney-General scurries to and fro, filled with sound and fury, signifying nothing.
A head of state consistently rumoured to be so weak as to be barely able to receive the accreditation letters of foreign envoys nevertheless finds sufficient motivation and energy to invade the politically charged zone of Ekiti for a heated electoral re-run, sending – yes, exactly what signals to the nation? Or shall we diverge to the insensitive, nauseous extravaganzas of the self-declared Servant-Leader’s daughters’ betrothals, weddings etc., reminiscent of those decadent Roman days that have bequeathed to the world the expression ‘fiddling while Rome burns’?

That truly is leading by example! Shall we anatomize the discredited company that the President so clearly loves to keep? But why continue? I know that I have repeatedly described Yar’Adua as a president on permanent sabbatical, but professors do not proceed into unproductive hibernation during this physical absence from teaching – indeed, very often, much ground-breaking work is done during this period, and the question under constant study has been: what grounds has this incumbent has been breaking during his two years of sabbatical retreat? Our findings – the ground under the feet of democracy, the completion of the mission embarked upon by his predecessor. Two years have been more than sufficient to test President Yar’Adua’s sincerity, and it has been found wanting. The mistrust that is voiced by the Delta militants only responds to vibrations from the web of deception that Umaru Yar’Adua has spun around his hibernation.

As I stated at the ‘Town Hall Meeting’ in London – that plain, ordinary, routine, and legitimate entitlement to community gathering that Yar’Adua’s representatives in London made such strenuous efforts to scuttle - a passive posture may disguise systemic aggression.
That is commonplace actuality. It lies at the core of certain forms of martial, or indeed marital art, since either form of conflict is often conducted on such terms – a cultivated passivity on one side as strategy for the attrition of the opponent’s resistance. It is only a matter of time before the latter discovers how weakened he has become.

Yar’Adua’s strategic indolence is in that mode. He has been given two years to prove otherwise; he has used both years of comatose affectation to lull the nation also to sleep. Nothing is happening, yawns the citizenry, as it dozes off, or else sleep-walks aimlessly.
Wrong. Just like the godfather, the Spider never sleeps. No, indeed, I have not been indifferent to the Delta crisis – very much the contrary. My position is that, after decades of military dictatorships that have brought a nation to its knees where she had no choice but to endure the dribble of international opprobrium, TEN, repeat TEN years of amnesty to post-military civil governance is no longer an act of generosity by any people, but a sign of resignation and/or supineness. Nevertheless, we need to remind the one to whom the nation’s over-extended arm of accommodation has been stretched that his government is not emplaced on any high moral ground that permits quibbling or dawdling over this offer of amnesty.

Well, the gesture is on offer, and will, I am confident, be soberly and positively considered by the disaffected region. To ensure the result desired and deserved by the nation, it must be backed by structures and procedures that testify to its sincerity, with transparent guarantees placed before the nation. It should not be rejected out of hand by the militants – this we must also strongly urge - despite the fact that the offer comes from one whose credit has been exhausted.
Some of that credit-worthiness can be regained and injected into the process through a serious encounter that brings both sides together, brokered – I strongly recommend - by international neutrals. This is not a novel solution, on the contrary! It had been embarked upon several times before, only to be abandoned through passive procrastination, punctuated by acts of bad faith – such as the ill-considered appointment of a chairman of deeply flawed credentials for one such exercise. Was that a mere error of judgment? Or was it a diabolical exercise in advance sabotage?

Finally, should such an Amnesty be broad enough to embrace even the criminal opportunists of the struggle? Absolutely not. That would be as much as to say that Amnesty also embraces those accused, or proven guilty of war crimes, such as the officers who took part in the cold-blooded shooting of two brothers – among similar, less publicised crimes – against the innocent citizens of the Delta region. Indiscriminate bombings and saturation bombardment of villages ‘suspected’ to harbour sought militants must be investigated and the guilty charged. Orders began somewhere.

Those orders were given, and those orders were carried out. Who gave the orders? Has Umaru Yar’Adua yet launched a commission to enquire into the extra-judicial, cold-blooded murders of the two Gbaramatu brothers? I hope not. There is no need for a commission. Names, locale, time and witnesses – including video records - are sufficient to have initiated an internal enquiry that should now move to the public sphere as criminal proceeding. Will Yar’Adua seize this chance to dissociate himself from the peacetime massacres that became commonplace under his predecessor, and commit the nation to a humane morality even in time of war?

That question hangs for now but, like the question of detainees, constitutes a strand in the fabric of Amnesty that will either enfold the militants or catapult them deeper into the violent zone of alienation.

These are the choices before Anansi, the spider of West African folk-lore, and current tenant of Aso Rock. Those who dispute this categorization are destined to become fodder for that seemingly inert web that is spun ever wider, and with so little energy, while the rest of the nation sleepwalks, mesmerized by yet another receding chimera: Vision 2020. The question posed by the Delta region however, in tune with the rest of the nation is: whatever happened to Vision 1960?

Thursday, May 7, 2009


"In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way." -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

The verdict is in, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, the party of the occupiers won, the Nigerian people lost! The earlier some of us in the pro-democracy movement understand this fact the better for us. Anyone that thinks the Yar’adua’s government of occupiers, with their corrupt ex-governors will voluntarily conduct a free and fair election and hand over power to winners of such an election is living in cuckoo land.

The recently concluded rerun election in Ekiti, clearly shows that our democracy has reached a dead end. What do you expect? It is only in Nigeria we asked robbers to guard the bank. The so called People’s Democratic Party is determined to end any hope of the Nigerian people for democracy in Nigeria. I had warned of their perfidy ever since they contrived to impose Obasanjo in 1999. The very heart and soul of PDP is antithetical to democracy. You don’t expect a party formed by corrupt and convicted ex-governors and militricians to “mid-wifed” democracy. I said then that the so-called Africa’s biggest party is a gargantuan fraud; a criminal enterprise set up to perpetute the subjugation of the will of the people of Nigeria.

It is sickening to read how Nigerian mainstream newspapers lump the opposition party together in their post mortem analysis after the Ekiti state rerun election. One Nigerian columnist went so far as saying that all political parties in Nigeria rigged, and that the fact that PDP out-rigged the opposition is a sad end that justifies the means!

To me the stupidity in this argument is astounding, I mean, is this the same opposition parties harassed left and right by PDP’s installed soldiers and police men? Who controls the electoral process and personnel? Can anyone in its right senses explain the trip to Aso rock by Maurice Iwu, the supposed impartial electoral officer of the nation to the president on the eve of the election? Can anyone explain to us why PDP officers were the only one permitted in that meeting? Can anyone explain the reason why soldiers were deployed to Ekiti state even though AC had warned of the attempt to use soldiers to foster violence and quell opposition to any protest of the stolen mandate? What business has Maurice Iwu had to do at Aso rock on the week of the election? Why did he avoid the press corps at Aso rock? Why was he smuggled out of Aso rock so his pictures could not be taken? And can the president explain to us what Iwu is still doing at that post; months after his term had expired?

Imposition of candidates is one of the cardinal and directive principles of PDP. They have no sympathy for free and fair election, all they know to do is how to steal election. They have never won a free and fair election in Nigeria and they are not about to pretend to do so. Anyone that argues that opposition parties in Nigeria have access to rigging needs to have their collective examine. I did not see any AC police officers in Ekiti. AC has no control over who prints the ballot papers and where they are printed. They have no control over who get to appoint the resident electoral commissioner. We now know that the resident electoral commissioner for Ekiti state was installed into office by PDP national patron, Olusegun Obasanjo, who used her to send a message briefly to his party about his control of the apparatus of power and election in southwest, when the REC was incommunicado briefly after the rerun. And as soon as Aso rock got the message, they appeased him and she sends her back to complete the task. So she came back to extinguish the little hope the Ekiti people, nay all Nigerians have left for free and fair election in Nigeria. The results she had refused to accept based on the fact that they were concocted and her conscience would not let her; turned out to be the result she gave her imprimatur to, once she got back from Abuja vide Abeokuta or is it Ota!

Many have said we have a long way to go when it comes to election, but I actually think we have not started. The same seeds they sown in imposing candidates on the Niger Delta people that breed MEND is what they have started in Southwest. They that sow the wind shall reap whirlwind. Only a fool will continue to participate in an election organized by the present regime in Abuja. It is time for the oppositions to realize that democracy is on a hiatus as long as PDP remains in power at Abuja.

The Ekiti governorship election rerun clearly demonstrated that campaigns meant nothing, ballot boxes and votes count for nothing. Just take a cursory look at the jamboree they had when the president and other PDP officials came to campaign in Ekiti, they promised nothing to the Ekiti people. They have been in charge at the governor’s office for more than 9 years, they never pointed to any achievement they made in office. They neither run on their record or promise to run things better, they came to taunt the Ekiti people. They sang to Oni, their candidate, “even if you don’t campaigned you have won!” They know they can get away with it, because they owned the ballot box, they owned the center. Nigeria is an occupied nation, the earlier we know that, the easier it becomes to throw the bum out of power. You don’t appease an occupier by participating in a kangaroo election.

Some say, “But the oppositions are in power in Lagos, Edo and Ondo states” My answer to that is simple: how did they get there? Did any of the governors in the aforenamed states win elections organized by PDP? The governors in Edo and Ondo states won largely thanks to tribunal verdicts. If the tribunal had ordered a rerun the oppositions stand no chance under Iwu and his band of PDP anointed electoral officers.

Democracy is no longer on life support in Nigeria, it is dead! And like my colleague, Femi Falana pointed out in his press release we cannot blame the people of Ekiti State. They gave their all, they always stand up against those who steal their votes, and it is time for Nigerians of all hue to stand up too! The historic resistance of the Ekiti people should be the spark that will start a conflagration in our nation. All democratic and progressive forces in Nigeria, should like we did in the time of Abacha forge an organic alliance to mobilize Nigerians to take their political destiny in their own hands. It is time for patriotic Nigerians to stand up for democracy.

Monday, April 20, 2009


“Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is perhaps, the most to be dreaded,
because it comprises and develops the germ of every other [enemy].”
-James Madison 1795

Nigeria democracy suffered another shock recently when we learnt that a sitting governor privately called for brigandage and militarization of polling booth. The governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, was purportedly caught on tape telling local ruling party politicians that he will supply them with army uniforms, arms and ammunition so they can rig this week's hotly contested runoff elections in Ekiti State so as to favor the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
This is to ensure victory for the governorship candidate of the People's Democratic Party, Segun Oni. Mr. Oyinlola, a retired army general, apparently made the brazen promise to help rig the election by intimidation, during a meeting in Ado Ekiti, the state capital on April 2, with the 16 PDP chairmen of local governments.

My first reaction when I read this, is to laugh, and then I caught myself, suddenly I realized I am laughing at the demise of democracy in Nigeria. A democracy many of friends and colleagues died for on the campus of Obafemi of Awolowo University. A democracy the likes of Colonel Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd) did their best to crush through the barrel of their guns. The same democracy they hijacked from the Nigerian people through rigging and corruption. The democracy they are now doing their very best to stamp out completely.

Whoever expects the likes of Oyinlola and his co-travelers’ to fight for and stand for democracy is day dreaming. What we have in Nigeria today is a government of occupation imposed on Nigeria by militricians in civilian clothing. A government imposed on the Nigerian people by the will of a few entrenched interests in PDP. A government that is not accountable to the electorates as they are selected and imposed on the people by the powers that be in Abuja. Nigeria political experiment is worse than the ongoing imbroglio at Gaza, for one the people of Gaza elected the Hamas; we in Nigeria never elected the “self imposed” government ruling us in Abuja.

I am not holding my breath on any accountability by Oyinlola or the PDP; after all this is not the first time their nefarious acts will be publicly exposed by vigilant Nigerian. I recall their shenanigans at the Osun State Electoral Tribunal, where the same governor, his legal counsel and the Tribunal chairman were exchanging text messages on how to conduct the election petition to the exclusion of opposing counsel were the tribunal was sitting.
I am sure Oyinlola will continue to deny ever making the statements attributed to him in Ekiti as he did earlier when he denied the text messages exchanged with the Justice Thomas Damar Naron, the Osun state tribunal chairman.

I am also not holding my breath on the ability of the Nigerian mainstream media to continue to follow this story and force the attorney general to prosecute Oyinlola. The attorney general, Michael Aodoanka had made it implicitly clear to Nigerians that he is beholden to the ruling party that appointed him in the first place.

One thing is certain; the legitimacy of the election in Ekiti state is now under a cloud, that cloud can only be cleared by a free and fair election devoid of any militancy and brigandage. The people of Ekiti should be able to hold Oyinlola accountable for any atrocity that might be committed during the election.

They have been outsmarted by the genius of those who smuggled an audio tape recorder into that meeting. We need more of such citizen’s valiancy if we are to rescue our democracy from charlatans like Oyinlola. I am sure they are already scampering around for another strategy on how they will rig the election.

They usually resort to this type of strategy because they know the people of Nigeria and indeed the electorates in Ekiti state cannot believe their bunkum! Oyinlola stewardship in Lagos and Osun states where he had been governors as military administrator and selected governor is littered with uncompleted projects, embezzled funds, nepotism and bribery of traditional rulers to subvert democracy.

And now, democracy is again on trial in Ekiti state, no thanks to the war declared on it by the occupied governor of Osun state.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The gruesome and fatal death of Mrs. Elizabeth Yakubu, has again brought to the fore the endemic problems of domestic violence in Nigeria. According to the news story published online by Sunday Sun, March 29, 2009, Mrs. Yakubu was purportedly hurled down by her husband from the third floor of their house by her husband, Yusuf Yakubu, a 47-year old Senior Inspector with the Nigeria Customs Service.

It is instructive to state that Mr. Yakubu for the record, is denying the charge, he claims that his estranged wife took the fatal plunge herself following his refusal to allow her leave for her house shortly before midnight on the fateful day. Even if that were to be true, his admission still warrants at least a charge of criminal false imprisonment, a veritable tool in the hands of domestic violence perpetrators.

According to the report, Mr. Yakubu’s problem with his wife always starts when he drinks. Alcoholism and drug abuse most often are gateway to domestic violence. The report states that “Anytime he was drunk, he would turn her into a punching bag. She was always leaving him, but he would always go and beg her, saying he had changed.”

Sadly, in Nigeria we have no program geared towards addressing this type of problem. Most of our politicians are men anyway and they are active perpetrators themselves. I recall reading sometimes ago about a Nigerian first lady who boasted how her husband, the then Nigerian president, take pride in whipping her with a horse whip in front of her children if she refused to follow his instructions.

In Nigeria, a woman is expected to follow her husband instructions no matter how warped and illogic that instruction might sound. Nigerian Christians and pastors are directly culpable for this. They stressed the fact that the husband is the head of the wife. They stressed “the head” in the scriptural references they use to justify their stand even to the detriment of the biblical injunctions to husband to love their wife as Christ love the church. No Nigerian church, Pentecostal, orthodox or otherwise have any program directly addressing the prevalent problems of domestic violence in Nigeria. I have also not found any Islamiyya group combating this evil in our society.

Nigerian pastors will often preach against the many evils of “gays and lesbianism” in America and western society whilst they ignore “the specs” in their own eyes. The Imams in the North will rather preach a vitriolic sermon about the neglect of sharia laws in the north than address the injustice against women in many “purdahs” in Nigeria.

We are a nation with culture, they say, but how long will this culture that openly permits the neglect, abuse and discriminations against women last. There are many Yakubu’s in Nigeria who gets drunk at the beer parlor on his way home from work, and gets home to smack their wives around. In Nigeria, neighbors don’t call police to report a domestic violence, when you asked why; they say “we don’t wash our dirty linen in public.” Often time, my retort to them is that this is not just a dirty linen it is a crime. One of the laws my criminal procedure lecturer at the Nigerian law school stress “ad nauseam” is assault and battery. If we don’t report battery against defenseless women and children we should not expect help when those children grew up to invade our homes with armed gangs.

I asked a many Nigerian what aspect of Nigerian life needs immediate attention in what I called “priority of government” series (POGS). The unanimous agreement I got from my unscientific survey points inevitably to security. Not power generation, I guess Nigerian have resigned themselves to living in darkness for the rest of Yar’adua’s regime. No one even mentioned the global financial meltdown or the Nigerian stock exchange imbroglio. Everyone is uniformly concerned with the problem of armed robbery and violent crimes in Nigeria.

In a country where politicians hired armed gangs to run their campaigns Nigerians have cause for concern. I informed a friend recently that I am as impressed with the extreme makeover Governor Fashola is giving Lagos state as everyone else, but all these will be to no avail as long as the problem of security of life and property continues to “dog” the populace.

And it all starts with law enforcement, Nigerian don’t trust their security and para -military apparatus. The police officers carry guns at every “road blocks” and yet you can’t find them around when armed robbers strike at the same location. Sometimes the citizens of Nigeria can hardly distinguish between the armed robbers who invaded their homes at night and the one who invaded their pockets at the road blocks. The Nigerian army will forever live in infamy for the crimes committed against the Odi people on the order of then President Obasanjo.

Someone once said “in the state of lawlessness” it is illegal to be lawful. This is the state we are in Nigeria. This is why husband beat their wife with impunity and nothing happens. This is why we are raising kids who all they know is abuse, physical, mental and political. We have an attorney general that openly cuddles corrupt governors, and will do anything to ensure the long arms of the law will not reach his former clients.

Mrs. Elizabeth Yakubu’s life was wasted by her husband, just as Nigerian government in Abuja is wasting our hard earned democracy “while we stand aside and look.” Like Bob Marley sang years ago, “some says it is just part of it, we’ve got to fulfill the book” as our Imams and pastors regurgitate to our ears at every Sunday and Jumat services.

I say it is time to start a conversation with the pastors and imams and asked them why they keep as friends politicians who mortgage their congregation’s future. It is time to ask them why they refuse to engage the husband who drinks and beat his wife and kids all because he pays a fat tithe and offering.

Francis Adewale
Spokane, WA

Thursday, March 26, 2009


“The truth is, for our democracy to work it needs not just an engaged citizenry,
but an informed one. We've known this since this nation's earliest days. …
"Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of
the people," they wrote, are "necessary for the preservation of their rights and
liberties." -Lee Hamilton “The Center on Congress Indiana University”
The impetus to write this piece came from no other place but Lee Hamilton brilliant piece where I extracted the quote above. I am going to be borrowing heavily from his writing. But let me take the liberty to give a little background to this piece. We learnt recently from This Day newspapers that Lagos State government and indeed Lagos State governor maybe doing an awesome job. Thanks to a columnist from ThisDay Newspapers, Simon Kolawole who wrote “My write-up today should help us understand the Fashola Phenomenon and put things in proper perspective. We can then ask: what can the rest of Nigeria learn from this?” The article went on and on to extol the many virtues and achievement of Fashola to the exclusions of all others.

When I first read this piece my mind immediately went back to ThisDay’s earlier hit piece on the same Lagos state governor. I am sure Mr. Kolawole, as editor of Thisday newspapers know one thing or two about that piece. Here is my riposte on that saga: “In a news story that is clearly a cut between an “hit piece” and an otherwise intelligent investigative report, we learnt of the shenanigans and hypocrisy of the former governor of Lagos State and his connections with the disgraced Abacha’s family friend-the Chagoury’s; as well as the multi billion naira awarded to the latter’s company-Hi-tech Construction company by the Lagos State government.” Thisday ended that news story titled “The Abacha Henchmen’s Chagoury Take Over Lagos” with a clincher “this article is the first in Thisday series on state government.” That was over 6 months ago, nothing but laudatory praises have appeared in Thisday. We are still waiting on their expose’

To Thisday newspapers all of that is water under the bridge, they have patched up with Tinubu, Fashola and the Lagos state government and it is back to business as usual, but to those of us who fought to enthrone the same democracy they are frittering away we are not done yet.

Thisday is not alone in this “jankara” journalism. The Nation newspapers purportedly owned by Tinubu acolytes fought back with their own hit piece on Thisday and its publishers. Other newspapers around the same time “led concurrently for three weeks with damning exposure of questionable award of pension by Gombe State House of Assembly to Governor Danjuma Goje. When adverts from Gombe State and friends of Gombe State started appearing in the pages of this newspaper and other newspapers, nothing was heard of the Goje pension saga” according to a Nigerian blogger who had observed this shameful practice.

This “jankara” journalism practice is also extended to corporate Nigeria. A GSM service provider gave tariff free lines to major columnists and editors. “This Greek gift has ensured that this company does not get the truth about the company activities reported. When any columnist or editor runs out of weekend cash, or money for staff salary, a not too favorable report is done, which is automatically followed by an advert or appearance on the cover of the weekend edition/centre page special report or pull out from the affected corporation or individual. This is how Nigerian media runs.”

When I started a column about Nigerian columnist I received a deluge of emails and text messages from Nigerian, most of whom wanted us to call them out. Many Nigerian can see through these shenanigans but do we have enough informed Nigerian to do something about this charade? One elderly Nigerian called me from Washington DC, an accountant by profession, he was so bitter about the piss poor state of Nigerian journalism that his son said he almost broke his vein speaking to me on the phone. He said he wanted me to concentrate on Reuben Abati. He wondered why I feature more positive and above board columnist like Sonala Olumhense and Okey Ndibe when I could have devoted more space to graft seeking columnist like Reuben Abati, shaming them every week. I told him my attempt is to show there is a better way. He concluded by reminding me that up till now, no one, not even the management of The Guardian newspapers have been able to come up with a reasonable explanation about how and why Reuben Abati accepted land titles from former FCT minister El-Rufai even whilst he writes glowing article about the latter’s tenure in Abuja.

Getting the basic facts right is essential to governing well, especially in a democratic setting. One of the most critical job facing political leaders in a society as complex as Nigeria is to forge a consensus among many people and interests holding competing views. This is difficult enough to do when everyone agrees on the underlying facts; it is virtually impossible when there is no agreement on them. Voters' misperceptions, in other words, can become formidable obstacles to the functioning of our representative democracy. This is why an informed citizenry is imperative for a successful democratic experiment and an articulated media without ulterior agenda is synthetically unavoidable if our experiment is going to last.

Misperceptions develop for many reasons. It can be wearying to sort through all the sources of information—the media, advocacy groups, the Internet, politicians, commentators—on any given subject. And there are always political leaders, lobbyists and others who are willing to let misperceptions linger. After all, if all you need do to win an election is bribing a few journalists why bother with campaigns.

By the same token, there is no single fix. Part of the answer lies with Nigerian growing members of Congress and other public officials, who have a responsibility to correct public misperceptions. Part of it lies with the media, which in recent years has shown a worrisome tendency to downplay its role as even-handed, in-depth civic educator and to focus on entertainment or once-over reporting. Part of it lies with civic groups—some of them do their level best to counter the flood of misinformation, but they often seem outmatched. Lee Hamilton wrote this about politics in the United States of America, but you can apply this mutatis mutandis to the on going situation in present day Nigeria.

In the end, the burden lies with each of us as citizens. A lot of powerful groups and interests in Nigeria try to manipulate public opinion, and they're very good at it. Yet a democratic society depends on its citizens separating the wheat from the chaff, forming good judgments, and putting pressure on their representatives to act accordingly. If ordinary people can't do this or don't want to devote the time and energy, the country suffers. No matter how good our leadership, if we don't have discriminating citizens, this nation will not work very well.

There is an old observation that a society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves. Living in a democracy may be a basic right, but it is also a privilege, and it is one that must be earned by living up to the fondest dreams of our founders for a well-educated and knowledgeable citizenry.

One good thing about the state of media in Nigeria is that the traditional media no longer have sole control of the message. Thanks to the innumerable Nigerian online bloggers populating the internet. A stark contrast between the approach of the traditional media and online blogosphere could be seen in the coverage of a certain Professor Gabriel Oyibo, who claimed have answered questions that Einstein tried to address until he died regarding the origin of the universe. Nigeria Guardian Newspapers through its United States correspondents Laolu Akande published a glowing tribute “celebrating” the achievement of the so-called Oyibo, based entirely on claims made by him. Several months after the publication the said professor surfaced in Abuja and was hosted and feted by Nigeria University Commission, apparently acting on the news report of Guardian.

Thanks to Elendu reports, who dispatched their reporter, Omoyele Sowore to investigate Professor Oyibo’s claim, it turns out many of the professor’s claim are either downright fraudulent or laden with delusions. You can read his report here. In that report Sowore took the pains to verify every claim and contact every institution referenced by Guardian newspapers. At the end of day Guardian newspapers got eggs on their faces, but don’t think that is the end of the saga. It turns out Professor Oyibo is an Idoma who happens to come from the same region as the current attorney general of the federation, Michael Aondoakaa, a man who had sworn to do everything in its power to exterminate eviscerate the very real threat the Nigerian blogosphere posed to their murderous hold on power in Nigeria.
Here is where you as a reader come in to help defend democracy in Nigeria. We all needs to be better informed. Don’t take everything you read from the traditional media or that you watch on NTA or AIT as gospel truth. Challenged them by writing a rejoinder, if they refuse to publish your piece sends it online. Let’s tell them we would no longer sit idle whilst they destroy our hard earned democracy. A better informed citizenry is a requisite vanguard to an enduring democracy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009



“Well I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead.
But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountain top. And I
don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its
place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And
He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen
the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight,
that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land.” –Dr. Martin Luther King

At the pace we are going in Nigeria, we may end up redefining what democracy truly mean. We are getting to a point where election and electoral victory is just a process. The most important victories we have witnessed so far in Nigeria nascent democracy have all come from the court. No thanks to our “wuru wuru” and “mago mago” fraudulent electoral officers. Victory on Election Day matters little. Turning out the vote and mass appeal and followings by the electorates count little.

We learnt again through the judicial victory granted Oshiomhole and Mimiko by the Court of Appeal that democracy truly needs an independent judiciary to survive. You can spend millions on “get out the vote,” you can go out on election day to knock on doors and appeal to the voters to turn out “enmass” to vote for your candidate, nothing is assured. If you are a politician planning to contest in the next election, you are better advised to save enough money not just to pay for posters but also to pay lawyers to defend your mandate if you ever won! This is the new face of democracy, a democracy for the people, by the people through the court of appeal!

There is nothing inherently wrong in judicial victory on electoral matters, we should be happy that we have independent judiciary willing to stand up for what is right. But then you ask? Why does it have to get to this level before the right thing is done? Why can’t Mr. Iwu get it right? What does he or anyone gain from subverting democracy by stealing the people’s mandate?

And by the way, are we sure the judiciary will always get it right? You only need to look at the electoral tribunal in Osun state to see how a subverted judiciary can make a mess of the process. In Osun state the chairman of the Electoral Tribunal was caught exchanging text messages with one of the counsel to the petition before him. It turns out the text messages were not just greetings, they happened to contain briefs on how to win the case he is supposed to be an impartial arbiter on. That case is still pending in the Court of Appeal and the court’s decision is been eagerly awaited by many pro-democracy activists in Nigeria and abroad.

To echo Comrade Oshiomhole ““truly, truly, now we can discuss democracy. From the point of view of making democracy work, we can discuss democracy. From the perspectives of reforming democracy, now we can discuss democracy. From the hallowed chambers, through the courts, from gavel to gavel, now we can discuss democracy,”

Friends, it is time to tell us what you think? It is time for Nigerians to stand up for democracy.

Friday, January 2, 2009


“Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization. Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation."- Eugene V. Debs

Today, instead of commentary on commentaries, I will try and pick the best of 2008 political columns from Nigeria about Nigeria. I am sure many of the readers here do not agree with my picks so I urge you to send your own picks to me and I will try and include as many of your picks in the column next year. Send your picks to

Sonala Olumhense: Number one on my list of course is perhaps the most widely read online Nigeria political column titled “Keep Sahara Reporters Alive.” In it, Sonala Olumhense, acknowledged and praised the arrival of citizen journalism in Nigeria and deflected the attack on it by agents of the status quo. Let me quote him:
“I am a student of good journalism. Good journalism empowers. Good journalism
builds. Good journalism is the only foundation on which the democratic state can
flourish. But good journalism is difficult journalism. Good journalism must hunt
down the facts, as inconvenient as they might be. The more important the facts,
the more difficult they are to hunt down. Still, the difficulty of obtaining
information or ensuring the accuracy information does not diminish the burden of
responsibility on the journalist. That, of course, is the ideal. The dwindling
quality of Nigerian journalism in recent times is stark proof of how difficult
this standard is to meet. Our journalism thrives—sadly— on commentary, not
reporting. Nigeria has 130 million columnists; our only limitation is editorial
space. In recent times, the Internet has permitted the arrival of Citizen
Journalism as an important genre in this trade.”

Mohammed Haruna: Let me confess that I was tempted to pick Mohammed titanic battle with Dr. Olatunji Dare but instead I picked this piece titled “Between God, Obasanjo, Yarádua And The Rest Of Us.” The article was published onlineI want the reader to judge if Mohammed is right or wrong:
“As with his Third Term agenda, Obasanjo’s attempt at playing God by imposing
someone of doubtful health and another with a question mark over his integrity
on Nigerians as president and vice-president may yet come back to haunt him.
Already, he is known to have complained about Yaradua’s reversal of several of
his policies. Who knows, he may eventually overcome his infirmity and live long
enough to completely dismantle his benefactor’s obnoxious legacy… In the
meantime the rest of us should learn at least one big lesson of the predicament
Obasanjo has plunged us into by imposing a dubious presidency on the country.
And this is simply that if it ain’t broke, as the American’s would say, don’t
try to fix it. This policy of power rotation that has since become a convention
of our politics was a foolish attempt at fixing a system that was not as broke
as we imagined. In any case, the policy is patently undemocratic, even
anti-democracy. God may be the final word in whatever we plan or do but He gave
us the faculty to distinguish between right and wrong. In other words we owe
ourselves to do our own bit before we leave the rest to Him.”
Okey Ndibe: I am also tempted to pick virtually all of his columns this year, principally because he writes with clarity, and panache. He is always a joy to read any day. In this piece titled “A motion against moving forward” he captured the subjugation of Nigeria by its politician in a more poignant way. Hear him:
“The statement about carrying along all stakeholders is just as hollow and
dangerous. It implies that Nigeria does not belong to all its citizens, but to a
small clique of alleged stakeholders. Pry further and it becomes clear that the
so-called stakeholders are men and women who have privatized the nation’s
treasury. They are, in other words, men and women whose stake—if Nigeria were a
polity founded on observance of the law—should be in jails. Nigerians appear in
danger of being sold another toxic deal in the alleged name of moving the nation
forward. Over the last three weeks, I’ve been told by several sources that a
quiet discussion was going on among “stakeholders” to solidify a consensus on
Nigeria’s contentious 2007 presidential election. And, according to these
sources, the emerging consensus is for the presidential electoral tribunal to
affirm the legitimacy of Umar Yar’Adua’s “election” as president.”

Kole Omotosho: My final pick is titled “The Care of Times” published by The News Magazine on December 9, 2008. Here Professor Kole Omotosho explores the relationships between African tyrants and the resigned stagnation of their subjugated citizenry. Hear him:
“What is clear from all these examples is that, yes, time takes care of these
monsters but it is usually not without the help of some human hand, some human
push. Times change. There was the end of the cold war that made the type of
yo-yoing between East and West as exemplified by Siad Barre impossible. Perhaps
the price of commodities will fall to such an extent that they become dirt cheap
and those who own them, especially oil, would no longer command instant and
uncritical respect.”
There you go folks, those are my picks, what are yours? Please note that in making your picks you are allowed to pick those political columns that are not readily available online. Email your own picks including, author, dates of publication and publishers to

Happy holidays