Friday, December 26, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Imminent collapse of Nigeria power Privatisation

Guest post: the imminent collapse of Nigeria’s power privatisation is a good thing 

guest writer | Oct 21 12:33 | 

By Timi Soleye of CRYO Gas

Seated on the dais at an investment conference in one of Lagos’s posher hotels are the luminaries of the Nigerian power sector: the minister of power, the head of the national electricity regulator, the chairman of the presidential task-force on power and chief executives of the newly privatised electricity generation companies and distribution companies. They are desperate for the money of the reluctant foreign private equity managers and local investors who mill about the room.

It is a tough call. On November 1 a year will have passed since the effective privatisation of electricity generation and distribution in Nigeria and it must now be acknowledged that the privatisation is on the brink of collapse. Yet this is a good thing for Nigerians and for future investors.

The flashy pitch books and marketing materials on display in Lagos are deceptive. The reality of Nigeria’s power privatisation has more in common with a chaotic and characteristically Nigerian scene that plays out a scant few miles away at Lagos’s sea port.

Along the dockside are hundreds of unclaimed shipping containers. Either they have been “misplaced” or the “fees” that customs officials demand to let them in are greater than the importer’s profit from their contents. This has given birth to a cottage-industry auctioning off these “overtime” containers. The rules are simple: the bill of lading may be inspected but not the actual contents of the container, and the highest bid wins. As the bill of lading rarely corresponds with the actual contents – this is Lagos after all – venturesome bidders hope that what is actually inside is more valuable than what is supposed to be inside.

Nigeria’s electricity industry has been privatised in almost the same way. When the new owners claimed their goods, they were horrified by the disparity between what had been advertised and what they actually got. They were told, for example, that they did not, in fact, own the buildings in which their equipment was housed. They were aghast to discover that agreements on the supply of gas to their generators due to be signed by the government before hand-over were still in the draft stage – and that they would be receiving less than a third of the gas they needed, yielding correspondingly little electricity for them to distribute.

If the initial privatisation seemed chaotic, things got worse. Two months after the handover, and in the name of “market stability”, all agreements in the industry were scrapped and “Interim Rules” were introduced by fiat. Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading PLC (NBET), the statutory guarantor of payment in the system, was suspended and replaced by a “Market Operator”, a shadowy and vague entity even by the standards of Nigerian government. Capacity Payments to plants were capped at 45 per cent of the pre-contracted amounts, with payment of the balance put off to an unspecified date. Investors found that their financial projections, the basis for borrowing the money they used to buy their assets, were no more than scrap paper.

Since then, things have got even worse. Even the bills acknowledged as owed are being settled in incomplete dribs and drabs. Across the industry there are unpaid bills in excess of $1bn, as the amounts the distributors are able to collect fail to match what the generators are owed. Every day the financial chasm widens.

It was indicated that the “interim” rules would not last beyond February 2014 but they remain in place because of the unanswerable question of how this accounting manoeuvre will be resolved. The truth is that the interim rules will not be ended; they will simply collapse.

The big banks in Nigeria all have deep exposure to the power privatisation and widespread defaults would eviscerate the financial sector. To fix the problem the government must step into the breach, write a cheque to save the banks, relax its price controls and allow retail tariffs to go up. This will be politically unpalatable before the presidential election due in February, so the government will dawdle until then.

Nevertheless, hard as it may be to believe, the crisis will be good news for the people and for the discerning investor. It will compel a restructuring of the privatisation and a reorientation of the electricity industry towards market principles.

For the moment, the urgent gentlemen on the dais in Lagos have a hard job. But Nigeria’s is the irony of a voracious demand for power – a conservative deficit of 20 gigawatts – walled-off from supply by questionable regulation. In the near future, entrepreneurs will invest to provide supply and they will be sure of customers who can and will pay. At this moment of maximum pessimism, everyone knows that the privatisation faces imminent financial collapse one way or another. But the prospective investor is wise to heed Churchill’s maxim – “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Investments in an industry for which demand can only grow will be a good bet in the short and long term. This is why executives from Siemens, Cummins and General Electric are in the audience of every power conference, largely ignoring what’s being said on stage, seeking future business and laying the foundations for the rebirth of Nigeria’s electricity industry.

Timi Soleye is founder and president of CRYO Gas, a natural gas company in Lagos. ... ood-thing/

Friday, October 31, 2014

Letter From Compaore to GEJ

Dear Jona,

I write to tell you about my dilemma and why I am on the run, so you won't make the same mistake I made. Power is sweet but when you get drunk with power , it's toxic it is dangerous. I thought I was safe, I surrounded myself with people who dare not tell me what I do not wish to hear. I appointed my "yes men" into power and they made out like bandits on the state treasury. They never tell me that our country men in Bobo Diallosou are unhappy and suffering. Each time I asked about the mood of the country they said all is well. Until recently I never knew there is such a high unemployment in our country.

My advice to you is to eschew all sycophancy and hand over power now! It is not worth it at all. You can only use ethnicity to divide and rule for so long. Now I am looking all over the world for a friendly country that will allow him to live as refugee. Even France where I stacked all my stolen loot will not let me in. Despite all the money I gave Holland for campaign during his election can you believe that he and his gendarme are using my own army against me? Please be careful, don't be fooled no matter what they tell you in Aso rock. Don't run next year, go back to Bayelsa and enjoy your money.

Blaise Compaore

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Between Dimgba Igwe and Sunny Ofili: Who will Stop the Carnage on Nigerian roads?

“The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim”.- Gustave Le Bon

I found it extremely difficult to write about Nigeria in recent times. It becomes even more difficult when I lost two dear friends to avoidable automobile accidents in the last two months. Don’t get me wrong, I know death happens. We all have to die one way or another. What irks me most are the avoidable deaths and carnage on Nigerian roads. More so, when some of these deaths could easily have been avoided by deft planning, care for road users and enforcement of extant laws, something now alien to Nigeria as the rich, the wealthy and politicians live by impunity.

The first to die in a ghastly motor accident is my good friend and colleague, Sunny Ofili. Sunny as we all like to call him was first an award winning journalist, a tech savvy United States government technocrat, before he decided to move back to Nigeria to serve his people in Delta north. Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State appointed him as special adviser on information and communication technology (ICT) on September 11, 2011. Before his appointment, he widely consulted some of us in Diasporas who were very close to him (most especially myself and Iwedi Ojinmah). He had established the first Nigerian online newspaper, the “Times of Nigeria” online as a veritable news aggregation website patterned after Drudge and Huffington post (Ojinmah and I blog frequently on that platform).

He also took risk in exposing the corrupt Obasanjo regime at that time. I recalled his late night call for help to pay for document from the Corporate Affairs Commission registry in Abuja. Some of which proved the involvement of the Obasanjo’s presidency in shady oil contract deals in a Portuguese speaking island country in the Bight of Benin. We also pay to have some of the contract document translated from Portuguese to English. I recalled the urgency in his voice as he tried to escape arrest by operatives of the Federal government when they heard he is snooping around. He eventually had to come back to the US through the Benin route-made famous by Uncle Wole Soyinka. He knew well that route, as he took the same route on his way out of Nigeria as he fled the pernicious Abacha regime. As we often say in Nigeria, the more things change the more they remain the same.

I restated all of these to emphasis this point: Most cats with nine lives often died feeding on a drunken poisoned mouse. The obvious irony was apparently lost on Governor Uduaghan in his elegy at the burial of Sunny Ofili on September 5, 2014 when he said: “Over the years, I have learnt to control my anger but on the day he died, I was very angry over the circumstances of his death. I asked myself why Sunny entered that vehicle. He did not need to embark on that journey. When you wake up in the morning, pray not to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, pray against associating with the wrong people and pray against being dragged along with the wrong people at the wrong time.” What an irony! The vehicle Sunny should have avoided was that of his government. The wrong people he should have never associated with are the Ibori/Uduaghan crowd. The wrong time is 2011 and not 2014.

Obviously, the governor’s comment is in reference to the fact that Sunny Ofili chose to ride in a Jeep driven by an heavily intoxicated driver, the Late Agbogidi Henry Ezeagwuna, the Obi of Issele-Uku, (who also happened to be the traditional ruler of his home town and his father-in-law). Granted Sunny should never have agreed to ride a car driven by an heavily intoxicated driver, but the real irony here, is that the same Uduaghan used Sunny’s reach and influence with Delta north first class chiefs and Obis to get his government reelected. This happened even though he and his predecessor, James Ibori had nothing to show in terms of benefit to the Delta people. The vehicle Sunny should have avoided is the disaster prone Jeep called the Delta state government. A government that has no exact policy on road management! A government that sustains itself through bribery and sheer impunity. A government that receives more statutory allocation than any other states and yet primary school students still attend classes under a thatched roof! I could go on, needless to say that the death of Sunny Ofili is no more a sad event than the thousands that died daily on Delta roads while the Delta state and Federal Government of Nigeria looks on. It is also a warning to many of us idealist in Diaspora: Look before you jump!

And then there is Dimgba Igwe, of the Weekend Concord fame! He along with Late Michael Awoyinfa started the demystification of celebrity journalism in Nigeria. They both put the poor on the front page of newspapers in Nigeria through their rich stories on Nigerian masses. Imagine the shock on the face of newspapers literati in Nigeria in circa 1990s, when Weekend Concord published an in-depth story on the travails of “dumpster diving” college graduates in Nigeria in the early 1990s. Dimgba Igwe died this week in the hand of a hit and run driver, in another PDP controlled states, Abia state, with all the federal might at their disposal. Yes, it could have happened in an APC control states, but as long the president continue to go around to gloat in Osun and Ekiti about how he would have love to help the respective states but for the fact that state government is controlled by opposition party, it is fair game to remind him about the carnage in the states controlled by his party! After all, it is the federal government of Nigeria that controls the Federal Road Safety Marshall. The same federal government forbids state government from establishing any patrol on federal roads by statute.

The ongoing divisive and ethnic politics in Nigeria is largely responsible for the inept and corrupt regime stalking our land. You can bribe the traditional rulers to force their people to vote for you and called it democracy. But you cannot protect the people from callous death, in the hands of Boko Haram, Niger Delta militants, OPC, or a random drunk driver. What a shame! We are at a point in our democratic experiment we need to start asking our leaders tough questions, one of Winston Churchill's pithy observations seems appropriate – “however beautiful the strategy, one should occasionally stop to have a look at the results”. Is this the democracy we fought for as student union activist and journalist?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I feel like crying each time i think of how Nigeria was-Prof. Niyi Osundare

Prof. Niyi Osundare, a notable poet and activist shares his experiences in this interview with ADEOLA BALOGUN culled from

Despite working comfortably in the US, why do you still come back home here to work?

Life in the US and Europe is, no doubt, very attractive. All the things that make life and living comfortable are there. You don’t have to battle to get anything. As you can see right now, there is power outage. It is really difficult to be a scholar, writer or even a thinker in a society like ours. Water, good road networks, good medical care are available over there. And there are things around you that show you that the governments there respect their citizens, are accountable and answerable. All those things are absent in Nigeria. I say it all the time: Nigeria is not a country. We don’t have a country yet. We don’t have leaders who respect the people. I used to talk about our leaders only in the past, but I have included the followers. Our people don’t demand respect from their rulers. It is very important, it is a two-way process. Nigerians are in a position where they could be taken for granted anytime, and we are being taken for granted. We are a set of people who just take things as they are and do not protest. You tell the Nigerian populace to jump and the question you will get is, “How high, sir?” and not “Why?” We really need to get rid of the Oba kepe, Kabiyesi (Your Excellency) syndrome. Countries like US, Britain, Japan and Korea, and to a very large extent, Malaysia, are doing well because people ask questions from their rulers. They have a stake in leadership. It is difficult comparing the two places; it takes efforts and a lot of courage to leave a comfortable life in America or Europe to come and face the hardship that we have in this part of the world. But there are also things here that we don’t get abroad – the human touch, for example. I was brought up in a modest background. My material expectations from life are very modest and limited in a way. I have never thought of a time when I will fill my garage with an assortment of cars, or when I will have a house in every important street in Nigeria, and bank accounts that will make Bill Gates envious. This is one place where if I walk on the street, I run into people who know me and we crack jokes, laugh together, and trade opinions about our problems. And you must know that I didn’t leave this country until I was 50 (in 1997) due to some family issues. My roots are here. I owe this society a lot, which is very important. Whatever America or Europe takes out of me, they are just creaming off the broth that has been prepared. I used the scholarships of this country on three occasions and whatever I am today, it is Nigeria that made me so, and I will never forget. And this is one of the reasons I want to sing with Wole Soyinka, “I love my country, I no go lie, na inside am I go live and die. When im push me so, I push am so, he push me, I push am, I no go go.” In my keynote at the Soyinka Conference last week, I cited that stanza. People started singing and they laughed. It is the most serious stanza in Unlimited Liability because Soyinka is a trepid nationalist and a patriot – trying to tell a country that has been trying to destroy him for the past five, six decades that no matter what they do to him, he would bounce back. It is a lesson for all of us. So nothing will ever drive me away from this country. As a writer, too, I know what exile does to people who use their imagination. I have had the opportunity to mention this in a number of places: when you leave your root, you are leaving so much of yourself behind. When you leave that place where people know your name, where you don’t have to spell your name all the time, you are leaving so much behind. How can I write authentically about Nigeria and Africa and don’t have physical contact? Physical contact is very important. I want to be able to feel the smell of this country. I want to be able to see the glory of the rainforest in the season of the rain. I want to hear the noise of the leaves as they crackle under your feet in the dry season. I want to feel the rainbow in the Nigerian sky. I ask myself this question all the time: the moon I see in the United States, is it the same moon in Nigeria? Well, I wouldn’t know. It is important to be part of the struggle and the development of this country. If Americans ran away from their country when it was tough, we wouldn’t have any America to run to today. If the Britons, French, or the Germans did the same thing, those countries would be as poor as we are today. I ask myself all the time: What am I even doing to contribute to America? Those countries are already developed. I know I am doing my best there and they appreciate it, but in relative terms, the little efforts I put up here show more results than what is obtained there. The two places are important to me except that here, there are too many distractions and you can hardly do much because of the challenges, but there, a few people know me, and therefore, I can hide and do many things. I usually refer to Nigeria as my laboratory and America as my hideout.

How would you compare what obtains now with what you experienced in your days as an undergraduate?

You are going to make me cry. It is a terrible situation. I feel like crying each time I think of how Nigeria was. At times I wonder the tyranny of memory, maybe I should not think about what obtained in the 1960s and 1970s and even to the end of the 1980s and what obtains today. Of all the countries in the world, this is one that I know where the barometer of progress and development drops every year. It is amazing. I think I was discussing this with someone on our way to the Soyinka conference in Lagos last week. We are no longer able to do the things we used to do. For instance, our educational system has collapsed. During the Fagunwa conference last year, I made a point that Nigeria could not have been able to produce a Fagunwa right now. Also in Abeokuta last week, I said Nigeria could not have produced a Soyinka. Soyinka wrote the ‘Dance of the forest,’ one of the most complex plays I have ever seen at 26. Chinua Achebe wrote ‘Things fall apart’ when he was 26. Can the educational system of Nigeria really equip us with enough facilities and competence to be able to do such great works now? I was asking myself, D.O. Fagunwa, the genius never went beyond St. Andrews College, formally – what we used to call Grade 2 in those days, but look at the depth and breadth of that man as reflected in his works, the essays that he wrote and the critical works he did. He was proficient both in Yoruba and in English and I said something that many people might have considered controversial in the conference that we held in Akure last year. I said the educational prowess of Fagunwa after he left St Andrews College in many ways surpasses the academic and professional competence of many people today with doctorate degrees and it is really true because when you look at the kind of students we are producing – MBA, BA, MSc – the quality is dropping every year. It is not as if people are not good, but it is the environment that makes a person. There are things I teach my students in the US and I tell them that look, the bulk of what I am teaching you now, I was taught in my secondary school in a little village in the Western part of Nigeria, and they would laugh, but it is true. That was at Amoye Grammar School in Ikere-Ekiti. When I entered that school in 1961, our principal was the only graduate whereas our teachers had Grade 2 qualifications or just finished Higher School Certificates and just getting ready to go to the university, but look at the foundation they laid. Up till today, I still rely on the foundation they laid. In my lifetime, I saw Nigeria at its peak, and then I watched it gradually declines. Now, Nigeria is a nonsensical country. It is a country that cannot get its acts together. It is a country that cannot even protect its own citizens, a country of absolutely corrupt leaders and dishonest businessmen and women. In those days, you could be driving and be stopped by a police officer or a Vehicle Inspection Officer in mufti. They would ask for your papers and that was when there was regulation and sanity. Today, Nigeria is absolutely lawless. Look at the police today, with just N50 or N100, you would be allowed to go even if you were carrying human head in your boot. I really do not blame the police. Look at how they look in their uniform, ask them how much they are paid; the way the society treats them is the way they are treating it back. This is a society that is dismantling itself every time. I hope it is not just possible for a country to destroy itself and disappear from the surface of the earth. Nigeria is not producing anything. Forget about the rebasing of the economy they were shouting recently.

Those people behind it should be brought out and flogged for deceiving the Nigerian people and the world. All of a sudden, you are telling us that the Nigerian economy is bigger and better than South African. Who are they telling this? Have they ever been to Jo’burg, Pretoria, Cape Town or Durban? Do they see the industrial base in those places? They say our telecoms sector is growing, where do MTN and Airtel come from? We forget that for every naira we spend on recharge card and other telcom services, at least 65 per cent leaves this country. They are telling us we are going to have a Nigerian car. We had cars assembled in Nigeria before – Volkswagen and Peugeot were assembled in Badagry and Kaduna. The brains that created these are in France and Germany. Our own brains are not even good enough to know we need good roads to drive the cars. Who are these people deceiving? We don’t even have an iron and steel industry, yet they say “Made in Nigeria” cars. How can you create cars when we don’t have these? We do not even have steady supply of electricity. Nigeria was more industrialised in the 1970s and 1980s. Babangida and his men introduced International Monetary Fund’s Structural Adjustment Programmes in the Nigerian economy. Within a year or two, most of our industries closed down. Most of our hospitals became mere consulting clinics. Our universities started nose-diving. The moment the Nigerian Naira was devalued, the Nigerian life was devalued along with it. This is a country that produces nothing, but consumes everything.

On the rebasing of our economy, mind you that those behind it are technocrats from the Diaspora, for example Dr. Okonjo Iweala. Are you saying those responsible for it are not competent?

I am not questioning their capabilities but I am appreciating the professional pedigree of our Minister of Finance. She brought her experience from the World Bank. The World Bank, the IMF and the developed economies in the world are not our friends. We know we can never be friends. Look at the oil subsidy issue, three years ago, that was President Jonathan’s new year gift to the people of Nigeria. It is pathetic we have rulers who don’t think of their people. Look at the consequence of the action, the economy was shut down for more than a week. The IMF and the World Bank are controlled by America and the big countries of the world. When you go to all these countries, you will see that they enjoy subsidies. Farmers in the US enjoy subsidies, for instance. Most countries in Europe have Social Security welfare programmes. The UK has one of the oldest and well-run National Health Service in the world. If all those services are good for the people there, why do they say they are not good for us? I remember when I was an active member of ASUU in the University of Ibadan, the World Bank came with a report that Nigeria should not lay much emphasis on tertiary education, particularly university education, and we asked them how they could have made so much progress in their own economies if they didn’t pay attention to their tertiary education. It is one thing for these people to come all the way from their country and dictate policies to us; it is our duty as Nigerians to say no to them. Unfortunately, our leaders could not say ‘no.’ Why? Because they are all compromised in one way or the other. When they steal our money, they put it in banks overseas. The Europeans and Americans know their secrets, so they are completely compromised. Nigerians are orphans. Those who rule over us do not really have our interests in their hearts. There is no country in the world where the IMF has introduced all its policies that is not experiencing economic turmoil. The IMF is a doctor that heals its patients by killing them first. So Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala is doing her job because this is the kind of training and orientation she has had. But what has this done for the Nigerian economy?

To be a poet, is it about learning to become it or poets are born.

Often times people say poets are born, not made. I will say it is through the two ways. It is 50-50. Take our creative DNA, they all have their distinctive characteristics. We all have our talents. When I was in high school, for example, I was horrible in Mathematics, I loved Geometry, I was average in Algebra, I was hopeless in Arithmetic, but anything having to do with words, I was on top of the class. So I don’t know if it was the front cortex of my brain. We are shaped in different areas. I had friends who could draw, paint and do sculpture, Moyo Ogundipe is one of them. We were classmates. I had another one, Segun Adeyemi, who could solve Mathematics even in his dreams. I had interests in anything that had to do with acting, metaphor, etc. I come from a family where my father was a drummer, actor, etc. So we all have our different talents. If I am angry at Nigeria, it is because we don’t develop our talents. We have so many hidden talents. If I had not grown and developed my talents at the time when our educational system was good, I would not become what I am today.

In those days, parents used to pray that their children would become teachers. A teacher was an icon, an emblem of intellectual development and the society respected them. I remember my teachers in elementary school that did not have to buy food. Every Saturday, parents would deposit food items at their doors because they appreciated the works they were doing and our schools were well run. I was lucky. I started writing my first script when I was in the grammar school. Before I left Amoye Grammar School, I had already made up my mind that I would become a writer because the teachers had identified this talent in me. In 1958 when I was in Primary 5 and we had a dictation test, I will never forget my teacher. While he was distributing other pupils’ books to them, he held on to mine. He said, “Osundare my boy, professor.” I had never heard the word professor in my life. I didn’t know what he meant, neither did my friends. But somehow I knew what he was telling me was to encourage me. It sharpened my focus and also boosted my ambition. Teachers took their jobs very seriously. I will not forget my principal, too. Even though he was generous with cane, he was good to us. Every week, he would make sure we accounted for a book we read. We had a chart where our names were listed, where we had the number of books we had read in a week against our names. After that, we would do the summary, find new words that we had learnt and go to the dictionary to get their meanings. This was how I built my vocabulary. In 1967, our results were out and my principal told me I had one of the best results in West Africa. I knew it was not my making, but that of my teachers and my parents who wouldn’t take anything for granted. So yes, talent is important but discipline is very important. People believe I am strict but that is the way I was brought up. Discipline is very important. Today, our value system is upside down. When people got to your office in those days, they would look at your books first, but today it is the car you are driving. In those days, we used to read books, these days, we are counting money.

How does the inspiration come to write poems?

If you are just like every other person, you would not achieve anything. In art, if you could not innovate and research, you will not be able to surpass what your predecessors had done. Personally, it means sacrificing my social life to write. You cannot find me at owambe parties because weekends are useful to me. If you want to become a writer, shun frivolities and cultivate the act of solitude. Then think deep. Ideas don’t just come, you have to search for them. And that is where concentration and discipline come in. At times, you tend to forget the people around you when you are involved in thinking. At times, my wife and daughter would not bother to talk to me once they see me trying to tidy things up because they know I would not listen to them at that point in time. They abandon me at such moments and I think that is what Wole Soyinka’s wife, Folake, complained about at a particular time. You would lock yourself in a study for hours. If all those great scientists had engaged in frivolities, they would not have invented anything. There is something about creativity that involves discipline. Planning is involved in creativity. At times you would have to induce inspiration to come because it doesn’t come all the time. Another thing to know is to know yourself. When I listen to good music, I get inspired. At times it could be when I am alone or when I pick up a good prose or poem and I read the first two lines.

But some people get inspiration when they take drugs that make them high.

The body is a temple and it is important to respect it. Some artists tend to reach their highs when they do all that, but not me, due to my upbringing. I prefer to reach my high on my own. All those things have side effects.

Why do people say Ekiti people are proud?

I hope you know in terms of material affluence, we are not there. We are a people that depend on our efforts to eat. My father was a farmer but he was content and proud to be so. My American friends used to ask me what books my parents read to me when I was young and I would laugh because I had no books when I was growing up because I was a farmer’s son. We would come back from the school and go to the farm, but my parents always insisted I had to do my homework, and that was when our educational system was very good. Every Friday, we used to take our report cards home to let our parents know how we were faring. I remember in 1967 when I came top in my exams, I became a hero. The educated ones were celebrated as heroes.

Why do you think the Ekiti people voted out Fayemi, who is more seen as an elite?

That is the striking irony of our lands. That relates to what I said before that things have turned upside down. The educated ones are not being celebrated again, but I saw it coming. In those days, you would never see young people roaming about the streets, doing nothing. That is what we see there today. It used to be work before success in those days, but now almost everyone expects little labour, more wealth. What we need now is education and enlightenment. It appears not many people think far back to how we used to be these days. The Federal Government was too much interested in that election and committed so much ‘atrocity’ too as we all saw in the way the election was run. Was that how to run an election in a democratic society? That is a bad omen for the Nigerian democracy at large, not just Ekiti. Whoever is close to President Jonathan should tell him to stop playing with fire. We all fought the soldiers to get this democracy and he should stop doing the things that would draw us back to where we came from. We have to avoid anything that could lead to something worse. The spate of impeachment rocking the country right now is dangerous and it makes me wonder whether our politicians think at all. How could you run a democratic society without an opposition? Tell President Jonathan to slow down because I have never seen Nigeria stooped so low. The Ekiti election really made me sad because I don’t know whether we are the Fountain of Knowledge again. We should go back to our roots. We should start to put in place leaders who have our interests at heart, who want to improve our lifestyle and do much more for us. Nigeria is passing through a stage of illiteracy despite that we have a PhD person as a president. The politicians should stop deceiving people. It is really a sad situation.

Don’t you think you might have insulted Ekiti people when you wrote in your recent poem that they voted for their stomach?

No, that is a misunderstanding. As you know, I am a very proud son of Ekiti and it is my love for Ekiti that made me write that poem. Even before the election, I heard people complain about the test being proposed by the governor for teachers in the state. A teacher who can not spell the names of his pupils is unheard of and no country survives with that. Teachers should be competent and disciplined. These are the things I had while I was growing up and are responsible for the little I have been able to achieve. This is what Ekiti is noted for, not eating booli by the road side or telling people don’t worry, you will all pass. Miracle centres suddenly becoming the order of the day. Where will that lead a state or a country? What you saw in Ekiti was part of the stage of illiteracy our country is passing through; where people mock excellence. And it is spreading. The PDP candidate in Osun, I saw in the papers where he was holding two cobs of roast corn at a campaign train. Is that the way to the future? Before people misunderstand me, I am from a humble background, I don’t look down on people. Populism is a dangerous game and we should not deceive people. What they are doing now is a gimmick. The person who says he wants to eat booli with Ekiti people still has explanation to make about how over N400m of the people’s money disappeared. I’m so shocked that we are still witnessing this in 2014 and I am doubly shocked that this is happening in a supposedly Fountain of Knowledge.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Between APC and PDP

We are in big trouble. The overreach of the president and his henchmen is dragging Nigeria democracy to the praecipes. Who will save Nigeria from "jaguda" politicians?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Guest Columnist: Ebenezer Obadare

This month, I yield this space to my buddy, Ebenezer "Ebenco" Obadare, another alumnae of my alma mata, Ilesa Grammar School. ... adare.html

Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) is missing. I mean hiding. No, he has not fled the country. He is, as it should be, in fine fettle, dispensing dollops of Biblical wisdom to his extensive flock. But other than that, he has been hiding, by which I mean that he has morally abdicated. In the middle of a grave national emergency, the kind that most countries experience only once in a generation, the esteemed man of God has stood out by his conspicuous silence. And what a loud silence it is.

The abduction of the Chibok girls has sparked considerable outrage both within and outside Nigeria. Within, a lethargic and episodic civil society appears to have found a timely cause célèbre. In several Nigerian cities, thousands of Nigerians, boasting nothing more than righteous anger, plus a firm conviction that it is the fundamental duty of a government to protect its citizens, have taken to the streets. In Abuja, day after day, protesters, mostly women, have organized peacefully but determinedly, even surviving the Federal Government’s recent cynical attempt to infiltrate and disperse them. In other parts of the country, and among the Nigerian diaspora, the common will appears to have been recharged.

Of course it is regrettable that it had to take the tragedy of the abduction of nearly three hundred girls by a gang of murderous bigots for Nigerians to realize that we never had a state properly called, and that what we call a security apparatus merely flatters to deceive. Still, the significance of the moment cannot be overestimated, and the challenge from this point forward is to make sure that the proper lessons about state building and adequate preparation for social emergencies are taken to heart.

It is this very significance that throws the silence of pastor Adeboye into bold relief. Why, you may ask, does his voice matter? The reason is simple. His intervention matters because he is one of the people who foisted the current occupant of Aso Rock upon us. No, he didn’t select him, and agreed; he did not openly campaign for him. What he did is more subtle and arguably more pernicious: He prepared the ground for the President’s social legitimation. Pastor Adeboye was instrumental to President Jonathan’s astute deployment of religious (read Christian) symbols and the enthronement of the narrative that he- the President- is God’s anointed, the man without political pedigree whom God himself has chosen. The visit to the Redemption Camp, the kneeling down for prayer, the malediction against the enemies of the President, the President’s own ostentatious spirituality- all are building blocks in the mighty edifice of his (President Jonathan’s) public presentation as a simple believer who did not hanker after power, who in fact abhorred all politicking, yet had power fortuitously thrust upon him.

Pastor Adeboye was an active participant in the construction of this narrative. But he was not alone. Other members of an increasingly reactionary religious elite have played their part in its development. In the middle of 2010, I had a debate on the pages of The Guardian with one of them, Father Matthew Hassan Kukah, Bishop of the Sokoto Catholic Diocese. With the champagne from President Jonathan’s official inauguration not even properly digested, Fr. Kukah went to town to invoke the divinity of the President. In an article titled “The Patience of Jonathan,” Fr. Kukah, finding political sociology too constraining, attributed the political ascendancy of the President to “a monumental act of divine epiphany.” Not satisfied with his own personal failure to adduce a concrete explanation, Fr. Kukah threatened those who might as follows: “This man’s rise has defied any logic and anyone who attempts to explain it is tempting the gods.”

In that same piece, and in a subsequent wholly illogical response to my challenge, Fr. Kukah took comfort in astrology, claiming that the fact that the President is called Goodluck, and his wife Patience, can only mean that the gods themselves, for nothing other than an a mere appreciation of nomenclatural symmetry, had decided to reward President Jonathan with Nigeria’s highest office. Said Fr. Kukah: “Dr. Jonathan (yes, our President has a PhD) has done absolutely nothing to warrant what has befallen him. I am sure I can safely say he has neither prayed, lobbied nor worked for what has fallen on his lap. (My parenthesis.)

Fr. Kukah is an intelligent man. So is Pastor Adeboye. Both are doctorate degree holders who, intellectually speaking, can roll with the punches. But both are bad for Nigeria, and decidedly so. They are not bad people. They are wonderful individuals who no doubt mean well for the country. But it is their politics that is bad for the country. In the case of pastor Adeboye, most readers will recall a time, before he became the go-to pastor whom you can count on to whitewash Nigerian politicians’ dirty laundry, when his political sensibility was right. No more. Same thing with Fr. Kukah, whose rightward social turn is as baffling as it is absurd.

The common thing to both, as I have been pursuing, is that they literally connived in preparing the narrative of President Jonathan’s divine installation. And now that everything with the administration of the country has gone pear-shaped, both have retreated into an unbecoming and morally grotesque silence.

Nigerians must pressure them to speak up. For all their bad judgment, they remain widely influential, and we need the weight of their reputation as we sustain pressure on the government to find and bring back the Chibok girls. More important, we need their apology, apology for selling us a bad product. President Jonathan is not, as I insisted then, a divine candidate. He is a good family man doing his best in the current circumstances with everything in his capacity. The problem is, he is out of his depth.

Professor Obadare, a political sociologist, teaches at the University of Kansas in the United States.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lost and Floundering: the Sad State of Jonathan Administration

Lost and Floundering: the Sad State of Jonathan Administration

If you are a Nigerian in diaspora like me, chances are that you have been inundated by many of your friends and neighbors asking about your home country. The daily news about kidnap of the Chibok girls have internationalized our nightmare: the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan regime! What some of us bloggers and writers have been shouting at the top of our lungs for years has now become the chicken that came home to roost. For instance, while at an event yesterday with the Mayor of my city, here in the US, the city attorney approached me and whisper this question in my ears: "what is wrong with Nigerian president? How could he be that clueless? How can a nation with distinguished Nobel laureate and reputable scholars from all field of science and humanity be ruled by buffoonish characters like that guy? And by the way, what is wrong with asking for help when you are lost and in over your head?"

I could not answer any of these questions as I know any attempt to do so will get me overly emotional. Fact is the Goodluck Ebele Jonathan regime in Nigeria is not only lost it is floundering before our very eyes. It is shamelessly clueless and pathetically inept. We are now in a phase where we should begin to question the credibility of the few honest aide around him who are still supporting this corrupt and inept regime. It is time to remind the likes of Ngozi Okonjo Iweala that they and their reputations are going down with this sinking ship if they do not have enough gumption to bail out now. History will definitely judge them harshly as they stood by and watch the ship of the Nigerian nation flounders perilously. Even those sycophantic assistants and advisers who keep trotting the clueless leaders to dance in Kano while Abuja burns will surely pay for their crimes in future. They may be helping themselves to our treasuries with reckless abandon presently like bandit; the fact of the matter is they will surely pay one day!

What is more, those who foist Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on the Nigerian nation, the so called puppet master from Abeokuta need to remember that history will never forgive their selfish dictate. The record of their infamous imposition of the terminally ill Yaradua and his wife, followed by the educated illiterate called GEJ and his monstrous wife will forever inhere in Nigerian consciousness.

Many said Nigeria is a cursed nation. I beg to differ. Nigeria is a blessed nation saddled with crazed leaders whose god is their belly and their directive principle is avarice. The urge to loot is what brought us to a situation where a military once renowned all over the world for its bravery is now the joke of the whole world. Nigeria military has never been underfunded, the problem is not with budget of the ministry of defense but the misappropriation of those funds by successive regimes since the 1980s. The rot in our government has now affected the military just as it is rearing its ugly head in other institutions like judiciary and even sports ministry!

We may not get back the Chibok girls but can we at least have an honest conversations about the state of leadership in our dear country. A nation where the so called First Lady of Nigeria, a position unknown to our constitution, will order the arrest of protesters is a nation in peril. Lest call a spade a spade and stop labeling it an agricultural implement, the Jonathan regime is lost and unravelling before our very eyes. It is time to move on and start planning on how we as citizens could take our destiny in our hand and save our floundering ship. If the people of Ukraine could do it, we can too! We need to start making a demand on the future leaders of our country and abhor imposition of leaders by political godfathers.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Our President Engages in Toxic Political Campaign While Nigeria Burns

I still can’t fathom the type of leeches and sycophants who surrounds and counsels President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. For him  to strut out and go on political campaign at Kaduna soon after  over 100 Nigerians lost their lives to a terrorist bomb blast at Nyanya Bus Stop in Abuja is quite inexplicable. However the part that is more baffling to me is the president’s own decision to engage in scurrilous attack on the governor of the state he went to campaign at. The fact that the campaign event also happened on a day Professor Wole Soyinka, Nigeria’s only Nobel laureate, called for a bipartisan solution to the ongoing terror war is quite numbing. The questions that kept coming to me are these: what is wrong with Aso Rock? Are there no adults around anymore over there? But the most embarrassingly shocking thing for me are the content of the president’s words at the campaign event. This is indeed a case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

Let’s take a look at the president campaign rhetoric at Kaduna, on a day he had just visited blast site and learned that additional 80 Nigerian school age girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram terrorist. According to Punch Newspapers,President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday took on Governor Rabiu Kwakwanso of Kano State, accusing him of embezzling the money his (President’s) campaign office provided to mobilize the state delegates for the 2011 presidential primary of the Peoples Democratic Party and the main election. “Even the little money that my campaign office provided for refreshment of the Kano delegates and for their transport, Kwakwanso refused to give to the delegates. “He did that so that the Kano delegates will be angry and they will not vote for me. “Even for the main election, the little money the campaign office sent to Kano State to facilitate the movement of people, Kwakwanso refused to give the money to anybody. How can Kwankwaso tell people that he voted for me?”

Let’s set aside the propriety of the president making such a jejune issue a campaign talking point, (because if the money is “little money” it matters little to him and probably to politicians like him), and focus on legality of providing money to voters during election time (apparently to sway their votes), be it at the primary (it is expressly prohibited by PDP constitution) and general election (INEC statute actually makes this a ground for criminal investigation and disqualification). A president dumb enough to campaign on the day he lost a centurion of his citizens and over 80 young girls kidnapped is definitely not a serious leader.

It is high time Nigerians of all hue begins to talk about a post Jonathan administration in Nigeria. Nigeria leadership of all hue needs to come together in a bipartisan way to address the terror stalking our land. The charade going on in the name of National conference is not a vehicle that will get us there. You do not go ahead with a national conference where only those who agree with you attend. You work out the kinks and reach out to the opposition to get them involved. So forget the sleepers at the National Conference. Let all Nigerians begins to clamor for the leadership of the two political parties to come together and establish a joint framework on how we can decisively deal with violence in our land whether it be those fomented by MEND, OPC, Kidnappers or Boko Haram. We cannot rely on this presidency to get us out of quagmire politicians drove us into. The time for change is now!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guest: Is Nigeria Africa’s Biggest Economy Now? Maybe!


Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

Nigerians, yesterday, discovered the surprising news that the size of their economy had doubled overnight, making it the largest economy in Africa and the 26th largest in the world. It took the biggest in Africa crown away from South Africa, which still has a much larger GDP per capita.

Nigeria hadn’t calculated its GDP since 1990, and the new number takes into account a number of new industries for the country including telecommunications and the booming Nollywood film industry.

This isn’t the first time this has happened in Africa in recent years. After a similar recalculation in 2010, the size of Ghana’s economy “grew” by 60 percent, catapulting it into the World Bank’s middle-income bracket.

Given that these countries seem to have had entire sectors of the economy they were leaving off their books, it certainly raises some questions about other GDP figures we see reported on a regular basis.

The unreliability of African economic statistics was the topic of a book last year by Simon Fraser University economist Morten Jerven. Jerven argues that GDP “is the most widely used measure of economic activity, yet little is known about how this metric is produced and misused in debates about African economic development.”

On the other hand, as my old colleague Uri Friedman asks, “Are we too obsessed with GDP as a measure of countries' economic strength and health?”

As Chris Blattman put it last year, policymakers are hung up on the reliability of statistics because they “want the world nicely ordered with levers to pull and a dashboard to monitor.” Improving the numbers we have would be great, but most countries have more pressing concerns.

(See Dayo Olopade’s new book The Bright Continent for an welcome antidote to state- and statistic-oriented thinking about economic development in Africa.)

The fact that Nigeria’s economy is significantly bigger this week, and that oil is less of a factor in its growth is good PR for the Nigerian government. (Who doesn’t love Nollywood?) But it doesn’t really do much for you if you’re Nigerian. As one social media user quoted by the AP put it, “Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy - on paper. So technically, I’m rich in theory.”

If Nigeria’s figures were off for so long, I’m guessing most citizens probably aren’t filled with confidence that they’re totally correct now. Today’s news probably tells us less about how we should view Nigeria than how we should view published GDP figures as a measure of anything close to reality.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Did Jonathan Just Nuked Nigeria's Federalism?

In a wildly circulated news report, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan appears to have "napalm-ed" whatever is left of the vestiges of federalism in Nigeria when he said Nigeria governors should never criticize him if they wanted him to help in the development of their states. Some would say, well he said governors should not abuse him. But the import of his message is clear: stifling dissent. We have seen it time and time again in the course of this administration that every attempt to offer constructive criticism is viewed as personal insult and usually met with derision.

Someone need to let Jonathan that our constitution did not create an imperial presidency and Patience Jonathan is not Imelda Marcos or Marie Antoinette!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bad Leadership 101: To Compound Problems Just Install a Criminal Suspect as Minister of Police Affairs?

"On some positions a coward has asked the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular? But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right. "—Martin Luther King Jr., November 1967

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has a doctorate degree but obviously lacks any administrative acumen or leadership qualities. One could readily concede that Nigeria’s problem predates Jonathan and he should not be blamed for the myriads of problems assailing Nigeria. His many blames however lies in his lack of tact and seriousness. His approach to Nigeria’s hydra headed problem has not been sure footed and when he did took decisions he often complicates simple problems with politicking. 

The leadership Nigeria needs now is one that is willing to do what it takes to pull the country together in these trying times. We are fighting many wars, even though the presidency will want us to think Boko Haram is the only problem we faced. The Niger Delta militants despite billions spend placating them are still striking the poor people of Niger Delta with deadly force. Just last week another explosion went off. As usual, the presidency never uttered one word about that incident nor commiserates with the families of the victims. The war against corruption is also dead on arrival because our dear president as usual is often too busy laughing and “jollificating” over dinners with corrupt politicians while they milk the nation dry. A president that will give the nation’s centenary honors to the most corrupt and vile military head of state like Sanni Abacha is definitely not ready to fight corruption. What is more, for many months, the minister of aviation, caught with her hand in the “cookie jar of corruption”, was allowed to continue in office ostensibly so she can obliterate all evidence against her before she was rotated out of that office.
The pivotal test of leadership’s good managerial acumen lies in response to difficult circumstances. Our president’s response to every problem often complicates and compounds the problem. Take for instance the assignment of a murder suspect as the supervising minister for police affairs. Alhaji Abduljelili Adesiyan was not just fingered in the deadly assassination of a former federal minister, Chief Bola Ige, he was arrested for it. In strange circumstances, the evidence was allowed to gather dust in the police force headquarter and President Jonathan has now handed over the key to that evidence room to the same murder suspect; possibly so the latter could get rid of the evidence and potentially fired the officers or otherwise demotes those officers who investigated him. What in the world was the president thinking when he made this appointment?

Nigerian of all hue gave Jonathan every opportunity to prove his leadership mettle but time and time again he throws everything up in our face with his ineptness and perfidious mendacity. The fact that he is sitting in Aso rock is due largely to the sacrifice of many Nigerians who risked their lives to force Yaradua’s wife and her “chicken cabinet” to abdicate power to Jonathan. And now the beneficiary of that largesse rules with disdain over the very people that brought him to power. Someone said the coteries of the sycophants that surround the president often leads him to take bad decision, but how long should we continue to wait for him to get out of the bubble and see the anger on the street?
Nigeria is in dire straits and bad leadership is compounding our problems!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Nigeria on the praecipes: the never ending Implosion of PDP

Those familiar with the brigandage politics of Naija politicians will readily admits nothing stops them  for fomenting disaffection among ethnic groups in Nigeria to satisfy their selfish desire for power.
Recents events as it relates to the tussle for presidency among Nigerian power elites drives this pointedly home.
Nothing is too sacred for them to taint with the profane! Nothing is sacrosanct for them not to belittle. Virtually every tried and tested institutions in Nigeria have been reduced to rubles since the so called "militricians" came to power.
The entire nations plods along without any compass, rhyme or reason. A friend once intoned that the Nigerian penchant for religiosity is the only thing still keeping the country.

To be cont'd