Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015: The Year Nigeria finally broke the Camel's Back

In this last piece for this year, permit me to review such an eventful year in the history of our country, Nigeria. We started the year with hope and optimism and we succeeded in overthrowing the vice grip of PDP on Nigeria. The fact that Nigeria was able to throw off the 16 year yoke of PDP is causa celebra".
It looked impossible at the time but the collective resolve of the Nigerian people finally brought the change.
Our job is not done however as we need to hold the current administration accountable otherwise they will go the way of PDP.

Monday, November 30, 2015

I beg to disagree: We are not all Dasukis!

"We are Dasuki, I'm afraid. Dasuki, indeed is us"- Okey Ndibe

The above is the concluding sentence from Dr. Ndibe's column this week. He arrived at that conclusion after dissecting the  Dasukigate saga currently going on in Nigeria's political firmament. The unusual logic as set out by the brilliant scholar, turned weekly columnist is that we all complicit in the criminal theft of the last GEJ regime because we refused to speak up when they were looting the treasury. He wonder why the civil servant at Central Bank, ministry or even the newspapers were silent whilst PDP officials engaged in daylight robbery. He therefore conclude that we all accomplice to the treachery and perfidy of our elected officials.

Let me hasten to say that I have huge respect for Dr. Ndibe, but on this score I respectfully dissent. I along with millions other Nigerians are not participe criminis" , and therefore could not be found culpable morally, legally or spiritually for the greed of our ruling class. It is mindset such as this that made Nigerians resigned themselves to fate and take all kinds of stupidity and maladministrations from our ruling elites. I will even ventured to say that Dr. Ndibe, given his voracious writtings and expose on the pages of newspapers is not liable for the crimes of GEJ or any of our political jobbers. Not only did he write compendium on the evils perpetrated durin 16 years PDP misrule, he was arrested at the airport by agents of the same administration for no just cause other than the fact that he dared criticized the regime in power.

No, sir, you are no Dasuki! There are millions of Nigerians who are victims and not the perpetrators of the evil that stalked our land! And it is instructive to note that they are still entrenched in Aso Rock, State house, National and state Assembly. In fact they just awarded themselves brand new BMW cars while many workers and pensioners are yet to get paid for months.

Let's call a spade a spade instead of labeling it an agricultural implement. The good book said the hand that sinneth should be the one to be punished. Vicarious liability is unknown to criminal law of theft and to every creed of faith known to mankind. Sir, we are not all Dasukis!

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Many Dangers of “Tarry Awhile” Stay of Criminal Proceedings in a Democratic Republic

I write this piece as a criminal defense attorney with more than 20 years criminal trial experience in 2 continents, Africa and North America. I am also writing out of my desire to see the development of criminal judicature that can stand the test of time in a developing country like Nigeria. It is my hope that the Chief Justice of Nigeria will take another look at the recent decision by Justice Fabiyi in the Saraki v CCT case with a view of righting the procedural wrong and the inevitable floodgates it opens soon after we join other commonwealth countries in outlawing mindless interlocutory  stay of proceedings in criminal trials.
Very few common law countries permit a criminal defendant to scuttle their criminal trials through a labyrinth of jejune and inconsequential interlocutory appeals as we used to have before the ACJA 2015. The gains we made with the combined provisions of Sections 306 & 396 (2) of that Act is effectively lost through the “tarry awhile” decisions of the highest court in the land. The decision becomes more baffling when the court refused to set an exact date for review of its decisions. What is more, the Supreme Court justice who read the lead judgment effectively retires in 2 weeks.
The ludicrous excuse that lead prosecuting attorney acquiesce in the order is “non sequitor”. What was he supposed to do? A curious reading of the entire proceedings clearly shows that the court has made up its mind to grant the wishes of the rich senior advocate representing the very rich senate president.
This is one moment where I sorely miss the activism of the late Alao Aka-Bashorun era as NBA president. What if every criminal defense attorney in Nigeria sought a stay of proceedings in each and every pending cases where they are challenging the jurisdiction of the court? Or is that right only available to senior advocate of Nigeria an afluent senate president.
What is more baffling is how some severely compromised legal practitioners in Nigeria are criticizing the well informed opinion of the Femi Falana SAN and Professor Itse Sagay. It got so ludicrous that one of them went as far as minimizing the “raison detre” for the existence of the Code of Conduct Tribunal. They say it was a vehicle to punish politicians for mistakes made in completion of forms! And yet these are people that want us to take our laws seriously. If the CCT is not important why do we go as far as enshrining it in our constitution?

One thing is certain we now know the senior advocate of the Nigerian masses and those who are SANs for filthy lucre. The latter are the reasons why we may never be able to conquer the hydra headed monster of corruption in our land. They are gunslinger for hire. They never do any “probono” work to help the poor in our courts but they are always available to help launder politician’s ill gotten wealth through huge legal bills. They will always win in court and when we call them out on their shenanigans we will be accused of slandering the integrity of the courts. They may have won but we have hope on our side.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Refugees – Prisoners of a Single Story: The Cultural Competence Challenge

A refugee’s story is not just a single story – the story of war, deprivation, and pain. But more often than not, the refugee story is deeper and richer than their lucky escape. Our challenge as attorneys is to dig deeper to learn our refugee client’s story. A few examples will illustrate how to put this into practice.
There was a couple who met at the United Nations Refugee Camp in Guinea Bissau. She was from Sierra Leone, a young girl who got married at an early age. He was from Liberia, a child soldier recruited by the notorious warlord and dictator, Charles Taylor. Following traditional African customs, they were married in the presence of the elders. They both applied for refugee visas and resettled in Spokane. Despite vehement opposition from him, she started attending classes at Spokane Community College. There was comfort in education and it helped her overcome some of her fears.
One day there was an altercation over his sexual demands. She told him she had to be in class, but he tried to force himself on her.  She pushed him away. He picked up the car keys and as she reached for the keys in his pocket, his pants tore. He called the police. She was arrested and charged with malicious mischief.
The prosecutor looked only at the fact that she tore his pants; therefore, she was guilty of malicious mischief. The stakes were very high. She faced potential jail time, but also the fear of deportation, or worse yet, losing the opportunity to become a naturalized citizen.
One line item in the police report stood out like a sore thumb. The officer stated that during the questioning, the defendant refused to look the officer in the eye. To the officer, trained in the best Western traditions, this was a tell-tale sign of guilt. As an African myself, I know it is not a sign of guilt to look down when you are telling your story. In fact, it is a sign of disrespect to look an elder or an authority figure straight in the eye. The jury absolved the wife of all charges. The case was won purely on our ability to explain with clarity the complexity of an African woman dealing with new life in America. This illustrates the fact that cultural competency, like other legal skills, requires a disciplined approach to viewing the world from different perspectives.
 “An effective lawyer must possess skills for cross-cultural engagement by developing cultural competency.” 2 We cannot effectively advocate for our client when we know little to nothing about where they are coming from or what drives them. Culture encompasses a person’s ethnicity, race, gender, nationality, age, economic status, social status, language, sexual orientation, physical attributes, marital status, and a variety of other characteristics and peculiarities.
Many African refugees cannot understand a “no contact order” that restrains them from their residence. In African culture, a man’s very essence is tied up with his house. When you take him away from his “house”, you diminish him. In 2011, a Sudanese refugee was charged with a misdemeanor violation of a no contact order stemming from a felony assault – DV conviction. 
Through the interpreter, we learned that the client had no formal education, completely illiterate, and understood only basic Arabic, and a “smattering” of English. It was extremely difficult for him to grasp the meaning of the no contact order.  He did not understand why he could not go home if his wife wanted him there and they were not having problems.  How could a court keep him out of his own home? “Where am I supposed to go?” he asked. “What if I want to see my children?” The arrest was a culture shock moment for him. The plea taken through the help of a telephone translator, with little or no understanding, was later challenged. The felony guilty plea was withdrawn due to ineffective assistance of counsel for lack of meaningful representation based on the use of an Arabic interpreter. This case was later used to effectively solicit the assistance of the state legislature in procuring funding for training interpreters in Eastern Washington through Refugee Connections Spokane3.
Cultures, no matter how resilient, are not static. Our next example concerns the parents of a seven year old refugee boy who could not understand why they were charged with reckless endangerment because they left their child in the car in the summer heat. When counsel tried to explain the law to the parents, they couldn’t comprehend that a shopping mall is not equivalent to an African market. Every adult in an African village has the responsibility to care for all children regardless of their biological parentage. This particular Congolese family was connected with other African parents/grandparents living here. This led to a community effort that enabled refugee elderly grandparents to care for little children while their parents take a break.
A Burundi refugee was involved in an auto accident triggering a severe case of PTSD. Our phone conversation with the insurance adjuster helped the company understand the need for mental health counseling.  As an 11 year old young girl, she walked through a dense jungle in the night to escape the holocaust in her land.  Her recent auto accident brought back those six months of trying to elude the gendarme.

Cultural competency is an essential skill set for the 21st century attorney who seeks to deliver effective advocacy and serve justice. These examples are just a few reasons why we recently established the American Law and Justice Workshop in Spokane. This annual workshop which has been widely celebrated by many, including the Association of American Law Schools 4, will hold its next session in April, 2015. While we educate immigrants and refugees about different cultures, we also need to sensitize lawyers and legal practitioners about familiarizing themselves with their clients’ cultural background.  A single story does not define our clients, it’s our duty to dig deeper.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Defending the Indefensible: The case of Ex-Works Minister Onolememen

"You can't defend the indefensible - anything you say sounds self-serving and hypocritical." - Diane Abbott
It all first sound like a joke but the group of ex-political appointees of former President Goodluck Jonathan who had promised a robust defense of their time in office have started their responses to the numerous allegations of impropriety and corruption being levied daily against them by President Muhammad Buhari's administration. Some of the stuff they are trotting out as defenses would be a script on Baba Sala or Zebrudiah comedy shows but for the fact that we are actually talking about a country made poor not by lack of resources but bad leadership and corruption.
First out of the gate is the immediate past Works Minister, Arc. Mike Onolememen, who responded to an exclusive  report by Vanguard in which he was accused of smuggling four unnamed officials into the delegation that represented Nigeria at an international infrastructure summit in Paris, France, in 2011. If you thought his defense will be grounded in financial prudence and robust statutory riposte, you don't know Nigerian politician. 
According to Vanguard, "the former minister said the four unnamed persons referred to as “ghost representatives” by the newspaper were members of the Senate and House of Representatives committees on Works, who decided to accompany the ministry’s delegation to Paris after the necessary arrangements had been concluded." He stated that the total sum of 20.6 million Naira was earmarked for legislators who were added to the delegation hurriedly. For those familiar with Nigeria "double dipping legis-looters", you can bet the same expense was again paid for by National Assembly oversight budget! He also refused to tell us why it took 5 years to correct the books and who left it too late?
But the minister is not done with his "comical Alli" defense of his time as works minister, he went on to defend the inclusion of his wife and sister on the ministry’s list for a trip to Dubai in 2011 on the ground that the trip "was actually for ministers’ wives and top female ministry officials. Onolememen stated that his wife was specially nominated to lead the team from Nigeria to Dubai and she in turn picked three female officials to accompany her to the event, which lasted five days." What in the world is wrong with this picture?
An unconstitutional and illegal "office of minister's wife" now exist where the wife of a sitting minister can pick 3 other officials to go on junkets or is it shopping at Dubai? All of which are generously funded by Nigeria state money! Ever wonder why federal roads in Africa's most populous nation remains a debt trap? How can any sane mind given the level of squalor and poverty in today's Nigeria justify such expense? What is wrong with our so called leaders? And they wonder why the people of southwest where the Lagos-Ibadan expressway remains like a precolonial rain forest voted them out of office. In saner climes, folks like Onolememen will voluntarily return the money expended on his wife and be ban from holding any political office. But don't expect that in these climes, he will soon run as governor of Edo state or senator using the stupendous wealth he got from from his disastrous era as minister.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kukah’s Peace Committee at the Cost of “all the Money in the World” should be disbanded immediately

“I am all for peace but not for peace at any cost” – Greg Laurie

The first time I met Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah it was on a flight from Lagos to Abuja on the old Oriental Airlines. We were both in hurry to get to Abuja given the usual delay we had experienced in Lagos, something quite common with Nigerian domestic airlines. We boarded our flights and we sat next to each other. He had in his hand a book titled “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes.”  I was quite elated to find a Nigerian priest open to alternatives argument outside of the usual religious dogma. At the time, a brief history of time was then the most popular science book by British physicist, Stephen Hawking. Since that time I have had fond memories of him. You can then imagine my deep sadness given his recent crusades for peace at the cost of “all the money in the world.”

First let’s give those who do not know the background to the story. In his recent interview on Channels Television, Bishop Kukah said  “the singular decision that Jonathan took and I think that, as Nigerians, we must become sufficiently serious and realise that that singular act is what has kept us as a nation. So, I think that even for that singular act alone, Nigerians must be appreciative of what President Jonathan did…even if he stole all the money in the world.” My initial retort as I read this is a loud yell, NO! Not again! How many times are we going to be subject to these never ending warped logic?

Elections are meant to produce winners and losers and when you lose an election you don’t hold the whole nation to temper tantrums like Jonathan’s henchmen, Godsday Orubebe did. Yes, Jonathan may have prevailed on his boys to hold their fires but what would they have done? They lost the Nigerian people. Even the people of Bayelsa, impoverished by their policies are about to vote out their Abuja appointed governor. The vast majority of Nigerian voted for President Muhammadu Buhari. No single protest followed Orubebe’s antics. Why because we had a peaceful election where Nigerians freely exercise their vote. The same free election that brought GEJ to power in 2011. Everyone including international observers who came acknowledged the victory of APC at the polls. Everyone, including Jonathan himself knew before the election that he was going to lose. This is why he postponed the election twice. Nigerian of all hue at the time were fed up with the dysfunctional PDP regime. Jonathan did not do us a favor by conceding election. He did himself a favor. Yes, he could have rigged the election or refused to concede but then he would have prepared himself to face opprobrium from the whole world. Yes, he could have taken the Lauren Gbagbo’s route but is he ready to end as Gbagbo did?

The Punch newspapers in its editorial yesterday write that the National Peace Committee has been “parading the corridors of power of late, scheming to exploit its connections at the highest level of government to advance a suspicious agenda.” My take is that such amorphous conglomeration of Nigerian top one percent has always been in control of Nigeria’s body politic. They have always been around the corridors of power, military or civilian. They are essentially responsible for the wasteland Nigeria has become. By whatever name you may call them, Nzeribe’s Association for Better Nigeria, or Kanu’s “Youth Earnestly Ask for Abacha”. These so called non democratic elitist power grabbers understand only one thing and that is their own selfish interest. That is their directive principle. Period! They do not care about Nigeria or the Nigerian people and they are not representative of Nigerians.
Kukah said he empanelled the committee himself and brought others in, most of the folks he brought in to the committee are his friends, some of them with questionable history of corruption and abuse of the Nigerian masses. They exist only for their own self preservation.

The first mistake Buhari made as president of Nigeria is to give this committee an imprimatur of a governmental council. What an errant nonsense. An undemocratic and unconstitutional panel set up by a religious leader, populated by tainted character is not in the best interest of Nigeria. What is more, their minds are made up; they believe “ab initio” that anyone calling for investigation of corrupt practices under GEJ regime is disturbing the peace of Nigeria. Nigerian voted for change and not Kukah’s peace at any cost! President Buhari, please disband this council right now and return any government money that the council may have spend to the country’s coffers immediately.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Words of Wisdom

“I know that incivility is immoral and dangerous to democracy. People of faith in particular are called to speak and act on the assumption of shared human dignity. This does not rule out vigorous disagreement, but it forbids the cultivation of contempt and the issuing of threats.
I know that Trump is encouraging political fantasies. He is not preparing people for difficult choices, on, say, entitlements; he is assuring them that our problems could be easily solved if elites were not so corrupt. And he is wrong. Our problems are not easy.”- Michael Gerson

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Patent Hypocrisy of Saraki and his Like Minds Group

“Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue” -Paul Krugman

Sometimes Nigerian leaders absolutely lack any sense of self reflection. They are too consumed by their avarice, vaunted sense of self and venal ambition for power and wealth that they hardly see beyond their nose. This particularly rings true when I read about our newly minted senate president’s address to his party’s caucus on the election of the rest of senate vacant leadership position. According to Vanguard newspapers, Senator Bukola Saraki, a traitor to his own party, now have a new tune, and a song of unity. He was quoted to have said
 “It is time to bury the hatchet and renew that spirit of love, cooperation and trust in one another. The leadership of our party expect us to hit the ground running, and the Nigeria populace are waiting to see us in action to deliver on our promises and commitment. Let us start this journey of unity today and let the world see that yes, in the 8th Senate, we are one family. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by the people around us or be carried away by the noise our there. Let us remain focused and determined.” 

The paper said he then went on to encourage his caucus senators to break into zones (can you believe it?) and elect leaders for the vacant senate positions. The newspapers quoted a source that said “Senator Saraki’s position was that the senators should follow the convention of allowing the zones to produce the leaders apportioned to them.” What a tool! Apparently the senators are being asked by Saraki to elect leaders apportioned to them by the same APC he himself refused to heed their directives and then elect leaders apportioned to them!

This of course is laughable given Saraki’s own antecedent two weeks earlier when he went above his own political party to align with the opposition and trade away the senate deputy president position just because his party zone the senate presidency to the Northeast. One thing is certain; a leopard cannot hide its true colors. Saraki’s betrayal of his own party for a selfish lucre is what is destabilizing the national assembly and his own political party. You can excoriate his respected Dad, Olusola Saraki for starting stomach infrastructure in Nigeria party politics, but one thing he is not known for is hypocrisy. The son on the other hand seems to have mastered the art of hypocrisy to a form. He is hell bent on positioning himself to run for presidency at the next presidential election, not even truth and loyalty can stand in his way. To him everything is fungible, after all, every Nigerian politician has a price they cannot refuse.

What his likes omits or choose to ignore is the will of the Nigerian masses. We may not have access to the smoke filled rooms where he wheels and deals for power, but what we have is a collective will to savage Nigeria from moral abyss brought upon it by spineless politicians like Bukola Saraki and we will not rest on oars until his perfidious ilk get thrown out of Nigeria’s power vortex. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Sad State of Nigeria: Mama Bisi's Children death from candle light inferno

No other story contextualized the sad state of Nigeria than this story culled from Vanguard

LAGOS—A two-year-old girl, identified as Uzoma, and her two siblings, Ufoma, 9, and Emeka, 7, have been burnt to death after fire gutted a three-room boys quarter at Egbeda in Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Vanguard gathered that the inferno, which consumed the three siblings, a male and two females, started in their apartment at about 10p.m. when the children were sleeping.
Sources said the fire was discovered by passers-by, who raised the alarm to alert residents, as majority of tenants in the house were yet to return from work.
Vanguard gathered that the inferno was caused by a candle lit by their father, who locked the three children in his apartment and left for the hospital, where his wife was receiving post-natal care.
Effort to rescue the three children proved abortive.
Family escaped last year
A resident, who identified herself as Mama Bisi, lamented that a similar incident occurred last year when the entire members of the family were sleeping, adding, however, that they managed to escape.
She added that the children would have escaped the inferno if their father had yielded to the demands of his two-year-old daughter that they should go with him.
It was learned that the mother of the children was in the hospital where she delivered her baby last Friday.
The mother, it was gathered, would have been discharged from hospital but for lack of funds which delayed her discharge.
When Vanguard visited the scene, residents were wailing over the death of the children who were delivered through caesarean section.
Also, it was learned that the landlord of the building had been arrested by policemen attached to Shasha Police Station.
‘My son discovered the fire’
Mr. Christian Ononsolase, a commercial motorcycle operator, who spoke with emotion, explained how the incident happened.
He said: “I sent my son on an errand and on his way back, he discovered the fire and alerted the elders on the street.
“They raised alarm and everyone ran to the well to get water. But the fire had escalated.
“The fire was put out by officials of the Lagos State Fire Service, who were alerted a few minutes after the residents discovered that the fire had escalated than they expected.
“Many did not know that the children were in the building. It was after the fire was put out and we were assisting the occupants of the building to salvage what was left of their property that we discovered the children were locked up.”
Another resident, who identified himself as Bolu, said the fire was escalated by the gas cylinder in the building, which exploded.
Director of the State Fire Service, Mr. Rasaq Fadipe, confirmed the story.
- See more at:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Can we Agree Never to hire Anyone from World Bank and IMF to manage Nigeria's Economy?

“Lagarde had nothing specific to say about which ideas she thinks are most important—much less what compromises might be required, much less which specific countries, companies, or people might have to suffer to reach those compromises. Her speech was worse than tiresome. It was almost Orwellian in its vacuity. By its end, I couldn’t tell if the head of the International Monetary Fund was as stupid as she seemed or merely pretending to be stupid because she believes we have no right to hear what she really thinks. I am not sure which would be worse”- Alex Berenson

Now that the wool has been uncovered from Nigerian’s eyes, can we now agree that the voodoo economics from Ngozi Okonjo Iweala (NOI) and her band of travelers are not suited for our country? Can we all agree never to hire anyone from the Brettonwoods to shepherd our economy? I mean never! In case you didn’t hear me I meant NEVER!

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) made many unforced errors during his inglorious 6 years reign over Nigerians and perhaps the most glaring was the appointment of NOI as defacto prime minister-coordinating minister on economy. A position unknown to Nigerian constitution and any extant laws or statutes. Before her appointment she had worked as managing director of World Bank. During her first stint as minister of finance under President Olusegun Obasanjo she was known as Madam Due Process and rode on the crest of Nigeria’s negotiated debt repayment, an exercise meant to repay Wall Street and Paris club for buying junk dubious debts owed by Nigeria’s corrupt prior administration at the detriment of infrastructure developments and services to the poor Nigerian masses.

Ms. Iweala along with her sidekicks Oby Ezekwesili drew huge salaries unknown under Nigerian civil service rules and regulation. They convinced their bosses that they can fix Nigeria’s economy by subjecting it to IMF failed policies and sophistries. We know better now. In 6 years, Ms. Iweala ran Nigeria’s economy to the ground. She looked the other way while many of GEJ ministers loot the economy. Her bid to convince state governors to hand her their statutory allocations were roundly rejected by the Governor’s forum-including those elected under PDP. That crisis contributed in large measure to the eventual loss of GEJ in last month Presidential election.

Under her tenure, salaries of political appointees exploded beyond the stratosphere. Politicians awarded humoungous benefits and emoluments to themselves while the poor masses suffer in silence. She is walking out the door with a vaunted claim of managing the highest GDP in Africa, even while Nigerians remain at the lowest nadir of poverty index worldwide. She and her boss celebrates the number of private leased leer jets packed at Nigeria’s airports by rich Nigerian while millions of Nigerian civil servants are being owed more than 5 months of salaries.

Why should we continue to listen this Brettonwoods prognosticators? They have failed every where they have been in Africa but unfortunately our leaders continue to turn to them for ideas and policy direction. One can only hope that Buhari will not take the bait and will stay away from World Bank and IMF personnel when he get’s to pick his own economic management team.

Of Old Media, Internet Infestations, Saharareporters and Nigeria’s Democracy

“Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue” -Paul Krugman
The interview by the publisher was meant to distinguish TheCable online news medium from other “internet infestations.” It appeared in the Punch newspapers on April 29, 2015 with a glamorous picture of Simon Kolawole, the publisher. The question was simple and innocuous: “Q: Some of the online publishers run a very thin staff structure. What is your own experience?” But the answer by Kolawole was non sequitor and gratuitous: “You have just touched on a raw point. Typically, online publishing is one-man business. You simply get a guy to manage the technical side of your website. You go from website to website stealing people’s stories and rewriting them for your site. With RSS feeds, life is even easier. …TheCable, however, was not designed along this model. ... I get offended when people classify us with blogs or news aggregators. I have nothing against bloggers or aggregators, but we are not a blog. Maybe we will start a blog someday. I don’t know. But we are certainly not a blog.”
Call it righteous indignation or empty posturing Simon Kolawole, surely knows what his online medium is not, a blog? Tufiakwa! (Nigeria speaks for NEVER!) Unfortunately, fate has a curious way of puncturing a balloon filled with hot air and that it did the same day when the interview was published by Punch newspapers. TheCable proved to all its readers that its quality is way below the blog its publishers criticized adroitly above. TheCable as we learned later from Professor Wole Soyinka, takes its place among other “internet infestations” lol!. On that day, theCable had published a routine reportorial piece apparently from its many paid reporters (you know as Simon quibbled: “We have reporters”) on Professor Wole Soyinka’s lecture at the Hutchins Centre, Harvard University. What was astounding is not the fact that TheCable seems to imply from its report that it has a reporter present at the venue but the outrageous lie about the quote attributed to Soyinka on Ndigbo voting patterns during the just concluded election. Like Soyinka himself said, only morons will believe that a man, who time and again had risked his life to foster ethnic harmony in Nigeria will ever made the kind of statement attributed to him by the Cable. The funny thing is to hear my 16 years old high students who has only been to Nigeria once argued vociferously on Facebooks with his friends how Uncle Wole will never said anything like that.
So much for The Cable hypocrisy, the shining light in the dark embers of Nigeria’s journalism during the just concluded election however belongs to another online medium, albeit one of the places Simon Kolawole derisively called “news aggregators.” A website that successfully upended old media in Nigeria: Saharareporters! It is an online media that celebrates citizen’s journalism. It encourages its readers to be their own reporters and Nigerians high and mighty have responded to its kind offer, turning that news medium to a “must visit” place for anyone interested in authentic Nigeria’s news.
Nigerian politicians are often the last to know and feel the pulse of the nation, more because of their singular insularity from the sufferings of their people and their well ensconced disconnect with Nigerian masses and its many denizens. During the just concluded elections we could see that disconnect in the divergent media deployment of the two main political parties. Given the fact that it controls the government at the center, PDP, believes that they have enough money to buy the old media and they, NTA, AIT, FRCN, NAN appears to easily capitulate to the government. They along with sundry other private newspapers whose editors and publishers owes them favors worked for the government at the center. As the election drew near, President Goodluck Jonathan completely seized the national airwaves, broadcasting scurrilous personal attack on the opposition leadership in the name of paid advertorial camouflaged as serious investigative journalism. What they conveniently forgets is that majority of Nigerians no longer gets their news from Nigeria’s old media. Majority of Nigerian youths, farmers and sundry other citizens now have smart phones and those who don’t have cable TVs. Nigeria’s old media like, the much maligned Nigeria premiership league is often after thought, something you tuned to when you are done with dinner and you are half dozing after a long hard slouch meandering through traffic in Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna, Kano, Enugu or Port Harcourt. No one tune to NTA to get’s breaking news unless Nigeria has just won the World Cup and that is not going to happen soon. So where do people go to get their news: Saharareporters!
The saddest part of this saga is that the much maligned Saharareporters broke more news and did more investigatory journalism than the old media in Nigeria. The fact that some of the old media that appears to perform creditably during the election like Punch newspapers often took their lead story from Saharareporters is quite telling.
One could conveniently conclude that virtually every news piece that rocked the just concluded election was broken, not by old media but by Saharareporters and its citizens journalist. They told us of every corrupt move by the presidency and the governors. They report on the ministers and legist-looters who stole money. They were only matched by Punch newspapers, the only old media that periodically took apart every budget presentations of the current government. The opposition party also took advantage of PDP’s disconnect. On a day PDP postures to have GEJ addressed a 4 hour media chat they scampered and successfully arranged to have their candidate-GMB give an impromptu newsmaker interview to AlJazeera, CNN and BBC. They ended up owning that news circle and PDP media personalities were furious. They were calls for the arrest of GMB media handlers by Aso rock.
By far the most salient report that contributes most to our national discourse was Saharareporters expose on the Ekiti’s gubernatorial election. The revelation about the use of military to box in opposition candidates while the military give free rein to PDP candidates and their cronies on election helped Nigerian protect their votes.
One can make the error of reading too much into this type of narratives but the fact speaks for itself. If the last election had been held circa 1983, one could argue that PDP would have won the day no matter how unpopular it’s candidate might have been. Nigeria’s democracy need the new media much as it needs it’s old media to learn from their mistakes to grow our fledgling democracy. It is not that Saharareporters do not make mistakes very often they do but they are quick to admit it when they got it wrong. The problem with Nigeria’s old media is the arrogance and hypocrisy. Majority of breaking news we have had out of Nigeria in the last few years came from old media reporters whose editors and publishers are either too afraid or too compromised to publish hard hitting investigative piece turned in by their reporters. The latter very often release such piece to Saharareporters who published same out of the pernicious reach of Nigerian government officials in the US where the libel laws are a whole lot relaxed. There is no doubt that the publishers of Saharareporters would have been shut down if it has its offices in Nigeria. But that does not excuse the timidity of Nigeria’s old media. Very often the shackles on Nigeria journalist were that of their own mind. Some are too close to the government while others live in mortal fears of what will happen. In that environment you could hardly find courage.

The meticulous way Saharareporters took time to hire private investigators and voice confirmation specialist on the Ekiti election saga could be contrasted with TheCable moronic rush to judgment on the Soyinka’s story. That is a lesson for all internet infestations to learn. They that live in glass house should shudder to hurl rock objects across the confines of their homes. We have a long way to go to protect our hard earned democracy we need both old and new media functioning at their maximum capacity to get us there. Let’s celebrate Saharareporters even while we excoriate “internet infestations” whenever it rears its ugly head. 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Buhari's New Nigeria?

Many who frequents this blog will readily remember my oft refrain that the more things change the more they remain the same. Will this continue with the newly elected government in Nigeria? Time will tell. For now let's read excerpts from the interview the press did with our president elect, General Muhammadu Buhari.

There has been an influx of defectors from the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, to your party, APC, since after your victory at the polls. Many think the development may destabilise the APC. How do you intend to manage the situation?

I think this is a question meant for the party. I wish John Oyegun was here to answer you because we have a system. Just because I am the presidential candidate and the president-elect, I don’t think  the system has allowed me to usurp the power of the party executives. But, certainly, in a multi-party democratic system, fundamentally, it is the number that matters for the people. But for the party, what matters is the ability to manage the number so that the majority will have its way and  there will be justice. No matter what happens to the PDP by May 29, I assure you or I assure them through you that there will be justice in the APC.

A new government, which you will head, will soon be inaugurated. Can you tell us what criteria you will be using in selecting those who you will work with?

It is a difficult time for Nigerians as you all know. I have said it in the past that, in the last 16 years, Nigeria has never realised the amount of revenue it received. The price of a barrel of crude oil rose to
 about 140 dollars and then  crashed to about 50 dollars. During the 16 years, we know what 
happened to some big companies that employ a lot of Nigerians and give them training facilities like the Nigeria Airways, Nigeria  National Shipping Line.
Even Nigeria Railway is managing to be on paper with some refurbished engines moving from Lagos to Ibadan and a few other places. If you go to their stations all over the country, you will realise that they are in a terrible shape. The important thing in a country with a huge population  of youths with more than 60 percent of them under the age of 30 who are unemployed is that you  need these institutions to give jobs and training to them. It is very disappointing that the PDP government virtually failed to use those resources to  grow the economy.
I think the worst thing is the lack of accountability and the terrible budgetary system. Imagine that over 90 percent of Nigerian budget is on recurrent. How can you sustain development in a country like Nigeria with only about 10 percent of your income? Things just have to change. There must be more money available for infrastructure, for investment in getting the factories back, employment and getting goods and services for the population. I think the sins of PDP will be coming out for several years to come.
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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Jonathan’s New Campaign Slogan: Blame the Opposition First

"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

There is new campaign slogan from the Jonathan/Sambo reelection headquarters, it is called blame the opposition first. So, if perchance, and totally due to your very own dereliction of duties there is petroleum scarcity all over the country just point to the opposition. Forget the fact that you have in your cabinet, a minister of petroleum that had never been called to account for all the serious misdeeds at her ministry. If the currency gets devalued by voodoo economics orchestrated for election purpose in the name of re-basement, simply point to the opposition and deflect any blame that may have come the way of your unconstitutional coordinating prime minister of Finance. If Boko Haram kidnapped 200 Chibok girls, your first retort is to deny that any girls were kidnapped and if the foreign media disagree, just assume your fall back option: simply blame the opposition!

There is no limit to this pea brained campaign strategy. What is more, you can draw on it time and time again. See it works. It forces the opposition party to stop talking about their own campaign platform. They may not have anything unique on that platform anyway. Who cares? After all, election campaigns in Nigeria are not supposed to be about your ideas and visions for the country but as the gerrymandered Governor of Ekiti state proves, it is about stomach infrastructure, intimidation of opposition through an illegal use of military personnel and of course blaming the opposition!

You can set up a Constitutional Conference where members found that our so called federal constitutions centered too much governmental powers in the presidency to the detriment of local governance, issues and ideas. And if you are President Jonathan all you need do, is give the report to a committee to review and then cry wolves about how the opposition will not allow you to carry out the recommendations.

You may have been in charge for more than six years while your opposition is a newly formed agglomeration of political parties with little or no pedigree, majority of who have never been in power at the center. If you are Jonathan/Sambo campaign strategist all you need do again,  is point to all the problems you are having in your party as directly traceable to the shenanigans of the opposition.

But then if you are President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, what you may not reckon with is a little thing called message discipline. For instance, you may not know that the president was an alumnae of University of Port Harcourt. You may not know that the president was invited to be a guest speaker at an event organized by the Pioneer Class of 81 of the University. If you are Goodluck, you may not know that you had asked your self appointed secretary to the federal government to deliver your speech at the event. You may not know that you vetted the speech and gave it to Anyim Pius Anyiam to deliver. You may not know that hidden in that speech are these words:
“…And that is why today, at times, people wonder or bother about the opposition activities and movements. We created it. We simply thought that except the political space is expanded, we are not heading for democracy. That except you allow people to strongly and firmly assert their democratic rights, participate in democratic process and indeed, enjoy it with confidence, that one day, we will pay for it. I want to assure you tonight that the opposition movement as it were today, owe their existence and indeed, their activities to President Goodluck Jonathan. The enhanced political environment is what the opposition is enjoying. If they abuse it, do not mind. It does not matter. It does not challenge us. When the opposition try to make so much noise, one thing we know is that you cannot win election in Nigeria through propaganda,”
There you go Nigerian! President Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan gave you a vibrant opposition. He gave them to you. What do you mean by that constitution thing? There is nothing called constitution. He gave you opposition party free of charge. He didn’t have to, but he did it anyway, so he can make his reelection bid easier. After all, his PDP predecessors wiped out people at Odi and almost proscribed all opposition political parties by their landslide victories at heavily rigged elections in the past. Goodluck gave opposition life so he could have something to blame for all his 6 years of misrule.

All those constitutionally enshrined activities, political environment and movements was created, and enhanced by the regime of Goodluck/Sambo. Forget 1999 constitution, it is just a piece of paper anyway! In Nigeria, where impunity reigns, you owe the very breath you breathe to the goodness and grace of Goodluck regime. Listen, all opposition politicians, particularly those from the so called All Progressive Congress you all owe your very existence and activities to President Goodluck Jonathan who in his infinite wisdom and large heart bequeath democratic opposition and competitive political environment to the people of Nigeria by his grace in fee simple!

Here is something else the regime of Goodluck Jonathan knows so well, you cannot win election in Nigeria through propaganda. They know that too well. Nigerians of all hue should know that by now. APC you are on notice, Jonathan made you and will quite easily snuff you out and there is nothing the international community can do about it. Get it? Now take the blame and let’s proceed to this upcoming selections, oops, election.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Jonathan Nomination of Obanikoro: an affront on Justice and Democratic Ideals

For me, justice is the first condition of humanity” - Wole Soyinka, Africa’s Nobel laureate 

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is often given to shooting himself in the foot.  When you expect him to act as a sage he will often behave like Abacha, whom Professor Wole Soyinka once called a cretin. The 6 years GEJ has been in power in Nigeria is littered with miscues and lost opportunity. His luck often ran out when he is on the verge of making monumental and transformative decisions that could impact Nigeria for good. This is why many doubt his ability to lead Africa’s most populous nation south of the Sahara.

Let’s go through some monumental decisions where he chose to side with the enemies of the country and corrupt politicians instead of making a tough call. Take the sacking of Barth Nnaji, his erstwhile power minister. The world renowned engineer was begged to serve in GEJ cabinet with the promise that he will be given power to turn around the power and electricity sector of our economy. Within his first few months he put a lot of efforts and intellectual acumen into the sector and prepare the sector for a monumental revolution only for him to be sacked unceremoniously at the time the government needed him, on a trumped up charge that he has an interest in one of the power generating company. Even though the government knew all along and he even disclosed it during his screening at the National Assembly. A full and frank disclosure of interest and refrain from making decision on any issue that impact your interest is all that is required. This was conscientiously abide with by the minister and yet he got sacked and Nigeria is today with electricity. We lost his talents due to spurious allegation from the office of the Vice president. It gets better, the same vice president is also rumored to have interest in several power generating companies. All the companies awarded the concessions had little or no experienced personnel in power generation in Africa so Nigeria ended up on the losing end while politicians made out like bandits selling NEPA’s resources.

Similar disastrous decisions were made with the sacking of former National Security Adviser, General Owoye Azazi. He was not perfect but he took Boko Haram seriously and brought the full force of the international community focus on their nefarious act. Jonathan sacked him upon complaint from the office of his vice president. The same way he sacked the CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, when he dared complain about corruption in the office of the Petroleum minister.
Perhaps the saddest of Jonathan’s inglorious decision is the sacking of Festus Odumegwu on a trumped up allegation from the office of the Vice president that he was anti-North. Odumegwu, a former CEO of Nigeria’s blue chip company is as cosmopolitan and Nigerian as anyone could be. His plans on the conduct of the Nigerian census were on the cusp of breakthrough when the silent campaign started. His headship of the Nigerian Population Commission would have brought a breakthrough to our economy planning.

The saddest part is that it is when you expect him to sack corrupt minister and advisers that Jonathan will dig trenches and protect them. Take the case of the former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, for several weeks after he corrupt car gate scandal, Jonathan kept her on as minister until the outcry became too much, even then the administration gave a soft landing and she is now running as a senator on the platform of PDP. Similar protections were afforded a Southwest chieftain of the party, Buruji Kashamu. For more than 2 years, long before the presidential election campaign party chieftains in the Southwest had been urging the president to sideline Kashamu and put a new face on the party in the Southwest but the president did not listen. As one former PDP Representative, Dave Salako put it, “ the activities of Kashamu were inimical to the interests of the party in the South West geopolitical zone‎ and especially, Ogun State”. The president ignored all entreaties and now it has led to the departure of former president Olusegun Obasanjo and other PDP leaders in the southwest.

And now the president has nominated Musiliu Obanikoro, a former minister of defense who has a cloud of impropriety around him based on the inglorious rigging at Ekiti guber election exposed recently by Saharareporters! Even if Obanikoro had not voluntarily resign to contest election how can any sane president re-nominate him given what we know now? How can he listen to the audio of Captain Koli and still proceed to insult Nigerian with the nomination he made this morning to the National Assembly?

When a president surrounds himself with people who care less if he wins or not, he is bound to lose. When he surrounds himself with people who love corruption more than they love Nigeria the stench in Aso rock will surely stink to high heavens. And now the chicken is coming home to roost.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

276 after Chibok, 1 day after IDP Act Jonathan visit Borno: connect the dots

Far be it that I will impute any unsavory motive to President Goodluck Jonathan visit to Borno today, I am sure he meant well by this visit. What I found curious is the fact that the president embarked on this trip, 276 days after the abduction of the Chibok girls and 1 day after the National Assembly passed an electoral law empowering the so called internally displaced persons to vote wherever they might be. (Possibly at any of the refugee camps in neighboring state ) without any PVC? I am just saying...

And I know the president meant well during this visit as he did not particularly visit Chibok, just as his godfather, former president Olusegun Obasanjo never visited the village of Odi, throughout his tenure. For those who don't know, Odi is one of the villages in Rivers state where Baba Iyabo commanded his private army called Presidential task force raze to the ground during his own regime. Jonathan however visited the place that matters in Borno, I mean at least it start to matter 24 hours prior to his visit, probably after he signed the amended electoral law. Here is the Punch newspaper quote on that visit
"Before leaving Maiduguri, Jonathan was also said to have visited over 900 displaced persons from Baga at the Maiduguri camp."

And here is the news report on the electoral Act amendment :
"Worried by happenings in the political circle as the nation prepares for the February general elections, the House of Representatives yesterday adopted the amendments of the Electoral Act. The Electoral Act Bill, which scaled through the third reading, would be harmonised with the Senate version before it is sent to the president for assent. While adopting recommendation of the ad-hoc committee, the House agreed on the insertion of a fresh Section 26 (1) that caters for the voting rights of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, during future elections in the country...."

Here you go, if only the House had passed that amendment on time, the president would have visited Borno 276 days ago. Look at it this way, The president had no problem going to Hilltop mansion, Abeokuta, even if he is not invited as long as he can convince the occupant of the mansion, Baba Koko Below to vote for him. Every vote counts? Just saying...

Some folks unfairly criticized Jonathan, they say he is always on the campaign trail whenever there is going to be mass killing of Nigerian by terrorist, I just urge the president to ignore them. They said he was on a campaign spree in Kano when Boko Haram kidnapped and maimed people in the Northeast. Just ignore them! They said he was on campaign trail when they killed 2000 people. And he congratulated French people while ignoring the massacre in his own backyard...who are this people...don't they know "lest cest moi!" Well, to satisfy these so called nameless dem say, the president private army chief came out to say only 150 people were killed. What is 150 people compare to rented and paid crowd at Ibadan numbering thousands who could vote? Let them show the president the dead people PVC and see if the president will not acknowledge their death and he may even attend their funeral as part of the bargain.... Just saying...

I just want the president to continue to look for votes wherever they might be, whether at the cemetery, the morgue or the hospital he will need it, that one I know for sure. Every bloody vote counts! At least that is what chief Fanity Firekayode is telling him

In another news, youths from Bayelsa state warned Madam Patience to stay away from their state and not bring her Rivers state "wayo" ways to the president's home state. (I hope my friend the Imolite no catch them. ) What arrant nonsense? Shuo! Can you imagine anyone saying this about about Baba Iyabo 's wife or many of his concubine. Hear them:

“We are matured enough to know what is good for us. Nobody should come and bribe our poor mothers and women with expired bags of rice and some money in the name of politics to mislead our people.”

Expired Wetin? See me see trobulu o! Are they trying to call the current occupant of Aso rock, expired president? Tufiakwa! Dem go Hear wien! Just wait until the godogodo bring in the landslide vote like 1983!