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Pendulum: Between An Old Buharist and The New Buharideens

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By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, today’s epistle was inspired last minute by an encounter I had last night with a Buharideen. I had been contemplating what to write about this week when I ran into a staff of Indomie Noodles, the most popular noodle-processing company possibly in Africa, at a restaurant in Ikeja, Lagos. The gentleman had walked up to me for a quick chat, which was perfectly in order, as far as I was concerned. Indeed, this is a regular occurrence most places I go. It is always likely that I run into those who usually walk up to me to request selfies or general discussion. And so, this young man announced himself as my fan. He did not stop there, he said he follows me on Twitter and enjoys my tweets but added matter-of-factly, so to say, that he does not always agree with me. I responded that I was grateful for his appreciation of me and his following, but I added that two people can never agree on everything, all the time.
Out of curiosity, I asked what his points of disagreements were. Before, he could answer, I already smelt a rat and so volunteered a guess. “Is it anything to do with Buhari?” I asked calmly. He replied in the affirmative, “yes it is…” Here we go again, I soliloquised. These days, I hate going into unnecessary and unproductive conversations with those who have been given the nomenclature “Buharideens” on social media. A Buharist is a mild and reasonable supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari. I belonged in that category between 2014-15. Not anymore. I like the President as a person, but his politics and economics leave much to be desired. I can write a PhD thesis on this subject. Back to definitions. On the other hand, a Buharideen is a blind and rabid supporter of Buhari. He does not, and will never see, anything wrong in Buhari, even if you supply all the evidence in the world. It is always a waste of time to engage such political fundamentalists in argument or dialogue. In the course of this election process, I expect that Atiku will probably also sprout such rabid followership. Such is the fervent, unfortunate passion that elections can engender in this country.
‘Why do you disagree with my position on Buhari?” I probed. “Buhari is still the best Nigeria can offer in the present circumstance…” Hmmm, I sighed. “What are your reasons for saying so?” I had pricked him at that moment and he wasted no time in launching a diatribe of sorts. “Only thieves and looters won’t appreciate this government. Things have improved even if not perfect under Buhari.” I laughed raucously. I was used to those lines whenever I encounter the Buharideens. Everyone is a thief and looter, or friends of corrupt people, except members of their group. Not to worry.
I decided to take him on, even if I didn’t have the luxury of time at hand. “Do you know your party APC and your Presidential candidate would find it hard to campaign with his strongest weapon, anti-corruption, when tomorrow comes, because APC is heavily populated by the same so-called looters who migrated from PDP. I have not read it anywhere that they were screened out or rejected by your party, rather they have been promptly and amply protected by your party…” He nodded in agreement, but still argued that APC was a much better party despite the obvious hiccups and conflicts of interests.

 

It won’t be hyperbolic to describe APC as being seriously hypocritical, I told my new friend. I reeled out names of the certified and certificated kingpins of corruption in Nigeria who have ensconced and embedded within the APC without as much as a whimper from the leadership of the party. My friend kept mute, as if thinking hard on how to tackle me. But I kept punching him with facts and my wide knowledge of Nigerian politics.
He tried to wriggle out by going totally banal. “We should just let Buhari complete his second term so that power can return to the South West after that.” Almost spontaneously, I exploded: “who told you power would shift to the South West in 2023?” My friend said “it will, if we support Buhari now…” but I disagreed most vehemently and tried to educate him a bit.
“If you are talking of zoning, then you are wrong to assume that it is a binding agreement. When Buhari contested in 2003, who was in power? Obasanjo, a Yoruba man. When Buhari contested in 2007, who was in power? Yar’Adua, his kinsman from Katsina State. When Buhari contested in 2011, who was in power? Jonathan, from the oil rich Bayelsa State in the South South, and he was merely completing the term given to him divinely after his boss died in power. When Buhari contested in 2015, who was in power? Jonathan, who was serving his own first term as President and was seeking a second term, the first time a President from the region that lays the golden eggs was in that position. Did anyone, including Buhari, give any consideration to those facts? Did Buhari not contest against Obasanjo? Why did he not say that it was the turn of the South West and so he would abstain and wait for the time when it was the North’s turn. This is the charade and chicanery on display by the promoters of zoning, which does not even exist in our Constitution.” I concluded.
My friend said no one can stop power coming back to the South. I asked if the South West was the only zone in the South and why he feels the South East or South South cannot have it. “Are the Igbos not Nigerians or why do you think they can’t contest and win the Presidency?” I wondered. My friend said the Igbos have not aligned with a realistic power base which is currently controlled by Buhari. So, I noticed and noted that the strategy of APC in the South West is to brainwash the people of the region into deluding themselves that power is coming back to them very soon as compensation for supporting Buhari. This is so naïve and simplistic. I warned my friend that as we speak, those who are already warming up for the 2023 Presidential election are not limited, or restricted, to any particular zone.
The nonsensical impression that this jejune assumption creates is that some people hold the levers of power as personal property which can be dashed out to anyone, or a group of people, at will, but this is a total fallacy. From the issue of zoning, my friend introduced another reason Buhari must continue as President. He claimed that this is because there is no viable alternative to him. I queried what the man was saying. How can anyone say there is no alternative in a country of nearly 200 million people? I told him that was virtually untrue. It would be pathetic of us as a nation if we believe such foolishness. Exceptional talents abound, in their multitude, that can take us to the promised land. He asked if I can support an Atiku as President of Nigeria and I answered, “why not?’. I felt his next line even before he regurgitated it. “But Atiku is a very corrupt man…” He started the usual vituperations against a man no one has ever tried in a court of Law since leaving office in 2007. No one has even invited Atiku to explain his source of wealth. I told my friend to perish the idea of thinking I, or indeed, any rational man, would ever join his ilk in maligning a soul just for the fun of it. When did allegation become conviction? I informed him clearly that if that is the only way APC hopes to tackle Atiku, it won’t hold much water.
He also exhibited a dangerous mind-set which is presently the fall-back position when Buharideens are cornered. “Where did Atiku get his wealth from?”. He felt he had delivered to me what he must have thought was a sucker punch, but I responded in kind. “Why is it that your members rejoice and gloat about poverty instead of celebrating achievement. If most of our leaders did what Atiku has done in retirement, our country won’t be in this mess. At least Atiku has invested heavily in Nigeria and profited in the process. He should be commended instead of being criminalised without proof. Not everyone possesses this type of business acumen” I added.
He could see he wouldn’t be able to browbeat me about the usual jargons of portraying APC as a party of angels, so he announced he had to go. He appeared sober and subdued. Before he left, I fired another shot. “How about your primaries? I’m reading all sorts? Would you say elections were held in many places? Where they held, would you say they were democratic? And what about the sordid allegations of bribery and corruption levelled by aggrieved members, including our adorable First Lady?” These were more of rhetorical questions and I did not expect him to have immediate answers. It was obvious he was not proud of the lack of internal democracy and lurid accusations of corruption that has blighted the conduct of the party primaries and almost set his party ablaze. He quickly thanked me and disappeared into the night.
At least he could not abuse me frontally like most Buharideens do whenever you confront them with hard facts. For me democracy is always a game of continuous experiment. Every four years, a President must undergo a serious examination about his performance so far, as well as subject his physical and mental state to public scrutiny. Nothing suggests that he must be promoted automatically to a second term in office if majority of the people do not think he has performed creditably. I’m of the firm opinion that whoever I support this time would be dropped if he still does not meet expectations. Being a Buharist does not mean I will become a Buharideen.
There is no doubt that APC is seriously struggling to convince Nigerians that it deserves a second chance. While I won’t join those who claim APC has failed totally, I will support those who feel it has not lived up to its grandstanding pre-2015 election. I say this because we had great expectations. Notwithstanding the rot that had set into our political, social and economic psyche Nigerians believed that true change was desirable and possible. We voted for APC and Buhari on this basis. That change has only happened in very few cases and objective members of APC agree they have fumbled disappointingly. Most of the areas that we wanted positive change in have turned out to be an embarrassing anti-climax for this government. I will applaud the President for some of the achievements of this government, but that is only because he is the titular head of government. Others, particularly the Vice-President and his economic team are to be commended for the fitful and irregular economic progress we are witnessing. The President himself has not personally shone brightly and is apparently surviving on a reputation that is at best jaded. The attitude of government to the rash of violence in the country is less than salutary. We were applauded for attacking President Jonathan over the shortcomings of his government but the Buharideens want Buhari to be treated like fresh eggs, or not to be touched at all. 
Things must really change urgently and drastically in practically all facets for this government to have any realistic chance of winning the elections. It may not be too late. But the current trend and discourse is not going to help it. I believe people are tired of the same worn platitudes. There are many like me who feel our democratic rights to choose our preferred candidates are sacrosanct and must be respected. I will never abuse or stop anyone from campaigning or voting for Buhari and I don’t expect anyone to abuse me for my personal choice, like the Buharideens love to do.
I expect the battle of wits to start from next week. The first offensive is likely to be launched by former President Goodluck Jonathan when the book on his political life and stewardship is launched at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, on November 20, 2018. It promises to be a blockbuster event. The Buhari government has blamed the Jonathan government endlessly for its inability to perform as expected. Former President Jonathan and his supporters would have the first major opportunity to launch a blistering attack on a government that rode to power on the crest of possessing the magic wand to cure the alleged cesspit of corruption and inefficiency they left behind. It is probably a time for Jonathan to compare and contrast. We may yet learn that it is not yet Uhuru, and the past three and a half years have been no more than running on the spot, if even that!
The only ace that the populace have is their democratic right to keep changing governments until we get it right. If we fail to make the right choice several times, that only improves our learning curve. Eventually, one day, our democratic education and experimentation will be complete, and we will throw up competent and capable candidates from whom we can make proper and informed choices. For now, the alternatives are stark. We can only make do with what we have and won’t keep a failed government just because we are afraid of the next. Who knows, where our salvation lies? God works, mysteriously. 
There are interesting days and times ahead…

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Akpabio Lied, No State Received N30bn from FIRS – Makinde

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Oyo State Governor and Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, declared that there was no truth in the claim by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, that states of the federation got an additional N30 billion each outside of their statutory revenue allocations, to address food insecurity in their states.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Suleiman Olarenwaju in Ibadan, the state capital, said the state has not received any N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service or the Federal Government, and that his administration has been and will always be open and transparent to the people of the state.

The Governor, who added that he has been doing everything to cushion the effects of the economic hardship on the people, warned that leaders should instill confidence and hope in the citizenry in this trying time rather than playing the blame game.

Makinde stated this in Iseyin where he commissioned the newly-renovated multi-billion naira Iseyin Central Mosque facilitated by a legal icon, Ahmed Raji, SAN, hailing the religious harmony in the state as being exemplary.

The Governor decried Akpabio’s reliance on unverified reports, clarifying that states couldn’t get funds from the FIRS, since all revenues go into the Federation Account and belong to the FG, states and local governments.

“The only fund that Oyo State got from the Federal Government outside of statutory allocation was N2 billion out of the N5 billion promised to all states in the wake of the removal of fuel subsidy, adding that the Federal Government had even been asking for the refund of the N2 billion,” he stated.

Makinde added that his government has been doing its best to mitigate the hardship on residents of the state, having been the first to announce and implement measures to cushion the effect of the hardship through the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery.

He said, “This is a very difficult period in our nation’s history because all of us are aware of what we are going through economically. But for us as an administration, I can say we are the first in Nigeria to announce and implement measures on the 9th of June 2023, to cushion the effect of this policy through SAFER.

“We have been doing our bit. And the reason I came here is for us to talk to ourselves and intensify prayers. So, this is one of the edifices through which we can reach God, though we have done our bit. We have health insurance for our own people, we give farm inputs to our farmers but, at this stage, we need to cry to God.

“For the workers, we have been paying a wage award; N25,000 for workers and N15,000 for pensioners, and we have paid for close to six months. Only last week, I announced an extension for another six months so that we can have the time to conclude the discussion on minimum wage. Well, we know there is much to be done and we will continue to do everything within our power to support our people through this hard time.”

Makinde cautioned that “this is not the time to play politics, as we have real issues that deserve real solutions. But yesterday, I saw the video and read in the news where the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, made a statement, though he said it was an unverified report, stating that the state governments received an additional N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, outside of our statutory allocation, in the last few months, to address food security.”

The Governor added, “Please, listen to me loud and clear. I can speak for Oyo State and can also speak for any of my colleagues. This is because, as the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, I know when things are happening.

“If I want to play politics, I will keep quiet and let this slide, but I am not going to let this slide. FIRS cannot give money to any state. It is not possible. All revenues accruing to the country go into the federation account and it is distributed to all tiers of government.  The FG does not give states money. The money in the federation belongs to all of us; it does not only belong to the Federal Government.

“So, if the Senate President, who is the number three citizen in this country, could be quoting an unverified report, people are looking at us as leaders. This is the period that we are supposed to give confidence to our people. It is not the period to start playing politics or to start looking for scapegoats.”

“We need to engage with our people. If our policies are not working, we need to listen to the people and amend them. So, if the number three citizen had nothing but an unverified report, why did he need to say it? Does his statement give confidence to the people or solve the problem of hunger and anger in the land?” he queried.

“Let me say it clearly, as for Oyo State and for most of my colleagues, there is nothing like N30 billion being given to states for food security and I stand to be challenged.

“Yes, the Federal Government promised the states N5 billion and out of that, it only gave N2 billion and they are even asking that the N2 billion should be refunded right now.

“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to manage the fiscal situation in Nigeria and manage the inflationary trend we have in the country right now.

“We have been transparent about everything we are doing here and this is the time for us to stay together as a nation to solve the problems we are facing. It is not the time to engage in blame games and propaganda. Hunger and anger are real and, as leaders, we must address them.”

Also speaking, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, appreciated Makinde for attending the event and for speaking passionately as expected of leaders, saying the state governor is on the right track.

Earlier, the facilitator of the Iseyin Central Mosque renovation project, Raji, appreciated the governor for his presence, urging citizens of the country to continue to pray for its leaders and to pray to God to lessen the burden of the people.

The Punch

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Enough is Enough, PDP Governors Tell Tinubu

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By Eric Elezuo

The government of President Bola Tinubu has continued to come under serious knocks across Nigeria’s geo-political zones, sectors, individuals and political parties. The latest of the knocks is coming from the main opposition political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who is serving a red card the administration, saying enough is enough.

The knocks and barefaced condemnation are not unconnected with the economic hardship in the country, which is a direct consequence of very unpopular economic decisions the administration has taken so far, ranging from the removal of petroleum subsidy and floating of the naira to removal of tariffs on electricity and other essential services.

As at date, the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) is floating between N617 and N650 depending on the part of the country. In the same vein, the dollar is worth a whopping N1600 as at date. The ripple effect has resulted in the exorbitant rise in the prices of essential food items such as rice, garri, beans, flour, sugar, tomato and other household items, and families are groaning in excruciating agony.

As a result, angry and hungry Nigerians have denounced the emilokun (meaning it’s my turn) slogan, and chose ebi mpawa (meaning we are hungry) in exchange.

Consequently, rising from a one day retreat on the state of the nation, the PDP Governors Forum, also found faults and looming loopholes in the nine months old administration of Tinubu, thereby asking the president to step aside as the challenges confronting the nation seems to have overwhelmed him and his team. The Forum advised the APC-administration headed by Tinubu to as a matter to ‘Throw in the towel if you can’t govern Nigeria anymore’.

The governors, who were elected on the platform of the PDP, noted that the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, has failed woefully, and should graciously throw in the towel if it cannot mobilise Nigerians as well as all organs and tiers of government for sustainable solutions to the various problems plaguing the nation.

The governors specifically noted that the hardship and suffering being faced by Nigerians have no tribal, religious or party colouration, stressing that “a hungry man is an angry man”.

They further reminded the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government of the need to be guided by the fact that it is (APC) that sought power to solve the problems of Nigeria, not to compound them or shift blame and use propaganda to confuse issues.

The PDP Governors Forum’s advice is contained in a statement signed by its Director-General, Hon CID Maduabum in Abuja.

The PDP Governors expressly pointed out that the buck ultimately stops at the President’s table as the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Chief Salesman and leader of Nigeria.

The PDP-GF, nonetheless, assured that as stakeholders in governance, it would continue to work collaboratively with the President in finding lasting solutions to “a very difficult situation created or exacerbated by the APC since 2015”.

The PDP Governors frowned at the Minister of Information, APC Governors’ Forum and other officials of the APC-led Federal Government who criticised the the PDP-GF for their suggestions, advice and patriotic intervention on the way forward for the country in a communique issued at the end of their recent meeting in Abuja.

The Forum categorically declared, “It must be noted that though Nigeria is a Federation, there is indeed only one economy.

Accordingly, the governors said while all tiers of government have a role to play, the APC led Federal Government has a disproportionate role to mobilise Nigerians and all organs and tiers of government for sustainable solutions, adding that “If it cannot do so or is unable to do so, it should graciously throw in the towel.”

The statement reads in details:

“Hardship and suffering being faced by Nigerians have no tribal, religious or party colouration. A hungry man is an angry man.

“While all tiers of government have a role to play, the APC led Federal Government has a disproportionate role to play in mobilising Nigerians and all organs and tiers of government for sustainable solutions.

“If it can not do so or is unable to do so, it should graciously throw in the towel.

“Attempts by the Honourable Minister of Information, APC Governors’ Forum and other officials of the Federal Government who criticised the PDP Governors’ Forum for their patriotic intervention should be guided by the fact that the APC sought power to solve the problems of Nigeria not to compound them or shift blame, or grandstand or use propaganda to obfuscate or confuse issues.

“PDP governed States are comparatively the best in Nigeria in terms of developmental policies, programmes, and projects that benefit their States positively, regular payment of salaries, pensions, gratuities, and minimum wage to their workforce.
“State governments that are delinquent on these issues are not of PDP extraction. It is false to say so.

“Even the food crises are exacerbated by insecurity and high exchange rate issues, among others, which are largely federal subjects.

“The PDP Governors as stakeholders in governance would continue to work collaboratively with Mr. President to find lasting solutions to a very difficult situation created or exacerbated by the APC since 2015. We believe in co-operative Federalism.

“The buck ultimately stops at Mr. Presidents table as the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Chief Salesman and leader of Nigeria.

“We are not in doubt that he is trying his best. We only hope and pray that his best is good enough to take Nigeria out of the woods in the shortest possible time.”

The PDP, like every other Nigerian, has continued to lend its voice to what a major cross section of the nation has termed ‘total mismanagement’ of the economic fabric of the nation.

“Nigerians have not had a day of peace since Tinubu was sworn in on May 29, 2023,” a respondent told The Boss, echoing the lord complaints of majority of the citizens.

It would be recalled that Tinubu, on inauguration day, on inauguration ground, waved away petroleum subsidy, thereby throwing the nation into the darkness of hardship that has refused to ease nine months after.

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‘Bwala, Not Ex-Aide to Atiku Abubakar’

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The Atiku Abubakar Media Organisation has said that Mr Daniel Bwala, who worked for the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation during the 2023 elections, was never an aide of the former Vice President, warning that the media and members of the public should desist from addressing him as such.

A statement from the Atiku media office clarified that Bwala offered his services as a spokesperson for the campaign organization, and never an aide to the former VP, adding that he moved on with his career after the elections.

The statement reads:

Bwala is a former spokesperson of Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organisation and not a former aide to the former Vice President

It is important that the media and the general public take corrective note of defining Mr. Daniel Bwala as an aide to His Excellency Atiku Abubakar.

Bwala offered his services and support to the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Organization as a spokesperson – and it was a position he held during the last presidential campaign.

Subsequently, and after the election, the need for a campaign spokesperson has terminated, and Bwala has moved on with his career.

This, therefore, serves as notice to the media and the interested public to desist from defining Bwala as an ex-aide of Atiku Abubakar.

We duly urge the public to henceforth recognize, introduce, and define Daniel Bwala by his current vocation and alliance.

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