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Pendulum: How Dreams Die So Fast in Nigeria



By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, except for the recklessly optimistic souls, it is so easy to give up on our dear beloved country Nigeria. I will explain why in a jiffy. I do not consider myself a young man at almost 60. Let me do a bit of flashback before I continue my epistle. I entered the University of Ife (later renamed Obafemi Awolowo University) relatively young in 1978, as a pioneer JAMBITE. We were the first students admitted under the supervision of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board. I was 18 at the time but I started living on campus two years earlier under the tutelage of my older Brother, Oladele Ajayi, who had just returned home from Stanford University where he bagged a PhD in Materials Science. Life was good in those days and some lecturers were allotted flats within students’ hostels as a way of forging interactions between them. This was how I got introduced very early to students’ activism. I had worked in the University of Ife Library from 1977-78, prior to gaining admission and this further exposed me to life on campus.

I witnessed the ALI-MUST-GO riots of 1978, when students were fighting over the increase in the price they were paying for their subsidised three square meals. We thought life was becoming unbearable then. How can Obasanjo’s government increased daily meals from 50k to N1.50k, we queried. Breakfast was only 10k with full English or traditional breakfast. Tea was in abundance. You were even allowed to bring your own flasks to take away tea, milk and sugar. Sumptuous lunch and dinner were 50k each. Weekends were very special. We truly had fun. But trouble came when the price was unilaterally tripled by the military government.

Since then, I have witnessed, or actively, participated in several demonstrations, especially if they were peaceful. I have written hundreds of essays and articles on the endless and intractable problems in Nigeria. I was detained under the Babangida government, and forced to run into exile under the Abacha government, all in our quest for good governance and positive developments in our country. But, like Abiku, the spirit-child who comes into the world and saunters back at will, Nigeria has not been able to break the jinx of incompetence, profligacy, underdevelopment, dictatorship and general maladministration. We continue to waltz from one crisis to another. And every time we assumed we were close to our destination, something suddenly goes wrong.

How could a country as bedevilled by a barrage of debilitating challenges as Nigeria refuse to change how businesses are conducted when it is so obvious that we cannot continue along this perfidious route to perdition and ruination? Yet no one seems to worry, or care, about making the necessary sacrifice for our liberation and salvation. The civil war we fought from 1967-70 should have taught us about the importance of unity and the necessity for civilised cooperation amongst us instead we continue to misbehave as if possessed by the worst demons on earth. A civil war that came to a climax with the open declaration of “no victor, no vanquished” has virtually produced a master/servant conundrum with everyone fighting for territories.

We had, and lost, our best chance on June 12, 1993, when President Ibrahim Babangida organised the best and fairest Presidential election, which was won by Chief Moshood Abiola. I harbour no fear that the ethnic strife eating us up today could have been avoided and permanently banished to the pit of hell. Those who profit from chaos and conflagration (the Yoruba word for them is more poignant, “ARIJENIDIMODARU”) totally won the day. Nigeria is yet to crawl out of that monumental disaster since then, some 26 years after. Like the ostrich, our leaders and their followers continue to bury their heads in dusty sands, and living in denial. Again, we all knew the solution was not as complex and complicated as it seems, we opted to try the cheaper and ineffective option. The military decided to install a crawling Interim Government that took little or no time in dismantling. And we soon navigated our way from frying pan into a towering inferno when General Sani Abacha took power, forcefully, about three months after Chief Degunle Shonekan, a corporate titan, was installed as supposed compensation for the annulment of June 12, while the clear winner was subjected to the worst forms of humiliation.

Rather than come together to fight the military and chase Abacha and his foot-soldiers back to the barracks, our political leaders chose to be opportunistic by insisting on joining the most ruthlessly draconian government in the history of Nigeria. Not just that, some of the leaders decided to even plead with Abacha to stay on in power perpetually. Let me not bore you with the rest of the story about the pestilence that ravaged and savaged the country. Chief Abiola was hurled into detention while life dragged on in his absence, till he eventually died, suddenly. Members of the political class, as lily-livered as always, never saw the need to come together, but merely spluttered a few incoherent condolences to the Abiola family while many were already jostling for a placement within the new military government, headed by General Abdulsalami Abubakar.

One year after, in 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military Head of State, from 1976-79, was repackaged and catapulted back to power. You would have thought Nigerians would insist on a compensation and reparation for the injustice meted out to Abiola, his family and associates but such never materialised. At the very least, a government of National Unity should have been put in place to douse the tension in the land but those in power dug deeper and dumped June 12 in the trash can of history but the irrepressible watershed refused to go away. The more they tried to bury it, the stronger it fought back to haunt a country that finds it hard to honour her authentic heroes.

The main thrust of my thesis this week is that Nigeria is in a big mess because we have refused to do things differently. We have continued to repeat the same nonsense while expecting different results. Worse still, we all know the solutions to our intractable problems but we have stubbornly refused to do anything meaningful about it. I will catalogue a few of what we should have done. The first is war between the ethnic groups. This is fuelled and amplified by politicians. I have friends across Nigeria and we get on very well but the politicians prefer to play the ethnic cards to create an illusory impression that they represent the interest of their people. But this is a blatant lie. Examples abound that the areas that have produced Presidents have not fared better than those that produced none. Tafawa Balewa, from Bauchi. Azikiwe from Anambra. Gowon from Plateau. Murtala Muhammed from Kano. Obasanjo from Ogun (twice lucky). Shagari from Sokoto. Buhari from Katsina (twice lucky). Babangida, from Niger. Shonekan, from Ogun. Yar’Adua from Katsina. Jonathan, from Bayelsa. We have not noticed any stupendous development in those States. At the very best, most of them are in squalid conditions while a few of their sons and daughters have access to loot and pilfer the resources of our long-suffering nation. The biggest source of unrest in Nigeria today is the feeling of deliberate marginalisation by President Buhari of certain sections of the country. The nonchalance is so embarrassing and unjustifiable.

Two. We all know that the greatest weapon against poverty today is education. Yet, while the world is marching forward in educational achievements, Nigeria has been marching backward. Nigerians who are naturally brilliant hardly have any opportunities to acquire latest knowledge and after struggling so hard, they have no jobs at home. Many are forced to travel dangerous roads and waterways into exile. Many have perished in the process. One wonders what it takes to find the right people to upgrade our education to international standards. We play politics with everything and this has affected our education, so much so that we have lost some of our best brains to foreign lands.

Three. We grew up hearing that “health is wealth”, yet excellent medical facilities are neither available nor affordable for the average Nigeria. The rich, including top government functionaries have to fly abroad at the flimsiest excuse. No government has succeeded in building just one world class hospital in Nigeria. We waste our scarce resources on flying abroad.

Four. We all know that one of the reasons our manufacturing collapsed was due to lack of power yet we have not been able to generate, transmit and distribute sufficient and substantial power nationwide. And the amount of money which has been pumped into that sector has achieved no commensurate results. No leader can consider himself successful if unable to find a lasting solution to these disgraceful power outages in our country. The state of our infrastructure is too miserable for our size and status in the comity of nations. Apart from lack of enough resources we need to kill the nauseating bureaucracies that tend to slow down too many things but we still have not done enough to turn this around.

Five. It must worry us to high heavens that majority of our youths have no jobs. This is what has increased the spate of violence and general insecurity astronomically. But the jobs will not come if our youths are not well groomed and ready for the challenges ahead. A government that has no sense of urgency cannot achieve these things in eight years. What is obvious to me is that at the snail-speed we have started again in 2019, we may not get too far in correcting our anomalies between now and 2023

It would be a big shame.

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Fuel Subsidy Removal: FG, Labour Meeting Ends in Deadlock




Talks between the Federal Government and organised labour over the removal of fuel subsidy ended in a deadlock on Wednesday as they failed to reach a consensus following the hike in petrol pump prices to over N700 from N195 per litre by oil marketers.

The hours-long meeting which was held at the Presidential Villa was to, among other things, prevent a labour crisis following the recent increase in the petrol pump price occasioned by the discontinuance of petroleum subsidy.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited said it had adjusted the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit to reflect the market realities. The agency, however, failed to state the new prices of petrol.

However, several retails outlets sold the product between 600 and N800 in Lagos, Abuja , Ogun and some other states.

The National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Chief Chinedu Ukadike, pointed out that the hike in the cost of PMS would trigger galloping inflation in the country, stressing that some outlets in the South-East were currently dispensing the product at N1,200/l.

Ukadike stated, “Once NNPCL retail stations have adjusted their pumps to reflect the new price, there is nothing you can do about it; that is the new price. As I speak with you, all of them are now selling at the new prices. The situation is so bad, that somewhere in Ebonyi State our members informed us that it is now N1,200/litre.

“We thought the President would remove the subsidy through a seamless means because the source of this petrol is the NNPCL. They are the ones subsidising petroleum products, they are the people who use their revenue to subsidise this product.’’

The IPMAN spokesperson expressed worry over the rate of increase in inflation and hardship that would come as a result of the latest hike in petrol price.

“This hike in petrol price will definitely lead to galloping inflation and will worsen the hardship already being faced by the Nigerian masses. It is not something to cheer about. It came as a surprise and in the coming days, we will see the very harsh ripple effects,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ukadike has called on the Federal Government and the NNPCL to give other marketers the opportunity to start importing petrol in order to create competition in the sector.

“The NNPCL is importing and has not given people the opportunity to join them in importing so as to see whether private sector operators can import the product cheaper or not. So there is no competition. In a deregulated regime, there must be competition, everyone with capacity should be allowed to import,” the IPMAN official stated.

When asked whether other marketers could resume imports since the government had finally deregulated petrol prices, Ukadike replied, “Marketers can import, but let me tell you some of the factors militating against this. The first is that there won’t be availability of dollars.

“You will source your dollar from the parallel market and if you are not careful in doing this, and you go into the importation of petroleum products, you might not ‘come out of it alive’ at the end of the day.

“So what we are saying is that those advantages that NNPCL has, should be shared with other major importers of petroleum products. If it is through crude buy-back, they should let us know so that independent players such as IPMAN members can come together and be able to use it in the buy-back model.’’

He added, “For independent marketers, the most important thing is that there should be availability of petroleum products, and the government should open up the space for importers and investors to come in.”

NNPCL, the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria for several years running, confirmed the hike in petrol price in a statement and a new pricing template released to marketers nationwide.

But the move has sparked a groundswell of anger across the nation with the Nigeria Labour Congress demanding an immediate reversal of the decision.

The union also said it would hold an emergency meeting on Friday on the fuel price increase which had triggered hoarding and scarcity across the country with attendant rise in transport fares, goods and services.

The fuel price hike by the oil firm is coming 72 hours after President Bola Tinubu declared in his inaugural address on Monday that the subsidy regime had ended.

To pacify the growing anger over the situation, the FG hastily summoned some labour leaders to a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday evening.

The meeting had in attendance the NLC President, Joe Ajaero and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Festus Osifo, former NLC President and immediate past governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, Head of Service of the Federation, Dr Folashade Yemi-Esan, Group Chief Executive Officer of the NNPCL, Mele Kyari, and others, however, ended in a deadlock as the labour and government teams failed to reach a consensus.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, Joe Ajaero, said “As far as labour is concerned, we didn’t have a consensus in this meeting.”

He faulted the NNPCL over an official release published hours earlier reviewing the petrol pump price in its filling stations nationwide.

He said the move puts the labour unions in a difficult position on the negational table.

“That’s the principle of negotiation. You don’t put the partner, ask them to negotiate under gunpoint. The prayer of the NLC is that we go back to the status quo, negotiate, think of alternatives and all the effects and how to manage the effects this action is going to have on the people. If it is an action that must take off.

“The subsidy provision has been made up to the end of June. And before then, conscious people, labour management, and the government should be able to think of what will happen at the end of June. You don’t start it before the time,” Ajaero said.

The Punch

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Breaking: Founder, DAAR Communications, Raymond Dokpesi is Dead




By Eric Elezuo

The Founder of DAAR Communications, owners of the foremost radio and television stations in Nigeria, Raypower and African Independent Television (AIT), High Chief Raymond Dokpesi, is dead.

Reliable sources said the High Chief died while exercising on a treadmill on Monday afternoon.

The source said Dopkesi suffered a stroke some weeks ago.

Details soon…

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I Stand on Rule of Law, with Our Candidate, Atiku Abubakar, PDP, Says Dele Momodu




By Eric Elezuo

Frontline journalist and Director of Strategic Communications of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Council in the just concluded Presidential election, Chief Dele Momodu, had said that he remains a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and will always stand on the side of rule of law, and with the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Momodu made the revelations in a statement he signed himself, noting that the last election, which brought Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to power, was savagely manipulated by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

He praised the steps Atiku, and the presidential candidate of the Labour candidate, Mr. Peter Obi, have taken in seeking legal redress.

The statement in details:


My position on the state of our country NIGERIA is simple and straightforward. I’m a loyal member of PDP who owes absolute allegiance to Nigeria and its Rule of Law. My political party PDP and others passionately hold the view that the last Presidential election was savagely manipulated by the ruling party APC and the cases are already in courts. Nothing will make me abandon my party on the altar of convenience and profit. Win or lose, I will continue to stand on this principle without any malice or prejudice against those who think otherwise. Democracy is a game of choice and I’m resolutely standing by our candidate, the former Vice President ALHAJI ATIKU ABUBAKAR (GCON) who has taken the honorable and peaceful step of going to court to seek redress. This is the only way we can deepen our hard earned Democracy. Sacrifice is not always convenient but painful.

I salute and respect The Wazirin Adamawa and others like my dear friend and Brother, former Governor Peter Obi, the Labor Party Presidential candidate, for promoting the best tenets of Democracy in Nigeria and I’m willing to encourage them rather than discourage their onerous quests…


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