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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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Atiku Hails Judgment on Full Financial Autonomy for LGs, Says It’s a Win for Nigerian People




The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections, and a former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court, ordering that henceforth local government allocations be paid direct into various local government accounts, saying it is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The Waziri Adamawa made his views public via his social media handle, saying categorically that “I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.”

He wrote:

The judgment of the Supreme Court earlier today affirming fiscal autonomy to local government councils in the country is a win for the people of Nigeria.

The court’s ruling is a step in the right direction and a major corrective action in greasing the wheels of national development across the country.

The decision by the Federal Government to consolidate disbursements of local councils’ revenues into the state government accounts was a decision that was borne out of politics of hasty compromise.

I align with the decision of the Supreme Court that the structure of the Nigerian government is portioned in three layers, and of these, the local governments should be centres of development.

I also share the belief that fiscal autonomy to the local governments should not be limited to revenues from the Federation Accounts, but indeed, should apply to Internally Generated Revenue from the respective local government authorities.

Many of our states, especially those in the ultra urban areas with high density economic activities, have become notorious in muscling local councils from generating revenue on items that border on motor parks, outdoor advertising, rents and many more.

The verdict of the court is in tandem with the core functions of the Supreme Court as an arbitration court between and among governments. -AA

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Supreme Court Grants LGAs Full Financial Autonomy




The Supreme Court of Nigeria has ruled that the 774 local government areas (LGAs) be given a full financial autonomy across the federation.

A seven-man panel of Supreme Court Justices led by Justice Garba Lawal delivered the ruling on Thursday, July 11, 2024.

The apex Court initially heard the suit between the Federal and State government on the autonomy of local government on June 13 and reserved judgment.

The suit marked SC/CV/343/2024 was filed by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), and it sought full autonomy and direct fund allocation to the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

Fagbemi requested the Supreme Court to order that funds for LGAs managed by caretaker committees appointed by governors, rather than elected chairmen and councillors, be withheld.

However, the 36 state governors, represented by their attorneys general, oppose the suit on various grounds, including their argument that the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case.

In its ruliing on Thursday (today), the Supreme Court ordered that full financial autonomy be granted to the LGAs, recognizing them as an independent segment of the federation.

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Wike vs Ireti Kingibe: Time to Stop the Bully




By Eric Elezuo

It is an understatement to say that there’s no love lost between the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mr. Nyesom Wike, and the Senator representing the FCT, Mrs. Ireti Kingibe. Their relationship has turned more soured than the proverbial cat and rat. In fact, both cannot see eye to eye, in as much as they are saddled with the same responsibility of promoting and developing the FCT.

While Kingibe, one of the four female senators in the Senate, is operating on the mandate of the people, having been duly elected under the Labour Party in a well contested election in the 2023 General Elections, Wike is an appointee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

No one has been able to explain the origin of the beef between the two political figures, but source close to The Boss, has said that differences in political affiliation may have triggered the initial animosity before it blossomed into full time hatred and cross verbal attacks, leading to the bullying of the Senator.

Senator Kingibe had complained earlier in the life of the administration that the FCT has shun all her approaches to synergise for the benefit of the Abuja residents, since she’s a direct interface of the people as an elected representative. But Wike, in his response tackled the Abuja Senator, asking her to stay away from him that he does not wish to be friends with her.

Wike had lambasted the Senator, accusing her of blackmailing him instead of communicating her problems through the right channels or better still focusing on her oversight functions.

He stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, stating that the lawmaker is aggrieved because the Senate President snubbed her for the position of the Senate Committee on FCT.

“I don’t want to be personal…she’s the Senator for FCT. She went around saying ‘oh, oh Wike is busy scraping roads…I should leave the roads till when the potholes come?” Wike said.

“Somebody wants to be your friend and you say ‘I don’t want to be your friend. Is it by force?’ The problem is that she wanted to be Chairman, Senate Committee on FCT and the Senate President said ‘I’m not giving you’.

‘What are you going to supervise me? You cannot supervise me. What is her interest, that I must see her? If I have a problem I’ll go and see her. I don’t have a problem. Nobody can intimidate me. Look, I was a Minister before. I became a governor of one of the most important states in Nigeria and she thinks that the only way you can bring me down is to go to Channels, TVC, saying the Minister is not carrying me along.

“I don’t have the back to carry. It’s not about blackmailing. Do the right thing. You know her problem? She ran election with my friend Philip Aduda and she sees me taking Philip everywhere instead of her being the Senator. Should I abandon my friend because he failed election?” Wike queried.

However, while the Senator has refused to stay bullied, Nigerians have said that time is now to tame the bully, and save the bullied from any further acts of disrespect.

Kingibe has made it clear however, that she is not in any interested in the friendship of Wike, who she only knows from a distance, but in working together to answer to the needs of the FCT residents, whom both of them have been mandated to serve at the moment.

Speaking on Arise News interview, the Senator reviewed as follows, taking into cognizance that Wike addresses her as one, who claims her senatorial role:

“That’s what he says. I am the senator, but he said in interviews that I claim that I am the senator of the FCT, and he is not obliged to deal with me. But I am saying that by sections 122 and 124 of the Evidence Act, he is bound by the judicial notice of the occupier of the seat of the senator of the FCT.

“I am also saying that section 24 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, imbues on him a duty, that is, the honourable minister, (I am not calling any names because anybody who is the minister is bound by those same laws and duties) to abide by the constitution, to respect all its ideals, institutions and legitimate authorities entirely.

“So just the same way that some Nigerians would have voted for the president, and some would not have, but as soon as he is declared the president, he becomes the president for everybody, and nobody can pick and choose who would rather be the president. And therefore, same applies to all offices regardless of party or any other position.”

She added, “Please what constitutes friendship between two people who have never met each other? I have never sat in the same room with the minister except in the senate committee. So how does friendship arise? Why would I want to be the friend of somebody I do not know?

“The truth of the matter is that the minister refuses to speak or communicate in any way with the senator representing the Federal Capital Territory. So, how are the wishes and the needs of the people to be communicated to him? Please tell me if you know a way.”

Responding while inaugurating the construction of Mabushi Bus Terminal, Phase I, in Abuja, came hard on the senator for her remarks threatening to unseat her as a serving senator in the next election.

Referring to her as a nameless person, Wike asked her to go hug the transformer, in a most derogatory attempt to inform that she does not matter in the scheme of activities in the FCT.

Wike said: “I overheard somebody in Arise this morning. Unfortunately, I hear the person is a member of National Assembly and it is unfortunate I say so. With all due respect, what you don’t know, you don’t know, what you know you know, and the good thing for you is to tell people you don’t when you don’t know, then people will educate you.

“The Honorable Minister of State and my humble self have not been in office for more than 11 months and the person is angry that they are praising us. If you don’t want to or you are angry about that, go and hand yourself in a transformer. If we have done well, we have done well. If we haven’t done well, we haven’t done well. I’m proud to say that in the short time that Mr. President has appointed us, we have done well.

“You said there are no hospitals and there are no hospitals. You, as a legislator, what have you done? How many bills have you sponsored for us to improve our education and health sector?

“I challenge that legislator. If you are very popular, 2027 come and run under Abuja, we will fail you. Do you think that what happened last time, will happen again? It will not happen again. Luckily for me, I am the FCT Minister now. So that is my territory and I’m not afraid.

“So, People should be able to come out and be able to accept the truth. We are not begging for anybody to become our friend, we have so many friends that we cannot even carry along. So how can we go and beg people to become our friends? We are not interested in that.

“If you are angry that people are praising us, by next year your BP level will go very high because the praises you would see would be too much.”

Many legislators were at the event, and they clapped for the minister at the remarks.

In another commissioning activity, the Senate President was on hand to deliver a speech, but ended up talking down on his colleague.

“I saw one of the legislators on television talking about you (Wike) and mentioning the fact that she was not carried along.

“Well, she is a member of the Senate. Once a decision is taken, she is bound by the decision. So, please ignore every distraction (from her) and be rest assured that no matter what you do, not everyone will praise you. Others will still try to find faults,” Mr Akpabio told Mr Wike, who was beaming with smiles.

Many other Senators were present at the event.

But Nigerians have come hard on the FCT Minister for his unguided utterances against an elected public officer, who is also a septugenarian, accusing him of lacking respect and playing God in the affairs of men.

In their response, the Labour Party, FCT branch, accused Wike of falling out of line, saying that Kingibe did nothing  y calling his attention to main needs of the Abuja residents.

The FCT chairman of the party, Comrade Diugwu Chukwuemeka, said by Wike’s outburst, he showed that he is not at home with the peculiarities of the FCT, nothing that the area is a conglomeration of different persons from across the length and breadth of the country.

“Does he not know that he is a tenant in FCT merely appointed by  the president and  if Mr. President decides to remove him, he will be removed without any ceremony,” the LP chairman queried.

On his part, the National Chairman of the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Dr Ajuji Ahmed, described Wike’s attack on Senator Kingibe as verbal violence.

He said that Wike does not have the power to stop other politicians’ re-election because he is not the one that brought such politicians to the office in the first instance.

“That (the attack) amounts to verbal violence because there is no reason why he (Wike) should do that. He is not in the LP. It was LP that elected her. He has nothing to do with LP and he is not the entire electorate of the FCT. There is no way somebody can stop someone from being re-elected in three years time. It’s not a savoury statement.”

Also speaking, a Chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA), Chief Chekwas Okorie, also described the verbal exchange between Wike and the FCT as bad.

He appealed to the two public officers to sheathe swords and collaborate for the overall progress of the FCT.

“For me, it is all politics. But it is unfortunate that they allowed their political differences to affect their service to the people.

“The senator representing FCT represents all Abuja and the entire Abuja has one FCT minister.

“It is the National Assembly that presides over Abuja. One would have expected the two to work together. But it is bad that they are fighting each other,” he said.

However, in total condemnation of Wike’s bullish approach to the administration of the FCT and attacks on Kingibe, the women of Abuja have held a protest, asking that Wike be checkmate in his untoward utterances against Kingibe.

“We, the Concerned Women of FCT, Abuja, are therefore calling on all women in Abuja to rise against Wike’s antics,” the women noted.

While Nigerians expect the legislators to come to the rescue and support of their colleague, the contrary is playing out, encouraging Wike’s bullish attitude. But Nigerians are stepping out of their comfort zone to curb the menace.

Nigerians also understand that Wike’s bullish stance extends to his Rivera State primary constituency, where he is slugging it out with the incumbent governor of the state, Mr. Siminalayi Fubara, over the control of the state. The state has,  in recent months, been a subject of political intrigues and violence as the parties fight for supremacy.

But time will tell.

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