Full text: Obasanjo’s letter to Buhari
THE WAY OUT: A CLARION CALL FOR COALITION FOR NIGERIA MOVEMENT
Special Press Statement
President Olusegun Obasanjo
Since we are still in the month of January, it is appropriate to wish all Nigerians Happy 2018. I am constrained to issue this special statement at this time considering the situation of the country. Some of you may be asking, “What has brought about this special occasion of Obasanjo issuing a Special Statement?” You will be right to ask such a question. But there is a Yoruba saying that ‘when lice abound in your clothes, your fingernails will never be dried of blood’. When I was in the village, to make sure that lice die, you put them between two fingernails and press hard to ensure they die and they always leave blood stains on the fingernails. To ensure you do not have blood on your fingernails, you have to ensure that lice are not harboured anywhere within your vicinity.
The lice of poor performance in government – poverty, insecurity, poor economic management, nepotism, gross dereliction of duty, condonation of misdeed – if not outright encouragement of it, lack of progress and hope for the future, lack of national cohesion and poor management of internal political dynamics and widening inequality – are very much with us today. With such lice of general and specific poor performance and crying poverty with us, our fingers will not be dry of ‘blood’.
Four years ago when my PDP card was torn, I made it abundantly clear that I quit partisan politics for aye but my concern and interest in Nigeria, Africa and indeed in humanity would not wane. Ever since, I have adhered strictly to that position. Since that time, I have devoted quality time to the issue of zero hunger as contained in Goal No. 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. We have set the target that Nigeria with the participating States in the Zero Hunger Forum should reach Zero Hunger goal by 2025 – five years earlier than the UN target date. I am involved in the issue of education in some States and generally in the issue of youth empowerment and employment. I am involved in all these domestically and altruistically to give hope and future to the seemingly hopeless and those in despair. I believe strongly that God has endowed Nigeria so adequately that no Nigerian should be either in want or in despair.
I believe in team work and collaborative efforts. At the international level, we have worked with other world leaders to domicile the apparatus for monitoring and encouraging socio-economic progress in Africa in our Presidential Library. The purpose of Africa Progress Group, which is the new name assumed by Africa Progress Panel (APP), is to point out where, when and what works need to be done for the progress of Africa separately and collectively by African leaders and their development partners. I have also gladly accepted the invitation of the UN Secretary-General to be a member of his eighteen-member High-Level Board of Advisers on Mediation. There are other assignments I take up in other fora for Africa and for the international community. For Africa to move forward, Nigeria must be one of the anchor countries, if not the leading anchor country. It means that Nigeria must be good at home to be good outside. No doubt, our situation in the last decade or so had shown that we are not good enough at home; hence we are invariably absent at the table that we should be abroad.
All these led me to take the unusual step of going against my own political Party, PDP, in the last general election to support the opposite side. I saw that action as the best option for Nigeria. As it has been revealed in the last three years or so, that decision and the subsequent collective decision of Nigerians to vote for a change was the right decision for the nation. For me, there was nothing personal, it was all in the best interest of Nigeria and, indeed, in the best interest of Africa and humanity at large. Even the horse rider then, with whom I maintain very cordial, happy and social relationship today has come to realise his mistakes and regretted it publicly and I admire his courage and forthrightness in this regard. He has a role to play on the side line for the good of Nigeria, Africa and humanity and I will see him as a partner in playing such a role nationally and internationally, but not as a horse rider in Nigeria again.
The situation that made Nigerians to vote massively to get my brother Jonathan off the horse is playing itself out again. First, I thought I knew the point where President Buhari is weak and I spoke and wrote about it even before Nigerians voted for him and I also did vote for him because at that time it was a matter of “any option but Jonathan” (aobj). But my letter to President Jonathan titled: “Before It Is Too Late” was meant for him to act before it was too late. He ignored it and it was too late for him and those who goaded him into ignoring the voice of caution. I know that praise-singers and hired attackers may be raised up against me for verbal or even physical attack but if I can withstand undeserved imprisonment and was ready to shed my blood by standing for Nigeria, I will consider no sacrifice too great to make for the good of Nigeria at any time. No human leader is expected to be personally strong or self-sufficient in all aspects of governance.
I knew President Buhari before he became President and said that he is weak in the knowledge and understanding of the economy but I thought that he could make use of good Nigerians in that area that could help. Although, I know that you cannot give what you don’t have and that economy does not obey military order. You have to give it what it takes in the short-, medium- and long-term. Then, it would move. I know his weakness in understanding and playing in the foreign affairs sector and again, there are many Nigerians that could be used in that area as well. They have knowledge and experience that could be deployed for the good of Nigeria. There were serious allegations of round-tripping against some inner caucus of the Presidency which would seem to have been condoned. I wonder if such actions do not amount to corruption and financial crime, then what is it? Culture of condonation and turning blind eye will cover up rather than clean up. And going to justice must be with clean hands.
I thought President Buhari would fight corruption and insurgency and he must be given some credit for his achievement so far in these two areas although it is not yet uhuru!
The herdsmen/crop farmers issue is being wittingly or unwittingly allowed to turn sour and messy. It is no credit to the Federal Government that the herdsmen rampage continues with careless abandon and without finding an effective solution to it. And it is a sad symptom of insensitivity and callousness that some Governors, a day after 73 victims were being buried in a mass grave in Benue State without condolence, were jubilantly endorsing President Buhari for a second term! The timing was most unfortunate. The issue of herdsmen/crop farmers dichotomy should not be left on the political platform of blame game; the Federal Government must take the lead in bringing about solution that protects life and properties of herdsmen and crop farmers alike and for them to live amicably in the same community.
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But there are three other areas where President Buhari has come out more glaringly than most of us thought we knew about him. One is nepotic deployment bordering on clannishness and inability to bring discipline to bear on errant members of his nepotic court. This has grave consequences on performance of his government to the detriment of the nation. It would appear that national interest was being sacrificed on the altar of nepotic interest. What does one make of a case like that of Maina: collusion, condonation, ineptitude, incompetence, dereliction of responsibility or kinship and friendship on the part of those who should have taken visible and deterrent disciplinary action? How many similar cases are buried, ignored or covered up and not yet in the glare of the media and the public? The second is his poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics. This has led to wittingly or unwittingly making the nation more divided and inequality has widened and become more pronounced. It also has effect on general national security. The third is passing the buck. For instance, blaming the Governor of the Central Bank for devaluation of the naira by 70% or so and blaming past governments for it, is to say the least, not accepting one’s own responsibility. Let nobody deceive us, economy feeds on politics and because our politics is depressing, our economy is even more depressing today. If things were good, President Buhari would not need to come in. He was voted to fix things that were bad and not engage in the blame game. Our Constitution is very clear, one of the cardinal responsibilities of the President is the management of the economy of which the value of the naira forms an integral part. Kinship and friendship that place responsibility for governance in the hands of the unelected can only be deleterious to good government and to the nation.
President Buhari’s illness called for the sympathy, understanding, prayer and patience from every sane Nigerian. It is part of our culture. Most Nigerians prayed for him while he was away sick in London for over hundred days and he gave his Deputy sufficient leeway to carry on in his absence. We all thanked God for President Buhari for coming back reasonably hale and hearty and progressing well in his recovery. But whatever may be the state of President Buhari’s health today, he should neither over-push his luck nor over-tax the patience and tolerance of Nigerians for him, no matter what his self-serving, so-called advisers, who would claim that they love him more than God loves him and that without him, there would be no Nigeria say. President Buhari needs a dignified and honourable dismount from the horse. He needs to have time to reflect, refurbish physically and recoup and after appropriate rest, once again, join the stock of Nigerian leaders whose experience, influence, wisdom and outreach can be deployed on the side line for the good of the country. His place in history is already assured. Without impaired health and strain of age, running the affairs of Nigeria is a 25/7 affair, not 24/7.
I only appeal to brother Buhari to consider a deserved rest at this point in time and at this age. I continue to wish him robust health to enjoy his retirement from active public service. President Buhari does not necessarily need to heed my advice. But whether or not he heeds it, Nigeria needs to move on and move forward.
I have had occasion in the past to say that the two main political parties – APC and PDP – were wobbling. I must reiterate that nothing has happened to convince me otherwise. If anything, I am reinforced in my conviction. The recent show of PDP must give grave and great concern to lovers of Nigeria. To claim, as has been credited to the chief kingmaker of PDP, that for procuring the Supreme Court judgement for his faction of the Party, he must dictate the tune all the way and this is indeed fraught with danger. If neither APC nor PDP is a worthy horse to ride to lead Nigeria at this crucial and critical time, what then do we do? Remember Farooq Kperogi, an Associate Professor at the Kennesaw State University, Georgia, United States, calls it “a cruel Hobson’s choice; it’s like a choice between six and half a dozen, between evil and evil. Any selection or deflection would be a distinction without a difference.” We cannot just sit down lamenting and wringing our hands desperately and hopelessly.
I believe the situation we are in today is akin to what and where we were in at the beginning of this democratic dispensation in 1999. The nation was tottering. People became hopeless and saw no bright future in the horizon. It was all a dark cloud politically, economically and socially. The price of oil at that time was nine dollars per barrel and we had a debt overhang of about $35 billion. Most people were confused with lack of direction in the country. One of the factors that saved the situation was a near government of national unity that was put in place to navigate us through the dark cloud. We had almost all hands on deck. We used people at home and from the diaspora and we navigated through the dark cloud of those days. At that time, most people were hopelessly groping in the dark. They saw no choice, neither in the left nor in the right, and yet we were not bereft of people at home and from the diaspora that could come together to make Nigeria truly a land flowing with milk and honey. Where we are is a matter of choice but we can choose differently to make a necessary and desirable change, once again.
Wherever I go, I hear Nigerians complaining, murmuring in anguish and anger. But our anger should not be like the anger of the cripple. We can collectively save ourselves from the position we find ourselves. It will not come through self-pity, fruitless complaint or protest but through constructive and positive engagement and collective action for the good of our nation and ourselves and our children and their children. We need moral re-armament and engaging togetherness of people of like-mind and goodwill to come solidly together to lift Nigeria up. This is no time for trading blames or embarking on futile argument and neither should we accept untenable excuses for non-performance. Let us accept that the present administration has done what it can do to the limit of its ability, aptitude and understanding. Let the administration and its political party platform agree with the rest of us that what they have done and what they are capable of doing is not good enough for us. They have given as best as they have and as best as they can give. Nigeria deserves and urgently needs better than what they have given or what we know they are capable of giving. To ask them to give more will be unrealistic and will only sentence Nigeria to a prison term of four years if not destroy it beyond the possibility of an early recovery and substantial growth. Einstein made it clear to us that doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the height of folly. Already, Nigerians are committing suicide for the unbearable socio-economic situation they find themselves in. And yet Nigerians love life. We must not continue to reinforce failure and hope that all will be well. It is self-deceit and self-defeat and another aspect of folly.
What has emerged from the opposition has shown no better promise from their antecedents. As the leader of that Party for eight years as President of Nigeria, I can categorically say there is nothing to write home about in their new team. We have only one choice left to take us out of Egypt to the promised land. And that is the coalition of the concerned and the willing – ready for positive and drastic change, progress and involvement. Change that will give hope and future to all our youth and dignity and full participation to all our women. Our youth should be empowered to deploy their ability to learn, innovate and work energetically at ideas and concepts in which they can make their own original inputs. Youth must be part of the action today and not relegated to leadership of tomorrow which may never come. Change that will mean enhancement of living standard and progress for all. A situation where the elected will accountably govern and every Nigerian will have equal opportunity not based on kinship and friendship but based on free citizenship.
Democracy is sustained and measured not by leaders doing extra-ordinary things, (invariably, leaders fail to do ordinary things very well), but by citizens rising up to do ordinary things extra-ordinarily well. Our democracy, development and progress at this juncture require ordinary citizens of Nigeria to do the extra-ordinary things of changing the course and direction of our lackluster performance and development. If leadership fails, citizens must not fail and there lies the beauty and importance of democracy. We are challenged by the current situation; we must neither adopt spirit of cowardice nor timidity let alone impotence but must be sustained by courage, determination and commitment to say and do and to persist until we achieve upliftment for Nigeria. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and we believe that our venturing will not be in vain. God of Nigeria has endowed this country adequately and our non-performance cannot be blamed on God but on leadership. God, who has given us what we need and which is potentially there, will give us leadership enablement to actualize our potentiality.
The development and modernization of our country and society must be anchored and sustained on dynamic Nigerian culture, enduring values and an enchanting Nigerian dream. We must have abiding faith in our country and its role and place within the comity of nations. Today, Nigeria needs all hands on deck. All hands of men and women of goodwill must be on deck. We need all hands to move our country forward.
We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a Movement. Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request. This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress. And God will again grant us. Of course, nothing should stop such a Movement from satisfying conditions for fielding candidates for elections. But if at any stage the Movement wishes to metamorphose into candidate-sponsoring Movement for elections, I will bow out of the Movement because I will continue to maintain my non-partisan position. Coalition for Nigeria must have its headquarters in Abuja.
This Coalition for Nigeria will be a Movement that will drive Nigeria up and forward. It must have a pride of place for all Nigerians, particularly for our youth and our women. It is a coalition of hope for all Nigerians for speedy, quality and equal development, security, unity, prosperity and progress. It is a coalition to banish poverty, insecurity and despair. Our country must not be oblivious to concomitant danger around, outside and ahead. Coalition for Nigeria must be a Movement to break new ground in building a united country, a socially-cohesive and moderately prosperous society with equity, equality of opportunity, justice and a dynamic and progressive economy that is self-reliant and takes active part in global division of labour and international decision-making.
The Movement must work out the path of development and the trajectory of development in speed, quality and equality in the short- medium- and long-term for Nigeria on the basis of sustainability, stability, predictability, credibility, security, cooperation and prosperity with diminishing inequality. What is called for is love, commitment and interest in our country, not in self, friends and kinship alone but particularly love, compassion and interest in the poor, underprivileged and downtrodden. It is our human duty and responsibility so to do. Failure to do this will amount to a sin against God and a crime against humanity.
Some may ask, what does Obasanjo want again? Obasanjo has wanted nothing other than the best for Nigeria and Nigerians and he will continue to want nothing less. And if we have the best, we will be contented whether where we live is described as palaces or huts by others and we will always give thanks to God.
I, therefore, will gladly join such a Movement when one is established as Coalition for Nigeria, CN, taking Nigeria to the height God has created it to be. From now on, the Nigeria eagle must continue to soar and fly high. CN, as a Movement, will be new, green, transparent and must remain clean and always active, selflessly so. Members must be ready to make sacrifice for the nation and pay the price of being pioneers and good Nigerians for our country to play the God-assigned role for itself, for its neighbours, for its sub-region of West Africa, for its continent and for humanity in general. For me, the strength and sustainable success of CN will derive largely from the strong commitment of a population that is constantly mobilized to the rallying platform of the fact that going forward together is our best option for building a nation that will occupy its deserved place in the global community. May God continue to lead, guide and protect us. Amen.
SARS and SWAT as a metaphor for a failed government: Thumbs up for our visionary Nigerian Youths!
SARS and SWAT as a metaphor for a failed government: Thumbs up for our visionary Nigerian Youths!
By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.
For decades, I had strindently beckoned on the Nigerian youths to join some of us patriots in the dangerous Nigerian trenches, to win the heart and soul of Nigeria, and take their destinies in their own hands. Many of the rulers of today have tenaciously glued themselves to government (like aradite), either directly or indirectly. They stay put in Aso Villa through their proxies, minions, acolytes, agents, servants, friends, school mates, kinsmen and kins women, or even kindred family members. Some of these sit – tight rulers were only in their 20s and early 30s when they were already military Generals, Governors, GOCs, Brigade Commanders, Ministers, Commissioners, etc. They have never had any professional or occupational address. Only political addressses. General Yakubu Gowon, for example, was only 32 years old when he prosecuted the 3 year bloody Nigerian fraticidal civil war as a military General and Head of State . And wait for it: he was a mere bachelor. He only married his wife, Mrs Victoria Gowon, when he was already Head of State. Late Dr Matthew Mbu was minister of Labour at a mere 24; and High Commissioner to the UK at 25!. Today is an age where the youths are still struggling through tears, sweat, pains, pangs, blood and sorrow, to go through 100 or 200 level; or merely gain ordinary admission into our tertiary institutions.
SARS or SWAT, by whatever name called, are the same 6 and half a dozen; the same moinmoin, akara and beans; the same Hamlet and the Prince of Denmark. For the entire lifespan of this clueless and highly propagandist government, I have been screaming on roof tops about its bad governance style and its irredeemably corrupt posture. I dripped oceans of ink, writing tons of articles, press releases and giving countless lectures. I made dozens of television and radio appearances on possible solutions or panacea to our national malaise . I was ignored, barely tolerated. Some rabidly politically partisan persons were even unleashed on me as raving attack dogs. Their social media cliques, those Prof Wole Siyinka derisiveky described as “crawling but unseen Internet millipedes” (some of them grand mothers and grand fathers), insulted any and every Nigerian that dared criticise their deity, nay, their infallible god, President Buhari. Kakaaki were used to herald his exit from and entry into Nigeria. Aircraft maintained by Nigerian tax payers’ money were packed for months at Heathrow Airport, while their pilots and crew luxuriated idly in 5 star hotels. They all patiently awaited the full recovery from health challenges of their idol and totem of messianic redemption. The government, through its attack dog, the EFCC (where is Magu today? ; the ephemerality of power!!! ), then decided to intimidate, browbeat and overaw me. I refused to bend to their arbitrariness, whimsicality and capriciousness . I valiantly criticised, critiqued and interrogated the impunity of this government. I challenged raw power and dared the viciousness of the government and its awesome security aparatchic. I knew I was on the right path. Thank God He has kept me safe under His bedspread canopy, from their rampaging goons. Some government apologists and spokespersons came roaring, but defensive. They said the Buhari government was the best thing to have ever happened to Nigeria. They wondered why we couldn’t see what they were seeing. To them, there is no hunger, desease, squalor, depression or melancholy in the land. These were merely simulated by haters of Buhari and his government. These views were merely peddled by corrupt politicians and ‘defenders’ of corruption. Indeed, ‘corruption was fighting back’. They said ‘Sai Baba’ was the messiah Nigerians have been patiently waiting for. I reminded Nigerians of Buhari’s first disastrous outing between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985. It was indeed the locust years. It was 20 months of regrets, gnashing of teeth and mass poverty. It was an era when Nigerians were openly flogged on their bare buttocks in the name of War Against Indiscipline ( WAI). It was a shameful era when Decrees 2 and 4 reigned supreme; an era of detentions without trial; when truth was punished once it embarrassed the imperious government of the day. Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor are still alive to narrate their horrific experiences of their seering gulag days. This was the better – forgotten days of mass scramble for unavailable essential commodities ( “essenso”). Commodities, such as bread, milk, sugar, tea, flour, eggs, rice, beans, palm oil, meat, vegetable oil, pepper, tomatoes, tarodo, tatashe, fuel, kerosene and even garri, simply disappeared from Nigerian homes. The present fawning and bootlicking Buharists and Buharideens would hear none of these historical facts. They argued that the maximum dictator had changed completely from his autocratic and totalitarian nature and had suddenly undergone some form of Saul – to – Paul trasfiguration, to become a born again democrat. To them, Buhari would even teach Abraham Lincoln the true meaning of democracy (not Lincoln’s1863 Gettysburg Declaration). These obsequious sycophants and flatterers readily showed us Buhari’s newly well starched agbadas and babaringas, expensive eye glasses and designer wristwatches and skin shoes, as signs that he had undergone permanent metamorphosis. I told them it was never possible for a leopard to change its spots, just as it was impossible to jump into the river without getting wet. So, the youths were getting agitated and tired. They had been out of school for many months. The Covid-19 lock – down had compounded their problems. Young girls took to prostitution, standing by the kerbs of major hotels on cold lonely nights, looking for paying’ customers’, to eke out a living with their suffering parents. Many of the youths, frustrated, travelled across deserts and seas seeking greener pastures and perishing in the process. Some took to internet scams, becoming ‘yahoo boys’. Eye-serving anti-graft agencies went after them with the ferocity of a hurricane Katrina. They were happy to display these boys as a diadem of their ‘achievements’ on their so called ‘war against corruption.’ Meanwhile, they were merely pursuing butterflies while their house was on fire. They conveniently turned their eyes away from the real pen robbers, the historical revisionists, the re-looters of recovered loots. They readily forgave any Nigerian politician who decamped from the opposition to their party. Like Naaman the leper who dipped himself in River Jordan 7 times and became cleansed of his leprosy , such thieves of our common patrimony became deodorised of their lecherous and thieving sins. The despondent youths watched with amazement from the sidelines, how their future was being stolen bare-facedly, by instalments, by shameless fathers, grand fathers and great grand fathers, whose children were idling away in ivy schools abroad. They knew the day was nigh for them to bare their fangs. They had become tired of broken promises, smothered hopes and serial deceptions. They suddenly remembered Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words:” when governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The federal government is our servant, not our master “. They became convinced about another Abraham Lincoln ‘s famous quote : “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time “.
The youths feel cheated by a government driven by executive lawlessness, legislative thievery and rascality and judicial injustice, where justice is rationed to the highest bidder, especially money – wielding and influence – peddling political bucaneers. They became more convinced that SARS killings, extra judicial murders, accidental discharges, illegal toll – collecting road blocks, extortions and police brutality and bestiality, would never stop except they acted. They knew it was time to take charge as a mass movement that required no leadership that would easily compromise and sell to government nichodemously at night.They couldn’t understand why the NLC would suddenly capitulate after raising hopes of mass action by angry Nigerians against a compassless non – performing government. The youths knew they were already on the ground, and that he who is already on the ground fears no further falling. They knew they would go below ground zero, far far below India, as the poverty capital of the world, except they acted. They were convinced Nigeria does not deserve to be the number 148 out of 180 most corrupt countries in the world, and number 3 in West Africa. They could no longer tolerate the ceaseless banditry ravaging the country ; the increased boko haram insurgency, heightened kidnappings, murders, armed robberies and suicides. They became tired of joblessbess, stigmatisation as” lazy youths”, when all they desire is fair and equal opportunities to actualize their dreams in a directionless and unsympathetic contraption called Nigeria They knew enough was enough, because their “mumu don do”. So, the Nigerian youths have been on the streets and in the trenches for nearly 2 whole weeks now, and still counting, using “#ENDSARS” as a metaphor and allegory of a failed, wobbling, groggy, fumbling and crumbling government and nation. I commend the Nigerian youths for standing up to their rights, with eternal vigilance as the only price they have to pay for their liberty (Learned Hand). Never again will any government take the civil populace, the people, for granted. The people are the real owners of power. Those in government are their servants. The dog wags the tail. The tail does not wag the dog. Kudos to the Nigerian youths, as they continue their genuine struggle of liberation and emancipation from despotism, fascism, autocracy and absolutism. God bless the Nigerian youths. God bless Nigeria.
North: The silver lining through Zamfara gold
North: The silver lining through Zamfara gold
By Yusuf Abubakar
It’s not all gloomy after all for the North. Away from the dark cloud of insecurity fostered by the insurgents and banditry activities, comes the rays of light across the horizon. First came the cheering news of the discovery of oil, gas and condensates in Gombe State and the stretch of Gongola basin by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) and its sister agency, the Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR), which threw the doubting thomases who believe nothing positive could come from the region off balance in 2019.
The landmark uncovering of the treasure specifically along Kolmani River region at the border community between Bauchi and Gombe States, ought to have ordinarily silence the anti-north elements, but some still questioned the effort, describing the breakthrough as political. However, the planned exploration of the oil and gas from the basin for commercial purpose would clear all misconceptions, even as it would no doubt put the affected state on the list of oil producing states with consequent fallout.
As the region basked in the euphoria of the oil discovery comes another silver lining from Zamfara through its rich gold deposits which has hitherto fuelled bandit activities in that state. The bandits, as it was widely reported, were taking advantage of the situation by acquiring gold at cheap rate and use same to acquire arms and ammunitions for their nefarious activities.
But as it were, Governor Bello Matawalle is turning the tide against these agents of darkness and their sponsors. The governor had approached the nation’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and by extension the Federal Government for the possibility of boosting the mining sector in the state under the anchor-borrower scheme. The bank will invest the sum of N5 billion for the state to supply it with gold as a proceeds of the investment over time, while under the arrangement, the state government is to purchase the gold from the miners and supply it to the bank.
Already, the federal government has commenced the process of licensing the companies that have indicated interest in mining in the area. What this means for the state is that the gold will no longer be used to fuel the activities of the bandits with the governor stylishly cutting their hold on the supply chain. The second fundamental advantage Matawalle’s gesture throws up is that the state government would have more fund to embark on more projects as he works relentlessly to build a new Zamfara State.
But as usual, those who were profiteering from the seeming lucrative “banditry business” were uncomfortable with the turn of event and have resorted to campaign of calumny against the governor. The sworn anti-north elements are fuelling the misconception that the state government is taking over the minerals within its domain, even as it is public knowledge that mining is exclusive right of the federal government. Their charade has needlessly attracted resources control agitators who are already shouting themselves hoarse in response to the mischief.
But they are bound to fail because the governor’s action is within the ambit of the law as due process was followed in the purchase of gold from artisanal miners. “Individuals, corporate bodies, including states and local governments, are free to buy any mineral product, as long as you go through the normal process. We have what we call private mineral buying centres. We issue licensees so that anyone that is interested will come to us, and once you meet the criteria, we give you a license to purchase these minerals.
“And that is the angle that Zamfara State is exploiting. From their own funds, they are buying gold from their people.” This clarification by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite in the face of the uproar by the elements over the matter should suffice.
It is sad that senior lawyers who should be abreast of the stipulation of the constitution have joined the misconception foray by creating discontents across the land.
They claimed that the governor’s gesture may trigger other minerals endowed states to deny federal government access to same, while urging the FG to shut down the initiate entirely. This is totally absurd and tended to give credence to the already entrenched speculations that powerful forces who were aiding illegal mining of gold deposits in the state were using bandits as alibi to shield their nefarious activities.
It is public knowledge that some highly influential and prominent personalities, including top politicians, security agents are fully involved in gold mining business in the state, thereby denying governments revenue that would have accrued from the proceed for a very long time.
More disturbing is the fact that these activities have been going on illegally without the federal government’s backing through licenses from the federal government. The situation also denied the state government any commission as its source of generating revenue directly or indirectly. A mining survey report indicated that the federal government lost about N3.23 trillion equivalent to $9billion in revenue accruable from gold exports due to the activities of illegal miners across the country, including Zamfara in 2017.
This is the anomaly Matawalle met on ground and is working hard to correct through collaboration with the federal government, and expectedly, those who have been benefiting from the situation are fighting back. it is therefore the responsibility of all well-meaning Nigerians especially pressure groups in the north to rally round the governor in the ongoing effort to make the state uncomfortable for the bandits and their sponsors who are using our commonwealth to fight us.
Abubakar is of No1, Jama’a Street, U/Rimi, Kaduna, Kaduna state.
BudgIT: When Apologies Are Not Enough
BudgIT: When Apologies Are Not Enough
By Adam Adedimeji
Tracka is a kind of feedback mechanism on governmental projects in Nigeria. It is meant to facilitate citizens’ access to respond to projects and programmes carried out by government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in their communities.
Tracka is one of the schemes used by BudgIT, a Civil-Society Organization, with a selftasked role to engage citizens on budgetary responsibilities from the government with a view to ensuring institutional improvement. Set up in 2014, it is said to be functional in twenty (20 ) States in Nigeria.
The activities of BudgIT, especially with reference to Tracka, showcase the beauty of democracy by enhancing open society and citizens’ participation in governmental projects. In other words, it is a manifestation of the common meaning of democracy, which entails a government with premium on the people in all manner of actions.
Provided it carries out its functions as outlined, which include monitoring government projects with a view to assessing their standards and completion as spelt out in budgetary allocations and, in turn, reaching out to relevant public offices and the concerned communities, BudgIT could be an eloquent testimony that the people in our respective communities are not puppets that have to accept whatever is dished out to them without questions or right of reply.
Recently, Tracka through its Twitter handle, @trackNG, brought its (un)doings to the public when the group alleged that Senator Adelere Oriolowo of Osun West Senatorial District got N40 million for a training programme for select persons in his constituency but ended up spending N2.5 million.
The tweet stated: “N40m was allocated in the 2020 FG ZIP (Federal Government Zonal Intervention Programme) for practical skill development and training of youths and women in fishing in selected areas in Osun West Senatorial District, Osun State. We confirmed (that) 50 participants selected across 10 LGAs (Local Government Areas) attended the training and received N50,000 (each) as start-up grant.”
Tracka’s rush-to-the-social-media comment was further amplified by The PUNCH rush-tothe-press report of September 24, 2020. Typical of how any job done in unnecessary hurry always ends up, both the social media post and the mainstream media report turn out to be a hatchet job that could misinform the undiscerning members of the public due to their deficiency in truth.
Since it is elementary knowledge that the legislature and the executives do not fuse functions especially in a presidential system of government as ours, it amounts to gross ignorance, to say the least, that Tracka appears not to know the glaring distinction between the constitutional roles of the two arms of government. While legislators enjoy the liberty of nominating or sponsoring projects through budgetary provisions, the responsibility for implementation of projects is strictly that of the executive arm.In fact, projects, whether emanating from the legislature or the executives, are domiciled in
the relevant Ministry or Agency of government responsible for the implementation of such.
In clearer terms, notwithstanding being the facilitator of the project through his legislative
input, there is no way Senator Oriolowo can be involved in the implementation of Zonal
Intervention Programme for practical skills development and training of youths and women
in fishing recently conducted in selected areas of the Senatorial District.
It follows therefore that enquiries regarding projects implementation ought to
be channelled to such relevant Ministry or Agency, except the mission of the enquirer
revolves around mischief or anything other than overall public interest.
Had Tracka not rushed to make defamatory insinuations that Senator Oriolowo had pocketed
N37.5 million, the group would have found out the actual number of persons targeted to
benefit from the programme and it would have realized that the beneficiaries are more than
fifty persons that took part at the first batch of the training programme.
Tracka would have further known the exact percentage of the budgeted amount that was
eventually released by the Ministry to the Agency in charge of its implementation.
Also, while it is true that N50,000 was disbursed to each of the fifty participants as starter-
pack after the training, it is far from the truth that only N50,000 was spent on each of the
Is it that Tracka’s network was not available or fluctuating, hence its inability to compute
logistics needs of the trainees and their trainers, such as accommodation, transportation,
feeding, workshop facilities, among other necessities? What of renting a hall for the training
and equipment provided for the participants as part of the start-up incentives?
Tracka also failed to put into its consideration that as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it
is unwise, if not hazardous, to gather all the selected beneficiaries of the fish farming training
at one place at a time.
Obviously, it is not hard to find out that the project is slated to be done in phases and not a
one-off thing. With this, no one needs rocket science to understand that Tracka’s post that
only N2.5 million out of the earmarked N40 million was spent is nothing but a fallacy.
Was Tracka in a trance? Was Tracka just out to twist facts in order to impugn
Senator Oriolowo’s hard earned integrity and mislead the general public? The whole scenario
is antithetical to the values of creativity, insight, accuracy, excellence and accountability
enunciated to be the hallmarks of BudgIT, the parent body of Tracka.
In the course of writing this piece, precisely on Sunday, September 26,
BudgIT had apologised to the Lagos State Government for another misrepresentation in its
latest release of States Report.
In tweets after tweets, the organisation said it has retracted its graphic that listed the Lagos
State government some days ago among states with inability to meet their recurrent
Given that ours is a clime where those who own up to their wrongdoings are in short supply,
BudgIT ordinarily ought to be commended for acknowledging its fault and apologizing in
that regard. But then, that apology is too insignificant to have any meaningful impact on
healing the wounds caused by the organisation.Through Tracka’s spurious allegation, it is hard for one to believe that BudgIT is on a mission (as it claimed) of using “creative technology to simplify public information, stimulating a community of active citizens and enabling their right to demand accountability, institutional reforms, efficient service delivery and equitable society.”
Except the civic society advocacy group takes urgent steps to do the needful by correcting itself on this issue of 2020 FG ZIP, it is doubtful whether BudgIT would ever realize its noble vision to “see a community of active citizens that relentlessly make effective use of public information to demand accountability, geared for institutional improvement, efficient services delivery, and an equitable society.”
Indeed, with what misinformation could do to humans, BudgIT’s false information on 2020 FG ZIP is extremely dangerous not only to the constituents of Osun West Senatorial District and Senator Oriolowo but also to the FG and the Nigerian people in general. This is quite disappointing in view of the role expected of BudgIT.
This matter goes beyond Lagos State government and the 2020 FG ZIP. It transcends tendering apology in a series of tweets to only the Lagos State government. BudgIT needs to be evaluated psychiatrically.
If nothing mentally is wrong with the organization, BudgIT should apologise to Nigerians and pay appropriately for the inestimable damage its avalanche of misinformation has caused Nigeria and Nigerians.
# Adedimeji is an Abuja-based legal practitioner and can be reached through: email@example.com
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