Saturday, September 5, 2015

Can There Be A New Nigeria After Buhari? An Assessment Of 100 Days In Office

Good leaders are known for their competence, patriotism, dedication, committed to excellence, confidence, enthusiasm, openness to change and recognition of the value of change. By Chinedu Opara These are the major yardsticks or components of ethos to understand Nigeria leadership. Nigeria military and democratic leaders since independence have performed below expectations considering the largely untapped natural and human resources, boundless possibilities and opportunities that abound in the country. Leadership behaviour should be a natural part of performance. It is getting things done and not wasting of human lives. Leader doesn’t tell his subordinates) what to do, but keep on inspiring them to see what they are capable of, or prompts others to be their best, then, helping them to get there. The reverse is the case in our time. A leader will prefer to appoint an Hausa Man. And then that Ministry’s head in turns will appoint his relations, some party members and friends even if they are not qualified to complete his team. Are we expecting miracles from them? A round peg in a square hole is nothing but a misfit. Many qualified Nigerians are victims of this misfit. So since leadership is perceived as a demonstrative ability. A Good leader should always display sincerity, credibility, integrity, intelligence, competence in all his actions, Can we then write these for President Buhari in the last 100 days? Leaders make timely and appropriate changes in thinking plans and methods to carry out their assignments out successfully. A good leader does not need up to 365 days before starting to perform with good results. He knows what is important to the people he is representing. Yes the likes of Murtala Muhammed and other brilliant past Governors was a reflection of the characteristics and values of true leadership. This tells us that a new Nigeria is possible. It is either you are a bad leader or a good leader. Good leaders are very clear about their missions, goals, priorities and preferences. The poor ones will always refuse to do nothing after a lot of promises made in their political campaigns and voluminous party programmes. Since October, 1960, the only things we get from majority of our leaders is destructive leadership styles in which they violate the legitimate interest of the country and thereby sabotaging the socio-economic transformation for the development of the country. Can we now say President Buhari is ready to work, after hundred days in office? By Chinedu Opara

Monday, August 24, 2015

Nigeria! A Rebranding Or A Repackaging Project?

By Chinedu Opara I will say Nigeria has really come to stay. Necessity condemns us to co-existence. The truth is that the geographical entity called Nigeria, never mind that we are yet to attain nationhood, at this rate, has coalesced into one solid structure around and within which several very diverse tribes and world outlooks have tried to carve a niche and compete with each other for the resources available mainly in one geopolitical zone of the country. There has come to be some, well, if not understanding, then mere acknowledgment that we will all carry one international passport and use one currency. Achieving this has not been easy. In Nigeria's unimaginable odyssey, a brutal civil war was fought before I was born and the geographical entity known as Nigeria remained intact. However, nationhood, which ought to be the hallmark of any serious people, has continually eluded Nigeria. Without mincing words, this is attributable to poor, unimaginative leadership. In the aftermath of the civil war came the oil boom. Nigeria emerged as a regional economic power thanks to vast reserves of crude oil found in the swamps of the area where the Niger River flows into the Atlantic through numerous tributaries, an area now known as the Niger Delta region, hotbed of militancy in Nigeria. Then came the latest experiment in civilian rule (not democracy, mind). From 1999 till date, Nigeria has had the singular misfortune of having inflicted on it, the most visionless, corrupt and inept rulership in written history. This is a most impartial judgment given the size of resources available to it and the peculiarity of both the country's constitution and the political society which gives and allows the president of the country wield enormous almost unheard-of powers, powers the likes of Suharto and Lee Gwan possessed in Indonesia and Singapore that set their countries on the path of Industrialization. Corruption and sheer political brigandry have been the bane of governance in Nigeria. Given the enormity of human and material resources in Nigeria, it is simply criminal for the ship of the Nigeria state to flounder so dangerously especially in issues any serious country ought to have resolved long ago. In Nigeria, we still discuss issues like power supply and credible elections and no end seems in sight for the resolution of these foundation stones of any modern democratic society. I wonder how some present and past public office holders manage to look their foreign counterparts in the eye whenever they meet. A decent person would die of shame! Well am not travelling for now, so I wouldn’t know. But certainly not our politicians. That human attitude of feeling ashamed of wilful failure is totally alien to them. That's why one will see the few convicted politicians in our midst still wielding influence especially in political parties. The people of Nigeria have often been touted as the happiest people on earth. And why not! Nigeria is warm and hospitable; never mind the deviants. The image of a country is not set by drug barons, prostitutes or advance fee fraud scammers for every country has its own deviants and social misfits. Rather, the international image of a country is set by the response of governments to whichever socio-political challenges it faces. It is noteworthy that countries like South Africa, United States of America and a few South American countries have the highest crime rates in the world with violent crimes topping the crime charts. But it is equally noteworthy that these countries still remain business and tourist destinations. Well, since man is unpredictable and deviants exist in every society, the burden of good governance (hence, image brand) lies not in the total prevention of social and economic ills, but in the provision of credible, pragmatic and proactive solutions in nation building. Can President Buhari set the record straight? President Buhari has promised to shed the garb of greed and narrow personal aggrandizement and honestly engage in true nation building, this can only be evidenced by a conscious and apparent radical reform of ALL sectors of national life, I only hope that he will later not move to repackaging out of frustration, as any effort at rebranding Nigeria will fail abysmally. Because if nothing is done to rehabilitate the already failed Nigerian state, any repackaging will only be cosmetic, ephemeral and a journey in self deceit. Until President Buhari sets the machinery in motion, Until President Buhari begins to send corrupt politicians to jail (not the present EFCC arrest-detention- and-bail- for-life round robin), there will be no rebranding and Change of Nigeria! This process will throw up genuine leaders whose hands and faces will be clean enough to show to the world as Nigeria's new image.

Monday, August 3, 2015

President Buhari Belongs To Everyone, How True?

In the 2015 Presidential election, the number of registered voters was 70,383,427. This means that having won with 15 million votes, less than 20% of the registered voters actually wanted Buhari to be President and over 12 million wanted Jonathan to return, while over 140 million Nigerians never voted at all, probably for lack of interest, age limit, and other forms of technical disenfranchisements, including INEC’s refusal to make permanent voters card available. So, only clusters of 15 million Nigerians will now decide the thrust of national development, which the President has inadvertently admitted in US that it would be based on patronage, despite the fact that less than 3 million Nigerian voters separated him from the former President in a country believed to be over 170 million. How should We draw the Conclusion? Should we say that the actions and utterances of Mr. President are all pointing to the fact that the sections of the country that did not vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) are in for a barren 4 years and possibly beyond. The speculations were rife on it for quite long before the President proved the pundits right by stating that much in faraway USA. When President Buhari was asked by a white journalist how he intended to deal with issues in the Niger Delta, particularly Amnesty, bunkering and inclusive development; he said: “Going by election results, constituencies that gave me 97% cannot in all honesty be treated, on some issues, with constituencies that gave me 5%. I think these are political realities. While, certainly there will be justice for everybody but the people who voted, and made their votes count, they must feel the government has appreciated the effort they put in putting the government in place. I think this is really fair.” If there is anything that should have been left unsaid about governance in a pluralistic environment, even if it were the policy, it is this one. Some say the President was stating the obvious or shunning people angling to reap where they did not so, while others condemn the President’s statement. In Presidential and constitutional democracy as Nigeria is said to be practicing, the whole country is the President’s Constituency; and once he or she emerges, the President leads the entire country and leads for the good on the entire country. Some of the people conveniently gloss over this reality to make the matter worse. Starting with the appointment of service chiefs, which should be the most apolitical, the South East may have been deliberately sidestepped also, ok we understand given the situation presently, Nigeria needs the best hands, but again South east is about the only Zone that is not represented in the National Council of State. President Muhammadu Buhari appointed new service chiefs: Major-General Abayomi Gabriel Olonishakin as Chief of Defence Staff; Major-General T.Y. Buratai as Chief of Army Staff; Rear Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff. Others include Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar as Chief of Air Staff; Air Vice Marshal Monday Riku Morgan as Chief of Defence Intelligence. The president also appointed Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd.) as the new National Security Adviser taking over from Sambo Dasuki who was out of office a week before. The APC did not even put the South East in the remotest equation in the distribution of principal officers in the House of Representatives where there are two APC Members from Imo State. Protest by the two Reps did not even move the APC to at least concede Deputy Whip to the South East in the House of Reps fell on deaf ears. Therefore, while the APC have only allocated Boko Haram to the South East, the only position that has come to the South East so far, actually came courtesy of the PDP Senators and some patriotic APC Senators who considered and elected Senator Ike Ekweremadu as Deputy Senate President. Even at that, they have deployed all forms of intimidation and mudslinging in a futile attempt to run him out of office. They claim the position belongs to the APC, but the same APC was frank enough to defend Section 50 of the Constitution when Tambuwal defected to its fold with PDP’s speakership mandate. The position of the Constitution is that any lawmaker can emerge Speaker or Senate President or their Deputy. Ironically, APC are Speakers in Plateau and Benue where PDP are majority in the Houses of Assembly. The question will always remain, why is it right to APC in Tambuwal’s case and in Benue and Plateau, while it is now termed as “greed”, “coup”, and “abomination” in the case of Ekweremadu? The answer is simple: he comes from one of the zones that gave the President the proverbial “5% votes”. This is certainly not how to belong to nobody and belong to everybody So also, unlike what mostly obtained under Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan, where development of nation Nigeria was based on equity and justice, APC Federal Government is going strictly on political patronage or selective justice as is the emerging trend in present dispensation. APC and Buhari should be driven by patriotic mindset carefully aimed at enthroning social justice and even development. In a democratic dispensation too, efforts are made by winners to woo those who may not have supported them, in view of the next election. The continued marginalization of the South East Government is only confirming the fear of many people from the Zone that there is nothing for them in the All Progressives Congress (APC) Government. The South East has been told in unmistakable terms that it has no share in the APC government. This policy, if sustained, can only reinforce a sense of alienation and belief that their political future is only guaranteed in other parties.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Obama Okays Buhari’s Agenda For Defeating Boko Haram

THE US President, Barack Obama, on Monday offered strong support for Nigeria’s new President, Muhammadu Buhari, saying he had a “clear agenda” for defeating the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, and was working to root out corruption. Speaking as he greeted Buhari on his first visit to the White House since his election in March, Obama said the two leaders would discuss ways to cooperate against the group, which had wreaked havoc in parts of the West African country. Obama told reporters in the Oval Office that Buhari had integrity and “a very clear agenda in defeating Boko Haram extremists of all sorts inside his country.” Boko Haram has carried out multiple attacks in northern Nigeria, most notably the April 2014 kidnapping of 276 Nigerian schoolgirls who are still missing. The specific tactics Buhari will use against the group are still unknown, say experts who study the region. White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, said the United States could offer intelligence to help the Nigerian efforts as well as support for communities hurt by the group. Buhari’s election is the first democratic power transition in decades, which Obama called “an affirmation of Nigeria’s commitment to democracy,” and the visit is meant to usher in a new chapter in relations between the two countries. The US cooperation with Buhari’s predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, had virtually grounded to a halt over issues including his refusal to investigate corruption and human rights abuses by the Nigerian military. Buhari’s move on July 13 to fire military chiefs appointed by Jonathan cleared the way for more military cooperation, the US officials have said. Since Buhari’s election, Washington has committed $5m in new support for a multi-national task force set up to fight Boko Haram. Obama did not signal whether he might send the US troops to help train Nigerian forces. The US is also looking at improving its economic ties with Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, especially as relations with two of Africa’s other big powers, Egypt and South Africa, have cooled. Obama called Nigeria one of the most important countries on the African continent and in the world and he commended Buhari’s work in rooting out corruption that he said had held back Nigeria’s economic growth. Buhari also met with the US Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, later on Monday discussing countering violent extremism. Meanwhile, Buhari on Monday said the sustained pressure mounted on the immediate past administration by the US and some European countries made the last general election in Nigeria to be free and fair. A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted the President as speaking while responding to the welcome remarks by Obama before the start of the bilateral meeting between officials of both countries at the Oval Office of the White House, Washington DC, on the second day of Buhari’s four-day visit to the US. “Without the external pressure, we would not be where we are today,” Adesina quoted the President as saying. Buhari recalled that the pressure started from the visit of the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, to the past Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega. “Nigeria will be ever grateful to President Obama and the United States for making Nigeria to consolidate its gains on democracy,” the President added.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Breaking: President Buhari appoints Mrs Amina Zakari as Acting Chairman of INEC

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Mrs Amina Bala Zakari as the Acting Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) following the conclusion of the term of Office of Prof. Attahiru Jega. This was disclosed in a statement signed by Haruna Imrana, Director of Communications for the Head of Civil Service of the Federation. According to the statement, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Barr. Danladi Kifasi who conveyed the appointment in a letter, said it is with effect from June 30, 2015 until the appointment of a substantive Chairman. Mrs. Zakari is presently a National Electoral Commissioner at INEC. Amina Bala Zakari, a pharmacist by profession hails from Jigawa State. She completed her Secondary Education from the prestigious Queens College Yaba, Lagos. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science ( degree in Pharmacy with Second Class upper (Best Graduating Student) in 1980 from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. After completing the National Youth Service, she worked as a Professional Pharmacist in various hospitals from 1983 – 1996. She then moved into the consultancy field to serve in various capacities as a consultant in Health and Social Services from 1997 up till her appointment as National Commissioner, INEC. She has also served as a Special Assistant to the President and was posted to FCT where she served as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Social Development and Agriculture and Rural Development from 2004 – 2007. Her Consultancy services covered Federal MDAs (FMWH, NAFDAC, NPHCDA etc) MDGs and the Private Sector. Amina Bala Zakari is a registered Pharmacist and Member Pharmacist’s Society of Nigeria as well as Member of Nigeria Institute of Management (MNIM). Other qualifications obtained include, Certificate in Managing Drugs Supply for Primary Health Care from MHS Amsterdam in 1997, Certificate in Project Management 1998, Certificate in Senior Management from Crown Agents London in 2005 Certificate in Executive Education in Business Management from Harvard Business School.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Gays and Lesbians can now live legally in the US.

The US Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal throughout the nation Friday in a much-awaited landmark decision that triggered wild jubilation and tears of joy across the country. In a 5-4 ruling, the highest court in the United States said the Constitution requires all 50 states to carry out and recognize marriages between people of the same sex. President Barack Obama praised the ruling as “a victory for America.” The court decision marked a fresh coup for the White House, coming a day after the Supreme Court upheld an important and disputed section of Obama’s signature health care reform. “Today we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect,” Obama said at the White House, which was later lit up in the rainbow colors of the gay rights movement. “This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts — when all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free.” The Supreme Court ruling made the United States the 21st country or territory in the world that recognizes same-sex marriage as legal. Flag-waving LGBT advocates on the packed Supreme Court forecourt — some in tears — cheered, danced, shouted “USA! USA!” and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” in celebration. Prominent in the crowd was Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the case, clutching a photo of his deceased husband John Arthur. He took a brief phone call from Obama, who told him: “Not only have you been a great example for people but you’re also going to bring about a lasting change in this country. “And it’s pretty rare where that happens, so I couldn’t be prouder of you and your husband. God bless you.” Obergefell, who was live on television at the time, replied humbly: “Thank you, sir. That means an incredible amount to me.” Also in the vast crowd outside court as the life-changing news filtered through were Robert Westover, 51, and Tom Fulton, 57, who hugged and kissed. “It feels like my birthday, the prom, our wedding day. It’s hard to express the intensity of this moment, that our love now is equal,” Westover told AFP. The decision was applauded across the country, with Hollywood celebrities such as Katy Perry and Ben Affleck offering praise, while in New York revelers waved rainbow flags and gathered at a famed gay bar to celebrate. – Dissenting voices – The case was brought by 14 same-sex couples, and the widowers of two gay couples, including Obergefell, who had challenged de facto bans on same-sex marriage in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. All four states had insisted in their respective constitutions that marriage could only be a union between a man and a woman. “The Fourteenth Amendment (providing equal protection under the law) requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state,” the court ruling said. Marriage has been a core institution in society since ancient times, “but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society,” reasoned Justice Anthony Kennedy, who delivered the ruling. To exclude them from marriage, Kennedy said, would deny same-sex couples “the constellation of benefits that the states have linked to marriage.” Voicing dissent was Chief Justice John Roberts, who expressed concern that the court was making a decision better left to elected state legislatures. “If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” he said. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. “But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.” The decision came two years to the day after the Supreme Court, in another major ruling, struck down a controversial federal law that denied US government benefits to wedded gays and lesbians. – ‘A tragic error’ – While some praised the ruling, others were eager to voice disapproval. The conservative Family Research Council expressed outrage, saying “no court can overturn natural law.” “Nature and nature’s God, hailed by the signers of our Declaration of Independence as the very source of law, cannot be usurped by the edict of a court, even the United States Supreme Court,” it said. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose state has also prohibited same-sex marriage, said the fight going forward was now one of “religious liberty.” “No court, no law, no rule and no words will change the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman,” he said in a statement. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which champions the Vatican’s opposition to marriage equality, called Friday’s outcome “a tragic error.” “Jesus Christ, with great love, taught unambiguously that from the beginning marriage is the lifelong union of one man and one woman,” it said.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I did not remove DSS from Aso Rock - President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday dispelled rumours that State Security Service operatives have been expelled from the Presidential Villa. Mr. Buhari, who spoke through his Senior Adviser, Femi Adesina, said the speculations on the expulsion of the SSS operatives were unfounded. A statement from the presidency said: “Rumours that personnel of the State Security Service have been expelled from the Presidential Villa are unfounded. “President Muhammadu Buhari has given no such order. “While it is true that a reorganization of security at the Presidential Villa which involves the realignment of personnel from various services is underway, the exercise does not translate to the expulsion of DSS personnel from the premises in any way. “The changes being made are routine adjustments which are not unexpected in any dynamic environment from time to time.” There had been claims that Mr. Buhari barred SSS personnel from serving as part of his security team. The presidency denied the reports.