Friday, July 21, 2017

Before President returns...

….also published in Daily Trust

As the imminence of President Muhammadu Buhari’s return is being speculated, it highlights the need for him to conduct a comprehensive review of his administration’s performance now that more two years of its four-year tenure have already passed.

This is particularly imperative amid mild but potentially divisive controversy over the extent of the Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s commitment to maintain the momentum built by President Buhari particularly in anti-corruption polices and measures. Admittedly, though, even before the President’s departure, there has already been a sense of disappointment among a growing number of Nigerians over the turn of events under his presidency, which fuels controversy over the extent of his personal portion of responsibility for the disappointing situation. 

President Buhari 

Anyway, though President Buhari has been away for quite a while on health grounds, he is nonetheless hopefully in a more relaxed mood now to monitor the performance of his administration back home from Abuja House in London where he has been staying and receiving medical treatment. Also, though he is currently under no legal obligation to monitor government operations back home, yet, as an ardent follower of the media, he now apparently has more time to spare for following events through the media, hence he is now presumably in a position to assess the performance of his administration not on the bases of officially prepared reports and figures, but in the light of the daily experiences of the ordinary Nigerians, which the media cover all the time.

After all, since his departure, there have been some quite controversial events that could be seen as indications of a gradual but persistent relapse.  For instance, there have been very questionable acquittals of some public figures facing serious corruption charges, and some unnecessarily long adjournments of serious corruption cases involving some privileged individuals, which are seen as a prelude to their eventual acquittals. Obviously, whether these instances are mere coincidences or not, they raise reasonable suspicion of possible compromise by the Osinbajo led-government, especially considering the apparent signs of compromise that the prosecuting counsels concerned began to betray during the proceedings.

Likewise, there have been instances of apparent favouritism in the Acting President’s handling of some corruption allegations against some top government officials, as in the ongoing scandal involving the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewale who, on alleged corruption charges, suspended the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Prof. Usman Yusuf who in turn, however, denies the charges and instead accuses the Minister of witch-hunting him for his adamant refusal to cooperate with him (i.e. Minister) to perpetrate and perpetuate thievery of public funds at the NHIS.

Also, the steady but persistent loss of momentum in the ongoing war against Boko Haram terrorists as a result of which they appear to have regained the audacity to increasingly carry on indiscriminate suicide bomb attacks killing so many people and causing extensive destruction of properties, is yet another indication of the Acting-President’s alleged laxity and failure to maintain the substantial progress achieved in the war on terror since the beginning of the Buhari administration. 

There’s also the issue of dissatisfaction among Nigerians with the performance of most of the current members of the Federal Executive Council, which explains the growing call to dismiss the poor-performing among them and reshuffle the Council. 

Therefore, while Nigerians wish President Buhari a quick recovery, he should, in anticipation of resuming office in due course, God willing, leverage his apparently long spare time to independently review the performance of his administration so far, identify the strategic challenges that undermine its potential to perform better, note down the observations he has been presumably gathering, prepare and keep appropriate reform policies and corrective measures ready for immediate implementation once he resumes office.

He should also summon up renewed courage and imbibe a reinvigorated commitment to pursuing these reform policies and measures bearing in mind that he will necessarily have to go against the selfish interests of many of his political allies in the first place before his political opponents for him to be able to live up to the legitimate expectations of the ordinary Nigerians who voted for him counting on his reputation and integrity to enjoy better living conditions under his presidency. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Inheriting the name Nigeria

….also published in Daily Trust  

Amid the raging controversy over the future of Nigeria as a united country, and having written about the issue on several occasions, I now address the question surrounding the fate of the name Nigeria in the aftermath of the worst-case scenario in this regard, i.e. the country’s break-up, God forbid. By the way, though my repeated invocation against this eventuality reflects my belief that the country is, and would probably remain, better off united than divided, nevertheless, I believe that, unless the current persistently growing existential threat to the country’s survival is adequately addressed, its break-up can’t be completely ruled out.

Therefore, inasmuch as some proposed names like Oduduwa Republic in the south-west, Republic of Biafra in the south-east and recently Atlantic Republic in the Niger-Delta are already popular among the subregions’ respective separatist movements in anticipation of self-determination in their respective subregions, it’s obvious that they aren’t interested in inheriting the name Nigeria in the aftermath of the country’s break-up, whereas, in the north, the name Nigeria is repeatedly mentioned as part of the different names proposed for the region in the event it becomes a sovereign country. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Secession between hypocrisy and illusion (ll)

…also published in Daily Trust

As the elite hypocrisy in the south-east continues to undermine the neo-Biafran secession agenda, the secessionists also continue to ignore other underlying dynamics that frustrate their mission. The ever-increasing interdependence amongst the various socio-economic strata of Nigerians is obviously one of the factors that make their project particularly tricky.

The political and technocratic elites at the federal level, for instance, most, if not all, of whom must have benefitted at one time or another from the pervasive culture of ethno-religiously motivated nepotism to attain or maintain a position in their respective careers, never think about their regional identity, ethnic and religious differences when it comes to pursuing or protecting their personal interests at the expense of ordinary Nigerians. Though they still subtly play ethno-religious and regional cards to maintain popularity in their respective regions and constituencies, however, once they gather around a portion of the “national cake”, they never remember such differences. In other words, when a Chibuzo from the south-east, a Garba from the north, a Femi from the south-west, a Bulus from the north-central and a Lokpoibiri from the Niger-Delta conspire to steal public funds, they never look at one another as an Igbo Christian, a Hausa Muslim, a Yoruba or whatever, let alone facilitate the country’s break-up on regional, ethnic or religious basis.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Secession between hypocrisy and illusion (1)

….also published in Daily Trust

The recent issuance of an ultimatum by the neo-Biafran secessionists to northern Nigerians based in south-eastern Nigeria to leave the region, and the counter-ultimatum issued subsequently by a group calling itself the Coalition of Northern Youths to the Igbos based in northern Nigeria to leave the region have retriggered the recurrent controversy over the survival of Nigeria as a united country.

Having survived the bloody Biafran secession attempt almost half a century ago, Nigeria has on various occasions also somehow survived many relatively lesser yet serious threats to its survival. However, the threats have over the decades seriously taken their toll on its socio-economic development and political stability.

Though the successive civilian administrations and military regimes in the country may deserve some credit for managing to keep the country united despite their failure in general, which has consequently frustrated the country and rendered it unable to achieve its massive economic potential, it (i.e. Nigeria) also owes its survival to other underlying factors. For instance, its survival is, one the one hand, partly and indeed quite ironically due to the hypocrisy of the elite stakeholders in the south-east where the neo-Biafran secessionists have been agitating for secession, and, on the other hand, to the inconsistency of an increasingly growing number of northerners who, after decades of vehement resistance against the secession of the south-east, are now increasingly showing willingness to accept its secession this time around, and even create a separate country in the north in the aftermath, yet, quite ironically however, they aren’t committed to preparing the necessary ground for that.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Chaos in the season of Tafseer

….also published in Daily Trust

As the Month of the Qur’an, Ramadan usually sees proliferation of public Qur’anic Tafseer sessions conducted by Muslim scholars particularly in northern Nigeria. Though during the month, Islamic religious public preaching sessions generally increase in Muslim communities the world over, the trend is particularly phenomenal in Nigeria.
At the beginning of each Ramadan, the atmosphere gets increasingly overwhelmed with live and recorded broadcasts of Tafseer sessions conducted by not only well-versed and reputable Islamic scholars, but also many attention-seeking quacks that explain the sheer amount of conflicting and indeed utterly irreconcilable interpretations of many Qur’anic verses, which consequently create confusion and fuel sectarian divide among Muslims in the country. Needless to say, the confusion spoils the unique Ramadanic atmosphere of spiritual composure, peace of mind and communal tranquility.