Friday, April 29, 2011

Beware of Western Democracies

There is no doubt about the fact that for any major economic investment such as the Ajaokuta Steel company to work, it will need high dose of political will on the part of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria. Every nation on the face of the earth is faced with mountains of challenges from within and outside. Chief among these challenges are corruption and global politics of economic interest.
In Nigeria, corruption has made it very difficult for most government policies and investments to yield commensurate dividend. Despite the huge efforts put in by government to wage war against the negative culture of graft, very little has been achieved in the last ten years. The reason is not far-fetched. Corruption has eaten too deep into the fabrics of our national culture. It will therefore take only a determined effort by government to stamp out, or at least reduce it to an insignificant level.

It will not be enough to condemn the menace of corruption without highlighting its foundation. To a very large extent, corruption is a seed sown by the retreating British colonial administration to keep Nigeria’s socio-economic framework weak. Through this way, Nigeria can only be politically independent but economically dependent on London and other western societies. That’s the reason why the colonial authorities did not lay any meaningful foundation to discourage graft in government businesses. Political independence without a vibrant economy is close to not being independent. It’s on the head of the economy that a society grows.

Another thing the colonial Britain did to keep Nigeria underdeveloped was the sowing of seeds of discord by discreetly fueling ethnic and religious sentiments among the nation’s numerous nationalities. London did this by deliberately refusing the various nationalities to come together and discuss their union before creating Nigeria. Such frank dialogue would have clearly established safeguards for all the component unites. In forcibly bonding the several nationalities together, the Queen knew quite well that Nigeria will be plagued by the seeds of corruption, ethnic and religious discord.

Even with all the pressures from the United Nations and Human Rights groups, western democracies have continued to hide behind several platforms to colonise third world countries, including Nigeria. What they- western democracies do is to work with some corrupt citizens to sabotage critical sectors of the national economies of strategic third world countries. This is the reason why our refineries are not working at optimum capacity. Though we have crude oil and refineries all over, we still rely on the important of petroleum products. It’s the same reason why our power sector is dilapidated. Western countries are making huge gains from the export of electricity generating sets.

But for the strong political will invested by government, the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) project wouldn’t have taken off. Even now, western democracies are fighting to see that Nigeria stop exporting natural gas so that she would import same from them. This is the same problem the Ajaokuta Steel Company is facing. Western nations want Nigeria to import steel when she is supposed to be exporting same. It’s now left for the federal government of Nigeria to understand the dance steps of western democracies and match same with the desired political will.

We must not forget the fact that international diplomacy is mostly determined strictly by economic interests. No western nation will sit back and allow third world countries gain economic independence. They are always afraid of the reality that their local economies will be negatively impacted by Africa’s economic independence. This is the root of neo-colonialism. They will therefore do anything to keep Africa and other developing societies under their foot.

You can also read my book, “Western Democracies in Glass Parliament.” for more details.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The mountain in front of President Jonathan

But for the surprising departure from traditional voting patter, President Goodluck Jonathan could not have won the April 16th presidential election. This development could be largely traced to the new electoral law, leadership of INEC, and the One-Man-One-Vote campaign. For the first time since independence, most Nigerians voted without paying serious attention to tribal, religious, and even party sentiments which they argue are shallow and parochial in nature. This is one strong reason why President Jonathan could put up a very strong showing in Muslim dominated north and ACN strongholds in the south-west. There is a fertile belief among the present generation of Nigerian electorates that good governance or quality political leadership transcends shallow and parochial inclinations such as ethnicity and creed. With the nation’s deep ethnic and religious divide, it was unimaginable for President Jonathan; a minority from Bayelsa State to win 25% and above of votes in as much as 31 states and Abuja. This unprecedented development alone was enough for most uninformed people to agree that PDP rigged the presidential election. But as days go by, many among this clan of doubters are beginning to appreciate the fact that Nigeria has moved far away from the era when almost everything was done based on tribal and religion sentiments.
To sustain this new found political culture, the president must do well to reward the Nigerian electorates by offering quality and purposeful leadership. He must also do everything possible to bless the memories of all those innocent citizens that were killed by the enemies of this nation. No matter their status in society, the murders and their sponsors must be given their rightful places in prison. That is where they precisely belong. No one has right to take the life of another when the law courts are there to dispense justice. Enough of this wickedness. What are these murderers and their sponsors doing with their hearts? Enough is enough! It is very clear that they do not want this nation to move forward because they are benefitting from the pains and sufferings of the masses.
I am very glad that the president has not rolled out the drums and red carpets to celebrate his victory to honour the hundreds of innocent compatriots- women, youths, and children that were killed by the shameless enemies of Nigeria. More than that, political leaders most times indulge in celebrating partisan victories and forget the sacred obligations they owe the masses. President Jonathan should therefore only thank God for His grace and get down to work. He should wait and allow the masses to celebrate him at the end of his tenure in office.
As with every other society, there are many mountains that usually stand in front of political leaders. However, one of them is always conspicuous. It has to do with how to manage the arrogance of kingmakers. For the sake of this piece, kingmakers are all those who do more than mere casting of their votes to make President Jonathan win the April 16th election. They are mostly made up of the leadership of the many campaign organizations and several generous individual and corporate donors. In most cases, kingmakers see their contributions as “investments” and therefore expect to make “profits.” There is nothing wrong with this. What is indeed wrong is the penchant for killing the society to make extra “profits” on top the conventional profit usually made while doing business.
Two ways kingmakers kill the society are as follows. Many that are given appointments see and use their positions to recoup and make profits from their political “investments.” Some of them that win contracts either abandon or simply deliver sub standard jobs. President Jonathan must take note of this fact and do everything within his powers to put an end to this negative culture. It is also pertinent to warn that no political leader should undermine the powers of kingmakers. They can easily destroy a government if their excesses are not properly managed. A lot of wisdom is needed in this regard. The president must openly champion the principles of due process, accountability, transparency, and rule of law. He can always take refuge in these societal pillars each time the kingmakers raise their swords over his head.
This writer joins other well-meaning Nigerians to appreciate the invaluable contributions of all those that contributed towards making Jonathan win the April 16th presidential polls. He was indeed the brightest among the whole lot. These kingmakers must give the president enough political space to lead Nigeria out of the woods. They do not have any better option.
I want to recall that while campaigning for President Jonathan, quite a good number of my friends from the northern part of the country confessed that they do not have problems with Jonathan as a person. Their problem has always been the people around him- kingmakers. I respected their opinions but assured them that Jonathan has the capacity to manage the excesses of his kingmakers. I believe that the president will not let me down.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2011: The cap fits Jonathan

There is no gainsaying that Nigeria has suffered greatly from the problems of poor leadership culture. Since independence in 1960, military and political leaders in the country have refused to address the core issues bothering the citizenry and society generally. This has only helped to grow the percentage of apathy among the citizens- especially the poor, which make up over 70% of the nation’s population. This sad development has generated huge interests and posed massive challenges to civil society groups. Never the less, all efforts contributed by the interest parties aimed at enthroning good governance in Nigeria have failed to yield positive results. The best response from the political class to the concern of Nigerians has been the mere paying of lip service.

A credible electoral culture is the foundation of good governance. It is through a reliable electoral system that political power is put in the hands of the electorates. This is the hallmark of democracy. Up until the 9th of April 2011, political power was still in the hands of a few moneybags and a colony of commercial kingmakers generally referred to as godfathers. These groups of persons usually take very important decisions such as selecting leaders on behalf of the people. This is why political leadership has mostly leaned towards the parochial interests of these godfathers alone. President Goodluck Jonathan has changed all of these. He has succeeded in putting in place an enduring electoral system that will help keep unpopular people out of government.

To achieve this laudable feat, President Jonathan defied the “old order” and appointed a credible personality to head the nation’s electoral body. This is the best thing any leader can do for his or her country. The appointment of Prof. Attahiru Jega as INEC chair went very far to confirm President Jonathan’s sincerity about charting a new course for Nigeria. Even at this, it took only the outcome the National Assembly elections on the 9th of April to trust Jonathan and his promise of free, fair, and credible polls that was anchored in his One-Man-One-Vote campaign.

As a matter of fact, President Jonathan was never reported or even suspected to have attempted to coerce electoral officials to tilt the results of the polls in his favour even in locations his party was visibly losing ground. Many Nigerians, irrespective of their political affiliations were forced by this rare courage to believe in this fine gentleman his grandmother mother named Azikiwe and the northerners call Mai-Nasara. Many Nigerians believe that they have seen a leader Nigeria deserve and have therefore ended their search for one.

Of major importance is the fact that GEJ has demonstrated in just nine months that he understands the true meaning of political leadership. His practical demonstration of this fact is the tens of thousand of new jobs created through the resuscitation of several moribund industries such as textile and leather. The Jonathan led administration has also reinvigorated the entertainment industry, which will help to create more jobs and wealth for Nigerians in the sector. Through the instrumentality of AMCON, the nation’s banking sector has been stabilized. There is now growing confidence among local and foreign investors.

With a very fast growing population, the nation’s dwindling resource base was becoming a huge threat to the survival of the country. As a practical response to this looming danger, the Jonathan led administration launched into diversifying the nation’s economy. More River Basins were set up to promote commercial agriculture. The solid mineral sector too received massive boost from the federal government. A gas revolution master plan was launched recently to position Nigeria as a major gas-producing hub. This is in addition to the fact that peace has returned to the Niger Delta region. Nigeria is now able to meet her OPEC production mandate. This has translated into improved foreign exchange earnings.

It is pertinent to note that many Nigerians have come to the conclusion that good leadership is not about talking tough or the show of physical strength. No wonder, President Barrack once argued that nations need strong institutions- not strong leaders. As a strong institution, INEC has been able to stabilize the polity. Obama is right! It is only in a dictatorship that the junta will need to be strong.

President Jonathan is calm but strong-willed. He is humble but focused. As confirmed by even his bitter critics, GEJ is gentle but time conscious. He may actually appear weak to many. Jonathan is strong inside- especially when defending the interests of the people.

Another factor that has endeared Jonathan to many Nigerians is his deep belief in One Nigeria. While he believes in God, he has not turned himself into a religious fanatic. He has always seen himself as a Nigerian- not a Niger Deltan. This is why he has never reminded Nigerians that the bulk of the nation’s wealth comes from his native Niger Delta region. He is a detribalized man. What else do Nigerians want from their president?

It is a fact that many Nigerians are pained by the inability of the PDP led federal government to address some critical issues that have made the country not to be able to grow to the height expected of her. For this reason, many have asked for “change.” Frankly, Jonathan represents the true “change” Nigerians need. Power generation has improved significantly, federal roads are being rehabilitated, the moribund rail transport system is being revived, long queues have vanished at filling stations across the country, and more Nigerian youths have been offered cheaper access to tertiary education. More importantly, incidents of corruption in government business have reduced significantly. With the achievements recorded by Jega, it is believed that the chairperson of the EFCC, Farida Waziri will be challenged to redouble her efforts or be shown the way out.

Though many see him as weak, Jonathan has succeeded in successfully waging a war against the many enemies of Nigeria in and outside the PDP. There is no doubting the fact that the enemies of Nigeria are in all the political parties including the ACN, CPC, ANPP, and LP etc. President Jonathan is “a bird in hand.” Since we have seen his dance steps, let us not look far. He can lead Nigeria out of the woods.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dangers of Tribal Coated Politics in the north

Truth is bitter but it must be said in the interest of Nigeria. The Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) is threatening the unity of Nigeria by reinventing tribalism in the nation’s politics. In all cases, it is the minorities that suffer the brunt of tribalism. This was the reason why the late Major Isaac Adaka Boro took up arms to attempt liberating the minority Ijaw ethnic tribe in 1966. It is also true that the unfortunate Nigeria Civil War of 1967 to 1970, where over five hundred thousand people lost their lives was mostly fuelled by tribal sentiments. More than forty years after, many families and communities from both divides of the strife have not been able to recover from the consequences of the war.

Painfully, the Adamu Chiroma-led NPLF is returning Nigeria to the pre-civil war era with its bitter pro-north campaigns. With due respect to PDP’s zonal arrangement, it will be unfair to ask Goodluck Jonathan not to step into his boss’ shoes. This will make the presidency appear to be a false bond.

The Niger Delta people will definitely not find it funny if the NPLF succeeds in coercing the north to vote against Goodluck Jonathan during the April presidential polls. It will help to confirm the fears in many quarters that the northern military and political leaders are only interested in the mineral wealth of the Niger Delta region.

Jonathan has demonstrated in just nine months that he is capable of leading Nigeria out of the woods. There is now an unprecedented peace in the Niger Delta region. This has led to optimum oil production and export, thereby improving the nation’s foreign exchange earnings. For the first time in many decades, the price of fuel has remained uniform in all parts of the federation. A big feat indeed! Critical moribund industries and sectors have been revived through deliberate fiscal policies. The all-important power sector has improved drastically over the last six months. The full implementation of the power sector roadmap will see Nigeria overcome electricity problem in the very near future.

In addition, the nation’s mono economy is being diversified through deliberate efforts that have led to attracting DFIs. There are massive investments in the solid mineral and informal sectors. Only recently, the federal government kick-started the revitalization of the moribund rail transport infrastructure to stimulate easy and cheaper movement of goods and people across the country.

The banking sector has been stabilized through the AMCON legislation. This has helped to boost local and foreign investor confidence in Nigerian banks. With the establishment of six new federal universities, more Nigerian youths are now offered opportunities to secure tertiary education. The foundational action to help fight poverty, ignorance, and crime is the spread of educational opportunities among the youth populace. This is the reason why the planned effort by the present administration to deploy a special educational programme for the almijiris in the north is very commendable. It will not only fight ignorance and reduce poverty; the special educational programme will change the face of political development in the north. This is one reason why some northern elites are fighting Jonathan. They want to continue exploiting the largely ignorant populace for their parochial gains.

Unknown to many, one of NPLF’s major grudge against Jonathan is the latter’s choice of Architect Namadi Sambo as vice president. Right from the onset, Sambo has shown that he is not a fan of “Two Nigerias.” The NPLF would have preferred a northern vice president that will be in Aso Rock to pursue the interests of a few northern elites. The average northerner is now wise enough to read the handwriting clearly on the wall and has decided to jettison the “old order” that had previously confined them to the dustbins of their few selfish elites in the corridors of power.

It should gladden the heart of every true northerner that the Jonathan- led administration has resuscitated the moribund textile and leather industries in the north. This is what dozens of northern military and political leaders refused to do. Who then is the true enemy of the north?

President Jonathan has directed that oil exploration activities in the north that was abandoned many years back be restarted. More River Basin Authorities and dams are being developed to promote commercial agriculture in the north. Furthermore, President Jonathan has sent an executive bill to the National Assembly seeking to establish the Hydro-Electric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPADEC) to cater for the needs of the host communities of Nigeria’s hydro power plants just like the NDDC is doing for the oil producing communities in the Niger Delta region. Furthermore, dredging of the River Niger is a top priority of the Jonathan administration. This project is geared towards promoting economic and commercial activities in the north through the citing of a port in Lokoja. Northern voters should ignore the self-serving antics of the apostles of tribalism and vote for candidates that have their interests in mind.

Above all, Jonathan has demonstrated that he is a leader Nigeria desires. He was not born rich. Through hardwork, patience, and luck; Jonathan was able to rise from nothing to something. His story is that of hope. Jonathan has given hope to more Nigerian youths than ever before. Those who know him can attest to the fact that he is humble and gentle. That accounts for why he has “no enemies to fight.” Everybody is his friend. This is how leadership should be.

For those nursing anti-Jonathan sentiments because of his close relationship with former president Obasanjo, I want to note that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is a true Nigerian. Take him for what he is- not for where he is coming from. The difference between Jonathan and the rest is that the Bayelsa-born president of the federal republic of Nigeria does not believe he knows all. That is the reason why he is succeeding. He has decided to engage and believe in the abilities of tested professionals.

Let Nigerians give GEJ an opportunity. He will deliver because he knows where he is coming from.

Monday, April 4, 2011


There is no doubt that up Until January 2011, a larger percentage of the Nigerian population had lost hope in the Nigerian electoral system. It took a lot of persuasions and reassurances for Nigerians to develop some faith in the Attahiru Jega-led INEC. Furthermore, President Goodluck Jonathan's "One-Man-One-Vote" campaign also played a major role in changing the mindset of Nigerians about electoral umpires. It is assumed that only the highest bidder can win elections in Nigeria. In most cases, the incumbents have access to cheap funds to compromise electoral officers. This negative political culture has mostly reduced the important place of the electorates in the democratic landscape. Instead of playing a determining role, the electorates are treated as inconsequential elements. This is glaringly against acceptable democratic practices.

Democracy is all about offering quality political leadership. Without the electorates, the quality of political leadership would be abysmal. This is the reason why problems of political apathy are usually given serious attention in modern societies. It is believed that the fear of the power of voters is responsible for the high quality of political leadership in Europe, Canada, and the United States. If our political leaders must perform, votes would have to count so as to put our political leaders on their toes. Not just that, the war against graft must be taken to the bedrooms of every person living above his or her income. Without this, let us forget about democracy.

As an individual, I have respect for Attahiru Jega. This is based on the much I know about him. It was for this reason that when some hitches were experienced during the voter registration exercise, I called for calm. It must be remembered that millions of Nigerians refused to come out to register simply because of what happened in the first few days of the registration exercise. They rushed to the conclusion that nothing has changed despite all the assurances from Jega. It will be difficult to blame them. A hitch free registration exercise would have changed their deep-rooted perception of electoral umpires in Nigeria. Jega and his commissioners blew this golden chance.

The unfortunate postponement of the 2011 elections from 2nd April to 9th April will further swell the ranks of Nigerians that have been consumed by the political virus called "apathy." This is not good for our democracy. It will take days, weeks, months, years, and probably decades, to win back the millions of Nigerians lost to "apathy" due to the shocking postponement of the 2011 elections.

Following the hitches that nearly marred the voter registration exercise in January, Attahiru Jega quickly pointed accusing fingers at some "Vendors." He has again fingered these faceless "Vendors" for being responsible for the late arrival of ballot papers when we have more than enough aircrafts in the country and elsewhere to deliver on time. The truth is that, Jega was not on top of the situation. You cannot place the future of a country on the heads of some faceless “Vendors” without carrying out an oversight function. If he had done so, planes would have been dispatched from Nigeria to fly in those ballot papers from whatever destination they were printed. It is very sad that Jega allowed a dog- "Vendors" to bite him the second time. This shows clearly that he is not proactive.

It is right to argue that there was actually no need why Nigeria should print her ballot papers abroad. We are only over exaggerating our incompetence. With the new electoral laws, it will be impossible for any political party to rig the elections even if the result sheets were in the hands of any of the political parties. What is important is for all political parties to send their agents to all the polling booths to witness and endorse the result sheets and retain their copies for comparison with what INEC will announce. In actual fact, the success of the elections lies on INEC officials- not the political parties.

In several cases, it is proved that INEC officials connive with political parties to distort results. One way to discourage this is impose heavy sanctions on INEC officials were election results were tampered with. With the new electoral guidelines; even if INEC officials collude with politicians to change election results at the collation centres, voters who witnessed the declaration and pasting of results at the polling booth can testify to this fact at election tribunals. For this and other reasons, there is no reason why billions of Naira should be wasted to print our ballot papers overseas.