Akintokunbo Adejumo

Akintokunbo Adejumo

Akintokunbo Adejumo, M Sc.,CIHM, MCMI, FITP, MIH, a social and political commentator on Nigerian issues, lives and works in London, UK as a housing professional. He is a graduate of the University of Ibadan, Nigeria (1979) and University of Manitoba, Canada (1985). He is also the Coordinator of CHAMPIONS FOR NIGERIA, an organisation devoted to celebrating genuine progress, excellence, commitment, selfless and unalloyed service to Nigeria and the people of Nigeria

Sunday, 29 October 2017 19:25

The Real World of Nigerians.

The Real World Nigerians Live In.

Sometimes I imagine myself as an alien; a being from outer space, visiting Earth incognito, and the first country I landed in in my spaceship was a country called Nigeria, and after a few decades living among them, concluded that it is an interesting yet confounding and hazardous country where they have enough but whose greedy and selfish people (leaders and followers) ensure that nobody, not even those selfish and greedy amongst them, ever have enough. It is a conundrum to the alien, who can never understand why a people can be so self-destructive, self-flagellating, self-deprecating, indolent, gullible, and helpless as to allow such poverty and hopelessness amongst their teeming population.

Conclusion? Nigeria, as we know it now, is a dysfunctional country; a country of endless possibilities and impossibilities. A land and a people struggling perceptibly very hard against itself to develop to its full potential. A people so used to, and conditioned to abnormalities, that normality, to them, is now abnormal. A crazy country of near-crazy people, leaders, and followers alike. I don't understand it, even as one of them.

The alien in me wonders why these hapless Nigerians are marching towards their doom, unseeing, unhearing, silent yet very vocal, religiously, and ethnically fractious and divided. They are like lambs to the slaughter, held by nose-rings by their over-paid, over-worshiped, over-valued, over-pampered and corrupt leaders, who have never proven themselves worthy of leadership and take everything from the people but hardly return anything to the people.

These political elites, comprised of all kinds of doubtful characters and supposedly brilliant ones, are killing us directly and indirectly with their corruption, lack of vison and focus, insensitivity, greed, selfishness and what not. We keep on saying "Olorun mu won", (God don catch them) but we are not doing anything much about it. OK, since Buhari came to power over two years ago, we keep hearing news of trillions of looted funds returned under cover willingly to avoid jail or exposure, and the daily revelation of corruption against so many past and present government officials and politicians, how many have been charged to court, not to talk of being convicted? Let three or four of them be jailed for 20 years and you will see a change. Some indicted public officers, who should be in jail by now have even been surreptitiously recalled back into service. And this by a government that came to power mainly because of its anti-corruption stance and campaign. Many indicted individuals are even now ministers, senators, and chairs of many agencies. Thar, she blows, me lubbers!!!!!!

Nigerians are sick and tired of reading about revelations and scandals; they want to be reading of convictions and jail sentences (if not a few executions by firing squad)

Our people also condone corruption, because of selfishness, religion, and ethnicity. That is another problem. And we celebrate wealth, especially ill-gotten wealth. The mentality of Nigerians is that if a man makes his wealth illegally, that man must be smarter than you, so you acquiesce to him and adore him.

The Real World of Nigerians is where the non-corrupt are considered foolish; where mediocrity, indolence, and corruption, are rewarded while merit, honesty and hard-work are ignored and even punished sometimes; where those in power build private schools, and ignore the public schools they all attended free of charge while growing up; where their own children do not attend such schools but rather attend the best schools around the world.

Nigeria is where the medical consultant will check you medically in general hospitals but prefer to treat you at his or her private hospital; a country where you think it is your family's turn to bite from the national cake as soon as you are appointed to a public position.

It is the same country where government officials preferred to spend Dollars or Pounds within Nigeria because it is easy to carry on than heavy useless Naira, and of course confers more status on them than if they carry the Naira. Our country that the church members cannot afford to pay the tuition fees of the same school their General Overseer used their contributed money and tithes to build.

Corruption is endemic in every facets and areas of endeavour of our country. Need I keep saying that?

In Brazil, the President was impeached recently, so was South Korea; the so called Big Boys (politicians) going to jail, people condemning corrupt ex- and present rulers. This is the same process everywhere around the world. The problem in Nigeria is that we don't condemn these set of men of dubious characters and integrity; we keep celebrating them, even giving them inane nicknames (Okanlomo, Oshokomale, and all kinds of nicknames that don't sound right to sane ears, especially in the South West and South East). I feel sorry for Nigeria - this country is drowning gradually. These guys have a large percentage of Nigeria's money with them.

War on corruption is a collective responsibility of us all. In fairness, it was Obasanjo who laid the foundation to fight corruption by really and consciously establishing the EFCC and the ICPC; let us build on it. Our legal and judicial system is corrupt too. President Buhari came to power on the back of anti-corruption and a reputation from his military rule as a disciplined man, but nepotism, favouritism, regionalism, and cabalistic suffusion seems to be derailing the good reputation and the anti-corruption war.

The Nigerian Corrupt or the Corrupt Nigerian have enough money stolen and salted away and can hire assassins to eliminate whoever crosses their way. They fight back viciously and murderously to protect what they have looted.

The problem of our society is elite based. The elite creates diversionary scenes; the Media took the baits; gullible Nigerians pick on the bones and our dogs bark at the wrong trees. Ignorance and laziness has reduced majority to point of dullness. We can hardly deduce or figure out issues with our senses. What have been long regarded as abnormal in our communal society are now so normal that we now regard normality as an aberration and abnormality and abnormalities are now endemically and consciously accepted as norm.

The rivalry among our ex-military men and some of their collaborators is another thing that is tearing us apart and very destructive to the lives of all Nigerians, especially our youths. The Nigerian civil war, it was them; June 12th, it was them; our present-day Constitution, it was them; Halliburton scandal, it was them; the corrupt life and style of Nigerians today, it is them. These men and their collaborators are living in opulent wealth while the rest of the population live in abject poverty. They have taken Nigerians as hostages and we look at them helplessly and haplessly while we beckon unto God and pray our way out of this imbroglio. The real enemies of Nigerians and Nigeria are Nigerians...!!!!!

It is clear to most Nigerians now that our Senate, House of Representative and House of Assembly members are simply a bunch of self-serving felons. They have even turned themselves into the Judiciary by calling for unfreezing of accounts frozen by the EFCC, and have tried on many occasions to usurp the powers of the Executive. They do not even know their roles, responsibilities and functions as dictated by the Constitution they swore to uphold. They are all over the place to cover their own criminal and illegal activities.

What can be done practically to remove and replace these crooks should now be our focus. To expect thieves and criminals to cleanse themselves and to change their ways is never going to work and we can moan and groan all we like, they will never ever change since they believe that they are untouchable.

The Nigerian constitution includes a provision for the power of recall by constituents. Should every single constituency not have an active body organising such recall? When these dis-Honourable "Sinators" and "Legislooters" see their colleagues being recalled one by one, then they will sit up and will be forced to serve the people that placed them in such plum positions to start with.

Revolutions need not be bloody; they can be attained by using existing powers in different ways.

Tell the Truth always!!!!

The African and Power; Power and The African.

Proverbs. 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.

I am neither a psychologist nor an anthropologist, but my over sixty years of living with my people, studying them and researching them have led me to many conclusions about them. Of course, I may be wrong in my assumptions and hypotheses, since they are not backed by scientific facts and data, but nevertheless, these are my conclusions, based on objective observations and analyses.  They are by no means cast in stone nor do I claim to have a monopoly of knowledge or righteousness.

At a rudimentary level, leaders need power. They need the power to influence, to develop, and to enable and impact people, the society and the environment. These are fundamental to making things happen, and therefore to the ability to do the job of a leader. However, this isn't the same as having authority and rank. Indeed, some of the most powerful leadership can arise when these things are deliberately surrendered. The leader's power should always be a means to an end, with the 'end' being the achievement of worthwhile outcomes for the greater good in and of the larger society. In politics and in a democracy, the leader's power always come from the people who voted him/her in. He/she must be accountable and responsible to the people.

In government, the term authority is often used interchangeably with power. However, their meanings differ: while power is defined as "the ability to influence somebody to do something that he/she would not have done", authority refers to a claim of legitimacy, the justification and right to exercise that power (Wikipedia)

The problem is that in Africa, we have, intentionally or unwittingly, confused power with authority, and those who wield power do not know the reason they have the power, and what they should do with it. In a way, I have some pity for them, for they do not know what they do or are doing (paraphrasing Our Lord Jesus Christ). Our rulers and so-called leaders therefore misuse, abuse and misinterpret both power and authority, because of their ignorance of what these mean and represent. It is the story of our lives as Africans and Nigerians. It is a cultural problem.

I consider myself to be a respectful African, Nigerian and Yoruba; always respect my elders, as our culture and ethics demand. I also love my culture, and I am proud of it. I engage and prosper in my African-ness and its cultural attachments.

But we have too much respect for, and defer too much to, our elders, but a lot of those elders have become degenerate and decadent and do not reciprocate. Respect goes both ways, as I have come to learn. Our elders think they are the wisest, smartest, have monopoly of knowledge, and they are the only ones that can run anything. And unfortunately, we let them think so, let them run things, and thereby let them ruin things, including our lives, our environment, and our very survival as a people. We never challenge them or resist them. Hence, they are always there riding roughshod over us, never letting go, and reminding us at any sign of insubordination, that that they are older, and hence wiser, than us. That's number One.

Number two is that Africans love and worship power so much that we never want to leave it, or feel insecure to leave it. To voluntarily relinquish power is anathema to our culture, I suppose, and this is exemplified in our politics and government. The bulk of Dictators who have stay very long as Presidents is in Africa. (Please don't think I am saying other cultures do not; they do, but what they do with it, we can all see). We enjoy it; we use it to perpetrate all kinds of evil on our fellow Africans, and use power to acquire wealth, position, status, etc. We use it for personal aggrandisement, personal acquisition of wealth and property, or to benefit our immediate family and circle of friends only. Who'd want to leave that? We prefer and want to die in power because we are afraid of being forgotten despite the fact we never leave any legacy. It's a cultural thing.

Thirdly, Africans will do anything to acquire or get to power; a power that he/she doesn't even understand. He/she will kill for it, but will not die for it. Then when he/she gets the power, he/she doesn't know what to do with it, except oppress his fellow Africans; except abuse power and authority; except steal money; etc. They forget easily their previous humble background and the mentality is that "I have suffered enough; it is now my turn to enjoy". They turn their back on their childhood friends, family and the society. They build prison walls around themselves and become pompous, selfish, greedier, and insensitive.

Fourth, the African in power thinks he's a god; a mini-god. Some even think they are immortal and untouchable by death and the vagaries of earthly existence. They never think that death can come anytime, despite their ill-gotten wealth and their sins against humanity and their people, and that somehow, they must pay for their crimes and Nemesis must catch up with them. Give an African a uniform (soldier, police, civil defence, customs, immigration, prisons, traffic warden, Man o'War, and even Boys Scout), and he becomes a scourge of his people, strutting on the street with his/her starched uniform, and when you give him/her a gun in addition, then he/she becomes the giver of life or death  – he/she becomes obstinate and tyrannical, oppresses them, and uses his/her position to acquire wealth and properties and other luxuries of life with the macabre belief that he/she is now immune from poverty, diseases, mortality and the sufferings of the world. Our daily lives and society are replete with examples.

Finally, it is very rare that Africans use their wealth and power, as well as knowledge, education, skills, etc. for the benefit and welfare of the general society, instead we use all these to ensure our fellow people do not rise to be at the same level with us or above us, and therefore despite many rich Africans in and out of the continent, you will find very few philanthropists of African descent. In fact, the educated African is very dangerous to the health and welfare of his fellow, less educated Africans. Education, especially Western, is used to subjugate the people; to dupe them, to fool them and to steal from them. For Islamic education, it is the same, and has created feudalism in many parts of Africa; only the Islamic scholars can interpret the Koran and they know how to use it to blindfold their followers.

The youths talking today will become elders tomorrow, and see how/what they will turn out to be. We are already seeing them reverting to type. It is a cultural thing; a cultural malaise. You need examples?  Again, the society and the polity are replete with them.

The intent of leadership holding certain power, coupled with authority, is to deliver worthwhile outcomes for the greater good, and in the pursuit of a vision of a better tomorrow. The application of power should be supportive to that intent. It isn't about winning, or scoring points, or pulling rank, or gaining personal benefit. As with all aspects of contemporary leadership, it's not about you (the leader), but about everybody else, from customers, to colleagues, to followers, to the public and to the society.

A leader's power should always be used for good. And that is not what we are having in many parts of the African continent. The good is not always being the aim of our leaders.

The burden lies in the people and the society also, attributable to our culture and traditional ways of doing things, of revering anybody that rears their head as a leader or ruler; probably poverty of materials and the mind, and maybe a dose of the effect of colonialism and the slave trade, and added ignorance, illiteracy and primordiality.

Telling the Truth always!!!

Negative energy can be found almost everywhere. Negative energy is a concept used in Physics to explain the nature of certain fields, including the gravitational field and various quantum field effects, but I have tried to adapt it to our situation in Nigeria. There are people complaining about life constantly, practicing bad habits and bringing you down. The emotions they spread influence your thoughts and actions in a bad way so avoiding the sources of negative energy is obligatory if you want to be more successful.

Everyone can be easily affected by negative emotions and the only exceptions are people who learned how to deal with it.

Nigerians are fond of (and seem to enjoy) embarking and wasting our energies on misplaced, unfocused priorities; waste of brains, energies, time, resources, efforts, intelligence, endeavours, etc on mundane, futile, unworthy, and unproductive issues.

Why would we waste energy on marching on Abuja demanding to see a sick President; or a counter-march supporting a sick President? Why am I debating Olubadan issue when there doesn’t seem to be any benefit in it in terms of real and weighable development for Ibadan people on the street, and the politicians seem to have their own agenda forced down everybody’s throats? And why should it bother me that the Governor who introduced this seems to be embarking on such a perilous and unpopular activity?

Shouldn’t it be time to redirect the war against ignorance, corruption, poverty, diseases, and the ilk? Our energies must be redirected to match the Koreans, Japanese and Chinese of our world. Enough of these negative energies!!!

a. The Earth (including Nigeria) was created for development.

b. People were created to develop themselves and environment to have a meaningful life.

c. Leaders/governments are wise people who should understand and work towards achievement of (a) & (b) above. But this is not yet understood by our leaders.

d. The Equipment to achieve this is education/knowledge.

e. The best way to transfer knowledge and values is through visions, stories, articles, literature etc

f. This is on the mental plane.

g.  You can only transfer knowledge that is well thought out, organized, and designed for practical implementation/execution, otherwise it is useless.

Since the above are missing in Nigeria, the people are unfocused and become social cannibals destroying one another through unhealthy competition. Hate, strife, looting, embezzlement, selfishness, greed, insensitivity to the plight of one’s fellow man/woman, and destruction become the order of the day.

For progress, we need well-articulated thoughts that produce visions to give direction to our energetic masses. Directed energies will eliminate fear that comes from idle minds and bodies. This is the way to peace and positive development.

According to Oskar Nowik, an author and blogger, these are the ways that positive people handle negativity:

1. They create happiness from within.

2. They practice positive thinking.

3. They look for reasons to believe in themselves.

4. They cut off negative people.

5. They train regularly.

6. They spend time in the nature.

7. They avoid impulsive spending.

8. They accept failure.

9. They take full responsibility.

10. They learn to control their thoughts.

11. They devote some time to relax.

12. They believe there’s always a solution.

13. They know when to say no.

14. They don’t look for anyone’s approval.

Perhaps these are thing both leaders and followers in Nigeria should adapt and adopt. The problem with Nigerians is that we never accept our faults or responsibilities. We always blame someone for our mistakes or culpability.

We forget history so soon. 

Tuesday, 03 October 2017 21:50

The Dilemma of Nigerian Restructuring!

APOLOGIES and ACKNOWLEDGMENT: In writing this article, I trawled through the social media seeking the comments, reactions, ideas, etc. of my people, Nigerians. I took the liberty of using some of their opinions, ideas and reactions freely without making their names public. Hence if you feel you have read this or that sentence before, and you think that somebody else wrote or said it, that is the reason. My own contribution to the article, however, is about 75%. Thank you.

So, after much talk and thoughtful resolutions the power structures of Nigeria are rethinking about how to restructure Nigeria? Even APC Party, the PDP party, the Afenifere (both old and new), the Redeemed Christian Church of God, and Kanu of Biafra separationist group, etc are not left out.

What then is the meaning of restructuring for Nigeria? ls it economic, or political, or fiscal, sociological or these or some? We are yet to see. Governance has been one of our major setbacks as a nation, so to whose benefit will Restructuring be – the Federal Government, the states or the proposed regions, the ethnic components, the politicians or the 170 million Nigerians?

It is instructive the political leaders of the first Republic spent a lot of time deliberating on the type of structures that Nigeria deserved before agreeing on a Federation based on Parliament and Regional government. The military leaders post Nigerian civil war as complainants and judges dictatorially and unilaterally bequeathed to us an American system, which, with the benefit of hindsight, is completely at variance with our economic ability, history, and culture. The Constitution of Nigeria, as we currently operate it, is even at variance with the American Constitution from an economic and political view point. So what kind of restructuring do we need to give more economic latitude to the Regions or is it the States? To healthily compete once again as they did between 1955 and 1966.

How can restructuring, whether of structure, resources or functions guarantee transparency and assure good governance? As usual Nigerians are looking at ideas, rather than hard work, to get them out of self-induced trouble. It's never worked and never will!!

I believe in a well-conceived, well-debated, well-structured, well-articulated and well-implemented Restructuring (i.e. a kind of reformation or re-arrangement) be it of structures or of function, but such cannot exclude hard work, sincerity of purpose, a truly and sincerely patriotic set of motivational and inspiring leaders and good governance. Again, there won't be so much clamour for restructuring in the first place if the system we have on ground now delivers good governance imbued in the rule of law. Any structure that we are going to re-erect should internalise transparency and accountability which will engender integrity and all those things that set a country apart as pursuing the right vision within the comity of nations. We absolutely need "mental restructuring" in that to a high degree of rewiring our mentality in the way we see religion, ethnicity, wealth without hard work, looting, disrespect for one another, disrespect for people in work seen by society as menial; all those effects that interfere with our progress as a nation.

When the mantra on every mouth in Nigeria was that all that we needed to make public sector industry work was to privatise it. So, we privatised NEPA; but has it worked? Our problems of constant electricity deepened and got worse.

Chief Awolowo excelled when we had regions. He excelled when he served in a Federal structure. And if Nigerians had had the common-sense of giving the late sage the mantle of leadership at the centre, I have no doubt that he would excel.

Eventually, we may fiddle with the Constitution and "restructure", and when the problems persist, since Nigerians will not restructure their heads, I wonder what else we will start shouting as panacea and silver bullet to lance all ills.

The word Restructuring has become a mere sloganeering by the very vocal but partisan Nigerian political jobbers. Ask the proponents of restructuring to articulate their slogan, and confusion of multiples of irreconcilable definitions will pervade our atmosphere.

Change begins with me; Change begins with you, from individuals to family and socio-cultural levels. The Bible says, as you think in your heart, so are you. (Prov. 23:7). Nigerians aren't going to see change as a country externally until individual segments of our society change internally. People typically respond to tough circumstances and situations by blaming someone or something else. It's the colour of my skin, it's because l am a Southerner. It's the Hausa-Fulani mistreating or marginalising us etc. It's always someone else's fault. Lagos has demonstrated and keep demonstrating how to start changing things internally and translate it into external change. The effective tax regime in Lagos has now become a template for tax policy at the Federal level. Today, the managers and operators of tax reform in Lagos State are now hired to reform and operate the Federal tax policies. Did Lagos call it restructuring? No!! They've never even heard the word.

Whatever is growing in the garden of our life is what we have planted or allowed to be planted in our heart. Same in the life of a nation. Before we can really see change as a nation and as a region we must abandon giving excuses and blaming anybody and everybody else for what is wrong in our life as a nation. Asiwaju Tinubu, no matter the way we look at him, took the bull by the horn and was not giving excuses but confronted the Federal Government (then of Obasanjo) headlong with all legal power mixed with ingenuity in governance and pulled Lagos State out of economic strangulation devised by the Federal Government.

Experience have shown that the difference between the poor and rich nations is not the age of the nation. This can be demonstrated by countries like India and Egypt, which are more than 2000 years old and are still poor countries.

On the other hand,Australia and New Zealand, which 150 years back were insignificant, today are developed and rich countries. The difference between the poor and rich nation does not also depend on the available natural resources but on their "attitude, education and culture".

Nigeria can proudly compete well and above its peers in the education sector given the numbers of educated and educationists in her area; but could we claim same on our attitude and culture?

Japan has limited territory, 80% mountainous, unsuitable for agriculture or farming, but it is the third in the World's economy. The country is like an immense floating factory, importing raw materials from the whole world and exporting manufactured products.

Another example is Switzerland, they don't grow Cocoa but produces the best chocolates in the world. In her small territory, she rears animals and cultivates the land only for four months in a year, nevertheless manufactures the best milk products. A small country which is an image of security which has made it the strongest world bank.

The racial or colour factors also do not exhibit any importance: migrants heavy in laziness in their countries of origin are forcefully productive in rich European countries, in adaptation to the host country's attitude and culture. We see it every day on the streets of New York and London and Paris, where highly educated Africans do not mind sweeping the streets or working in an abattoir in exchange for good income and a better life from whence they originated.

What then is the difference?

The difference is the *attitude* of the people, moulded for many years by *education and culture*.

When the conduct of the people from the rich and developed countries is analysed, it is observed that a majority abide by the following principles of life:

1. Ethics, as basic principles.

2.  Integrity.

3. Responsibility.

4. The respect for Laws and Order, Rule of Law, and if you permit me to say, Constituted Authority, etc.

5. The respect from and for ALL citizens by right.

6. The love for work, honest hard toil.

7. The effort to save and invest.

8. The will to be productive.

9.  Reliability, and lastly

10. Good governance.

Of course, the list above is by no means exhaustive.

In the poor countries, it is observed that only a small minority follow these basic principles in their daily life.

We are not poor because we lack natural resources or because nature was cruel towards us. We are poor because we lack attitude; we lack the will to follow and teach these principles of working of rich and developed societies. WE are in this state because we want to take advantage over everything and over everyone. WE are in this state because we see something done wrong and refuse to ask questions, we usually say - "LET IT BE". We should have a spirited memory and develop positive attitude.

Yes, there is a great need for Restructuring in Nigeria: political, regional, moral, economic, cultural, fiscal, call it what you will. But the problem is:  How can we restructure the Mind when the system that corrupts and aberrates our Mind is there and fully ensconced in power and authority? Corrupt and morally bankrupt political and government leaders? A thoroughly crooked and lazy, unmotivated civil service? Compromised traditional rulers? Corrupt and unashamed parents? Dishonest youth and student leaders? Clueless and easily-corrupted labour leaders? Unscrupulous business leaders?

I am waiting for that Miracle!!!!"

Restructuring is not about reckless access to regional or state wealth. It's not about balkanisation; restructuring should means accountability - more responsibility for states, more responsibility for local governments, more responsibility for state governors and for local council chairmen, and less responsibility for the Federal Government and less control of governance and government.

Now are we (both the rulers and the governed) all ready for the additional responsibilities?

Of state police, federal roads passed to state control? Some federal prisons passed on to state control?  Some federal parastatals decentralized and passed on to state control? Federal hospitals passed on to state control? And funds generated on each state being used solely by that state but with federal tax being paid at source and unfailingly?

Are we ready for restructuring and for the responsibility? Are we really? After Lagos State, is there any other state in Nigeria that is ready for this restructuring?

Finally, and I must quote my brother, Eric Ayoola "We should approach restructuring with an open and diverse mind. It is necessary in as much as change is necessary but it is not and will never be that panacea for all the evils and problems of the country as some people so naively believe. So, as I stated earlier, we should expect less centralisation by and in Abuja and more responsibility to be held by states. We would want to see more control of state resources by states but with that comes greater responsibility of ensuring remittance either by way of direct taxation or actual transfer of funds to the centre.  And above all, comes the hard part: behaving responsibly and managing responsibly by those in power and positions of authority at state and local level. Some people seem to believe, quite childishly, that "Restructuring " will simply materialise and create responsible leadership amongst people where such attribute has been in such short supply. Such tomfoolery I have never seen in my life".

I have no doubt that, as it is, considering the fractious situation that we are in, the way forward for any meaningful development requires some form of restructuring. My doubt is the motive, the agenda and altruism of some of the people screaming for it, from all sides of the fence.

My reservation is also that of those that may be put in charge or involved in this very delicate political design and implementation. Is it the current crop of politicians who have been misleading for the past five decades that we will entrust with this operational adjustment and hence the future of the country and our unborn generation?

Tell the Truth Always!!!!

 

Sunday, 17 September 2017 19:07

The Travesty of Public Appointments in Nigeria

“Prof. (Ishaq) Oloyede of JAMB has remitted 5billion to government early in August and yesterday announced another 3billion is ready to be remitted this week making it 8billion. The Finance minister made this announcement and some of us may have seen it. In 40 years of JAMB no kobo has ever been remitted to government.

Interestingly, Oloyede, (a former Vice - Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, before his appointment as the current Registrar and Chief Executive of Nigeria's Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) has neither increased fees nor changed anything else really. I know he is trying to clean up JAMB through the various activities being announced.

The FEC (if you like say Buhari) has now directed they must bring all the formers heads of JAMB immediately to come and explain what happened during their time. There are still honest people in Nigeria. Does it mean they have been sharing such monies? How many people share it? How come not a single person in JAMB blew any whistle on this in the last 20 years for example?

*Our country must certainly have some of the most wicked citizens in the world*”

The above was sent to me by a friend, a Professor, who is on the same WhatsApp group as myself. Please see the germane questions asked? This is our country for you. Yes, indeed, Nigeria must have the most evil and wicked people in governance and in the larger society in the world.

I have many times written about this unfortunate and debilitating phenomenon, which perhaps is unique to Nigeria, that men and women will be appointed to be Director-Generals, Chairmen/women, Directors, Chief Executive, Executive Secretaries, Permanent Secretaries, Comptroller-Generals of this or that agency, etc to head both public and government institutions, agencies, departments and after a few years, these unscrupulous and corrupt people retire, or in many cases, forced to retire or resign, and the next thing you hear and know about them is that they are very rich; that they have built these many mansions or that in Abuja or their hometowns; that they have ventured into large scale farming; that they have bought a small plane; they have built a church or mosque for their communities and so on. Some even go into politics to offload some of their loot and flex some muscles on the same unfortunate populace they have stolen from.

The travesty of the situation is often lost on our people who adulate these people. We never bother to think to ask ourselves - and them too - how can someone on a salary (and even with certain expenses) afford such lucre and ability to live beyond their means? Nobody ever have the courage to come out and speak and condemn these evil, hypocritical parasites and leeches who have been looting this country from their dingy offices, while putting on the facade of service and sincerity to the public and to their employers.

I have often met people like them, in Nigeria and abroad, who will come for one award (usually bought with their loot and/or worthless) or the other, with accolades heaped on them, and people from their town and tribe and religion fawning over them, while these common thieves will be exuding innocence and honesty, not minding the loot in their pockets.

They are the reasons why our River Basin Authorities are not working and making us self-sufficient in agriculture; why Nigerian Universities Commission is upside down; ineffective FADAMA and other agricultural projects; failed healthcare projects; moribund and grounded education initiatives, illegal mining of our mineral resources, etc. These people killed those government and public projects and initiatives with their wanton greed and selfishness.

And therefore, for the past forty years or so, when I finally realise what a fraud and deception we run in this country, have never been impressed by CV’s as long as my arm containing all kind of spurious and dubious experiences, skills, abilities, positions occupied, degrees/diplomas and awards won or conferred upon, etc, and when I read or hear that such person has been appointed to this or that agency.

In all honesty, the fault is with the mediocre system we operate and the various types of rudderless governments and leaderships we have been unfortunate to have over the decades. This is because there is no altruism in the appointment of people into public and government offices and agencies. It is always because of nepotism, “man-know-man” or political compensation. Meritocracy is, most of the time, sacrificed for mediocrity and nepotism. In fact, in Nigeria, it is a rule of thumb that when appointed to a public office, it is to allow you to “chop”, and not only that, you must make returns to the authorities that appointed you, as well as those who lobbied for you to reach that position. As such, the running (or, we should call it, ruining) of the country have ended up, ninety-nine percent of the time, in putting square pegs in round holes. It is still happening. It never fails to happen. That is the way things have been and will continue to be for a long time. And if we continue to do things the way we have been doing it and we have not been getting the right results, we will continue to fail. The civil service, public offices and even in private industry is replete with examples.

Even in democratic elections, we fall foul of the rules of meritocracy and competence; abandoning our ideals and morals, and instead going for some of the most criminal and insane elements in the world to put into power at the expense of people who are ready to serve the country and bring sanity back into public appointments.

It is almost risible, if not for our dire and unfortunate situation. The hypocrite public appointee laughing all the way to the bank with money meant to be used to develop country and better the lives of our people; and the same people hailing him/her, extolling him/her, and seeing nothing wrong with the crime. It is a sick society we have here.

I was passing by the National Iron Ore Mining Company, Itakpe the other day, and like it always happens to me, I was abashed with frustrated emotion to see the abandoned light railway that was supposed to move goods, services, and people from Itakpe to Ajaokuta, and who knows, perhaps beyond that, and would have laid a more solid foundation for our railway development. Yet, some Nigerians, and of course, their foreign collaborators, are responsible for this mess and waste, and nobody has ever been investigated, indicted not to talk of being arrested, prosecuted, and jailed for this monumental fraud and theft perpetrated on a people. It is incredible!!! But then, can’t we list thousands of other cases of such frauds and monumental waste in this country?

The same questions asked at the opening of this article, and more, need to be addressed:

  • Does it mean they have been sharing such monies?
  • How many people shared it? Who are the people who shared it?
  • How come not a single person in JAMB blew any whistle on this in the last 20 years?
  • How come people are not blowing whistles on all the other public bodies over the last 30 years?

One thing I am very sure of is that there are millions of former and current public appointees and officials, whether in senior or junior capacities, who have benefited and are still benefitting their pockets with public money that belongs to ALL Nigerians.

Let’s dispense with the pretence and the delusion. We all know heads of parastatals, agencies and departments of government are appointed mainly for political compensation, to loot and to make returns to their nefarious and scheming godfathers. Also, to steal as much public funds as possible during their tenure in office either to enable them or their godfathers to run for political offices or simply to live comfortably and ensure the financial securities of their families and next generation. Thus, these lackeys go in there and their intent is already known, but nobody dare prevent them. Is that service? It’s an easy decision!!

We can all quote from moral sayings of great people from now to kingdom come, but the damage that these people have done to our physical and moral emancipation and to our psyche, mindset and attitude are not easily removable, and as we see, is being played out or passed on from one generation to the other. What hope do we then have?

I have seen some of these thieving hypocrites address the public and warn against corruption, while he is sitting in his office looting the treasure through one stroke of his red pen. It was all I could do to hold myself from shouting them down or stoning them.

So, what to do? The government of President Buhari has learnt something from the JAMB issues. He should extend it to ALL public offices and appointees stretching back for a long time, but my fear is that the resources to do this are not there, and paper trails and other financial records would have been destroyed by these thieves.

But something needs to be done to ensure that crime and corruption do not pay, even after 20, 30 or 40 years, and you cannot escape justice.

We simply cannot afford to continue to run ruin) this country this way!! Something must give, and it will not be a pretty sight when the bottom drops out.

Do not be deceived by these crooks and charlatans!!! They are not doing any public service but pocket service!!!

Telling the Truth always!!!

 

Thursday, 07 September 2017 21:12

Corrupt People Cannot/Do not Make Good Leaders!

This statement by the late great Madiba, Nelson Mandela, a true African son and only one of its kinds is what I consider the apt title to this piece. It is an obvious and incontrovertible fact!

Why we chose to notice and acknowledge it Nigeria is beyond me, because it is also an incontrovertible fact that most, if not all, our leaders are corrupt to the core. For me, I am yet to know a Nigerian leader since Independence who is or was not corrupt; and I am not limiting myself to the top leaders alone, but right from the top to the grassroots, i.e. local government, civil service, and even the private sector and businesses. Corruption is a curse on Nigerians. So if we go by Nelson Mandela’s statement above (and we must), then we should know we are in a real mess, and any meaningful development and progress in the country, which is hinged on having good leaders, is nought. It just won’t happen. Corrupt leaders are bad leaders.

There is a very urgent need for good leaders in Nigeria. Many places in Nigeria are deprived of many simple basic amenities. Still many people are not getting equal rights. Small people are being oppressed everywhere. There is no guarantee for our present and future generation for full education, employment, good public health and medical care, entrepreneurship, technological advancement, agricultural self-sufficiency and food security, security of life and property, etc. Our leaders are just giving care towards their family and not to those who put their trust, and indeed, lives, in their hands and elected them to serve them and make their lives better. Our leaders are only interested in self-service and service to the people.

A good leader gives the worth and strengths of his great experience. Yes, Nigeria needs good leaders to move this country full of potentials forward; leaders, not rulers, who are good by nature, attitude, and are sincere about the country's development; who have the interest of the people at heart all the time; who have conscience; who have passion for bettering lives; whose action is service first and himself/herself last, or even none at all.

We have been deluding ourselves that we can manage this corruption. If we want our country to be in the list of developed countries and progress well then it is the must for us to have good leaders. We all know the condition of our political system, many of the politicians are involved in criminal activities, they are corrupt, they just need wealth and power, bungalows, mansions, castles and cars, looting the treasury and carting the loot away to store in foreign countries; and they don't take care of the demands of the public. 

We need leaders who can look into the problems of the people and help in the solving their issues by their personal involvement, who can increase our trade with other countries, improve our foreign relations, and have a very good grasp of issues of good governance, economic improvement and technological development in a fast-moving world, international relations and all other areas of human endeavours and development.

I strongly believe we can find such leaders (the current youth? Forget it!) in our country who can use their power for the progress of our country and also influence other people in this regard to take some steps for the improvement of our society.

Yes, we need good leaders in Nigeria; that goes without saying. Corruption has dominated and warped our lives; every fabric of our society is corruption-ridden. It has affected even our psyche, thought processes, education, orientation and morals.  We need good leaders which push Nigeria in a good direction, which makes Nigeria corruption-free and bring back smiles to the faces of our impoverished and oppressed people. Leaders that will unite the peoples of this country, and not exploit religious and ethnic diversities; who will just not talk but have the ability to execute ideas.

We have potentially good and great leaders in Nigeria but they have been suppressed by the negative vibes of their bad colleagues as well as the demands and vagaries of the larger society. Nigeria is in dire need of good leaders to assume governance; to take the reins of steering this country towards its full potential as a nation of resources and opportunities. Politics plays an important role in the development of our country but our leaders are not working for the development of our country. Most of the people elected the leaders by taking some money from the parties and corrupt, desperate politicians.

To be the best leader (or at least, the good leaders we want) needs:

1. Those who will not fear of defeat because the purpose is to serve the country not to win the election or popularity competition.

2. High education is not mandatory but basis education to understand the country and it’s basic problems.

3. To do good always, whatever may be the impact.

4. To have in mind that money and power are not required, only will power.

5.  To be very much conversant with the problems of the country and that the country is getting down, not with bad and avaricious politicians, but that good and educated people are not daring to fight.

6. Encourage and motivate the young generation to join politics and to give a vision of a bright future to our coming generation. This can only be done by leading by example and creating genuine role models.

7. That good and honest persons are not expecting money from the people.

8. To let us know that our elected officials, through our votes that their present performance and our present condition are both unsatisfactory to us.

Yes! Nigeria needs good leaders, but it is increasingly looking impossible because of the desperate and evil politicians whose only focus is what they will take from government and the system, and only benefit their family and their status. They do not care about anything else, especially what they are in government for – to govern  with complete altruism and make life better for their people and the society at large.

There are three types of people in the politics.

1. Those who work with sincerity of purpose. (very rare in the present Nigeria)

2. Those that do not work at all and are there for the money and power only (majority of our politicians fall into this category)

3. Those that do not work honestly and create obstacle for those who are working with sincerity or intend to work with sincerity. (Again, majority of our politicians are in this category, and they are the most dangerous to our health, wealth and well-being)

Government does have a place in society and our elected officials must remember that they are there because we elected them.  Granted there are issues that surface of which we may not know all the information when decisions are made and this is understandable.  The problem is centred on the fact that the voice of the people is not always reflected in decisions made in the National Assembly and in some cases by the Presidency.  This is one of the main contributing factors contributing to the National Assembly of Nigeria and the President having such low approval ratings.

I am not condemning all elected officials for creating the perception of people versus the government.  There are good individuals on both sides of the island who have the best interest of the country in mind when they make decisions, but there doesn’t seem to be enough of them to make a difference in the way the public perceives the government. Our government should reflect the will of the people and too often this is not the case in Nigeria. What we notice are brazen corruption, nepotism, injustice, insensitivity to the plight of the people, impunity, and inequality.

Nigerians are fond of (and seem to enjoy) embarking and wasting our energies on misplaced, unfocused priorities; waste of brains, energies, resources, efforts, intelligence, etc on mundane, futile, unworthy, and unproductive issues.

Why would we waste energy on marching on Abuja demanding to see a sick President; or a counter-march supporting a sick President? Why am I debating Olubadan issue when there doesn’t seem to be any benefit in it in terms of real and weighable development for Ibadan people on the street, and the politicians seem to have their own agenda forced down everybody’s throats? And why is the Governor who is introducing this himself embarking on such a perilous and unpopular activity?

Shouldn’t it be time to redirect the war against ignorance, poverty, diseases, and the ilk. Our energies must be redirected to match the Koreans, Japanese and Chinese of our world. Enough of these negative energies!!!

a. The earth (like Nigeria) was created for development of the People.

b. People were created to develop themselves and environment to have meaningful lives and existence.

c. Leaders/governments are wise people who should understand and work towards achievement of (a) and (b) above. This is not understood by our current crop of so-called leaders yet.

d. Equipment, environment, and resources to achieve this is primarily through education/knowledge.

e. The best way to transfer knowledge and values is through visions, stories, articles, literature etc.

f.  One can only transfer knowledge that is well thought out, organized, and designed for practical implementation/execution, otherwise it is useless.

f. Since the above is missing in Nigeria, the people are unfocused and become social cannibals destroying one another through unhealthy competition. Hate, strife, and destruction become the order of the day.

g. For progress, we need well-articulated thoughts that produce visions to give direction to our energetic masses. Directed energies will eliminate fear that comes from idle minds and bodies. This is the way to peace and positive development.

In parting, I quote from an article titled “People vs Government” written by Dennis AuBuchon and posted on February 2, 2012.

“Why do those we elect to represent us make 3-4x and upwards a yearly salary, PLUS benefits, and pensions, when the rest of us do not have anything even close to it. Why?”

Because they have convinced us over the decades that they are doing God’s work. If we want the best and the brightest, we must pay for the best and the brightest. The problem with such a statement is that if a certified moron runs against an Ivy League graduate and the moron is running for the party of choice, the above statement is moot but the perception remains.

As Murray Rothbard, Austrian economist, once remarked in a lecture,” I was told once that we need the best and the brightest in govt because it’s such an important job. I told the guy that we need the best and brightest in the private sector. What we need in govt is people who can’t even figure out how to work the doorknob to get into their offices. They do far less damage that way.”

We are getting a very raw deal in Nigeria, and we do not deserve it, even though due to ignorance and cultural immolation, the followers are also culpable and encourage all these rots.

Let the Truth be told always!”

"Nigerian leaders on Friday (28 February 2014) called on Nigerians to work harder towards ensuring the country’s unity", with ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo averring that Nigeria will not break up.

Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said for Nigeria to have survived the first 100 years despite the various challenges of nation building, the country would not break up.

They should tell us what they mean by ''to work harder''? To me, this means that Nigerians should keep slaving and dying for their masters and oppressors to keep Nigeria one for them to continue looting!

Also, recently, the Senate President, bemoaned the continuous activities of terrorists ravaging parts of the country and pleaded with citizens to revolt against the orchestrated plot to destabilise the country.

Isn't it absurd and crass irony that those destroying our nation are the same ones that lecture the poor masses to refrain from destabilizing the nation? They want the poor, common Nigerian that they have impoverished and debased to fight their war for them. They want us to be their cannon fodder while they stay in their comfortable mansions and drive around in their armoured cars.

The same Nigeria that they love so much they plundered and are still plundering and failed to build into greatness has its citizens scavenging for food to survive. The same Nigeria, whose youths and young graduates are walking listlessly and idly on the streets without jobs; the same Nigeria where their people sleep on the streets; the same Nigeria where if you don’t have money to pay, doctors will not treat you in the hospitals; the same Nigeria where the students barely learn anything in the state schools because the classrooms are dilapidated and the laboratories are not equipped; the same Nigeria where when you drive on the roads in the morning, you are not sure of coming back home alive.

They are living in the dream land. Our leaders are simply the greatest threat to the existence of Nigeria. Many Nigerians have lost hope in them. My concern is how to awaken the consciousness of the followers into action(s).

It pains me a lot and wrecks my heart when I read utterances like these which smack of the highest hypocrisy and insincerity. It is the same Nigerian leaders who are messing the country up; looting the treasury, indulging in corrupt practices, insisting on power at all costs; instigating and promoting religious and ethnic animosities that can lead to break-up or destabilisation; disregarding the calls and cries of their people for betterment, succour, development, and progress, etc.

These are the same people who, while decimating our education, build their own private schools and universities, and send their own children abroad for education with looted funds; who, neglecting the health sector, find it convenient to treat themselves and their families in overseas hospitals; who, refusing to maintain or construct our road networks, find it convenient to buy and fly in private jets; who, neglecting the development of our agriculture and food security have private multi-billion naira farms; who award our oil blocks to themselves and their friends and families, etc. They are the ULTIMATE HYPOCRITES!! They are the ones destroying and destabilizing Nigeria for a very long time with their greed, selfishness, ineptness, crave for power and wealth and corrupt practices; but listen to the tune they're all singing now that election time is coming in 2019.

Now they are calling on us - the despondent people whose lives they have plummeted into desperation and impoverishment and have refused to improve and uplift - to work harder. They are calling on us to continue to bear the brunt of their recklessness, bad leadership, and corrupt practices at all levels of government and so on. They are calling on us to continue to be tolerant as they continue their looting.

I am very much convinced that God will not come down and save Nigerians (from their leaders) because He has given us everything to have a comfortable life but we are too passive, gullible and because we celebrate thieves and mediocrity. The alternative is that we continue in a shameless spiral of dependence.

Quite frankly I don’t see how Nigeria can progress until Nigerians are cured of their self-hatred, or according to ex-President Obasanjo, restructure their attitude towards their country and how it is governed. It is this self-hatred; this self-deprecation that translates into the politicians’ and government’s contempt for the abilities or capabilities of Nigerians!

We need to amend our laws to give teeth to the agencies which are supposed to fight corruption. Our laws are not strict enough to ensure that sentences are stiff even when the rare conviction is achieved. We also need legislation on Assets Forfeiture which places the onus on an accused person to prove that he rightfully earned the income with which he/she acquired properties which appear to be beyond his/her legitimate resources. If a public official cannot account for how he/she earned enough money to own companies, shares in quoted companies, hill-top mansions, fleet of cars etc., such properties should be forfeited to the Federal Government by a Court Order.

Inasmuch as kidnapping and other social vices is a crime and must be condemned I will urge kidnappers to turn their attention to our (s)elected representatives! Because lack of visionary legislation is what is denying good utilization of our laws...you people kidnapping our money are killing us, and are the real rogues and enemies of the nation

A former Senate President, once made a daft and inane comment that kidnappers are embarrassing Nigeria. How would kidnappers not embarrass the government when all what people in government (PIGs) do is to embezzle the resources that would develop security infrastructures and arm law enforcement agents with the best and sophisticated tools to combat crime? The hearts of Nigerian leaders are dark and evil. Nigerians must wake up, stand up, and hold their leaders responsible and accountable for their actions and inactions.

Nigeria has become a mindless and mediocre-run country, built upon a cult of personality and enforced by a reign of corruption and insecurity. George Orwell, in his famous satirical book, Animal Farm, demonstrates how simple political dogma can be turned into malleable propaganda and the “seven commandments” are replaced with the maxims, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"

There’s a popular Nigerian pidgin slang/saying as “Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop”. Meaning: People in power putting in less work but eating off their minion’s labour. Nigerians would no longer accept a situation where some people would continue to feast on the sweat of the people in the country in order to fill their pockets. We must be relentless in our resolve to bring to an end the era of ‘monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’, which had characterized the abuse of the rights of the people of Nigeria.

A politician who works for his own self-interest and not the interest of the people is known as a “snollygoster.”, especially a politician, who is guided by personal advantage rather than by consistent, respectable principles. So, snollygosters we have in 95% of our politicians in Nigeria, and let’s call a spade a spade, that’s what they are.

“Monkey dey work; baboon dey chop”. They want the citizens to work hard so they can have more to loot. No, we don't want Nigeria to break up; but the way the "Owners and Looters of Nigeria" are going, perhaps it is better if Nigeria breaks up sooner than later. They have to change their ways and show the way, the right way, and we will follow and work harder for ALL of us (Nigeria), not for them, the irresponsible and corrupt, opportunist rulers/leaders.

For all the recycled politicians in our House of Representatives, the Senate, States’ Houses of Assemblies and other key positions, it won’t take long before their cups are full. Things can’t, must not be allowed to continue like this any longer. Young energetic bloods, if we can call them that, or trust them, are doing the work, but the weak old hags are getting the pay!

How can unity, peace and progress be achieved in a climate of social, economic, and political deprivation, aberration, and injustice; a situation where merit and hard work count for nothing, and form takes precedence over substance, and there is an inverse relationship between effort and reward?

Let us have a society that is peaceful, liveable, stable, sanitised, corruption-free, equitable and governed and rationally re-structured? This is the only way to progress and development that will take care of poverty, malnutrition, early death and infant mortality, economic depression, crime and corruption and fractionalisation due to tribe and religion.

We cannot continue to do things that have not been working for us the same way and continue to hope we will get different results. There cannot be change without commitment and willingness to change.

Let the TRUTH be said always!!!

This article is not meant or written to disparage or ridicule the system of governance, politics and democracy in our country (although if I were to do that, I will be within my rights as a very concerned Nigerian) that we have turned on their heads, aberrated, mangled, brutalised and bastardised solely for selfish, ethnic and religious reasons and interests.

Rather it is an attempt at education; attempt at redemption; attempt at deep reflection; attempt at releasing my own deep frustration, yet with the hope and conviction that we are passing through a phase that all true democracies and governments and societies have passed through, learning, improvising, adopting, adapting and improving all the way to become what they are, but only due to commitment, willingness, selflessness, unity and cooperation of all peoples concerned.

My concern is not that Nigeria will not be a great country (it does not have to be the greatest country); my concern is that it will not be in my time, and even in the time of our children.

My first taste of any politics was at the University of Ibadan, when in 1976, I was elected the Commissioner for Health at Independence Hall of Residence. In this small, virtually unrecognised election, I went through nearly three months of campaign, culminating in a Speech Night at the cafeteria. My opponent and I gave speeches; other candidates for other positions also did, and it all went well. No hecklers, no thuggery, no bitterness, no mudslinging, etc. It was a night of convincing the electorates of Independence Hall who they should vote for. I won the election that took place the following day. My opponent, an Igbo guy, and older than me in age and in class, became very good friends with me, and in fact, I appointed him as a member of the Health Committee.  And never did he slur me during my one-year term. That was students’ politics in Nigeria of those days. No gratification from anybody; no sponsor; my friends helped me raise money to print my electioneering posters and leaflets. That was it.

Then Youth Service came and I was the Social Secretary of the one-month Orientation camp in the state.

I was elected the President of the International Students Organisation of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Province of Manitoba, Canada in 1983. The incumbent, an Iraqi Ph D student and the Director of International Students, a Professor and the entire African Students Organisation, led by a Nigerian, the then Miss Morayo Grillo (now Mrs Anthonio), of the university encouraged me to run against a Chinese student, because there had never been an African student leading the organisation, which was umbrella group to all foreign students in the university. I accepted to run, and I was duly elected, thanks to a concerted and positive campaign and support from these people, and this was barely after one year of entering the university to do my Master’s program. During my one year term, I was so much involved in students, and even provincial and national politics that it affected my studies, and resulted in me spending three years for my Masters rather that the eighteen months I was supposed to do. But it was all for a good cause and good personal experience, and I have no regrets. I travelled all over Canada for conferences, meetings, seminars, etc. I met great Canadian politicians including the late 15th Prime Minister of Canada, Mr Pierre Trudeau, the father of the present and 23rd Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau . I was introduced to PM Trudeau as the President of the ISO, Canada, which was not even in existence then, and perhaps even now, in 1984. I was also invited to wine and cheese parties and dinners by the then Minister of Employment and Immigration, the Hon Lloyd Axworthy (MP for Winnipeg), the then New Democratic Party Premier of Manitoba, late Howard Pawley (died 2015) and the then Mayor of Winnipeg, William Norrie, Q. C.

A useful digression. When Mr Trudeau was PM of Canada, (the time I was there, at least) his party, Liberal Party, was not ruling any of the 12 Provinces and Territories of Canada, yet it was ruling nationally. How can a party which could not win in any of its provinces now win nationally? Such is the advanced state of democracy in these climes. And this was a time when the separatist Parti Quebecois of the French-populated and dominated province of Quebec were agitating for separation from Canada, and Mr Trudeau himself was a French Quebecois/Canadian. Yet he resisted with very heavy handedness, the attempt to break Canada by his kinsmen. In fact, a few terrorist incidents were ruthlessly quelled by his government.

Which now brings me to the United Kingdom. If this is not a perfect democracy, at least it is near perfect. It is what any aspiring democracy should copy and emulate. I love it for its openness, tenacity, commitment to the people, the sincerity of its politicians, the selfless service expected of and obtained from the politicians, the freedom, the peacefulness, the transparency, the dividends the people get, the assurance of progress and continuity and expectations of the people from their political leaders, the TRUE GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE.

But what really is the DIVIDEND of Democracy that we love to shout and demand from our rulers? Today, if a Governor or president construct, dualise or rehabilitate a road, they will tell us these are dividends of democracy. What then do we call the military governments that constructed much of the roads in Nigeria. When new universities were approved during the tenure of Mr Jonathan, we call it dividend of democracy, but most of the universities in Nigeria were provided by the military. The Nigerian military governments provided the bulk of the electricity we use today; they built the refineries, the airports and much more things than the democratic governments are providing, should we call it the dividend of militarism?

Kingsley Ohajunwa, wrote two years ago “Let’s start by understanding that governance at any level and in any society, is geared towards providing quality service to people. Democratic governance follows this pattern but goes a step further towards not just providing such services but also ensuring that the people get carried along in this process of service delivery; this is indeed the very essence of democracy. Some may understand “dividends of democracy” as meaning good roads, provision of portable water supply, making education accessible and affordable, constant power supply, accessible medical care, provision of jobs, good transport system, affordable housing, favourable economy for trade and investment, affordable food supply amongst others. However, while all of these may be accepted as what these political office holders should do, the focus is to ensure that they are effectuated by involving the people.

The entire idea of “dividends of democracy” will be useless if it is concerned only with the provision of all the structures listed above. The crux is to have a people-involved process. So, it seems funny when political office holders construe “dividends of democracy” as what they are able to provide and even more worrisome when the governed see it as physical structures built by their representatives in government”.

So, what is the true meaning of the dividend of democracy? To me, it’s simple. A true government of the people; a situation where the people's voice is the government decision; freedom of speech, association and movement; peaceful co-existence; justice, equity and equality; sincere and selfless governance; no marginalisation of any person due to tribe or religion; good governance,  Are we free to speak without arrest? Are we free to move without prevention? Are we free to associate peacefully?

“Dividends of democracy” should be the people’s absolute involvement in running the affairs that concern them, and therefore, we should see the expression as meaning something else but not just the physical manifestations provided.

In the context above, we will see that these are exactly what Nigerians do not get in their practice of democracy. Not even the physical structures. Nigerians are NOT involved in the processes of governance, only the greedy, selfish, and corrupt politicians, civil servants and business leaders are. Simple!!!!!

I started voting in the UK elections as far back as 1991. In 1991, I was a Census Enumerator for the nationwide UK Census, conducted every 10 years; in 2001, I was a Census District Manager and in 2011, was again a Census District Manager. These were part-time jobs that lasted over 6 months. I still had my full-time jobs, these were only to supplement my income. I will not even try to make comparisons with how we hold population census in Nigeria; there simply isn’t ant grounds to compare.

Today, 8th June 2017, is a great and joyful day for 1000 years of British Democracy. It always gives me great pleasure and assurance to vote (and sometimes participate as an official) in any UK elections, be it a Referendum, local government, or general/parliamentary elections. It is a joy to see democracy in action and to know that it is not only determined by ALL Britons (and Commonwealth citizens living and registered to vote in the UK) but it also benefits them and pave ways for better and better lives, society, environment, economically, technologically, and culturally. It is a true tested and proven system, and I do not see any other system replacing this system. Of course, Democracy is not just about elections. It is about the action; it is about good governance; it is about service by the elected and being served from the electors. The electors DO NOT serve the elected; the elected SERVE the electors. It is about humility and acceptance of defeat gracefully;

Former Chinese Premier Cho En Lai, when asked in the 1960s what he thought about the French Revolution of 1789, said that it was too early to tell. Nigerian democracy and the independence, military schisms, turbulences, and civil unrests and war that spawned it is still in its early stages. The challenge for the West will be to find a way to nurture democracy without giving the impression that it harbours neo-colonial ambitions. Nigerians are ever sensitive to the still recent experience of British rule, military rule and civilian ineptitude.

At the same time, it frustrates me, angers me and saddens me to know that we are nowhere near this almost perfect system in Nigeria. Some reading this will tell you “Oh, the British and Americans have been at it for centuries, so we cannot compare them to Nigeria which has only been off and on democracy just over 50 years ago; our democracy is still in its infancey”.

But I counter this by saying, “We cannot re-invent the wheel; we have examples and precedents in Britain, America, and the rest to follow, we cannot start from the scratch; in fact, we cannot afford to start from the scratch, otherwise we are setting ourselves back for over 10 centuries and the world will just leave us behind, if it is not already. Why don’t we adapt Western brand of democracy with all altruism to our culture, environment, and traditions, and adopt democracy if we want it, or discard it in totality if we don’t?”

I do not have to describe again what happens on Election Days in the UK, not the mode of political campaign which is filled with maturity, sensitivity, sincerity, and peacefulness. I do not need to describe the deep commitment and involvement placed on political and electoral activities by the politicians seeking offices, their campaign officials, the people they are asking to vote for them, and the officials conducting the elections making sure there is no rigging and everything runs smoothly not only to ensure that the right people are elected into office, but that money is well spent, and no politician gets campaign money illegally, from dubious sources or use public money and spends more than is stipulated by law. It is a joy to see and participate in such a system, I say.

For the moment, I am simply going to savour the moment and humbly express my joy at watching millions of Britons execute and celebrate their democratic right at the ballot box. It is the joy of democracy.

For Nigerians, it is up to us; whether we remain as one indivisible unit; or as separate units infused into one country (regionalism) or we break apart into small units. For now, it is one country seemingly bent on self-destruction and immolation that do not seem to know the meaning of Unity in Diversity.\

 

Monday, 27 March 2017 17:07

Much Ado About a Certificate?

I have written many times on a singularity, or perhaps we should call it a genetic aberration or bane of development and progress in our dear country – it is the inability to find the Truth; nobody speaks the Truth; nobody wants to hear the Truth. Even when the Truth is glaring us in the face, we almost always manage to deny it, and successfully too.

Lies, deceit, deception, fraud, propaganda, all these lead to Corruption, hence the reason we are still stymied by poverty, underdevelopment, and an acute lack of progress in everything we do. A people beyond redemption, I always say.

Lack of Truth is a very serious substance in a society of human beings; it is insincerity; it is falsehood; it is dishonesty; it is fraud; it is deceit and deception, and therefore a very poorly run and inept government and the society is what you have at the end of the day. This is manifest in our day to day struggle to escape from bad, inefficient governance and endemic corruption. We do not seem to be winning that battle. It seems every effort made to make good is thwarted a hundred times by the forces of corruption and retrogression. It is almost as if those who profess to be patriots are out to sabotage every effort for Nigeria to progress and live up to its full potential as a nation.

Let’s take the instance of educational certificates. Our President was enmeshed in it prior to the Elections in 2015. Two years after, the controversy still rages on. Many politicians and legislators, federal and states, are still enmeshed in certificate controversies and scandals, but in Nigeria, very few politicians, if any, have been sanctioned because of either producing fake educational certificates, or unable to produce one. Or even claiming to attend higher institutions they did not. Why?

It never fails to amaze me how a society such as ours, with hundreds of universities and other tertiary institutions; with several years of Western education spanning over two centuries, where Nigerians are recognised all over the world as education-loving and excelling, with very brilliant refined minds in all fields of education accomplishment  and human endeavour that one can think of, will still be brought to its shame by some fake people, usually those claiming to be its rulers (or leaders, as they like to  term themselves) who claim to have achieved some educational status and achievement when they have not.

The minimum educational requirements for elective and public office in Nigeria is secondary school leaving certificates or their equivalents. Nigerians, especially those seeking public office, are not under any constitutional obligation to attend Harvard, LSE or Oxford University before they can stand for elective office. (I wonder why most of them always claim to have attended universities abroad and not in Nigeria).

So why do our politicians lie about their education? A kind of inferiority complex is at play here, as well as crass arrogance and patent disregard for the law and Constitution of this country. The Constitution, and indeed the people themselves, have made it very simple for them to befuddle us and reach their political zenith, if I may call it that, so why exalt their educational achievements to what was not?

Only recently the committee on review of the Constitution made a proposal to make the minimum requirement to be a degree in relevant fields.  Not too long ago, a member of the senate presented an American certificate as part of the degrees he had; after investigation, it was discovered that he never attended any American university at all. As of today, he is still a member of the Senate. And this is the Senate that refused to confirm Ag. EFCC Chairman Magu as substantive Chairman, because, according to one of them, Magu cannot speak good English. A Senate, as Sonala Olumhense put it, “far and away the most corrupt and backward legislature in a modern republican democracy…stinking from many years of decay and layers of no standards, low standards, certificate-forgers, foreign-exchange speculators, paedophiles, influence peddlers, dubious former governors and money doublers, not an outpost of transparency and good governance”

Salisu Buhari (not a relation of our current President), a former Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1999 presented a certificate from “Toronto” (very vague) as part of his educational qualifications. After thorough investigation and it was discovered he never attended the University or awarded a certificate, he honourably resigned and that was the last anybody ever heard of him.  He disappeared into oblivion. There is still honour among thieves, it would seem.

The late Gani Fawehinmi went to court to challenge the certificate presented by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 1999 when he (Tinubu) wanted to contest for the governorship of Lagos State. Unfortunately, this case was never concluded; maybe or just maybe if that case was concluded and an example set by the court, no other person would have had the courage to present fake foreign certificate to boost their educational credentials.(quoting Olutoyin Eweje)

Now, my beef is this. Despite the obvious obfuscation, lies and deceit being peddled by the “lying” politicians, we still find people who are certifiably educated (that is, we know they went to the schools they said they went to, and there are hundreds of people who can attest to this, plus the schools themselves) who are supporting these fraudulent people.

What I am saying is this, and please at the risk of being labelled immodest; I am proud to have gone to a university in Nigeria, and another in Canada, taking me minimum of 6 years to study hard and earn university certificates for my efforts, my parents’ money and my family and friends’ goodwill; why would I be in support of a fraudulent charlatan who is claiming to have made the same effort as I did to earn a certificate, and thereby degrading all the educational efforts and achievement of others, all because he/she wants to be in power to rule over me?

I do not take my educational achievements lightly; it was the best thing bequeathed to me by my parents, and actually, also from my country (after all, I enjoyed some free education in the old Western Region)  and that I am in turn bequeathing to my children. I worked hard and genuinely to deserve my certificates and I will not endure or support anybody to demean either my education or that of somebody else by parading fake certificates or claims to have been so educated.

In all my years in education and academia, I have never heard of an institution of higher learning, from Colleges of Education to Polytechnic to University awarding “Certificates of Attendance” after a three, four or even seven years’ tuition. You either have a degree or a diploma, with Pass, Third Class, Second Class Lower and Upper or a First Class, for a first degree.

A course lasting a week or even a month does not entitle one to a Degree or Diploma. That is where a Certificate of Attendance comes in, and even at this, it does not mean one has passed or excelled in the course. It only means, as it says on the tin, one has attended. One may sleep throughout the course, but that person has been there. I know many instances of Nigerian legislators, federal, state and local governments, who spent our money to go overseas on some dubious courses organised by equally dubious trainers, who, whilst in the UK or US for the supposed course, were busy shopping and taking in the sights rather than being in the training room. But they come back to Nigeria, flaunting and flashing Certificates of Attendance, the knowledge, and the money a burden on the poor citizens of Nigeria.

I have no doubt Senator Dino Melaye (who happens to be a friend) is educated, and have, at one time or the other, attended Ahmadu Bello University, one of the first-generation and great universities in Nigeria. He has been a Member of the House of Representatives and now a Distinguished Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I have seen him in action, in and out of the Senate. I have proffered advice to him in the past. Of course, I have never broached the issue of educational certificates to him; I believe that is left to him to handle. Of course, again, we know why the issue of his certificates is suddenly being brought to the fore. He has proven himself to be a fifth columnist in the APC, and the Rottweiler of the Senate President. He is laying himself wide open to political disaster, just as he did on behalf of ex-Speaker, Patricia Etteh, that got him in the bad books of ex-Speaker Dimeji Bankole; and that led him (Dino) to being de-selected by his then party, PDP to run for a second House of Representative term

Dino does not need to file suits against anybody, least of all Sahara Reporters (you don’t mess with them); he will surely end up with eggs all over his face and sink his own political ambition and reputation. What he should just do is bring out his certificate (the Vice-Chancellor of the university has now confirmed that Dino is a bona-fide graduate of the university, with a Third-Class degree in Geography), although he’s not bound by anybody or anything to do that. After all, many of his ilk and political co-travellers have gotten away with this in the past.

With all kinds of depressing revelations being brought out in this certificate saga, it behoves Senator Melaye to back down and suppress his braggado; he can still stay in his favourite Senate, but his credibility is shot to pieces. If you live in a glass house, you do not throw stones. His Senate President himself has not used his medical degree certificate as his minimum qualification for both his governorship and senatorial stints for reasons best known to himself.

However, in this piece, the issue is not about Dino Melaye; not about President Muhammadu Buhari, not about Salisu Buhari and these others who have been embroiled in certificate scandals such as former President Goodluck Jonathan, Prof Maurice Iwu (former INEC Chairman); first Senate President in the Third Republic, Evan(s) or Evan Enwerem;  “Dr” Ayo Fayose, Governor of Ekiti State; former Aviation Minister Stella Oduah; former Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomole; current Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; former Benue State Governor, Gabrliel Suswan; APC Chieftain and leader and former Lagos State Governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; Senator Andy Uba; former DG of Nigeria Stock Exchange, Ndi Okereke-Onyuike, and a host of others.

The issue is with a system and society that allows such proliferation and no punishment of such fraud; the problem lies with some of our universities who cannot, for reasons best known to them, verify simple attendance and graduation records at their campuses (it is a shame on our institutions of tertiary learning, I hear most of them don’t even have functional websites or url’s); it is a shame on our governing system that we allow fraudsters and forgers and deceptions to invade the corridors of power and lord it over us, make laws for us and to direct our affairs. It is a shame truly educated members of our society are complicit in allowing these forgeries and fraudulent declaration to prosper in all areas of endeavour and it is an indictment on our society as a whole that it is a very degenerate society which allows such dishonesty and crime to survive and thrive. No wonder all is not well with us. Isn’t it a shame that a country as proud, rich and recognised all over the world in educational achievement is being governed (and ruined) by crass illiterates, educated illiterates and people of little or no intellectual and academic standards?

All this boils down to what I have always suspected and written about – that we Nigerians think we are smarter than each other – friends, colleagues, mates, family, acquaintances, and the next man on the street; we always love to take undue advantage, we are wont to cut corners every time to get everything and everywhere. Politicians and civil servants delude themselves that they are the only smart Nigerians because they can sit in their dingy little offices and forge invoices and receipts to embezzle money meant for others of their fellow Nigerians to make their lives better.

We need to change this culture. One causative agent of this depravity is the low level that our educational system has gradually sunken into in the past four decades. Another is the poverty level forced on us by our insensitive and corrupt rulers, military and civilian, over the decades. All these have led to self-deprecation, self-doubt and lack of confidence and belief in our academic, political, and governmental systems, for the main reason that they cannot be trusted to be genuine and authentic. Nigerian universities are no longer respected abroad; our degrees are taken with pinches of salt these days, unlike in the glorious past, opening the way for unscrupulous Nigerians with fraud in mind to take advantage of the gaps in the system to become elected official, civil servants, appointed officials, and even gurus in the private sectors. Criminals and fraudsters populate the legislature and the executive arms of government; charlatans are prescribing justice, impostors run the banking and economic sector and half-baked academicians run our institutions of higher learning.

On the forgers and perjurers, themselves, perhaps we should spare them some pity, as explained earlier in this article, that psychologically, such people are prone to lack self-respect and esteem, lack of confidence in one’s abilities and a warped urge to fit into a level of the society which they could not believe they have found themselves or want to be; their inferiority complex and moral bankruptcy is very acute

Unfortunately, despite what the laws says on perjury (section 118 of the Criminal Code) which prescribes imprisonment for 14 years, and may even be punishable by death or life imprisonment if done to harm another person, and for forgery (Section 465 of the Criminal Code Act), the Nigerian wheel of justice is grinding notoriously and criminally too slowly such that these miscreants of perjury and forgery may escape punishment, especially the politically exposed persons.

It is obvious that a person who perjures or forges certificates to get into office is more than extremely likely to perpetrate all kinds of corruption if elected or appointed into office. This again explains the reason corruption is so endemic and rampant in Nigeria today, and seems so indestructible.

Tell the Truth always!!!!

“Ground-breaking, also known as cutting, sod-cutting, turning the first sod or a sod-turning ceremony, is a traditional ceremony in many cultures that celebrates the first day of construction for a building or other project. Such ceremonies are often attended by dignitaries such as politicians, government officials and businessmen”. (Wikipedia)

Please NOTE the last sentence  - “Such ceremonies are often attended by dignitaries such as politicians, government officials and businessmen”.

Another use is, “If something is ground-breaking, it is very new and a big change from other things of its type: E.g. His latest movie is interesting, but not ground-breaking”.

But why do we need these extravagant ceremonies to get things, projects, official events, etc. started and done in Nigeria? Must all kinds of projects embarked upon by government and even the legislature in their constituency projects, be accompanied by a formal ground-breaking or sod-turning and then after completion, by a formal and noisy commissioning or Grande-opening?

Road constructions, building constructions, independent power projects, bridges, school buildings, hospitals or primary rural healthcare dispensaries, boreholes, electrification, rail projects, water projects, environmental and ecological projects, etc., our leaders must make noise and declare them open either for construction or completion.

First, we waste money, time, and other resources in announcing the commencement of a project, when even the funds needed for the project has not been secured (most often we squander the resources needed for the project at this level)

Then, when substandard work is done, or, as is often the case at all government levels, the contractor disappears with the money, without carrying out the contract – usually with the knowledge and encouragement of the person who awarded the contract in the first place – the money needed to complete the contract is wasted during commissioning.

We spend millions of monies (organising the event, event decorations and management, provision of security for the VIP’s, entertainment, public address system, tents and marquees, etc.) on ground-breaking to start off a project, and then spend another set of millions to commission the project (assuming the project managed to be completed). In some insane state and local government situations, the officials even contract out “aso-ebi” and other souvenirs to commemorate the scandalous and shameless ground-breaking, and afterwards, a big commissioning is done (the tax-payers invariably pay for this extravagance) and many minor and big officials, will of course make some money illegally from this blatant anomaly.

And of course, the swaggering and posing of the officials and politicians on the day. It is a chance for politicians and officials to be recognised and pampered with all kinds of unnecessary protocols, a chance for the arrogant among them to flaunt their position and perceived importance, and then a chance for political encounters to be renewed, while, they are sure, their overburdened public and people they are looting from look on in awe and appreciation (not apprehension at the way their common wealth is being wasted) at the awesome and flagrant display of power, authority, position, wealth, and importance.

What kind of bureaucratic foolishness is this, that we keep enacting over the decades, and our leaders do not seem capable of thinking of getting rid of this culture of waste and propaganda? Why do our leaders keep on making the same un-progressive mistakes?

It is a cultural thing, I believe. Or maybe a genetic aberration or mutation of sorts. As with some other unexplainable traits of the Nigerian-African, such as corruption; insensitivity to the plight of others; do-or-die to get power and wealth; show of power, position, and wealth, etc., it is in the genes. And to exorcise or correct it will be a monumental feat of genetic engineering.

Our democratic leaders, who are professing progress, change, professionalism, enthusiasm and above all, good governance and sincerity of purpose must do away with all these asinine and wasteful exercises and instead divert their attention to getting value for money and quality delivery in their projects to ensure improved service to the people who elected them and are paying their salaries.

Our leaders are not doing us any favours by announcing and parading the commencement and completion of projects they are expected to deliver. And in these lean economic climes, the more reason they should be financially conscious in the way they spend public money. 

The essential point is, while all these formal ceremonies may serve some innocuous political purposes, in Nigeria, and perhaps in Africa, they are exercises in wasteful extravagance and thoughtlessness; unfit for purpose considering the dire economic circumstances that we have found ourselves, and only fuels the selfishness, insensitivity, corruption, and arrogance of our wayward political leaders.

We cannot continue to do things that have not been working for us the same way and continue to hope we will get different results. There cannot be change without commitment and willingness to change.

I do not see the value that ground-breaking and commissioning of projects are adding to what Nigerians are asking for – accountability; good governance; justice, fairness and equity; reduced or zero corruption and a betterment of their lives.

Let the Truth be told always!!! 

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