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Atiku: Why Igbo Leaders’ Endorsement was Right

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By Jude Ndukwe

Igbo leaders from all walks of life gathered at the region’s ancient city of Enugu on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, “to consider Ndigbo’s place in the polity especially in the light of the forthcoming 2019 elections”.

Since that endorsement by prominent Igbo leaders whose capacity to sway the vote of the region one way or the other ca not be doubted, the ruling party, APC, and the presidency, have, as expected, reacted in a manner that is contrary to the low esteem in which they evidently hold the Igbo people.

While the party has said that Igbos were victims of PDP’s 16 years of misrule, Buhari on his part claimed that no sooner had the endorsement been announced than he received calls from “well-meaning leaders from the region asking him to disregard it as it was without any substance”.

While such reactions are expected from one seeking reelection, it is, indeed, surprising that Buhari and the APC would worry about votes from the Igbo people considering how he had spoken of and treated the people in the recent past.

It would amount to political immaturity and insincerity on the part of Buhari and APC to actually believe those Igbo politicians he claimed called and advised him to ignore the Enugu endorsement of Atiku. The fact is that an overwhelming majority of Ndigbo, with or without the leading of their elders, would rather not vote if Buhari is the only candidate on the ballot papers. And the reasons are not farfetched.

President Muhammadu Buhari and his APC have shown enormous disdain for Ndigbo, treating the people and region like mere appendages and not an integral part of the federation that is so much in need of mutual trust for one another following Buhari’s policies that have alienated not only the southeast but also some  other regions from the scheme of things.

In the early stages of his administration, President Buhari set the record straight in an unequivocal manner how he intended to run his government to the complete exclusion of those, who in his own estimation, gave him only 5% of the votes as against those who gave him 97%.
Speaking at the US Institute for Peace, USIP, on July 22, 2015, and in response to a question on running an all inclusive government, Buhari stunned the world when he declared thus with so much gusto: “I hope you have a copy of the election results. The constituents, for example, gave me 97% (of the votes) cannot in all honesty be treated on some issues with constituents that gave me 5%. I think these are political reality”.

This has been the order of the day under Buhari.

For example, there is no single person from the southeast the president found worthy enough to head any of our numerous security and paramilitary organisations. His other appointments into federal agencies are so lopsided in favour of people from his region and religion that it leaves every right thinking Nigerian worried.

The political reality is that if Buhari does not trust the Igbos enough as to give them responsibilities of trust, then he should not expect the Igbo to change their opinion of him. The responsibility to prove those who hold the belief that Buhari holds the Igbos in disdain wrong lies with Buhari, unfortunately, he has fluffed that opportunity and has rather reinforced that belief in the people.

A good number of leading Igbo politicians and entrepreneurs have suffered undue persecution under the Buhari administration. They have been harassed and subjected to official oppression while their businesses have come under immense attacks by agents of government.

As at today, the southeast cannot point to any infrastructural project completed by the Buhari administration after over three years in power. The gory tales continue unabated.

Those who think Igbo leaders made a mistake and thereby committed political harakiri by openly endorsing the Atiku/Obi ticket do not probably know the Igbo and how they play their politics.

The Igbo man does not necessarily need the presidency as long as the president, whether from Katsina or Sokoto, whether a Christian or a Muslim etc, provides a level playing field and an enabling environment for him to thrive in his endeavours be it business, academics, entrepreneurship etc.

The Igbo easily connects with Atiku who, like people of the southeast, is not only a job creator but also a creator of wealth. His choice as an alternative to Buhari easily excites the southeast because they see in him a man who has managed businesses and co-managed the country at a time of one of the nation’s greatest periods of prosperity.

It is Buhari, and not Ndigbo, who should be asked why people of the southeast supported the Obasanjo/Atiku ticket, the Yaradua/Jonathan ticket and the Jonathan/Sambo ticket, all of them non-Igbos, including Hausa/Fulani, but have bluntly refused to support him?

Finally, Nigerians of goodwill cannot continue to endure the flawed structure of the country which has formed a major reason the country is in continued shambles, hence, the natural choice to support the Pro-restructuring ticket of Atiku/Obi.

Apart from the above, the millions of job losses, skyrocketing food prices, flagrant disobedience of court orders, one-sided fight against corruption, official tyranny, financial scandals of monumental proportions  rocking key elements of the presidency, etc, are some of those factors that make Igbo leaders settle for the Atiku/Obi ticket.

It will also be wrong to ascribe Igbo support for Atiku to his choice of Peter Obi as his running mate. As earlier said, the Igbo have always supported tickets they think will be of benefit not only to them but also to the entire country even when these tickets had no Igbo man on them. The plethora of socio-economic and political crises bedeviling the nation under Buhari are too numerous for him or any other person or group to think that Ndigbo would just pass him off as good enough to go for the presidency a second time simply because he is Buhari. As some of the most critical analysts in the country who have shown indisputable commitment to the country by living, settling down and investing enormously throughout the country, no one or region can claim to love the country more than the Igbos. When they refused to vote for Buhari at the 2015 elections, it was because they already envisaged he would throw the nation into the kind of situation it is in today, and not because of his tribe or religion. Today, even those who vilified the Igbo as usual for “putting all their eggs in one basket” are even the worst hit by the shambolic economic policies of the current administration.

The endoresemnet of the Atiku/Obi ticket is an endorsement for freedom, peace, prosperity and justice without which no nation can make progrees.

Ndigbo will rather support a ticket that will promote the interest of Nigerians than the one that has led us to become the poverty capital of the world so that even if Buhari wins Ndigbo have not lost a thing!

—jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk; Twitter: @stjudendukwe

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COLUMNISTS

Buhari, Aisha and the Symphony of a Confusing Orchestra

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By Jude Ndukwe

Just like a majority of Nigerians who have come to see the APC-led government of President Muhammadu Buhari for what it is, a weak government of ineptitude coated with stark incompetence and lacking in any leadership substance as a result of which Nigeria is now the worst of many backwardness, wife of the president, Mrs Aisha Buhari, confirmed last week that only two people were holding the Buhari government down and stopping it from performing as expected.

This is not new to Nigerians only that it is being given concrete credence by the beautiful First Lady’s outburst which must have come from frustrations owing to the incontrovertibly poor performance of her husband in office contrary to the expectations of those who believed in and voted for him at the last presidential election.

Nigerians have always known that there is a powerful cabal holding the presidency down and forming a cog in its wheel of progress, that is, if there was any will in the wheel at all. The only thing Nigerians did not know until Aisha Buhari made the disclosure last week was that they were only two individuals so powerful they hold not only the president down, they hold the entire presidency down and hold the entire nation to ransom. Although Aisha did not mention the names of these individuals but whoever they are, they must have been so powerful that Nigerians were thinking that those that make up the retrogressive cabal were in their numbers. And that is because they have inflicted serious damage not only to the image of President Muhammadu Buhari whose ratings before he became president were very impressive but also to the lofty credentials APC paraded prior to the 2015 elections but which have obviously dissipated into thin air now.

While the presidency has always insisted that there was no cabal in its fold, Nigerians have always known that there was one. Isn’t this why President Muhammadu Buhari had on several occasions claimed ignorance of weighty occurrences around the presidency even when such occurrences had a stamp of the presidency on them?

Aisha had at a time said that the president does not know 45 out of every 50 of his appointees. In other words, others make the decision for him without any input from him. She had claimed that her husband’s government had been hijacked as “Some people are sitting down in their homes folding their arms only for them to be called to come and head an agency or a ministerial position”.

When the pension fugitive Abdulrasheed Maina was recalled and promoted by presidency officials despite being on the wanted list of security agencies, there were fierce exchanges between the presidency and the civil service over who was responsible for the controversial recall and promotion. Yet, before our very eyes, when it became obvious that the bubble of Maina and his collaborators in high places had busted, he was still given a leeway to escape. The alarming thing was that some top government officials gave the impression that the president was not aware all in a bid to shield him from the mess which the saga had become.

Also, on the Benue matter, after repeated and unending attacks on the people of Benue, President Buhari had ordered the Inspector-General of Police to resume in Benue with a view to curbing the rising wave of herdsmen attacks on the people. But few weeks later, the president lamented that he was not aware that the IG did not obey his orders.

If the president were truly in charge, how could an IG of police had refused, neglected and or failed to carry out his orders as Commander-in-Chief until it became public knowledge? Does that not imply that there are people in the presidency, as Aisha publicly confirmed, who have taken charge of the government and away from President Buhari so that recalcitrant staff and aides can afford to routinely disobey him on matters of grave concern to the nation without consequences?

Does anyone still remember Babachir Lawal’s arrogant and infamous “Who is the presidency” question?

Like Aisha said on that occasion, it is quite shameful that those who are supposed to stand up for Nigeria at a time of its unimaginable obscurity caused by a rather rudderless government, those who are supposed to assist the president in saving the ship of state and rescuing it from further sinking, are the same men who go about Aso Rock, in the words of Mrs Buhari, licking the shoes of these men!

Mrs Buhari seems to have had enough. She could no longer stomach the ineffectiveness of her husband’s government and the pitiable state of the nation under him. Surely, when she was out there during the campaigns, in the trenches with her husband, doing all she could to convince the populace that her husband deserved to be president, or rather, that her husband was the best man for the job, tough enough to lead the battle against insurgents in the north, fight corruption to a standstill, and yet remain compassionate to the plight of the people, she never envisaged that her husband would become this effeminate, easily overwhelmed by the nature of the job and overpowered by overzealous aides.

Today, the nation suffers for it, and the woman cannot stand it. All attempts to confine this delectable woman to the “kitchen, the living room and the other room” has so far failed to yield its desired results as she has continued to wax strong in the defence of her husband against those who are holding him hostage.

But then time has run out on him. The damage is irredeemable. Buhari has lost enormous goodwill since he came to power. If he was the kind of leader he sold himself to be in 2015, no other candidate would have had any chance against him in 2019. But as it is today, Buhari’s support base has depleted badly. Those who worked for him in 2019 have since realized that they were sold a beautifully packaged product whose content lacked any substance or value for its users. One by one, steadily and surely, they are all leaving him and his party. Those who are left in the party are lamenting, one can no longer call them “Buharists” as it used to be. Those who are honest enough in his party are telling him the bitter truth. His children, particularly, the daughters, no longer defend their dad as they used to do. The wife has continued to sing but her voice does not seem to be in symphony with the orchestra. The choirmaster is no longer in charge of his choir. The symphony of the orchestra is confusing, the group has lost melody, and the service will soon come to an unceremonious end!

With Nigeria becoming the poverty capital of the world under Buhari, the third most terrorised nation under a man who boasted that he would fight insurgency from the front, and our soldiers who have lamented poor welfare and equipment killed at will by these same insurgents, corruption worsening under him according to Transparency International, over 7 million Nigerians becoming unemployed in just 21 months between January 2016 and September 2017 and still counting, among many other gory tales of the Buhari presidency, it is obvious that things have fallen apart in Buhari’s government and the centre can no longer hold.

A presidency that cannot manage its presidency cannot manage Nigeria! There is hunger in the land; it is so palpable that the hand can feel it. No matter how the choirmaster tries to organize his orchestra now, the symphony has gone coarse, and irrecoverably so!

It is on this note that patriotic citizens must commend the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, for taking the bull by the horn and speaking out when men who are supposed to do so are busy lining up to lick the shoes of some two retrogressive elements holding the nation to ransom.

Will Aisha Buhari likely have partners from their circle in this mission of extricating Nigeria from the shackles of strong men? Only time will tell. For now, history will surely be fair to her!

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COLUMNISTS

LASPOTECH: GIANT STRIDES AT 40

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By: Morenike Adetunji

Life, as it is generally espoused begins at 40. As such, Lagos Sate Polytechnic Aloft At Forty celebration could best be described as a new beginning for this citadel of excellence.
Looking back through the years, the institution has grown to higher heights in several areas; from acquiring a permanent site in Ikorodu to producing over 220,000 graduates, offering 67 programmes at National Diploma and Higher National Diploma Levels, and against all odds, curbing cult activities on campus.
LASPOTECH commenced classes at the temporary site, (Isolo Campus), early January 1978, and in seven years (1985), the permanent site was moved to Ikorodu. Just recently, department of Business Administration, one of the three departments outside the main campus, was moved to Ikorodu campus in a bid to have all departments domiciled in Ikorodu.
At inception, lecture started at the institution with 287 students in five departments: Accountancy and Finance, Management and Business Studies, Insurance, Secretarial Studies and Basics Studies, and over the years, more than 220,000 students had graduated from the institution.
The school has as its mission statement, “to produce skilled manpower for commerce and industry using modern facilities and competent personnel for benefit of all”, and as such has been able to produce individuals who hold high positions in various sectors of the nation.
Few of these alumni are: Immediate Past Managing Director of First Bank of Nigeria Plc (FBN), Mr. Bisi Onasanya; Ex-managing Director of Cornerstone Insurance Plc, Mrs Funmilayo Babington-Ashaye; Current Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Mrs Yetunde Onanuga, Movie Icon, Kunle Afolayan; Mr. Rotimi Edu, Chairman, Quicklink Insurance; the Late Thespian, Aishat Mohammed; Music Star, Adekunle Kosoko known as Adekunle Gold; Winner of African Movie Viewers’ Choice Award (AMVCA), Tunji Afolayan and Award Winning Investigative Reporter, Head of Crime Desk at The Nation Newspaper, Olukunle Akinrinade among others.
Omoshalewa Babalola a student of Science Laboratory Technology in 2014/2015 Academic Session graduated with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 4.0. Also, Ejire Adedolapo Abdulazez graduated with a CGPA of 3.83 in 2015/2016 Academic Session.
The 10-day celebration saw several events put in place to commemorate LASPOTECH Aloft at forty. These include; Community Relations Programme, Novelty Match, Interdenominational service, Walk for Life, Students Marathon race, Laspotech Students’ Talent Show, LSTS, Dinner night, the anniversary grand finale and many other events.
In 40 years, several landmark achievements had positioned the polytechnic among other high ranking polytechnics in Nigeria; The institution’s department of Mass Communication was designated as Center of reference for Journalism training by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The establishment of LASPOTECH 101.1fm as well as construction of Centre for Entrepreneurship Skills Acquisition, among many others.
With all these outstanding achievements, it is imperative that the Institution must not rest on her oars, but do more in order to remain a pathmaker for other institutions.
However, an area of concern is the fact that an institution with such status and achievement cannot boast of having a hostel accommodation for her students. The rector, Mr. Olayinka Sogunro, has however promised that before his tenure elapses, he will ensure that hostels are built for the polytechnic’s students. We, for the sake of the incoming students do hope that this promise will be fulfilled.
At 40, LASPOTECH has achieved so much and for this reason, the management indeed deserves some accolades. Looking into the future, this landmark anniversary without doubt is only a stepping stone as the institution continues to journey into greatness.

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COLUMNISTS

Pendulum: Why Many Nigerians are Scared of the Year 2019

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www.securenigeria365.com

BY DELE MOMODU 

Fellow Nigerians, this is usually a festive period when most people look forward to the New Year, with high hopes and great expectations. But not anymore. I don’t know if you have noticed, wherever two or three Nigerians are gathered these days, the subject of discussion is Nigeria’s elections, especially the Presidential election, coming up next February. And many analysts talk with trepidation, out of the fear that the APC government appears desperate and may not wish to relinquish power, voluntarily, without putting up a fight. “Buhari was a military dictator, unlike Jonathan, and it would be difficult for you guys to chase him away like you did to Jonathan,” a prominent Nigerian told me recently. I then asked, “do you mean Buhari will refuse to hand over power even if he glaringly loses the election?” His response was chillingly cold-blooded “mark my word, Buhari’s people are ready for war…” he quipped.

Though the tell-tale signs are there, considering the unusual electoral malpractices in Ekiti, Osun, Kwara and other places where voters have allegedly been brazenly intimidated, disenfranchised and disillusioned. It is generally believed that the security forces, especially the Police have been largely compromised and that they are unashamedly doing the Government’s bidding, even if it means that the very tenets of democracy are being eroded with the attendant calamitous consequences that may befall our beloved country as a result. The Government has not helped matters much on this issue because people wonder why such use of humongous force can be strategically organised and positioned for elections, which should otherwise be peaceful events, when such force cannot be used against our insurgents who appear to be back with a bang and slowly, steadily and surely eroding our territory and our sovereignty. The Government’s claim that its aim in dealing with elections in this way is to protect democracy and ensure the fairness of those elections seems false given the allegations of intimidation and violence made against the security forces.

That is not all. It is being widely debated as to whether or not the government is busy throwing money around as a way of suborning the electorates under the guise of empowering the masses through its Trader Moni and Npower schemes.

The Trader Moni scheme aims to start of petty traders with small interest free loans starting from N10,000 and rising incrementally on repayment to N100,000. The Government says that the Bank of Industry co-ordinated scheme hopes to assist petty traders who would not otherwise have access to affordable bank loans to grow their businesses. Detractors question the timing of the scheme and the amount of money that beneficiaries of the scheme are being paid. It is almost as if they are being paid this initial N10,000 in order to buy their votes and this was magnified by the unfounded rumours that was circulated that PVC’s were a requirement to obtain the loan. As the Government stresses in promoting the scheme, this is an empowerment programme which is not associated with any vote-buying scheme. One thing is clear though, the petty traders who are recipients of this interest free loan are smiling all the way to the bank and appreciate the Government’s gesture. The turnout and visible smiles on the face of market women where ever the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, has visited in promotion of this scheme speaks volumes about its acceptance amongst those it intends to benefit. Whether there is an ulterior motive will soon be revealed especially when the period for the incremental increase dawns and the elections are over.

The other scheme which traducers of the Government claim is merely a vote-buying gimmick is Npower. The scheme aims at eventually providing everyday skills which can be usefully deployed by the millions of unemployed youths in the Country. Those lucky to benefit from the scheme get paid a stipend which the opposition considers is a mere bribe to secure the votes and support of the jobless, frustrated youths.

It is a mark of the times that we are in, and the impoverishment of the people, that these two schemes with the miserly amounts involved can catch the attention of the populace. Their intendment and effect have been likened to the welfare system which operates in most welfare countries, with Government protagonists calling it a form of the “dole” which operates in the United Kingdom. Those who oppose both schemes say that these are corrupted versions of the benefit system being propagated to suit a corrupt purpose by a government which corrupts everything including its so-called seminal fight against corruption.

What is also scary for neutral observers of the polity is the fact cyberbullying has been on the rise in dramatic fashion. Everywhere you turn on social media, there are rabid Buhari supporters, in particular, who treat their idol like God, such that any form of criticism attracts instant vitriolic and acerbic attack. On a WhatsApp group I was till yesterday, a querulous and garrulous young man who seems to defend every action of APC and Buhari went completely berserk saying anyone who supports Atiku Abubakar must be mentally deranged and requires urgent psychiatric attention, perhaps. Another one of them said Omoyele Sowore must be sick because of certain utterances he made recently. I couldn’t take the intolerance again and told the attacker to change his attitude “in the name of God.”

As far as these people are concerned, everyone who has any form of sympathy for PDP or its Presidential candidate is automatically a rogue and looter. Yet the same so-called “looters and rogues” are welcomed with open arms whenever a member of PDP saunters across to APC so that his sins can be forgiven instantly, and he can become a ‘saint’ in the eyes of these unreasonable and illogical fanatics. It is true that the PDP has created a long list of looters and perceived looters, but the same has always been true of APC. That is why the corruption fight has never really gotten off the ground and it is why the Government may eventually lose the war because of its concentration on this one issue while failing to realise that the people want economic and social emancipation first and foremost. For them, corruption is ultimately only at best a distraction which will be relegated to the background when the reality of the pervading hunger biting at them strikes home.

Many are wondering how some could be so brainwashed into seeing the sins of one Party and its members but are completely blind to the sins of others who are members of the ruling party. Blaming the problems of Nigeria on the 16 years of PDP is no longer ingenious now that APC is busy attracting and accepting the same demons into their fold, indiscriminately. I do not understand the audacity that makes APC feel it can continue to use those lines of calling others thieves when there have been too many instances of similar recklessness within its circle. Those with discernment recall that it is not all of the 16 PDP years that can be described as a period of profligacy and reckless plundering. In any event apart from possibly some of the antics of the Petroleum Ministry and the NNPC, few knew about the pillaging that was occurring under the Jonathan Government until the Government fell. Some argue that the same fate awaits the present administration and that people will be amazed at the level of brigandage and damage done to our collective commonwealth by a cabal within this government and a few other senior Ministers. The claim is that Dasukigate is child’s play, but that we shall only know the truth whenever the government is dethroned. I cannot personally vouch for the authenticity of these claims, but I hear the strident pleas of the First Lady, Aisha Buhari about the need to expose a cabal which is making the Presidency unable to fulfil the Change that it promised.

Also, whenever they call the PDP Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a corrupt man, I often wonder if Atiku was ever more than a Vice President and if he wielded more influence than the President. Moreover, the only basis for this continues to be the fact that his Boss, President Obasanjo, said so in the past, and an American Congressional investigation seemingly indicted him on some transactions as a result of which his visa application was turned down. What I fail to understand is why these two matters would continue to be an issue when the Boss, President Obasanjo has wholeheartedly embraced the candidature of Atiku, warts and all, and the American law enforcement agencies have never indicted him, and the Government of that country now appears prepared to issue him a visa. In my view, those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. A lot of respect has been accorded the President whose dignity and integrity has generally been protected by the military and political class and the fourth estate of the realm. This is understandably so, because we must not denigrate our leaders or soil their reputations if this can be avoided. Nevertheless, I think it is about time that the Administration starts trumpeting its successes in the economic and social infrastructure sector as well as security.  The government does have laudable and stellar achievements it can point to. The Government should also focus on its plans for the future. If the President allows his team to trawl the gutter in the allegations they are making against the former Vice-President of the country, a time may come when all the gloves go off and fisticuffs or roforofo fight becomes the order of the day with everybody besmeared and besmirched.

It is the unrelenting smear campaign against the PDP Presidential candidate Atiku, without any real regard to the issues which are paramount for the masses that is ultimately the biggest fear factor. If the APC has nothing good to tell us about what it proposes to do for the country if it wins, beyond saying that Nigerians must not vote for a looter, then the presumption is that they will take all steps to ensure that their rhetoric succeeds by hook and by crook. The logic is that the APC is so desperate to cling on to power even though it does not know what to do with it and accordingly, out of that desperation it will subvert the will of the electorate by foisting itself on the people with the might of the security forces at its behest and disposal. We may not need to get to this stage if APC realises that it can campaign on the issues, and change its ways, so that winning the elections is no longer in doubt. I fear however, that the ship has long since sailed in that regard and the major protagonists on the APC are hawkish warmongers who do not want to go back into the political wilderness that they had been consigned to before the all-conquering APC was birthed.

It is the hope of the generality of Nigerians that the Nigerian security forces will in the end shun partisanship and live to the true spirit of their oath to defend Nigeria and not any individual or Party. Soldier come, Soldier go! The will of the people must always be allowed to prevail and if this means another Party gaining power so be it. This has happened in the recent past and it will happen again. That is the beauty of democracy which our security forces have sworn to protect!

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