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Pendulum: As John Dramani Mahama Turns 60, a Toast to an Icon



By: Dele Momodu

I have the pleasure of celebrating the immediate past President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama, a man who has demonstrated beyond any doubt that not all African leaders are clueless, incompetent or visionless. Yes, I can confidently assert the fact that this perfect gentleman is an epitome of visionary leadership on a continent where poor leadership has been gloom and doom. I have had the privilege of knowing and following former President Mahama very closely and I’m endlessly proud of his passion for infrastructure development and modernisation of Ghana in particular and Africa in general. Until I encountered this prodigiously brilliant leader, I never thought any African leader could be that committed to the onerous task of nation-building.

John Mahama was born on November 29th, 1958 in Damango, capital of West Gonja District, to an affluent teacher, rice farmer and politician.  His father, Emmanuel Adama Mahama, was the first member of Parliament for West Gonja and the first Regional Minister of Northern Region, serving under Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah. The older Mahama also served as a Special Presidential to President Hilla Liman in the Third Republic.

Mahama had his secondary school education at Achimota School, Accra and studied for his A’ levels at Ghana Secondary School, Tamale .He had his first degree education at the University of Ghana, Legon where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in History in 1981. After completing his university education, Mahama became a History teacher, teaching secondary school  students. During this time, he completed a postgraduate diploma course in communication studies from his alma mater, the University of Ghana, Legon in 1986.level. Thereafter JDM proceeded to Russia in the old Soviet Union, where he underwent further postgraduate studies at the Institute of Social Sciences, Moscow. He obtained a master’s degree in social psychology in 1988.

After completing his studies in Moscow in 1988, Mahama returned to Ghana, he worked as the Information, Culture and Research Officer at the Embassy of Japan in Accra between 1991 and 1995. He joined the Ghana country office of Plan International, an anti-poverty non-governmental organisation in 1995 and was employed as the organisation’s International Relations, Sponsorship Communications and Grants Manager. He left the organisation in 1996 to take up a career in politics.

JDM, followed his father’s footsteps when he joined the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in 1996. Even then, he was a popular man in his constituency, and was at that early stage already being considered as an indefatigable champion of the underprivileged. He was easily elected as Member of Parliament to represent Bole/Bamboi Constituency for a 4-year term that year. He was re-elected in 2000 and 2004.

He was appointed Deputy Minister of Communications in 1997 and was elevated to the post of Minister of Communications in 1998. As Minister of Communications he was also Chairman of the National Communications Authority where he played a key role in stabilizing Ghana’s telecommunications sector. After leaving office as Minister when his party, NDC, was defeated Mahama continued as a member of Parliament and was Minority Parliamentary Spokesman for Communications and later, Minority Spokesman for Foreign Affairs.

Mahama has always been interested in international affairs. In 2003 he became a member of the Pan-African Parliament where he served as the Chairperson of the West African Caucus until 2011. He was also a member of European and Pan African Parliaments’ Ad-hoc Committee on Cooperation. He is a member of the UNDP Advisory Committee on Conflict Resolution in Ghana Foreign Affairs.

Following his Party’s victory in the 2008 polls, John Mahama became Vice-President to Prof John Atta-Mills, a man he would subsequently describe as a father, friend, mentor and senior comrade during the glowing tribute he paid to Professor Mills when he died on 24th July 2012.

It is often said that fate plays a huge role in the affairs of men, and this statement is certainly true of how providence has dealt the cards for John Dramani Mahama, because nobody could ever have foretold the shocking death of President John Attah Mills on July 24th, 2012, and Mahama’s immediate elevation to the position of President of the Republic of Ghana. He thus made history as the first Ghanaian Head of State to have been born after the nation’s independence (March 6, 1957). Like his father who had achieved a string of firsts in his political career, JDM upon becoming President of Ghana gained a string of superlative firsts which is unlikely to ever be matched in Ghana and possibly elsewhere in the world. His achievement meant that he had served at all levels of political office in Ghana – Ghanaian and Pan-African Member of Parliament, Deputy Minister, Minister, Vice-President and President).

Mahama contested the 2012 Presidential polls for as a candidate in his own right and defeated Nana Akuffo-Addo who he had defeated in the 2008 polls as part of the Ata-Mills Mahama Presidential ticket.  He was elected for a 4-year term which sadly for Ghana ended with his defeat to the same Nana Akuffo Addo in the 2016 Presidential polls.

Mahama is a Christian, born and raised a Presbyterian but now a member of the Assemblies of God. He grew up in a multi-faith family, consisting of Christian and Muslims, that experience has been responsible for his ability to connect with effortless ease.

Many have asked me the question why then did he lose the last Presidential elections? The reasons are very simple and straight-forward.

Stomach infrastructure has become a major factor in African politics. There is mass poverty and unmitigated hunger everywhere you turn. When people are hungry, they just want food. Majority of people hardly travel beyond their immediate environment. They do not care about good roads. They have no business in a modern or beautiful airport. Even when there is electricity, it is epileptic, they don’t worry much. Building modern hospitals is mere luxury to the poor. They have been brought up to drink concoctions and incise their bodies to rub in some esoteric herbs. Students go to school hoping to get instant jobs as soon as they graduate and most want government employment. What is worse, there is no strategy more potent than labelling a leader corrupt even when there is no evidence.

President Mahama did not mind his detractors and traducers. He was too busy working with the agility of a horse. He was building new roads and rehabilitating old ones. I have been to all the ten regions of Ghana and I saw wonderful roads in many of them. And they were done in record time. During his Presidential campaign, we drove day and night without any fear and this was made possible by a good network of roads made possible by successive governments in Ghana. Similarly, he believes in the adage that health is wealth and devoted considerable energy not only to upgrading existing hospitals, but also building new state of the art hospitals and medical centres. As I keep saying, Ghana is an example of how a nation can achieve plenty with paltry resources, and Mahama is one of the African visionaries who shows by leadership and example how easy it is to achieve this.

Under Mahama, the sense of pride around the continent was restored. There was a time when positive stories about Africa were as dead as the dodo, but this remarkable man changed all that, reducing the stigma associated with African leaders with his ambitious agenda.

Mahama has always been recognised as an African Statesman and he has grown into this role since he left office in January 2017. Whilst in office as President of Ghana, he was elected President of ECOWAS in March 2014. In June 2014, he was elected Chairperson of the African Union’s (AU’s) High-Level African Trade Committee (HATC). At the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, Mahama became co-chair of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocates Group comprising of 17 eminent persons who assisted the UN Secretary-General in the campaign to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

In recognition of his amiable but tough nature and his skills as a respected negotiator and statesman, he was part of the ECOWAS Presidential mediation team appointed to resolve the post-election logjam in The Gambia following the victory of Adama Barrow over Yahya Jammeh in December 2016. He was instrumental in the speedy resolution of the matter and the eventual swearing of President Barrow. I was privileged to witness first hand JDM at work together with President Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia and could see the respect and awe that his colleagues had for him, including Jammeh.

Mahama is a very IT savvy person. He recognises the power and place of the internet and social media and believes it is a veritable tool for the development and unity of the African continent despite some of its drawbacks with fake news. Mahama consequently takes his social media awareness seriously and his esteem and popularity is demonstrated by the fact that he is one of Africa’s most-followed leaders on Twitter and Facebook.

The personable gentleman made infrastructure development the cardinal principle of his government and stayed glued to it stubbornly.  He told his people the bitter truth at every point. He felt that for the country to make any meaningful and sustainable progress, the Country first of all had to put in place infrastructure that would be lasting and real. This he said was to be preferred to any immediate palliative that would only offer temporary solace to the people but would never solve their problems or that of generations coming after them.  Thus, he spoke what no politician would have said and what the citizens would not like to hear. Mahama was a man in a hurry to build a new Ghana. His dream was to surpass the commendable work of his predecessors, especially that of the father of modern Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah and leave a legacy of lasting structures. Like all mortals, Mahama was not a perfect human being. He had his foibles but was nevertheless rigidly committed to his developmental projects.

Another pointer as to his sense of purpose was how he battled the electricity challenge (which came to be derisively referred to as ‘dumso dumso’), to a standstill and pursued rural electrification with gusto. The deployment of emergency plants and speeding up the completion of the plants that were under construction resulted in the addition of more than 800 MW of power over an 18-month period. Another testament to his vision and daring is the recently completed International Terminal of the Kotoka Airport which has continued to be a source of marvel to visitors and residents of Ghana as it epitomises the vision of Mahama for a Ghana that would compete with any developed nation. The Airport is simply a breath-taking sight to behold and Ghanaians continue to commend Mahama for embarking on this project which in his inimitable way did not cost the nation an arm and a leg.

Don’t let his understated boyish charm deceive you, he has an inner steel that confounded even his greatest of critics. It was this resolve that enabled him to pursue tough reforms that were intended to boost the economy, reduce high unemployment and transform Ghana into a more dynamic, competitive and inclusive economy.

Mahama won many over with his message of hope and warmth, tolerance and inclusion, attributes that mirror his upbringing. As he celebrates his 60th birthday on November 29th, 2018, I join the myriad of his admirer, fans, family and friend to toast the ultimate and consummate Statesman and Leader, John Dramani Mahama. For Mahama, I believe the best is yet to come.

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Buhari, Aisha and the Symphony of a Confusing Orchestra



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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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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Pendulum: Why Many Nigerians are Scared of the Year 2019




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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