BY DELE MOMODU
“A lost nation is not one which lacks a ruler, but one that lacks law. Distortion of law does not mean there is no law. It means there is law but it is not applied.”
– Law Definition – Duhaime’s Law Dictionary
My dear Uncle Yemi, please, permit me to cut out the protocols and address you the way I always do. I have looked up to you as a big Brother for many, many years. I have the highest respect and regard for you personally and for your accomplishments as an academic, religious and political leader (please, note that I did not say politician, because I do not see you as one. You are honest, forthright and loyal unlike most politicians). I must also congratulate you on your election with President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term of office, even if I have reservations about the sloppy conduct of the election. I have never hidden my admiration for your commendable performance in office during your first term. You have been the major embellishment and strongest advocate of this government.
I know this open letter must come to you as a surprise because I have unlimited access to you on my own accord, and through family and friends. We’ve actually met a few times privately since you became Vice President. I have chosen to go public with this letter because it is not about you personally, even though it is addressed to you, but because it is about matters of a public nature that concerns you and your government. There may be lessons to be learnt by others apart from you. At those times when we have met one on one, I was able to express myself candidly to you. Our last private meeting was a secluded one, in Ikoyi, Lagos which happily was witnessed by one of your aides, Pastor Laolu Akande. At that meeting, when you and I sat and discussed for a considerable period of time, I had expressed serious reservations about the direction your government was headed, and you asked if it was that bad and I responded that it was “much worse.”
I have decided to write you today, Sir, after writing similar letters to your boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, in the past, without eliciting positive results. Our discussions have always been about our uncommon passion for Nigeria and not about anything personal. Long before you became Vice President, I had stumbled on you at Heathrow Terminal 3 one evening, and naturally, our interaction dovetailed to the State of the Nigerian nation. We were both concerned about the lack of progress and the usual sundries. By the grace of God, you are now the number two citizen of Nigeria, by virtue of your position as Vice President. I was very excited the day you were selected and even more so, the day you officially won the election. We all expected a new Nigeria, indeed. Our expectations were high.
As days climbed days and months mounted months, things began to fall apart. The last four years became a grand mirage of blame games. I watched you speak at different events and on varying platforms and could not believe how much blames you heaved on past governments without remembering that many of the called past actors are now in your party, warts and all. Things seemed to improve admirably whenever you acted as President. The sanity in the land was palpable. You took right decisions and made efforts to reach out to all Nigerians of different persuasions, tribes and tongues. Everyone praised you for your modern and cosmopolitan style of governance and the way you have embraced technology. But whenever the President resumed work, it seemed the unbridled conservatism and rigidity returned with him in full force, and with renewed vigour. Your exciting forward movement always appeared to go backwards, in reverse gear. It was as if some people were angry about your success and the relative peace and prosperity that you managed to secure.
I did not expect you to do anything other than to keep supporting your boss and espousing his policies. You’ve always been absolutely loyal and dependable since serving Prince Bolasodun Ajibola in the Attorney-General’s office, through to being Attorney-General, yourself, in the Lagos State Government of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and up to now as Vice President to President Muhammadu Buhari. This is commendable. My worry, and main reason, for writing you publicly today is because of the recklessness of your government in the last few months in its dealings with the Nigerian people. The immediate cause of this epistle is the issue of the ongoing elections. Nigerians had looked forward to these elections with both excitement and trepidation. The energy many put into it was unbelievable. Even after the first date was postponed, many still went out, against all odds, to exercise their rightful franchise. But what did they meet out there? A simple election was turned into an act and theatre of war. Many innocent souls were killed, wasted, maimed or injured. Properties were mindlessly destroyed including those of the umpire, INEC. There were reported cases of rape of INEC officials and some were forced under duress, at gun points, to declare fake or falsified results. In Lagos, your adopted home State, many voters were disenfranchised through malevolent beatings. Ballot boxes with ballot papers were seized and smashed and scattered into the wild winds or raging inferno. Yet, the security people, with all the braggadocio of the President could do nothing more than to watch the thugs of their own masters go on rampage, unhindered. Contrary to the provisions of the electoral laws, many States voted without their PVC or the card reader machines that were meant to capture data and reduce the usual electoral malpractices and general rascality, because they were faulty or unutilised, or deliberately ignored.
After all was said and done, your Party was declared winner of the controversial election by INEC. The election was rated among the most dreadful and despicable ever in the history of Nigeria. Despite this fact, I was one of the first to call on the opposition leader, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to rise above everything else and transfer the burden to your government by following the new tradition that was established by former President Goodluck Jonathan despite the fact that President Buhari had stated whether jocularly or seriously, we do not know, that he can never lose the election, so he would never have to congratulate his opponent!
Anyway. My painful and difficult request to Atiku was predicated on my good knowledge of our dear country. One. I didn’t want any violence to break out with more innocent people being killed. Two. I liked the example of former President Al Gore in America, who after fulfilling all righteousness, by calling his opponent, George W. Bush, still went to court, even if it was more of an academic exercise. 3. I have learnt some lessons from the wisdom of the Yoruba which says when your home is invaded by an armed robber, there is no point getting killed when you can pretend to be weak before you fight back later. Also, when a lunatic invades your wedding and says he is the groom of the day, don’t argue with, please tell him he is, and guide him out gently for you to continue your ceremony. 4. There were lessons to learn from how the June 12 crisis was handled and Atiku should know that most of his supporters will soon disappear in a short while due to various reasons, sometimes due to no fault of theirs but practical expediency and self-preservation. It seems to me that no government, in recent memory, has terrorised the opposition more than yours with a fickle and skewed campaign against corruption. Many have discovered and devised a practical strategy, join them and live in peace and prosperity, and the binge continues. 5. I have read a lot of books and interventions by your grandfather-in-law, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and most of the travails and prejudices he encountered then are still very much with us.
I have no doubt that the elections were not free and fair. I must hasten to add that both sides were apparently guilty of ensuring that this was the case. Not much has changed in Nigeria in this regard. I always say that people are able to rig in areas where they have the most influence. Nobody, least of all me, expected the elections to be perfect, but this one bordered on the ridiculous and, I daresay, was arrant nonsense. My grouse, and that of many people, including local and international election observers, was about the wickedness and intimidation visited upon the opposition by the excessive use of the military and agents and forces of violence and coercion. They acted in a most irresponsible and perfidious manner. I am certain you will not have known or approved of these excesses because I refuse to think you knew and looked the other way. You are far more of a gentleman for that. I suspect that your Party may still have won a handsome victory without resorting to the apparent self-help that some of your Party chieftains chose to adopt, tragically. What you have today is unfortunately a contested victory, blemished by the violence which makes me sad for you, in particular, since it seems many of your people are living in denial. All I can say is best of luck because you will always have my very best wishes.
On a personal note, I have chosen to hand over everything to God. Sir, you know more than me, as a Pastor, that God is the ultimate Judge of everyone, low and high. If I have been cheated and I choose not to fight, it is not because I’m stupid or squeamish but because I expect God to intervene on my behalf. Therefore, if indeed Atiku Abubakar and others have been robbed, the judgment of God will be harsher than that of the Supreme Court. But since I wasn’t the candidate, I accept whatever measures Atiku decides to take to regain his mandate (a tall order in this clime) and whatever psychological pleasure he derives from exposing the rot and corruption perpetrated by some of your operatives. It is after all his Constitutional right to challenge the result, as President Muhammadu Buhari did on three earlier occasions when it appeared that he had been short-changed. When tomorrow comes, truth will certainly come out.
Please, don’t be deceived by the deluge of greetings that you have received, and will be receiving from both well-meaning Nigerians or soldiers of fortune. Some would do it more out of protocol than sincerity. No matter how many of the revellers visit you and your government in Aso Rock Presidential villa, those visitors will never succeed in conferring legitimacy on your government until we know what actually transpired. Or maybe we will never know, as notoriously typical of our country!
Let me also plead with you to speak to your government most frankly, if anyone would listen to your admonition. President Buhari and his cronies should not over-celebrate and over-dramatise this pyrrhic victory. It is a victory littered with human blood. What you need urgently is to beg God to forgive all those who spilled innocent blood because they must remain in power. I can see that your Party’s army of occupation is still going on rampage in the South South of Nigeria, as if we are in a State of war. I read the article by the brilliant journalist, Comfort Obi, about the state of anarchy in the South South and I had tears in my eyes. Is it that there is more than this proclivity for power to control minds over matter? All parties and persons involved in this higgledy-piggledy need to sit back and remember how transient power is. What shall it profit a man who inherits the whole world but perishes in hell?
I just needed to pour out my heart to you, Sir. Instead of committing more sin by the way your government continues to pummel Atiku and his friends, I beg you to prevail on your people and the Party to be temperate and show great magnanimity in victory. The clock is ticking.
My warmest regards to you and yours, as always…
Leah Sharibu: The Prisoner of Conscience
Her story has been like the story of Daniel in the den of terror. In the face of captivity her captors kept her just because she refused to call another faith. She is the mercurial of her own conscience. One of the first in the history that never denies her religion and She is Leah; but powerful than her co-mate in the scripture.
Leah Sharibu is our daughter. One of the girls that have brought our country to her kneels. Not just a martyr of faith but a girl whose spirit has driven us all to her struggle since she was abducted in Dapchi. And that abduction was historic.
It is seemingly a thought of a cohesive expression to the government. I see her than the way Nigerians see her. She is the girl that has made us to understand that religion is fate and faith is faith— in time of obstacle. Someone who doesn’t compromise her principle rather beseech in the spirit of prayer. That voice of Leah begins to come to us than it echoes to her captors. Meanwhile, she is supposed to be in school.
While some of her colleagues are intensely studying for the school certificate exam but she is here dying to be rescued. And Prof. Wole Soyinka has compared her to the late apartheid fighter, Nelson Mandela. In Soyinka’s poem titled: ‘’ Mandela’s Earth’’ the poem has a conjectural meaning that Mandela reverted to those who jailed him. ‘’ NO! He said’’
These particular words came out to Leah Sharibu as well. When she said— No! And perhaps in Wole Soyinka’s poem: ‘’ I am the rock, this Island. I toiled’’ this is what our own Leah stands for. However, the poem says: ‘’ in and out of time wrap, I am that rock/ in the black hole of the sky’’ truly, Sharibu has become the rock of human.
She has made us to understand that her release is important to us. That her struggle is to end bigotry and fanaticism in our country and perhaps to let everybody has the right to believe in faith. To have been in captivity for this time is terribly bad for a sixteen years old girl in her own country.
Recently, she celebrated her sixteen years birthday. In the den of terror, just because she is not ready to deny her own faith— meanwhile, if Jesus were to be alive he would have seen that Leah Sharibu loves him than her own life. And this means a lot for sacrifice. To a girl who has hope for her beloved country.
Probably, had it been her mother knew that such would happen, she would have been like the character in Toni Morrison’s novel: ‘’ Beloved’’ where the mother kills her own daughter because she doesn’t want her to face racism. Is this not a religion manhunt? — For Leah’s mother to cry helplessly for her beloved daughter to be released.
And I believed that the day she was abducted in her school with her other abductors, she would have recited the national anthem and pledge. That she was serving Nigeria with all her strength and now; is Nigeria serving her back? Or has the government forgotten that Leah is a citizen?
This means her life matters to every single Nigeria. And it is the duty of President Buhari to let her come back to her parent. Still, her life is not enmeshed, with wrong faith rather she has been the quintessential girl that knows how to identify her own right. Her life means a lot to all of us. Not that she is just a mere girl child, she is our daughter.
Therefore, it is the ability of the government to provide for her needs in captivity. To rescue her is even the major concern of all Nigerians. What is the point to the military if she can’t be rescued? Is it that our military are scared to fight the insurgency? All I know is that if Leah Sharibu is not being rescued that means her parent will lose hope in Buhari’s Administration.
However, she is the prisoner of conscience. She is the prisoner that has not failed to know her God. She has indeed believed in her faith like one of the character in James Joyce’s short story, Dubliners. And, still her colleagues were released but she was held back because she refused to deny her faith. This is a simple meaning of a cultured girl. And she strongly believes in the article of faith.
Leah is an affable girl that knows that her right is to be freed from the thraldom of dooms. In a society of ours, because what she has done do not deserve this kind of maltreatment she is receiving. If truly, we have a government that understands the people— the Leah Sharibu of our time won’t spend these hours and days in captivity.
To make the system function, let us all know that, what happens to Leah Sharibu, could affect anybody. And prior to her abduction, we knew the Chibok girls’ story. Yet, the government has not found measure to liaise with the insurgent. And what I expect the government should have done is to take the military serious than ever. And the military needs to deploy tactics and strategy because this is like a fratricide.
For every life, it matters to us that, we should never forget to know that Leah Sharibu is still a piquant subject that can never be forgotten. Thus, her abduction is cumbersome. Perhaps, I expect the government to know that Nigerians want Leah Sharibu alive.
Her parent has cried for too long; to the extent that, they talked like the English poet, Andrew Marvel, in his poem: To His Coy Mistress, which says: ‘’Had we but world enough and time/ this coyness, lady, were no crime.’’ With truism, she has no crime. But, if Buhari forgets to do the needful, Leah Sharibu’s spirit won’t make Nigeria rest just because she is innocent.
Let us know that a sixteen years old girl has decided to hold on to her faith; and this makes her to be the prisoner of conscience. Even with a conscience heart, we pray for release.
EXPERTS UNDERSCORES IMPORTANCE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY IN FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
Information Technology (IT) has been identified as a vital element to achieve maximum productivity, efficient and effective service delivery, with faster communication in Public Financial Management (PFM).
The Head, Management Information Unit, of the Office of Accountant General/State Treasury in Ogun State, Mr. Abdulfattah Odusanya stated this while presenting a paper at a 2-day Training on Public Financial Management held at Itori in Ewekoro Local Government Area of the State.
The programme was organized by the Ogun State Government (OGSG) through its Project Support Unit, Ministry of Budget and Planning, in collaboration with the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President (OSSAP) on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), for Financial Managers in selected Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as those in Local Government Areas (LGAs).
Odusanya, while speaking on a paper titled “Information Technology: An Enhancement to Public Financial Management” said IT is a network of networks that has brought unprecedented change and redefined methods of communication, work, study, education, interaction, health, entertainment and commerce across the globe.
“Investment in IT system and infrastructure has become a key element in productivity and effective Public Financial Management. Increased investment in IT-Capital has accelerated growth and development”, he said.
Speaking further on PFM enhancement through IT in Ogun State, Odusanya suggested integration of the State payroll with, Pension system for seamless transfer of retiring employee information, Biometric Time and Attendance Management software, seamless Online payment solution for salaries, pensions and vendors payments, all electronic revenue collection platforms for on-line real time monitoring and comprehensive reporting in the Treasury departments among others.
In her closing remark, the Director of Planning in the Ministry and the State Focal Person, Mrs. Yetunde Olatubosun urged participants to ensure that the knowledge gained from the training reflected in their professional conducts.
In their separate responses, the Head of Account Unit, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Mr. Adewale Adesanya and the Treasurer, Ifo LGA, Mrs. Hassan Enitan, described the training as impactful, assuring that knowledge acquired would enhance their performances as financial managers in the State and also enable them operate in line with best global practices.
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