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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

FIRSTBANK PARTNERS NESG, HOST 25TH NIGERIAN ECONOMIC SUMMIT

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As part of its continued commitment to create an enabling environment and opportunities for the promotion of sustainable growth and development of the Nigerian economy, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has partnered with The Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) to host the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES#25), its annual flagship event. The Silver Jubilee edition of the Nigerian Economic Summit is themed “Nigeria 2050: Shifting Gears” and scheduled to hold on 7 – 8 October 2019 at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, would speak on “Gender Empowerment” at the plenary.

 

The Nigerian Economic Summit is the foremost credible platform for public-private dialogue which enables policy makers and influencers to deliberate on issues, proffer policy options with a view to a better understanding of our national economic policy direction and growth strategies. National leaders and policy influencers billed to attend the event include His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; His Excellency Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, GCON, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, Hon. Minister for Finance, Budget & National Planning, Nigeria.

 

Other dignitaries are Senator Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan PhD, CON, President of the Senate; Right Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Mrs. Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations. The Chief Host of the event is Mr Asue Ighodalo, Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group.

 

Panelists at the event include Alhaji Aliko Dangote President/CEO Dangote Group; Mr Godwin Emefiele Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; Bishop Matthew Kukah, Founder, The Kukah Centre; His Excellency Dr Kayode Fayemi, Chairman, Nigeria Governors Forum; HRH Muhammadu Sanusi II, The Emir of Kano; Hon. Adebo Ogundoyin, Speaker, Oyo State House of Assembly; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; Hon. Mrs Hannatu Mohammed, Board Member, ICPC; Mr. Chidi Ajaere, CEO, GIG Group; Mrs Juliet Anammah, CEO, Jumia Nigeria and Mr Mauricio Alarcon, MD/CEO, Nestle Nigeria Plc .

 

The event is billed to comprise plenary sessions, exhibitions, design workshops, dinner and the anniversary lecture as well as the presentation of awards and prizes to winners of the NES #25 essay competition and start-up pitching event.

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COLUMNISTS

On June 12 We Stand, by Reuben Abati

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It is ironic that it had to take a member of the military establishment now turned democrat, that is General, now President Muhammadu Buhari for June 12 to be accorded its pride of place in the socio-political calendar of the Federal Government of Nigeria. Before now, the recognition/celebration of June 12 as a watershed in Nigerian history had been observed majorly by the states of the South West of Nigeria, thus making its symbolism and significance a restricted and ethnic referent. But that has changed, thanks to President Buhari. His decision to declare June 12 a national holiday, his award of a post-humous honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic to Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola and the subsequent amendment of the Public Holidays Act to accommodate June 12 as a Federal holiday is a welcome development. President Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) had pointedly ignored all entreaties for his administration to take the same step.
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (2007 – 2010) did not address the June 12 issue. President Goodluck Jonathan (2010 – 2015) had taken steps to immortalize MKO Abiola when he decided to name the University of Lagos after the late icon of democracy, but the staff, students and the alumni of the University rejected this, as they insisted that the name University of Lagos must not be changed. The Jonathan administration would later recognize Chief MKO Abiola as one of the major Nigerians of the 20thcentury. That administration also considered giving Chief MKO Abiola a post-humous national award, but the then President was advised against doing so on the grounds that national honours in Nigeria are never given post-humously. Obviously, the controversy over the re-naming of the University of Lagos was so overwhelming, President Jonathan chose to listen to the Justice Alfa Belgore-led committee on national honours.
Whereas all other Presidents before him failed to make a statement with June 12, President Muhammadu Buhari has now chosen to do so. Tomorrow, all Nigerians will observe June 12 as a national holiday. It will be the first time that this will happen. This should lay to rest all the conspiracies and the revisionism involved in the attempt to reduce June 12 to a narrow, ethnic event, which it is not. The recognition of June 12 as a special national event would be one of those developments for which President Buhari will be positively remembered. It is again ironic that 26 years after, it took another member of the military elite to correct the problem caused by the military. It has taken President Buhari to correct the error committed by General Ibrahim Babangida and his group on June 23, 1993 when they chose to annul the Presidential election held in Nigeria on June 12, 1993. That unwise decision became General Babangida’s Achillee’s heel, and the ugly thing around his neck.
General Babangida or IBB as he is fondly known, could have ended up as one of Nigeria’s greats, given the performance of his government, but what is now remembered as his legacy, despite the best efforts of his biographers and PR managers, is that singular negative act, his violation of the people’s sovereignty.  President Buhari is now being lauded for the courageous manner in which he has taken Nigeria beyond the denial and conspiracy foisted on the people by both the military and a segment of the professional political class. We look forward to what President Muhammadu Buhari would say to Nigerians and the international community, tomorrow, June 12. His speech writers have a good opportunity to put words in his mouth that can reverberate like the claps of thunder. They must not waste that opportunity with their sleepy prose. President Buhari should have a word for those who have kept this country down by perpetually denying the truth and turning back the hands of the country’s clock. He should take credit appropriately for the wise decision that he has taken on the matter of June 12.
I remember June 12, 1993, as clearly as if it happened only yesterday. On that day, Nigerians trooped out en masse to make a choice between the Presidential candidates of two political parties, Bashorun MKO Abiola of the Social Democratic Party and Alhaji Bashir Tofa of the National Republican Convention. General Ibrahim Babangida was military President, ruling the country with his Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and finally getting to the final stage of a slow-moving democratic transition programme. By 1993, Nigerians were already tired of military rule and particularly of the Babangida government which seemed to have mastered the art of deception.
The people wanted the military out of the way, to allow a return to civilian rule, which had been truncated by the military at regular intervals since independence in 1960. On that day, Nigerians voted massively for the Social Democratic Party and its candidate, Bashorun MKO Abiola (8, 341, 309 million votes – 58.36%). The NRC candidate, Bashir Tofa came second (5, 952, 087 million votes – 41.64%). This was an election in which neither religion nor ethnicity – two major dividing factors in Nigeria was an issue. MKO Abiola, a Southerner got as much support in the North as he did in the South, even beating his rival, Bashir Tofa in his home state of Kano. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) was headed by political science Professor, Humphrey Nwosu. As the results were collated, it was clear that MKO Abiola (SDP) was leading in 19 states, with Bashir Tofa (NRC) winning in 11 states. On June 16 however, NEC announced that it would no longer announce the results “until further notice”.  Civil society and pro-democracy protesters objected to this. It had been a free and fair election, the most peaceful that Nigeria had ever known. On June 23, 1993, the Babangida government annulled the election and suspended the Electoral Commission. The NEC Chairman, Humphrey Nwosu went underground and became incommunicado. Bashorun MKO Abiola claimed victory. The people demanded that their will as expressed on June 12, 1993 should be respected and that the results of the election should be declared.
The refusal of the military establishment brought it into direct collision with the people and the international community. June 12 became a catalyst for much that would happen to Nigeria. The crisis escalated so quickly,  General Ibrahim Babangida known then as the “evil genius” had to “step aside” as President of Nigeria. He put in place as he left, an Interim National Government led by UAC chief, Ernest Shonekan with General Sani Abacha as Defence Chief. That ING survived for only 83 days. General Sani Abacha, a veteran of military coups in Nigeria, pushed aside the ING and its Head and proclaimed himself Head of State. To put it as it was, hell broke loose. Civil society became tempestuous.
Concerned Professionals, Concerned Democrats, Progressives, voices of reason in Nigeria across all divides, the church, market women, every one with a voice, took to the streets to say: “Never Again to military rule.” The general consensus was that the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election was after all a subterfuge by the military to remain in power and that IBB had played a “Maradona” game against Nigerians. “On June 12 we stand”, the people proclaimed and they took to the barricades. The diplomatic community even joined the protests, with the likes of US Ambassador Walter Carrington, leading the charge on the diplomatic front.  The Abacha government was bound to fail. It died a-borning. It descended on Nigeria’s civil society and the progressive camp, and as Nigeria began to witness the worst form of dictatorship since 1960, the people fought back. And Abacha fought back. Not even newly born babies were spared. Journalists were special targets: those who were not hauled into prison, were made to flee abroad, or go underground. Those were the days of guerilla journalism in Nigeria. The people at home fought, those abroad set up a short wave radio, Radio Kudirat which reported Abacha to the world. In due course, Nigeria became a pariah nation.
Three major events made this happen: the first is the declaration by Chief MKO Abiola of his due right to the mandate that Nigerians gave him on June 12, 1993. On June 11, 1994, Chief MKO Abiola in the Epetedo area of Lagos declared himself the democratically elected President of Nigeria. That speech is now known as the Epetedo Declaration. It should be widely circulated tomorrow, June 12 and on every June 12 henceforth, for it has become one of the landmark speeches in the mapping of Nigerian history, and the trajectory of our country’s democratic evolution. I am tempted to quote from that eminently quotable speech but I recall that it was in that speech that the phrase “Enough is Enough” was first pronounced as a revolutionary call to action. Abiola said: “Today, I join you all in saying Enough is Enough! We have endured 24 years of military rule in our 34 years of independence.…Enough of military rule…” And he went on and on.…
The Epetedo Declaration became another catalyst for the Nigerian Spring! It was a call to action. The people responded. Abiola was arrested by the Abacha junta but the genie had left the bottle. The people of Nigeria heard Abiola: “Enough is Enough” and they too responded: “Never Again to military rule”. Second event: On November 10, 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa, a writer and internationally renowned environmental rights activist was hanged by the Abacha administration. Third event: On June 9, 1996, Abiola’s wife, Kudirat was assassinated by Abacha’s killer squad. There were attempts on the lives of key pro-democracy activists as well including Chief Alfred Rewane who was murdered, and Chief Abraham Adesanya who survived. Journalists were murdered. It was as if at the Epetedo Declaration,  Abiola had placed a curse on General Abacha. Nigeria suffered but the people wanted an end to it all. On June 8, 1998, General Sani Abacha died. There was dancing in the streets. But as it happened, Chief Abiola also died, in very suspicious circumstances, while still in detention, on July 7, 1998. By then, General Abdusalami Abubakar had succeeded General Abacha as military Head of State. Nigerians still didn’t give up. They wanted democracy. They wanted to be liberated from the shackles of military autocracy.  On May 29, 1999, their will prevailed. General Olusegun Obasanjo who had also been framed and jailed by the Abacha government became Nigeria’s civilian president after all the turmoil.
It is sad that those who have benefitted most from the June 12 debacle have been the most desperate in denying the value and symbolism of that date and what happened therein. June 12 was a turning point for Nigeria as the foregoing narrative indicates, and it became, in its trajectory, the catalyst for Nigeria’s second liberation, that is liberation from internal colonialists, but as things stand 26 years later, we may still need to construct a strategy for a third liberation: liberation from the rent collectors who seem to have resolved that Nigeria’s progress is a threat to their own interests. By declaring June 12 a national public holiday, President Buhari has given us all an opportunity to reflect, to think and to remember. In a country where memory is short, people don’t like to think, and state institutions are constructed to erase memory, the teaching of history was even at a point “outlawed”, now it is taught as an optional subject, it is a good thing that President Buhari in making June 12 a national holiday has given us all an opportunity to do what we do not like to do in this country: to think, reflect and remember.  June 12 is an idea that cannot be ignored. It is about national unity. On that day in 1993, we saw that it is possible for Nigerians, “though tongue and tribe may differ” to unite around an idea. June 12 is a philosophy, a way of thinking by a people who resolved at a critical moment in their lives to move forward. The evil agents in the military tried to block that and suppress the people’s sovereignty, but tomorrow, the point shall be made that the truth is indestructible! We hope that there will be celebration in every state of the Federation.
The story of June 12 has inspired a bibliography that should be promoted. Indeed, apart from the civil war, it is probably the most dramatic and telling incident in post-colonial Nigeria. I have been privileged to read many of the books, which I recommend to the reading public. They include, not necessarily in any order of importance, Abraham Oshoko,June12: The Struggle for Power in Nigeria, Abraham Oshoko, June 12: The Annulment; Frank Kokori,The Struggle for June 12,Omo Omoruyi,The Tale of June 12: The Betrayal of the Democratic Rights of Nigerians;Humphrey Nwosu, Laying the Foundations for Nigeria’s Democracy: My Account of June 12, 1993 Presidential election and its annulment;  Wale Oshun,Clapping With One Hand; Wale Oshun,Open Grave; and Wale Oshun, Kiss of Death; Kayode Fayemi,Out of the Shadows: Exile and the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy in Nigeria;Joe Igbokwe, Heroes of Democracy;  and Wole Soyinka,The Open Sore of a Continent. These works represent in varying degrees, the literature of resistance against military rule in Nigeria.
The revisionists led by General Ibrahim Babangida have tried to rewrite and revise the same story (there would have been a coup if the result was allowed (!), a cabal within the military didn’t want Abiola, it was an unfortunate incident… story…); see:  their narrative is not selling. On June 12 we stand! I have also heard some people express the view that the Buhari government should go a step further and formally announce the results of the June 12, 1993 election and thereafter declare Chief Abiola the rightful winner of that election. I disagree. The June 12, 1993 process having been inchoate and the beneficiary dead, such a declaration will have no probative value. For me, what has been done serves the purpose. It would all have been better though, if June 12 had been declared MKO Abiola’s Day. He was the symbol, the rallying point, the icon of Nigeria’s second liberation in whom is fully embodied the essence of the struggle from June 12,1993 to May 29, 1999. But have we learnt any lessons from June 12?  Sadly, I don’t think so.

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Magu Closes N5bn Case Against Sun Newspaper

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Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, on Thursday closed his case in the N5 billion libel suit he filed against the publishers of the Sun newspaper, after presenting two witnesses, accorging to his counsel, Mr E. O. Omoijaede.

“This case was adjourned for continuation of trial. However, we will be applying that my lord closes the case for the claimant.

“We will be requesting for a date for the defendants to open their case,” Omoijaede said.

Mr Charles Ewelunta, counsel to the respondents, expressed dissatisfaction at the development.

“The claimant’s counsel should have closed the case instead of wasting everyone’s time. I am supposed to be out of town at an election petition tribunal.

“I have been sitting here just for them to say they are closing their case. I will be asking for a cost of N50,000,” Ewelunta said.

Responding, Omojiade said that the publishers of the Sun newspaper should save time by opening their case immediately.

“From our end, we are even helping the defendant by closing our case especially as they are in a hurry to open their case.

“We have already called two witnesses. If their own witnesses are in court, they should open their case,” he said.

Justice Doris Okuwobi, refused Omoijaede’s request for N50,000 cost against Magu’s legal team, saying that the suit which was filed in 2017, had not suffered any delay caused by the team.

“This case is adjourned till Sept. 17 for further hearing,” she said.

Newsmen report that Magu sued the publishers of the Sun, claiming N5 billion in damages over a publication that alleged that the Department of State Security uncovered two houses in Maitama, Abuja, which were traced to his wife.

The EFCC boss is also demanding that the newspaper should publish an apology and retract the alleged libelous publication.

Magu and Mr Usman Zakari, the Head of Intelligence and Special Operations Unit of the EFCC, gave evidence for the claimant.

While giving evidence on April 18, Zakari said that he had worked closely with Magu but started to view him from a different perspective after reading the allegedly damaging publication.

“I work with him closely, I know him very well. The claimant is an asset to the EFCC, he is a man of honour and integrity. Due to this publication, I don’t hold him in high regard as before.

“The claimant does not have any property out of the country. He has a house in Karo, a farmhouse in Karshi area of Abuja, and a family house in Maiduguri.

“I have visited those three property; he does not have any property outside Nigeria; that publication falsely mentioned he owned two property in the high brow area of Maitama, Abuja,” Zakari said.

In his evidence on Dec. 17, 2018, Magu denied owning two houses in Maitama, Abuja.

He said:“The publication is totally false. Even if I have the money, I wouldn’t buy houses in Maitama.

“They said the houses are located in the Darrubbe and Missouri, Maitama and that they belong to my wife.

“My wife, Fatima Yakaka Magu, is a civil servant and cannot afford to buy houses in Maitama.

“I am an international man and the publication has damaged my reputation. The name Magu does not end with me.

“The publication caused a whole lot of trauma.”

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