By Dele Momodu
Fellow Nigerians, interesting times are here again. And the ways of God are mysterious indeed. This time last week, no one was sure who would ultimately emerge as the quintessential leader of opposition for the general elections in our dear beloved country which comes up in February next year. There were about 12 assorted gladiators lined up and seeking the Presidential ticket of PDP, which truly needs to redeem itself urgently from the vestiges of near death. For the most part, its national convention in Port Harcourt went smoothly.
Even its worst critics attest to the fact that it was effectively well organised and set the right tone for the regeneration of the democratic credentials of the Party. What was more remarkable, a candidate emerged without rancour or the usual bickering that attends such highly contentious contests. Virtually all the other aspirants immediately aligned with their chosen candidate, former Vice President of Nigeria, the Wazirin Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Since then, both traditional and social media have ignited with blazing fire with both positive and negative comments about the outcome. Atiku himself wasted no time in seeking the support of everyone, whether members of his Party or not. He’s smart and knowledgeable to know that he will need more than votes of the Party faithful alone to win the stiff electoral battle ahead.
As he emphasised in my two previous interviews with him in the last couple of months, he has redeemed his pledge to pick a Vice Presidential candidate from the South East of Nigeria, a move many Nigerians have applauded, and embraced, as a masterstroke. The choice of former Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State is seen by some analysts as the first step towards the restructuring Atiku and company have been mouthing from the rooftops in recent times. Apart from this, Peter Obi is seen by many as a seasoned technocrat and astute businessman with credible and capable government experience and service. The Igbos have rightly complained that they have had neither the Presidential or Vice-Presidential slot since 1983, some 35 years ago, when Dr Alex Ekwueme, of blessed memory, was President Shehu Shagari’s deputy. Buhari has an equally formidable person, who also boasts intimidating credentials and capabilities, as his Vice-President in Professor Yemi Osinbajo.
Obi comes with an array of impressive academic, business and political credentials and achievements. He is a Philosophy graduate from the University of Nsukka. He has improved and enhanced himself with academic and practical studies at Harvard Business School, London School of Economics, Kellogg School of Management, University of Columbia, Said Business School, Oxford University, George Business School, Cambridge University and Lagos Business School. These have sharpened his entrepreneurial, management and leadership skills which he clearly utilised in the 8 years that he was Governor of Anambra State between 2006 and 2014.
Peter Obi is a recipient of many national and international awards notably the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation Award for which his State won US$1 million for its immunisation programme. He created an enabling environment for industrial development in Anambra State which saw the likes of SABMiller, the 2nd largest brewery in the world establishing their first Greenfield facility in Anambra State. Similarly, Innoson Motors established their internationally acclaimed plant where they manufacture their made in Nigeria vehicles. Obi adds unquantifiable value to the Atiku candidacy in much the same way as Vice President Osinbajo has done for President Buhari. The battle of the Vice-Presidential candidates may well be the tipping point of these forthcoming elections. We will revisit the contest between this highly esteemed and acclaimed gentlemen soon.
The battle for the control of Nigeria’s jugular in 2019 is all set and looks like a straight fight between Buhari/Osinbajo and Abubakar/Obi, except a miracle, or some magic, erupts and one of the fringe candidates pulls a monumental surprise by defeating both teams in what must be close to a volcanic eruption in Nigeria. I personally do not see that happening.
The battle will be tough because old rivalries will also come into play. Buhari needs to prove and revalidate his seeming invincibility which seems to be waning if my reading of the pulse of public opinion is accurate. As the incumbent, Buhari controls the appurtenances of power. His ego is at stake. Like former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Buhari came back to power as a retired army General and former military Head of State. Obasanjo was able to complete two terms and Buhari would definitely wish to equal that feat even if he can’t surpass it because of constitutional limitations. Buhari is not known to be a self-acclaimed democrat. The aspect of his brand that has brought him this far is his no-nonsense posturing. A man who would destroy and obliterate all looters and oppressors, by any means possible, if allowed to have his way. This has endeared him to a multitude of totally loyal die-hard supporters. His disciples swear by his name and they are willing to fly to heaven and back to prove their ardent fervour and love for him.
Buhari comes into the boxing ring with a daunting personality and attributes. He is tall and gangling, even if seemingly frail, but his punches are capable of deadly effect. Unlike Obasanjo or Atiku, many have said this President is not going to bow to any public opinion and go away without a whimper. Fingers are being pointed at the recent over-militarisation of the democratic process and suspected manipulation of the electoral body, INEC. Whether imaginary or not, or imagination just running riot, no one can easily dismiss certain unseemly electoral practices and possibilities in next year’s elections. We hope that the desperation to remain in power will not go as far as besmirching the view of how far our democracy has been deepened by the fact of President Goodluck Jonathan, accepting the will of the people, and handing over power to President Buhari without any fuss.
The Buhari government won’t accept the tag of incompetence many have affixed to it. They have already compiled a long list of their projects and accomplishments. They have argued that government is a continuum and they are fixing incomplete projects abandoned by its predecessors. Good point. They are correcting the rot of nearly two decades. While they may appear slow, and sluggish, to those of us on the outside, they are insisting they have had to be methodical and painstaking in their work. Perhaps, they are right, we are not sure.
FromAtiku’s side, he comes with an effervescent, ever smiling easy going demeanour and personality. He is renowned for his great flexibility and negotiation skills, a shrewd manager of men and women and resources. However, when required he is known to possess a steely resolve necessary to head a country like Nigeria. Atiku comes with a controversial and colourful past though, not least because of the unrelenting assault and pummelling about his character that he had been subjected to by his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo. This is veritable easy meat and fodder for APC to deploy in rubbishing his candidacy and demonstrating his unfitness to be President of this great nation.
We should expect Atiku and his campaign team to go all out on the offensive and try to debunk all the criticisms, arguments and jibes that APC will propel at him. The harsh disparaging and denigrating diatribe as well as the strident blame game the Buhari government has perfected will have to be met head on by Atiku and his forces. It will not be easy as so much damage has been done to Atiku in the past by the perception of him as an unreliable corrupt politician. On his part Atiku can point to the fact that notwithstanding all the many allegations made against him, nobody has yet been made to make any stick. He has consistently maintained his innocence and dared anyone to prove otherwise.
Nobody has called his bluff, if bluff it is! Indeed, he has pointedly referred to the claimed American albatross hanging over his head like a sword of Damocles, that it is but a mere figment of imagination of his inept traducers. As Atiku says, he has never been charged or indicted for any offence either in Nigeria or elsewhere. the American Government has never declared him wanted. He has applied for an American visa on a few occasions, but this has not been granted. If indeed he was wanted in America, surely his visa would have been granted to enable him visit and be arrested. The American Government has never denied either of these claims. On the contrary, that Government has also stated that Atiku is not wanted. In my view, that should put an end to the matter.
The Buhari Presidency is not without its shortcomings and negatives. I expect the Atiku campaign to focus heavily on those areas where the Nigerian public have been most critical of the Buhari administration. They will undoubtedly point at the precarious economic condition of Nigerians and Nigeria and blame Buhari for creating panic in the system. On this aspect, Buhari obviously relies on the fact that oil prices dipped violently when he assumed power, but nonetheless his Government has grown foreign reserves to US$44 million and maintained the Naira at a steady level in the past year. Critics of this position point to the fact that oil prices have now increased to a level not contemplated by the Government, which has increased borrowing to an unprecedented level and appears to have heavily mortgaged Nigeria to the Chinese through the exceptionally and dangerously ominous high level of borrowing from that country.
The Government has also revived and revitalised transportation through its resuscitation of the road and rail networks. The opposition PDP has always claimed that Government is a continuum, and it was PDP that conceived, started and almost completed these projects, none of which this administration could claim to have commenced itself. Atiku and his team will also enjoy castigating the Buhari government as being overly dependent on taxing business and ordinary Nigerians to death. Atiku will also naturally present, and sell, himself as a successful businessman and try to portray Buhari as a novice who lacks business acumen and therefore is not business friendly. Atiku will contend that Buhari has never had a head, or acumen, for business which accounts for why Nigeria is on the verge of an economic precipice even as the dark shadows that loomed globally at the beginning of his tenure have lifted considerably and there should have been prosperity in the land. Atiku says he has a well-structured economic blueprint, whilst the government is presently adopting and applying a slapdash and inimical approach to the economy.
Furthermore, the Atiku camp will exploit the heightened insecurity in the country especially by the infamous herdsmen which the government appears to be treating glibly. They will also point to the apparent resurgence of the Boko Haram insurgency despite what the Buhari administration will claim are the valiant efforts of our security forces. The agitation by IPOB and its followers continues relentlessly. The manner in which the Government has handled the situation is something that the opposition Party is expected to capitalise upon.
WhileBuhari would tout his anti-corruption pedigree, Atiku would lampoon it as nothing but grandstanding and at the very best a witch-hunt of the opposition Party. Atiku will contend that most of those who have defected to the ruling Party have had grave allegations of corruption levelled against them in the past, but these have mysteriously disappeared as soon as they jumped shipped and landed with the ruling Party. In addition, I can foresee the opposition claiming that almost all of the so-called achievements of the Buhari Government in relation to corruption originated from the Jonathan administration and that within the highest level of government corruption is rife and thriving and being studiously overlooked by the President because they concern his friends and cronies. The ding-dong claims and counter-claims will dovetail into other areas and continue unabated until well after the general elections.
The most critical area would be how to get the numbers together to win. Buhari will come in with anything between 10 million to 12 million guaranteed votes, as always. Most of those votes would come from North West and North East. For whatever reason, I believe that more people will be stated to have voted in this election than in 2015. In my estimation the victor will need to garner at least 18 million votes for success. What is not certain is if North East would abandon its own son now that it has the brightest chance since Tafawa Balewa from Bauchi became Prime Minister in the First republic. PDP will play its traditional joker from the South East and South South axis. Buhari and Atiku require humongous votes from about four out of six regions. Buhari would target North East, North West, North Central and South West while Atiku will target North East (as his home base), North Central (as an endangered zone supposedly mismanaged by the APC Government), South East, South South and enough of a chunk from South West. Let no one rule Atiku out of those five zones, in the present mood across the country. If Atiku gallops away, continuously, as it seems at the moment, he might obliterate Buhari in a devastating defeat.
As tough as it may seem, after running for a record 25 years, perhaps this may be Atiku’s date with destiny and his final battle.
ABEOKUTA AND ITS PERENNIAL FLOODING: GOV. ABIODUN TO THE RESCUE
By Elijah Udofia
Saturday, July 4, 2020, is a day the people of Abeokuta, particularly those living very close to the city’s waterways, would not forget in a hurry. Like in the days of Noah, the floodgates were opened and the showers came down heavily, causing floods of havoc that ravaged portions of the city. For somebody who was in the capital city of the Gateway State for the first time, the sight of flooded roads, with water subterranean enough to swim, floating household possessions, evacuated trees, washed way bridges and people congregating on high rise buildings, waiting for the water to recede, is something he or she will live to remember for a long time.
On that day, the heavens opened and brought with it sorrows, but thankfully, without blood. The torrential rain which started at about three in the morning did not stop until six in the evening, thereby thrashing hard on the ancient city for 16 good hours, non-stop. It is instructive to note that July of every year, has always been a period when the city experiences great flooding, occasion by torrential rain. Apart from the destruction of critical public infrastructures, mostly roads and bridges, it is always a time when those living close to the canals, have their hearts in their mouths. Hardly a year passes without these areas experiencing flooding which lead to loss of properties and in some cases, life or lives as the case may be.
The recent one affected mostly areas are; Isale-Oja, Kuto, Ago-Ijesha, Ijeun-Titun, Ijeja-Igbore road, Gbangba, Elite-Lantoro road and Oba Adeleye’s recreational park. One is however happy that areas like Ijaye and Isale-Igbein, which used to experience serious flooding had been taken care of, by the construction of Lafenwa, Sapon, Idi-Aba, Ajebo road and Onikolobo, Omida and Sapon road. It should be noted here that the issue of flooding in Abeokuta is not new, as previous governments, including military administrations, had course to contend with this menace. The presence of the Vice President, who came to inspect the extent of damage caused by flooding two years ago, is an indication that the issue is not a child’s play. What is disturbing however is that the damages caused are becoming more devastating, which calls for concern by all and sundry?
Being the head of a government that came to power on the popular mandate, the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, immediately the rain ceased on Sunday morning, ordered a team of government officials, led by the Environment Commissioner, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun took a tour of the areas affected by the flood and came up with a report to enable the government to respond accordingly.
As if that was not enough, the Governor, the following day, personally went round the affected areas to see things for himself. Prince Abiodun who was shocked due to the extent of damage caused not only to public assets, but to the property of the people, there and then, promised that his administration would assist them in mitigating the effect of their loss.
“I am here to look at the damage caused by the rain that fell on Saturday. Though I have sent my Commissioners and other government officials to inspect the damages, I decided to also come and see things for myself. I am happy that no life was lost, though you lost properties.
“I want to assure all of you who lost property to the flood that we will support you. In a few days’ time, government officials will come to see you to take down your names and properties affected, so that we can look at how to compensate you”.
On what the government intends to do to settle the matter once and for all, Prince Dapo Abiodun said the dredging of the canal that crisscrosses the State capital was on-going, while clearing of refuse in the gutters, was also carried out. He then informed the people that the government has assessed the damage caused to the roads and bridges with a view to carry out a comprehensive and proper channelization of the waterways.
“I want to assure you that we will repair the damaged roads, expand the gutters and bridges so that when rain falls, the gutters and the bridges would be able to accommodate the large volume of water. With this, the problem of erosion would be a thing of the past”, he promised
Governor Abiodun attributed flooding in the State capital to rapid development, besought the people to desist from dumping refuse or building structures on the waterways as these also contributed to the flooding. Collaborating the position of the Governor on the ways to find permanent solution to the menace of flooding in the State, the Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun, noted that regular dredging of the waterways, converting some old culverts to bridges as well as delisting drainages to allow free flow of water will be done by the government.
The Commissioner disclosed that dredging is currently going on at Isale-Oja to Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library up to Orange Valley View Estate, adding that the government is not only looking at Abeokuta alone, as dredging is also ongoing in 16 places across the State. Though the government ultimate goal is to find a permanent solution to the problem, in the meantime, a temporary arrangement according to the Commissioner, was going on at the sites, as allowing the affected areas to remain unattended to, will adversely affect the socio-economic well-being of people and adds to their suffering. The Commissioner appealed to residents of the State to properly dispose of their refuse and desist from dumping them on waterways, to minimize the effects of flooding.
For Alhaji Bello Mohammed, Secretary, Isale-Oja, Kuto, Community Development Association, his community has been experiencing flooding on a yearly basis in the last 10 years. He opined that proper channelization of the canal with an adequate drainage system, would bring an end to the flooding. Also, Mrs. Abike Awosanya and Abideen Musibau, residents of Ago-Ijesha, in Abeokuta South Local Government, said that they want the government to urgently find lasting solution to the flood problem, as it has affected their means of livelihood and make life unbearable for them.
Also bearing his mind, Mr. Raphael Anthony, a motorcyclist, who plied Ijaye-Kuto route, appealed to the State government to regularly dredge the waterways and expand the drainages system as the existing ones can no longer accommodate large volumes of water, during heavy rain. More so, Mrs. Florence Adegbite, an apprentice hairstylist at Ijeun Titun, opined that, “from what I am seeing, I think the State government would need help, particularly from the Federal government to permanently address this problem, a huge amount of money will be involved.
Though Government has a big role to play in bringing an end to the flooding issue, l observed with pain that the actions and inactions of the people are not helping in this regard. A walk through the State capital, one will see the non-challant attitude of the people as they dump refuse even at places where they are not supposed to.
Some simple questions I would like to ask are, what is refuse doing on road medians? Why do people turn gutters, drainages which are supposed to carry water to the canal, to refuse dumpsites? Why do people find it difficult to clear gutters, even those in front of their houses? And most importantly, why do people build structures on waterways that were invented/constructed to serve as drains to the river. All these questions need urgent answers, if the problem of flooding in Abeokuta, is to be addressed.
Now that Governor Dapo Abiodun’s government is showing commitment by putting in place measures that will permanently solve the problem of perennial flooding in the capital city, it is imperative for citizens to also play their parts, because as the African saying goes, “one cannot clap with one hand”.
Udofia, Head of the Governor’s Press Crew, Oke-Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
AREGBESOLA COMES TO JUDGMENT
BOTH RAPISTS AND POLITICAL RAPISTS ON RAMPAGE IN NIGERIA
By: Ademola Orunbon
There is no doubt that rapists are really on rampage in Nigeria. More worrisome is the frequent news of children and teenagers being raped almost in every nook and cranny of the country almost on a daily basis, with most of the cases going unreported. The situation is so bad that the notorious rapists are no longer strangers to their victims as they could even be members of the family or trusted neighbours and even domestic servants.
Despite the fact that human rights activists are quite unrelenting in their efforts at exposing the dangers our teenagers are being exposed to daily in the hands of these rampaging rapists and their collaborators, the situation has not really been brought under control. Enlightenment programmes on sexual education and the rights of the child against all forms of abuse should be stepped up and extended to even the schools, churches and mosques
The most worrisome of the current trend is child sexual abuse which is really on the ascendancy in the country. According to The Cece Yara Foundation, an international non-governmental organization, child sexual abuse has become more prevalent than most people even realize. The organization maintained that the menace is likely the most prevalent health problem children face with the most serious array of consequences.
According to the Foundation, one in every four girls experienced sexual violence in the country while one in 10 boys experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. The Foundation also disclosed that one in eight girls experienced unwanted sexual touching just as one in 10 boys experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. Aside Lagos State which really has a law against child sexual abuse and molestation, only a few States are really doing much to tackle this ugly trend. Many reasons have been adduced for the rising cases of rape in the country, especially those involving children and teenagers. One of the reasons is the rising cases of unemployment and moral decadence in the society.
The increasing intake of hard drugs by our youngsters is another contributing to the rising cases of rape in the country. We really want to join other partners across the country, especially rights advocates and non-governmental organizations which have taken the matter up to the public space with condemnation and advocacy. While condemning the rising cases of rape in the country, we implore our government to take the fight against the ugly trend beyond the level of mere rhetorics to real action.
Enlightenment programmes on sexual education and the rights of the child against all forms of abuse should be stepped up and extended to even the schools, churches and mosques. The campaign should start from the individual family with our young girls properly tutored on the need to know everything about their rights and how to protect themselves from being abused. The Point is however happy that recent cases are generating an unprecedented global wake-up call to the increasing rate of child sexual abuse in the country and the world at large. We only hope that the tempo will be sustained for the message to sink in foe all concerned to know the right thing to do as we join millions of other advocates against child sexual abuse and rape in the country.
We also call for prompt trial and prosecution of all cases of violations and abuse of our young girls as deterrent to others. Also, we implore all other States in the country to borrow a leaf from Lagos State where a law is currently in place to take care of issues relating to child sexual abuse and rape.
Also, other rapists that wrecking the country is political rapists, the way politics has been reduced to a trade shorn of every modicum of morality and respectability by some Nigerian politicians leaves much to be desired. Without a stretch of decency, our politicians appear to be travelling on the road to infamy. If their penchant to display hubris and character flaws is anything to go by, and the knack to approbate and reprobate or speak from both sides of the mouth is of major worry, the APC politicians have succeeded in sweeping baloney in their political space with their brooms.
It is a pity that those who found themselves in the commanding heights of leadership in Nigeria automatically transform themselves to semi-gods the moment they get power and position. Nigeria political office holders are in the main arrogant, pompous, and irritatingly proud and disrespectful until death, the ultimate reaper, levels them. Let me hasten to say that there are few exceptions, the reason I qualify the declaration with the phrase ‘in the main’. And so, the average Nigerian politicians have raped and still continue to rape not only their pauperized followers but the entire citizenry on all fronts. To be precise, our contemporary experience under the APC-led federal government appears to be very worrisome.
No man born of woman is so important that the world cannot do without his mortal presence. When politics is reduced to the level of deification of an individual whose credo is: “But for me, the world would collapse”, it needs to be expressly made clear that, that is the biggest lie ever told. History is replete with carcasses of warriors, geniuses, inventors and charismatic statesmen and women after whose demise the world moved on to even greater achievements. It reminds me of the truism in the wise saying of an anonymous bard: “In life nobody is indispensable or irreplaceable, including you. And your replacement will always be better than you. For every Queen Vashti there is an Esther waiting to take your place. For every Saul there is a David ready to take your place. For every Eli there is a prophet Samuel ready to take your place. Many people due to their position, their talent or their beauty think they are irreplaceable – how wrong you are!.”
It is time for us to begin discourage men (and women) without a second address or known source of income in politics! There are those who pride themselves as professional politicians. There are those who have been in one appointive position or the other since time immemorial. There are those who have contested for one political office severally but failed and have amassed stupendous wealth from selling out to the opposition. Please let them go and rest! They have contested in every imaginably election; give us a break please, or go home and find something to do. Our tragedy in Nigeria today is that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) tarred longer than necessary in seeking public office. Had he retired earlier – or, better still, had he been allowed to retire earlier – we would not have seen today’s misfortunes!
On the flip side, it looks to me as if there is a cycle of rejuvenated evil residing in humanity in our present world. These days, we are faced with a serious challenge of how to manage our sanity in the midst of a flurry of bestialities that keep erupting from left, right and centre. The orgy of violence perpetrated across all ages manifests the baloney of insipid malfeasance that is capable of infecting the left-over values we hold onto with spider web. The incidence of rape has overshadowed political discourses. It has displaced politics, economy and international affairs from our chats and local gossips. This is a rare development in our country. In most cases, in Africa and around the world, these are the three dominant topics people find engaging because of their predominant impact on their lives. The two possible exceptions to this fact are South Africa and India where rape cases are cyclical routine.
What has been responsible for rape ascendancy in our national gossip are the tragic and incredible patterns of the reported incidents. When a 75 year-old man is invading the undeveloped vagina of a 10 year-old girl with gerontocratic vitality, obviously this becomes a national news highlight. When a son (no matter his age) is desecrating the collapsing pudenda of his mother’s senior or age mate by exploiting the woman’s debilitating physicality to have a taste of “his route to the world”, of course, it is of national interest. When a brother decides to forcefully expand the unripe vagina of his 5 year-old sister by pounding and jerking her to death, of course, this ghastly scenario is of national significance. When five Yahoo-Yahoo boys, possibly excited by the number of unfortunate idiots they have scammed in one day, organized a rape circus for a flirting teenager, of course. When Hussippupi, an internet fraudster having over two million followers on Instagram, even much more than what Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola had, in fact, this takes precedence in national debates.
When a girlfriend plotted to have some of her friends raped by a monstrous gang of six – just to profane their virgin territories, which also is a serious case of national importance. And the list is endless. The lesson of homily in all of these sadistic sexual extravaganzas is that if the world is not coming to an end, then the end is coming to the world. The degree of sexual debasement, sexual harassment, sexual defilement, sexual perversion has attained an alarming crescendo to make GOD to extend the timeline of Covid-19 or to even upgrade it to “Covid Finale” so that we can all sing “Home, Here We Come” chorus.
Orunbon, a journalist and political analyst, wrote in from Federal Housing Estate, Olomore, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
Can be reached via; email@example.com, or 08034493944 and 08029301122.
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