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President Akinwunmi Adesina’s Transition to his Second Term must be smooth to deliver his Covid-19 commitments to Africa

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by Dr. Patricia Laverley

There have been several calls for mediation between President Adesina and his critics, in the interest of a smooth re-election process and transition at the African Development Bank

This article is intended to highlight the recent achievements of the African Development Bank under President Akinwunmi Adesina, underscore the need for a smooth Presidential re-election, and highlight the contributions of the Bank to COVID-19 containment efforts across Africa.

The current President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina is set for his re-election in May next month, during the 2020 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank, while many African countries will be struggling with containing the COVID-19 pandemic. The enormous achievements of President Adesina as Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture and his first term as President of the African Development Bank since 2015, have greatly contributed to the strategic repositioning of Africa in the global economy.

Besides maintaining the African Development Bank’s “AAA” credit rating and increasing the net operating income of the Bank by 50 percent, President Adesina has helped to mobilize US$ 80 billion of new investment capital to support countries in Africa. For example, through the establishment of the Africa Investment Forum, the African Development Bank and its partners intend to leverage approximately US$ 300 billion of new private capital in Africa over the next 8 years.

In October 2019, the African Development Bank successfully completed an unprecedented 125 percent General Capital Increase (GCI-7), increasing the authorized share capital of the Bank from US$ 93 billion to US$ 208 billion, the highest in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964. ADB’s concessional window, the African Development Fund (ADF) was also increased by 35 percent, making more funds available to support low-income countries and economies in transition.

As a result of these achievements, President Adesina received unanimous support and endorsement by all 55 Heads of State and Government for his second term as President of the African Development Bank. This unanimous endorsement demonstrates the level of support that President Adesina has by all African Heads of State across the entire continent.

Need for a Smooth Presidential Re-election and Transition

By virtue of its corporate governance structure, the African Development Bank cannot be held hostage by any single individual. When an Executive Director, who is expected to provide managerial oversight of the Bank, assists in the preparation of allegations of breaches of the Bank’s Code of Conduct by the Bank’s President, one begs the question of the extent of professional integrity of the Executive Director. Could it be true, that some Non-regional Executive Directors appointed to serve on ADB’s Board are often former finance executives deliberately sent on exile from the capitals of their countries of origin, for one reason or the other?

To date, there have been several calls for mediation between President Adesina and his critics, in the interest of a smooth re-election process and transition at the African Development Bank. The United States still remains the second largest shareholder of the African Development Bank and President Adesina continues to receive overwhelming support from US government agencies and institutional partnerships.

The African Development Bank: Post COVID-19

Amidst the struggle of the COVID-19 containment effort and the need for macroeconomic stabilization across Africa, President Adesina, has remained focused on providing the much needed assistance to regional member countries and designing innovative financial instruments to help countries with the greatest need during this difficult period.  The African Development Bank, as Africa’s premier financial institution, has maintained its record of good governance and delivering crisis response programs to countries with the greatest need in a timely manner.

Moving forward, we hope that President Adesina will get re-elected for his second term in view of the overwhelming support he is receiving from both regional and non-regional member countries.  His more recent achievements in relation to COVID-19 include the launch of the US$3 billion COVID-19 Social Bond on March 26, and the US$10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility announced on April 8.

As we brace ourselves up for the changes envisaged in the post COVID-19 global financial architecture, we hope that President Adesina’s transition to his second term would be smooth, to enable him to successfully deliver on his commitments to Africa and help the continent reposition itself in the new era.

We remain resolute in our unflinching support of President Adesina and trust that the global development community would join us in endorsing his second term as President of the African Development Bank.

Dr. Patricia Laverley is the Deputy Minister of Finance of Sierra Leone.

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COLUMNISTS

Edo Decides 2020: Eze laments APC’s loss, blames Oshiomhole’s disastrous, ugly style of administration

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The outcome of the  governorship election in Edo state which took place last Saturday, has sparked reactions as it continues to dominate national discuss. Citizens, diplomats, observers, stakeholders, political analysts and groups have ceaselessly made their minds bare on the exercise which has generally been adjudged as relatively peaceful and pretty fair, given the standard and indices of a reasonable contest in a representative democracy.

 

More catchy in the process is the return of Godswill Obaseki, standard bearer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), as Governor for a second term, his  last minute alliance with the umbrella party notwithstanding.

 

Reacting to the outcome of the election after an extensive analysis, former National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP) and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said the unpleasant carriage and incoherent disposition of the ousted National Chairman of the APC, Comr. Adams Oshiomole, singly caused the party the election.

 

In a statement made available to media houses, Chief Eze said it is heart-rending to learn that Edo State has been added to the league of States like Zamafara, Rivers, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Sokoto, Adamawa, and Oyo States where sheer administrative incompetence and gross leadership malady occasioned by the self-styled and kooky steering model of Adams Oshiomole scuttled the electoral chances of the All Progressives Congress and deprived the majority from having their way.

 

With the development in Edo, Eze said it is only fair to settle that Oshiomhole’s membership of the APC is a curse which has brought brutal misfortune and  severe affliction on the party.

 

He said the gains and achievements recorded by the party under the sterling leadership of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as National Chairman have been swept away by the dangerous flood of unending catastrophe which has overwhelmed the party as a result of Oshiomhole’s disastrous and poor approach to leadership and party politics stressing that the former labour leader must formally apologise to  President Mohammadu Buhari and members of the APC for the serial embarrassments and heavy damages occasioned by his hinky and very quirky carriage.

 

Furthermore, Chief Eze congratulated Obaseki and commended the good people of Edo for striving to extinguish godfatherism in their domain as they embark on the journey of consolidating the gains and achievements recorded in the last four years under the APC Administration in the State.

 

While appealing to Obaseki to find a place in his heart to forgive Oshiomhole and all those who helped him cause havoc in the APC, Chief Eze tasked the Edo State Governor to begin the process of taking back his position in the progressives family which he described as his natural habitat considering his numerous sacrifices and contributions in the formation of the party, assuring that his place in the APC is still very much reserved and intact.

 

Eze further hailed the good people of Edo State for demonstrating character and displaying their resolve to guard jealously and protect the funds and economy of the state from external hawkers who are shopping for opportunities to extend the boundaries of their squandermania and slavery spirit to other territories.

 

The APC stalwart counseled the candidate of the APC in the just concluded Edo guber, Pastor Ize-Iyamu, to prevail on Oshiomhole to offset all his electoral expenses, seeing that it was his damaging campaign against him as well as his poor leadership mannerisms that caused him and the APC the election.

 

Eze joined President Mohammadu Buhari in commending INEC and Security Agencies for displaying a high degree of competence and professionalism which translated into a peaceful and very successful electoral outing.

 

He called on Nigerians to commend the President for allowing a transparent process, describing him as a true statesman and democrat. Eze said with this record, President Buhari has equalled the democratic feat of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who  allowed the votes of Edo people to count in 2012 when Adams Oshiomhole was reelected as Edo Governor against all odds.

 

According to the official result declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Governor Godwin Obasaki of the PDP pulled a total of 307, 955 votes to defeat his closest rival, Pastor Ize-Iyamu of the APC, who scored 223,619 votes.

 

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Amaechi’s Political Activism: A History of Partisan Craftsmanship and the FOOPP Factor

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By Eze Chukwuemeka Eze

 

PREAMBLE

 

Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi is a Nigerian politician, a humanist, administrator par excellence, visionary, egalitarian, radical, a respected, pragmatist and exemplary leader. He was born on May 27, 1965, in Ubima, Ikwere local government area of Rivers State and an alumnus of the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

 

He was twice the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly (1999-2007); chairman, conference of speakers of State Houses of Assembly in Nigeria (1999 – 2000), Governor of Rivers State (2007 – 2015), and two-time chairman of the Governors’ Forum in Nigeria from 2011 to 2015. A winner of several awards including the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), he is currently the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, an office he is occupying for the second term.

 

Amaechi was the rallying force behind mobilising the governors under the then Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to support the presidential aspiration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan during the PDP Presidential Primaries that produced Jonathan as the flag-bearer. During the 2011 presidential election proper, he ensured that President Jonathan got over two million votes from Rivers State – the highest by any state in Nigeria then.

 

A misunderstood but amiable personality; his forthrightness and boldness to stand by the truth attracts so much enmity to him, particularly those who cannot withstand his manner of approach to result-oriented feats.

 

Amaechi, holder of the national honour of the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), is a Christian of the Catholic faith where he is a Knight of St John. He was appointed the Director-General of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Campaign in 2015 and successfully led the then opposition party to victory in the March 28, 2015 presidential election in which a sitting president was roundly defeated for the first time in the annals of politics in Nigeria.

 

In his capacity as the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he has redefined the transportation system in Nigeria with gigantic and unique feats uncommon in the rail system in the country. His plot to link up most key State capitals in Nigeria through rail system is a feat that has changed the thinking of many Nigerians towards the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari whose victory Rt Hon Amaechi played pivotal roles to actualize in both the 2015 and the 2019 general elections.

 

He successfully led the Presidential Campaign Organization of President Buhari to victory again in 2019’ a feat unobtainable in any party of Africa for an individual to lead a Presidential Campaign Organization to two victories back to back.

 

The Main Aim of This Treatise

 

After explaining in brief who Amaechi is and what he has achieved as a political icon and Iroko so far as the politics of Nigeria is concerned, I will like through this treatise expose and unravel another part of Amaechi unknown to most Nigerians.

 

This treatise therefore will focus on Amaechi and his relationship with opposition political parties and his ability to manage divergent views and aspirations and unite these forces into a force for the growth and betterment of humanity.

 

Before delving into the central aim of this treatise, let me highlight that for one to understand Amaechi’s radicalism and role in opposition politics in Nigeria, he or she can must reflects on the university days of this radical unionist. University of Port Harcourt (Uniport) in Rivers State was where Amaechi laid the foundation of his political life: participating actively in student union politics, especially in the National Union of Rivers State Students (NURSS), of which he was president, and the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS)

 

He led other students to protest some of the policies of the then military junta and after his graduation; he cut his teeth in politics as Secretary of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, from 1992 to 1994. He was Secretary of the Caretaker Committee of the Rivers State Chapter of the disbanded Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) in 1996 during the transition programme of the late General Sani Abacha junta.

 

Reminisces Of Amaechi And History Of Working With Organised Opposition Political Parties; The Example Of FOOPP

 

With the assumption of office by Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the duly elected Governor of Rivers State in 2007 and in pursuance of governing a united and secured Rivers State considering the volatile State he inherited where human lives counts little or nothing, he moved to unite all the political forces within the State which gave birth to the formation of opposition political parties.

 

It is on record that Rivers State under the watch of Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi stands out as the only State in Nigeria that made serious attempt in not only cooperating, collaborating with the opposition political parties in Nigeria but assigned cabinet offices to the members. Through the help of Prince Tonye Princewill, then the leader and gubernatorial candidate of Action Congress (AC), Amaechi was able to unite about 43 other political parties to form the Forum Of Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP).

 

According to Prince Tonye Princewill, the Leader and BOT Chairman of the FORUM, who threw some light in his keynote address at the inauguration of the Forum, the effort gave rise to the idea of formidable opposition in Rivers State, thus, ‘…on the 27th October, 2007, eight political parties (AC, RPN, ADC, CPP, UNDP, ARP, UNPP and ANPP) decided to withdraw their election petitions against PDP and support the Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi led administration. That decision has gradually evolved into what is hailed today as a study in political pragmatism, clearly setting Rivers State apart as a trail blazer in political innovation within this nation’s polity.”

 

The Prince generally accepted as the Prince of Niger Delta Politics further highlighted what the people of Rivers State stood to gain from the formation of the Forum. To him the Forum marked the dawn of hope for a people whose psyche had been marred by fractious politics. He promised that with him at the helm of affairs of the Forum, a worthy partnership with Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi’s PDP administration would result hopefully in a gradual recovery from the sordid legacy of the past. The Forum’s motto ‘Unity in Strength’ was a strong indicator of its founding objectives.

 

Before the formal take-off this historical Forum, the legality of the Forum, its practicality, and the implications for the state were placed under a number of legal, political and strategic microscopes culminating in a resounding thrust to go forward. The initial formation of a 10-man Harmonization Committee led by the DPP Chairman, Garshon Benson, and a 6-man constitution drafting committee led by Barr Iyke Echie from Emohua, under the supervision of Hon Barr Osima Ginah, were critical steps taken to make the birth of this Forum resounding and outstanding.

 

Chief (Dr) Davies Ibiamu Ikanya JP, the Chairman of the Forum, in his presentation gave an insight of the vision, mission and other issues involving the Forum. “Our vision is that Rivers State will be fully developed in infrastructure, economy and character, and that future elections will reflect the actual wishes of the electorate who when encouraged by good governance will give their support to the elected Government”.

 

The lead paper titled; ‘Power and Credible Partisan Opposition in Our Democratic Culture’ was Presented by Barr Ledum Mittee, Guest Speaker at the June 26th, 2009 inauguration and public presentation of the Forum of Organised Opposition Political Parties in Rivers State, comprising 43 political parties uniting under one platform. The erstwhile Chairman of the defunct Presidential Technical Committee on the Niger Delta reiterated before his audience thus, “The very idea of opposition political party presupposes that there are political parties, one or a couple of which is/are in power whilst the others are in opposition. In my view, what should distinguish one political party from the other is not whether one is in power and the other is not, but some core principles and values. I insist that these differences in values are what should even distinguish between the policies which the parties generate and out of which the electorate are expected to make preferences”. He lamented the current trend of antagonism perpetrated by incumbent governments towards all perceived or real opposition. He prayed all present to seek the best practice in the balance of power between the two sides to make for a sustainable democratic experiment.

 

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze the Media Consultant to the Forum in his own submission highlighted, “It is a widely held belief that Coalitions and cooperation’s amongst political parties are usually motivated by electoral loss, dwindling electoral fortunes, increased unpopularity and major changes in the political landscape that must have increased the stakes, but ours was driven by Patriotism and Zeal to answer the clarion call for all hands to be on deck to make Rivers State a better developed and peaceful state.

 

“All parties in the Forum have surmounted party differences, embracing adaptation to negotiated and harmonized programmes of the Forum that will to a large extent satisfy diverse values whilst creating an enabling environment for all.

 

“As a stabilizing force in the State’s polity, the Forum will serve to galvanize resources and ensure that Rivers people participate in the electoral process freely with ensuing results that reflect the decision of the electorate.”

 

First Foopp Formal Meeting With Gov. Amaechi On 11th July, 2009

 

A delegation from the Forum of Organized Opposition Political Parties in Rivers State, led by its Leader and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Prince Tonye Princewill, paid a courtesy visit on Rt Hon.Rotimi Amaechi at the Government House in Port Harcourt on 11th July, 2009, at the State Exco Chambers. This visit marked the first formal meeting of the Governor with the Exco Members of the Forum since its inauguration on the 25th of June 2009. The Forum of the Organised Opposition Political Parties (FOOPP) comprising of 43 political parties in Rivers State, resolved to join Amaechi’s Unity Government in order to foster peace among the political class in Rivers State in the hope of enshrining a vibrant, egalitarian and progressive Political culture in the State.

 

Prince Tonye Princewill who was accompanied by the Chairman of the Forum, Chief Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, Barr Osima Ginah, the Urban Development Commissioner, Chief Williams Igweh the SA to the Governor on inter-party Affairs, Chief Eric Aso the ANPP Guber Candidate, Rev. Odota Ndubisi the Guber Candidate of ARP in the 2007 general election, Chief Tamuno Roberts the Chairman of RS CNPP and Secretary of BOT, Chief Harry Alaye the Vice Chairman, Comrade Garshon Benson of DPP, Secretary; the 43 Chairmen of participating political parties and Officials of the Forum commended the Governor for his giant strides in governance since assuming office on the 26th October, 2007. The Forum reassured the Governor of its commitment to providing sound, objective and result-oriented political opposition in the state. They informed the governor that the formation of the Forum had become expedient in the light of the Governor’s passionate commitment in tackling the difficulties of the Rivers people whilst contending with the challenges bedeviling development in the state and oppositions acknowledgement in this regard. They also asserted that the government would stand to benefit from most of the Forum’s activities which will revolve majorily around goal-driven collaboration between the government and the organized opposition.

 

Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi was further commended for instituting a truly unity government which in itself has created an enabling environment for the Opposition to thrive. He appreciated Amaechi’s purposeful commitment to the unity government evident in the appointments of Chief (Dr.) Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, erstwhile commissioner for Special Duties , Barrister Osima Ginah, commissioner for Urban Development, Chief Williams Igweh, Special Adviser on Inter Party Matters and Mr Suage Badey, Member Governing Council, Rivers State University of Science and Technology respectively.

 

“Your Excellency, beyond the walls of excellent inter-party relations under your amiable leadership, Rivers State has recorded great strides of progress with landmarks in urban development and renewal, infrastructural development, health, education, peace and security, human capital development, and the conscious effort to enlarge the political space and citizen participation through elimination of the so-called upland/riverine dichotomy in Rivers politics. We salute your courage and conviction and hope that posterity will number your term in office with an unambiguous verdict of success.”

 

Amaechi’s Response

 

In his response, the Governor Conveyed his sincere appreciation for the hand of support and Partnership extended to him by Prince Tonye Princewill and his Team since assuming office in 2007. He commended Prince Tonye for this initiative that would hopefully promote a formidable political partnership and joint collaboration between the government and the organized opposition in Rivers State. The governor expressed satisfaction for the valuable assistance by way of the suggestions extended to his government by the FOOPP. Regarding most of the issues raised, he reaffirmed government’s continued commitment to resolving every conceivable challenge in all areas listed.

 

Governor Amaechi reiterated governments zero tolerance for all forms of criminality and his administration’s commitment to reinstating sanity. Promising to work with the opposition, he rounded up his response thus, “I will give the opposition every support to monitor the Government’s projects as it is truly tiring for me to monitor most of the projects in the State. On funding of opposition parties, I will in the next stakeholders meeting of PDP move the motion for adequate funding of the opposition if we are to move forward democratically, socially and developmentally.”

 

The icing on the cake followed shortly; “Finally, if your request is for me to reappoint Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya, your wish is my command”. At this, the hall erupted with the sound of thunderous applause. The meeting ended on this great note of the recalling of Dr. Ikanya back to the State Executive Council.

 

Today, I am happy to report that most of the key actors of FOOPP, Prince Tonye Princewill, Dr. Davies Ikanya Ibiamu, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze and many others are not only standing by Amaechi they are still playing key roles in his political family not minding the arts and acts of betrayal, backstabbing and challenges facing the political family.

 

What the Opposition Political Parties Gained From the Amaechi’s Administration

 

Apart from empowering members through awards and execution of contracts, the following members of the Forum were appointed into the Cabinet of Amaechi’s Administration, Chief (Dr.)Davies Ibiamu Ikanya the Chairman of the Forum was appointed the commissioner for Special Duties,  Barrister Osima Ginah the Legal Adviser of the Forum was appointed the Commissioner for Urban Development while Chief Williams Igweh the Deputy Gubernatorial of Action Congress was appointee the Special Adviser on Inter Party Matters and Mr Suage Badey the Action Congress State Chairman was appointed as a  Member Governing Council, Rivers State University of Science and Technology respectively. The BOT Chairman of the Forum, Prince Tonye Princewill was appointed as a member of the glorious and prestigious Advisory Committee of the State Government populated by the eggheads from within and outside the State where policies of the government are cooked and implemented by the State Executive Council.

 

Conclusion

 

Amaechi’s exploits and unique feats in assisting to midwife the first successful union and formation of APC that was able to ouster a powerful political party like PDP that prouds herself as the largest political party in Africa from power is not an easy feat. This feat unarguably was achieved based on the knowledge he acquired above through the formation of FOOPP and I can authoritatively state that this unique feat of Amaechi in the history of opposition political parties in Rivers State and Nigeria stands him out as the most pragmatic, ingenious, egalitarian and visionary leader of this generation.

 

And if Nigeria is to move forward then we must look at the direction of this God’s Gift to us as a nation for the 2023 general elections.

 

Let me formally conclude this treatise by quoting my good old friend, Douglas MacArthur who in attempt to asses Amaechi and his type of politics stated, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his action and the integrity of his intent”, while Henry Kissinger captured Amaechi aptly when he stated, “The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been”

 

From these quotes and the records above, Amaechi has proved that he is a leader we all can rally around and support to take our nation to its rightful place among the comity of nations.

 

Ends/

 

Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt and can be reached either through ezemediaconcept2020@gmail.com

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PENDULUM: What President Buhari Must Do for Legacy

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www.securenigeria365.com

PENDULUM BY DELE MOMODU         dele.momodu@thisdaylive.com

Fellow Nigerians, I’m aware that many of us have given up on President Muhammadu Buhari changing his modus operandi. I won’t blame anyone for arriving at such decision. After spending over five years in power, we can only await a miracle of volcanic proportions to alter this perfidious drift towards cataclysmic perdition into which the President is leading us. There are not many human beings as lucky as a man once known as Major General Muhammadu Buhari, who was Nigeria’s military Head of State, from 1984-85, and who is now the civilian President, from 2015 until, hopefully, 2023.

No one could have asked for a better grace of such a second chance from God, particularly as he had contested for the same post three times between 2003 and 2011 and had not been third time lucky! By the time fortune smiled upon him at his fourth attempt, some of us had been led to place a halo above his head and even give him Messianic qualities such that we had great expectations of him in 2015. Even those who never liked him were definitely willing to grant him the benefit of the doubts. Such had his profile and stocks risen in those halcyon days when the mere mention of Jonathan’s name was anathema to many Nigerians.

Except for those enjoying a binge under this government at this moment , and there are a few, which is the story for another day, it is obvious that this is not what we bargained for. In case the President casually dismissed former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s latest diatribe against him, since there is the popular belief that there is no love lost between them and that they have since ceased to enjoy any semblance of cordial relationships between them, I pray he won’t ignore that of Lt. General Alani Ipoola Akinrinade. My reason is simple. I remember how the former Chief of Defence Staff, gave a passionate support to Buhari during the “fake certificate saga”, insisting that there was no way Buhari would have forged examination results in those good old days. Akinrinade was willing and ready to risk his towering reputation for a man he believed was a complete officer and gentleman. If such a man appears to be sorely disappointed today, I will beg Buhari not to dismiss this military and political colossus, one of Africa’s greatest military officers, as a “wailing wailer”, as his handlers are wont to describe his critics. I have known and followed Lt. General Akinrinade for over 40 years and I have found in him a disciplined gentleman, the embodiment of the typical English, Sandhurst trained military officer who is not prone to frivolities.

Akinrinade did something that is common to Yoruba elders, when they want to send a message to someone that is not likely to listen. They talk in the presence of his children. He therefore sent a powerful message to Buhari on the occasion of General Tukur Y. Buratai, Chief of Army Staff’s visit to Osun State. Akinrinade’s speech was a masterpiece and I’m not surprised it went viral. He started with all the niceties, a gentleman will deploy before dropping his bombshell. No one could have anticipated the salvos that would soon follow from Lt. General Akinrinade who is soft-spoken and has an innocent almost cherubic and amiable mien and disposition. Behind that façade is concealed the hard flint and steel of a consummate and phenomenally successful soldier and administrator. A fearless warrior, not known for tact or diplomacy when he is galled or angered, Akinrinade’s intelligence and intellectual prowess is also well known. All these qualities were on display in the passionate speech that he made at the occasion. Permit me to quote copiously from this eloquent Nigerian elder statesman.

“… Please, grant me the indulgence to mention to him one or two matters that throw me into distress because of my association with him. The first is his pervasive belief that he is an ethnic bigot, an irredeemable religious fundamentalist, that he firmly subscribes and the possibility of his ethnic Fulani to take over the country, the reason he does not interfere in curbing the brigandage of the Fulani herdsmen, that he has performed woefully in the fight against the terrorist Boko Haram and that he cannot rise to reflecting the heterogeneous composition of our country when it comes to appointments to sensitive positions in his government. The whole buck stops on his table…
“Let me suggest to him that he needs to shape up, read the riot act to our people, enlist them in unswerving cooperation to participate fully in the redemption of their country. Arms and brutal force are not sufficient to defeat an insurgency.

“I am sure he is aware of the hue and cry from all corners and crannies of our country for secession as if we have not been there before. He needs to stand on his table against the motley (sic) crowd of advisers surrounding him and take a firm stand on the reorganization of our country, physically, economically and socially. What we simply term as reorganization in the Armed Forces is what the bloody civilians call RESTRUCTURING (emphasis his). It is long overdue and flogged, as if it is such an impossibility, an attempt at which, will balkanize the country. As a matter of fact, it is what is required to move the country out of the doldrums into modernity. He cannot afford to pass it on. We may end up without a country, as no country has been known to survive two civil wars.
“He can take better counsel in the appointments to the sensitive parts of government. There are capable and loyal men and women from every village in the country.

“We are regaled everyday with blood chilling stories of killings and pillaging of villages sometimes towns in the North and Central parts of Nigeria, and of recent talks of impending massacres and intensification of kidnapping coming our way in the Southern States and the main protagonists of the disturbance is the Fulani herdsmen…
“I suggest to him to read the riot act to the Fulani herdsmen, that it is not acceptable for any foreigner by whatever name called to enter our country illegally and molest our people. They are not welcome. We should not, by mistake of omission or commission allow our people to degenerate to self-help. It is a sure road to anarchy and perdition, which will not go away…”

I hope President Buhari somehow read that message, if General Buratai felt too intimidated to deliver it to him personally. If perchance he has not read it, I hope he would have the opportunity to do so today since as he himself told me, he is an avid reader of newspapers. It is my fervent prayer that the President finds time to digest this abridged version today and ponder and reflect upon it. I believe he needs to do so by all means, but if he decides to be obstinate, he will appreciate it in the future, that Akinrinade was not one of his real or imagined enemies but a true friend. Only reliable and dependable friends can tell truth to power in a country where most people live and die on government largesse.

Just yesterday, I came across the latest distressing news of promotions in the Nigerian Customs. It allegedly follows the now familiar pattern of promotions for northern elements to the detriment of their southern counterparts. I simply refused to believe the story. If true, then it is time to tell the President that this recklessness, this disdain for the rest of the country must stop. Even if some Nigerians are seen and treated as slaves, things should not be this provocative. The amount of accumulated bitterness and bile in the land may be insignificant to those in power but it is dangerously growing, and the people are simmering with discontent.
Nigerians now live in perpetual strife. Is the Commander-in-Chief not aware of this fact? If he is not, because he is living in a gilded cage, surely his advisers and confidants are. Certainly, they must be able to tell their principal and benefactor about how dire things have become in the country. Or are they all so blinded by the filthy lucre that is being amassed that none of them can see reason or sense or hear the plaintive cries of their oppressed and suppressed fellow citizens. Whatever the situation may be, this is the biggest challenge facing the President. It is one which he must confront head on… Luckily for him, of all the problems that he is beset with, this is the easiest to tackle by him. All he needs is the will to do so as well as the willingness to see every Nigerian as part of one indivisible family. His catchy rallying cry and slogan at the beginning of his first term in 2015 will do well to be remembered by him. At that time, he had pontificated that “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”! Sadly, this has proven to be far from being the case. The President has shown undisguised bias for, and favouritism in respect of a, people from the core northern part of the country and those of the same Islamic faith as him. The President seems to be intolerant of others. He is accused of being so discriminatory and partisan, but he seemingly shrugs off these accusations as if they were water off a duck’s back.

My second worry is about the youths of Nigeria. They require greater attention than they are getting right now. If our various arms of governments can substantially reduce their wasteful profligacy, some money can be freed to cater for the long-suffering masses and their children. I cringe, and I am moved to tears when I hear the criminally insane sums that is claimed to have been spent on providing cash palliatives to our indigent fellow citizens in this COVID-19 season. No proper records exist for the disbursement of the humongous sums being bandied about by our top government functionaries . . . It is easy to distribute the cash in readily accountable ways that can easily be checked and verified. However, this government likes to do things the complicated way and give room for graft and daylight robbery, thus eroding any faith and confidence that the public had that it would champion the fight against corruption and root out corrupt elements that are polluting the polity.

Creating employment opportunities to pacify the restive youths cannot be as tough as it seems. One way of doing so which will also solve another of our major problems is to encourage an agricultural revolution. We have arable land almost everywhere. We have energetically hardworking men and women. We have brilliant, intelligent and ambitious citizens. All they need is a little push and incentive. Beyond Government, those in the private sector can be of additional help. Some Nigerians I know started business with as little as five thousand Nigeria and the businesses have grown in leaps and bounds. We are a hardworking, imaginative, innovative and creative people. God has blessed us with people with flair and aptitude that only need to be graciously supported in just even small measure.

In a similar vein, Nigeria must invest heavily in vocational education. This would equip our young ones and make them more efficient and employable. We need to invest in Sports by providing training centres, kits and coaches. Nigeria is blessed with raw talents who need to be polished and moulded for global opportunities. Same can be done in the area of entertainment. It won’t take too much to invest in studios and music facilities. Our movie, music, comedy industries can absorb thousands, if not millions, of our people. Fashion is one of the sectors we need to develop urgently. I love the huge investment of the Cross River State Government in industrial garment and sewing companies. We cannot forget the impact of food and beverage. Let’s invite the experts in these fields to brainstorm and back them up with funding. We will be surprised at the result of such an exercise. Research is the way forward for any country seeking to attain any success or development. Unfortunately, in Nigeria funding for research is sorely lacking both from government and the private sector. Our universities and tertiary institutions are no more than glorified secondary schools with science laboratories rather than well equipped research centres which we really require.

Until we sort out the imbalances in our educational sector and deal with those things that are crucial and necessary for national growth and development we will only belong in the playground for little boys, playing with toys made for us by the big men who are making giant strides in all that they aspire to, whilst we remain content with the toys, sweets and pats on the head that we get from them on the few occasions that they deign to cast their glances our way. This is not the Nigeria of the dreams of our forefathers and ancestors.
Nigeria is an industrial powerhouse waiting to explode positively if some of us can be less selfish and greedy… That is the Nigeria that should be bursting to celebrate its diamond jubilee in a couple of weeks, not the caricature of a nation that we have now. The President undertook to lead us to this promised land. He can redeem himself in the short space of time left in his tenure and ensure a positive legacy for himself and a bright future for the country…

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