​THE PRESIDENT WE VOTED FOR

There is no gainsaying that President Buhari assumed power with the best political capital in Nigeria’s history, both locally and internationally.  His popularity and confidence rating were such that stock prices automatically moved Northward and fuel queues suddenly disappeared within his first two months in office. Though this only lasted for a few months before Nigerians reversed back into its old mode and since then the political capital has been gradually eroded and one wonders what is left of it.
My thrust in this article is therefore to critically discuss the capital (moral, political and economic) that President Buhari brought into power in 2015 and what is left of that capital. 

Before he emerged winner of the presidential election in 2015, he had lost the same bid three times and had even decided to quit until he was ‘purportedly called out from retirement’. Perhaps it would have been better for him to stay retired. My reasons for saying this are not farfetched.

Sequel to his victory in 2015, most Nigerians were tired with the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan for several reasons. For some, Goodluck Jonathan lacked the political will to fight corruption (which has been adjudged as Nigeria’s greatest enemy). For another, Goodluck Jonathan had ceded the running of the nation to some few elites, who took full advantage of this to the detriment of the nation, squandering and personalizing the nation’s resources. For some others too, Jonathan should never have been President in the first place, having usurped the opportunity offered him by the Constitution upon the death of former President Y’aradua. 

Not to talk of the First Lady’s high-handedness which made her become overbearing, perhaps with more power than the then President himself, breaching presidential protocols on many occasion and causing several embarrassments for Nigerians. 

So, for the majority it was ‘anything but Jonathan’ at the last Presidential election. This mentality was what paved way for old man ‘Buhari’, who many perceived as the exact opposite of Jonathan. Disciplined, firm, resolute in the fight against corruption, vast military experience, with a lot of moral and political capital at that time, having won so much votes across the entire country. 

Alas, times have proved even the staunchest supporters of Buhari wrong. President Buhari since assumption of office, has repeatedly disappointed his believers. Starting with the delay in formation of cabinet, the lack-luster team he formed and the unending strings of allegations of corruptions within his cabinet and government, which have been repeatedly swept under the carpet. 

Just to mention a few, Chief of Army Staff alleged possession of properties worth millions of dollars in Dubai, President Buhari’s certificate saga, suspended SGF’s sleazy grass-cutting deal, the embarrassing revelations about the Police IG and the latest being the allegations against NNPC GMD Maikanti Baru. 

To compound issues, President Buhari has openly shown disdain for some parts of the country through his remarks and appointments. Most of his appointments have been largely skewed towards the North while leaving out the South-East zone completely. Whoever thought President Buhari had metamorphosed into a Nationalist should have a rethink, the Buhari we wanted may have died during that tortuous three times trouncing at the Presidential Polls.

The kid-gloves manner of handling the Fulani herdsmen’s matter is another evidence that the Buhari we envisaged may have died. The Fulani herdsmen have wrecked and continued to do so much damage to people’s lives and properties and yet there is no firm law to checkmate this menace, not even to bring to book those who have marauded innocent villagers. They have become ‘unknown soldiers’ from neighboring countries, yet our military has been firm in dealing with Boko Haram and IPOB. 

Should we even mention his disinterest in the clamour for restructuring, which surprisingly was one of his party’s major campaign strong points? 

While statistics are not readily available to support this, I daresay never have Nigerians being utterly disappointed as they are under this administration, and this has been evidenced in the droves of young and even old professionals who continue to leave the country for better lives in other countries! 

How much of moral, political and economic capital does the President have left? I will leave the answers for the readers to make. However if the Presidency and his team think he has enough to make him the darling of many at the next Presidential poll, they should have a serious rethink. 

Truly, but not in the manner being peddled by some, the Buhari we wanted may have died during his three-time unsuccessful Presidential bids! Or maybe the real Buhari only exists in our imagination!
Adewumi Oni
Published in Independent Newspaper

Sunday 15th October 2017

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​MESSAGES FROM THE PULPIT CONCERNING THE PODIUM

Rightly or wrongly, the Pulpit in Nigeria has been elevated to the point of infallibility. Over the years the words of the Clergy in the Church or Mosque have come to carry more weight than the words of a Governor or President. Some clergymen have known to have become reliable sources of knowing what the future will be like. As a matter of fact, at the beginning of every year, people throng to these clergymen to know what the year holds for them and the nation. Prophet Elijah in the Bible was known to guide Kings in his times on how to run their kingdoms.
This is why some Men of God command cult-like followership and attention that even a Governor of a State cannot command. In some Christian denominations, when the General Overseers (GO) call for general meetings of the workforce of the churches, you can be sure of a good attendance, same with the other religion. As a matter of fact, whenever some denominations hold their general meeting, traffic management agencies always have their hands full managing the traffic on the road leading to those denominations. Such is the hold of religion upon Nigerians. We are fast becoming the most religious people on earth. Whether our level of religiosity has any effect on our moral standard and living is another matter entirely!

It is therefore not surprising that Nigerians believe the words of their pastors or imams more than the budget or economic blueprint of the State or Federal Government. After all, government are known to always renege on their promise once they ascend to power, so their promises are often taken for a pinch of salt.  Of course, quite a number of opportunists have entered into the fold to take advantage of the believing followers.

One of the times Nigerians look up to Clergymen to know the mind of God is during elections. Rev. Father Mbaka was known to have prophesied correctly the defeat of immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan and this earned him no little recognition and fame. Pastor Tunde Bakare was also reported to have prophesied that SDP will fail, NRC will lose before the June 12, 1993 election that was annulled by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. Truly SDP won but never tasted power due to the annulment. There have been quite a number of prophesies like these which have come to pass and some that didn’t hit the mark.

Do the Clergymen hear from God on matters like elections? Yes, I think they do. If God can speak concerning their members and church or mosque, why can’t He speak about the nation or its leader? Do they hear correctly all the time? No. Just as it is possible not to hear what someone tells you in a room clearly, there exists the chance that Clergymen may miss it sometimes. After all they are men with blood flowing in their veins too. 

It is however dangerous when the following scenarios begin to happen. One, when we begin to equate clergymen with God and hold them infallible. At such stage, we are setting them up for big-time failure, because God is God and clergymen are just His servants. Their ability to hear well at any point in time is a function of their relationship with God at such time. Two, when clergymen begin to mix their minds with the voice of God. It only leads to confusion and disgrace. Three, when clergymen begin to believe they are infallible and tries to justifies the non-fulfilment of their prophecies. When a prophecy is proven wrong, the clergy is to go back to God and find out why, or check to see that it was not a self-produced prophecy ab initio. 

On the background of the recent US Election and how President-Elect Donald Trump defied all odds and prophecies to defeat aspirant Hilary Clinton, it is appalling that a clergyman who predicted a Hilary victory in a video before the election has pulled down the video from the church website after the prophecy was proved wrong. Nigerians have been reacting to the failed prophecies and the pulling down of the video from the church’s website. This action is unfortunate and embarrassing to the body of Christ. Why pull down the video? Is this the first failed prophecy from the clergyman? Who is deceiving who here? Even CNN Poll of Polls failed in its prediction, CNN has not brought down its site for that matter! Political pundits all over the world, except for a few, missed it this time around, so why try to prove infallible! It is quite ‘unman-of-godly’, if you ask me.

The lesson here is that prophecies from the Pulpit concerning the Podium must be proven for their authenticity before being made public. And when a Clergy is speaking his mind he should not call it prophecy, because everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion. It is this rampant act of mixing the mind of men with the mind of God that is responsible for many of the unfulfilled prophecies, plus even God changes his mind when people pray. He changed his mind about Nineveh despite Jonah’s prophecies, so why can’t He change his mind concerning Trump?

Adewumi Oni

Independent Newspaper 

13th November 2016

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When Justice Becomes Negotiable

The magnitude of the unchecked corruption that took place in Nigeria under the previous administrations of the ousted People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is yet to be fully comprehended by Nigerians, especially the wanton and unbridled dip into the nation’s treasury that took place under the auspices of former President Goodluck Jonathan. 

Amidst an unprecedented economic recession occasioned by drop in oil price and low savings of past administrations, we have been hit by another news of return of cash by the former Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko. He was reported to have returned about =N=1bn cash out of the =N=40bn reportedly diverted under his watch between August 2009 and August 2015. Given that the refund may have been in tranches, yet we are talking about an individual refunding =N=1bn!

As if that wasn’t enough, former Minister Musiliu Obanikoro was also reported to have returned =N=100m, even though EFCC rejected it, obviously feeling it was too small an amount compared to what Obanikoro got as part of the ‘Dasuki missing $2bn’. It has been tales of refund since this administration took over. We have become a nation of ‘refunders’, where past public officers are now returning a fraction of their loots after they have been discovered. 

Yet, our former President Goodluck Jonathan unashamedly attempted to downplay the allegations against Dasuki and the corruption under his administration. This he did right in the presence of ‘Oyinbo’ people in Oxford. Wonder what he was trying to do, re-launder his image? Of course, the former President’s fantastic comment earned him fantastic rebukes from Nigerians!

Dikko’s refund is like the proverbial case of ‘we have not finished delivering the prophecies of Ifa Oracle and they are already playing out’. Former President Jonathan spoke in defense of his administration barely two weeks ago, yet another evidence of his maladministration just played out. It is such a shame what we have turned to and how greed has eaten deep into the fabric of our society. 

To the thrust of this piece, given the unending cases of refunds and returns that have been reported since the inception of this administration, I am beginning to wonder whether our judiciary system still have the  moral justification or ‘locus classicus’ to continue to try and jail petty thieves and robbers who steal to survive. It appears that stealing big is encouraged while petty thieves are treated like poisons. If petty thieves are deserving of the kind of jail terms judges slam on them, then these looting public officers should not just be made to refund but also put behind the bars for life.

Our sense of justice seems to have become warped individually and collectively. If someone is caught stealing a Nokia set or snatching purse, he will likely be beaten to pulp and then set ablaze, yet when we see those who are looting our public resources we hail them and even accord them right of priority in everything. Just last week, Prof Pius Adesanmi  wrote about a Canadian Minister who had to refund $3700 to the government coffers after she was mollified by Canadians of overspending on limousine shuttles, and how in comparison, Nigerians protect their Chief Looters. Little wonder former President Goodluck deemed it fit to bestow National Honour on the late Alamiesegha. For a man to whom stealing is not corruption, even a Dasuki deserves royal treatment. 

The combined of stealing of the likes of Oyenuga, Lawrence Anini, Monday Osunbor and co is nothing compared to the looting that has taken place in Nigeria during the last administration. Did these people deserve the death sentence slammed on them? Sure they did. But if they were deserving of firing squad, these public looters deserve more than firing squads, they deserve total obliteration! Agreed that those notorious robbers took so many lives before they were caught, but these ‘refunders’ have taken the livelihoods of millions of Nigerians! They have stolen both the present and the future of both living and yet unborn Nigerian children. Public funds that should have formed part of our foreign reserves, which should have been used in protecting the lives of our children in the North, in providing good educational facilities for our children all over the nation, in building state of the art hospitals across the nation, and in putting our roads in passable condition, have been stolen by few elites and all they get is some days in EFCC cell and a refund of some fractions. When they are charged to Court, they used part of the rest of the loot to frustrate the trial process. If they are ever found guilty, all they get is NEGOTIATED JUDGEMENT. This is the tale of our corrupt system. This is our story!

Woe unto those who continue to celebrate and recommend thieves for public positions. Woe to those who benefit from the negotiation of true justice. When justice becomes negotiable, the law has surely lost its sting.

Adewumi Oni

Mowe, Ogun State

At 56 – Time To Move On

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By Adewumi Oni

As the nation turned 56 on 1st October, many Nigerians are of the opinion that we have not justified our 56 years of post-independence. Amidst a challenging economic recession that has never been witnessed in the nation before, President Buhari called on Nigerians to give thanks to God and pray for the founding fathers of the nation.

Our journey since independence has been marred with a civil war and many military interregnums, with the last ending in 1999 after Gen. Abubakar Abdulsalam handed over to the then newly elected President Olusegun Obasanjo. It is a big plus that we have held four elections successfully since then, albeit with different degree of ‘freeness and fairness’.

One notable plague that has characterised almost all the different administrations that have presided over the country is corruption. The amount that the country has lost to corruption since independence is in trillions of Naira and this, no doubt, has painfully halted the rate of growth and development of the country.

Another sore reality is that after 102 years of living together as a country and 56 years of self-rule, many sections of the country are still calling for secession and self-determination. With the wounds of the last civil war yet to be properly healed, the Igbos have been at the forefront of the calls for breaking out of the federation.

Saddening also is the fact that 56 years after independence, the country still battles with providing stable power supply. The other time, achieving a 5000 megawatts power output was celebrated as if we were gaining independence afresh. Many of our roads are still in terrible states, such that whenever it rains, motorists go through hell to get to their destinations because of pockets of water-filled holes and ditches. Many of our rail lines were abandoned and left in a dismal state, until the Goodluck Jonathan administration started overhauling them.

In spite of the huge revenue the country had amassed from crude oil export over the years, the country today waddles in the mud of low external reserves and biting economic hardship. Almost all sectors of our economy are grinding to a halt and crime rate has grown both numerically and in sophistication.

While we truly need to thank God, especially for the fact that the nation did not break up in 2015 as predicted by some foreign bodies, we also need to do a lot of reflective thinking both as a nation and individually. Individually, whenever we turn a new age, we always reflect on our past failures and successes, what we could have achieved, learning points and set new target for ourselves. This should also apply to our national entity. As a nation, it is time to put behind our past failures and focus on rebuilding the nation to become a force to reckon with among comity of nations.

One would have expected the President’s Independence speech to have been directed more towards goals and targets for the next one year, instead of the focus on recounting the achievements of his administration. His speech should have been aimed at inspiring the citizenry towards a better tomorrow. Given the fact that his achievements thus far fall far below both his pre-election promises and Nigerians expectations, more attention should have been placed on his plans toward rebuilding the economy.

As we therefore begin another year as a nation, it is time for all the citizens to adopt the ‘Change’ agenda in our personal lives, especially as regards our spending habit, propensity for foreign goods, and disregard for law and order.

The leadership of the nation should also stop the ‘Blame Game’, and get to the business of repairing the damaged that has been inflicted on the country. Rather than placing blame, let the government fix the issues. When the citizens start seeing a government who is willing to take full responsibility for the nation, they will become more tolerant of the hardship they are facing. When we are sure of light at the end of the tunnel through clear and focused economic blueprint, our criticisms and complain will reduce.

I believe most Nigerians understand the enormity of the situation we are in, but those of us who supported the President at the last election equally believed that the President has the capacity to bring about a turnaround for the nation. It is therefore that capacity to deliver that is being called upon and nothing more.

Oni, a Chartered Accountant, writes from Mowe, Ogun State.

It Is Not Yet Uhuru

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POSTED: SEP 23, 2016 AT 9:58 AM   /     /   COMMENTS (0)

 

By Adewumi Oni

The Nigerian Paralympics contingent returned back triumphantly earlier this week with a total haul of twelve medals, eight gold, two silver and two bronze medals. This performance not only surpassed their best ever outing at Sydney 2000, where we won seven gold, two silver and one bronze medals, it also saw Nigeria ranking the best in Africa and 17th on the overall medal table as against 22nd at Sydney 2000. The Games saw power-lifter Josephine Orji shattering the world record of the women’s 86kg event with a lift of 154kg to win the gold medal. It was indeed a moment of pride for Nigerians and a consolation for the poor outing at the Rio Olympics held in July.

It is pertinent to recount the ordeal this contingent went through before leaving for the Games in Rio. They left in low spirits on the background of poor preparation, which has come to characterize our sports sector. There were even fears that the athletes may not perform as much as the last events. They however pleasantly surprised Nigerians when the medals started rolling in, with the team eventually hauling twelve medals.

Having put up the best performance ever at the Paralympics, we should not to be carried away by the euphoria of this performance. It is important to analyze all the events in which we participated and review our performances, with a view to improving in future events. It is necessary to also point out that this performance is attributable to the positive spirit of the athletes and has nothing to do with the support provided by the Ministry of Sport or the Planning Committee. This again is a proof of the resilient spirit of the typical Nigerian. The moment we begin to match our resilience with good preparation on all fronts, we will begin to get great results.

The Minister for Sports and Youth Development, unabashedly had reportedly implied in an interview that one doesn’t need years of preparation to win medals at the Olympics. He said “From what they (Paralympians) have done, it’s now not about the issue of preparation, the Paralympic athletes prepared the same way as the Olympics athletes did. And if they have been able to excel, then the Olympics athletes have to reexamine their roles and participation at the Olympics and try to do better.” One wonders if this is a way of justifying poor preparations. Would we have recorded better performance if the Paralympic athletes have been properly prepared? Why did they perform better than the able-bodied athletes at the Rio Olympics? These are some of the questions one would expect the Minister to find answers for, rather than making such remarks.

The State of Emergency declared in the sports sector should remain in place until a proper roadmap is put in place and necessary supporting infrastructures provided for the next Olympic/Paralympic. It is time to set lofty targets for our athletes. If we start with aiming to among the first twenty in both the Olympic and Paralympic games, it is not too bad. Each of the field and track event should have a target for the 2020 Games, and these targets should be combined to form a blueprint for the next games.

The minister should come down from his high horse of belittling the importance of preparation. he should engage both the private sector and federal government on the need to invest heavily in the sector with a bid to have world class training facility that will enhance the performance of our athletes. To record any success at such private sector parleys, he must be seen to be providing the right kind of leadership for the Ministry.

 

It would be a big shame if we fail to surpass this feat in 2020 games. It will be a bigger shame if the able-bodied athletes fail to redeem our image by surpassing our Atlanta ‘96 performance. These are not ‘missions impossible’ but will only be realized if we don’t leave them as mere wishful thoughts.

We have the talents to achieve this, we only need to put the necessary infrastructure, supporting systems and incentives in place. Sports could be a viable tool for reducing unemployment, if we do the right things and at the right time. Before we lose all our talents to both neighboring and distant countries, let us do something about our Sports sector.

It is therefore not yet ‘Uhuru’ for the Sports Minister. He should see the Sports sector as an avenue of restoring Nigeria’s lost glory and work assiduously to achieve this aim. Until the Green-White-Green flag becomes the most hoisted flags at any Olympic game, the task of lifting us out of this dark hole is not over.

 

 Oni writes from Mowe, Ogun State