Monday, February 9, 2015

The Economist endorses Buhari

Influential United Kingdom-based magazine, The Economist, says the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is more competent than President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The highly respected magazine in its editorial published in its current edition and titled, ‘Former dictator is a better choice than a failed president,’ said Nigeria was unfortunate to have both Buhari and Jonathan vying for the Presidency. It, however, said that out of the two, Buhari was a better candidate.
This, the magazine argued, was because Jonathan was a huge failure and his party had mismanaged the economy of the country since it took over in 1999.
It said Nigeria was Africa’s largest economy not because it had good leadership but due to the will of the people.
It said Jonathan was highly incompetent as he had failed to address the insecurity ravaging the country.
The magazine recalled that when over 1,000 people were killed during an attack, rather than condole with his people, Jonathan preferred to condole with the people of France over the Charlie Hedbo attack during which terrorists killed 12 journalists last month.
It said, “Start with Mr. Jonathan, whose party has run the country since 1999 and who stumbled into the Presidency on the death of his predecessor in 2010, the PDP’s reign has been a sorry one. Mr. Jonathan has shown little willingness to tackle endemic corruption. When the governor of the central bank reported that $20bn had been stolen, his reward was to be sacked.
“He has shown little enthusiasm for tackling insecurity, and even less competence. Quick to offer condolences to France after the attack on Charlie Hedbo, Mr. Jonathan waited almost two weeks before speaking up about a Boko Haram attack that killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of his compatriots.
“The single bright spot of his rule has been Nigeria’s economy, one of the world’s fastest-growing. Yet that is largely despite the government rather than because of it, and falling oil prices will temper the boom. The prosperity has not been broadly shared: under Mr. Jonathan poverty has increased. Nigerians typically die eight years younger than their poorer neighbours in nearby Ghana.”
The magazine described Buhari as an incorruptible and honest leader but maintained that the former military head of state had “blood on his hands.”
It recalled that Buhari was guilty of human rights abuse and did not manage the economy properly when he ruled Nigeria between December 1983 and August 1985.
It, however, said the fact that Buhari had been participating in elections since 2003 was evidence that he had now embraced democracy.
It said Buhari would be able to revive the demoralised military and address insecurity.
It added, “Buhari is a sandal-wearing ascetic with a record of fighting corruption. Few nowadays question his commitment to democracy or expect him to turn autocratic: he has repeatedly stood for election and accepted the outcome when he lost. He would probably do a better job of running the country, and in particular of tackling Boko Haram. As a northerner and Muslim, he will have greater legitimacy among villagers whose help he will need to isolate the insurgents. As a military man, he is more likely to win the respect of a demoralised army.
“We are relieved not to have a vote in this election. But were we offered one we would-with a heavy heart-choose Buhari. Jonathan risks presiding over Nigeria’s bloody fragmentation. If Buhari can save Nigeria, history might even be kind to him.”

Sunday, February 8, 2015

On Soludo, Buhari, Jonathan and the elections

The firestorm generated by Prof. Chukwuma Soludo’s well-reasoned commentary on the place of issues in the 2015 electioneering has somehow become the core of the campaign. What a way to come from outside and define agenda.
Of course, I do not agree with all the points marshalled by the erstwhile Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Patito’s Gang member, but not to commend his citizen duty of engagement or indicate as reprehensible the resort to ad hominen bashing of the former economic adviser instead of providing facts to counter the views he had raised. That is issues-based campaign. I will myself raise logic to support and dispute some of the points in the Soludo intervention.
I do agree with Soludo that issues matter. I also think that those who turn to divisive emotion-laden typecasting of others rather than issues pertaining to the well-being of the Nigerian people do a grave disservice not only to democracy but to the long term common good of all.
The Soludo thrust of criticism sounds like an attack on the statist perspective that intervention can generate jobs and economic growth. Even as one who likes to see government out of the way, I find the approach worrying because beyond the Keynesian logic that brought the ultimate capitalist state, the United States, out of the Great Depression with initiatives like the Tennessee Valley Authority in Infrastructure, there is more recent example of post-2008 global financial crisis and the stimulus packages of the Obama administration, and now Europe turning to Quantitative Easing, not to knock the Wall Street/Main Street tag team approach to ensuring prosperity. Soludo’s solutions sometimes sound like Deepak Lal on the poverty of development economics. I think that if we see the current oil price slum as an opportunity rather than a threat, then we have to see a role for government in the way Lee Kuan Yew used state intervention when Singapore was prostrate in 1965, as Nigeria is today.
This leads to another point I am not in agreement with Soludo on. He talks about cost of programmes and the fact that low oil prices mean you cannot finance a big idea. In 1965, Singapore’s main revenues came from rent for the British Naval Base and the British had decided to shut all bases east of Eden. The decision of leaders of the United Malay National Organisation to eject Singapore from the federation that was thought to be the only hope left Singapore, out of pocket, and all dressed up with nowhere to go. Then, they rolled up their sleeves, got creative, transmitted the right values and found leadership that inspired and had integrity. Today, the small country probably has the largest concentration of billionaires per capita on earth.
Here in Nigeria, shortly after self-government, in the 1950’s, Nnamdi Azikiwe as the Premier of Eastern Region was anxious to match the free education policy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Palm produce did not fetch as much as cocoa in the market. The civil servants led by the new Permanent Secretary in Finance, Chief Jerome Udoji, thought it could not be done because of limitations of money. Zik insisted and accused Udoji, in Parliament, of trying to sabotage his government. After 40 per cent of the Eastern Nigeria budget of 1957 had gone to education and was still inadequate, the Udoji team suggested the introduction of fees for Primary 1 and Primary 5. But leadership kicked in. A philosophy called “Ibu anyi ndanda” raised a formula that created a partnership between government, the communities and missionaries that enabled the East to leapfrog the gap in education between the East and West.
In both cases the difference was leadership. At the centre in Abuja, for some reasons that may be from exposure, or whatever, leadership does not inspire as Lee Kuan Yew, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Michael Okpara did. Money is not everything in making dreams come through.
Among the many lessons we will learn, if we begin to operationalise the cash transfers initiative of the All Progressives Congress, a concept that helped Inatio Da Silva pull Brazil out of “potential” into a global economic powerhouse, is that we may not need as much cash as Soludo projects and that corruption and goal displacement are so high in a bloated public service that the savings will more than be adequate. Besides, from Kayode Fayemi and Rauf Aregbesola, we learn that with such programmes in Ekiti and Osun states, the numbers projected are often exaggerated. Given our abuse of census, we are likely to find much fewer people in those brackets. Check with the Bill Gates Foundation on satellite imagery studies of target population groups.
Having stated my major point of disagreement, it is useful to reflect on some other points raised by Soludo.
His broadside on austerity measures pronouncement and the road to austerity is a true, fair and proper read. No question that we walked with our eyes open into a repeat of 1982. In many of my speeches and my 2006 book, WHY NATIONS Are Poor, I recall how the Iranian revolution pushed oil prices into the stratosphere of $40 a barrel. We went reckless with champagne and even importing sand and “big men” bought Rolls Royces. We managed to borrow ourselves into a debt trap. On this round we moved up private jets and buying up Dubai.
When this current boom started with India rising and China producing, I recall on several occasions calling for fiscal responsibility compact in which flows into the distributable pool, the Federation Account, not go above $40 a barrel, with additional revenues up to $70 a barrel price going to a stabilisation fund. This fund would be available were prices to drop below $40 to be used to ensure a constant budget funding up $40 in lean times. Beyond $70, it should flow into a future fund. I have been singing this song for several years but the technocrats say the politicians insist on sharing the whole money and say of talk about saving for a rainy day that it is pointless planning for the rain when it was already pouring torrents. My retort was what is so wrong in resigning to make a point and force public conversation to educate the people because these politicians may be greedy but they surely do not hate their children. They have only acted in ignorance. I pointed them to young Mahathir Mohammed in Malaysia who disagreed with the position of the then Prime Minister and spoke up. He was dropped from the government where he was a junior minister, and expelled from The United Malay National Organisation, the dominant party at that time. Out of government, he wrote a book: The Malay Dilemma. That triggered soul-searching that finished with the resignation of the Prime Minister. He was brought back into the party. Not long after Dr Mahathir Ibn Mohammed became Prime Minister and the history of Malaysia changed for good.
What does it take to lead such a change – Genius? No. I draw from the Ronald Reagan experience in the US. President Reagan was not a genius. Some think he probably already had Alzheimer’s disease when he entered the White House. But his values were clear as was his vision. He found the right people and an America, in retreat, was revitalised, opening the way for ten and twenty American young stars to create a new industry with the .com revolution. Ironically, I have said elsewhere that the Buhari movement somehow reminds me of the coming of Ronald Reagan.
Let me close with a caveat. My response is a citizen response. My prism on this is not partisan. But I am a card-carrying member of the APC. The emergence of the APC is a culmination of my life’s quest as an institutionalist to see the dynamic of two balanced political parties. I was sure that without competition between parties that are equals progress would continue to elude Nigeria. So I longed for and worked for the scenario we have today. But I see in the torrent of abuse on Soludo for speaking truth to power and worry that this thing we have worked hard for, not in any pursuit of any self-interest, but for the advance of the common good, could be threatened by those who fail to understand the very idea of the public squares and the triumph of the ideas rather than emotional outbursts that result in tension and violence. I have read unprintable things online and in so many e-groups, some more offensive than Charlie Hebdo cartoons from both sides. This is poison we must curb. It is a double blow when those who follow this track are well-educated. So let us leave this business of certificates and uncompleted PhDs and hateful portrayals of opponents in caricature from the cross to throw backs of earlier life of candidates that seem like Hitler’s Goebbels at work. Let’s examine vision of society of challenges and the record of incumbents. Let’s ask people, regarding incumbents, is your life better today than it was four years ago and to the challengers, how can you make these same lives much better four years from now?
Utomi is a professor of political economy and founder, Centre for Values in Leadership

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Calls for postponement of elections mischievous, says Lawyers4Change

A  group,  Lawyers for Change (Lawyers4Change) has urged Nigerians to stop the mudslinging of the Presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari.

The group also described as mischievous, the call for a shift in the dates for elections.

National Coordinator of Lawyers4Change, Adesina Ogunlana, at a press conference, urged the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) not to postpone the elections.

On General Buhari’s qualifications, he said there was enough evidence which attest to the fact that the APC presidential candidate attended and graduated from various military institutions abroad before and after becoming a commissioned officer.

He stressed that Constitutional lawyer Prof. Itsay Sagay(SAN) had further clarified that a diploma from the US War College is the equivalent of Masters Degree.

“Buhari’s regime remains the most credible government in Nigeria today. So, all mudslinging about Buhari can’t take away the fact that he is in the class of Aminu Kano of this world”, he stated.

Ogunlana acknowledged that the country has been gripped with election fever and that there is a lot of tension in the air because of the February 14, 2015 Presidential elections.

He urged all political leaders to do their utmost best to curtail violence and uncivilized modes of electioneering adding that people who are genuinely interested in serving any community should not engage in dislocating, disrupting and distroying same community.

He further advised all security agencies to eschew partisanship in the discharge of their duties.

“Violence is an ill wind that blows no one any good. Let all security heads and officials know that they are agencies set up for the protection of the state and not to serve the interests of any political party or group”, he stated.


No comment on national issues until after elections – Obasanjo

A former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has said he will henceforth maintain silence on the state of the nation until after the forthcoming general elections.
He said this on Wednesday while addressing traditional rulers from Egbaland who were attending a seminar organised by a non-governmental organisation, The Village Network Empowerment Initiative. The seminar held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta.
The former president, who had in recent times criticised President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, said it was unfortunate that some people could misconstrue his good intention for the country.
Hence, he said he had chosen to keep mum until after the elections.
Obasanjo, who also flayed the situation in which teachers in some states were being owed salaries for upward of six months, said Nigerians had an opportunity from February 14 to play their own part in enthroning leaders of their choice.
He said, “Where we are now, I have spoken. I have used body language and whoever still does not understand all I have been saying, it would take such a person a long time to understand.
“It is something that is very clear for us all to see. Some people came to visit me from Benue State three days ago and told me teachers in that state had not been paid for six months.
“There are states where teachers have not been paid for four months, three months and two months. That is not good at all. It’s only God that can help us to overcome all these problems.
“All I know is that God has done His own part and it’s now left for us as human beings to do our own bit. Do we, as Nigerians, say that God has not been magnanimous enough to us?
“Is it human or natural resources that we do not have? We are blessed with a lot of fertile land. Shakespeare says the fault is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings.
“God has done his own part and it’s now left for us as human beings to play our own part. That our own part starts from the 14th and it’s now left to you and me. I won’t say more than that. I’ve said I won’t say anything anymore until after the elections.
“You’ll hear from me after the elections. But I’ve said it verbally and through body language and how you understand it all is now left to you. But whatever you still don’t understand about all of these, I will put it in prayers that God should enable you to clearly understand it all better.
“But I won’t say more than this until after the election.”
Delivering a lecture to the traditional rulers on “Waste to Wealth, Health, Biogas productions as an alternative source of energy for sustainable rural development,” the Director of the Zoo Park of the Federal University of Agriculture, Prof. Moses Oyatogun, enumerated the uses of different waste for energy production.
He advised them to take advantage of all manner of waste in their environment.
The initiator of the Village Network Empowerment Initiative Network, Oba Olufemi Ogunleye, said he organised the seminar to enable the traditional rulers to acquire knowledge and exposure towards the development of their communities.

Osinbajo laments loss of 400,000bpd

The Vice-Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has lamented the daily loss of 400,000 barrels of crude oil in the face of the high rate of unemployment and poverty in the country.
Osinbajo, who is a senior pastor in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, said Christians as the salt of the earth, should be agents of positive change.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said this at the first Annual Lecture Series in commemoration of the 73rd birthday of the General Overseer of the RCCG, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, in Lagos on Wednesday.
In attendance were Adeboye and several senior pastors of the church.
While delivering a lecture titled, ‘Harmonising virtues to gain heaven and earthly prosperity’, Osinbajo said, “112 million people in Nigeria are extremely poor. Despite being the largest economy in Africa, we are among the 33 poorest countries in the world.
“In the area of infant mortality, 3.9 million children have died between 2009 and 2014. For maternal mortality – 55,000 women die every year while 110,000 die of diarrhoea disease yearly. There are 10.4 million children out of school while 80 per cent of graduates are jobless.
“Corruption here as described by Hilary Clinton is unbelievable. There are missing funds. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation subsidy scam amounts to N2.6 trillion. Kerosene subsidy scam amounts to $7bn. Missing excess crude amounts to $1bn as 400,000 barrels of oil are stolen every day.”
The APC candidate said if these problems were not addressed, Nigerians would never be able to enjoy the best things in life.
He said, “Who does God hold responsible for creating prosperity and happiness? You are the salt of the earth…you are the light of the world.”
Also speaking at the event, Adeboye thanked the organisers for honouring him. Adeboye prayed for the prosperity of all and stressed the need for Nigerians to be closer to God.
Meanwhile, Osinbajo has said the presidential candidate of the APC, Maj.Gen Muhmmadu Buhari (retd.) cannot turn Nigeria into a Muslim nation.
Osinbajo, who disclosed this at an interactive session with professionals in Warri, Delta State, said those accusing Buhari of being a Muslim fundamentalist are distorting history.
Osinbajo said, “Throughout his period as military head of state, Gen. Buhari was under intense pressure to drag Nigeria into the OIC, but he never yielded because he respects Nigeria as a secular state in line with the constitution. Besides, his cook and driver are Christians.
“When Gen. Babangida eventually dragged Nigeria into the OIC, none of the successors ever attended any of its meeting because they know to Islamise Nigeria is very difficult as you need to first get the constitution amended. That process, you know, is almost impossible”.
“But it is on record that in 2013, President Jonathan, undermining the constitutional limitation, ensured that Nigeria attended an OIC meeting.”
Also speaking, a Warri leader, Chief Tuesday Onoge, told Osinbajo that the Urhobo people would support the APC in the coming election.
SOURCE: by Eniola Akinkuotu in the punch

Corruption‘ll disappear if Buhari wins, says Amaechi

THE Rivers State Governor and Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said on Wednesday that corruption would disappear from Nigeria if the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), emerged the winner of the February 14 presidential election.
Amaechi specifically stated that Buhari would instil discipline and uprightness on corrupt public officials in the country should he win the forthcoming poll.
The Director General of Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, who made this remark while swearing in nine permanent secretaries at the Government House in Port Harcourt, pointed out that Nigerians were tired of the Peoples Democratic Party leadership under President Goodluck Jonathan and needed a change.
Amaechi added that no matter the lies told by the leadership of the PDP, Nigerians were interested in the improvement in the country’s affairs.
“We were sharing some discussions in the bus in the cause of our campaign. The President and the PDP never knew that there will be a time like this in Nigeria when Nigerians will be asking for change, not because of the APC or Amaechi but because they are tired of what is going on.
“No matter the lies you tell, Nigerians just want change; any type of change they want it. It could be change for the better, it could be change even for the worse but they certainly want change,” the governor stressed.
Amaechi, however, charged the newly sworn-in permanent secretaries to see their appointment as a call to service delivery and ensure that they were not on the wrong side of history.
He observed that in the past, permanent secretaries were not corrupt but upright, adding that currently, some of those occupying similar positions had landed property everywhere.
The governor urged the new permanent secretaries to resign if they were not ready to serve, maintaining that their current position came with challenges.
Amaechi said, “Don’t be one of those permanent secretaries that history will have on the wrong side of the society. If you don’t want to serve, please, resign because it comes with challenges.
“Just imagine the days when J. E. Amadi was a permanent secretary. Now permanent secretaries have houses everywhere, estates they have built for themselves and are busy sharing money.
“You better change because the Buhari government will force change on everybody. I hope you listened to him (Buhari); he is not talking about Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, he said there are rules of the civil service.
“If we obey those rules, corruption will seize. If we all run government by those rules, then we will have a better country. Let me congratulate you on behalf of the state government.”
Those sworn in by the governor are Amieyefori Joseph, Marcus Anga, Samuel Egbe and Dagogo Heart. Others are Mrs. A. E. Petito, Augustine Orlu Orlu, Sam Woka, Kingsley Hart and Mrs. Ibaniba Abella Briggs.