THE CUTTING OF THE HOT CAKE BY BANKE AND OLUSOLA - Paul Ukpabio's Blog

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Friday, 2 June 2017

THE CUTTING OF THE HOT CAKE BY BANKE AND OLUSOLA




- By Bashorun J.K. Randle OFR; FCA

We are compelled to pause before proceeding to cut the wedding cake as Oba Otudeko, the Chairman of FBN Holdings Plc. (parent company of First Bank of Nigeria Plc.) has punctuated matters by threatening the parents of the bride and groom with an unsolicited visit from the bank manager and ultimately the taxman regarding the cost of this spectacular wedding at the picturesque Palais Namaskar hotel, Marrakesh, Morocco.
 

Two quick points need to be made – namely, First Bank of Nigeria Plc started off as Bank of British West Africa (BBWA) over a hundred and twenty-three years ago. Actually, my late grandfather Dr. J.K. Randle was one of the founding shareholders. The inaugural meeting was held in 1984 at the Colony Hotel in London. The rest is now history. Perhaps, it is not by mere coincidence that till today, the bank’s head office is at 35 Marina, Lagos – just a few yards from Dr. Randle’s house at 31 Marina, Lagos. 

The other point which needs to be made is that this is a magic moment which will remain with all of us for eternity. Our prayer is that the purses of our hosts will be replenished and that this joint enterprise will turn out not to be an expense but rather an investment in the future of both Banke and Olusola Lawson. May the investment reap a bountiful harvest which will manifest in sanctified dividends – a happy home and beautiful children who would do our nation proud.

Some of you may be aware that this magnificent hotel and its breathtaking fountains combined with the splendour of its gardens was built by a Lebanese businessman who made his fortune in Nigeria. It is not our call to take him to task for locating the hotel in Marrakesh, Morocco rather than in Lagos, Nigeria. Business and investment decisions are nearly always driven by hard-headed realities and calculations rather than sentimental considerations.
I suspect that none of us was lured to embark on this journey to Morocco by the catchy advertising jingle on CNN with which we have been bombarded:

“Come to Morocco
The land of snake-charmers
Dancing monkeys
And money doublers.”
You never know, you may well double your money before you depart. We shall have to wait and see.

However, what is instructive is that the oldest university in the world is located in Timbuktu, Mali 4,521 kilometres away from Marrakesh. In the pursuit of knowledge, no distance is ever too far.
Indeed, from history we have learnt that at some point the Songhai Empire stretched all the way from Morocco to the northern belt of Nigeria. 

Hence, we should be forgiven for being somewhat overwhelmed by the dexterity with which the Moroccans appear to be managing their affairs. The agitation for the breakaway Sahrawi Republic seems to have subsided and the country which does not have a drop of oil has anchored its destiny on phosphate, gum Arabic and massive tourism.
The local airport at Marrakesh also serves as the international gateway with over forty flights daily. It is an architectural masterpiece and a testimony to grand vision matched by business acumen. It certainly puts our Nigerian airports to shame. Also, it has not escaped our notice that regardless of the excellent hotel facilities spread out over the vast expanse of land (mostly desert), more and more hotels are under construction in order to derive maximum benefits from the massive inflow of tourists into what is clearly a safe haven and a foretaste of paradise. 

As for those who have a grudge or reservation against destination weddings, let them sheath their swords. After the festivities, many of us will stay behind for very serious business and deliberations over the affairs of Nigeria as well as its destiny. Both the United States of America and Britain will shortly announce their endorsement of (and confidence) in the Vice-President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo SAN who has been holding fort for our ailing President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR. 

However, the northerners are already scheming to retain political control by insisting that regardless of whatever fate befalls President Buhari, power must remain in the north for the unexpired “deemed” eight-years tenure of Buhari. 

Both the U.S. and U.K. are determined to forestall the looming crisis by being pro-active. This is a massive endeavour which would involve inviting Nigeria’s political leaders – former Heads of State; Vice-Presidents, former and current Governors; traditional rulers, religious leaders; captains of industry, bankers, chartered accountants, lawyers etc. to Marrakesh for serious negotiations over the future of Africa’s most populous nation (estimated at close to 200 million). 

We are in the right place at the right time. As confirmation of this magical moment, let us replay the welcome address of the proprietor of the hotel:
“It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to Palais Namaskar, the oasis of wellbeing in the Palmeraie area, a place of perfect tranquility between desert and majestic mountains.

Here you will discover the benefits of our personalised fitness coaching and sensual spa therapies that help to dissolve stress and transform moods. Fine dining and local gastromony are also an integral part of this unique experience. Our chefs have devised a selection of menus for healthy eating using local and organic produce.
Palais Namaskar is a destination in itself where you can revive health, regain equilibrium and relax in stylish surroundings. 

Since Palais Namaskar opened in April 2012, we are proud to have been recognized with several prestigious awards, the latest being ‘Best Hotel in Africa’ by Prix Villegiature and 'Best Luxury Fitness Spa' in Africa by the World Luxury Spa Awards 2015.
The Namaskar team will endeavour to make your stay truly unforgettable.” 

Immediately after the wedding and the departure of the bride and bridegroom for their honeymoon at an undisclosed destination, the business of our “Rescue Mission” will commence in earnest.
Our host, King Mohammed VI says Nigeria is too hot to handle. His Majesty has therefore invited Mr. António Guterres the Secretary-General of the United Nations as well as Jim Yong Kim President of the World Bank and the indefatigable Mrs. Christine Lagarde to join us in crafting a peace deal to be signed by the major contenders for power and the “Balance of Forces” in Nigeria well ahead of the looming crisis. The militants in the Niger-Delta of Nigeria are restive while Nnamdi Kanu has ratcheted up the agitation for Biafra.

As resounding confirmation of his commitment to the “RESCUE MISSION”, the King of Morocco was on both CNN’s and Al Jazeera’s “BREAKING NEWS”
“Nigeria and Morocco have signed a joint venture to construct a gas pipeline that will connect the two nations as well as some other African countries to Europe. The project is tagged “The Wonder of Africa”. 

Its historical significance is anchored on the fact that it was designed by Africans for Africans with a direct impact on 300 million people through the acceleration of electrification projects in West Africa, thereby serving as a basis for the creation of a competitive regional electricity market. When completed, the project will be named after Banke and Olusola Lawson who have just celebrated their wedding in Marrakesh.” 

The King of Morocco was not yet done. He added that a fertiliser project had also been initiated and that the first phase was the supply of a cargo of phosphate by Morocco to Nigeria. The supply has led to the resuscitation of eleven blending plants which
produced about 1.3 million tonnes of fertiliser; creation of 50,000 (direct) and 150,000 (indirect) jobs while ensuring that Nigerian farmers would have access to adequate supply of fertilisers.
The second phase will facilitate the maximization of local fertiliser production through the creation of a platform for basic chemical products; secure the Nigerian market’s fertiliser supply at competitive prices; and reinforce local distribution channels. 

Furthermore, the Kingdom of Morocco and Nigeria have agreed to develop integrated industrial clusters in the sub-region in such sectors as manufacturing, Agro-Allied business and fertilisers in order to attract foreign capital and improve export competiveness.
It is most heartwarming to the retired partners of KPMG who are still awaiting their gratuity and pension that they have had the privilege of playing a minor/minuscule role in ensuring that both Nigeria and Morocco are committed to equal partnership regarding the governance, management and financing of the projects upon which the two countries have embarked in order to head off potential revolt by jobless youths and marauding herdsmen as well as armed robbers and kidnappers who have combined forces with Boko Haram to wreak havoc and create mayhem in Nigeria. 

The impetus for convening the NIGERIA SUMMIT in Marrakesh appears to have been provided by the leaking of a highly classified document by Julien Assange of WikiLeaks and his fellow conspirator, Edward Snowden the refugee CIA consultant.
It turns out to be a carbon copy of the audit report on Nigeria by the erudite and cerebral Professor Adebayo Williams: 

“For those who can read political horoscopes of impending disaster, this one is palpable in its astral malignancy. Like a band of merry somnambulists, Nigerians are sleepwalking to a major political catastrophe with eyes wide open. First is the harsh reality of presidential ailment which in an abiding climate of kleptocrats and political pick-pockets has put a lid on purposeful governance and productive politics. This has in turn sparked off a nasty and barely disguised succession battle the like of which nobody has seen in this clime before. Compared to the Umaru Yar’Adua succession debacle, this one promises to be the mother of all political hostilities. As it is at the moment, Nigeria reminds one of a badly wounded elephant cut to pieces but still shambling and lumbering towards an inglorious finale as it emits a fearsome rumble. The Nigerian political elite have neglected to bind the wounds of the nation or dress its suppurating gashes.

Now it has gone fearfully septic and everybody is waiting for the end. This cannot continue. A nation cannot exist on a foundation of political injustice and economic tyranny without something giving.”
Under normal circumstances, the Moroccan government is very strict in enforcing visa requirements for Nigerians. Consequently, it has gone to great lengths to publicise its official website which provides the following information: 

“REQUIREMENTS FOR TOURISM”
1. STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT FOR THE LAST THREE (3) MONTHS
2. INTRODUCTION LETTER FROM YOUR OFFICE/SELF
3. PHOTOCOPY OF INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT DATA PAGE
4. THREE (3) PASSPORT PHOTOGRAPHS ON WHITE BACKGROUND
5. COPY OF WORKING I.D CARD
6. HOTEL VOUCHER AND FLIGHT ITINERARY
7. COPY OF MORROCAN VISA AND OTHER VISAS OBTAINED
8. TRAVEL INSURANCE FOR ONE (1) MONTH
9. COPY OF MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE

It was most gracious of the King of Morocco, King Mohammed VI to waive visa formalities for those whose attendance is urgently required in Marrakesh in order to ensure that the looming crisis in Nigeria is resolved unfailingly before June 12, 2017, (the twenty-fourth anniversary of the historic election won in 1993 by Bashorun M.K.O Abiola, a chartered accountant, who ultimately paid the supreme sacrifice following the annulment of the election by General Ibrahim Badamasi Babaginda and the subsequent incarceration of Abiola by Babangida’s successor, the dreaded General Sani Abacha). 

In the meantime, “the Sunday Sun” newspaper’s list of the ten most influential Nigerian politicians who are urgently wanted in Marrakesh has gone viral: 

i) Chief Olusegun Obasanjo
ii) President Muhammadu Buhari
iii) Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu
iv) Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar
v) General T. Y. Danjuma (retd)
vi) Senate President Bukola Saraki
vii) Prince Arthur Eze
viii) Former Governor of Delta State James Ibori
ix) Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State
x) Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State

The King of Morocco was alarmed at the deluge of protests on social media regarding the omission of:
i) General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida,ii) Alhaji Muhammadu Sa'ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto and iii) Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the Chief of Army Staff

To further complicate matters, women all over the world have gone on the warpath over the total exclusion of women from the list. Not a single woman!!
Those who are more discerning have reminded us that the political ferment in Nigeria is not a recent tragedy. It has been festering for a while – going back to the 2015 elections. Seven weeks (February 2015) before ballots were scheduled to cast, the Presidency (under Dr. Ebele Goodluck Jonathan) issued the following statement:
“Buhari can never be President of Nigeria. Quote me any day any time. Instead of Buhari to become President of Nigeria, Nigeria would rather break. A military coup will even be allowed rather than for Buhari to become the President of a democratic Nigeria. Quote me any day, any time.” 

- Deji Akinyanju, Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe.

Both BBC Hausa Service and Al Jazeera carried the response of General Muhammadu Buhari as BREAKING NEWS:
“They either conduct a free and fair election or they go a very disgraceful way. If what happened in 2011 should happen again in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood.” 

The dog-whistle had been blown full blast.
In any case, even the United Nations as well as the European Union have been severely jolted by reports which totally undermined the integrity of elections in Nigeria. A case in point was featured on the front page of “ThisDay” newspaper on May 25, 2017
Headline:

 “Katsina Bye-election: Corps Member Alleges She was Threatened with Rape, Ballot Papers Doctored”
“A serving National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member, who was part of the electoral team for the Katsina bye-elections held last Saturday, has alleged that she and members of her team were pressured into releasing ballot papers to unknown men armed to the teeth, after they threatened to do things “more worse (terrible) than rape” to her.
On Sunday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had declared the election, which was held in Mashi/Dutsi federal constituency a success, and announced Mansur Ali of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner, with 27,968 votes.

But the corps member’s account of what happened at Mashi Local Government Area where she was posted, has cast serious doubts on the credibility of the election.
The lady, who did not want her name and photograph published due to fear for her life, informed THISDAY that after arriving at her polling unit at 7.10 a.m. on the fateful day, the team started the accreditation and voting process by 8 a.m. and everything was going smoothly until 9.50 a.m. when some people came, armed with knives, daggers and cutlasses, demanding for the ballot papers.
“At first I refused,” she told THISDAY. “But one of them pulled me aside and told me they would not just rape me, but do things worse than rape. ‘You see as you come complete, se you no wan go complete?’ the man asked. I was terrified.”

According to her, the soldiers and security officials who were supposed to be guiding the polling unit were nowhere to be seen as the men carted away the ballot papers. After about an hour, the ballot papers were returned to the unit, all “appropriately” thumb-printed. 

By 2 p.m., voting was over and the team went ahead to collate the “fake” results, she said. An hour later, they proceeded to the registration area, which was situated in a seemingly abandoned primary school. Here, they met other corps members from different polling units in Mashi and their stories were all similar.
“Apparently, they (assailants) didn’t just come to our unit, but to all the other polling units because my colleagues had similar experiences to mine,” the corps member told THISDAY. “Some even said they tampered with their card readers.”

Meanwhile, at the registration area, some residents had already gathered in front of the primary school, shouting angry expletives in Hausa. Just as the team was about to deliver its report to INEC officials, mayhem broke out, when some men scaled the fence and broke into the classroom where the INEC reporting was being carried out. 

“It was a mad experience,” the corps member said. “We had to run. Even the security officials that were supposed to take care of us left their vans. It was just God that saved me. I will never involve myself in any electoral process again.” 

When contacted, the INEC Administrative Secretary in Katsina State, Mr. Yunusa Kura, admitted that there were at least 13 incidents of malpractices, including ballot paper snatching and overstuffing of ballot boxes. 

“I have reports from youth corps members over attempts to snatch ballot papers which made them lose some of their belongings,” he said. “I have discussed with them and I am even the one that took them to the LGA’s INEC office. We are making efforts to find out what they really lost and to pay them compensation.” 

However, he added that all the results from areas where malpractices were recorded were cancelled. “Six of them were to do with ballot paper snatching, while seven other places had to do with over-stuffing of ballot papers,” he said.
He also informed THISDAY that one of the corps members was involved in an accident and was admitted at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital in Kano. 

According to Kura, the corps member was returning to the collation centre after the election when the vehicle conveying them had an accident and she fell. 

“They had finished the election and were moving to the collation centre when the vehicle conveying them somersaulted and she fell down. All the corps members that had incidents, I personally visited them and had interviews with them,” he said.” 

For many Nigerians, the final straw in the mélange of disillusionment regarding the competence and integrity of the government was provided by the massive fuel subsidy scam. The trigger was pulled on 13th October 2011 when Senator Dr. Bukola Saraki along with thirteen other senators sponsored a motion which recited the reports of the Financial Times of London as well as an NGO based in Switzerland and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) which revealed the gigantic fraud - in the budget for 2011 the provision for fuel subsidy was ₦240 billion (previous year was about ₦100 billion) but by November 2011, ₦1.3 trillion had been paid with more to come!! 

“….. fuel imported into Nigeria was inflated by 500 per cent and thereafter smuggled out to neighbouring countries (principally Republic of Benin; Chad; Cameroon; Niger and Ghana) and sold at much higher prices after humongous payments had been collected as subsidy from the Nigerian government. Some of the fuel never reached Nigeria having been diverted in the mid-Atlantic.
Oxfam has sent a powerful delegation to Marrakesh to deliver a robust message:

“Nigeria is not a poor country, yet millions are living in hunger. In order to free millions of its citizens from deprivation and want, it must build a new political and economic system that works for everyone, not just a fortunate few.” 9

On its website, Oxfam has provided the link to
i) The front page report of “The Nation” newspaper of May 27, 2017.

Headline: “14 MILLION CHILDREN OUT OF SCHOOL IN THE NORTH, NORTHERN GOVERNORS LAMENT.
 Say low literacy cause of high poverty in the region

The Northern state Governors Forum has decried the rising number of out of school children in the north, saying about 14 million children of school age are currently out of school in the region. 

Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Borno state, Alhaji Kashim Shettima who disclosed this at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Forum and a Spanish Organisation, Fundacion Profuturo, for the enhancement of education in the north said the growing number of out of school children in the north is alarming and an irony.

According to Shettima, while the north has about 41,913 public primary school compared to 19,978 in the southern part of the country, the north can only boast of 34 percent literacy rate compared to 67 percent literacy rate in the southern party of the country. 

According to him, while the north east alone has a total of 19,436 public primary schools which is almost equal the number in the three other regions of the country – East; West and South. It is just one point shy of being the lowest in literacy across the entire country”
He said the Northern Governors are particularly touched by the educational intervention because “we believe most of the problems in the north are products of low literacy and high poverty levels. Of course, the low literacy is sufficiently responsible for the high poverty. And, what we need is to make our educational institutions functional, qualitative and accessible. 

Until April this year, I was living with a wrong notion that the number of public primary schools in the Southern part of Nigeria tripled the number of schools in the north. I thought the number was, in addition to other key factors, responsible for the wide literacy gap between the north and south. 

I was lucky to have participated at an event organized by the Sir Ahmadu Bello Memorial Foundation in Kaduna and listened to a thought provoking lecture eloquently delivered by Dr. Suleyman Ndanusa, former Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He shared a finding of UNESCO and the National Bureau of Statistics which showed that whereas the entire southern Nigeria made up of the East, West 10 and South have a total of 19,978 public primary schools the northeast alone has a total of 19,436 public primary schools.
The number of public primary schools in the northeast is almost equal the total in the entire south, Yet, the northeast is just one point shy of being the lowest in literacy across the entire country.
At regional levels, the three geo-political zones in the north have a total 41,913 public primary schools, more than twice the number of public primary schools in the south. Yet, the south has 67 percent literacy level while the North has a dismal 34 percent literacy level. The ratio in poverty is also in similar proportion between the north and south. 

Now, what we have learned from Dr. Ndanusa’s lecture was that the major problems of education in northern Nigeria are the functionality of schools, the quality of what teachers pass to students, and the level of school enrollment.
An intervention like the Profuturo Program is certainly one step that can increase the functionality of public schools in Northern Nigeria. This means, helping to address the critical need to make public schools in Northern Nigeria more and more functional. The Northern Governors solemnly pledge total commitment to the implementation of this project to improve the quality of our public educational system. 

I know that majority, if not all of my colleagues, the Northern Governors are doing very well in trying to change the conditions of public schools in their respective States. But as we know, the north is grappling with an ever increasing population. The number of school aged children out of school is still on the increase. At the last count, we had 14 million out of school children in the north. The whole thing is an irony.
The schools are there but not very functional and where the schools are functional, there is low enrolment. We must continually device means of addressing these problems through creative steps and flexible steps.
To us, the Northern Governors, the North is at stage in need of emergency surgery. We do not really care where the surgeons come from so long as we can agree on modus operandi. All we need is for the north to get well, and in getting well, the north must become great, by the grace of our God that ordained education for humanity.”
He commended the Catholic Church for their contribution to the development of education in the region.”


ii) Front page report of “Nigerian Tribune” newspaper of May 27, 2017.

Headline: “TWO TEENAGERS ABSCOND FROM HOME BECAUSE PARENTS ARE “TOO POOR”
“Two teenagers, who absconded from their parents’ home in Abuja under the guise that they were two poor to take proper care of them have been rescued by the police. 

The teenagers, 13-year-old Chidubem Amaechi and 14-year-old Chinedu Onyebuchi were rescued by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad in Ojodu Berger area of the state.
The duo, who have been reunited with their families had lied to the police that they were kidnapped by some identified persons.
The teenagers were sighted by the officers wandering around Ojodu-Berger before they were invited for questioning.
They added that they escaped from their abductors while they were sleeping under the bridge before Ogun–Lagos long bridge.
The officers later moved the boys to the RRS headquartersin Alausa, Ikeja where an investigation into their kidnapping was launched immediately. 

While the investigations were on, officers suspected the children were lying about the kidnapping story.
Their parents, who have been looking for the boys in Abuja since Sunday, May 14, 2017, were shocked when contacted that their children were in the custody of Rapid Response Squad in Lagos.
It took three days of questioning before, Chidubem Amaechi opened up that he and Chinedu Onyebuchi, connived to leave Abuja because of the poor state of their parents.
One of the rescued teenagers, Amaechi said “we noticed that our parents were suffering in order to take care of us. We decided to come to Lagos and work for sometime. Whatever we are able to raise in six months, we would handover to our parents for them to start a business”.
He also added that “We realised that the hardship was too much and that we would be helping them if we leave our families in Abuja in search of better opportunities in Lagos, he stressed.

Amaechi also narrated that, “I brought my ₦4,200.00 savings while Chinedu added ₦500 as transport fare to Lagos. We were already in Lagos before we realised that we were simply being stupid. We were wandering about when the officer invited us for questioning”.
The Commander, Rapid Response Squad, ACP Olatunji Disu, who received the parents of the teenagers on the fifth day of being in the custody in his office, appealed to parents and guardians to monitor and take good care of their wards.
The boys were re-united and released to their parents on Friday after they had promised not to repeat their actions again (sic).”
iii) Front page report of “Daily Trust” newspaper of May 23, 2017

Headline: “HOW EX-NAVAL CHIEF JIBRIN ACQUIRED ₦600 MILLION PROPERTY – WITNESS” 

“A prosecution witness, Peter Oguebie, yesterday told an FCT High Court sitting in Maitama that a former Chief of Naval Staff, retired Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin purchased a property worth ₦600 million through a family company, Harbor Bay International Limited.
Testifying as the third prosecution witness, Oguebie, the Director of Petrus Ogu Nigeria Limited, the company that sold the property, said “payment for the property located at Plot No. 2717 Cadastral A06, Maitama, Abuja was made into an account, domiciled at Diamond bank, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja by Naval Engineering Services”.
He said all legal documents such as deed of assignment, power of attorney and sales agreement relating to the property were signed by him.
Jibrin is facing trial alongside Rear Admiral Bala Mshelia, Rear Admiral Shehu Ahmadu (all retired) and Harbor Bay International Limited on a 4-count charge of criminal conspiracy preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The naval chiefs whilst in office allegedly bought a house worth ₦600 million from the account of Naval Engineering Services without budgetary provision.
It was also alleged that, the documentation for transfer of ownership of the property was done such that a private company owned by the family of the first defendant (Vice Admiral Jibrin) became the buyer. The offence is in contravention of Section 26 (1) (b) and punishable under Section 22 (4) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offence Act 2000. 

The trial judge, Justice Salisu Umar adjourned the matter to June 14 for ruling on the admissibility of documents (certified true copy of the budget of the Nigeria Navy for 2013 and 2014) tendered by a staff of the Budget Office of the Federation, Abdulkadir Idris Wakili.”
iv) The front page editorial of “Daily Trust” newspaper of May 23, 2017:

Headline: “MILITARY RULE CAN NEVER BE THE SOLUTION”
“Located between Iyaro and Uselu, two of the oldest motor parks in Benin City capital of Edo State, is the Psychiatric Hospital. It’s there that mentally ill patients with “European defined” psychiatric disorders are treated with modern medicines. Outside the city limits are the traditional medicine homes where those with “local” psychiatric disorders are chained to trees in the bush while home grown remedies are applied. 

Anyone suggesting that the Military should once again intervene in our national affairs is not only unpatriotic, but evidently delusional requiring immediate treatment in one of these two types of psychiatric institutions.

Both the Chief of Army Staff, and the British High Commissioner to Nigeria have sounded warnings on the rumours that some politicians intend to encourage the military to upstage the political class.
If truth be told, bitterness against the manner in which politicians are running our society is growing daily. The prevailing injustices, disgraceful living conditions and nonsensical sham of democracy we are lumbered with is fostering public outrage.
Fortunately for politicians rather than taking to the streets Nigerians of all ages are voting with their feet to flee the country. Who can blame them? If our President can’t find a single hospital in the country fit to treat whatever is ailing him, why should anyone else remain here? But this is no justification for those who remain here to encourage military intervention of any sort. This would be a step backwards not forwards. 

It’s an indictment of the political class that the human rights denying and massively corrupt military era is seen as a lost paradise compared to today. But those who are old enough to know better will remember the collective overwhelming sigh of relief when the military were finally disgraced out of office.
The antics of Military adventurists set the nation on the path to ruin, and also turned what was once professional, disciplined, loyal, and patriotic armed forces into a corrupted ill-motivated rabble incapable of overcoming a rag-tag insurgency group (Boko Haram). 

Anyone inciting the military to take action to supposedly save us from this current crop of clueless, corrupt, unprincipled, election rigging and uncaring politicians lacks knowledge of history. There is no doubt that our “new breed” politicians are to blame for the mire into which the nation has sunk. The National Assembly is becoming the biggest impediment to progress in the nation. Their lack of commitment to reducing their obscene remuneration; failure to enact impactful legislation; failure to prevent corruption through effective oversight functions; and incessant scandals are a national disgrace. 

The recent indecent purchase of Senator Dino Melaye’s grammatically substandard book by the National Assembly leadership for a reported total sum of ₦23.4 million at public expense is just another slap in the face for Nigerians. Legislators are mistakenly interpreting silence as a signal that all is well, rather than understanding that their monumental gracelessness has rendered most Nigerians speechless.
Under normal circumstances things should be getting better as the nation imbibes the lesson of history, but those in charge of our educational system ensured that for so many years History was not a compulsory subject for our children.
Over the years’ the Federal Ministry of Education has been headed by Professors and Doctorate Degree holders in every specialisation except common sense! They ruined a good education system by unecessary tinkering, the end result being that we have now produced a generation of ill-informed, poorly educated, politically unconscious youths. History primarily teaches patriotism. It teaches the youth where they are coming from, the mistakes of the past and the ideals of their forefathers. 

Nowadays Youths from the South-East romanticise Biafra. History would have taught them that it wasn’t some sort of high-point for Igbo people, but rather an unmitigated humanitarian, political and economic disaster. Youths agitating in the Niger Delta feel that the nation owes them something.
History would have taught them that they have been cheated by their own leaders most of whom became Billionaires by syphoning off funds meant for their development. Despite it being crystal clear that the current crop of politicians is our problem, there is no shortage of alternatives to the way and manner in which our nation is being run aground and military intervention isn’t one of them.
Patriotic Nigerians need to re-examine the age profile of our political leaders and the basis for our unity. The new French President was six years old when President Buhari last ruled Nigeria. It’s time we abandoned governance by the elderly and let the future be decided by those to whom the future belongs. The rest of the world has moved on while we are still stuck in the past.
A major problem with educating our youth to imbibe the lessons of our post-independence history is that so many of the actors who contributed massively to the decline of our nation and who history will condemn, are still alive and playing active roles in our body politic. They say that the stone you see coming should not blind you, but Nigeria appears to be walking wide-eyed into a major political upheaval.” (Courtesy of Eugene Enahoro)
Chiedu Uche Oloye has provided us with a poignant auditor’s report on Nigeria: 

“President Muhammadu Buhari, owing to his ascetic nature, Spartan lifestyle and great dislike of corruption is believed to be the messiah that would right the wrongs in our political polity, grow and revive our prostrate economy and fix our infrastructural rot and deficit.
Today, however, President Buhari’s temporary abode is a hospital in the United Kingdom. And his occupation of the highest political office in Nigeria has led to his demystification. It took him a considerable length of time to form an executive cabinet that is filled with tired, recycled and unpatriotic politicians. They are just square pegs in round holes. Little wonder he has not achieved much as our president. He ought to re-jig his cabinet and inject new blood into it. Nigeria urgently needs skilled and knowledgeable ministers, who can turn around our country’s misfortunes and economic woes, and rescue it from the morass of backwardness.” 

A glimmer of hope has been injected by Chief Nnia Nwodo, leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. On CNN, he declared:
“Every part of Nigeria can survive as an independent country. The North with its mineral and agricultural potentials can build a strong nation. The West with its cocoa, oil, indomitable intellectual knowhow and commerce can build another Britain. The South-South with its oil can transform before oil ceases to be a major foreign exchange earner. The East with industry, outstanding innovation and little oil may still emerge as the African wonder. But none of these little enclaves will rival the capacity of a united and reconciled Nigeria.”

However, “The Punch” newspaper insisted on presenting its joint Auditors’ Report as a front page editorial on May 29, 2017.
Headline: “NIGERIA’S ENDANGERED DEMOCRACY”
“As Nigerians mark Democracy Day, the self-congratulatory rhetoric and feasting will likely be restricted to the ruling class and their cronies. For the majority, gloom pervades as they confront a harsh present and an uncertain future. Recession has added to the misery of 112 million persons or 67.1 per cent of the population reported to be living in poverty in 2016 and some other millions that are jobless. Unless Nigerians take back their lives from the political class to whom they have surrendered democracy, the promise of a better life will remain elusive.
Some 18 years after the return to civil rule, many Nigerians wonder if their lot has improved. True, they are freer, no longer gagged by the military’s draconian decrees, coercion and intimidation. But freedom guaranteed on paper means little if not fully exercised. As Nigerians complain bitterly of misrule, corruption and exclusion, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the widespread feeling of alienation among the populace lies principally in their own apathy and inability to make their voices and concerns heard.
Nigerians find it fashionable to gripe about the “dividends of democracy” eluding them, but the majority seem to regard it as a conveyor belt that will deliver the good life, limiting their role to periodic voting at elections. But there is no such utopia anywhere. Eternal vigilance, expressed by active citizen participation, is the life blood of successful participatory democracies.
At the outset of the Fourth Republic in 1999, poverty level in Nigeria, measured by the number of those living on less than $2 per day, was 54 per cent; today’s 67.1 per cent is actually an improvement on the 70 per cent poverty rate of 2011. This figure also masks the disparities such as grinding deprivation where the rate in 11 northern states range between 70.1 per cent and the 91.9 per cent claimed by Zamfara. According to WaterAid, 130 million Nigerians lack adequate sanitation, 57 million can’t get safe drinking water and 45,000 children die of diarrhoea each year, victims of unsafe water and poor sanitation. The largest number of out-of-school children is in Nigeria (mostly in the North). Three million of the street urchins are to be found in Kano State alone as confessed by Governor Abdullahi Gunduje. Youth unemployment climbed to 42.24 per cent by 2016 and is still rising, said the National Bureau of Statistics, while the national debt, reduced drastically by a landmark write-down and pay-off in 2005, has shot up, standing at N57.39 trillion by December 2016, according to the Debt Management Office website.

Frustrated by the failure of a democratic utopia, many have retreated into sectional, ethnic, sectarian and divisive political cocoons, blaming everyone else for their plight. But Nigerians need, at this critical stage, when centrifugal forces have resurfaced and the oppressive political class has deployed its manipulative tactics, to understand the workings of democracy. Like all human endeavours, democracy is not perfect, but it offers the best route to individual and aggregate opportunities for self-actualisation.
Conceptualised in the Greek city states and ancient Rome, democracy was revived in Europe in the 18th century through the works of intellectuals and a rising middle class. It has become the world’s dominant political ideology and is credited with facilitating the economic and political dominance of the West and emergent Asian Tigers. But democracy is a means to an end, of perpetual mass participation in the decision-making at all levels. Democracy is work-in-progress and this is playing out in advanced democracies. Despite a 230-year-old democratic constitution, Americans have been staging peaceful street protests in opposition to Donald Trump. Over one million signatures have been collected by ordinary citizens seeking his impeachment. We should begin to hold our representatives to account like Americans who compel theirs to hold town hall/constituency meetings to ventilate their concerns.

 In the United Kingdom, with an 800-year-old parliament, and other Western European countries, the demand by people to be heard has put mainstream politicians on their toes.
Unlike in Nigeria, where the corrupt are defended by their victims, hundreds of thousands of South Korean citizens staging street marches have shaped the direction of the anti-graft war, forcing out President Park Geun-hye, who is now on trial. Similar people power demonstrations have ensnared two former presidents of Brazil (one was impeached) and are threatening the incumbent Michel Temer. Romanians, whose experience of democracy is recent, poured into the streets to redirect the assault on corruption. Where the executive, parliament and judiciary do not satisfy, the employer of them all – the people – make their voices heard.
Here, the failure of the formal institutions is stark: the people should, therefore, exert pressure, using all legitimate means, to demand better governance. Successive administrations have failed on almost all counts, presiding over massive looting, economic mismanagement, and failing to deliver security and life’s basics; our legislators are reckoned by many to be the worst in the world, yet perhaps the highest paid, appropriating resources for themselves and unaccountable to their constituents; the judiciary is adjudged corrupt, swift to impose harsh penalties on the weak but aggressively protective of the rich and powerful who plunder the public treasury. People should demand briefings 
from their councilors, local government chairmen, state and federal legislators. Petitions, peaceful marches, law suits and town hall meetings are ready tools. 
 
Nigerians, who abandoned their destiny to politicians, should resolve today to shake off their lethargy. Where even political parties have failed, the active organs of the people should rouse from their slumber. During the oppressive military era, the labour unions, students, professionals, civil society groups, activist lawyers, market women and the mass media stood for the rights of Nigerians.
We have a rich history of making our voices heard: Aba women rose against colonial oppression in 1929; Egba women under Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti resisted unjust taxes in 1947; Abibatu Mogaji rallied market women to join the resistance against the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election. Labour activists led by Michael Imoudu held strikes in 1948. Indeed, Nigerian workers hold a heroic track record of activism and protests under colonial and post-independence military and civil rule. This also is true of students, who, together with workers, civil society and the mass media, became the only real opposition to successive military juntas. They were the vanguard of the struggle that ushered in the Fourth Republic while a majority of politicians who became its beneficiaries were active collaborators with the military.
Without active participation and insistence on accountability, the politicians have no incentive to stop ruining and stealing the country blind. An obsequious “Big Man” attitude towards public office holders is the very antithesis of democracy. Rather, the social contract principle that underpins it, confers on the people the right to remove unjust representatives. It was the people who ignited the Arab Spring, turfed out military dictators in South Korea, Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines and in Latin America. While popular activism may not always lead to ideal outcomes hoped for, the right of the people to exercise their power is necessary for democracy to truly thrive. Venezuelans have been on the streets to break the logjam created by feuding politicians. 

Nigerians have to make a choice today: whether to continue to leave democracy to politicians alone or to insist, using all lawful means, on accountability and corruption-free service delivery from public officials. They can choose to continue to line up behind corrupt political actors, ethnic champions and religious demagogues, or join the global movement of people demanding accountable governance and inclusion.”
The Holy Father, Pope Francis has been steadfast in his support and fervent prayer for Nigeria and Nigerians. 

Here is the message from the Pontiff:
“I urge Nigerians not to fear or despair over current challenges. There is hope that the challenges would be overcome. I invite all Nigerians to change the lens through which they view things. They should always have hope.
Many Nigerians are living in fears. Those fears arise from high cost of living, financial constraints, unpaid salaries, pensioners denied their entitlements, mass unemployment, sometimes outbreak of disease, the rampaging herdsmen and the Boko Haram ugly experiences among others.
Hope is born; hope is accessible to everyone, at the very crossroads where life meets the bitterness of failures.”
Here is the front page report of “The Nation” newspaper of May 29, 2017.
Headline: “OBASANJO WARNS OF LOOMING YOUTH ANGER
 Ex-president: don’t wish us dead because you still need us

“Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is worried about the anger and frustration of youths.
He said if the youth’s anger is not well-managed, it could lead to an “explosion”.
Obasanjo spoke yesterday at the Youth Governance Dialogue organised by the Youth Development Centre, an arm of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
He lamented that youths were not getting the required help.
The former president noted that while his generation had “limitless opportunities but no facilities” in their time, the youth of today “have facilities but little or no opportunities”.
He cited the insurgency in the Northeast, the separatist agitators in the Southeast and militancy in the Niger Delta region as manifestations of anger and frustrations from disillusioned youths. Obasanjo warned that should anger of youths erupt, there might be no limit to the extent it could spread.
He appealed to the youth to work hard to help themselves and be ready to pay the price for the right cause they believe.
But he said despite all odds, the youth still remained his greatest hope for Nigeria.

Obasanjo noted that when he left secondary school, he received letters of appointments from five establishments and wondered whether any Nigerian university graduate could have such opportunities today.
He pleaded with the nation’s youth not to wish the elders dead, saying they need the elders as mentors and advisers in their journey of life.
“Don’t wish us dead; don’t wish us to disappear because you will need us. You need us as mentors and advisers to mentor and prepare you for the future. You need the experience and assistance of some of us to guide you through life.
You should not lose hope, you should not feel frustrated. Wherever I go, they always ask me what is my fear about Nigeria and Africa. And I said my greatest fear is youth anger, frustrations and youth explosion, which have no bounds.
We have the Boko Haram in the North, the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the Southeast, the militants in the Niger Delta and the Oodua Peoples Congress in the Southwest. All of these are expression of anger and frustrations.
We have what it takes to be great as a nation and we can’t transform this country without the youth. My greatest hope in this country is also the youth. You the youth should work to help yourselves. You must be ready to pay the price for what you stand for,” Obasanjo said. 

The lead speaker and former Minister of Aviation, Mr. Osita Chidoka who spoke on the theme: “Towards a Guiding Political Philosophy for a Democratic Nigeria,” advised that the nation’s leaders should build a society that would harness human and material resources effectively, provide equal opportunities and develop capacity for innovation.
Chidoka proposed a new charter for the country, saying the charter should contain reasons for the country’s unity, and which guarantees the basic rights, privileges and obligations of citizens.
“Our national aspirations should inspire the next generation and provide them with the existential meaning of Nigeria; a meaning that transcends geography, natural resources and ethnicity. To grow Nigeria, we must build a society that would harness human resources, provide equal opportunities and develop capacity for innovation.
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, who spoke on the topic: “Preparing Successor Generation for Effective Participation in Governance”, urged leaders to put structures in place for the youth to advance to position of leadership.

“We cannot keep calling them the leaders of tomorrow without ensuring that we put in place deliberate measures that will aid their quest for public service.
Sometimes candour and youthful excitement can cause as much harm as the most venal form of corruption.
“We have to find the means to reduce unemployment. There is no doubt that the current diversification policy of President Buhari government will eventually provide broader opportunities for self-employment,” Tambuwal said.”
What may have triggered the panic button was the security alert by Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General T. Y. Buratai. It prompted the following response from William Bozinio:
“General Buratai’s whistle blowing is timely but if he does not move faster than the plotters, his life too is at risk and many other bloody civilians may be exposed to untimely executions of yester years.”
His voice is clearly not that of a lone wolf.
Abimbola Adelakun did not pull any punches: 

“BAD POLITICIANS AND MILITARY COUPISTS”
“I do not intend to minimise the effects of a coup, but I do not believe a coup can succeed. How does a coup even occur today? Do the soldiers use their old blueprint or they have new strategies? The old tactics of seizing broadcast stations and repeating martial music will not work in the age of the Internet. Among the 300 plus radio stations scattered all over Nigeria, which one will best serve their purpose? Will they pour non-commissioned officers into the streets, impose a 24-hour curfew and threaten anyone who challenges them with whips and guns? How long can they sustain resistance from Nigerians who will mobilise against them through social media?
Considering that Nigeria is fighting several internecine conflicts on multiple fronts – Boko Haram, murderous herdsmen, Niger Delta militancy, the Biafra question, and other tribal restiveness – how do the coup plotters hope to keep everyone under their jackboots while successfully administering the country? Do the military officers who can barely manage army resources (the procurement of weapons for the army has been mired in corruption scandals) have any superior intelligence to take over from governors at state levels and clear the backlog of salaries and pensions? Are they prepared for economic sanctions that will be placed on Nigerians by other countries? Do they have any idea about the complications of managing an economy in the 21st century?

How can the military, worn and demystified from fighting Boko Haram – a band of untrained and fatalistic maniacs –face millions of Nigerians who will challenge them if they ever dare to topple our democracy? The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, should not have exposed the army to needless ridicule by publicly sharing unfounded rumours and speculations. The army should have investigated the matter privately unless, of course, Buratai was testing public reactions.
Whatever the coup plotters have in mind, I hope they and their civilian collaborators realise that present day Nigeria is not the same as it was from the mid-1960s to the early-1990s when they carried out coups and counter-coups. The world has changed and military dictatorship has long been out of vogue. Nigerians will not joyfully welcome them as they did in the 1980s when they ousted directionless governments. The logistics of contemporary societies simply do not sustain the kind of infrastructure that the military needs to survive. Nigerians will revolt, there will be a wave of religious and ethnic tensions and eventually, the spate of actions might balkanise the country. The army should drown all thoughts of a coup and concentrate on their duty to preserve the Nigerian union by staying where they belong – in the barracks.”
Indeed, experience is the best teacher. From the internet we can avail ourselves of the despair and agony of the thoroughly disillusioned whose verdict is as follows” 

"I hate Nigeria with passion. I don't know how I found myself in this part of the world. A place where bribery and corruption is given a beautiful name, immoral life is being celebrated, lack of contentment and greed eating up the right conscience of good virtue, integrity no longer profit. I weep, oh I weep for the unborn generation of our beloved country! When! oh when shall we be liberated?"
The above was the cry of one of the ongoing Jamb candidates who travelled all the way from Port Harcourt, a city in Nigeria to Aba in Abia state for Jamb examination yesterday, 15 May, 2017.
"I got to my centre early enough before the commencement of the exam cos I left PH early. Before 7am, I was right in the venue waiting for the exam to start. Few minutes after my arrival, all candidates were asked to step out of the school gate for roll call and proper identification of the candidates. I heard the first five names called after which there was a break. Suddenly I heard loud voice "if u don't have it step out!" I was wondering what they never had. I kept quiet till my turn. I had nothing to fear because I had all my documents, printed out even passport with me, in case of anything.

It got to my turn, when I heard my name I went close to the gate with my printout and presented it to the man at the gate. He took it with anger, glanced through it and directed me to the next gate. Reaching there I was asked to bring my money and I asked how much? ₦1,000 he replied. what for? I was told it was a "Gate fee" for the exam. What? Gate fee for Jamb? How? "My friend if you are not ready, step out of the gate" the rude gate man screamed at me. I was shocked at the name given to the money collected as "Gate fee".
I had just ₦1,500 left with me. My TP (Transport fare) back home should be nothing less than ₦700. I didn't have up to ₦1,000 to give this gate keeper. After much contemplation, I resorted to pay and write my exam and trek home from wherever ₦500 could take me to.
I went to meet the gate man and paid the money before I had access into the hall. I was shocked when I saw men in uniform right in the arena where the exam was taking place, fully aware of the deal at the gate, and I asked myself, what if I didn't have up to that amount? Does it mean I would have missed my exam today?
I saw other abnormalities but the most shocking was that of gate fee.
I wish nature can give opportunity to choose where to be born, Nationality and tribe. I would have chosen a nation with a better system, government, where there is law and order and people obey it. The more I think about the gate fee the more I develop hatred for this country. I hate Nigeria with passion."
Clearly, Nigeria is in really big trouble with its youths. To further compound matters, even Lt. General Alani Akinrinade one of the heroes of the civil war which raged from 1967 to 1970 is thoroughly pissed off with Nigeria. 

He has resorted to atomic missiles to deliver a very powerful denunciation under the caption: “A JOKE TAKEN TOO FAR”
“As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing like senators in the Federal Republic of Nigeria as at today. What people refer to as senators, is merely a deceptive and illusory assemblage of national irritants, who deliberate daily on how to purchase new cars, build new mansions and buy fantastic ones abroad, arrogate a strange and unjustified immunity to themselves, get constituency votes for marrying new wives and servicing girlfriends.
This assemblage derives most of its membership from retired and expired ex-governors, who ran their states aground and left them in huge debts, and also left their subjects bleeding, and weeping in sorrow and abject penury. You also have a lot of rascals, hooligans, area boys and street fighters amongst their fold. 

Now how can this insensate and fiendish lot, after enough dosage of weed, lock up themselves in one obscure chamber and begin to mute the idea of impeaching a democratically elected president?… . Well, l must state here that it is none of their faults.
If Nigerians had turned out en-mass and come to #OCCUPYNASS so we chase these prodigal sons back to their respective villages, we surely won’t be discussing this today. . They should let it trickle down to their medulla that things are no longer the same.
It is no more business as usual and there is nothing they can do about it. I reliably gathered that most of them who borrowed money from banks to finance their campaigns, are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with pressures from the banks. That’s the way it should be.
This is not a business venture, rather a call to service. Hence, if you are not comfortable with the turn of events, then you resign, instead of turning yourself into a legislative embarrassment and national disgrace. I’m yet to see any of them who would be missed for a minute if he resigns today.
This crop of Wonderers would undoubtedly leave a legacy as the worst performing, and most unproductive Senate in the history of Nigeria. Their latest actions and pronouncements are indeed a joke taken too far.” 

One of the most closely guarded decisions at the 43rd G7 summit held in Taormina, Sicily, Italy from 26th to 27th May, 2017 which was attended by the Acting President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo S.A.N is that the most powerful nations in the world: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America would not only declare their confidence in Professor Osinbajo (the United States of America and Britain were the first to jointly endorse him), but they would match strategy with action by ensuring that all the relevant stakeholders assemble at the Palais Namaskar hotel, Marrakesh, Morocco to agree to a peace deal well ahead of the crisis that is looming on the horizon. Both Julien Assange of WikiLeaks and Edward Sowden, the fugitive CIA consultant have conspired to leak the closely guarded secret – leaving the retired partners of KPMG who are still awaiting their gratuity and pension to enforce damage control. The next generation will hold them responsible if Nigeria collapses, fragments or disintegrates.
May God help us.

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