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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Short Essay 14. Nigerian Opposition and the River Niger Principle

Short Essay 14
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Nigerian Opposition and the River Niger Principle

The common sense we often take for granted is not common in politics. Nigerian politicians invest so much energy in politics but with very little result to show. In the end, even as a ruling party, the PDP only succeeds in keeping itself on power through rigging, while the opposition parties return home empty handed after every election, complaining, because they are unable to overcome their egos and unite against the behemoth at the center.

I wrote my last essay under the assumption that the opposition parties are true realists as their rhetoric portrayed since their defeat in 2007; that they will merge, they will align, or simply do whatever it requires to unite and remove the ruling PDP from power. They held many talks without producing any result. So they let the chance of merger, or what they called "megaparty", to slip away. Then they entered the stage of alliance. Here too, they are dragging their feet, unable to script down a document that would be to their common satisfaction. They are behaving like the Children of Israel at the gate of the City.

It is getting late, again. Only three days are left before INEC closes the gate of submissions. The only one that would remain is that of some of the candidates lining up behind one, with little chance of bargaining, and hence little possibility of occurrence. Like in 2007, we may approach the polls with a divided opposition assuring the PDP of another four year tenure. They would have wasted their time and smashed our hopes.

The arithmetic is simple, for we outsiders, anyway. It informs the most fundamental principle in Nigerian politics: the River Niger principle, if the reader would allow my innovation. No politician or party has ever become the President of this country without crossing the Niger. We are not blessed with a Mwalimu, like Tanzania, that would rally us behind the ideology of a motherland; we do not have a pact that shares powers in predetermined ways like Lebanon; etc. But we have the Niger. It dares every candidate to cross it and pick the mantle of leadership. "Cross me, shake the hands of your brothers on the other side and your ambition is fulfilled", the river has told every presidential candidate in the past and present.

Many candidates attempted but failed, either because they did not know how to sail or because they lacked the engine power to make the distance. Some did not even attempt it as they were satisfied with the little crabs they could pick on their side of the river. Only four succeeded: NPC during the First republic, NPN during the Second, SDP during the Third, and PDP during the Fourth. The opposition parties could not. They allowed the ruling parties to steal the boats.

As the country yearns for change from its present state of decadence, the Niger is once more daring the opposition parties. Unless the CPC and the ACN cross the river, our hope for change next April is diminished. Goodluck can as well start to bake his victory cake and hold pre-election victory party right now. I assure him that he woud not need to rig, such that my brother Jega can have less stressful days ahead.

Last weekend the two sides could not agree on the MoU. On Monday, one side snubbed the other by not turning up at all. Yesterday too, no agreement was reached at. If they fail to reach any by the end of the week, they will both put themselves in that debilitating situation where the high probability of failure will weaken their resolve and drain their support.

The opposition parties should not think that they have much time left. Even after they sign the agreement, they would realize that they need to cover a lot of ground against the ruling PDP which has enormous resources at its disposal, sufficient to buy voters and rig elections. Greater than resources to surmount is the religious divide that the party has entrenched already and which no victory would come to the opposition without it being bridged. And bridging it would require a lot of sagacity, time and effort. The comfort of Abuja hotels is not for the opposition now.

If the talks between the parties fail, let the candidates start talking directly, perchance as individuals they might not be encumbered with the divergent interests of their parties. If theynarempatriotic enough, some of them will withdraw for someone. It is interesting to learn that Buhari is already exploring this option by inviting Ribadu to discuss the issue a week ago, an invitation which the latter honoured without delay. The advantage here is that neutral intermediaries would be allowed a role to play. But this too has to be pursued quickly; otherwise, any delay would be to the disadvantage of the emerging candidate.

So let us pray that the opposition parties and their candidates would muster the courage to agree soon and cash on the promise of the Niger. Otherwise, let them give up hope of making a big catch next April but content themselves with the crabs and snails that they would pick on their own side of its bank.

If they do not hearken to the call of the river, the PDP would, as it has been doing before.

25 January, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Discourse 317: Why Buhari Should Concede to Ribadu

Discourse 317
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Why Buhari Should Concede to Ribadu

I present my esteemed readers this essay whose exceptional length I am guilty bound to acknowledge at its debut, but whose importance I will leave the impartial mind to acknowledge. I implore my readers to endure the length and carefully consider the logic of its arguments with an open mind.

The presidential primaries are over and the candidates are now known. On the one hand is the PDP and its candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan. On the other are three main opposition parties' candidate of ANPP, CPC, ACN, SDMP, NCP and NTP, Ibrahim Shekarau, Muhammadu Buhari and Nuhu Ribadu, Pat Utomi, Dele Momudu and John Dava respectively.

It can hardly be denied that the PDP and its candidate represent the unfortunate status quo. There is no need to argue on this. Whoever wants to squander his hope can argue otherwise. He can join the PDP train and I wish him a safe journey.

The opposition candidates are expected to offer change. But they are many, at least. They do not stand the least chance of defeating the notorious PDP behemoth unless they join hands and support one person. This is what informed the failed attempt of the opposition to merge into one party. The option of alliance, however, remains open and it seems that its main focus is between the ACN, which has the support and understanding of other parties like APGA and Labour Party on the one hand, and CPC on the other. One of their candidates, Buhari or Ribadu, is expected to step-down for the other.

The choice of who should step down for the other has remained a contentious matter. The general perception of the result is seen in exclusive terms: He that steps down has lost to the other who is seen as more superior, more popular, more favorably disposed to the electorate, more honest, and so on. He is the winner; the other loser. In this writing, I would like to deviate from this pedestrian thinking and suggest something that is different, where there will be no loser but winners on terms of both the candidates and the future prosperity of this country. I will try in the following paragraphs to put forward the premises of the argument that is inevitably lengthy.

First, perception is important. I will start with how I view the two candidates, Buhari and Ribadu. I see them as having similar orientation and record. They are like two brothers; one senior, the other junior. What puts both on the same pedestal before me is their records. Both are among the four people who have fought corruption in this country, the other two being the late Murtala and Idiagbon. I do not think any objective person will disagree with this. The record of my mentor Buhari on corruption is known and does not require any elaboration here. That of Ribadu, however, needs some clarification and emphasis. And to this I will now turn my attention for some moments.

Ribadu has fought corruption as EFCC Chairman, in addition to his less known similar roles as a police prosecutor. The gap which his absence created is acknowledged even beyond the shores of Nigeria. To appreciate his success, we need to factor in the circumstance in which he operates, especially if we relate him with Buhari. While Buhari fought against corruption as a military head of state with full powers of state during a period that had no existing constitution, Ribadu served under a constitutional government that accorded citizens freedoms of various kinds. Many criminals exploited those provisions through the courts whose judges were ready to grant orders that would frustrate their prosecution. We were witness to issuance of such orders and now the anti-corruption prince, as I called him in those days, had to navigate his way to success in spite of them.

More importantly, however, is the civilian dictator under whom he served and to whom he must refer cases for approval by law before he prosecute them. Despite this handicap, Ribadu prosecuted hundreds of cases starting with the then rampant '419' that earned a very bad reputation for Nigeria until he reached the high and mighty like governors and his very boss, former Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun. We have seen thousands of police officers, army generals and jurists. Yet, few have surpassed Ribadu in his feat against corruption. If we are sincere, we will not find it difficult to place him in the league of those who fought corruption in this country.

One can just imagine what the fate of most of our governors would have been had Ribadu served as a head of state in a regime that is not encumbered with constitutional impediments like immunity and citizen's right. With an eye into the future one can as well imagine what he can achieve as a President in whose hand is entrusted not only the power of prosecution but also the command of the state apparatus of coercion. No objective mind can down play the manifestation of his courage and the determination of his pursuit in confronting the difficulties he went through, the risks he took and the dangers he faced.

Of course Ribadu did not prosecute every corrupt person for the simple fact that only God would have done so. Some say, why did not he prosecute Obasanjo in particular? How could he do so when he needed the approval of Obasanjo to prosecute any case? He was smart enough to realize the limitations of his office and the almost infinite power of the dictatorial President. He left that task to those that would come after him or perhaps, when time would be more auspicious. Unfortunately, that time was not offered him by Obasanjo's successor. Had he tried to be foolish during Obasanjo, he would have earned our applause, but the dictator would have crushed him and his EFCC, making the nation lose everything. We still have not stopped lamenting the fall of Buhari in 1984, a fact attested by our now decade long fight for his return.

Like Buhari, This record is all Ribadu has. Fortunately it has been acknowledged by many people in this country. It explains his popularity among civil society groups, the local intelligentsia and the international community."

The second property which he shares with Buhari is that he restrained himself from becoming a do-as-I-say preacher. There are of course the normal baseless accusations, which we expect to be propagated by those he fought against. The most popular one is that he has property in Dubai, just as I still come across writers who say that Buhari being accused of stolen $2.7 billion when he was the federal commissioner for petroleum in 1977! I laugh because I can claim that I know how dry the pocket of my mentor is. Buhari went to the primaries of 2003 with only N40,000 in his pocket.

The same thing with Ribadu. Can we compare him with any of Obasanjo's ministers though he has occupied a position that would have accorded him billions. One would need to meet him, see him and speak to him in order to appreciate this. But as the late Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman would say, anyone who sets out to fight corruption must be ready to face corruption because it will fight back. If Ribadu had anything like that, the Yaradua administration would have exposed him because it had the means to prove it and the power to prosecute him. It is in the absence of such evidence that it went for his persecution, including the despicable act of removing him and his family from the convocation hall of National Institite for Policy and Strategic Studies.

I will stop here and insert an email which reached me as I was editing this article and which I consider appropriate. It was written and sent to a friend by one Mr. Favour Afolabi, a lawyer from Lagos:

"While reviewing Ribadu, please remember that no one has ever accused the gentleman of collecting bribe! That is amazing in a country like Nigeria. While I was on a case at EFCC, one of his staff who was in the room the day he called his team to see the $15m cash that Ibori brought to him. The staff told me how till he dies it would be difficult to find someone else that he respects more than Ribadu. He described how the whole room were looking at Ribadu like he was a mad man. How could he be returning such monies meant for him as a person to the government coffers?

"It's IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to sell me that story of selective justice. What about no justice at all? EFCC despite all its flaws remains one of the things that generations to come would come to "fear" whenever they intend to behave funny; it has come to stay as an institution that has global acclaim; one that many third world countries dealing with corruption have not been able to rival; one that was built by Ribadu."

All I have attempted so far is to argue that Nuhu Ribadu too has a record of gallantly fighting corruption like Buhari though the circumstance and capacity under which each of them served are different. I have no doubt that Buhari himself, as a fair person, even in the competitive setting of this moment, would anytime anywhere attest to the anti-corruption record of Ribadu, something which, pitifully, many who support him cannot.

The next thing is to dismiss the accusation that I am equating Ribadu with Buhari, an accusation which some have labelled against me when I wrote my piece titled 2011: Jonathan, Buhari and Ribadu. Equality often does not lead to justice. In this case it is irrelevant. Though Ribadu is known, his goodwill does not match that of Buhari. He will be ready to confess this anywhere, I believe. But that does not mean that his record is any lesser. There are three reasons for this.

One, Buhari has the advantage of being a bigger celebrity by virtue of the higher office he occupied. Two, his memory has fossilized in our psyche given that his record has remained in our brains for almost twenty years before the arrival of Ribadu. Thirdly, Buhari joined politics before Ribadu and he did so especially at a time when the nation was under one of our most corrupt dictators. In contrast, Ribadu until recently was a public servant. It is not surprising therefore that Buhari has more goodwill especially among the masses than Ribadu.

So if we cannot base our argument on differentiating the two in terms of popularity, on what then can we successively persuade Buhari to concede the ticket to Nuhu? The answer, ironically, lies mainly in the goodwill argument we mentioned above.

Buhari has built a goodwill in this country which few, if any, can match. This goodwill is purely the product of his personality, not his handsome face or tall figure. Around this very rare personality have for many years rallied people whose dream of fighting corruption is not beclouded by mundane primordial considerations. What will be required to build a similar goodwill will be enormous in time, chance and effort. If we miss him today, I am afraid to say, we will miss that goodwill because, to my knowledge, he has not so far made any plan to share it or transfer it to someone. All avenues for doing so proved abortive or blocked in the past.

Tunde Idiagbon would have been one person who would have easily shared it with him today, undoubtedly. But Tunde died in 1999, just as the civilian administration was taking off. Even if he were alive, Tunde, the mentor of Ribadu, would not have been interested in politics. But he would have been in a better position to broker a deal between the two.

Buhari would have also transferred it to the governors of his former party, the ANPP, had any of them proved to be equally interested in transparency. Unfortunately, none of them could live to his expectations. Shekarau would have been one in his own right, but the unfortunate differences that developed between the two leaves no love lost between them.

Now, we have the golden opportunity for him to do so in a manner that will immortalize his name. Here is someone with the same traits like his, twenty years younger than him but matured enough by all Nigerian standards to lead, given the age records of most previous leaders. He is older and has served the nation longer than most of them as at when they came to office. The condition for the transfer is also as ripe as the circumstance is suitable. Ordinarily, Buhari would have invited Ribadu to join politics even without the latter indicating any interest. That is why I am not surprised to learn that when he heard Ribadu was aspiring for the presidency, he encouraged him after acknowledging his record in fighting corruption. When this is considered in addition to their previous linkages, we will happily realize that there seems to be more ground in the minds of the two for concession than there is for the desire of their parties to align.

The logical question that would be asked here is: why would not the junior come and follow the senior, deputizing for him or serving under him as he served under Obasanjo? This is where it is necessary to bring in other elements of the argument.

If Ribadu and his party will concede the ticket to Buhari and CPC, the benefit is just that Buhari again is running as a candidate and there is every chance of their opponents hoodwinking the south into believing that this is a northern affair. This may lead the south to rally around Jonathan.

Two, Buhari would then be vying to only occupy a seat which he occupied more than twenty five years ago with nothing new but new challenges; it is the same goal he has unsuccessfully attempted twice before. The possible outcomes here are three.

One, in line of the past two attempts, he loses the elections, especially when the south rallies behind Jonathan and the election is rigged as expected. This will be one sad outcome because hardly would the alliance opportunity present itself again in future between southern parties and a northern one; and even if it does, I doubt if Buhari, given his then age of 74, will be interested in contesting for the fourth time or able to convince Nigerians of possessing the strength to withstand the exacting rigor of transforming Nigeria into a transparent nation.

Two, if he wins the elections, the risk is even higher to him personally and to the aspirations of the nation generally. He may succeed or fail in his attempt to transform the country. If he succeeds in transforming Nigeria, it will be difficult for anyone to step into his shoes because the goodwill differential will just be too big. But many would readily argue with plausible reason that success in transforming the country by Buhari cannot be guaranteed. So it is important that we do not become blinded by our wish. So let us consider also the third possibility, that of failure.

The failure of Buhari to transform Nigeria meaningfully will be one of the most disastrous things that would happen to this country. It will wipe out any sign of hope and destroy any lingering aspiration. We have fired our last shot, the looters would gladly say. You see Nigeria cannot be salvaged, they will argue. Depending on the magnitude of that failure, as it is with the nature of man, Nigerians will start to develop a nostalgia for PDP days just as the Children of Israel longed for Egypt after their rescue from Pharaoh. Buhari himself would then not live any longer as a happy person. His failure will smash all his past record. God forbid.

I am compelled by two things to entertain the fear of his failure should he win the Presidency. One, age is not on his side, right now. Few people in history were able to transform their countries from the precipice at the advanced age of 70 and beyond. None of us can repeat at 70 somethings he did at 42. We see it even in the manner we manage our homes. We saw our parents become less and less thorough with age such that hardly did our distant juniors attain the home training we received. This is not a shortcoming on their side, may God shower his mercy on them, but an outcome of natural law. With advanced age, the ability of the body to replace aging cells with new ones of equal vigor declines; organs become weaker; and the body would require rest more than it will tolerate rigour. The result is a decline in achievement which means reduced efficiency and poor performance.

The heart, which philosophers describe as ever young, defies this reality and continue to exact the body with onerous responsibilities. It is left to the prudent mind to disobey it by realizing the declining potential of the body and behaving accordingly. The famous Shata at around 70, just about five years before his death, confessed to his friend Wada Nas the effect of aging on his output. He said: "Wada, cikin nan akwai waka, amma tsufa ta zo", meaning, "I have many unsung songs but for old age." This is the epitome of both wisdom and valour. Thus the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) was reported saying, "God bless his servant who knows his capacity and operated within it."

So the Buhari we know today is certainly not the same as the youth who came to power in 1984. The latter exists only in our memory and wishes. Nobody could be physiologically and psychologically the same person after thirty years; and both are important ingredients of leadership especially at 70. This is the plain truth. This brings us to the second reason for my pessimism. It explains why as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the CPC he is finding it difficult to make the party live to our expectation. Some people say the same problems exist in other parties. But I would contend that if that is the case, why form the CPC then because Buhari would have as well joined the PDP if he cannot found a party that is different from others. If he were the Buhari of 42, he would have had the required strength to checkmate so many things and make the party really different from other parties. Those who are dissatisfied with him should be fair enough to ascribe to this factor any shortcoming they might have noticed in the conduct of the CPC. He has to rely on others who, unfortunately, are widely accused of not living to his principle.

I have heard many people foresee that if Buhari becomes the President the same CPC trend will manifest itself in the manner he will manage the affairs of the nation. I am not in a position to dispute them since I cannot guarantee the nature of the people that will work with him as ministers, advisers and heads of government agencies. I do not see many around him now and I doubt if there are some out there waiting to be called to service if they cannot offer their services to him during this hour of need. What I can assure Nigerians is that if he succeeds many would rush to him in a Tsunami that will not allow him the time to separate the chaff from the grain. The result of that situation will be disastrous.

The argument of age here is of the scientific genre, very different from the opportunistic "new breed" concept that has helped to destroy this country in the past two decades. I am not advocating Ribadu simply because he is younger but because he is young, matured, sufficiently experienced and similar to Buhari in character. Otherwise, I would have simply advocated the position to be given to Dr. Tilde!

But even if Buhari has remained as he was in 1984, the factor of time would create some problems for him. Our big brother may not be used to the sophistication of today as he was used to that of the seventies and eighties. The crooks he knew in 1984 have been supplanted by more sophisticated and merciless ones of the 21st century. This is not to mention the difference of the two systems - military administration and democracy - a line along which many have argued before me.

We are now in a better position to present the advantages of Buhari conceding the opposition ticket to Ribadu. One, the nation will not lose anything if he does so. In fact, it stands to benefit more because of the synergy that will allow the younger Ribadu to tap from the experience of his elder. The elderly advisory role is what would fit Buhari more than the exacting role of the President. The experience of the two will thus be organically fused, improved upon and handed over to future leaders thereby ensuring continuity, that is hoping that my friend Ribadu will open up opportunities to many young ones from various parts of the country among whom he will identify and elevate the promising. Nothing could be more beautiful than this.

Also, the failure of Ribadu during the election would have less consequences than that of Buhari because he will have more opportunities to attempt later than would Buhari. The damage of demystification as well as the chances of regime failure due to age or suitability would also be much lesser since Ribadu's experience in fighting corruption is almost up to date.

However, notwithstanding the importance of the above advantages, I am more fascinated with the beauty of the goodwill argument. Endorsing Ribadu would transfer the enormous goodwill of Buhari to someone who would keep it alive for many more years to come, thus saving the nation the energy of cultivating someone separately. Buhari must not die with his goodwill, in short. Even if we do not succeed this time ousting the corrupt regime at the centre and Buhari is not around to compete in the next elections, Ribadu can continue with the blessings he accords him now through the endorsement. The talakawa who now shout his slogans would be assured of a trustworthy successor.

More important than my fascination with the goodwill doctrine is the contribution that a Buhari concession will make to the political stability of this country. It will be the first time the northern masses would vote for a party with roots in the southwest because the southwest has also fielded a northern candidate also for the first time. And if a government is formed, it will be a government headed by a northerner under a ruling party that is largely southwestern. The two most contentious opposites in Nigerian politics would finally merge. The benefits in terms of political stability are obvious.

Finally there comes the humorous cultural argument of an elder with his junior brother who were presented with a food ration of one person, which in the case of an office is not a cake that could be shared. The elder is expected in all cultures to concede the meal to the younger one. And if they were to eat from the same plate, he would not scramble with the younger brother over the last morsel; he would concede it to him. Only then can he proudly walk with his shoulders high because of the altruism he exhibited. But if the elder brother would appropriate the only available ration to himself or squabble with the junior over the last portion of the meal then his estimation as a fair person will be greatly severed. What if it were a task to be undertaken? The able young is naturally expected to come forward and carry it out on behalf and to the delight of his elder.

These are the reasons why I strongly feel that Buhari should concede the ticket to Ribadu. I will not be surprised if the man on the street finds these reasons complex for his understanding, just as I will not be surprised if people with his mindset among the elite attack me for advancing them. I will leave such minds with the lazy stereotype arguments that Ribadu has served under Obasanjo (just as Buhari served under Abacha) or he is now sent by the former dictator and Jonathan to divide northern votes. The North can disprove Obasanjo by rallying around Ribadu with the approval of Buhari and pulling the votes of the progresssive south to an electoral success. Let Obasanjo attempt to test the resolve of a Ribadu president.

This campaign of smearing Ribadu among gullible Northerners which some elders are sponsoring is self-destructive to the country and to the North in particular. These youths may be destroying an asset that would be handy tomorrow. How many Ribadus do we have among the Nigerian elite? Those behind these campaigns do not possess half the record of Ribadu in transparency when they were in public service. After all, they were the architects of PDP, of its zoning principle, of shoving Obasanjo to power, etc. Why would they now use us, whom they oppressed, against Ribadu? They should focus on mediating talks between him and Buhari, not making one their scapegoat.

As a defense, I must say that the mettle of a writer does not lie with the popular but with the courage to differ from it whenever the need arises, for writing will be of no use if it will only parrot street views that it is supposed to guide and moderate. And no nation will advance beyond its present if its elite cannot think beyond the common regardless of the condemnation that might visit them.

I therefore intended my argument for the refined mind that would put reason before sentiment and has the courage to abandon the conventional for the novel that would preserve the good in the present, guarantee better opportunities in the future and lessen the chances of susceptibility to damage or exposure to risk. It is this refined mind that I hereby task with the burden of understanding my thesis and, thereafter, convincing the common minds within his reach using the simpler language for which I readily concede that I am not sufficiently gifted to display.

17 January, 2011

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Short Essay 13. The Political Economy of Jonathan's Emergence

hort Essay 13.
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

The Economics of Jonathan's Emergence

Our predictions are gradually coming to pass. This is what we wrote few days ago regarding the emergence of Jonathan as PDP's flag bearer:

"From the look of things, the President Goodluck Jonathan is most likely to emerge as the flag bearer of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Little has changed in the politics of incumbency that has characterised that party if we examine the gubernatorial and other primaries which the party has conducted so far in many states. The presidential primaries will hardly be any different."

And it was not. Incumbency was at its best two days ago. Few of the delegates could muster the courage and vote againt the incumbent. That has been the first principle of Nigerian politics. I am happy that I am old enough to know that. Who says age does not count?

Hahaha... "I am created intimate, if I were to be returned to childhood, I would have parted with my grey hair, broken-hearted, weeping", said Al-Mutanabbi.

Eight years ago when we were in a group analyzing the chances of candidates few months before the general elections, Malam Kabiru Yusuf, the Chief Editor of Weekly Trust then, in elucidating the power of incumbency, said that some people accord incumbency 60% weight in determining the outcome of presidential elections. I noted that sentence. After the polls in 2003, INEC gave Obasanjo 60% and Buhari 39 point something percent. Then I filed Kabiru's incumbency principle and saved it on the hard disk of my brain as .exe file that I will never lose sight of whenever I weigh the candidates of presidential elections. Incumbency is a general principle. We just wish that one day it will be violated for the better, just as even nature, atimes, though rarely, violates its own principles.

It does not require any ingenuity to predict how the average Nigerian politician would behave in a primary election. From my village, I was able even to predict with an accuracy of 96% the number of votes that Obasanjo would get during the PDP primaries for 2003. The secret is simple. It is amala politics in Nigeria.

Here it is important to discern two important groups in Nigeian politics: the elite politician and the footsoldier.

The elite that form the crankshaft and pistons of Nigerian politics are dependent on goverenment. They don't have working factories or run businesses that are independent of government. The infrastructure deficit in the country is so entrenched that it has shut down the gates of profits in the face of investorss. The only surviving business is that which is patronized by government. So even for those who try to invest and appear successful, they have to abide by the political wishes of incumbent government. They must contribute hundreds of millions to its campaign. Ask Dangote and our big brother TY Danjuma for details. Do you expect any of them to do any party other than PDP? What will become of their businesses then? These juggernauts, along with the President and governors are the crankshafts and connecting rods of our politics.

The pistons are those elite who do not have any semblance of economic independence or direct power. They do not run businesses at all. Their livelihood is completely dependent on politics. They move with the movement of the crankshaft in a harmony that will ensure a smooth running of the engine. They must not differ lest the engine knocks and the vehicle stops. These are the ministers, commissioners, contractors, civil servants, party officials, etc. Each of them carries out an auxiliary function that helps the engine. They are the cuberator; the top-cylinder, the muffler, etc, accessories to the engine that enables it receive inputs and dispose of wastes.

The footsoldiers are the body and load of the vehicle, relevant only to carry the load and provide accommodation. It could be made of anything: steel, wood, leather, etc. The load could be of anything: firewood, sugarcane, refuse, money, just anything. They do not have a say as to the running of the engine or the direction it takes. They are passive. These are the grassroots members of the potilical structure of any ruling party at state or national level. They include party leaders and delegates from the nooks and crannies of the country. They are among those we saw two days ago at the PDP convention.

I have read how some members of some discussion groups on the Internet wonder on the behavior of delegates during that convention. Is there any need for wonder? The secret is this. These delegates, either as party stalwarts in states and local governments or just party members at wards are living under abject poverty. In their villages, it is not uncommon to find many people who have not possessed N100 cash for six months. Then the politicians came looking for people that will run their parties at the grassroots. This poor fellow is appointed the chairman or secretary of the party in his ward or local government. He gets some N1000 here and N5,000 there, occasionally. If he is marrying his daughter out, his superiors contribute something to him. They even give him a car and some contracts to renovate the primary school in his village. Etc. How do we expect him to vote for anyone other than the choice of these superiors - the bigger politicians at his state - when he is a delegate at Abuja, especially if he is given N100,000 cash or even $10,000!

The interest and influence of governors must be seen within this context. They have many interests to protect, many baggages to conceal. And so is any big politician you know. We must expect that only few of them can hearken to other calls, of their conscience or of other interest groups. What then is surprising? This is a universal law. Majority of people who are not economically independent cannot hold opinions. Even if they hold them, they cannot express them in public by speech, by writing or by votes.

Poverty? That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) sought the refuge of God from poverty. "Oh God," he was reported to have prayed regularly, "I seek thy refuge from poverty." And he warned us against poverty because through it all sorts of ills, including disbelief, are imported into the society. "Poverty will not set out to enter a people", he said again, "except disbelief says: Please let's go together." Peace be upon him!

Nigerian political history, nay African political history, run along this line. Due to poverty and lack of economic independence, any party that is handed over power at independence or after a military rule uses incumbency to perpetuate itself. It continues to grow in strength by the day while the opposition shrinks by the hour. Thus, one of the wisdoms I learnt from Buhari is the observation he made in a private discussion in 2002 that in Africa republics with time tend to move inevitably towards a one party state.

The same path was taken by both first and second republics in Nigeria. The only option left was for the military to takeover power with the intention of correcting the wrongs which the politicians found difficult muster the courage to handle equitably. The unfortunate thing is that as soon as the mitltiary settles in power they begin to steal such that the only option they have is to handover to corrupt politicians who will cover their track. This is the vicious cycle of our politics. So we are returned to the same politicians and their methods again.

Murtala was killed precisely because he wanted to break this trend. The trio - Obasanjo, Danjuma and Shehu Yar'adua, who tookover from Murtala quickly derailed and went for public coffers. They devoured it and became the first multiple-billionaire generals. They have been piloting Nigerian politics since then. And so was Buhari who was ousted in 1984.

So no one should wonder or rejoice at the emergence of Jonathan. I never, even for a second, doubted his emergence as the winner of PDP primaries, hence my cheap prediction last week which did not need any ingenuity.

Incumbency is behind the emergence of Jonathan. Simple. If Atiku were in power, even Solomon Lar, Jerry "Ghana" and Clarke would have voted for him in the primaries. The governors too would have compelled their delegates to vote for him. Jonathan himself would not have attempted contesting the primaries but would have lined his delegates, as a governor, behind Atiku. There was nothing in the PDP charade that was based on principle, religion or even ethnicity. It is economics, pure and simple.

We now have the three candidates we predicted - Jonathan, Buhari and Ribadu. Let us move forward. The target before all progressive Nigerians is to find who among the three has the courage and support of Nigerians to break that circle without giving chance to the military again. I have heard many Nigerians wishfully say that a coup is not possible. So we said and thought in 1983...until it suddenly happened.

You may share your thoughts on this article with other readers across the globe by posting your comments at

15 January 2011

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Trivial 12 The Pains of a Christian Fanatic

By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

I really wonder why one Nafata Bamaguje, an anonymous Christian fanatic, should use my article, Southern Sudan, Welcome to Freedom, as a lever to attack Islam in his usual fanatical way. He could not even realize how he fell from being impressed by my article to abusing my religion. There is a distinction between Islam and Arabs just as there is between any religion and its adherents. In that article, I have shown how the Prophet (peace be upon him) condemned racism. Otherwise, why would I have written the article in the first place?

Below is my short reply to him. But I have included his article at the tail to educate my readers on the presence of this class of fanatics who live in the pain of seeing the flourishing status of Islam in spite of their propaganda. To our nation, they are a problem, not a solution. In addition, a fanatic is a disgrace to his religion. Nafata is clearly suffering from a pain for something he cannot change - his birth in our midst as a Hausa pagan.

Reply to Nafata

Equating a religion with its adherents is a fallacy, undertaken only for subjective purposes. I wonder which religion can deserve such abuse. Can we even in our slightest imagination ascribe Apartheid South Africa, Nazi Germany or Hiroshima to Christianity or Jesus? Muslims are trained not to abuse even idols, let alone the People of the Book. But about the abusive nature of Jewish and Christian extremists, the Quran has foretold Muslims and asked them to persevere because it will be ineffectual in denting the image of Islam.

True. Despite the abuses, there are many more converts to Islam from christianity than it is vice-versa, the latter being statistically insignificant for fourteen centuries now. The secret is that there is power in silence. "The lion", said Imam Shafi'i, is feared despite his silence, but the dog is stoned in spite of his barking.

There many things atheists quote about the Bible on its injunctions that desecrate the sanctity of life and dignity of the human person. One can easily copy and paste them out of context as Nafada does with the verses of the Quran. It does not require any intellectual effort. But would that impress God and cultivate better understanding? No. A Christian extremist has a lot of work to do on those sites o, not here. If those sites are far, Bamaguje can please address his Christian extremism with Dr. Valentine Ojo, who is his perfect match in the shame of abuse. I assure Bamaguje that he will have a lot of task defending his fanaticism before Dr. Ojo.

The problem of "Nafata Bamaguje" with Islam and Muslims is clear. He is born amongst the people he hates, unfortunately. He cannot claim another place. So disturbed is he that he cannot even answer his name in public. He can only hide behind an anonymous name, Nafata Bamaguje. I wonder how someone would decide to choose so much pain for himself. Worse still, he attempts to share that pain with others who consider him too immaterial to pay him any attention. And his pain increases any time they ignore his barking.

I advise people to continue to adopt such strategy against any provocation from these fanatics. Ignore them. That will increase their fury. "Say, 'Die in your fury. God is aware of the contents of (your) hearts."

What a pity.


On Jan 12, 2011, at 9:41 PM, Nafata Bamaguje wrote:


Dear Dr. Tilde,

I was impressed by your recent article - South Sudan: Welcome to Freedom. It was totally out 1of character for Black Muslims who by virtue of their mental enslavement to the Arab pseudo-religion – Islam - are generally subservient and defer to the Allah’s chosen race.

That’s why Muslims here in Arewa organize demonstrations and write a lot of hogwash in Northern newspapers about the self-inflicted plight of Palestinians, but virtually no whimper ibleabout the genocidal ethnic cleansing of Black African Darfuris from their land by the racist Arab occupation in Sudan. Never mind the slave raids and other atrocities inflicted on non-Muslim south Sudanese.

Since Black Muslims have constituted themselves into fifth columnists for their Arab masters, we Africans lack the unity of purpose and resolve to combat the racist Arab supremacists enslaving our Black brothers & sisters in Mauritania and Sudan, as we did against Apartheid. Not surprisingly, the AU is against the ICJ indictment of Sudan’s genocidal Omar el-Bashir.

Many of the racist Islamo-Nazis in Sudan are actually Arab wannabes rather than real Arabs whom we all know are semitic Caucasians. But due to some perverse reversal of the “one-drop rule” that defines Black Americans, many Muslim Black Africans in Sudan automatically consider themselves superior to other Africans if even one of their distant ancestors was Arab.
Other so called Black Arabs are descendants of Black African slave women raped by Arabs in compliance with your vile Quran (23:1-6, 70:29-30).

That is why I find your condemnation of Sudanese Arabs cum Arab wannabes titillating. Because whether you acknowledge it or not, much of the atrocities Muslim Arabs have visited on we Black Africans have their roots in Islam which endorses or at least condones slavery.

Saudi Arabia the home and bastion of Islam only abolished slavery in 1962 under Western pressure. Up till this day, the Arab/Berber occupation in Mauritania still enslaves Black people. If Islam were truly against slavery, that inhuman practice wouldn’t have persisted for over 14 centuries in Dar-ul Islam (Muslim world), and long after it has disappeared elsewhere.

Check out northern neighbor - Niger republic – another haven of Islamic slavery. You remember the famous case of Hadijatou Mani, the Niger slave girl who was sexually enslaved at the age of 12 for over a decade and later took her Muslim nation to ECOWAS court for failing to protect her. She was just one of ten thousands of slaves in that Muslim West African country.

Even in the oil rich Gulf Arab states, every once in a while we hear reports of Arabs sexually assaulting their Phillipino or Bangladeshi maids and refusing to pay them. After all the Quran authorizes Muslim men to sleep with their maids (Q 23:1-6, 70:29-30) as your “prophet” reportedly did with Maryam – a maid of one his wives.

Prophet Mohammed himself had slaves, and the racist prophet valued his Black slave less, as a Hadith informs us he bartered two of his Black slaves for a white one (Sahih Muslim 10:3901).
Accordingly, Arabs trafficking in Africans operated the world’s largest slave market in Zanzibar, until the British shut down that inhuman bazaar under the threat of naval bombardment in the late 19th century.

Personally, I’m not too impressed by the story of Bilal, which Black Muslims froth about. First of all Bilal was exchanged for another Black slave when Abubakar (Mohammed’s associate) supposedly purchased Bilal’s freedom. So it wasn’t really that Mohammed cared a hoot about Black slaves, it was just that Mo’ was desperate for followers during his early prophetic career, and even a disgruntled Black slave seeking a short cut to “freedom” would do.

I put the word “freedom” in quote because Bilal was never really free. According to another Hadith your “prophet” Mohammed stated that "The freed slave belongs to the people who have freed him" – Sahih Bukhari 8:80:753

In other words despite his purported “freedom”, Bilal was still the property of Mohammed and Abubakar. That’s why in those days when there were no loudspeakers, Mo’ gave Bilal the ardous task of shouting at the top of his voice 5 times a day calling Muslims to prayer - fitting job for a slave. I have little doubt that that our misguided brother, Bilal must have come down with some form of chronic laryngeal disorder later in life.

In your article, you wondered why there isn’t a large thriving Black population in Arabia as in the Americas, despite over 14 centuries of Arabs enslaving Africans compared to just three centuries of Trans-Atlantic slave trade.
During Arab slave raids our men were killed. Our captured sisters (girls & women) became sex slaves in accordance with your Quran (23:1-6, 70:29-30).

Boys were castrated so that there were virtually no fertile adult Black male slaves to breed with Black women. In fact many of our enslaved Black brothers men had no pennis at all, as the crude castration surgery sometimes involved penile amputation.
This racist prohibition of Negroid procreation by your Arab masters is why there are no large Black populations in Arabia.

As for your assertion that other light skin races look down on us, we Black Africans are partly to blame. See how we’ve messed up our blessed country – Nigeria – which by now, with our abundant endowments ought to be the most technology advanced Black nation rubbing shoulders with Western world?
Look at Haiti, the first independent Black nation, older than several European nations yet is another disgrace to the Black world. As long as we continue to underachieve, no one will respect us.

99% of Black people identify themselves as Christians or Muslims. We subscribe to bogus alien dogmas that demonize our ancestral heritage as “heathen”, “pagan”, “Kaffir”; while teaching us to glorify alien races – Arabs and Jews. If we have no pride in whom we are - Black Africans – and despise our own heritage, we will never command respect.

We mostly bear foreign names (Arab, European, Jewish), we prefer foreign languages as lingua franca, we apply chemicals to our hair or cover it with wigs as we ashamed of our unique Negro curls. Those of us with narrow pointed nose and fairer complexion are more beautiful. In other words the more Caucasian we look the better.
We worship alien gods (Allah, Yahweh) that have pitted us against each other. Hence we discriminate, persecute, kill and now even bomb each other under the toxic influence of these intolerant alien creeds.

Given this pervasive inferiority complex that is inimical to realizing our full potential as a people, we try to reassure ourselves with vacuous platitudes like “Black is beautiful”, “I’m black and proud”. But actions they say, speak louder than words.

If we truly believe “Black is beautiful” and are genuinely “Black and proud”, we wouldn’t be trying so hard to be White (Arab, Jew, European). We wouldn’t deliberately destroy our indigenous African heritage at the behest of bogus intolerant alien dogmas.
The Black world is culturally disoriented and spiritually lost. Until we proudly embrace our Black African heritage and identity, we will remain the underachieving dregs of humanity, despite our abundant individual talent.

My dear Tilde, if you do respond to this write-up - particularly to my accusations against your false religion - please refrain from your usual silly “Christians did it too” line, just to score cheap political points, but which does absolutely nothing to address the global Islamist nuisance today.

Christian Arabs aren’t enslaving Africans in Mauritania and Sudan. Nor are Christians sexually assaulting little girls on the grounds of religious sanctioned “marriage”, and hijacking passenger airliners “in the name of Jesus” then flying them into skyscrapers.
I expect a more intelligent response from a PhD holder. Unless of course Islam can’t be defended on its own merit…as it has none!!

Nafata Bamaguje

Monday, January 10, 2011

Discourse 316 Jonathan, Buhari, Ribadu and 2011

Discourse 316
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde
2011: Jonathan, Buhari and Ribadu
The emergence of presidential candidates in the next Nigerian elections will be completed in the next few days. From the look of things, the President Goodluck Jonathan is most likely to emerge as the flag bearer of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Little has changed in the politics of incumbency that has characterised that party if we examine the gubernatorial and other primaries which the party has conducted so far in many states. The presidential primaries will hardly be any different.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) is most likely to nominate AIG Nuhu Ribadu (rtd). Party members across the country are clearly more favourably disposed to him than to his contender, Bafarawa. Also, Ribadu enjoys one of the largest national spread among presidential hopefuls of various parties.
Maj. General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) has already been confirmed as the presidential candidate of another opposition party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).
Though Nigeria has about 57 parties, the majority of them will not nominate any candidate for the presidential polls. Most of them lack the resources and the national spread required to make any impact. Rather, they are most likely to align themselves to one of the above three.
What is likely to dominate the discourse over Nigerian politics for a month after the primaries is the formation of alliances. In the past, many paper parties have endorsed the incumbent candidate of the PDP. That move is often irrelevant because such parties themselves are moles of PDP that are registered to scuttle any effort to form a joint opposition against it.
The alliance that will unsettle the PDP will be of two kinds. One will be from the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and the opponents of President Jonathan within his party. The other will be the alliance between the viable opposition parties like APGA, ACN, CPC and Labour Party.
Members of the NEF have many times made it clear that they will remain committed to a northern candidate even if the President is nominated by the PDP. The promise of the President that they he will serve for only a term has not convinced them enough to abandon their zoning principle. In that case, the Northern elders and the candidates that oppose Jonathan will have no choice than to put their weight behind either Buhari or Ribadu. Our speculation would therefore now shift to examining the possibility of the merger and to who is likely to emerge as the preferred candidate of the opposition.
The opposition has for long nursed the idea of merging into one party or at least aligning itself behind one candidate. This has proved difficult so far. In 2007, about five parties, including Labour party and PRP adopted Buhari as their presidential candidate. AC fielded Atiku while DPP’s flag was carried by its founder, Attahiru Bafarawa. Despite the failure of the merger talks after the 2007 elections that would have produced the so-called mega-party, AC and DPP merged to form ACN. Buhari’s party, the CPC, then was not registered. After its registration a year ago, all efforts to get it merged with ACN failed after many attempts.

Not tired of attempting, ACN then set two conditions for Buhari if he wants to win its support. He should, it said, join it and, in addition, contest with other aspirants for the party’s ticket. Buhari ignored the demands and went ahead to clinch the ticket of his party, the CPC, last week. ACN will also hold its primaries shortly. It will come up with a candidate who will represent it at the polls should future attempts at the alliance with CPC fail finally.
So we have two outcomes here. The alliance talks may succeed or they may not. If they succeed, we will have a single candidate – Buhari or Ribadu – challenging Jonathan at the polls. If they continue to fail, each of them will have the daunting task of fighting the other and at the same time fighting the incumbent President at the polls.
Jonathan would then have had no problem defeating both, were it not for the lack of support from his internal opposition. If the alliance between ACN and CPC fails and the opposition within PDP puts its weight behind Buhari, Jonathan would have better prospects of scaling through because of the southern and northern minority’s factor.
If, on the other hand, his opponents in the PDP decide to support Ribadu, Jonathan will have a tough time winning the elections especially if they are free and fair. Many northerners who support Buhari would then be more likely to vote for Ribadu in order not to divide the regional vote. This, with the support of southern votes especially in the southwest, Jonathan will have a number of sleepless nights.
The credentials of both Buhari and Ribadu are the same in terms of their fight against corruption. In addition, both are Muslims, northerners and from the same tribal extraction. I do not also believe that the 20 years difference in age between the two would count much in the estimation of Jonathan’s opponents. Many of the elders are older than Buhari. Therefore, the decision of where the opposition to Jonathan within the PDP would rest its support is most likely to be influenced by two factors, both of them not favourable to Buhari.
One, almost all members of that group are opposed to Buhari’s presidential ambition since its inception in 2002. They still see him as a military dictator of the 1980s who is best used to military ways of handling issues.
Two, as they did in their choice for a common northern candidate the northern elders are likely to emphasize spread of support that each of the candidates enjoy across the country. While Buhari has in the past got majority votes in many core northern states and very little in the south, Ribadu has considerable support in the south where his party has four states already and is favourably aligned to APGA and Labour. Ribadu, in addition does not seem to have problems with anyone - northern elders, northern aspirants, and southerners.
One area that Buhari clearly has advantage over Ribadu is the better support he gathered over the past decade among northern masses, being once a head of state and having come when there was no other meritorious candidate was around to face Obasanjo. Ribadu too is well known since he served in his capacity of the nation’s anti-corruption Caesar. Yet, he will need to conquer the northern pedestrian turf as quick as possible.
Fortunately for Ribadu, he is coming at a time when the CPC of Buhari has disappointed many northerners by not proving to be different from other parties. The manner it conducted its primaries in states where it is expected to make a good outing during the next elections has seriously dented its images. The greed with which its national leadership has scrambled to support mostly corrupt candidates in those states left many questioning its ideological credentials. Many supporters are still leaving the party in those states and decamping to the ACN which is seen as more organized and able to give a better progressive leadership.
So, though the primaries will soon be over, Nigerians have still few guesses to make about their presidential candidates. We need a month to have a better idea of whom among the three – Jonathan, Buhari or Ribadu – would make it to the polls in April. It could be all the three or just two of them.
10 January, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Trivial 11. Southern Sudan: Welcome to Freedom

Trivial 11
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Southern Sudan: Welcome to Freedom

Today, our African brothers in southern Sudan will be voting for separation from northern Sudan. It will be their independence day when they will declare their freedom from the racism of northern Arabs and start to face the gigantuan task of building their nation using their own resources. We hope that they will succeed where other Africans failed.

It is unfortunate that Arab racism has survived to this time in total disregard to the teachings of Islam and modernity. Like their counterparts among racist whites, the Arabs regard us as an inferior race. You may reach any level of scholarship or piety, to the majority of the white skins among Arabs, Indians, and other light skin races, you are not better than a slave, your ancestral status. To this day, the blacks are the only race that remain slaves in Arab nations of North Africa and African nations are not doing anything about it. It was not surprising that Osama deliberately insulted Obama during his inauguration by calling him 'abeed', a slave.

It is amazing to see how our position has not changed through the ages and one wonders whether there is civilization at all in human history. Where is civilization when Africans are thought to be generically stupid and subhuman by both those who claim to be adherents of the Bible and the Quran? Abu Zarr (May God be pleased with him) was not echoing the his own racial belief or that of his contemporaries when he called Bilal, the first musim Black, "son of a black woman" but that of his fellow Arabs. Though the Prophet (Peace be Upon him) has settled the matter by castigating Abu Zarr when he told him "you are a person in whom is Jahiliyya", it did very little to improve on our image in the eyes of Muslims from other races.

Abu Zarr's expression epitomized the perception and treatment of the rest of humanity towards us in all times and places: source of cheap labour for their men and sexual pleasure for their women, hence our role in building the pyramids and the convenient actors of sexual infidelity in A Thousand and One Nights and other books of Arab pornography. Today, as can be seen in the collections of Nancy Friday, the black man is also a notorious object in the sexual fantasy of white women in the West.

I visited the United States recently. One thing I set out to observe was the relationship between the two major races of that great country which is built on freedom and the dream of human achievement. I was not surprised that the gap between the races can not only be seen in its prisons, offices, restaurants and other public places but also it could be discerned even in the air that one breathes as he walks the street. A substantial population of blacks are so apprehensive that they believe that their annihilation will come soon, as a brother whom I met in Saint Louis told me. Let us remember that to date we have no record of what happened to the millions of black slaves that once lived in the Arab world. In what way were they obliterated? The insignificant number that remains are not more than the drummers we see on Arab TV channels entertaining their masters and their wives. We have not received a better treatment from scholars of those races either. Space would not allow me to quote them.

This is the atmosphere in which our black brothers in Sudan lived since independence. The British must not have seen them as fit to govern themselves, hence the decision to place them under northern tutelage. Even the liberal British historian, Sir Arnold Toynbee, agreed that the Dinka and the Shilluk are the best specimen of the frozen civilization described by V. G. Childe in The Most Ancient East:

"On the Upper Nile there dwell today people allied to the oldest Egyptians in appearance, stature, cranial proportions, language and dress... They are ruled by rain-maker magicians or by divine kings who were until recently ritually slain, and the tribes are organized in clans... It really looks as if among these tribes on the Upper Nile social development had been arrested at a stage that the Egyptians had traversed before their history began. There we have a living museum whose exhibits supplement and vivify the prehistoric cases in our collections."

If the intention of the white colonialists is to develop Upper Nile by appending it to the North, then they must be disappointed by now, for very little has changed in the lives of these people. They remain probably among the most backward even by African standards. Their images on cable television depicts just that much.

However, today they are making a choice that is neither Arab nor British, but African. They will choose to end the millennia of slavery and derogation and walk into the world of freedom. They are leaving behind Albashir and his racist government and janjawid militia.

However, if African history is anything to go by, we must warn them not to repeat the mistakes of all African nations before them, which have substituted slavery to other races with another of their own. The picture of life in those nations, including Nigeria, is not, in comparison to the state of other nations, more than what Childe described above as "a living museum whose exhibits supplement and vivify the prehistoric cases in our collections." Our corrupt leaders have not disproved the historical notion that we are a stupid race, for only the stupid will steal the wealth of his brother and transfer it to where he will not have control over it, only the stupid will descend to the level of a roddent that accumulates what it does not need, and only the stupid would think that he would be saved by his wealth when he impoverishes the rest of his community. On the part of we the follows, our submission to our present state of affairs has not disproved the notion that we are subhumans who price their pride of being human below their desire to live under self-subjugation, the cowards who cannot sacrifice their lives for those of their children.

There is a civilizational challenge lying beyond the songs and dances that will fill the atmosphere of southern Sudan, beyond the joy that will fill the hearts of the Dinka and the Shilluk today. Just as they choose to separate from the North, they must also decide whether they want to live in misery and corruption that pervades the peoples in the surrounding countries of East and Central Africa or they want to build a modern society based on equality, justice and brotherhood. Fortunately, they have the oil wealth that is needed to achieve both.

As a warning, the southern sudanese must avoid exchanging one master with another. China, United States, Israel and many multinational corperations are courting them now in quest for their resources. They must resist the temptation of falling into another their trap just as they must do everything to avoid another war with the North that is set to engage them in another struggle. Both will strangulate them and turn them into another Congo. Finally, they must avoid the internal tendency to discriminate amongst themselves based on sentiments of tribe and religion. They must watch their politicians, that evil class which has ruined the rest of Africa by exploiting the two primordial sentiments.

Acquiring independence is one thing, managing it is another. Nevertheless, we join them, as our African brothers, in their prayers for w better future and celebrations of the present. We hope those in Darfur will one day also experience the same joy.

9 January, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Trivial 10 Jega Needs to Explain

Trivial 10
by Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

JEGA Needs to Explain

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) requested and got the approval of the Minister of Education for all primary and secondary schools in the country to be closed for a month in order to use the premises of those schools as venues for voters' registration exercise. The Minister promptly issued an order to that effect without explaining the rationale behind the decision other than the request of INEC.

The order was received by Nigerians both within and outside the country with anger. They see this as a portrayal of government insensitivity to the development of this country. A month of academic work is a lot. The order will deny our children over ten per cent of the scheme for this year. The ministry should not have approved the request given the continuous deterioration of our children's performance at all levels. What we indeed expect is an extention of the academic year, not its contraction.

Many people have asked whether the closure is even necessary. Just how much space does INEC needs to accommodate a registration officer and his laptop? Does he need the whole 2 to 4 hectares of land that makes a school? Does he need all its dozens of classrooms? Would he require thousands of its chairs and desks? Does he need dozens of teachers to stay idle before he can carry out his job? How many people can he handle at a time to warrant so much space? Are schools the only spaces in our towns and villages? These are simple questions which we parents are asking on behalf of our children. We need an answer from our big bro, Jega.

Mentioning Jega makes the whole thing an irony. He is a professor, a former union leader, former vice chancellor and a very popular person. The Minister too is a professor and a mother. Both of them are from areas where education deserves the greatest attention. How could these academics fail to uphold the sanctity of learning above politics? Above the two is another academic, the President, Dr. Goodlluck Jonathan. If this directive were given by a military leader like Buhari in the 1980s, we would have a 'kongi' ascribing it to the insensitivity of military dictatorship. But what do we say now when three professors connive to deprive our poor children of a whole month of learning?

Someone had questioned the constitutionality of the order. Does the federal government have exclusive right over the academic calendar given that education is on the concurrent list? It was suggested on one of the yahoo groups that states should disregard the order. Of course none of them would do so with governors begging for a second term, with the need for campaing funds which can be sourced from the millions voted to feed boarding students, etc. Do the governors even care about schools as much as they care about their nominations?

Private and community schools managers are asking why the order must include them when their premises are not going to be used. Woud not government limit its insensitivity to its schools in which, in any case, little learning is taking place?

There are reports that the government has threatened to use force to ensure that all schools have complied, given the violation of the order by some schools in Lagos. One wonders to what extent our government can go to ensure that the wrong thing is done when it remains complacent on serious security challenges.

With this, do we wonder why recent Nigerian certificates suffer from crisis of recognition in some countries?

We hope INEC will not request for another closure during the general elections when more space will be required.

Jega needs to explain to Nigerians why the order is necessary. Jonathan is too busy with how he can win the PDP ticket and counting the billions accruing to him from the coffers of state government. We grant him a leave. The Minister said she simply approved a request. The talking therefore must be done by Jega who made the request. As his staff go to the field for the registration, we hope he will come forward and tell our children why he is keeping them and their teachers idle at home.

Big bro, say something...

8 January 2011