ASUU: Killing the living for the unborn

One may want to consider a situation where due to the earth’s limited or mismanaged resources, a group of people will actually decimate another group of people in order to have some resources provided for the next generation. You may wonder what sin or offence the latter group committed, or maybe it is just a case of being in existence at the wrong time or place. I think the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and the helpless millions of Nigerian students quite fit into this analogy with ASUU being the former group. This issue is a hornet’s nest. I refuse to catch the ‘Stockholm syndrome’ bug. A lot of ASUU members and their apologists will tend to be subjective and not objective. Of course, most people tend to be when their selfish interests are not being pandered to.

 

As Winston Churchill famously said, “If you are going through hell, keep going”. A total grounding of the system is crude, barbaric and unacceptable. That is just what ASUU has done. The Government should not be exonerated from the poor state of our educational system as their incompetence and lackadaisical attitude is not helping matters at all but it is obvious our education system does not need more damage from ASUU. As poor as our education system is, several graduates (engineers, doctors, pharmacists etc) have emerged from them and are making their mark globally till this day. So much to wonder about the ‘dysfunctional’ state of our education system.

 

A fact being inferred here is that it is not all gloom and doom in our education system. Embarking on industrial actions just because you want more funds from the government is utmost egocentrism. A strong fact is that even if government allocates the nation’s entire budget to education, it will never be enough. What matters most is the proper management and prudent utilisation of the resources made available to the varsities. Even though more money needs to be pumped into the education system,like other sectors too.  Mismanagement, misplaced priorities and sleaze are common in public university administration. These institutions, lest we forget, also internally generate revenues running into billions of naira annually. You may want to ask why ASUU is not fighting the rot in university administration and if ASUU is sincere, why is she not strongly advocating  full university autonomy ? That is the most sustainable model for all of our universities. I will like ASUU members and their apologists to take a look at the list of 100 (or even 200) best universities in the world and tell us what fraction of them are state funded. They should tell us if they are in the majority or minority.

 

ASUU says it is demanding N87b for ‘allowances’. This also shows how lucrative their jobs are. The money is just for some allowances and not salaries. Capital allocation for education in the 2013 budget is about N72b. This is for infrastructure at all levels of education in Nigeria. It means what ASUU is demanding as allowances for its members exceeds what all Nigerians will benefit from in infrastructure provision. One may wonder what sacrifice ASUU and its members are willing to make whenever they ask students to make sacrifices.

 

I understand their salaries all through the strike period will still be paid. Non payment of their salaries for a single day (albeit they are on strike) will lead to a declaration of another full blown war. ASUU muddled up demands so as to paint itself in a good light. All they really want are their endless allowances. You can be sure there will still be another strike in the nearest future because of an ‘allowance’.

 

Who else will protect ASUU’s interests if not ASUU itself? As we all know especially in Nigeria, it is a dog eat dog world but just as ASUU needs to fight for itself so does every other union (or individual) also has to fight for itself. You may want to know that all sectors of the Nigerian economy have unions. All these fights (strikes) ultimately lead to keeping most sectors of the Nigerian system comatose. One may want to consider the definition of ‘selfishness’ and see if it is applicable in this tactic of ‘indefinite strike action’ especially by critical unions. There are quite a number of such unions with the JOHESU (Joint Healh Workers Union) included. JOHESU is a sort of bed of strange bed fellows and includes all non medical doctor health workers like nurses,cleaners,security staff,admin staff,secretaries,lab scientists,pharmacists,midwives,physiotherapists etc. These are unions where downing their tools means irreversible damage and loss of lives. I don’t think the proper solution to handling such a situation is indefinite strike. It is not news or even a secret that our top government officials’ family members and even cohorts do not attend Nigerian universities. So who does ASUU think is bearing the brunt and brutality of the strikes ? I think it is the most vulnerable and the needy in the society and I also think that is unfair and unacceptable.

 

There are other ways of going about the problem of the dysfunctional Nigerian education system. As a Yoruba adage says “bi be ori ko ni ogun ifori” translated to, “cutting off the head is not the solution to a headache”. It is a pity that that is just what ASUU is doing. ASUU is killing a significant amount of Nigerians financially, physically and mentally.

 

There are lots of students wandering around the country now just because their purposeful lives are being obstructed. I know a number of my schoolmates who lost their lives as they travelled home because of the strike. It is no news that a majority of the roads in the country are in a deplorable state and are death traps. The less you travel on them the better for you. With the strike, the students need to embark on additional journeys. It is also well known that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. I wouldn’t delve into how the amount of some iniquities including prostitution has surged due to this strike. What about the spate of health problems ? A lot of the students and their guardians experience mental problems due to the uncertainty around the resumption. Anxiety and depression are serious mental conditions and are common amongst them due to the strike. The resumption uncertainty makes a lot of people lose focus on other important aspects of their lives. To a lot of families, university education graduation is all they wait for. Several families invest all of their resources to achieve this especially as we are in a society where most people are brainwashed into loving wage-slavery (this applies globally too). All they want to do is to graduate and get a job and start supporting their parents and siblings too. One may want to ask ASUU how spending over seven years on a five- year programme without having an extra semester or year is good. Does ASUU think that’s an advantage when graduates from Nigerian public universities have to compete with their counterparts from private or even foreign universities ? And guess what; the world – the global village — is shrinking more and more daily.

 

We all know the Nigerian education system is quite in a shambles but so are other parts of the Nigerian system. From health, transport, aviation, petroleum, steel to manufacturing etc. They are all dysfunctional. This is due to bad leadership. And this is where ASUU can play an integral part in saving the nation. Or how come ASUU with all manner of degrees and enlightenment amongst its members is not aware of this saying: “The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, he doesn’t speak, nor participate in political events. He doesn’t know that the cost of life, the price of beans, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician,…” Nigerians will have yet again another chance to elect able leadership in 2015; maybe that opportunity would not be blown away again.

 

ASUU has declared war on the nation’s education system, and in war, truth is the first casualty. It is very unfair as ASUU is taking out its anger on the weak, defenceless and the helpless. They should stop killing the living for the unborn

 

 

Dr. Michael Adeyemi, a medical doctor,writer, public analyst and social commentator, writes from Lagos,Nigeria

Buhari, 2015, and parable of the 2 sons by Femi Adesina

I have noticed a trend in the build-up towards the 2015 elections, particularly as it concerns former military head of state, Gen Muhammadu Buhari. There are those who want him to run for president again, and there are those who do not.

 

Gen Buhari had taken shots at the highest political office in the land in 2003, 2007 and 2011, but never made it to the presidency due to a number of factors. However, that is not the focus of this piece.

 

Shortly before the 2011 polls, the Daura, Katsina State born general, said it was going to be his last time of offering himself for the position of president. Still, his ambition was not realized, and he has maintained a fairly low profile political position since then.

 

But as 2015 approaches, there are pressures on Gen Buhari to throw his hat into the ring again as a candidate. He turned 70 last December, and would be 72 by the time elections hold in 2015. Too old? Maybe not, as long as he is physically and mentally fit. Our constitution prescribes only a minimum age for the president, and not maximum.

 

Abdoulaye Wade ruled Senegal in his 80s. Ronald Reagan won election as American president when he was over 70 years old. Robert Mugabe, though not an inspiring example, recently took oath of office for the sixth time as Zimbabwean president. He is almost 90 years old.

 

For some people, the issue of whether Buhari should run in 2015 or not is not largely about his age, but his pledge in 2011 that he would not offer himself for the position of president again.

 

Those people believe if he goes back on his words, it would be antithetical, even antipodal to his previous position. And two different positions have now been thrown up. There are those who think Gen Buhari should be convinced to run again, since the Nigerian ship of state is drifting dangerously, and may soon hit the rocks. Former Federal Capital Territory Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, is one of such. No doubt, Buhari has what it takes to save us from doomsday in terms of combating indiscipline, corruption, lawlessness, and generally leading by example. But should he capitulate to the persuaders and run?

 

Before we answer the question, let us go to the other group, the ones who do not want Buhari to run, simply because they are afraid of him. Yes, three parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria, the All Nigerian Peoples Party, and the Congress for Progressive Change (and there is even a splinter from the All Progressives Grand Alliance) have coalesced to form the All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

A formidable alliance, if you ask me. This is one political party that can torpedo the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from power, where it has ensconced itself since 1999, doing little and promising to be there for minimum of 60 years. But as long as Buhari lives, and is healthy, he poses a potent threat, a veritable stumbling block to the dreams of the PDP. So, they fear him like plague.

 

And what do they do? They embark on further disinformation, which they had always used against the man over the years: he is a religious bigot, he is sectional, he is inflexible, he is the brain behind Boko Haram. Some people, in their bid to set a trap, even conjured a splinter group of the insurrectionist group, and mentioned Buhari as a man they could trust to broker a ceasefire deal.

 

A veritable trap, if ever there was one. If he acquiesced, they would say, yes, they listened to him because he was their sponsor. And if he didn’t (as he did not) they would say he’s not a patriot. He could have used his influence to secure a ceasefire, but he did not, simply because he’s not altruistic. Head you lose, tail you lose.

 

What other mechanism are they using to dissuade Buhari from running in 2015? They are spreading the word that it would be incompatible with his famed integrity if he runs, having said he would never run again in 2011.

 

The integrity they refused to allow the man use for the good of the entire country, they are now also waving over his head like the sword of Damocles. Integrity is now sin, and it is only in Nigeria that it happens. Pity.

 

How are the perpetual Buhari opposers (largely for fear of their economic empires) going about the disinformation process? They have thrown the 2011 pledge the man made into public space, ahead of the process that would lead to the APC picking a presidential flag bearer. Anybody else but Buhari would make them comfortable. But if the latter emerges, then they would be in serious trouble.

 

Do I blame the PDP? I don’t. The political game is all about getting the upper hand. The most colourful politician with the largest cult-like following, particularly in the northern part of the country, is Gen Buhari. And he equally has a large number of discerning supporters in the south.

 

If he then combines that with the grip the erstwhile Action Congress of Nigeria has on the South-west, then 2015 is a done deal for the opposition. What to do then? Convince Buhari not to run, mobilize public sentiment against him, remind him that keeping to one’s words is part of integrity.

 

Rather sadly, my friend and colleague, Eric Osagie, has got hoodwinked by the propagandists, and fallen for the fib. Last Monday, at the back page of this newspaper, he wrote under the headline ‘2015: If Buhari runs…’ And what was he saying? “At 70 plus, it is time for Buhari to forget his presidential dream, groom younger leaders to take over from him.

 

With all due respect, Buhari is not indispensable… If Buhari runs and fails in 2015, he would have finally eroded the Buhari myth, which has kept many of his followers going over the years. And that would be quite tragic. A nation should not lose all its heroes, in the name of politics or whatever… Anyone who truly loves Buhari ought to advise him to take a bow and go, and go on a deserved rest.”

 

Osagie has a right to his opinion, but that does not necessarily mean it is the gospel truth, or the laws of Medes and Persia, which can never change. This is my own position, looking at Eric Osagie clause by clause: At 70 plus, it is time for Buhari to forget his presidential dream.

 

True? False. Age has nothing to do with it. If a man remains physically and mentally sound at 80, who says he can’t be president? The constitution allows it. The team that you assemble is what matters, as well as the direction you chart for the team. And do you ever forget a dream? If Abraham Lincoln did, he would not have ever become American president, after failing many times earlier. John Atta Mills ran for three times before he became president in Ghana. A man has a right to his dreams, and it is an infringement on his right to ask him to drop such dreams. God is the one who turns dreams into reality, not any man.

 

Again, Eric asks Buhari to groom younger leaders to take over from him. The power game is never played that way.

 

Power is taken, and not handed out. Let the younger people come with integrity, with dedication, with abhorrence for corruption, with charisma and ability to lead by example, and the country would follow them. If a younger person comes with all the attributes we see in Buhari, who says we won’t follow him? Nobody is indispensable, truly, but a country that refuses to put its best men at the helm of affairs is a moral and psychological absurdity.

 

If Buhari runs and fails in 2015, he would have finally eroded the Buhari myth, Eric Osagie says. Not so. I wouldn’t use the word myth, I’ll rather say Buhari brand. Yes, there is the Buhari brand, and what are its characteristics? Simplicity. Incorruptibility. Public spiritedness. Discipline. Accountability.

 

And many more! And who should not like this brand? I do, and will ever do. It is a brand that can never fail, be eroded or corroded, no matter what misguided Nigerians do to it. It is a lifelong, time tested, eternal brand. Worry not Eric, the brand lives, and will live.

 

The writer also said: anyone who truly loves Buhari ought to advise him to take a bow and go on a deserved rest. Not so fast, Eric. You don’t trample on a man’s rights, under the pretext of loving him. His rights are inalienable to him. There are some decisions that a man can make only himself, and you have to respect such decision, if you truly love him.

 

So, what have I been saying? Should Buhari run in 2015? I have not said yes, I have not said no. I will simply respect whatever decision he takes, because it is within his rights. But to say running despite his promise never to do so again in 2011, would tantamount to loss of integrity, is to pull it to ridiculous level. Who never changes his mind in this world? A change of mind is not irresoluteness.

 

It is not fickleness. Neither is it vacillation or shilly-shallying. In fact, a man that never changes his mind is one to fear, and run away from. Such would remain stiff and unbending, even in the face of superior arguments. Like Julius Caesar said of Cassius, “such men are dangerous.”

 

Jesus gave a parable in Matthew 21 verses 28-30. “A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said. Son, go and work today in my vineyard.

 

“He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

 

And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go sir: and went not.”

 

Jesus then asked which of the two sons did the will of his father? Of course, the first one! The conclusion? You can always change your mind to do positive things. It will never lead to loss of credibility or integrity. Shikena.

It is about Nigeria; not Buhari

The registration of the All Progressives Congress -APC- which was a merger of the main political parties in the country, has generated a great deal of excitement and rekindled the prospect of strengthening democracy and hope in our country, in place of national despair.

 

By this act alone, the leaderships of the merging opposition parties have demonstrated that Nigeria, its future, progress and prosperity of its citizens are greater than individual ambitions. The APC is, therefore, a platform for Nigerians to have an alternative to fulfill their aspirations and realize their potentials with a party that is strong and nationally based. What is more, it will help to arrest the drift towards oppression and anarchy.

 

Democracy is not just about free and fair elections, the consequence of which parties alternate to form governments. It also provides opportunities for fresh policies to move the country forward. That is why presidential systems have term limits, such as we have, but the failed third term attempt is a clear indication that given the opportunity, some politicians will try and subvert the system. In Parliamentary systems, where there are no term limits, members of the governing parties remove the head of government however successful she or he is in government and popular with the voters. That was the fate of two British Prime Ministers, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, in recent times. Alternatively, provided there are free and fair elections, the electorate will vote out unpopular governments such as what happened with Mrs Ghandi in India.

 

The dangers of one party or an individual remaining in power for too long are two fold: first is corruption of power. Power, it has been said, corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The second element is the temptation to absolutism, the rule of one party has the tendency to become the rule of a faction of the party and ultimately the rule of one person, a forbidding path to a Stalinist state.

Regrettably, after the euphoria of its registration, public discussion has been more about personalities and less on the benefits of the emergence of a strong alternative to the governing party and the prospect it offers to widening democracy and stemming the drift to impunity, where an elected President can say he doesn’t give a damn about public opinion.

The issue is not just about Buhari, but something greater than Buhari or any individual or parts of its whole, it is about Nigeria-its future, progress and prosperity of its citizens, living in peace, harmony, its evolution and integration.

By joining the army, he had signed up to lay his life down for his beloved country – Nigeria . This was what he and his colleagues faced during the tragic civil war to keep our country- Nigeria, united. Nigeria has been good to him. He was an orphan but it educated him, trained and offered him the ultimate prize any citizen can hope for -its leadership.

 

Buhari’s involvement in the political process is another call to duty and his desire to give back to Nigeria a little of what it gave him, by joining hands with others to provide viable options to our fellow citizens and evolve social and economic policies that are sustainable and all-inclusive, by a caring leadership that is dedicated to the efficient management of the economy, social justice and individual liberty.

 

Such leadership is not restricted to government alone, we all have roles to play–the National Assembly, the judiciary, the security services, the press and civil society groups–to ensure checks and balances, protection of all under the law, and accountability.

 

If some politicians find it more convenient to drag public discussion towards the weaknesses of Nigeria, in order to hide their incompetence and divert attention from their theft of public funds, it is the responsibility of the press to steer the debate to policies and programmes, notwithstanding the diversionary self-destruct antics of the PDP.

 

 

Dr.Michael Adeyemi, a medical doctor, writer, social commentator, political and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

PDP, the wind and the whirlwind

He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind ” says the Good Book

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had it coming for a long time, and it got its just desserts penultimate weekend.The party broke right down the middle at a special convention held in Abuja.

 

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, former acting national chairman, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, former national secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, and at least seven governors walked out of the convention, to announce the birth of what is now called New PDP.

 

Since the party was formed in 1998, the PDP had been everything else but democratic. See the way all the party chairmen had emerged or left office – in crisis. From Solomon Lar, to Barnabas Gemade, Audu Ogbe, Ahmadu Ali, Vincent Ogbulafor, Okwezilieze Nwodo,acting national chairman, Abubakar Kawu Baraje and Bamanga Tukur, it had been stormy all along. PDP was merely taking Nigerians for granted, arrogating to itself the status of Africa’s largest political party, when it is nothing more than a votes grabbing Leviathan. A real Behemoth. It wins elections by hook or crook, by fair or foul means, usually at all costs no matter what.

 

See how presidential candidates emerged in the party. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was handpicked, when it was crystal clear that he didn’t have the physical requirements in terms of health, to be president. Goodluck Jonathan himself emerged in clear violation of the party’s constitution. Ifeanyi Ararume won the primary election to stand as candidate for Imo State governor in 2007, he was denied, and the party preferred not to field anybody for the position. Why hold primaries in the first place, and in a party that has the word ‘democratic’ as part of its name, if the baby would be thrown away with the bathwater? This was autocracy, and no mistake.

 

 

 

Olusegun Mimiko wanted to be governor in Ondo State, but the powers-that-be asked him to go and queue,and wait for his turn.That one left, joined Labour Party,and is now in his second term in office.If he had stayed, PDP’s variant of ‘democracy’ would have ruined his political career.

 

Also in Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi won the primaries for the 2007 gubernatorial race. Somebody said his candidacy had k-leg, and unilaterally replaced him. But it is said that the witch can do exploits in killing and eating babies, till the day she kills twins. That is when the bones will be stuck in her throat.Since 2007, Amaechi has been like a bone in the throat of PDP, and in a way, he is central to what is happening to the party now.

 

We know how the Rivers State governor has been hounded, harassed badgered because he simply demanded his democratic rights. Part of the ripple effects is that the PDP is now broken into Old and New PDP. That is what you get when you play God.

 

I had always warned that unless it changed its way, the PDP would either implode or explode, or even do both by any means,be it revolution,election loss or any other. At a point,I adviced them in my notes/articles – Why PDP Continues to Win elections – Parts 4 .https://www.facebook.com/notes/michael-drbiggie-adeyemi-i/why-pdp-continues-to-win-elections-4-penultimate-part-/425250977531684 and Part 5. https://www.facebook.com/notes/michael-drbiggie-adeyemi-i/why-pdp-continues-to-win-elections-5-final-and-concluding-part/442278572495591 What is happening now is both an implosion and an explosion. And see all the personalities involved. A good number of them can be described as ‘Obasanjo’s loyalists,’ except maybe Atiku and Amaechi. Wonders, as they say, shall never end.

 

The PDP crisis started with the demise of Umar Musa Yar’adua. As Yar’adua was incapacitated and dying, his superstitious wife and members of family kept him hidden hoping for a miracle even after doctors have told them his critical condition was complicated and he wasn’t going to recover.Though I wasn’t on the social media then,I told all those who cared to listen that a mega succession crisis with immense complications and repercussions would start in the PDP. How fulfilled are my words now.

 

Immediately some Northern Nigerian PDP members heard of Yar’adua’s situation they begam to scheme how to take over power and they had one thing going, zoning. Zoning was however not in the PDP constitution but there was a verbal agreement that power should rotate. The North felt it was their turn to take over power after Yar’adua’s demise. The PDP unwritten agreemwnt does not include what would happen if a president dies or is incapacitated. When Yar’adua died some powerful Northern PDP element decided to take their chances by making Goodluck Jonathan not to contest after Yar’adua’s tenure. They were of the view that power should return to the North. Some of these people are Atiku Abubakar, former vice president, former military junta President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Adamu Ciroma, Saraki and they had a lot of support form the Northern Masses of Northern Nigeria. In 2011, Olusegun Obasanjo was behind Goodluck Jonathan and was about the diffuse the tension and paved way for Goodluck Jonathan who went ahead to defeat the Congress for Progressive Change in 2011 president poll. The consequences of Goodluck Jonathan’s victory was to result to rioting all over the North and the rebirth of the Islamic sect Boko Haram who were agitating for Sharia legal system in Northern Nigeria.

Immediately Goodluck Jonathan became president, 2015 became an issue. Since 2011 Nigerian politicians have been talking of 2015 barely one year after Goodluck won the presidential election, 2015 has been on the news as it still is.

 

 

 

 

As 2015 approaches, some Northern Nigerian politicians have continued to put pressure on Goodluck Jonathan not to contest as it is their time to contest and they have insisted that Goodluck Jonathan promised to spend just one term and handover power.

People like Atiku Abubakar distanced themselves from the PDP since the 2011. Sule Lamido who was supporter of Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 now saw a chance of becoming president and began to team with Rotimi Ameachi, the governor of River State and Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum NGF and the architect of the whole plot to replace Goodluck Jonathan is no one but Olusegun Obasanjo, who’s influence continue to wane as Goodluck Jonathan slowly began to become independent and wriggle away from Obasanjo’s control. Olusegun Obasanjo has over the months pushed Sule Lamido and encouraged the PDP crisis.

 

Few days ago, President Jonathan accused Obasanjo of being behind the crisis. Like i told a few friends about 6 months ago,after Obasanjo resigned as PDP Board of Trustees Chairman, Jonathan had offended Obasanjo who stood by him and made him and Obasanjo is not a man that forgives those who sin against him. Obasanjo’s close friends and relatives have alleged so and this is also evident in the way he has dealt with enemies and those he hated while in the military, and social life and political life,even when he was military Head of State and as civillian president,even in times he wasnt holding any office. Time will not permit me to talk of the likes of MKO Abiola, Chief.Obafemi Awolowo, Atiku Abubakar, Alabi Isama,Audu Ogbe etc

 

 

Jonathan too also goofed by promoting crisis in the NGF and Rivers State House of Assembly (though he claims to the contrary).In doing so,he has made more enemies for himself,alienated allies, stretched the strenght of his allies and fought too many wars at the same time. It is a basic rule in warfare that you dont fight too many enemies at the same time,lest they overpower you eventually, no matter how strong you are and no matter how weak the enemies appear to be. Maybe he should read 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and The Art of War by Sun Tzu (an ancient chinese general) for more tips.

 

 

We keep tabs and see what becomes of PDP. But one thing is crystal clear: Africa’s vaunted ‘largest political party’ will never be the same again, just like Humpty-Dumpty in that nursery school rhyme. Unless the party mends its ways, and returns to democratic ways, not all the king’s men, or all the king’s horses will be able to put Humpty-Dumpty together again.

 

Right is the Good Book when it says: “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. Whatever a man sows, the same shall he reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

 

 

Michael Adeyemi, a medical doctor, writer, social commentator and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

Who is afraid of accurate census?

All over the world, population census is used for socio-economic, strategic and developmental planning. In almost all countries, demographic data are used for provision of infrastructure, water, power, housing, health and educational needs of the inhabitants amongst other uses. For such planning to be effective, it must be based on accurate population census figures.

In advanced democracies and some countries in Africa, conducting a population census is a normal exercise that people don’t lose their heads about worrying of its outcome and which part of the country will have the highest figure and other inanities associated with population census in Nigeria.

The story is not the same in Nigeria, the giant of Africa. In Nigeria, census figures are manipulated in view of the fact that the data are important in delineation of electoral wards and constituencies and in revenue allocation. That is why unscrupulous politicians are more concerned with its outcome. Because of the inherent abuses of census figures in the country, virtually every census conducted in the country has ended up in controversy. It is either the North rejects it or the East or the West does not approve of it.

The inability of the leaders of the country to arrive at accurate population census is at the heart of major crises the country has faced since independence. The political dominance of the North over the South since independence due to the seeming population advantage it has over the South is part of the Nigerian problem. That is why every census exercise in the country is always acrimonious and contentious no matter who supervises it.

Even if angels are brought from heaven to supervise Nigerian census, some people will still complain. Perhaps that is the way Nigerians perceive census, especially when the result will be used for sharing of the national cake, essentially oil money.

It is based on proven scientific data and evidence of such census abuses that the chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC), Eze Festus Odimegwu, recently lampooned past census exercises conducted in Nigerian before independence and after as being inaccurate. As most Nigerians are aware, Odimegwu did not say anything new or what nobody has said in the country. He has said the truth of the matter. Perhaps his ‘first fault’ is that he is insisting that all demographic information like tribe and religion, which were excluded in the 2006 census exercise be included in the 2016 one as it is done in all parts of the world. Perhaps his ‘second fault’ is that he said that the 2006 census was manipulated in favour of a section of the country. When has saying the truth become a fault in the country?

Those who are contesting Odimegwu’s claims should not bother any further. The recent Census Tribunal’s ruling that some areas of Lagos be recounted because they were not correctly captured during the 2006 census exercise has amply justified Odimegwu’s stand. Lagos State had after the release of the census figures that gave Kano State more population than Lagos contested the outcome. Lagos State might not be alone in such misrepresentation.

The South-East was not adequately covered during the 2006 census exercise due to the threat by MASSOB that Igbos should not participate. How can a census that did not factor tribe and religion, the two major demographic indices for accurate census be taken as credible? Many Nigerians protested then that those demographic indices be included but were never heeded by the powers that be. Conducting a population census is a serious business. Figures should not be assigned to wards and constituencies at the whim of the powers that be, they must be accurate. That is exactly what Odimegwu is saying.

Therefore when the governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, raised undue dust over Odimegwu’s comments, it is understandable where he is coming from. His assertion that Odimegwu’s appointment as NPC chairman is ‘a mistake’ is quite unfortunate and unbecoming of a state governor who should be concerned of the need for accurate population count in the country. Kwankwaso’s grandstanding on the issue and his unprintable invectives on Odimegwu are in bad taste and against Odimegwu’s right to freedom of expression. It is public knowledge that Kwankwaso went too far in his verbal umbrage on Odimegwu and his competence to conduct the 2016 census.

This is not the first time that Kwakwanso will be so condemnatory in any matter that concerns Ndigbo. The other time, it was the call for additional State to the South-East zone, the only geo-political zone in the country with five states.

Kwankwaso did not only condemn the call, he also berated those making the call and dismissed the agitation with a wave of the hand because he is not involved. Such hate approach to national issues in a plural society as ours is indeed parochial and uncalled for.

Let Kwankwanso and others that think like him (the Arewa Consultative Forum) understand the need for accurate population census and support those that want Nigeria to have accurate and credible census come 2016. Even if they don’t like the messenger, let them not discard the message. The message, irrespective of the bearer, is very vital for the continued functioning of the country. It is surprising that some people will be posturing against the clarion call for accurate population census. How do such people plan in their household or the state they govern?

Therefore, the call on President Goodluck Jonathan to sack Odimegwu based on his defence of accurate population census, is diversionary, unnecessary and should be dismissed. It does not advance the cause of a transformational administration and statehood that Nigeria is aspiring to be under the current dispensation. Let those castigating Odimegwu over his insistence for accurate headcount leave him alone and think of how best to govern their states.

Before coming to NPC, Odimegwu has had a distinguished career as an accomplished manager of men and resources as well as a board room guru at Nigerian Breweries Plc. Since leaving the conglomerate, he has been successful in diverse business ventures. His competence to conduct a credible headcount for the country is therefore not in doubt as Kwankwaso wants us to believe

I have lived in both places,kano and Lagos and I’ve observed both and can fearlessly say (by my own modest estimates) that kano may just be at most half,or even less,the entire population of Lagos.

Michael Adeyemi, a medical doctor, writer, opinion analyst and social commentator, writes from Lagos, Nigeria

Nadal: From wounded warrior to dominant champion

Rafa Nadal cried tears of joy after completing his journey from wounded warrior to dominant champion, according to The Mirror.

 

The Spaniard won his second US Open and his 13th Grand Slam following yet another compelling contest with fierce rival Novak Djokovic on Monday.

 

For long spells of a truly memorable duel, Nadal found himself pummelled by the sustained brilliance of the world number one – yet he never wavered, even when he lost a point following a draining 54-shot rally.

 

However, despite being arguably the most resilient competitor in the history of sport, even Nadal admitted he had doubts about what lay in store when he returned from a seven-month spell on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.

 

The recurrence of his patella tendinitis and the sheer fragile nature of his knees prompted fears that the 27-year-old – so dependent on his movement, given his all-or-nothing style – would be a shadow of his former self when he stepped back on the court.

 

There were plenty inside the locker room wondering if this colossus would ever return.

 

He said, “I didn’t think something like this could happen. I never thought about competing for all that I competed for this year, so it’s just more than I dreamed. I feel very lucky for what happened since I came back.

 

“For a few reasons this is probably the most emotional win of my career. I felt that I did everything right to have a chance here.

 

“I was ready to play the match against one of the best players in history….Novak, No. 1 in the world, and on probably his favourite surface, so I have to be almost perfect to win.

 

“So that’s what really produced these emotional moments at the end of the match, working hard in tough moments and trying to be positive.

 

“A lot of people have been with me during this period of time and it was not easy. A lot of days I was only able to keep working because of them.

 

“When you go to the gym every day and you don’t see a positive result, then you lose a little bit your energy.

 

“If I have those people around me during this period of time, that was decisive. They give me that positive energy. Without them it would have been impossible to have any chance.

 

“After seven months I was sure I would not forget how to play tennis. But to win two Grand Slams this year is something that I never thought [possible].”

 

Nadal’s statistics since returning to the court make for impressive reading and his two major triumphs have taken him to third in the all-time list behind Pete Sampras (14) and Roger Federer (17).

 

The sensational Spaniard has won all 22 of his matches on hard-court (his least-favoured surface) – a record no player in the open era has ever achieved.

 

Nadal has won 61 of his 64 matches this year and now claimed a major in nine consecutive years, another first in the history of the sport.

 

With age on his side and his knees holding up, it is surely only a matter of time before he surpasses both Federer and Sampras as the greatest of all time.

 

He said: “To have this many is more than I ever dreamed. I said that I would be happy with a few Slams.

 

“It means a lot to me and I am going to keep working hard and give myself more chances in the future to be competitive and win more tournaments like this one.

 

“Then you never know when that will finish, but 13 is an amazing number.”

 

Having held all four Grand Slams at separate times, Nadal was asked if it was possible for him to win them all in the same year.

 

He added, “I think this is impossible for anyone. We will see, but today the best players are there all the time, so to win a tournament like this you have to win against Roger, against David, against Andy, against Novak.

 

“It is impossible to be 100 per cent in every tournament so when your level is a little bit lower, you will lose against these players.”

Mayweather: The man, the money

The American people, as with their presidents, often get the boxing champions they deserve.

 

Whether it be Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, socking it to his white oppressors in the early 1900s; or Rocky Marciano, a recognisable slab of normality on the post-World War II landscape; or Muhammad Ali, a beacon of black pride in the deeply divided 1960s.

 

So what have the American people, circa 2013, done to deserve Floyd Mayweather, the impossible knot of contradictions that is American boxing’s lone – and last, some pessimists might argue – global superstar?

 

Many others would argue that the days when the American people were defined, to any extent, by their boxing champions ended long ago.

 

The fact that Johnson, Marciano and Ali were heavyweights and Mayweather is one of the sport’s little men seems symbolic in itself of how far boxing has receded in the collective consciousness of the American sports fan.

 

But how to explain the mind-boggling Mayweather numbers – the £127.4m, six-fight deal signed with American network Showtime in February; the world record £26.4m purse for his fight against Mexico’s Saul Alvarez in Las Vegas on Saturday; the record-breaking £12.2m live gate at the MGM Grand?

 

And how to explain ‘Money’ Mayweather’s position at the top of Forbes’ list of highest-paid athletes for 2012; and the guaranteed £49.9m in purses for only two fights in 2013, an amount that will probably see him take top spot again?

 

“Floyd is boxing,” Mayweather’s business partner Leonard Ellerbe told BBC Sport. “He’s the biggest star in the sport by a mile – the numbers don’t lie.”

 

What is astonishing is that Mayweather is able to generate such numbers operating within the confines of a supposedly fringe sport like boxing. Behind him in Forbes’ 2012 list are golf’s Tiger Woods, the NBA’s LeBron James, the NFL’s Peyton Manning and football’s King Midas, David Beckham.

 

What makes it all the more astonishing is the fact many fight fans think defensive master Mayweather – despite being a five-weight world champion and unbeaten in 44 pro fights – is a bit boring. At least between the ropes.

 

The American sportswriter Pat Putnam said, “Most fight fans would not spend a dime to watch Van Gogh paint Sunflowers, but they would fill Yankee Stadium to see him cut his ear off.”

 

Those who booed Mayweather during his one-sided defeat of Robert Guerrero in May would presumably agree with Putnam’s sentiment. Oscar de la Hoya, meanwhile, sees both sides.

 

“Fighters like Julio Cesar Chavez, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran gave fight fans excitement,” said the six-weight world champion, whose fight against Mayweather in 2007 holds the record for most pay-per-view buys – 2.44m.

 

“You got blood, knockdowns and knockouts. So I can understand fans being frustrated when watching a Floyd Mayweather fight, because of the lack of action. It should be about taking risks and giving fans what they’re looking for.

 

“Then again, that’s the genius of Mayweather: he’s been able to figure out a way of not getting hit and winning fights in easy fashion. Boxing is an art form and Floyd has mastered it.”

 

However, De la Hoya contends Mayweather’s legacy is likely to suffer because of a lack of credible rivals, or at least opponents able to push him to the limit.

 

De la Hoya was elevated because of fights against a raft of fellow greats, including Chavez, Pernell Whitaker and Mayweather himself. Mayweather, meanwhile, has not often been stretched during his 17-year paid career.

 

That Mayweather, now 36, has still been able to thrive at the box office is down to a carefully cultivated public image, which sees him cast as a trash-talking, bling-flashing, $100 bill-burning braggart of the highest order.

 

“Boxing is business and entertainment and he happens to be blessed with unbelievable charisma,” said Ellerbe. “He’s the best marketer I’ve ever seen and that’s how he’s taken a niche sport and carried it into the mainstream.”

 

“It’s not my cup of tea,” said De la Hoya, whose avowed distaste for his former foe’s methods has not prevented him promoting Mayweather’s last eight fights.

 

“Before we fought he spoke about me personally, he spoke about my family,” De la Hoya added.

 

“He was the polar opposite of what I represented when it came to boxing. He was doing all this trash-talking, he was cocky and flamboyant. I didn’t like what he represented outside and inside the ring and I wanted to knock his head off.”

 

Millions more wanted to see De la Hoya knock his head off, which is why Mayweather continued mouthing off.

 

In 2010 he broadcast a racist and homophobic video rant against Manny Pacquiao which led some to conclude he was on the verge of a meltdown, especially since he had no intention of signing for a fight against the Philippine legend. Mayweather said he was “just having fun”.

 

Other facets of Mayweather’s personality are even darker. In 2002 he pleaded guilty to two counts of domestic violence; in 2004 he was found guilty of assaulting two women in a Las Vegas night club; and in December 2011 he was sentenced to 90 days in prison for battery upon his ex-girlfriend.

 

In March of this year Mayweather was seen gyrating his hips in the face of the wife of Cornelius Bundrage as Bundrage fought a Mayweather-affiliated fighter, Ishe Smith. Mayweather was wearing a cap that read: “Money. Power. Respect.” Proof that the first two don’t necessarily add up to the third.

 

Apologists point out that Mayweather was the product of a highly dysfunctional upbringing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His mother was a drug addict while his father Floyd Sr, a former welterweight contender, served time for trafficking.

 

In addition, members of Mayweather’s camp stress there is another side to the man and that he is more in touch with reality than the media make out.

 

Courtesy: BBC Sport

The FIFA World Cup Qualifying System for 2014 WC is flawed by Ignat Manjoo

The pots are ready for Monday’s draw, based on the latest Fifa rankings the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Tunisia and Nigeria are the seeded teams. They could face any of the teams in Pot 2: Egypt, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Senegal and Ethiopia.

 

Arguably, Africa’s three strongest teams are 2013 Afcon champions Nigeria, then the squad with the greatest depth Ghana, followed by top seeds Ivory Coast. It should be in Africa’s interest for the best five teams to qualify for Brazil. However, either of these teams could face Egypt, who are in Pot 2, despite performing the best from all nations in the group stage.

 

Even if the Pharaohs avoid the ‘big three’, they could face a repeat of their 2010 Fifa World Cup playoff against Algeria which was a controversially violent clash between both sides of opposing fans off the field. Caf wouldn’t want to witness another bloody incident, particularly in light of the uprising which has escalated in Egypt and surrounding countries.

 

POT 1

 

 

POT 2

 

 

  • Ghana
  • Ivory Coast
  • Algeria
  • Tunisia
  • Nigeria
  • Egypt
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cameroon
  • Senegal
  • Ethiopia

Tunisia are in Pot 1, despite being placed second in their group and only progressing late by default of Cape Verde fielding a suspended player. I am most surprised that this has occurred on a number of occasions in the African qualifiers to the likes of even Ethiopia. How unprofessional can national teams get that they can’t keep record of their own players suspensions? How do they expect to then monitor their opponents accurately, if they don’t know what’s happening with their own players?

It is baffling that even South Africa didn’t know the format of the Caf 2012 Afcon group qualifiers, when they wrongly and embarrassingly celebrated their draw against Sierra Leone as if they had qualified. This time Bafana thought they needed to beat Ethiopia away, and Fifa’s sanction came too late.

Anyway, I believe the main flaw with the World Cup qualifying format in the African Zone is that there’s just four teams in each group. You can’t properly assess a group when there’s just six matches played in total, as first spot could be decided by just a single game. Now we see that even suspensions are qualifying teams to the next round. There should be six teams per group with 10 matches.

One might think my complaint is due to Bafana’s misfortune, as Bernard Parker’s own goal against Ethiopia decisively swung the group. No. I personally believe that Bafana Bafana are not one of the top five teams in Africa in any case. So, even if they made it to the playoffs, there are more than five teams superior to South Africa.

To illustrate what’s wrong with the system: Can you imagine if European nations were divided into about 20 groups, and then all the first placed teams faced each other in a playoff? Hypothetically, after winning all their group games, why should a top team like Spain then be punished to play a team like Portugal in a playoff? It’s not fair on either team. Clearly, the winner of proper groups should be awarded with a World Cup berth. Playoffs should only be a backdoor for a few second placed teams

Much Ado about the Olu of Warri, his Renunciation and later Recants

“Today, I renounce our allegiance to Umalokun and other gods of the sea. I also repent for the name and title of “Ogiame” that my ancestors and I have borne as it connotes our allegiance to Umalokun and other deities of the sea, all of which are false…” With these weighty words proclaimed as an edict on September 4, 2013, the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwase II, sought to unilaterally alter the constitutional framework of his throne which has endured an unbroken history stretching into nearly 500 years back.

 

According to the story, the monarch has become a ‘born-again’ Christian, a religious conversion which made him to consider all the customs and practices associated with his throne to have become incompatible with the tenets of his new-found faith.

 

What followed was a popular revolt by his subjects who demanded that he either abdicates completely or reverts immediately to the official title of “Ogiame” as prescribed by the traditions and conventions of the kingdom. The seriousness of the communal protestations was underscored by the fact that all his palace chiefs, politicians and leaders of thought, in one voice, asked him to recant the purported renunciation.

Realising that he didn’t stand any chance against his determined subjects who have drawn the proverbial “red line” subject to certain dire consequences, the monarch beat a wise and honourable retreat and recanted his earlier renunciation of the “Ogiame” title and other paraphernalia of office that he had previously termed “false” or fetish. With that positive development, peace has been restored to the kingdom as the people’s will has prevailed over that of their “born-again” monarch. In fact, there were spontaneous jubilations by the indigenes who a few days earlier were spoiling for a showdown.

 

The Itsekiri people hold their culture and tradition very dear. So, it was no surprise that men, women and masquerades came out to kick against the stance of the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse II, who, earlier refused to abide by his people’s tradition.

 

‘Ogiame’ means ‘King of the River,’ according to the history behind the Itsekiri throne.

 

The monarch, in a document titled, “The New Order of Iwere Kingdom,” said he had renounced his allegiance to the Umalokun (goddess of the sea, land and sky), as well as  the ‘Ogiame’ title with which his ancestors had pledged allegiance to Umalokun and other deities.

 

Itsekiri people have a unique way of enthroning a new ruler after the death of a reigning monarch. When an Ogiame died, his head would be cut off and kept in a dark room frequented only by the initiated.

 

These heads were arranged in order of ascension. Tradition had it that a prominent palace chief who worked closely with the late king would be detailed to lecture, exhaustively, the one that would ascend the throne on the culture and tradition of the people.

 

The Iyase would then cover the new Ogiame’s eyes with a piece of black cloth. He would take him into the secret room where skulls of late Ogiames were arranged according to the order they succeeded one another.

 

It was in this secret, dark room, never seen or stepped in by the uninitiated that the Iyase would direct the would-be monarch to stretch his right hand forward and swing it from left to right, to feel the skulls.The skulls are said to have mystic magnetic qualities that would attract the would-be Ogiame’s hand.When his hand rests on a particular skull, the Ogiame would assume that name. The Iyase, who accompanied him into the dark room, would announce the name to the public and dancing and feasting would follow immediately.The Olu of Warri went through the ancient initiation process. His right hand fell on the late Ogiame Atuwatse I, and so assumed Atuwatse II in line with tradition.

However, the monarch had rejected the name, thereby refusing to abide by the tradition of his people.

 

This led to the protest, last week. Reliable sources confirmed that the Olu of Warri claimed he received God’s inspiration to cling to his Christian faith, describing the royal stool as demonic.The women dressed in red attires, signifying danger in the kingdom and masquerades dressed in black trooped out in large numbers. They requested for his immediate removal and dismissal from the palace since the throne was for Itsekiri sons who believe in the traditional rites and culture of the people.They were angry that the Ogiame, wanted to single-handedly change the tradition and culture established many centuries ago.

 

A Palace Chief, Prince Newuwuwmi Omolubi, was reported to have spoken to some journalists on the telephone, said, “The king did not want to answer the name ‘Ogiame’ but accepted ‘Olu of Warri’.

 

“In Itsekiri custom, ‘Ogiame’ is synonymous with ‘Olu’ and there is no way the two titles can be separated.”

The Itsekiri people believe that the Olu of Warri is the custodian of the custom, tradition and culture of the people.He said, “The reason for the protest was very simple; there was an issue with the palace and the Itsekiri people. The issue was that there was a memo that the king did not want to be called ‘Ogiame’ but would want to be addressed as the ‘Olu’. So, we took to the streets to protest it since it was wrong for him to accept one and reject the other.

 

“Itsekiri people are known to have a national anthem and tampering with these two names or titles will affect that national anthem.Investigations revealed that the Ogiame rejected that name because the late Ogiame Atuwatse I was one of the wicked Olus the kingdom had ever produced.A source said that his reign was marked by terror, mysterious deaths and arrogant display of power.Sources added that the protesting masquerades were specially prepared by the monarch’s kinsmen to throw him (Atuwatse II) out of the palace to pave the way for the ascension of a new king. The Itsekiri people built the palace for him.But the controversial Ogiame escaped the mob action. On sensing the tension and mood of his kinsmen, he quickly recanted his anti-traditional, anti-cultural statements and said, “I must do all my predecessors did when they reigned”.

 

He promised his subjects that he would abide by the custom, uphold and protect the culture of the people.

 

 

These developments may indeed be limited to the Itsekiri nation but they actually have larger significations to constitutionalism as a governing process and the exercise of sovereignty in a customary setting, an important lesson that would be immensely beneficial to other communities and the larger Nigerian society.

As to be expected, the news went viral on the web and it consequently attracted considerable discussions among several social media networks. What really drew my attention were the deeply sentimental and uneducated reactions of many of the online busybody contributors. Some thought that the Olu has the right to change his religion (leaving “darkness for light”) as guaranteed under the Constitution while others argued that he does not have such a right, especially as the title “Ogiame” and the associated office are the property of the community of which he is only a custodian.

 

It must be conceded that as a matter of constitutional law, anyone, including the Olu, has the right to change and profess any religion as dictated by his conscience but it is another thing altogether when such a right is extended to the annulment of a governing order or tradition of the entire community. The monarch of any kingdom holds office in accordance with the customary constitutional law of his domain. In this case, the person of the Olu is quite different from the office he occupies, Ogiame Atuwase II, which is a ‘corporation sole’operating in perpetuity under the law. The monarchy is the property of the entire Itsekiri nation and not the private property of the Olu.

 

A monarch is free to abdicate. What is however not possible is to seek to stay in office while repudiating the ancestral sources of its legitimacy. It is like having your cake and eating it. A traditional ruler may be governing through “divine anointing” but he still requires the practical support of his subjects for that authority to be legitimate. Every political society, ancient and modern, must be governed according to established rules, conventions and principles which are technically referred to as the “constitution,” be they written or unwritten.

In fact, many monarchs have abdicated their thrones for diverse reasons, ranging from old-age to religious convictions and ideological U-turns. Some have even done so for reasons as mundane as marriages or romance that are unacceptable to the succession requirements of the particular monarchy. If the Olu loves his new religion so dearly and cherishes the awaiting heavenly kingdom than his earthly one, the proper thing would have been for him to abdicate.

 

This actually was the principal demand by his subjects, namely, that it is beyond him as an individual to decide on the continuity or otherwise of a dynasty as well as its titles and other paraphernalia of authority.

The debilitating problems of Nigeria today stem largely from the fact that, for too long, she was anarchically governed extra-constitutionally.  Regardless of the fact that we had a constitution, the tragedy has been that both military coupists and civilian undemocratic politicians have routinely violated these immutable laws meant for societal management which in turn led to the wholesale collapse of values and the institutionally debilitated social order that we suffer today. The lesson from the Warri crisis should not be lost on the nation as a whole which is that rulers must take into account the constitutional environments in which they are called upon to serve.

Leaders who came into office by way of customs and tradition and those who came in by way of democratic elections are all subject to the ultimate suzerainty of their people. That is what the Olu of Warri’s case just confirmed. A monarch has the right to quit. What is however not allowed is to hold on to the throne but unwilling to comply with the requirements of the office. Extended to the larger political realm, Nigeria is today troubled structurally and institutionally simply because those who lead the polity want to enjoy all the perquisites of office but unwilling to pay the requisite sacrifices which their positions demand, namely, accountability and service.

 

It is quite possible that as we march on with our modern republican philosophy as proclaimed by the Constitution,neo-monarchical issues like the Warri incident may eventual fade away but as at today, no one can deny that our people still have considerable attachment to their traditions of which the institution of customary rulership is a key element in the definition of their nationality; it is only proper to expect that anyone who is called upon to fill a throne must submit to the norms and conventions of his kingdom subject, however, to the constitutional repugnancy rule.

 

 

Michael Adeyemi,a medical doctor,writer,social commentator,political and public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos,Nigeria.

Buhari and 2015: The Mugabe example by ABUCHI ANUEYIAGU

Given the example of some politicians in other parts of the world and even Nigeria, if Gen Muhammadu Buhari decides to contest for the highest political office in Nigeria in 2015, there is nothing wrong with it. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees him that, no matter his age, provided he does not contravene any law of the land that would inhibit him from contesting.

 

Apart from constitutional and natural inhibitions, Buhari and of course any other Nigerian of his age and above, is free to contest for the presidency. Apart from the very recent example of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, there are other world leaders that have reached 70 years and above, and are still in active partisan politics, including running for elective positions. How old is Cameroun’s President Paul Biya and he is still running for election? How old is the Chinese President? How old is Ahmed Karzai of Afghanistan, or the deposed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt before his fall?

 

Even our own highly revered Pa 7Michael Ajasin, how old was he when he ran for a second term in office as governor of old Ondo State?  If Buhari is considered too old to run for the country’s presidency in 2015, as the fear of certain elements who feel he could win indicates, how about our Mr. Fix it Chief Tony Anenih who ran for the PDP B.O.T Chairman recently and is still holding that post to the happiness of few PDP members?

 

Is the post of PDP national chairman that the over 70 years old Alhaji Bamanga Tukur currently holding not a top position like that of President? The fear of Buhari within some political quarters in the land is the beginning of wisdom. The vocal few against Buhari’s presidency are merely trumping up and fanning all manners of blackmail such as religious bigotry, sponsorship of Boko Haram, of being Igbo-phobic, etc. And the allegations are not substantiated. For instance, to some undiscerning or uninformed Ndi Igbo, Buhari is tagged enemy number one, without their knowing that their greatest enemies are those that had been impoverishing them and pretending to be representing them. The last time the Onitsha-Enugu dual carriageway and the Enugu-Okigwe-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt dual carriage highway were in good order was when Buhari used the PTF to reconstruct them. It was Buhari’s PTF that established the Greater Oji River water scheme (a former military administrator of Enugu State, Brigadier Lucky Mike Torey is still alive and could attest to this because it happened during his tenure). The water scheme draws water from far away Oji River to Enugu metropolis, for provision of potable water to Enugu, which the present state government is now reticulating to all nooks and crannies of the Coal City, and the taps are now flowing in many parts of the city that hitherto had no pipe-borne water.

 

Have we so soon forgotten the intervention of Buhari’s PTF in the health and education sectors, when public hospitals had infrastructure improvement and were rid of the hitherto ‘out of stock’ syndrome that characterized public hospitals? Have we for instance forgotten soon in Igbo states that Buhari’s PTF reconstructed (not rehabilitated) some major urban roads, like in Enugu where I live, Edinburgh, Edozie, Obioma, Zik Avenue, etc? How can we be so easily swayed that Buhari is Igbo hater when he did all this in the southeast zone? The two dual carriageways earlier mentioned are today serious death traps where our people die daily, yet we have federal and state governments in place and our people are not talking.

 

During the era of Babangida, a construction company from Imo State was said to have been awarded the contract to reconstruct the heavily deplorable Enugu-Okigwe-Umuahia-Aba-Port Harcourt dual carriageway, but the project became abandoned after the contract fee was said to have been released. The road was left in that state till Buhari’s PTF came and reconstructed it. Before then, people traveled to Owerri, Aba and Port Harcourt from Enugu through the tortuous Enugu-Awka-Ekwuluobia-Orlu-Owerri single lane route.

 

Since 2000 till date, do you know the number of Igbo people that have died untimely on the federal roads in the southeast zone because of the terrible state? Was Buhari responsible? Yet since then, we have had PDP federal governments and even state governments which have the support of Ndi Igbo and in which Ndi Igbo served prominently as ministers, senate presidents, deputy senate presidents, deputy speakers of House of Representatives, federal special advisers, special assistants, etc? The harrowing aspect of it is that our political class, some of them holding very high public posts, are alleged to have cornered the contracts for the reconstruction of these roads and those of federal erosion controls and the monies became diverted into private use, yet Buhari is the Igbo enemy and not these people. Some of them now traverse the southeast by helicopter, while others go by very expensive SUVs that no bad road can adversely affect.

 

Buhari came and tried to sanitize our polity in 1983 but the bad eggs in our society, the parasites that are the clogs in the country’s wheel of progress, did not want him. He is accused of being a religious bigot and anti-Christianity but when he had autocratic power as military head of state he never took Nigeria to the dreaded Organization of Islamic Countries (O.I.C), rather Ibrahim Babangida who ousted him on August 27,1985 was the one who did.

 

On Boko Haram, Buhari may have forthrightly spoken his mind on the heinous sect, but my mind tells me that some of the secret prominent accomplices and promoters of the Boko Haram group may not be totally outside the circles of the northern Islamic political elites that have nothing to do with Buhari but may even be among the membership of the ruling political party because of the pursuit of their own political interests. Such characters turn around like the fox to push the Boko Haram insurgence to Buhari, just because he warned against election rigging.

 

I had sometime ago said it on this page that as onye Igbo, I would want an Igbo person to lead this country in 2015, but from the look of things, I’m yet to see the Igbo man with the liver to come out to take over from Jonathan. I have been looking forward to seeing a Patrick Utomi or a Charles Chukwuma Soludo or any other credible Igbo personality strongly running for the Presidency in 2015, but my sight seem to be failing me, as I can’t see such credible people of Igbo stock on the block, and it seems already late.  From the public utterances and body language of some Igbo politicians, they have once again conceded the Igbo right to aspire to the country’s highest political post to President Jonathan again, as they did in 2011. If you’re interested in something, you should be bold enough to go for it, but where you are being lethargic, it means you don’t know what you want. You should therefore not turn around to rub mud or throw sand on some other fellows who have the will and courage to run for the post you have already conceded for mere porridge.

 

So, let us leave Buhari alone, and if he’s the one that will provide the desired or required good governance, as I believe he can, then let it be. What I am simply saying is that Buhari has the constitutional right to run for any post in the land, just like any other good citizen, if he so desires. Most of those pointing fingers are no better than him.

 

•Abuchi Anueyiagu, Public Affairs Commentator/Veteran Journalist