Archive for September 2018

Tinubu, Ambode and politricks of godfathers

September 24, 2018

Casmir Igbokwe

It is no longer news that they are playing cat and mouse. The cat appears to be former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu. The mouse is his godson and current Governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode. As the game becomes more interesting, Lagosians get more confused. And they have been asking, what is going on?

Tinubu, also known as Asiwaju or the Jagaban, allegedly does not want Ambode to go for his second term as governor. All entreaties to him have reportedly fallen on deaf ears. Not even Ambode’s wife, Bolanle, could convince him to support her husband.

READ ALSO: Lagos 2019: It’s over for Ambode as peace efforts fail

So far, it is not clear how this game will end. Even the meeting Ambode had with President Muhammadu Buhari behind closed doors appears not to have resolved the issue. But for the Jagaban and his clan of supporters, the new pawn is Babajide Sanwo-Olu, a former commissioner in the state.

The questions are: Why does Tinubu (or his supporters) want Ambode out? Has the governor not performed well in his first term? Or did he not carry the major stakeholders along in the scheme of things in the state?

There have been different permutations and analysis on the cause of the alleged rift. Poor performance in office has not featured as one of them. The governor, from the reckoning of many Lagosians, has done relatively well. For instance, there is massive infrastructural development in the state.

Last Friday, the state government said work on the Pen Cinema Flyover in the Agege area of Lagos was at 60 percent completion stage. The government also said the 10-lane Oshodi-International Airport Road was at 50 percent completion stage and that it would be completed by the end of the year. There are reportedly over 70 major projects ongoing in the state.

The governor has his faults, no doubt. The environmental eyesore Lagos has become of recent is one of them. Whatever he has done to clean up the city has not worked. VisionScape, the new company saddled with the responsibility of evacuating refuse in Lagos, has not got it right. Consequently, Lagos is looking dirtier than before.

Also, some inner streets and roads are riddled with potholes. From Lawanson Road in Surulere to Okota Road, the story is the same. The rainy season does not help matters as the roads get worse each time rain falls. The governor had concentrated on the big projects, leaving out the smaller ones to suffer. Nevertheless, he has just directed immediate repair of potholes statewide.

There is also the issue of heavy taxation on the residents of the state. Ambode’s government, for instance, jacked up the land use charge such that the average landowner in Lagos is wondering if he made a right choice by investing in the Centre of Excellence. The governor tried to reduce the charge when landlords cried out. But to some people, even the reduced rate is still high.

The governor has also mulled the idea of jacking up the price of some state land that people had already paid for. For instance, I bought a piece of state land at Ibeju Lekki area in 2011 for about N3.5 million. It was during the administration of Raji Fashola. It is called Oko-Orisan scheme. I have paid everything and have been waiting to get my certificate of occupancy. But, recently, I was told to hold on because the state government was reassessing the scheme. According to state government officials, what we paid cannot provide the required infrastructure. So far, some of us are yet to get the C of O. Neither have we taken physical possession of our land.

However, should I, because of my selfish interests, begin to attack the governor even when his ‘sins’ are menial and do not warrant his being removed? That would be inconsiderate of me to do. And this is where I fault our politicians. If the Lagos APC leaders want Ambode out on account of bad leadership, I will support them wholeheartedly. But that is hardly why they want him out.

Forget whatever these politicians want you to hear. The so-called Conference 57, comprising the 57 council chairmen in Lagos State and the Babajide Sanwo-Olu Campaign Organisation, (BOSCO) want us to believe that they want a change of leadership in order to move the state to greater heights. Which height, if one may ask? Height of intrigues! Height of manipulations and greed!

READ ALSO: I’ll restore Lagos’ glorious days – Sanwo-Olu

BOSCO claimed there were torrents of endorsements and outpouring of love from Lagosians. It debunked the insinuation in some quarters that the support of Conference 57 and some others was for economic reasons.

But verily, verily, I say unto you, what is at play here is the self-serving inclination of many Nigerian politicians. No matter what, if Tinubu changes his mind and supports Ambode, all the Conference 57 conferees and Mandate Movement men or whatever you call them will do likewise and forget moving the state to greater height.

What is on display here is the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob. Tinubu, who is also the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), looms large in the politics of Lagos and the entire country. He alone knows the talisman he has used to have a firm control on the APC in Lagos.

This brings us to the bad influence of godfathers in Nigerian politics. The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, suffered this fate when he was the governor of Anambra State. His nemesis then was Chris Uba. In July 2003, armed policemen kidnapped Ngige and forced him at gunpoint to sign a letter of resignation. He outsmarted his godfathers and remained as governor until a Federal Court of Appeal ruled in March 2006 that his election victory was fraudulent. Peter Obi emerged and displaced him at Government House, Awka.

The amala politician, the late Lamidi Adedibu, is another typical example. Adedibu was constantly on the neck of the then governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja. At a point, Adedibu complained that Ladoja was too greedy. According to him, the governor was collecting N65 million as security vote every month. “You know that governors don’t account for security vote. He was to give me N15 million of that every month. He reneged. Later, it was reduced to N10 million. Yet, he did not give me,” Adedibu had said. On January 12, 2006, 18 lawmakers of the 32-member Oyo House of Assembly loyal to him illegally impeached Ladoja.

There are many other godfathers in different parts of the country. Their objective is usually the same: To project a candidate through whom they would continue to dominate the economic and political affairs of their states. But Nigerians can call their bluff if they choose to. The only problem is that for some them, once they see as little as N5,000, they are ready to sell their birthright.

If I were Ambode, I would do as governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has advised. Damn the godfather and move to be a man of yourself. Two things will happen. It is either you win or you lose. If you lose, it is not the end of the world. And who says you can’t mobilise and get your own supporters?

But in case everything fails, don’t worry, dear governor. I am available to give you free tutorials on how to survive a life of retirement.

READ ALSO: 2019: Resist your godfather, Wike tells Ambode

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Re: Nigeria’s presidential warfare and politics of endorsements

Dear Casmir, you are Nostradamus of Nigeria. The man that saw today. Kudos to you for this article. You are damn right. Buhari has proved you right. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. Buhari has made Nigerians wiser. All that glitters is not gold. Once beaten, twice shy.

– Dr. Goddy Okeke, +2348185580605

My brother, Cas, thanks for a beautiful piece in The Sun today. Your write-up is nothing but the truth about Buhari. What you did not say about him is more than the ones you said. Nobody can contradict you here. What pains me is how some power drunks hero-worship Buhari and Hausa/Fulani oligarchy. As a fact, Buhari is a religious bigot, tribalist, clannish and first class hater of Igbo. Besides, he is illiterate and unintelligent.

– Anonymous, +2348030762730

Biko, God and Amadioha and other deities in Alaigbo will never allow Buhari to come back as Nigerian president next year. He is a sadist, he believes in the use of brute force to murder Christians and non-Hausa/Fulani people. In short, it is a shame that he is the President of Nigeria today.

– Ojoh Okafor, Esq. +2348055217580

 

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Wrong Time To Die

September 10, 2018

Casmir Igbokwe

First Bank sent me a miraculous credit alert penultimate Wednesday. It was N200,000. The value of the money may not be much. But in today’s Nigeria, every kobo counts. Incidentally, I do not know the sender, Gimbiya Benjamin. And so, I felt it would be premature to start singing Abraham’s blessings are mine.

Some friends advised that I rush immediately to withdraw the money. They said it was God’s miracle seeing that it’s a period of heavy expenditure for me, especially school fees and burial of my mother-in-law. I wanted to believe it, claim it, and receive it as they chant in prayer ministries. But first, I needed to confirm the miracle as I do not take what does not belong to me.

Last Monday morning, I was on my way to the bank when I got another alert. This time, it was a debit of the same N200, 000. And the message was straightforward: wrong posting as advised by Gimbiya Benjamin.

That word ‘wrong’ reminded me of similar ‘wrongs’ in my life of recent. A few days back, my daughter overheard me lamenting that my mother-in-law died at a wrong time. “Is there really a wrong time for someone to die?” She asked. “You will not understand, my daughter,” was all I could say.

Or is 60 years a right time for one to die? That was the age Mrs Philomena Ijeoma Muogbo, who hailed from Isuofia in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, departed this world. The painful aspect of it was that there was no advanced warning. She was not that sick. She only had waist pain which resulted from the little accident she had about two years ago. This affected her gait. We brought her to Lagos last year and got a physiotherapist to treat her. She later felt better and started moving about again.

However, in the morning of Tuesday, July 17, 2018, she spoke with her daughter and my wife, Ifeoma, on phone. Her voice was clear and strong. She said she was going to the hospital for check-up as she was feeling somehow. In the afternoon of that same day, my wife called again. She was told that mama’s blood pressure was low but that she was responding to treatment. Ironically, it was high blood pressure she had been suffering from. In the evening of that same day, a call came that she had passed on.

READ ALSO: How to control high blood pressure with coconut water

I am not superstitious. Otherwise, I would have suspected something about this death and the figure ‘three’. Three years ago, my biological mother died three days after my birthday. My own father died three years before, that is, in 2012. And now, my mother-in-law has gone to join them, three years after my mother’s death.

Ijeoma Muogbo, nee Okeke-Akpunonu, was a mother like no other. Each time I visited home, I was sure of eating sumptuous local delicacies like ‘ukwa’, washed down with my favourite beer. I would go back to Lagos with some local food items and snacks. Now, I will be at the mercy of local restaurants whenever I visit home.

Very accommodating and kind hearted, Ijeoma trained and nurtured many indigent children. Two of such children currently live in her house. She was always ready to counsel people who consulted her for one thing or the other. To these people, it is wrong time for her to die!

Besides, the harsh economic situation in the country today makes it a wrong period for one to die. Burial ceremonies in Igbo land attract a lot of expenditure. Many families struggle to do this because if you don’t, it will look as if the current hardship is only resident in your house.

That is why some towns and groups have tried to cut down on burial expenditure. The Catholic Diocese of Awka, for instance, has banned printing of brochure for burials. And once someone dies, you have maximum of two months to bury the person. Some dioceses have even shortened the period to two weeks. I understand that plans are at an advanced stage to also ban indiscriminate use of mourning clothes (aso ebi) in Awka Diocese. When the law is passed, the clothes will only be for the immediate family members of the deceased.

READ ALSO: Anambra Govt to assess flood prone areas in Awka, 2 others

Muslims appear to understand this concept of death better than Christians. Once a Muslim dies, his relatives bury him immediately because they know that life is vanity.

Thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari, many Nigerians now pinch their pennies. Although some privileged few still squander money during burials as if it is too easy to come by, the majority of the people are going through hell. Even some of the people you think have the money may only just be managing to survive.

A few days ago, one of my readers wrote: “Uncle Casmir, please I need your help to start up a small business so that I will be able to take care of myself and as well go back to school. Uncle, I’m so sorry to disturb you with my problems but nothing is too small and I promise you that your help towards me will never be a waste. I’m so frustrated that I don’t know what else to do. I’m one of your fans in Sun newspaper. Please rescue me…”

Life can be so cruel. Some have billions of dollars to spend as they like; some others don’t even have just N100 to eat. Today, life is sweet; tomorrow, it is bitter. Today, you are full of life, making plans on how to buy a limousine. Tomorrow, you are a food for maggots.

I have come to realise that the most important thing in life is to serve humanity and to find happiness and fulfilment in what you do. The ultimate happiness is when you leave this earth in peace and also have peace wherever your soul finds itself.

Mrs Ijeoma Muogbo died peacefully. She may be happier where she is now. But for those she left behind, the death is painful. It came too early and unannounced. Her husband, Prince Ben Muogbo, is still crying. Her children and siblings have cried their eyes out. But we cannot question God. As we commit her to mother earth this Thursday, September 13, 2018, I can only say, may her soul continue to rest in peace!

READ ALSO: My mum didn’t have a life because of my siblings and I – Gbemisola Ope

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Re: Saraki, Tinubu and Buhari’s 800-metre relay

Nigerians are not naive, they are wise and intelligent. Buhari’s 800-metre walk is not news. Any person can do that as exercise. The truth is that our president is sick and it is affecting the masses. If it were to be an advanced country, the president would resign to take care of himself. Leave Saraki alone; the sin of Saraki and others is that they left APC and PDP to other political parties. Let us face the realities and stop chasing shadows.

• Bishop Uzoma Emmanuel, Owerri (mouth of Nigeria), 08037748145

Igbokwe, it is God that gives men their daily bread not man. Man is only a channel while God is the source. For now, power rotation is the name of the game in place. This is why APC and PDP zoned their presidential candidate slot to the north so as to complete their 8 years mandate/gentleman’s agreement. Merit was jettisoned after June 12 election due to lack of trust of the northern military/civilian oligarchy. In the course of time, the merit system would find its way back when enough trust would have been built.

• Mike, Mushin Lagos, +2348161114572

‘Buhari and quest for president of Igbo extraction’: Your people are the main problem of your inability to produce a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. Other issues are secondary. The cult-like and religious cohesion entrenched in Yoruba and Hausa politics is not known in Igboland. Rather your people destroy good materials like Orji Uzor Kalu who wears a nationalistic outlook like Zik, saturate the system with many aspirants, speak with discordant voices and allow all manner of parties into your system. Imagine APC, PDP, and APGA all there for what! Blame not Buhari and what happens, first look inward for solution.

Imagine an NBA election for presido magnanimously zoned to east and two Igbo candidates, Arthur Okafor and Ernest Ojukwu, were seen sharing votes meant for one thereby making a relatively unknown Paul Usoro who’s even a minority to zoom home. Nigeria is a peculiar country. We must apply peculiar methods in doing things. I’m non-partisan and detribalised in my views and deeds. Justice is what matters to me. You can’t believe that I am Akwa Ibom, yet I champion the Igbo cause whose political growth is also stagnated by your very people. The presidency must go round. An Akwa Ibomite now leads NBA because the Igbo votes were shared.

• Edet Essien esq, +2348037952470

It is nice write-up. Our orientation must change for better Nigeria.

• Gordon Chika Nnorom, +2348062887535

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 10, 2018.

2019 presidential contenders and pretenders

September 3, 2018

Casmir Igbokwe

The tempo of political activities has heightened. More political parties have joined the fray. More intrigues have come to play. More importantly, sundry presidential aspirants have emerged. It is all in preparation for the 2019 general election.

READ ALSO: PDP and its presidential aspirants

President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the aspirants. He belongs to the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). Being the incumbent President, he will likely not have any challenger.

One thing he has going for him is the power of incumbency. Many politicians will want to identify with him mainly for self-preservation. Currently, there are hundreds of groups that champion his bid for re-election.

The security agencies are also at his beck and call. As the commander-in-chief, he can decide where and how to deploy them. If he decides to rig election, these security agencies will come handy. But we pray it does not get to that level.

Also going for Buhari is his cult followership in the North, especially North-West. Kano and Katsina are his strongholds. And these are the states that turn in massive votes in any election, it does not matter whether some of the votes are genuine or not.

Buhari will also garner many votes in the South-West, which is largely controlled by the APC. But that does not mean that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a pushover in the region. The main opposition party may pull some surprises in the zone, all things being equal.

However, it will not be easy for the President in the other parts of the country. Many people in North-Central states such as Benue and Plateau are not happy with the ruling party. They have suffered and continue to suffer untold hardship from killings by herdsmen.

In the South-East, the APC is flying the 2023 kite to woo the Igbo. The permutation is that only Buhari’s second term will guarantee a President of Igbo extraction in 2023. Though the party has won some converts because of this, it has a Herculean task winning in the South-East. Many Igbo believe Buhari hates them.

Many others are disillusioned. Under Buhari, the level of hardship in the country has risen. Many people have lost their jobs. Currently, Nigeria occupies the unenviable position as the nation harbouring the poorest people in the world. Corruption has also worsened as attested to by Transparency International. The spate of insecurity and division in the country is worrisome. The future appears bleak and uncertain.

These notwithstanding, Buhari may still win. But that will be with a lot of struggle. It will also depend on who the main opposition party, PDP, fields as its candidate in a few weeks’ time.

Top on the list of the PDP contenders is former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The man has been mobilising and seeking support across the country. He is a successful businessman with a lot of investments in Nigeria. He is de-tribalised and cosmopolitan and has the ability to give Buhari a great challenge in the election.

READ ALSO: Atiku weeps as supporters present him PDP nomination form

His opponents say he is old. But at 72, the man is still physically and mentally alert.

Besides, leadership is not about how old or strong or educated one is. It is competence that counts. After all, the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, ruled from a wheelchair. His presidency spanned most of World War II and the Great Depression. And he was the only US President to run four terms in office.

But one strange stigma against Atiku is corruption. Incidentally, the man has never been a governor or a President. He even fell out with his boss, ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, who has not forgiven him up until today.

The questions are: Who is a saint among Nigerian politicians? And how competent are those saints? The ones we thought were saints have disappointed us. So, this country needs more than sainthood to move forward.

As a tested businessman who understands the intricacies of wealth creation, Atiku appears well equipped to transform this country, if given the opportunity. He has even promised to do one term, thereby dousing the fear of the Igbo that the emergence of another President outside the incumbent would delay their quest for the presidency in 2023.

One major individual Atiku will contend with in the PDP is Senate President Bukola Saraki. He is an astute politician who can be described as a cat with nine lives. The ruling party never wanted him to be Senate President. But he outwitted them. Recently, security agents blocked his residential gate apparently to prevent the gale of defections that hit the ruling party from members of the National Assembly. Again, he outfoxed them and supervised the defection of some of his colleagues to the PDP.

The powers that be have also tarred him with a corruption brush. And I ask again, who is a saint among Nigerian politicians? Saraki has been two-term governor of Kwara State. So, he has enough experience to be the President of Nigeria.

However, Saraki’s major influence is in Kwara State. To beat a candidate like Buhari in the North will not be easy for him. He needs to work seriously on this.

Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, is another candidate to watch. I am not too sure of what he has been able to do in his state. But give him one thing – he knows how to manage politicians. As a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, he was able to galvanise and keep the House in order. When the APC national leader, Bola Tinubu, accused him recently of dumping the ruling party for the PDP because he was denied automatic ticket, Tambuwal boasted that he had the wherewithal to beat Buhari. Well, he needs to scale the PDP hurdle first. He reportedly enjoys the backing of the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike. But how that will help his ambition remains to be seen.

Former Kano State governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, is another heavyweight who may pull some surprises. Last Wednesday, when he declared to run for the presidency, the powers that be denied him the use of the Eagle Square in Abuja, which he paid for. But he mobilised his supporters to another venue and the turnout was massive.

However, Kwankwaso has Buhari to contend with, if he wins the PDP ticket. Though he is still popular in Kano, he will need to climb some mountains with the current Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje. To soften the ground for him, he reportedly asked the PDP to zone the presidency to the North-West. His reason is that the rival APC’s candidate is also from the North-West. This, however, may not fly for the PDP.

Sule Lamido is also in the race. As the former governor of Jigawa State, he may garner some votes from the state and from Kano. But I suspect that it is the much he can get. His worldview revolves around the North. Nearly every high point of his life has been in Kano or Jigawa. The PDP needs a strong candidate who can beat Buhari. I don’t see Lamido doing that.

I don’t also see Gombe State governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, doing that. No doubt, he is a great candidate. As an incumbent governor, he can mobilise resources to battle his opponents. But ruling Nigeria is not governing Gombe State. He still has some years ahead of him. So, he should consider going to the Senate instead.

Former governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi, has a bright chance. He was once the caretaker chairman of the PDP and could pull some strings within the party to beat his opponents. He made reference to this recently when he boasted that he did not need money to defeat Atiku and other aspirants in the PDP. Well, the primary is a few weeks away. Let’s see what happens.

Let us also see how it goes with Kabiru Turaki and Attahiru Bafarawa. Turaki is a former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs. Some media reports indicate that former President Ibrahim Babangida is backing him. But winning the PDP ticket goes beyond that. He is a good candidate, no doubt, but he doesn’t have the structure to beat Buhari in the North.

Neither does Bafarawa nor Jonah Jang. These are also-rans. Someone joked the other day that when Jang declared his intention last week, even his supporters were not that cheerful and ecstatic. Instead of hailing the man and making some ululation in his support, some of his supporters looked unconcerned.

There are many other also-rans especially outside the PDP. Rev. Chris Okotie is one of them. He has become a perennial presidential aspirant. Some others are former Central Bank of Nigeria deputy governor, Prof. Kingsley Moghalu; motivational speaker, Fela Durotoye; and some women, among whom are Prof. Oluremi Sonaiya and Prof. Olufumilayo Adesanya-Davies.

READ ALSO: 2019: Okotie’s charter for an interim government

These are great candidates any day. But I don’t see them going far. It would have been better if Durotoye, for instance, started with his state as a governor. Many United States ex-Presidents such as Bill Clinton and Franklin Roosevelt started like that.

In all, what Nigeria needs now is a leader with capacity. Age has nothing to do with it. Academic intelligence has nothing to do with it. Physical strength has nothing to do with it.

To pull Nigeria out of the woods, its President must have the mental ability of a Lee Kuan Yew and the business acumen of a Dangote.

The highly anticipated 2019 will soon be here. The arena is becoming more exciting. Who will you vote for?

  • First published in the Daily Sun of Monday, September 3, 2018.