Archive for February 2019

This presidential election is a sham

February 27, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

The scene was pathetic. It appeared well choreographed. People had turned out in their numbers to vote. Suddenly, some thugs surfaced. They threatened voters to leave or get killed. Some concerned voters made some calls. Pronto, heavily armed policemen landed. They were in up to five vans. The thugs melted away. Concerned voters begged the police to stay. But they said there was no cause for alarm and left.

Then, about 1pm, the worst happened. The thugs regrouped. They moved from one polling unit to the other, throwing bottles, pulling down canopies and burning ballot boxes. People ran helter-skelter. They looked for the security agents. But they were nowhere near the vicinity. Having achieved their aim of stopping the voting process, the hoodlums left. But one of them was unlucky. Angry mob caught him. They almost lynched him. But that was when the police surfaced and took him away. The mob set his motorcycle ablaze.

The above scenario happened at Ago Palace Way, Okota, Lagos. By that singular act, thousands of eligible voters became disenfranchised. They showed their anger by shouting, “We want to vote, we want to vote! PDP! PDP! PDP!”

In some other areas of Lagos such as Surulere and Ajao Estate, a similar scene was reported. These areas, especially Okota, are dominated by the Igbo. Perhaps, the fear of those who took this ungodly action was that the Igbo would vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Last week, the national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, had begged the Igbo to vote for the APC. According to him, the APC government in Lagos does not discriminate against the Igbo in the state; and Lagos is where the Igbo conduct their business.

“Your children are in our schools. We don’t discriminate against them in our WAEC fees. We don’t discriminate against them in our NECO fees. We don’t discriminate against them in JAMB fees. Even in our universities, they take the benefit of our tuition and allowances and all that,” Tinubu added. He concluded by saying “we will know how many votes we will get from Ojo, Alaba, Surulere, Amuwo-Odofin, Ajeromi-Iferodun, including Oshodi.”

The questions are, why must we make this election an ethnic thing? Why identify some areas in Lagos and say you want to see how they will vote? And who really sponsored the thugs who disrupted the election?

In some other parts of Nigeria, there were pockets of violence, killings, and snatching of ballot boxes. In Rivers, Anambra, and even Delta, some citizens paid with their lives.

My heart bleeds for Nigeria. I thought we had done away with this type of violence during elections. I thought that by now, having attained 20 years of democracy, we would have mastered the art of free and fair elections. But the events of last Saturday have proved once again that we don’t learn from history.

I remember in the Second Republic, politicians formed and armed thugs to fight their political battles. In old Anambra State, for instance, former governor Jim Nwobodo had the Jim Vanguard, while Ikemba Nnewi, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, had his Ikemba Front. These two groups were always fighting and seeking political supremacy over the other.

Is this what Nigeria wants to return to? To disenfranchise one eligible voter from casting his vote is bad enough. To now disenfranchise thousands of people simply because of the fear of their voting for a candidate considered to be in a rival party is evil. And the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must do everything possible to redress this anomaly.

Good enough, INEC said it would conduct another election in some of the wards where violence held sway, especially in Lagos, Anambra and Rivers States. But we must be on guard. The Coalition of Political Parties (CUPP) had actually raised the alarm that the ruling party wanted to cause confusion that would engender staggered elections in some states. Like what happened in the Osun State governorship election last year, the rerun, it is feared, will be conducted in such a way that security agencies will be used to intimidate voters and swing victory to the ruling party.

The behaviour of the security agencies in the Okota debacle tends to give credence to this fear. Or how do you explain the fact that they quickly appeared in the morning when the signal was first sent to them about the invasion of thugs and then disappeared when the real trouble started. They left only two unarmed policemen, for instance, at the Baba Ewe polling unit. And these men couldn’t do anything when the chips were down.

As at press time, no clear winner has emerged from the presidential election. But irrespective of who wins, the process is seriously flawed. Never mind that there were upsets as early results have shown. For instance, the APC governorship candidate in Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, reportedly lost in his polling unit. Similarly, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and even Atiku Abubakar reportedly lost in their units also. In the Aso Rock unit, President Muhammadu Buhari reportedly lost to Atiku.

These notwithstanding, there is every need for Nigeria to seriously look into its electoral system. And I believe that the President of the country has the capacity to initiate that. We almost achieved that when Goodluck Jonathan was in power. He lost the 2015 election and surrendered peacefully to Buhari. Rather than improve on this, we started retrogressing again. The moment people realise that their votes won’t count, they will lose interest. And we will go back to the era of voter apathy.

The international community must step in to help Nigeria. There is no sitting on the fence because what happens to Nigeria will have a spiral effect on the entire African continent. The United States intervened in Venezuela, where the incumbent President Nicolas Maduro manipulated the electoral system to return to power. The US and more than 50 other countries have recognised the opposition candidate, Juan Guaido, as the country’s rightful President.

We must guard against the Venezuela experience. The only way we can do this is for INEC to identify the areas where election did not hold or where it was seriously flawed and conduct a fresh election. Security in those areas must be adequate and impartial. We can’t continue to give the impression that we can’t handle our affairs as a nation. The whole thing is sickening!

Re: INEC mess and shame of a nation

Good day Casmir! I appreciate your article of last Monday and was happy that you admitted that it is not easy to conduct elections in Nigeria. My problem with the shift was why did INEC chairman wait till a few hours to the election before making it public? Could he claim that he didn’t know that they were having logistics problems much earlier than 2am Saturday when he made it public? The problem with most public office holders in Nigeria is that they tend to treat the masses with disdain and disregard. The postponement caused a lot of irreparable and irreversible losses to a lot of people and families.

– Godgift Collins,  godgiftcollins5@gmail.com

Dear Igbokwe, without mincing words, you goofed with your caption, having outlined some of the critical areas enmeshed with problem. Think of the killings in Kaduna, the burning of INEC offices in Anambra, Abia and Plateau states, the unsteady atmosphere in Zamfara, the threats to life in Rivers and so many issues raised, INEC chairman needs to be highly commended for at least saving those lives who could have died on election day, for a week. We all should know Nigeria as a nation is very complex with its people equally complex and hard to please. INEC chairman, I commend you, pray for you to succeed in this onerous task assigned to you, make name for yourself and family by being non-partisan and maintaining neutrality.

– Pastor Livy Onyenegecha, Ibeku Okwuato, Mbaise, Imo State, livy.onyenegecha@gmail.com .

Bros, good day, please use your medium to inform APC chairman who is accusing PDP that INEC is colluding with them to postpone election to desist. Inform him that time will catch up with him. Thumb-printed ballot papers in some states in favour of APC, who does that? Kogi governor seen thumb printing, how far? These are the factors that forced INEC to shift it, not PDP. Let it be in December, APC has gone forever.

– Anonymous, +2348058581713

First published in The Sun of Monday, February 25, 2019.

Advertisements

INEC mess and shame of a nation

February 18, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

I took the prediction of T.B. Joshua and Temitope Aduroja with a pinch of salt. These prophets had predicted that there would be postponement of Nigeria’s presidential election. I also doubted it when news filtered in a few hours to the presidential and National Assembly elections that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was contemplating rescheduling the polls. But to the chagrin and shock of many Nigerians, INEC did indeed postpone the elections.

INEC chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, attributed the shift to logistics and operational problems. Preparations for these elections had started some years back. A few days to the polls, Prof. Yakubu had boasted that they were ready. There was no inkling that things would turn out the way they did.

But as the cliché goes, man proposes, God disposes. INEC materials in some states like Abia, Anambra and Plateau suddenly caught fire a few days to the election. The commission battled with replacing those materials. On the eve of the polls, some states like Taraba complained of not receiving essential materials. Special Assistant to the Taraba State Governor on Media, Bala Dan Abu, lamented about this situation in one of his Facebook postings. Then, in the early morning of Saturday, February 16, 2019, the hammer came. Presidential and National Assembly elections, INEC announced, would now hold on Saturday, February 23, 2019, while the governorship and state House of Assembly elections would hold March 9, 2019.

Many Nigerians did not find this funny. They protested. Some people had scheduled burials, weddings and some other activities on February 23. They had hoped that election would hold a week before as earlier scheduled. But now, they are confused. They will have to start sending text messages to guests to reschedule their events.

Some others had spent their hard-earned money to travel for the election. With this postponement, they will have to painfully decide whether to stay back for one week or return to their bases. Foreign observers will have to consider whether to return to their countries and come back in a week’s time or stay back in the country with the extra cost in hotel accommodation and feeding.

Rather than become sober at our inability to conduct a simple election, we typically began throwing tantrums and trading blame. President Muhammadu Buhari said he was disappointed in INEC. The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party  (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, said the postponement was the hand of Esau and the voice of Jacob.

A certain youth group belonging to the All Progressives Congress said it was Senate President, Bukola Saraki, who caused the problem. The Senate under Saraki, the group claimed, did not approve the budget of INEC on time. The PDP and the opposition groups claimed it was the ruling party that masterminded the shift. The Coalition of United Political Parties further alleged that the intention of the powers that be was to have scattered elections in the country. The idea was to rig the poll just like what happened in the Osun governorship election last year. The PDP had won the election only for INEC to declare it inconclusive. There was a rerun in some wards, which was suspected to have been massively rigged. At the end, the PDP lost to the APC.

The cacophony of voices giving reasons behind the presidential election shift was in itself embarrassing. The international community would be wondering, what is wrong with this black nation? President Donald Trump of the United States would likely be having a good laugh. With his mouth mischievously twisted, he might have concluded, “What a cantankerous nation with a lifeless President!”

The questions are, why are we so confused as a nation? Why do we find it difficult to organise anything, including a simple election? Why do we kill ourselves over nothing? And why is our politics a do-or-die affair?

The answer is blowing in the wind. But part of the problem is that there is too much money in government. Some of the richest people in Nigeria are political office-holders. That is why people kill to win elections. We should make public office more attractive to people who want to serve and less attractive to money-grabbing politicians.                

This is where restructuring of the country comes in. There is too much concentration of power at the centre. Nigeria’s President, for instance, is about the most powerful in the world. His word is law. He can do and undo. Just look at what has happened to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen. Without recourse to the rule of law, the President suspended the man, citing an order from the Code of Conduct Tribunal. If this could happen to the leader of the third arm of government that is supposed to be independent, then anything can happen.

Different courts have also ruled that the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, be released from detention. That order has not been carried out. And nothing has happened.

We pretend that all is well, yet the nation is seriously sinking. On the eve of this postponed election, the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, came to announce without shame that 66 of his subjects had been massacred. Why did he have to make this announcement? Was his intention to scare away some voters from coming out to vote? He alone can answer this question.

Honestly, I wanted to be hard on INEC. I wanted to join those who say the commission’s chairman should resign. But, on deeper reflection, I sympathised with the commission; I pity the chairman. Superintending over a general election in Nigeria is not a tea party. There are different interests all wanting to outmanoeuvre one another. Each of the groups fabricates lies and throws them down the throats of gullible Nigerians.

In the meantime, INEC should remain focused and steadfast. Nigerians should give the commission the benefit of the doubt. It is better to conduct free, fair and credible election than rush the process when there are glaring lapses. We cannot afford the danger of rigging and returning an unpopular candidate to power. Eternal vigilance should be the watchword.

Re: Presidential election: Choosing between Atiku and Buhari

Casmir, good analysis, sound summation!  Although a winner of the presidential election may not have emerged by next edition of your column on February 18, may I know if some of your readers have threatened to leave Nigeria on exile, than have Buhari (or the cabal), remain as president for the next four years. I know a dude who threatened to leave Nigeria on exile if Gen. Sani Abacha was not elected life president in 1994. The skunk is still somewhere in Sao Tome and Principe, from where he services oil blocks in South-South of Nigeria. That’s Naija for you.

– Dr. Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, +2348085914645

The truth stands erect. There is no doubt that Waziri Adamawa presents a better option. If Nigerians fail to choose him, we will all suffer it together. For Mrs. Buhari to openly complain of the cabal shows that all is not well with the present leadership.

– Okoli Hyacinth, okolihyman@gmail.com

I read your seemingly biased and jaundiced analysis in the Daily Sun newspaper of today, awarding victory to Atiku. I totally disagree with all the premises on which you based your conclusion. In the first instance, while you dwelt too much on Buhari’s obvious flaws and failings, you did not mention the good sides, infrastructural transformation, loot recovery, etc. Again, to sell Atiku perhaps to your gullible readers, you presented him as if he is the grey horn in this race without mentioning how he was part of the mess created. Also, I disagree with your geopolitical analysis of how the two candidates will fare. While you conceded that Buhari has an edge in the NW, SW, you never admitted that he would equally have an edge in the NC and NW. Perhaps, you chose to be blind to the realities in these zones. Thus, while I consider the fact Atiku might win in Benue and perhaps Plateau, due to the issue of herdsmen, Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Nassarawa can’t be won by Atiku. Quote me. In the SS and SE, because of fake of restructuring, he may have an edge here. However, he should be winning Imo in the SE and Akwa Ibom and Edo in the SS. My verdict overall is that the odds are staked against your candidate. He is being bankrolled by people who in saner jurisdictions should not be alive. I admit that Buhari may not be the best but, between him and Atiku, there is no basis for comparison. It is like comparing light and darkness. If you to disapprove this, February 16 is here.

– Semiu Niyi, asbash72@yahoo.com

As presidential election has come and gone over the weekend and electorate did their voting, let the will of God be done to give us leaders that know their onions in good governance so Nigeria can move forward. The winner of the presidential election should take the victory as the will of God and carry along the losers to build a better Nigeria rather than winner-takes-it-all syndrome.

– Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia,+2348062887535

Bro, your write-up in the Daily Sun Monday, February 11, 2019, edition is incisive, truthful. Keep it up.

–   I.E. Uchibeke, Ekpeyeland, Rivers State, +2348060873451

  • First published in The Sun of Monday, February 18, 2019

Presidential Election: Choosing Between Atiku And Buhari

February 16, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

Witches and Wizards Association predicted victory for Atiku Abubakar. Nigerian prostitutes also made him their preferred choice. The prostitutes capped it with a declaration of free sex in support of their candidate. Some retired generals and herdsmen, on their part, endorsed Muhammadu Buhari. These queer groups spiced up the gale of endorsements for the two major candidates in the much-awaited Nigerian presidential election, which is five days away.

No doubt, the race is between President Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Every other contender is a pretender and can rightly be described as an also-ran.

Oby Ezekwesili is a typical example. A very good candidate, no doubt, but Mrs. Ezekwesili was in the ‘wrong’ party and from the ‘wrong’ zone. The majority of Nigerians will not even remember the name of her party on election day. The dominant parties, as far as current Nigerian politics is concerned, are the APC and the PDP.

Besides, from Nigeria’s unwritten zonal arrangement, the presidency cannot go to the South-East for now. The North will have to complete its two terms. Ezekwesili has since withdrawn from the race as her party has professed support for Buhari.

There are other good candidates like Kingsley Moghalu and Fela Durotoye. But the reality in Nigeria today is that they will not win. They do not even have any solid structure to beat an incumbent like Buhari. Such people could win tomorrow, if we change our political orientation; if we stop placing ethnicity and money first in our political calculations. Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has started the move by expressing support for Moghalu. Let us hope his revolution catches on fast. For now, Ezekwesili, Moghalu and Durotoye should first try out the governorship contest in their states. That will give them enough experience to launch onto the national stage.

On Saturday, February 16, 2019, Nigerians have to make a choice between two candidates. These two individuals with the support of their parties have been traversing the length and breadth of Nigeria canvassing for votes. The campaigns have been intensive, interesting and sometimes dramatic.

President Buhari, for instance, has stumbled and fumbled in some instances. He almost fell down in Kogi but was quickly rescued by aides. In Delta State, he introduced the APC governorship candidate as the presidential, senatorial and governorship candidate at the same time. In Cross River State, he first raised the hand of Ndoma Egba as the governorship candidate before he was corrected to raise the hand of the right candidate. In Ekiti State, he said he came to power in 2005.

What these and many other gaffes show is that age is dealing with the President. Officially, he is said to be 76 years. He could very well be up to 80 years. Whatever the age, the point is that he is no more alert mentally and physically. He needs to go home and rest. But those who are benefitting from him do not want him to do so.

They have presented him as a saint. Thank God for these past four years. He has shown his capacity and how ‘saintly’ he is. Under his watch, Nigeria’s fight against corruption has at best been tepid and selective. As election nears, the cabal controlling affairs at the Villa tried to give the impression that they are serious about fighting corruption. They claimed to have pressed charges against the former director of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke, for fraud. On the day of arraignment, Ayo was nowhere to be found. He was reported to have left the country with his wife.

The question is, how did he escape from the country without detection by security agents? Or have they forgiven his sins like many other rogues in APC. Recall that the national chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, said at a rally recently that whoever joined the APC would have his sins forgiven.

In the area of security, Buhari has also failed. Boko Haram has become more daring to the extent of killing and chasing away soldiers from their barracks. Herdsmen also increased the tempo of their murderous tendencies. Surprisingly, their killings appear to have subsided now that we are in the election period. Who knows what will happen after the elections. In Zamfara, Taraba and many other parts of the country, there are killings of different hues.

Buhari’s presidency has also failed Nigerians economically. There is astronomical rise in the rate of unemployment. Many companies have been forced to shut down. Depression and suicide rates have increased. And to cap it all, Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world. The worst is that you don’t see any serious efforts to remedy the situation. All the noises about Tradermoni and school feeding programme are nothing but a loud fart. Giving N10,000 to traders will not solve any problem.

On his part, Buhari’s main challenger, Atiku, also has some baggage surrounding him. Like the President, age is not also on his side. At 72, he too should have been thinking of retirement.

But unlike Buhari, he is still alert mentally and physically. When you compare his performance and that of Buhari at the recently held TV show tagged, “The Candidates,” you would conclude that he would do better than the incumbent. While Buhari was forgetful, dull and inarticulate, Atiku showed good presence of mind and was witty and articulate.

One major blot against the former vice-president’s ambition is corruption. He reportedly enriched himself while in government. The United States Government allegedly barred him from entering the country on account of this perceived corruption. The story changed when he recently visited the US. His opponents have been fishing for different reasons to downplay the visit. Some government agents announced that they would arrest and prosecute him on his return. So far, that has not happened.

The truth is that Atiku is a successful businessman and a better presidential candidate than Buhari. He has the capacity to rescue this country. He is cosmopolitan and has friends across the six geo-political zones of Nigeria. He has also shown, in his dealings with Nigerians, that he will not be a sectional president who will favour only people of his ethnic stock in major security and political appointments. Such is the man Nigeria needs at this critical time to unite her various ethnic groups.

It is not surprising that the main umbrella bodies of major ethnic groups in the country have endorsed him. From Ohanaeze Ndigbo to Afenifere, from Middle Belt Forum to Northern Elders Forum, the verdict is the same. They want Atiku.

The Economist of London has predicted his victory. Williams and Associates, the US-based polling firm that predicted Buhari’s victory in 2015, has also predicted that Atiku will win. In 2015, Buhari contested against a southerner seen to be weak and ineffective. He garnered the majority votes in the North. Today, the situation has changed. He is contesting against a fellow Fulani and he has lost much of the goodwill he had in 2015.

His major strength is in the North-West, especially Kano and Katsina. But even in these two states, anything can happen. If citizens of Niger Republic do not infiltrate our borders to vote, Buhari may not have it easy. Remember that a former governor of Kano, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, is now in the PDP. He has his own die-hard followers and can pull significant number of voters to the side of the PDP.

The North-East is where Atiku comes from. He will share votes in this zone with Buhari. It could be 50-50. North-Central may go for the PDP, going by the trauma the zone has gone through in the hands of herdsmen.

South-East and South-South are traditional PDP zones and will likely vote massively for Atiku. The emergence of Mr. Peter Obi as the PDP vice-presidential candidate is also a factor that will pull the votes for the PDP. Obi is another successful businessman and has shown that he has the capacity to join hands with the President to turn things around for the better.

The South-West is largely for APC because of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Bola Tinubu factor. This does not mean that Atiku will not garner a significant number of votes from this zone. In fact, the PDP may spring surprises in this zone, judging from what happened in the governorship election in Osun State last year. The PDP led in that election, until the Independent National Electoral Commission declared the election inconclusive and called for a rerun in some wards. That rerun was allegedly manipulated in favour of the ruling party.

Already, the APC has started showing some desperation in this general election. Or why the hasty and illegal suspension of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, by President Buhari for alleged false declaration of assets? Could it be true that they are afraid the man may not do their bidding when it comes to adjudicating election petitions? And why is Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State threatening foreigners with death if they intervene in Nigeria’s election?

Be that as it may, it is going to be an interesting contest. We have seen what Buhari can do. Now, we need to see what Atiku can do. If at the end of the day he also fails, Nigerians will not hesitate to show him the exit door.

  • First published in The Sun of Monday, February 11, 2019.

Tinubu’s cat and Ambode’s mouse game in Lagos

February 6, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

Bola Tinubu and Akinwunmi Ambode are playing hide-and-seek with Lagosians. In spite of pretensions to the contrary, there appears to be no love lost between the camps of the two men. And the situation is affecting governance in Lagos.

Last week, members of the Lagos State House of Assembly threatened to impeach Governor Ambode. They accused him of some infractions in the 2018 budget. The governor, the House added, had started spending from the 2019 budget estimates without the appropriation bill being first laid before the House. They summoned him to come and clear himself within one week or face the music.

Ambode has defied this order. He had dispatched the 2019 budget proposal to the Assembly through his aides in December 2018. The lawmakers were furious that he did not bring the budget to the House himself. Under normal circumstances, there wouldn’t have been any problem. After all, Ambode and the lawmakers are members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

But, sometimes, the way of politicians is crooked. Early last year, the song in Lagos was Ambode lekan si (Ambode for one more term). Different groups such as the Lagos Youth Initiative, the chairmen of 20 local government areas and 37 local council development areas, and the APC Senators and House of Representatives members from Lagos, endorsed the governor for a second term. They all hinged their support and endorsement on what they called Ambode’s massive infrastructural development and giant strides in all sectors.

Ironically, the dance steps changed in the run-up to the APC primaries last October. Like turncoats, these politicians turned against the governor. They remembered that he repealed the 16-year-old Land Use Charge law and enacted a new one which hiked the rates to the discomfort of many residents. They recalled that Lagos has become too dirty in recent times. And they fumed that traffic jam was killing Lagosians slowly. Tinubu, a former Lagos Governor, was to explain later that Ambode was a good governor but not a good party man. The governor tried to fight back. But he soon discovered that the game was up. He stepped aside for Babajide Sanwo-Olu who is now the governorship candidate of the APC in Lagos. It was a humiliation too heavy for any sitting governor to swallow.

The natural questions are: has Ambode forgotten this undue treatment meted out to him? Is there any truth in the allegations making the rounds that some godfathers in the state wanted him to release huge sums of money for campaigns in the state?

Only Ambode and Tinubu can answer these questions effectively. Remember that the outgoing governor openly called Sanwo-Olu a mentally unstable junkie during the campaign for the primaries. Although he currently says nice things about voting for the APC, he is suspected to be secretly sabotaging Sanwo-Olu’s campaign. Of course, he cannot openly move against his party for now. The consequences will be too dire for him.

For an ordinary resident like me, the concern is that this political tension has negatively affected governance in the state. Just take a look at the state of some roads in Lagos and you will seek no further proof. Some portions of the road between Trade Fair and Alaba are a death trap. Trucks have continued to fall there, especially at Barracks bus stop. But there is no remedy in sight. It was at this Barracks bus stop that a tanker carrying 33,000 litres of fuel fell and exploded last Wednesday. At least two people lost their lives and about five vehicles got burnt. What does it take to apply some palliative measures on this road? Do we wait until it consumes more lives before we do something?

The road that links Jibowu from WAEC area in Yaba is another eyesore. It looks like there is a burst pipe somewhere. Thus, flood has created deep potholes on some portions of the road. The story is the same in many other areas of Lagos.

Dirtiness is another problem. In many parts of Lagos, you see refuse heaps. This is despite the recent attempts to tackle the menace. In some places, the drainage systems are cleared of rubbish, only for rain to wash the thing back into the gutter because nobody bothers to remove the excavated rubbish.

Nevertheless, the governor started well and he needs to end well. To his credit is the ongoing construction of Oshodi transport interchange comprising pedestrian bridges, shopping malls, CCTVs, and Oshodi International Airport Road. He also built bus terminals, and pedestrian bridges in some parts of Lagos. His government also disbursed a total of N4.5 billion to 5,500 beneficiaries of the Employment Trust Fund as at December 2017. Ambode’s government also beautified the state with the erection of monuments, parks and gardens.

Last Tuesday, the governor launched 1,000 hectares of modern satellite city in Epe area of the state. The project is estimated to create 200,000 jobs and provide housing schemes for the Lekki Free Trade Zone. He also promised that the state government would construct a road to link Shagamu-Benin Expressway from Lekki Deep Sea Port and a 50-hectare truck park.

This is good. But what about Lekki Phase II, Oko-Orisan and some other good government schemes? When will the subscribers take physical possession of their land? When will they get their certificates of occupancy? Sometime in 2017, Ambode signed cumulatively, a total of 4,445 Electronic Certificates of Occupancy (E- C of O). He appears to have slacked of recent.

My advice is that he should not relent. But he should first drop his ego and do the needful with regard to the proper presentation of the 2019 budget. All the activists advising him otherwise will not save him when impeachment comes. In the twilight of his second term in office, former Governor Raji Fashola reportedly had skirmishes with some power brokers in Lagos. He was able to manage the situation and came out unscathed. Today, he is triple-in-one minister – Works, Housing and Power. Will Ambode come out from Alausa the same way?

He can if he plays his cards well. So far, he has been following President Buhari on campaign tours. At least, this may fetch him a ministerial position if APC wins. In case he moves to Abuja after May 29, he should remember the perennial Apapa gridlock and the sufferings of the residents there. He should make it a priority in their Federal Executive Council meetings.

But should this permutation fail, he should defect to the Peoples Democratic Party. I am sure PDP stalwarts like Uche Secondus, Atiku Abubakar, Peter Obi, Bukola Saraki and Bode George will welcome him warmly. He should then team up with Jimi Agbaje to sing his free-Lagos song.

Agbaje, who is the PDP governorship candidate in Lagos, has been saying he wants to free Lagos from Tinubu, who he described as an emperor holding the people hostage. “Pharaoh, you must let our people go,” Agbaje had warned.

Will Tinubu also let Ambode go? Will he tell the lawmakers, who are known to be fiercely loyal to him, to leave the governor alone? Will Ambode forget his bitterness for now and adopt diplomacy in his face-off with the state lawmakers? Very soon, we will know the shape this unnecessary last-minute war dance will take.

Re: Nigeria’s liberation hour has come

In the thoughtless support of Buhari some people take hook line and sinker what he says and does without due regard to the legal provision as in the instant case. Buhari is not the law. Some people either by design or accident are leading him to his political grave.

Barr. Edet Essien, +2348037952470

Cas, my heart bleeds when I watch Buhari’s behaviour. Thought the man who is seeking his people’s mandate should be humble enough to plead and beg for vote, but this man is arrogant. They should remember the hero of this democracy, Goodluck Jonathan, wrote his name in gold. God will not forgive Tinubu and APC for giving us scorpion instead of saviour.

Tobias Igbokwe (Sun Aba) +2348056341759

Truth of the matter is that what is happening in this government is not a new thing as far as governance in Nigeria is concerned. Past government also did their own wrong doings and Nigerians voted them out. It’s left for Nigerians to decide on Feb. 16 whether to continue with this government or power must change hands.

Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

With regard to the rule of law, we call on the UN, AU and World Powers to beam the searchlight on Buhari government and also prevail on him to restore the CJN. They must also monitor the general election to make sure that it will not be rigged, because what happened was pure coup that must not be allowed to continue. The Southern Nigeria People’s Mandate (SNPM) wishes to commend NBA, governor of Rivers state, PDP, Senate president, Speaker House of Reps, NUJ, CUPP, Charley Boy and other Nigerians who have condemned the action of President Muhammadu Buhari. We commend them and assure them of our support. SNPM calls on national assembly to impeach Buhari if he fails to revise his decision within seven days from now. Thanks.

Augustine Chukwudum, President; Rafiu Diya, Secretary General, Southern Nigeria Peoples Mandate (SNPM), +2348063975566

  • First published in The Sun of Monday, February 4, 2019.

Nigeria’s liberation hour has come

February 1, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

President Muhammadu Buhari is gradually becoming a brutal husband who bullies his wife and concocts stories against her to divert attention. Last Friday, he flogged the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, with illegal suspension. This has prompted many Nigerians to ask, what is happening?

The Code of Conduct Tribunal had commenced the trial of the CJN for alleged false asset declaration. Without following due process, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, ordered the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to freeze Onnoghen’s accounts. The Nigerian Bar Association calls this “complete abuse”.

Last Thursday, the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, ordered the CCT to stay action on Onnoghen’s trial pending the determination of his application that the CCT had no power to try him. But Buhari’s government ignored this. Just as legal experts were still trying to fathom the reasons behind the Federal Government’s actions, the President announced the appointment of Justice Tanko Mohammad as Onnoghen’s replacement. Clearly, this is a constitutional breach. And it is akin to what Nicolas Maduro did in Venezuela where, in clear breach of the constitution, he seized the control of the country’s apex court and appointed some ruling party members to the bench.

To rationalise this perfidy, the President said he acted on the order of the CCT. But is it the duty of the CCT to order the removal of a Chief Justice of the Federation? Where lies the separation of powers? Where lies our conscience? Where goes our democracy?

This dictatorial trend is really disturbing. Against court rulings, for instance, the government has refused to release the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, from detention. He is accused of mismanaging some $2.1 billion security funds meant to procure arms for the fight against Boko Haram. Just recently, the military invaded Daily Trust newspaper over a publication considered offensive. And last year, operatives of State Security Service invaded the National Assembly in a bid to change the leadership of the legislature.

The worst is that they lace their dictatorship with lies. The leader of Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, has been in detention since December 2015. Even when a court had ordered that he be released and compensation paid to him and his wife, Zinat, the government ignored the order. Soldiers had reportedly killed hundreds of El-Zakzaky’s supporters after accusing them of blocking the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, from accessing a public road.

But about two years later, Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, said the Muslim cleric was not in prison, police or DSS custody. According to him, El-Zakzaky was in his house with his family and “this is the honest truth.” This same Lai, who claimed he had never lied before, told the world last November that Nigerian government spent N3.5 million monthly to feed El-Zakzaky.

Last Monday, the Information Minister again was at his element. He informed Nigerians that desperate opposition politicians had mobilised and armed Boko Haram and bandits to scuttle the general elections. The reason for this, Lai claimed, was because the opposition had realised that their fortunes had dwindled badly ahead of the February polls.

“There is also an international dimension to the evil plan. Some armed mercenaries from Niger Republic have been contracted to attack top government functionaries, including state governors, across North-West between now and the elections,” Lai asserted.

Talk of twisting facts to confuse the public and make the victim appear to be the oppressor. Last week, President Buhari told his audience in Anambra that his appointment of security chiefs was based on merit not sentiment. What this means is that only Northerners are qualified to head the security agencies. It is a pity.

I see in all these, an opportunity for Nigerians to liberate themselves. As the saying goes, the death that will befall a young dog does not allow it perceive the smell of faeces. The Federal Government has been taking one faulty step or the other. Many Nigerians are angry and disgusted. The time for them to use their voting power has come.  But the general fear is, will the votes count?

Re: Memory lane of a President’s memory losses

There is a constitutional provision to determine the mental and physical health of our president and other top political office holders. Unfortunately in the black-man-country, we don’t obey most of our rules and laws. During the time of President Yar A’dua, an obviously moribund man was orchestrated by his people and supporters as fit as a fiddle! We know better now. For me, PMB is a good old man that has been hijacked by a Cabal. At his age, senile dementia is a natural course of mental health decline and can be found in up to 15-30% of his age bracket. Any additional co-morbid condition could also worsen and accelerate the clinical outcome. According to elder statesman, Robert Clark (SAN), Nigeria has a rotten constitution. I agree with him absolutely. Unfortunately, we have a national assembly where the majority represents tribe and religion and money: not the masses and good people of Nigeria. Whether we admit it or not, things are so bad, and I see the vacuum busting in every direction. I agree with OBJ that PMB has tried and deserves some good rest! Let the Cabal speak up. Col RN Oputa Retd., regoputa@yahoo.com

I enjoyed reading your well written piece with the above title. Your catalogue of President Buhari’s list of forgotten incidents is embarrassing and should be a source of concern to all well meaning Nigerians. How can a person in such a critical position be so daft and yet continues to cling on to power? I was shocked the other day while reading Sun Newspaper to see a northern politician declare that the fact that Nigerians are killed in different parts of the country and a deteriorated economy is not enough reason for Nigerians not to vote for Buhari in the forthcoming election. This shows how tribalistic, myopic and unpatriotic some Nigerians have degenerated to. Imagine for once that an Igbo man is occupying Buhari’s position and committed just half of the commissions, omissions and memory losses he has displayed so far and guess what would have happened to him as a president.
For me and many Nigerians, Buhari’s last shot at the presidency has merely demystified him. We now know that his much touted integrity, incorruptibility and saintly demeanour are not only a sham but a fallacy. As such, only the daft, the illiterate, the unpatriotic and tribal jingoists would vote for him. And it is in a country like Nigeria that a man of Buhari’s antecedents after his 2015-2019 outing would ever be considered as a presidential candidate to any party let alone being speculated to win a national election. Only God will save this nation from this national disaster. Steve Odo, Ebonyi State, steveeodo@gmail.com

Once again, a beautiful write-up from you Casmir. It is a classic explanation of the hijack of Buhari’s administration by the cabals. He was not aware, and when he became aware, what subsequently happened? Nothing. Check out the selectiveness in his corrupt war on corruption. The issues of Kemi Adeosu and Okoi-Obono Obla certificate forgeries. Is it the full-scale nepotism and double standards inherent in the regime. Look at the 27 newly appointed court of appeal justices, only four from the south and 23 from the north. We need equal rights and justice for this country to be. With all these, we are wasting our time and we’ll go nowhere. My brother, any more four years will be a requiem high mass for Nigeria – a serious doom. May God save us from dotage of the Buhari regime. Hofnar Alison Okon, mickyjohnson663@gmail.com

President Buhari’s memory losses started many years ago. It did not occur to him that coup is a crime against the state before he toppled elected govt. of Alhaji Shagari in Dec.31, 1983. When he was head of state it did not occur to him that people were suffering. It did not occur to him that those detained by NSO boss under Decree 2 were languishing in cell. It is yet to occur to him that corruption is widespread under APC govt. than PDP govt. It has also not occurred to him that there are joblessness and frustration in Nigeria now leading to many suicide cases. I reject hardship and APC. Mr. Chinedu Ekwuno, 08063730644

For the sake of the innocent, impoverished, killed Nigerians I see God doing something great by His mercy. Nigeria has become a nightmare. God bless you for your courage. Kenneth, 08028623159

APC should put their house in order if they want to win again. Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Mr. Cashy, if your president is unaware of what is going on in the presidency or in the country, what’s his essence of still being there? Enough is enough. Please, let Nigerians flush him out with their PVCs come Feb. 16th. Anonymous, +2348037989242

Only a bigot will say what you are saying about PMB. Do you need a prophet to tell you that PMB is firmly in charge by God’s grace? I wander if you can even manage a ward if given the chance. It is PDP & your type that want to kill this country. Thank God for people like PMB. Anonymous, +2348034923344

Dear Igbokwe, your write-up in the Daily Sun of Monday 21/01/2019 paid off the cost of the paper. It was well analysed. Keep it up.
Anonymous from Sokoto, +2348036549459

  • First published in The Sun of Monday January 28, 2019.

Memory lane of a president’s memory losses

February 1, 2019

By Casmir Igbokwe

He gave us enough signals that he would be an unaware President. But we did not realise it on time. Prior to his inauguration as Nigeria’s President in 2015, Muhammadu Buhari had claimed he was not aware of the temporary ban imposed on Africa Independent Television (AIT) to cover his official functions. He said nobody consulted or informed him about the development. Many of us thought this was just a one-off thing. But little did we know that this “I am not aware” mantra would be elevated to the fundamental objective and cardinal principle of state policy.

Chibuike Amaechi’s recent alleged outbursts against Buhari capture the mood of many Nigerians. In an audio message which went viral, Amaechi, who is the Director-General of Buhari Presidential Campaign Organisation, reportedly said Buhari does not read nor listen to anybody. “You can write anything you want. The President doesn’t care,” Amaechi allegedly added. Though the Minister of Transportation later denied it, the questions are, does the President read newspapers? Does he have a full grasp of what is happening in the country? Is he really in charge of what goes on in Aso Villa?

Emerging trends suggest he does not. Last Tuesday, the Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, confirmed it at a conference organised by the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN). According to Osinbajo, Buhari was not aware of the trial of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, by the Code of Conduct Tribunal until penultimate Saturday evening. He expressed sadness that senior members of his profession were being tried.

Similarly, Buhari’s wife, Aisha, had also regretted that her husband was not in charge. According to her, two powerful persons are actually the ones dictating what happens in the country. She said Buhari’s administration would have done better if not for the so-called cabal. She also expressed disappointment in men who rather than fight these two men would go to them in the night begging for favour.

The list of events which our President was not aware of is long. He did not know that the immediate past Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, flouted his order to relocate to Benue last year. That was in the aftermath of the massacre of innocent citizens in that state by suspected herdsmen. The President was not aware that the ex-pension boss, AbdulRasheed Maina, was curiously reinstated into the federal civil service.

Our President is still not aware of the owner of the $42 million cash discovered at an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos, some months ago. Remember also that this government demonstrated its incompetence when it announced the appointment of some dead people into the boards of federal agencies and parastatals two years ago. Obviously, Mr. President was not aware and his advisers were also not aware.

Buhari was also not aware of the poor state of Aso Rock clinic. He was not aware of the grass-cutting scandal involving the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, until some months after. He was not aware of the whereabouts of his West African School Certificate.

At a rally in Delta the other day, he introduced the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Delta, Great Ogboru, as the party’s presidential candidate. When someone corrected him from the background, he called him senatorial candidate. At the third correction, he called him governotorial candidate. In his campaign rally in Kogi, he said he assumed office on May 19, 2015.

Moreover, we have a president who wears the garb of alibi and pushes the blame for any infraction on almost everybody but himself. Last Wednesday, he flopped at a live presidential town hall meeting tagged “The Candidates” in Abuja. I waited for the presidential debate last Saturday to hear my President speak and correct the mistakes of the town hall meeting. But he dodged it. Following his footsteps, the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, also shunned the debate. Regrettably, a renowned lawyer, Professor Itsay Sagay, SAN, had shamelessly explained that Buhari would not debate with political dwarfs. What nonsense!

The difference is always clear each time the President is out of the country and Osinbajo has to act. The removal of the erstwhile Director General of the DSS, Lawal Daura, was possible because Osinbajo was in charge. The overdue reform of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the police also became possible because of Osinbajo. Even the appointment of the now embattled Onnoghen was at the instance of the Vice-President.

In all honesty, if Osinbajo were to be the presidential candidate of the APC, a lot of people who have turned against the party today might not do so. He has shown greater presence of mind. He has shown that he reads. He has shown that he listens and takes action whenever occasion calls for it. Unfortunately, our brand of politics does not recognise and push up people like that. We attach a lot of selfish sentiments into our considerations.

It is a disservice to this nation when one turns a blind eye to the problems confronting us because of some selfish gains. In the three key areas the Buhari presidency hinged its action plans on, things have gone from bad to worse. The fight against corruption is weak and selective. The security situation in the country has worsened. And the economy is not faring any better. I don’t need to bore you with the familiar statistics again. So, why should anybody persuade me to vote the man again? Why should people try to justify the unjustifiable?

Even many of Buhari’s acolytes know that the man has failed. If we search very well, there are many other Amaechis grumbling silently. There are many Osinbajos getting sad that we disregard the rule of law in handling some cases.

The most annoying thing now is the waving of four leprous fingers by Buharists signifying another four-year rule for their man. Personally, I will not wish to go for another four years of misery and hardship; another four years of senseless killings in some parts of the country; and another four years of nepotism and crass incompetence. If it is your wish to continue living in bondage, I wish you luck.

Re: Isuofia and the fun called Igbo mass return

Dear Casmir, apropos “Isuofia & Igbo Mass Return”, pardon me to say “not yet uhuru”.  The Anambra State Government should purge itself of inertia or fear, to grant autonomous status to many communities, such as “Isu Anioma” in Isuofia, “Eziowere” in Owere-Ezukala, “Enuguabo” in Ufuma towns, etc. This was done in sister States of Abia, Imo, Enugu, and Ebonyi, to stifle bickering and promote community development  through healthy competition. For this reason, the huge millions of Naira announced as donations at Isuofia might be mere “sound of fart”, if and when donors fail to pay up, unless the envisaged projects benefit their sections of the town.    Dr Chuka Nwosu, Port Harcourt, +2348085914645

Cas, your today’s article is very expository on the events in most parts of Igbo land during the month of December each year to the first week of January in the new year. However, there is a very important issue I want Ndigbo to take note of and that is that between the 18th of December each year and the 5th of January in the New Year, Ndigbo outside Igbo land in Nigeria bring in and spend in Igboland not less than #3b. None of them goes back to their bases with a kobo out of Igbo land at the end of the day. When you add the other activities during the year such as buying of land, building construction, launchings, donations, church events etc, the sum will get up to #6b that Ndigbo in Diaspora in Nigeria bring or spend every year in Igbo land and this has been going on for the past 35 years or more. This has contributed immensely to the development of every part of Igbo land. Agitators for self determination should take note of this and restrategise.  
Anonymous, +2348033072852

Ndigbo travelling for festivity is something that nobody can take away from them in spite of challenges. They must travel home. Every lgbo person must make it a point of duty to travel home for festivities because it is time to see people he never sees for a very long time and also to hold town hall meetings on how communities will move forward in future. I wish every lgbo person that travels home journey mercy back to cities. Gordon Chika Nnorom, Umukabia, +2348062887535

Thank you so much for that masterpiece, “Xenophobia is worse in Nigeria”. But why did you say APC will become the ruling party come May 2019 when election is yet to hold? Ekpen Christopher, Uromi, Edo State, +2348054048825

Your write-up on Xenophobia is worse in Nigeria my brother is indeed a true picture of Nigeria. You are a true son of the land. One Nigeria is a mirage. Nigerians in Nigeria are theoretically and constitutionally united but indeed practically divided in spirit. Igbos in Nigeria for instance are doing everything possible to make one Nigeria happen but they are like a bastard child struggling to have an heir from his motherland. Hon Ezeugo Forgive, Lagos, 08097041426

First published in The Sun of Monday, January 21, 2019.