One of my revered mentors in governance; Dr Oby Ezekwesili, remarked that the current younger Nigerian generation had neither the problem of slave masters nor military junta, hence her high expectations on us. I agree with her only to some extent because we have a far greater challenge than those she noted. Unlike in the past where elders had moral authority to rebuke the youths, elders have become the looters and morally bankrupt of the society. In a country as populous as Nigeria, the number of elders reckoned with integrity is exceptionally low. The youths are in a dilemma; stealing is no longer the problem, rather as inspired by our so called elders; the amount of loot poses the challenge. Steal small, you are sure to be disgraced: Steal big and you shall be celebrated. This reminds one of the great Chinua Achebe’s Classic; “No Longer At Ease”, where the community sponsored graduate and idealist; Obi, took a bribe and was eventually caught in what turned out to be a sting operation. His sponsor (the Umuofia Progressive Union) dissociated itself from him because he took a bribe that was so little… “a mere twenty-eight pounds”. They bragged that if he had collected a larger bribe, they would have hired a Lawyer for him. After all, if a man must eat a toad, it should be a fat and juicy one they said. Our political leaders have surely heeded this cry as they have moved from one record breaking stealing to another record breaking one. They are in serious competition to outdo each other in evil and economic sabotage. Must this continue? Must we willingly inherit this legacy of corruption and evil? Less than two weeks ago, controversial US based Ghanaian Professor of Economics; George Ayittey took a swipe on Nigerians describing them as “battered souls” and “broken spirits”. Despite the deficiency of wisdom applied in articulating his view, one cannot in good conscience totally dismiss his observation. I urge you all to lay aside every battered and broken mindset as we explore our role in building and fortifying a stable Nigerian economy.
No economy can be successfully built with the present unfocused “I want to be my own boss” syndrome one sees amongst the youth. Aside from a few exceptions, it is widely accepted that to lead, you must have been led. Therefore, we must not undermine the essence of being mentored either directly or indirectly. Currently, our economy needs more entrepreneurs and ‘socialpreneurs’ to attain greatness but this must be founded on a genuine desire to add value or meet an existing need rather than out of the desire to be answerable to no one. Thisday (2010) puts the failure rate of small businesses at 70% which was found to be as a result of poor planning and surprisingly not funds as many may have assumed. To sustain any enterprise, be it as the owner, manager or employee, the role of hard work and diligence cannot be over emphasized. Hard work and Diligence lubricated by a quest to attain excellence would be the defining moment for building a stable Nigerian economy. Unfortunately, most Nigerian youths are deficit of these qualities. Mastery of the underlying principle behind creating operating systems, tablets, laptops and even social networking tools was the prompting factor that motivated the foundation of some of the greatest enterprises in the world. Their leaders were not merely eager to become their own bosses, rather they had become masters of skills that would change the way the world engages in business and networking forever. We must take note that to become a master of a skill is not limited to obtaining a degree, masters or PhD. I shall speak further on this in the course of our discourse.
Notwithstanding the height and architectural masterpiece of a building, in the absence of a good foundation, collapse is imminent. This collapse may never occur until the building comes under stress. So is it possible for the character deficient youth to mask his weakness. When stress comes as the rain of family pressures, the flood of peer pressures and the wind of uncertainties, the individual lacking in integrity is bound to collapse. Beyond an individual, even the most vibrant economy would collapse once integrity is relegated. Integrity is the key element for a fortified economy. The now infamous Meltdown of 2008 in the United States was as a result of greed and indiscipline. These weeds are bound to grow when the delicate crop of integrity is left unguarded. I urge you all to make up your minds to demonstrate integrity in every aspect of your life because our daily activities are a subset of the entire Nigerian economy. Hence, if every one of us gets it right, so will the economy of Nigeria.
Additionally, Nigeria must begin to negotiate and do business with other nations from a position of strength. Enough of the regular international trips to beg investors to come to develop our economy! A wise father inputs into his daughter the qualities of a good wife. With beauty and these qualities, his daughter is bound to become a magnet of suitors. No doubt Nigeria is a beautiful and endowed nation, but rather than build her character, our leaders have opted to keep begging suitors; whereas, once we put the right things in place, suitors are bound to court our partnership as a Nation. Nigerians are not intellectually inferior to citizens of so called developed nations but rather than deepen the stream flow channel of our intellectual rebirth, we have made our basest desires; food, shelter and pleasure, to become our focus. To build a stable Nigerian economy, we must challenge the status quo. Gone are the days when nations would do this or that because America has so done. For instance, our vision for our economy may never be achieved if we do not question the concept of democracy as practiced in Nigeria. Nothing stops us from modifying democracy and other imported ideas to suit our nation. We need to begin to ask ourselves questions as to whether democracy as imported is actually suitable for our environment. Of course, the people should be left to choose their leaders but must this be done the conventional way? The weight of the political class is too heavy a burden on the economy of our nation. Ideas such as part-time legislating, rotational representation, elected volunteers etc. must be discussed and possibly explored as a means of fortifying our economy from its greatest threat; the political class.
We must realize that America has attained menopause in many regards, the cumulative of which is the gradual slide from their past economic fortunes. Destiny demands that we think not just out of the box but far from the box. As we do so, we are bound to realize that the new bride of the world is China. Nigeria and indeed Africa must strengthen economic relations with China and Asia as a whole, as we work toward building a stable Nigerian economy. Albeit, this must be done with cautious optimism as should all our dealings with foreign nations.
I am convinced that oil is our seed and not the harvest but we have thrown a party and invited all to join us in depleting our seed forgetting that perhaps for every 7 years of abundance comes 7 years of lack. If the money gained from crude oil sales is conscientiously utilized to build other sectors of the economy, our undue dependence on the petroleum sector would be drastically reduced. With the high level of unemployment in the country, the government’s chief responsibility is to provide an enabling environment for business to thrive like constant power, good roads, subsidized tax for small businesses etc., rather than adopting our usual approach of throwing money at every problem. It is a failed approach and serves our economy little benefit.
To begin this economic building process, youths must put away the “fear of poverty syndrome” that has tormented many of our leaders and elders today, making them some of the most notorious and hardened looters that have worked upon the earth. A million, millions, a billon, billions and now trillions but they are not satisfied. Sadly, these economic vampires have infected several youths with their kleptomania disorder. We must therefore seek help and reject the legacy of corruption given to us by our elders; otherwise, we are doomed to be more abysmal than they have been. My submission today is that hard work and diligence are what it takes to build a successful Nigerian economy but to stabilize and fortify the economy, integrity is paramount.
Eniola Joshua is an advocate of youth involvement in leadership and policy planning as a tool for the economic re-engineering of Nigeria. Follow him on twitter: @EniolaDGreat
Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?
Coronavirus (COVID-19), an exorable doom, threatens life on the planet. It is exorable because it is conquerable. This explains why world leaders are taking the charge to combat this ominous apocalypse. It is a time for leadership from the fore-end; a time when citizens must hear their leaders speak to them; see them take action, making assurances and fulfilling those promises. The counsel, consolation and firm statement of a leader is imperative at this moment.
In Canada, Justin Trudeau, prime minister, despite being in self-isolation and his wife battling the virus after contracting it at a conference in the UK, is leading the fight against this dreaded disease from the fore. He is providing regular updates of the efforts of his government to roll back this scourge, listening and speaking to citizens.
In a popular broadcast on March 13, Justin spoke to citizens of Canada announcing measures to relieve the financial stress brought on by the pandemic on Canadians.
“We do not want any Canadian to have to worry about whether or not they’re going to be able to pay their rent, whether or not they’re going to be able to buy groceries, or care for their kids or elderly family members. We need to make sure that Canadians have the options and the ability to follow the best public health advice and keep themselves safe,” he said.
In the UK, Boris Johnson, prime minister, leads the struggle against coronavirus. He provides updates, alongside health experts, on the measures his government is taking to tackle the spread of the disease. And in the US, Donald Trump is not shying away from speaking to Americans on the virus.
As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari’s lapses are often easily dismissed by his supporters or by Nigerians who do not know better. Some of them say, ‘’ Why must the president speak when the minister of health and the NCDC DG are already doing that?” This is a contemptible rationalisation of incompetence. Are they suggesting the president lacks the capacitance to understand the issues?’’
Really, I surmise the president has been walled off the ‘’candid cameras’’ over the years by his handlers – not just now – because he lacks the intellectual propensity to understand and discuss incisive issues. The last presidential media chat he held was in 2015 and it was a woeful outing. Also, his non-choreographed media interviews have been abysmal to say the least.
The truth is the unfiltered Buhari is a vacuously gaffing one. On October 14, 2016, standing beside Angela Merkel, German chancellor, Buhari said his wife, Aisha, ‘’belonged in the kitchen and the other room’’, when he was asked to comment on the first lady’s criticism of his government.
On April 18, 2018, at the Commonwealth Business Forum in London, the president said the young citizens of the country he leads are lazy.
“More than 60 per cent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free,” he said during a panel appearance with world leaders at the forum.
In a February 2016 interview with UK Telegraph, Buhari dropped another clanger. He said the young citizens of his country have a knack for criminality and should not be granted asylum in the UK.
With the Buhari experience, it is indubitable that Nigerians must place a high premium on education — not just certificate – in choosing their leaders. The cost of electing leaders who do not have the intellectual grit to understand and handle matters is far too high.
The senate has asked the president to speak to citizens on this threat, and Nigerians are also asking the president to speak to them. This is an abnormality. Citizens must not beg to hear from their president. But because it is Buhari involved here, we have to beg and even excuse the crass inefficiency and vacuity.
Perhaps, the president is still trying to get a hang of it. I think he has ‘’capable handlers’’ who can break it down to him in ABC.
Mr President, speak to your citizens. The words of a leader are more resounding and assuring than the blandishment of proxies.
PS: Let’s follow all health protocol as advised by the NCDC.
• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water.
• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.
• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye
We are all potential Ex-es: ex-student, ex-director, ex-lecturer, ex-senator, ex-governor, ex-president, ex-oba, ex-emir…. The inimitable Zik famously reminded us when he had a spat with Ukpabi Asika that Ex was an inevitable prefix for any human being as was evidenced by the fact that a certain young man who would someday become an ex-Administrator, was the son of an ex-postmaster!
So, what’s so apocalyptic about Sanusi Lamido Sanusi joining the ranks of ex-potentates? Nothing? Everything! Don’t ever think that bell you are hearing is tolling for the former Emir of Kano. No. It could be signalling the beginning of a comprehensive demystification of traditional rulership by plebeians holding tenured political power. In centuries past, no plebeian messed with the traditional institution. The halo of nobility, the sheer vastness of a prince’s hereditary powers, rights and privileges, made the subject know his place.
Yesterday’s subjects are today’s political sovereign. They make no pretences to sophistication. They load a gun to kill a spider. When you dethrone a monarch and then deprive him of his liberty, forcefully banishing him to a place without electricity and potable water, you are playing god. If it was all a public relations Olympics, the calm dignity with which Sanusi handled the humiliation made people all over the world admire his chutzpa and hand him the gold medal. A
Life and its many puzzles! Why is it that for some men and women, “their sleep is taken away unless they cause some to fall”? What do you do about an ego that knows no satiation? As the Preacher in the Good Book timelessly says, “All the rivers flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full… The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear content with hearing… there is nothing new under the sun”.
The Yoruba have a poem that says just that. “The horse struts and frets and then dies. Being a veteran walker is no immunity to getting lost. Nothing new under the sun. I’ve seen kings reduced to slaves; and servants who mounted the throne. Haven’t my eyes beheld both river and sea? Haven’t I seen a hunchback on spindly legs, and a midget climbing a ladder to add condiment to the soup pot? Tell me, has anyone ever started a building from the roof?
The new Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, is a cousin of his predecessor. As royal intrigues go, when the dust is settled the sword will be sheathed and brother will embrace brother. That is the way of princes. Eventually, outsiders will realise that all they can ever be in palace politics is outsiders. Our very own Nobel prize winning Kongi was not amused by the scandalous extra-judicial detention of the former emir.
He put the emir’s travail down to his progressive stance: “Emir Sanusi was a one-man EFCC sanitisation squad in the banking system, taking on the powerful corrupters of that institution…. “Most important of all, and most pertinently for the nation, Sanusi was one of the early warning voices against religious extremism whose bitter fruits the nation is currently reaping….
The doors of enlightened society remain wide open to Muhammad Sanusi. As for his current crowing Nemesis, a different kind of gates remain yawning to receive him when, as must, the days of governorship immunity finally come to an end.” Support for Sanusi is not limited to radical voices.
Veteran technocrat Alhaji Ahmed Joda penned a panegyric in support of the ex-emir: “The purpose of this letter to you is not to commiserate with you, because I know that you must have known the likely consequences of the principled position you have taken. The reality we must face in Northern Nigeria is that the evil forces of feudalism that have kept us in bondage for so long are still there and fighting. You have been the only voice that has been telling us this truth….”
It is easy to kick a man given a pin-fall by fate, or piss on the grave of a fallen warrior. Dead men don’t bite. Real friends show up when you are in life’s valley. Say what you will, I would rather have a friend like Nasir el Rufai when the chips are down. In the midst of all the turmoil, conspiracy theories have surfaced to the effect that the dethronement is but a political sleight-of-hand to propel Sanusi to Nigeria’s presidency in 2023. Caution! Let’s separate the issues. Political succession is totally different from fundamental human rights. Sanusi is not my next president.
My views on power rotation are well documented. The ex-emir will go down in history as a champion for the rights of the poorest of the poor. He advocated for a new Northern Nigeria where old backward practices such as the almajiri system and irresponsible parenting will be abandoned. His was the voice crying out in the desert, lift my people up from the cesspit of penury. The attempt to demonise him after dethronement through various allegations, including one on religious fundamentalism, is dead on arrival. The same fate will befall the vilification of El Rufai on account of his loyalty to Sanusi. Please quote me: Modern challenges can never be resolved with a resort to medieval solutions.
Christopher Hitchens’ Q&A may someday apply to the ex-Kings College boy who’s now an ex-king.
Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth
By Fredrick Nwabufo
Northern Nigeria is prostrate. It is the axis of uglies – banditry, insurgency, kidnapping, diseases, ignorance, and drug abuse. Alas! The region’s elite are aware of the problems, but look away because the disequilibrious status quo sustains them. What is petrifying, however, is that they maul and clobber at anyone who spits the truth in their faces.
I think, this is the mortal sin of Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano – beyond his politics with Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano.
The World Bank says 87 percent of Nigeria’s poor are in the north. And that while poverty is plummeting in the south, it is rocketing in the upper region.
“Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 percent of all poor in the country in 2016,’’ the Bretton Woods institution said in its report entitled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ in February 2020.
In August, 2019, the federal government revealed that 1,460 people were killed by bandits in seven months. And that the north-west is the worst-hit by this bloody enterprise. The killings have steadied, expanding in proportion and execution in the region.
In his accustomed manner, Sanusi recently vocalised these depressing figures of retrogression in the north – as regards the World Bank report — earning himself praise from progressive Nigerians and reprimand from the usual suspects — those stuck in the cesspit of bigotry.
Also, the gadfly emir of Kano, whom I regard as the John the Baptist of the north for his vociferous condemnation of this status quo, is alone in his advocacy against irresponsible polygamy, Al-majiri and child marriage – practices the northern elite espouse. He is the face of a progressive north; the northerner of the new age.
As a matter of fact, on different occasions he had complained about the northern elite whom he said wanted to silence him for speaking the truth about the region.
‘’Our colleagues and compatriots among the elite do not like statistics. Numbers are disturbing. I recently gave a speech in which I said the north-east and north-west of Nigeria are the poorest parts of the country. This simple statement of fact has generated so much heat; the noise has yet to die down. The response to this speech has been a barrage of personal attacks and insults aimed at silencing any voices that dare shine the light on the society to which we are saying Bring Back our Girls,’’ he said at a lecture held to commemorate the Chibok girls abduction.
And I guess they can only take the throne away from him but cannot take away his royalty in the community of decent humans. Really, I believe the emir would rather give up his throne than be gagged by the shareholders of iniquity.
To say the least, Sanusi’s dethroning was not unexpected. Ganduje had always shown his hand in this plot. Really, the emir of Kano never hid his dislike for him. But what is there to like about a governor who was allegedly caught on camera stuffing wads of dollars into his babariga? In the build-up to the 2019 governorship election in the state, the emir was not shy in expressing his disapproval to Ganduje’s candidature.
So, Ganduje, who considers Sanusi a ‘’loud mouth’’, plotted a bitter revenge after he was re-elected. He had moved to remove the emir in 2018 but for the intervention of some ‘’higher powers’’. However, he whittle-down the power of the emir by creating new emirates from his domain. He was not done though. He rustled-up allegations, set up probe panels – all in the desperation to embarrass Sanusi.
But Sanusi was still talking.
Really, one of the most abrasive places to exist is in the circle of non-progressives. You talk different, think different or act different, they will feel threatened. Even when you try to clown around; the aboriginal clowns will still feel threatened because you do not look the part.
I think, Emir Sanusi is light-years away from the people he is dealing with in Kano government. He is needed more at the top echelon of government where he can contribute more meaningfully to the development of Nigeria.
Northern Nigeria is not ready for an emir like Sanusi. He is ahead of his time.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
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