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The Opposition Nigeria Needs by Nkannebe Raymond

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I was among the many Nigerians who literally took to the streets in celebration of the successful coalition of the three legacy parties namely, All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Congress For Progressive Change (CPC), Action Congress of Nigeria (A.C.N) and a faction of APGA led by sen. Annie Okonkwo that formally coalesced into the All progressive Congress (APC) on the 13th of July, 2013.

My joy was borne out of nothing other than, that at last the dream of a well structured opposition government that would keep the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on their toes and possibly give them a run for their money at elections. What is more? Democracies they say,are as good as the opposition government therein. So for Nigeria, with the official formation of APC, I believed our democracy was in for good.

I was also elated that the PDP’s hold on the Nation was soon to wane after 15 years rule or mis-rule if you like. For a political party that bragged to rule the country for 60 years,(a statement which I considered at the time an insult to the sensibilities of over 170 million Nigerians) there is no way one wouldn’t be happy seeing a handful of men and women coming into the picture to defeat such provoking braggadocio. Such was it. So I followed this new political train closely. Reading every single literature that has APC on or in it, to know more about the party and their message of salvation to a teeming poor population of Nigerians denied of the basic social amenities like water, healthcare facilities, electricity and motorable roads by the PDP apparatchik for a little more than a decade which it has been in the saddle.

After the customary celebrations and the histrionic hoisting of brooms and goodwill messages on the pages of National dailies, I waited patiently for the new party to show that it is indeed the messiah sent to rescue us from the pharoahs of PDP. I looked keenly to observe the slightest inkling of a difference between the new party and the PDP, but that effort would come to nought. Little did I know.

Before one could shut the windows, the new party began to show signs of everything but signature progressives or political messiahs. One would have thought that the new opposition government would embark on a massive sensitization campaign to sell its policies to the masses which ordinarily they should have at heart. But that was not to be. Instead of that, the so-called progressives betrayed all caution and political genuis to woo elements within the PDP who they had before now called all sort of names; from crooks to thieves to undemocratic neonthertals, into their camp. I simply made one judgment out of such political mistake albeit made with the most conscious mind-This progressives so-called, lack confidence in the vast majority of Nigerians, they placed the elements in the PDP they sought for their signature above the masses. And by going back to their vomit, and suddenly becoming strange bed fellows, even an insane was able to picture the political mindset of this opposition. So I was disappointed. I simply dismissed them for disgruntled elements seeking to drink from the intoxicating chalice of power at Aso Rock.
These are everything but progressives, I told myself.

I had expected the new party to show to the masses why they are a better alternative to the PDP by formulating policies that has prospects of affecting the lives of Nigerians. I had expected them to suggest possible ways of creating jobs through workshops or seminars organised for the discussion of such issues. One would have expected them to suggest possible ways out of the security brouhaha the nation is muddled in but all they could do, was condemn and condemn and condemn the PDP again and again. It became so boring.

While they may nurse the ambition as with any other opposition government, of unseating the ruling PDP, I had thought they would work in collaboration with the government of the day through regular advises and criticisms that do not ooze hatred for the government at the centre and unnecessarily overheat the polity.

But that was not to be. It only took a little more time before it became clear that the hurried merger of the legacy parties was all in a bid to unseat the PDP come 2015-This was their greatest undoing. Change does not come so quick anywhere, however people may yearn for it. It is this greedy taste for power at the centre that has done this opposition the greatest harm.

While Nigerians may want a change of government, they are no fools to subscribe to a change without convincing signs. That is not the kind of opposition Nigerians need.

They need an opposition that will distinguish itself from the mess that is PDP and build a political church from the scratch however long it takes to roof. Not one that hobnobs with the same people it seek to unseat for parochial gains. Doing so, puts a big question mark on the principles of such a movement. It shows a morbid greed for power which must be actualised at all cost. It is immaterial whether it defeats their sworn principles and contradicts their entire ideology of Change. Such was/is the APC. Certainly this is not the type of Opposition NIgeria needed.

We needed an opposition that does not think change can only be possible if it wins government at the centre. We needed to see an opposition with exploits in little things. We need an opposition whose members in the state Houses of Assembly, House of representatives and the senate move a motion for the cutting of their astronomical wage bills. Nigerians yearn for an oppisition whose governors in the states under their control show uncommon patriotism and statesmanship by cutting their wage bills and those of their aides and even reduce its wastefulness on luxuries. An opposition that goes to the street to feel the pulse of the people, an opposition which stops at nothing to reduce the cost of learning in our institutions and not one that milk the masses dry through organised extortion carried into execution through fee hike. Not an opposition which constantly speaks as though it has a magic wand to wave.

We need an opposition that would constantly keep the government of the day on their toes through constructive criticisms and suggestion of better ways to handle national issues to prove to Nigerians that it has the capacity to do better if elected into power and not one that takes pleasure in the misfortune of the Country and go ahead to score political points from it. We don’t need an opposition that constantly chide the ruling PDP for not being able to correct the insecurity glitch in the country without suggesting possible ways out of this current ugly episode of state terrorism. Nigerians, do not need an opposition that constantly critique the PDP for not being able to secure the release of the abducted Chibok girls but would not suggest possible ways for their successful release neither do they need an opposition that plays into the hands of the west at the risk of our National integrity, just to mimick our president and present him as incapable before western elements elsehwere for international endorsement.

We need an opposition that works with the government but advancing their agenda of possible takeover of the country. An opposition that constantly in a show of stupidity, sweeps off wherever the president of the day steps his foot, an opposition that derive pleasure in the use of language that divide the people further than they are decimated is not what Nigeria needs. A shadow government that uses such controversial phrases such as, “RIg and Roast”, “Dogs and Baboon” that urge electorates to visit the polling booths with charms, that is always jittery at the dawn of elections is not a plus to any democracy but a potential problem to it.

An opposition that sees no good in the little gains of the ruling PDP and constantly bask in the assurances of an untopian state that has been everything but exemplified in the states under their watch need not be taken serious by any serious political mind. That political persuasions differ, is not a ground fertile enough to plant the seed of discord that has no good for the polity.

The foregoing are the array of political errors which unfortunately the main opposition-APC which I had high expectations for, has made the modus operandi of their journey to unseat the ruling PDP but which I’m sure would be to their greatest detriment. For while Nigerians may be tired of the PDP and their 14 years of what some people call ‘mis-rule’ but which I’m adverse to, what the APC has brought to the table thus far, shows that they are not a better alternative. Not only is the party run by a Lagos Bourdilion according to his whim and caprice, the general feelings across some quaters of the country is that, the opposition fans the embers of the insurgency ravaging the nation to blackmail the presidency and therefore, many as is vintage of Nigerians have sworn to stay on the PDP ship as the broom with which the APC intends to sweep away the PDP is laden with blood of innocent citizens killed by Boko Haram militants which many believe are sponsored by northern elements within the APC or are sympathetic to their cause, hence why some has labelled it a Boko Haram party.

In the final analysis, the clock seems to be ticking for the APC. It has a huge image laundering to do if it intends to do away with the PDP at Aso Rock at the forthcoming 2015 general elections. To do so, it must desist from its consistent rable rousing and politics of bitterness that only makes the massess develop more love for the PDP and focus more on steps that puts it in the light of a political messiah, divinely designed to salvage an obviously lethargic nation with ominous signs of being captained by a crew that seem to have lost its coordinates.

But certainly, what they have put forth thus far, bears no relic of the kind of opposition Nigeria need. WE WARN.

The writer tweets @RayNkah

Opinion

Who Will Explain Coronavirus To Buhari?

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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.

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Sanusi: Once Upon An Emir, By Wole Olaoye

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Dethroned Monarch, Sanusi

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.

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Sanusi Dethronement: The North Only Beheads The Bearers Of Truth

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Emir Sanusi

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.

But wait!

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.

READ: Dethroned Sanusi Will Be Under House Arrest – Ganduje’s Aide

“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.

READ: Sanusi Breaks Silence After Dethronement As Emir Of Kano (Video)

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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